Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fête de la Mirabelle (August 27 & 28)

Adding to the list of delicious things to discover in this part of the world is the colorful assortment of fruit available this time of year. Take the plum, for instance. Red and black plums are nothing new to me, but when I shop here, these old standards are part of a rainbow of selection of more colors and varieties of plum than I ever even knew existed: like yellow plums, the green Reine Claude, smoky purple quetsch and, of course, the golden mirabelle.

Mirabelles are the tiniest plums I’ve ever seen, about the size of a shooter marble. They taste plummy, but not as tart; they’re a much more mellow, sort of sugary sweet. You’ll find them in countless ways; cooked into tartes and tartelettes, preserved in syrup, made into confiture, and perhaps most popularly, turned into eau de vie, the fiery, alcoholic after-dinner digestif created to burn a hole through the large dinner you’ve just eaten.

This weekend in Metz, you’ll have a chance to find mirabelles in all of these forms and more, at the 61st annual Fête de la Mirabelle.

Click here to download the festival program.
Technically, the festival started last weekend with the election of the mirabelle queen on Sunday and a dance performance on Wednesday, but the biggest affair is set for this weekend, Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28. It will be a full day of music, food, performances, fireworks, a parade and more.

Getting to Metz
Metz is only 45 minutes away by train and, conveniently, Luxembourg's CFL runs a special one-day train ticket from Luxembourg for only 16€. Trains leave Luxembourg hourly. (Keep in mind that the Luxembourg one-day ticket is not valid on TGV trains…so, watch which train you board.)

CFL tells me that the last train home on Saturday night that is valid on this ticket leaves Metz at 11:21pm. You’ll arrive in Luxembourg at 12:19am.

Schedule of Events
The full schedule is available here (in French).

Saturday, August 27
10am – 5pm
At the Marché du Terroir, 50 local vendors will be selling mirabelles in all forms – baked, boiled, pressed and preserved – for you to purchase and take home (if you have the willpower not to eat your treats on the spot).

10am – 5:30pm
Place de la Comédie
The Compagnie Lavifil will be on hand all day long to entertain young mirabelle fans with their performances, concerts, and stories (in French).

10am – 5pm
Place du Marché Couvert
The mirabelle tasting continues inside at the covered market, where workshops and cooking demonstrations will be presented. There’s a confiture-making demonstration at 10:15am, followed by a cooking demonstration pairing unusual combinations with the mirabelle, such as truffles (yum) at 11:30am and again at 2pm. Mirabelle aperitifs will be available from 12:30pm onward, and more than 100 mirabelle products will be for sale throughout the day.

Parc de la Seille
Enjoy a free outdoor concert by Gaëtan Roussel, who performs contemporary French rock. Preview one of his songs here, on YouTube.

Fireworks will sparkle above the city. Afterward, help complete the show by turning on your cell phone and letting it shine to be part of the Fête de la Mirabelle’s 2011 flash mob.

Sunday, August 28
10am – 7pm
At the Marché de l’Artisanat (artists’ market) you’ll find crafts galore; jewelery, furniture, embroidery, paintings, pottery, and more.

3pm – 5pm

Floats, musicians, performers and of course, Queen Mirabelle 2011, will make up the Parade de la Mirabelle.

The parade begins at the corner of avenue Louis le Débonnaire and avenue de l’Amphithéâtre, and will then wind through rue Vauban, Place du Général de Gaulle, rue Gambetta, Place Raymond Mondon, rue Harelle, avenue Schuman, rue Serpenoise, rue du Petit Paris, rue du Palais, rue du Faisan, Place de Chambre, and rue d’Estrée.

Place d’Armes
Wrapping up the festivities, the Israeli dance troupe Karmiel Flowers will delight spectators with a final performance to greet the parade at the Place d’Armes.

Enjoy the festival!

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