A horse-drawn sleigh carries its passengers along the main street of Saltford.
By Diva Danica Rush
What is it about maple syrup that brings people together?
Is it the wonderful sugary finish that completes a lazy brunch? The warm amber glow that signals spring is on the way? Whatever the reason, there is something about maple that unites Canadians to rural counties.
My friend Lauren, her two kids and I recently spend the afternoon at Samuels in Saltford. This lovely
restaurant partnered with local producers Robinson Maple Products to host “Maple Magic Fest”, a two-day celebration of everything maple. Everything MAPLE!! Since neither Lauren, her kids nor I can resist anything maple, we had to check it out.
Everything, I mean everything, was maple.
Maple Cheese Cake. Maple Crème Brulée. Maple Walnut Truffle. Maple Mousse. Maple Cream Fudge. Maple Tarts. White Forest Maple Cake. Maple Macaroons, Maple Walnut Peanut Butter Cookies.
Maple! Maple! Maple!
Our eyes cruised over the treat selections as we sat down to enjoy the homemade chili and hot chocolate that was served as a main dish. As the cheese melted into my chili, my mind focused on the task at hand. Which desert would I get? ! What can I bribe the kids with to make them share their maple treats with me? I tried in vain to calculate how much maple a reasonable adult could put in her mouth before strangers would look at her funny.
We made our selections: A well-executed plan of divide and conquer. Iris narrowed in right away on the maple mousse. A wise choice. Emmett took his time, pacing up and down in front of the display till he finally picked out a Maple Macaroon for him and his mom to share. My heart stopped. NO! That was what I was going to pick! I panicked. If I pick the same treat as Emmett then my game plan of sneaking a bite of the kid’s treats would be thrown out the window. I could feel my personal feast of everything maple slipping out of my grasp. Fortunately, there were other wonderful treats to choice from. I quickly regained my composure, took a deep breath and brought a Maple Crème Brulée to our table.
You know a dessert is good when the only sound coming from the table is… mmm… mmm… mmm. Heads are bend over their own treats, no bites are shared and no crumb is shown mercy. I only had the Maple Crème Brulée, and it completely satisfied my maple lovin’ soul.
Filled with sugary bliss and chili good times, we gathered with other locals on a horse carriage that took us around Saltford. Signs of spring were upon us and it was good to simply be outside with others. Maple does that to people; it brings us outdoors at the end of winter, it warms our bodies and makes us feel young at heart. On the way home I asked Emmett what his favourite thing about maple is. He said, “It’s maple-y… and it’s from Ontario.”
Yep, sounds about right to me.
For more local maple events check out:
Robinson’s Maple Products Sugar Shack
Where: 85351 Harper Line just north of the Belgrave Road and east of the Dungannon Road.
What: A tour of a sugar shack to see how maple syrup is made. Product for sale.
When: As long as the sap is running. If steam is coming out the stack, maple syrup is in the works.
How: Call 519-529-7857 to book your tour or come by chance.
St. James Church Pancake Brunch and Sugar Bush Tour
What: St. James Anglican Church in Middleton hosts its annual fund-raising sugar bush tour and breakfast.
When: Saturday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: Horse-drawn hay rides leave from Pine Lake Campground Recreational Hall, 77794 Orchard Line and travel to Rick Schilbe Farm for a tour of the sugar bush and shanty. The Bayfield River Valley Trail Association will also lead groups of walkers through the Schilbe maple bush to visit the shanty for the tour. Walkers will depart at 10 a.m. and again at 10:30 a.m. This is an easy ¾ km walk along an old bush road.
Cost: The cost for the brunch is $10, adults; $5, children 12 to 6 years; and youngsters aged five and under are free. Proceeds from the event will go to world outreach.
48th Annual Belmore Maple Syrup Festival
What: A community festival for all ages with crafts, dancing, music to celebrate maple syrup.
When: Thursday, April 9 to Saturday, April 11, with pancake breakfasts served daily.
Where: Belmore Community Centre,91122 Belmore Line R.R.#1 Wroxeter.
Cost: Admission to the community centre is free. Meal prices: $10 adults, $5 children ages 6 to 11, free for children under 5.
Blyth Creek Maple Farm Tours
What: Sugar bush tours, tree identification, hot chocolate, pancakes and maple syrup
When: Tours by appointment.
Where: 42232 Moncrieff Rd, Blyth
Contact: Phone Val at 519-357-7558
Extend the season by picking up some pure maple syrup and try this recipe at home. Remember to store your syrup in the fridge once you’ve opened the package.
MAPLE CHEESE CAKE
- Twenty-four 5- by 2 1/2-inch graham crackers
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup pure local maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
- Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Accompaniment: pure maple syrup if desired for drizzling
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a food processor finely grind graham crackers (you will have about 3 1/2 cups). Melt butter. In a large bowl stir together graham cracker crumbs, butter, and maple syrup and press evenly into bottom and up side of a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap bottom and side of pan with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil to avoid leakage.
In bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a food processor beat cream cheese on low speed, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until smooth. Add syrup and eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and cream and beat until just combined.
Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 1 hour (cake will not be set in centre but will set as it chills). Cool cake in pan on a rack. Chill cake, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 4 days.
Remove side of pan. Serve cheesecake in wedges, drizzled with maple syrup.