One of Canada’s most famous products is probably maple syrup, thanks to its amazing deliciousness and sweetness. So, when I went to Canada last year, not only my suitcase was filled with maple-syrup-based food, I also had to make sure to be high on maple syrup during the whole week I spent there. This was a success.
What is a sugar shack?
Most of you may know, or guess, that maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees. To get it out of the trees, you have to wait until spring (which is when it flows due to cold nights and warmer days), then put some sort of tap in the tree and collect the sap. Then you can make maple syrup out of it.
Well, a sugar shack (cabane à sucre in French) is a place, traditionally a cabin in the woods, surrounded by maple trees, where they produce maple syrup and make delicious hearty and traditional meals, which main ingredient is, of course, maple syrup.
They are very popular especially in the northeast of Canada and during spring because the best way to celebrate warmer weather is of course with a full belly and a lot of sugar!
What do you eat at a sugar shack?
As I said, the main ingredient is maple syrup, which is incorporated in a variety of different dishes. I hardly remember seeing any vegetables or even salad on the table, which was instead filled with so many different hearty and warm dishes.
These include staples of Québécoise cuisine, such as baked beans, pea soup, all sorts of meat pies, pancakes, etc. There were also some vegetarian options, which was really nice for those of us who didn’t eat meat. My favourite part was probably the dessert though.
I have very fond memories of the maple sugar pie and all the sweet cakes and pies that were on the table that day. Needless to say, it is hard to eat and finish everything, but it is absolutely delicious.
After eating at the table, we rolled and crawled outside to try some maple taffy. It was the main reason of our visit, so even though we were completely full, we just had to try it. Besides, there is always some space in my stomach for sugar!
Maple taffy is some sort of candy made out of fresh and hot maple syrup that is poured on a fresh layer of snow. The maple syrup hardens a bit and you collect it with a wooden stick to form some sort of lollipop. It tastes like maple syrup, it is delicious, full of sugar, and you’ll want to eat it every day once you’ve tried it.
You may guess from what I said above that I had a wonderful time that day. The weather wasn’t that cold, the sun was shining from time to time, and I was the highest on sugar I’ve probably ever been.
The place we went to was the Handfield Inn, a few miles away from Montreal, in a lovely cabin which was nicely decorated with wooden furniture in a traditional way. Some traditional music was also playing on the background and the whole atmosphere was just lovely and felt really authentic.
After the whole maple syrup extravaganza, we went on a short sleigh ride and walked a bit around the place, eating some maple taffy from time to time. Then, we headed back to Montreal with the car, driving around the centre.
Needless to say, writing this article and remembering about that day made me very hungry. It is really an experience I would recommend to anyone visiting Québec around that time of the year and also something I would like to do again in the future! Obviously, the whole week I spent there was amazing and I did so many things and ate so much food, but more about that in another post!
Have you ever been to Canada? And to a sugar shack? Do you like maple syrup?