Whew! I made it. I arrived home from my wonderful tour of China just in time for mirabelle season in France! It’s late August and fresh mirabelles are appearing in the open-air markets. Mirabelle tarts fill the pastry shop windows; mirabelle jams cram the shelves in the grocery stores. Myriad bottles of eau-de-vie de mirabelle will be on sale soon.
What are mirabelles, you ask? A reason to visit France in late August! These little yellow plums (the size of a large olive) have a short season and are limited in availability. They’re colorful, soft, sweet, fragrant, flavorful and perfect. Grown mainly in the Lorraine region of France and loved by everyone, they will disappear quickly!
If you’re in Paris, or anywhere in France, during mirabelle season, get a bagful at the market and try the tarte aux mirabelles if offered for dessert in a restaurant. Then, duck into a grocery store and buy a jar of mirabelle jam to take home as a souvenir! Or, better, buy two!
I have a friend whose country-house property in Normandy has a mirabelle tree and I have harvested these little joys of late summer in the traditional manner there—by shaking the tree branches and catching the ripe mirabelles in a blanket spread under the tree. And now a haiku (in modern form) to mark the season:
the fruits of our labors
ripe enough to eat