Monday, March 3, 2008

March in Quebec - time to make Maple Syrup

Trust me, a Canadian, when I tell you that a most memorable Quebec (and culinary) experience is a visit to a maple syrup camp during harvest time. 75% of the world’s maple syrup comes from the abundant maple trees of Quebec. Starting in March when the sun starts warming up the woods, the sap from the trees starts dripping. It takes a lot of trees and a lot of sap to make maple syrup – 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. This New York Times article describes a gourmet trip into the woods to a typical "cabane à sucre", or sugar shack, a rough-hewn cabin for making syrup. The meal described is far more luxurious than most trips to the sugar shack – the trips of my childhood always included delicious eggs and breakfast meats, and a delicate hybrid pancake/French toast that just screams out for the addition of delicious maple syrup. The highlight of a trip into the woods for everyone is the “tire” – syrup that has been heated until it has the consistency of soft caramel, which hardens into a delicious taffy when poured over snow. And yes, the picture above is just what you will see when you tromp out to the woods.......Pancakes anyone?

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