03 Sep2006

Plums

by Marketman

plum1

It must be the peak of plum (prunus domestica and related species) season in California and other Northern temperate regions as the local markets are quite figuratively, swimming in imported plums of many shapes and sizes. The California Plum Growers Association is marketing big time in Manila. If I were in a word association game and someone screamed “PLUM,” I would immediately think of these utterly spectacular plum tarts that I used to get at Patisserie Bonté around the corner from my sister’s New York apartment. As a teen, Mrs. Bonté used to give me a free taste of any cookie she had in her display case and as I got older, I would drop by her store whenever I was within a 500 meter radius of it and purchase whatever looked great, which was practically everything on display. Mr. Bonté used to toil in the kitchens behind the store while his wife manned the counter and the register. They had these white boxes with their name imprinted in fancy script in a sharp red color and they tied each box or parcel with red twine. The plum tarts were my favorite… flaky crust or tart shell filled with the most luscious dark red tarts whose flavor had intensified as they were baked in a hot oven. I haven’t had one in many years (since they retired and moved to the South of France probably) but I can still picture and taste them like it was yesterday.

The Bontés were not only a neighborhood sensation, they were one of the top Patisseries in the city, and THAT is saying something. Let’s just say they must have been very good if every afternoon or so an Air France van would pull up to pick up several boxes of pastries that were to be served on the daily Concorde plum2flights to Paris. I miss those tarts and I have never ever even attempted to replicate them, fearing utter disappointment with my efforts. I suppose the first critical ingredient is superb, tree-ripened plums and those aren’t the type we get here. At any rate, I am thrilled that the local markets and groceries are pulling out all of the stops and stocking up to 6 or 7 different types of plums at the moment. They aren’t the finest examples of plums, having traveled so far and picked so early, but they are definitely better than not having a choice. In the photos here I have at least three types of plums, and I didn’t purchased green gage, smaller plums more akin to damsons, yellowish plums, etc.

Plums are an ancient fruit that are considered native to both China (think of all those kiamoy variants!, plum sauce, etc.) and Central Europe. Today they are cultivated in many temperate regions around the globe and are a major fruit crop (the third or fourth most prolific tree fruit crop globally). They are great eaten fresh, in plum shakes, soups, baked goods, semi-dried, dried, powdered, etc. I was prompted to write about plums not only because they are so available currently, but because of a recent phone call from my sister in New York. She triumphantly announced that she has single-handedly cornered this Fall’s harvest of damson plums at the Union Square Market by buying several hundred plums. Last year, an Englishwoman purchased everything that the one farmer who sells damson plums had to offer and my sister was somewhat annoyed and we all didn’t have a fresh batch of damson plum jam last year. However, this year, she reports that several large jars of my most favorite type of jam on the entire planet is making its way to Manila by balikbayan box…yahoo!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Danney League says:

    Can we grow plums in the Philippines? I wish we can grow it in the Philippines. I love plums and nectarine. They are so good. I remember one time I went on vacation in Bulgaria and I saw trees everywhere full of plums. I have 3 pieces in my fridge and still waiting for the right moment to eat it. I usually go to Horton Plaza or Ralph’s in San Diego and buy plums.

    Sep 3, 2006 | 9:35 am

     
  2. Apicio says:

    Happy to hear that you get to taste fresh plums there now because in the sixties the closest we got to it was in the dictionary or as dried prunes which we savoured with delight and total disregard for its moving remedial qualities.

    Sep 3, 2006 | 10:46 am

     
  3. Doddie from Korea says:

    Plums are dime a dozen here in Korea. I think I shall make those plum tarts that you were talking about MM. I shall get tart shells first then the plum fruits later. BTW, Autumn is just starting here and we are now overrun in juicy, fragrant peaches. Where we live, we are surrounded by peach orchards. Soon my hubby’s boss and my friends will be giving us boxes of peaches. Time to bake peach cobblers and pies again. ;)

    Sep 3, 2006 | 2:11 pm

     
  4. Marketman says:

    Doddie, ARRRGHHH, I love good peaches. Aso make some peach ice cream, superb when made from scratch. Also, peach juice and prosecco or champagne (A drink called a Bellini) is also superb!

