Spring is upon us and the maple sap is running; the sugaring off season is officially here! In Quebec and Ontario, where maple syrup is produced, this time of year necessitates high-tailing it to the nearest cabane à sucre, or sugar shack, to gorge on all things maple. Get your sweet tooth ready, you’re going to need it!
(Photo of Sand Road Maple Farm by Michel Rathwell on Flickr.)
Cabane à sucre Au Pied de Cochon, QC
Martin Picard is known for his over-the-top interpretations of traditional Quebecois cuisine, and nowhere is this more apparent than at his Au Pied de Cochon sugar shack. You can be guaranteed that there will be plenty of foie gras and maple syrup on everything. Not surprisingly, it’s already booked up for the 2016 season. Let that be a reminder to reserve your spot for 2017 early!
Auberge Handfield, QC
Handfield Maplery is just a short drive from Montreal, making it the perfect weekend getaway from the city. Check out its accommodation packages, which include a one-night stay at the country inn, along with lunch or dinner at the sugar shack. It also has vegetarian, vegan, and pork-free menu offerings to ensure that everyone can appreciate the sugar shack experience.
Sucrerie de la Montagne, QC
This year-round Quebec heritage site is even better if you visit between February and the beginning of May. Not only can you book your own sugar shack event in one of its three reception halls, you can stop by for an all-you-can-eat sugaring off feast, complete with incredible country-style bread, crispy pork rinds, and of course, tourtiere. And get this, you can even buy its maple perfume to remind you of the experience.
Erabliere au Sous-Bois, QC
Make sure to arrive hungry if you’re planning a visit to this sugar shack in Mont-Saint-Gregoire, east of Montreal. You need room to enjoy all of the Quebecois classics, from sausages in syrup to pudding chomeur. You can also buy maple products in all forms; maple syrup, maple butter, maple sugar, maple caramel, maple tea, you name it. If there’s has maple in it, chances are, this place has got it.
La Tablee des Pionniers, QC
As the brainchild of Quebec celebrity chef, Louis-Francois Marcotte, this sugar shack is all about the food. Menus range from $30-50 per person and include offerings like pulled piglet and mushroom puff pastry, a souffled omelette with cheese curds, and maple sticky toffee pudding to finish on a sweet note, naturally.
If you want to get your sugar shack fix without leaving the city, check out Scena in the Old Port area of Montreal. On weekends during March and April, it offers a five-course menu with maple syrup incorporated into basically every dish. Of course, no sugar shack experience would be complete without maple taffy, and yes, it has that too.
Crinklaw Maple Products, ON
Crinklaw has been around for almost 200 years, so if it doesn’t know how to produce near-perfect maple syrup by now, no one does. Despite not offering any sugaring off feasts, you can still visit for a tour of the property and taste its maple syrup, as well as its maple butter.
Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush, ON
Pancakes and maple syrup go together like, well, pancakes and maple syrup. Not only does Fulton’s produce the maple syrup itself, it also offers maple syrup on tap to pour over the pancakes at its pancake house. And you can’t forget to stop in at its maple shop to stock up on its famous maple candies. So. Much. Maple.
Temple’s Sugar Bush, ON
Maple popcorn and maple sticky buns warrant a trip to Temple’s Sugar Bush in Ontario. Take a walk around the nature trail to work up an appetite before enjoying all-day breakfast at its pancake house. Be sure to try the maple granola or waffles topped with maple whipped cream, and obviously, with a side of maple baked beans for a thorough tasting of its offerings.
Sand Road Maple Farm, ON
Make a day trip to Sand Road, located on the outskirts of Ottawa, this sugaring off season. Take a horse-drawn wagon ride and enjoy some fresh air before taking part in its maple farm buffet, which includes all of the staples: pancakes, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, and maple baked beans. It’s a great idea for a family outing!