Having grown up in Montreal, I’m embarrassed to admit that before Sunday, I had never been to a cabane Ã sucre. Eager to look like a sugar shack veteran, I dressed in black and red plaid, put on some long johns and grabbed my rain boots. I arrived excited, expecting to see metal buckets full of sap being boiled into syrup. But unfortunately, there was no syrup being produced that afternoon.
This seemed a tad odd, but rather then dwell on the disappointment, I decided to go for a horse sleigh ride. This was clearly not the best way to lift my spirits, since a lack of snow meant we spent the better part of the ride on the paved roads just outside the cabane’s property. A trip to the farm and to see the “wapitis,” an animal resembling a reindeer, also didn’t live up to my expectations (or the photos featured on the cabane’s website.)
Despite the lack of activity, I had worked up an appetite and was pleased when lunch rolled around. I was served a traditional sugar shack meal that included pea soup, eggs, and various pork products. There was syrup-marinated ham, pork sausages and a giant bowl of “oreilles de crisse”, also known as deep-fried pork rinds. Though not all the dishes were to my liking, I felt the cabane did the menu justice, especially in the dessert field. Between the maple and butter pies, the crÃªpes and the grands-pÃ¨res, a doughy dumpling boiled in syrup &- my sweet tooth was nearly satisfied. All that was left to do was grab some popsicle sticks and head to the pile of snow where I rolled the freshly poured syrup into some delicious maple taffy, which unlike the majority of the experience didn’t let me down. I managed to grab two before heading home, with a giant stomach ache and a desire to research a more authentic cabane Ã sucre for next time.
The sugaring off season stretches from late February until early May. For a list of sugar shack locations go to bit.ly/chvda6