    Sep 3, 2006 | 2:18 pm

     
  5. connie says:

    I buy plums fairly firm, then wait a few days to eat them. The skin is a bit tart and bitter if not soft enough. I don’t bother peeling the skin, or even cutting them in quarters, just bite and chew. That’s the best way to eat them, relatively fresh and juicy.
    Another variety, actually it’s a plum hybrid, that I like, are pluots. They are 75% plums and 25% apricots, them I like a lot because the skin is guaranteed sweet. The meat is definitely a lot sweeter than plums.

    Sep 3, 2006 | 2:29 pm

     
  6. Marketman says:

    connie, I read about those on fried neurons blog…I have never had them before but they sound good to me!

    Sep 3, 2006 | 2:30 pm

     
  7. connie says:

    Did someone mention peach bellini? Parrrrty!!!!

    Sep 3, 2006 | 2:31 pm

     
  8. connie says:

    Marketman, I wish I could send you some! They are, erm……… a dime a dozen here. LOL. :0)
    Kidding aside, they are really good. Between pluots and plums, I really do prefer pluots. I’m now sure however if you have to cook them differently when making tarts as they are juicier than regular plums.

    Sep 3, 2006 | 2:38 pm

     
  9. fried-neurons says:

    I like plums! I’m kind of weird, though, because I don’t like plums that are “perfectly ripe”. My preference is for slightly underripe, tart ones OR slightly overripe, mushy ones. :)

    Definitely prefer pluots, though, especially the dinosaur egg variety.

    Sep 3, 2006 | 2:42 pm

     
  10. millet says:

    i love plums, but the few that i’ve brought here in davao (imported from australia and california, i think)have been big disappointments – underripe, too tart, sometimes astringent even….a far cry from the ruby reds i used to pick from the neighbors’ trees in california. so i’ve stopped buying them altogether, until somebody comes up with a fool-proof recommendation.

    Sep 3, 2006 | 3:57 pm

     
  11. stef says:

    yup, plum season here, or actually almost over. these are my kids’ favorite summer fruit (i still wish they could try lanzones though). one of the healthiest ways i enjoy this is cut up and layered in a parfait glass with some greek yogurt. drizzle with a bit of greek honey and you’re all set. or i do it pinoy way and dip in a bit of sea salt. hehehe…

    Sep 3, 2006 | 11:21 pm

     
  12. Anson says:

    try plums with sliced banana on pancakes with some light syrup.

    Sep 4, 2006 | 5:57 am

     
  13. Doddie from Korea says:

    MarketMan,

    If there was a way to send you the famouse Janghowon Yellow Peaches, I would send you a box. When my Dad visited me last Autumn, peaches was his breakfast and dessert for lunch and dinner. The Janghowon peaches here grow to the size of grapefruits or much larger than a softball.

    Sep 4, 2006 | 7:40 am

     
  14. NYCMama says:

    Bonte, Bonte, Bonte. I thought I had supressed the memory, but you brought it up, booohooohooohooo. There is still nothing like the eclairs of Bonte. Believe me, I’ve tried them all, hoping to find a replacement.

    Sep 4, 2006 | 12:58 pm

     
  15. SariS says:

    I second NYCMama on Bonte. What I remember are their palmeiras or mini-mariposas. Basically those puff pastry cookies sprinkled with sugar. They looked so ordinary but would just melt in your mouth. I don’t know how they did it so well.

    Sep 7, 2006 | 4:04 am

     
  16. Naz says:

    The plum season is almost over, at least the Mariposa variety from my backyard. The wife loves to eat early June while they are not so ripe (manibalang). They’re crispy and taste like sineguelas. When they are so ripe, it is juicy and sweet. Dried plums (prunes), have more antioxidants than dried grapes (raisins). Excellent fruit indeed!

    Sep 8, 2006 | 12:09 pm

     
 

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