|The sugar shack|
I stepped out of the van and scanned around me. The first thought in my mind was, "Ok, this is what I expected Canada to be like." I was standing on a sloping hill. To my right was a wooden cabin with several kegs on the sprawling front porch. Two meat smokers vented silver plumes out front. I could smell bacon and fresh air. Behind me, a stand of maple trees was entangled with bright blue tubing - a capillary network funneling their sap into a processing center. Sugar shack, indeed.
|Sap tubes strung between the maple trees near the sugar shack|
|The layer cake. Julie's face says it all.|
Over the next three hours, we were served a series of 15 courses, each one more delicious than the last. Most of them included maple syrup - in fact, my cocktail was just champagne, gin, and syrup.
|Cheese souffle with maple-glazed bacon|
There were other more obvious dishes. Cheese souffle with maple-glazed bacon on top. Calamari stuffed with ground pork. Salmon meatballs with peas and avocado. Beef roast in clay pots with maple syrup, pineapple, and cranberry.
|"Eat it like nachos"|
Our meat-heavy main course was whisked away, and then dessert came out. In my opinion, dessert was the most creative round. We had deep-fried dumplings with maple paste inside. Maple toffee pops served in shaved ice decorated to look like snow. Maple ice cream sundaes. Then there was something on a wooden platter that I'm going to struggle to describe. It looked like a pile of tree bark, but it was really thin layers of fried batter alternating with maple cream. "Eat it like nachos," our waiter explained. It was unexpected and wonderful.
This weekend was a Canadian cultural experience, to be sure. I got to experience North America's French-speaking island, and I have never eaten so much foie gras in my life. It was an amazing adventure!