As old as time and standing the test of time, fresh plums are a beloved sweet-tart stone fruit and staple in our summer eating and cooking, while classic plum preserves like plum jam, sauce and fruit paste mean that their presence can be felt throughout the year too.
There are two main categories of edible plum trees: European (Prunus domestica) and Japanese (P. salicina). The European plum has been cultivated since ancient times and was introduced into the United States, possibly by the Pilgrims, and is now mostly cultivated in the western United States - here in California in particular. The Japanese plum, originating in China, was introduced into North America in 1870. Japanese plums are loosely classed as cooking plums while European plums are often eaten fresh, but truthfully there are no strict guidelines as to exactly which plums should be eaten raw or fresh – go by taste, it’s always the most reliable option. However a general rule of thumb for plums is they should be firm-ripe and give slightly when pressed but not soft.
We often think of plums as having a deep purple or blue-black skin tone, but depending on the varietal, the skins of plums can range in red, green, yellow or amber too; and their flesh hovers in hues of yellow, green, pink and orange. Classic plum pairings include cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, orange zest, vanilla, almonds, walnuts, brown sugar, chocolate and fellow stone fruits like peaches and apricots. Additionally, plum sauces, compotes and chutneys do an excellent job of cutting through the richness of heavy meat dishes of pork, rabbit, lamb and game birds.
We hope you can join us for August’s tasting menu paying homage to a fragrant, juicy stone fruit that been on the earth and pleasing people’s palates for longer than we can officially recall. Like every stone fruit, plums are excellent for desserts such as pies and cobblers, but their tart skin and sweet flesh add brightness to a variety of savory dishes, which makes the challenge of weaving this hero ingredient through each course of the degustation (snacks to petit fours) an extra enjoyable and delicious one.
Reservations for August's Plum Menu open 1st July 2016.