Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I’ve got a huge crush on all things maple. Ever since I was a child, my grandfather and I would, after dinner, mop up maple syrup with my grandmother’s thick homemade white bread for dessert. I occasionally do it now, but for the most part, anything that looks like it would be good with maple syrup usually gets it. Eggs, sausage, bread, beans, and of course the traditional fare that begs for it, such as pancakes, waffles, French toast and ice cream. It just makes everything better.
So you can imagine my delight when our friend Eric showed up with this magical little bottle of syrupy goodness, hand-made with so much care (even the label!). Eric is from New Brunswick and his family makes maple syrup annually up in the Crabbe Mountain area. Many years ago, before my husband moved to Ottawa, he went and made syrup with them. Eric’s dad tapped all the trees so the collection of sap went downhill, allowing gravity to flow the juice into the barrels. The watery sap would fill one of the 55 gallon rain barrels that they would later put up onto a makeshift sled (made of wood and two old skis) and push it back up the hill to their camp. Then they’d dump the sap into a big cast iron cauldron and light a fire below it for about 24 hours. The end result was a measly 1 or 2 gallons of sweet syrup - but worth every single second of work it took.
I opened it immediately and took a tiny spoonful, followed by another, then another. A delightful medium grade syrup so smooth and silky on the palate, and highlighted with sweet, smoky flavours. I could drink the whole bottle. But this amber liquid deserves to be paired with something equally amazing. So for breakfast, that’s what my husband did.
“You don’t need butter on those”, he said as I reached for what I thought was a normal pancake. These golden disks were so soft and eggy, they just turned to a creamy texture as soon as they came in contact with the heat of your mouth. Their title describes them perfectly – Heavenly Hots. My husband got the recipe from the New York Times, and it originated at a restaurant in Berkley CA in the 80's. Made with 4 eggs, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 tbs sugar, 4 tbs flour, and this is where it gets crazy, 2 cups of sour cream. I drenched them in syrup, each slice dripping like a broken faucet. Simple breakfast sausages toned down the sumptuousness of this meal, but not enough to stop me from rolling each one in the maple syrup.
And since we're on the topic of maple. A couple weeks ago in Mont Tremblant, I had the pleasure of trying a new Quebec liqueur made from local maple syrup – Coureur des bois. It's velvety and creamy and well, perfect. On ice cream, in coffee and alone on ice. Yumm!