Sugar Shack time!
As mentioned in my last post, it's maple harvesting season in Canada, which means that maple-flavored things are everywhere. One uniquely Canadian experience that we've heard a lot about is the "sugar shack," or "cabane à sucre." Picture a log cabin-esque building out in the middle of nowhere that's devoted to making maple syrup and serving up homestyle meals. Meals designed to be eaten with generous helpings of syrup, of course.
I started my second round of French classes a couple weeks ago, and last week, the teacher mentioned a school-sponsored field trip to an authentic sugar shack called Osias outside of Montreal. I'd been curious for awhile about the experience, so I signed up. Why not, right? We have a reservation in May for a higher end, fine dining sugar shack, but I wanted to try the rustic version as well.
After boarding a big yellow school bus, we began our journey into rural Quebec. It reminded me a lot of driving through rural Georgia in the States, but with a lot more snow. Yes, there is still snow on the ground here, and we got a fairly significant amount of it earlier this week. The weather is definitely starting to warm up, but I'll take snow in April over the reports of thick yellow pollen back in Georgia. Pollen is the worst. Anyway, this was definitely farm country, and I saw massive fields of snow as well as some horses.
We finally arrived at the shack, and it definitely looked like I imagined. After a brief explanation of how maple syrup is harvested, we headed inside to eat. The interior reminded me a lot of rural Southern BBQ places I've seen. Wood from floor to ceiling, random photos on the wall, and tchotchkies everywhere.
The food was served family style, and while the menu wasn't what I expected (kind of a mixture of breakfast and lunch, but not brunch), it was definitely a uniquely Quebecois experience. I didn't know any of the people on the trip, but I ended up chatting with a woman across from me that immigrated from Russia. She spoke Russian, English, and French (wow), and she worked as a translator. Canadians always have a lot of questions about the States, and I always enjoy answering them.
After finishing up with some maple tarts and coffee, we headed back to Montreal. I'm glad I got to see some previously unseen parts of Quebec, and it was an experience that you definitely wouldn't find in the States. If the weather holds up, Marny and I will be doing even more exploring next weekend with a trip to Quebec City. Until then, à bientôt!