Gearing up for spring the right way
Ahh winter: where the days are short and the nights even longer. A time when all you crave is warm and rich stews and soups to fill you up, and steaming cups of tea to keep your hands warm. But now that February is closing in and March lies ahead, the light at the end of the tunnel (or Spring) is in sight! Though every Montrealer knows that spring and summer don’t really start until construction crews are wreaking havoc on the island, we can look forward to something tasty: Sugar Shacks! If you’re planning on being in Montreal in the next couple of weeks, FlightHub reviews the basics of sugar shacking so that you can enjoy your time in the city to the fullest.
For those who are unaware of what a sugar shack is, or les cabanes à sucre for our francophone friends, and otherwise known as a sap house, this is a place where your sugary dreams come to life. Canada produces about 71% of the world’s purest maple syrup, with over 91% of the product originating in Quebec. By all accounts, this undoubtedly makes Quebec—and Montreal—maple syrup gurus if you will.
What’s the difference between pure maple syrup and plain old table syrup? A quick taste will make you realize what you’ve been missing out on all these years says FlightHub. Generally thicker in texture, maple syrup comes from, you guessed it, the sap of a real maple tree. Maple syrup plays a large role in Canadian history and heritage, making it a real staple in both diet and culture. Rather than smothering your pancakes with fake, imitation syrup (that, let’s face it, is probably made from corn), take advantage of the benefits found in pure Canadian maple syrup: it contains antioxidants, is high in minerals such as zinc and manganese, it’s also delicious, and just makes you feel like a good Canadian.
For those of you who find yourself in Quebec during the typically short spring season, be sure to make your way to a sugar shack and enjoy a traditional Quebecois meal. Mandatory field trips and school excursions to a sugar shack shaped the love and appreciation for maple syrup in all Quebecois children from a young age, so when you go make sure to do the following:
- Tour the facility and see just how many trees it takes to make a beautiful can of maple syrup
- See the boiling process of the tree sap into the beautiful, brown syrup
- Break for a meal of pea soup, bacon, potatoes, meat pies, cretons, maple syrup ham, pork rinds, baked beans, sugar pie, apple and maple crepes, am I painting a picture for you?
- Maple taffy on snow. Basically the best thing you could think of, simply take hot taffy straight off the heat and pour onto sticks waiting in the cold snow. Once cooled, twirl the syrup onto the stick and enjoy.
Most establishments lie just beyond the city in areas dedicated to farming, but don’t think for a second that the urban centre has forgotten about these tradition meals. Premiere restaurants like Au Pied de Cochon offer authentic sugar shack meals made available to their ritzy patrons, emphasizing that everyone and anyone could go for a good ol’ meat pie. FlightHub’s pro tip if you’re ever unsure of what to eat: never leave the sugar shack until you’re sufficiently full and jacked up on all the natural sugar you can find.