Maple syrup making is a sticky business (that’s right…I went there). Just ask my neighbors to the north where there was an $18 million maple syrup heist–about 3,000 tons worth–in Quebec resulting in several arrests. Maple syrup cartels? Yeah, we got some of those here in our cold corner of the world. Maple syrup tourism is also big business, attracting outdoorsy types and city slickers interested in how the stillness of maple trees yields so much golden revenue or wanting to try new culinary dishes in which a splash or two of maple syrup complements or draws out the flavor of an entree.
Maple syrup is indigenous to North America, so for visitors coming to United States for the very first time, perhaps skip burgers and hot dogs and treat yourself to a true taste of the land. We’ve got plenty. My favorite state in the union, Vermont, is the biggest producer of maple syrup with 75,000 acres of Vermont forests churning out more than $32 million worth of maple syrup. Not surprisingly, it shares a border with Canada’s biggest maple syrup producer, Quebec province, which pumps from its trees between 70 and 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup. Thus, the maple leaf on the nation’s flag.
Peak maple syrup season is happening now, when days get warmer but nights are still cold–that’s when the sap starts to rise inside the trees. Taps start tapping when maple trees reach a certain level of maturity, around 30 to 40 years. This is a great time to savor nature’s bounty, an act usually reserved for fall. Tour the sugar shacks or “cabane a sucre” in Quebec or book a weekend at a cozy inn in Vermont and enjoy homemade pancakes with fresh syrup or maple syrup fondue with fruit (one of my favorites). Anyone who reads this blog knows I could go on and on about Vermont and Quebec. I also gush about Vermont and Quebec for CheapOAir. That’s because both regions are beautiful and the food is sublime. One of my favorite places for maple fondue is Le Petit Chateau, a small restaurant next to the giant hotel Le Chateau Frontenac, an extremely classy place worth putting on the credit card. Here I am in downtown Quebec enjoying Le Petit Chateau’s maple fondue paired with a flute of hard apple cider. Both went down easily.
Talking about maple syrup has me thinking it’s time to book a weekend at a favorite Vermont hotel, TopNotch Resort and Spa or maybe we’ll return to Basin Harbor Club where we got married. I’ll let you know where we land.