A few months back, I started planning what I’d be writing this Spring in the Food & Wine department. One of the things on the list was MAPLE SYRUP, you see I was born and ran wild in the beautiful province of New Brunswick. Which is known for producing really, really nice people, potatoes (have ya heard of McCain Superfries?) and well, maple syrup.
New Brunswick is the only official province in Canada that is bilingual (fun fact), and is also known for its massive Eastern seaboard weather tsunamis. Think Yetis and snowshoes. Despite this high frequency of crazy weather, every spring, sure as shit the maple trees release their sugar.
I always get a chuckle when I tell my maple syrup story, so here goes: Many moons ago, on a starry moonlit night, an owl whoot, whooted from his branch in the orchard as he looked down on two University of New Brunswick Forestry Students who were apprenticing with Uncle Vinny. They were receiving instructions about tapping maple trees, when out came a screech so terrifying that the owl is still on the missing persons watch list.
First hand details, remain to this day a secret, but some bits of the story have been whispered about at my family get-togethers. During one of those idyllic family din-dins, wine glass in hand, I found myself beside Uncle Vinny. We started talking about his farm and how he manages to get it all done. Since I was young and single at the time, a fact that usually directed all my conversations, I asked Uncle Vinny if his students were cute. He looked at me with big eyes and said, “Why would it matter if they are cute?, they can’t even tell a maple tree from their assholes!” Yup, that’s right. Typical dinner table conversation that right there.
I now live in the way too civilized and serious province of Ontario where we have to be reminded that french fries come from potatoes (I’m talking to you, McDonald’s) and where the most global thing we think about is the 2 inches in front of our face. I’ve been missing a simpler time, my misspent youth seems like a Little House on the Prairie re-run.
This winter has been hard for a maritime-dreamer as myself. The calendar may say APRIL, but it snowed on Sunday night – it was also minus 10 degrees!!! Everyone and thing is going cuckoo for Spring. I thought, ‘just cause you ain’t in the maple forests anymore, Miss, don’t mean you can’t see for the trees – Create Your Own Spring Gurl!
That’s right buttercup, I gathered up my Grandmother’s heirlooms, hired my daughter as a hand model, and brought this feast for your eyes. MAPLE, CARDAMOM, APPLE + PARSNIP SOUP AND A SPRING WINE PAIRING. This was one of the most simple things I’ve ever created. I want you to be prepared for how seriously easy it is. Chop and measure everything first or else this is gonna get so ahead of you.
Here are the details on how to make it yours.
The mystery of the UNB Forestry students still pops in to the headlines. Uncle Vincent taught me a really great lesson that winter night long ago.
If there’s any advice I can pass on to you it’s THIS:
To sticky situations and sweet solutions,