Almost a Sugar Bush: Maple Syrup Time is Here

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‘Tis the season…

For maple syrup, that is.

We’ve had our first real taste of spring sunshine and temperatures in the past week or so, and the first crocus shoots have appeared in our front garden. Somehow, these things always leave me with a craving for pancakes…or french toast…sometimes waffles… Really, they are all just carriers for the real star of the season, fresh maple syrup.

Last Sunday, Donald and I woke up to another beautiful spring-like day and decided it was a good day to go find a sugar bush. I say “find” a sugar bush because we rarely go to the same place twice. There is no shortage of maple syrup producers in our area and all of them have something fun and unique to offer. After a quick internet search we discovered that the Warkworth Maple Fest was happening – not only pancakes,maple syrup, snow taffy, sleigh rides and the rest of the maple syrup experience at Sandy Flats Sugar Bush, but a celebration of the Warkworth downtown. We were sold – and 40 minutes later we were pulling into a very busy Warkworth.

Now, there is both an upside and downside to this story. The downside was that we never made it to Sandy Flats

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Sugar bush, although we did try. We diligently stood in line for the shuttle bus that took people from downtown Warkworth to maple syrup bliss, but eventually realized, after multiple full busses passes us without stopping, that we were standing at the last of who knows how many bus stops. It reminded me of those good old days at Trent when the Trent express, bursting at the seams, drove by the PR bus stop without so much as slowing down…except his time I was one of the PR students looking helplessly at the bus as the early boarders smiled and waved. Luckily Sandy Flats is open again this weekend, so our chance (and yours) for a new sugar bush experience isn’t lost.

Now I did say there was an upside. The lovely town of Warkworth, and all of its Maple Fest events, definitely made the trip worth while. Neither Donald or I had spent much time in Warkworth, so we made lots of good finds. We did the requisite Maple Fest events – a tour through the juried art show, a peruse of the antique show/sale, and maybe even some petting of the llamas in the petting zoo.

Then we started our Tour de Warkworth in earnest.

We visited a great little bakery, Cara Mia, and the next door pottery and glassworks studio. Since we are both absolutely powerless against the smell of a bakery, we left with a couple of prosciutto and cheese filled pastries and a ginger molasses cookie.

As we continued our trip down the main street, we found ourselves perusing On the Side Catering and Food Shop (and noted that they had some interesting cooking classes). A bit further down the street we found ourselves at the very funky Cheeky Bee store, wandering amongst all things honey bee – all kinds of different flavours of honey, lovely bees wax candles, you name it. As a wanna-be bee keeper, this place was particularly close to my heart.

Our travels also took us into a fantastic artists co-op, the Supreme Bean coffee shop, and the Back Talk Cafe (the kind of place where you take the first open chair rather than wait for a free table and then order good old North American diner food – hot roast beef sandwiches on white bread, huge toasted westerns, grilled cheese, and luckily, all you can eat pancakes with Sandy Flats maple syrup!).

So, really, we may not have had the sugar bush experience we were intending, but what a great day of exploring the culinary and artisan treasures of a small town!

Really, that’s he definition of a good day for us lovcavore-geeks.

And there is always this weekend for our sugar bush adventure. According to KawarthaNOW.com, there are lots of maple syrup tasting and buying opportunities still to come. McLean Berry farm has their annual weekend festivities for the next three weeks, and Ganaraska forest will have their big maple syrup event next weekend. Not to mention the numerous farms selling their fresh syrup at the farm gate (see KawarthaNOW.com) and at the Peterborough Farmers market.

We’ll have to plan this weekend’s events carefully.

See you at the sugar bush!

Krista

Check back later today for some syrup-inspired recipes.

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