‘Tis The Season To Eat Plums
When I was told I would be visiting the pastry kitchens at Concorde, I had visions of macaroon pyramids, homemade ice cream and fluffy chocolate mousse. ”Plums,” beamed head pastry chef Johannes Koehler upon my arrival, “I want to talk to you about plums – they’re in season right now.”
“Oh great,” I thought, “fruit.” But, as I soon discovered, plums are a tasty little treat with huge potential – whether au naturel, baked into a cake or transformed into a rich Pflaumenmousse spread.
Johannes began cutting open the plums – eight different types in total – to reveal the purple, orange or green flesh inside. “The texture is fairly consistent,” he explained, “whether it’s a reine Claude de Bavay or a common Zwetschge – it’s the taste which varies.”
I went for the familiar German Zwetschge plum first, whose deep purple skin mists up like a bathroom mirror, no matter how many times you polish it. The Zwetschge is the star of the Pflaumenkuchen, one of the most popular cakes in Germany. Of course, the cake is often served up by Johannes but he also enjoys making Pflaumenmousse, a kind of jam, for guests at Concorde. “I use my grandmother’s recipe,” he explains, “you have to cook the zwetschge and sugar together for a very long time, much longer than with jam, at least six or seven hours, and then you add a little dash of vinegar.” I grimace, ”Vinegar??” He assures me it is just to help achieve a good consistency, and doesn’t affect the taste. “It’s delicious on bread at breakfast time, very popular with the guests. But Achtung! Pflaumenmousse is very rich, much richer than jam, so try not to get too carried away”
By now, the rest of plums have been stoned and sliced, and are ready for me to try. The yellow mirabelle and greenish reine Claude de Bavay, both from France, are my favourites. The former for its intense flavour, the latter for the fact that it is named after a French queen. Concorde uses plums from all over Europe, and because of their colourful appearance and juiciness they are often placed in the rooms to welcome and refresh guests upon arrival.
I get a little carried away with the tasting, and, noticing only one slice of plum left, I thank Johannes and take my leave.