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Friday, March 20, 2015

Sweet taste of spring awaits in Ontario’s Lake Country and Springwater maple syrup region

   One-Tank Trip for March 21/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   How sweet it is.
   The sap is running after a long, cold winter and predictions are for a great maple syrup season across southern Ontario.
   They’re “Tapping into Maple” in Ontario’s Lake Country and Springwater that takes in Orillia, Oro-Medonte, Rama, Ramara and Severn, north of Barrie.
   This touring program involves 29 “maple destinations” for that “quintessential Canadian flavour” through May31,” said Jennifer Whitley, marketing manager.
Tom Shaw demonstrates the pail method of collecting sap. (Jim Fox photo)
    It includes popular eateries, resorts, sugar bushes, museums and shops, all tied into maple.
   Shaw’s Maple Syrup Bush in Hawkestone is where Tom Shaw said the season got off to a slower start only last week but should continue through mid-April.
   “The wet, cooler summer last year set us up for a good season now, followed by the cold, hard winter,” he added.
Come and get them as Terri-Lynn Shaw works the grill making pancakes at Shaw’s Maple Syrup Bush. (Jim Fox photo)
   With warm days and cold nights, the maple trees will continue pumping out the sap.
   It’s been that way for 111 years for the Shaw family, with 5,000 maple trees producing 4,000 litres of syrup from 160,000 litres of sap.
   An annual ritual for many is to head to Shaw’s for buttermilk pancakes soaked in maple syrup, French toast, sausages and maple baked beans.
Maple syrup by the bottle and jug are available at Shaw’s. (Barbara Fox photo)
   The pancake house is open daily 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until April 12 and visitors can take a horse-drawn sleigh ride on weekends, see how sap is collected and boiled into syrup, and make maple taffy on the snow.

   More sweet treats
   Hewitt’s Farm Market & Bakery in Warminster produces about 25 syrup products from barbecue sauce and coffee to maple butter.
   Visitors with Tap into Maple passports can enjoy a sample butter tart and tour the sugar shack where syrup is made and the “scratch bakery.”
   People have already been visiting the Lalonde Sugarbush in Elmvale looking for the early-harvest light maple syrup.
Tim Lalonde demonstrates how maple trees are tapped and sap is collected at his sugar bush. (Jim Fox photo)
   Tim Lalonde demonstrated how trees are tapped for some visiting writers and gave tours of his bush camp and “sugar shack” with samples of maple cotton candy.
   Lalonde will be participating in the 50th annual Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival on April 25.
Eclectic collectibles and maple candles are at Concord Candle on the Maple Route in Orillia. (Jim Fox photo)
   The sap is also boiling at the Steamy Kettle Sugar Bush in Craighurst where syrup samples are available.
   At the Farm Gate in Brechin, discounts are offered on Harrington’s syrup and Meadowsweet Soap Works maple products.
Laurie Thompson of Chelsea Chocolates offers visitors some maple-inspired treats. (Jim Fox photo)
   The treats continue at Orillia’s Mariposa Market and downstairs at Apple Annies as well as Chelsea Chocolates at RR 1, Barrie featuring maple truffles and buttercream chocolates.
Treats at Mariposa Market in Orillia (Jim Fox photo)
   Other events include the Springwater Harvest Festival on March 28 and 29.

   Maple on the menu
   In Orillia, dining with the syrup theme includes Era 67 restaurant for braised short ribs with Shaw’s syrup and maple creme brulee.
Era 67 offers diners maple-inspired amuse-bouche bite-sized hors d'œuvre. (Barbara Fox photo)
    Grape & Olive: Wine and Martini Bistro provides a maple truffle with its Mediterranean-inspired menu and the Brownstone Cafe has spring maple beer and maple whiskey.
   Passport holders receive a free package of maple tea at the White Lions Tea House.
Say fudge at Apple Annies in Orillia. (Jim Fox photo)
   There’s sweet dining at Casino Rama’s restaurants with maple-inspired dishes now through March 29 while its Balance in Life spa offers a maple-and-sugar treatment.

   Nicholyn Farms in Phelpston is giving out samples of maple granola and sells a variety of locally produced maple products.

   Stay awhile
   - The “Sugary Sweet Stay & Play” package at Casino Rama Resort, in a deluxe fireplace suite, includes a Shaw’s sugar bush tour, breakfast for two and a $100 resort credit ($289 a couple).
Deluxe fireplace suites at Casino Rama Resort (Barbara Fox photo)
    - There’s the Maple-Infused Family Package at Bayview Wildwood Resort in Severn Bridge and the Sweet Maple Package at Forks in the Trail Bed & Breakfast in Oro-Medonte that can include a themed cooking class and dinner for two.
   - The Tap into Maple Getaway at Knights Inn Harbour Resort and Lakeview Restaurant in Lagoon City includes a $40 dinner voucher and pancake breakfast with Harrington’s syrup.
   And, how does Tom Shaw enjoy his maple syrup? No question: on top of vanilla ice cream and bananas.

  Flapjacks doused in maple syrup along with sausages are popular treats at Shaw’s pancake house. (Barbara Fox photo)
   Need to know
   For details about the Tap into Maple passport, participants and to plan a getaway: tapintomaple.com
   To find out about other syrupy events, including the Maple Syrup Festival in Elmira on March 28: ontariotravel.net

   Travel was provided by Ontario’s Lake Country and Bruce Grey Simcoe.
   Ontario’s Lake Country, located within the tourism region of Bruce Grey Simcoe, is Orillia and area’s four season playground.
   For more information on these destinations, visit their websites:
www.OntariosLakeCountry.com and www.BruceGreySimcoe.com

Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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