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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Tap into spring with Ontario's sweet treat -- maple syrup

   One-Tank Trip for March 18-17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   How sweet it is!
   They’re tapping into spring with the running of the sap to make Canada’s iconic maple syrup.
   Visit a sugar shack where sap is collected from maple trees and boiled into syrup, and tour a sugar bush to learn about the making of this sweet treat.
Tom Shaw shows the traditional method of tapping maple trees using a hand drill on his Orillia-area farm. (Jim Fox photo)
   It’s all possible at the 53rd Elmira Maple Syrup Festival on April 1, the world’s largest single-day fest of its kind that attracts 70,000 people in one day.
   Come early and hungry to this community north of Kitchener-Waterloo for a pancake and sausage breakfast served from 7 a.m.
   Some 15,000 servings of flapjacks, smothered in 750 litres of syrup, are devoured.
   There are trips to the sugar bush, a pancake-flipping contest, dog show, petting zoo and toys, quilts, crafts, antiques and collectibles, along with great food including maple syrup toffee.
   Children can enjoy midway and pony rides, inflatables and musical performances.
Yum. Come and get ’em – flapjacks smothered in maple syrup. (Ontario Tourism)
   It’s free to attend (pancakes are $4 and sausages $1) and there’s a charge for events. elmiramaplesyrup.com; 1-877-969-0094

   Tapping in
   Take a step back in time at Shaw’s Maple Syrup Bush, off Highway 11 on Line 14, south of Orillia, to see the tradition that started in this forest in 1904.
   “Many of those original trees are still producing our liquid gold today,” said Tom Shaw.
   Now through April 16, the tradition continues with buttermilk pancakes soaked in maple syrup, French toast, sausages and maple-baked beans served daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
   Come on the weekend for horse-drawn wagon rides through the trails where Shaw has recreated how sap was collected years ago.
   Visitors will see 4,000 trees connected with tubes to collect 160,000 litres of watery maple sap that becomes 4,000 litres of syrup.
Demonstrations are given at the Elmira festival about how maple syrup is made. (Ontario Tourism)
   “If the weather’s been just right, you will be able to watch and smell the sweet sap boil away through the evaporator,” he said.
   Sap needs warm days and cold nights to get flowing. shawscatering.com/maple-syrup-bush; (705) 327-3311
   Shaw’s is among 22 businesses “Tapping into Maple” in Ontario’s Lake Country & Heart of Georgian Bay that takes in Orillia and the area north of Barrie and beyond.
   This touring program features the quintessential Canadian flavour through May 31 and includes restaurants, resorts, sugar bushes, museums and shops, all tied into maple.
   There are specially designed, self-driving routes for visitors to “experience first-hand our maple-infused history and sample mouth-watering maple cuisine at unique local attractions like Shaw’s,” said publicist Jennifer Whitley.
   Other events include a pancake breakfast April 8 at Hewitt’s Farm Market, the 26th annual Sweetwater Festival at Wye Marsh, March 25 and 26, and Casino Rama’s Maple Festival until March 31. OntariosLakeCountry.com; 1-866-329-5959

   Sweet treks
   The Savour Stratford Maple Trail happens now through April 30 offering six maple tastings from among 22 participants.
Take a horse-drawn wagon ride through the maple forest at McCully’s Hill Farm near St. Marys.
   They offer these culinary experiences for $25 and include six restaurants “presenting maple syrup in exciting savoury and sweet creations,” said Cathy Rehberg of the Stratford Tourism Alliance.
   Other savoury tastes include maple squash soup, dipping sauce and condiments using syrup.
   There are crepes to cookies and handcrafted maple moonshine along with local maple syrup direct from the sugar shack and traditional hand-poured maple sugar candy.
   Enjoy a pancake brunch at McCully’s Hill Farm Maple Festival near St. Marys on Saturday and Sunday this month along with a sugar bush tour.visitstratford.ca/mapletrail; 1-800-561-7926
   Other sweet treats include the Muskoka Maple Trail through April 29, ending with a festival in Huntsville. discovermuskoka.ca/muskoka-maple-trail
    The Bronte Creek Maple Syrup Festival in Oakville until March 26 is where 1890’s costumed interpreters show the process of making syrup and there are wagon rides and a pancake house. ontarioparks.com

   London area: The Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush, home.primus.ca/~greaterlondonkinsmenclub/sugarbush.html; Fort Rose Maple Co., Parkhill, fortrose.ca/brunch.html; and Crinklaw’s Sugar Bush, crinklawmaplesyrup.com


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

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