Living in a northern climate has its downsides, but one my favorite things about it comes during a period of time that only lasts a short while in the spring.
It’s maple syrup season. As soon as the days go above freezing, but the nights still dip below freezing, the sap inside the trunk of maple trees starts flowing. When that sap is collected and boiled down, you get magical maple syrup. For those who don’t realize how involved this process is, you must boil the sap down at approximately a 40:1 ratio, which means 40 gallons of sap reduces to makes 1 gallon of syrup!
If you aren’t lucky enough to live near a Sugar Bush (one of the farms that makes maple syrup), you are missing out on an amazing treat. In the province of Quebec, most of these farms (known as a ‘Cabanes a sucre’) also offer a traditional French Canadian brunch in their restaurant, which is a feast that is not to be missed.
This year, we went with a large group of friends and family, 30 to be accurate, for breakfast brunch. We all arrived at the rustic restaurant by 10:30am. A section of the restaurant was reserved for us.
Before long, we were all seated and the waiters started bringing out coffee, juice and a continuum of food-filled bowls. The bowls were handed around, family style. There is never a worry about running out, the bowls keep coming. I put some scrambled eggs, potato wedges, sausage links on my plate. I also put a few pieces of ‘Oreilles de Crisse’. Translated, that means Christ’s ears. Not sure if that name is blasphemy (LOL), but it’s deep fried bacon and it’s delicious (and very French Canadian). Of course, everything gets covered in pure maple syrup. Yes…you put maple syrup on everything. If you aren’t sure about that part, once you try it, you will discover the magic that the syrup adds.
The bowls kept coming around until we had all had our fill. There was also bread, pickled beets, onions and pickles, which surprisingly goes well with the rest of the food. Then came the platters of pancakes, more bowls and slices of traditional Sugar Pie. It was all really tasty and calorie rich. We sat for a bit to finish off our coffees then headed over to the taffy shack. This is where they take the maple sap and boil it until it is reduced into a thick candied syrup. It is then poured, boiling hot onto a bed of fresh snow and rolled onto a popsicle stick where it takes on a sticky toffee-like consistency. (Yes, more calories!)
I’m certain that if there is a heaven, this treat would be there! We toured the grounds a bit as we digested all the food we consumed. We did eat a lot, but to be fair, we were celebrating the start of Spring and that only comes once a year. (Did I sound convincing?)
So if you’ve never experienced a Sugar Bush visit, I highly suggest it. I’m glad we did it again this year and will happily hit the elliptical a little harder this week to work off this gastronomic feast.