Maple Syrup Tins
Tins like this aren't specific to Sucrerie de la Montagne. You can find maple syrup from various maple farms for sale in identical vessels elsewhere in Canada. The blue label indicates the syrup's classification by national guidelines, but provincial guidelines can also apply.
The Sugar Bush
Sucrerie de la Montagne is a maple farm (a.k.a. "sugar bush") that spans 120 acres of land in Rigaud, a Quebecois town west of Montreal. The bush contains over 200 maple trees, relatively small by industrial farming standards.
Maple Taps by Hand
Maple syrup is the reduced product of maple water, which drips from holes drilled approximately 1.5" into mature maple trees (at least 50 years old). The water begins to flow at the end of the winter and typically continues for 6-8 weeks, running most strongly when a warm day follows a frigid night.
The Boiling Room
During sugaring off season, the staff of Sucrerie de la Montagne collects buckets of maple water by hand and dumps the liquid into this tank, where an extremely lovable lumberjack named Simon Rozon uses wood fire to boil the water down to syrup. The proportion of water to reduced syrup is 40:1.
Did You Say Firewood?
No? Well, here's a bunch of it, courtesy of Quebec.
The Done Deal
Sucrerie de la Montagne sells light and medium amber syrup on the premises. A bottle like this is placed on every dinner table in the house. It tends to be decimated by the end of the night, a testament to how impossible it is to get sick of eating pure maple syrup.
The traditional way to down a fresh barrel of maple syrup is with a French Canadian lumberjack feast. Sausage, ham, and thick, crunchy slices of back bacon figure prominently in said feast at Sucrerie de la Montagne.
Maple Syrup Tastes Great on All of This.
Other suspects in the lumberjack feast lineup: mashed potatoes, baked beans, meat pie, meatballs in gravy, and bread baked in a stone-construction, wood-fired oven.
A Cauldron of Split Pea Soup
This particular cauldron is just for show, as food for the dining rooms are prepared in a modern kitchen. But the soup is fantastic either way, mildly seasoned and (yes) great with maple syrup.
Pickled cucumbers, pickled beets, and catsup (more like a sweet tomato relish) are all made in house. They're on the sweeter side, but each is extremely tasty.
Unfairly Addictive Pancakes
Served for breakfast and for dessert, Sucrerie de la Montagne's pancakes aren't the best I've had. But the mild flavor and compact form factor make them the perfect vessel for world-class maple syrup, making it extremely difficult to keep from eating just one more.
Caribou: A Traditional Quebecois Regret
Pierre Faucher, founder of Sucrerie de la Montagne, has this to say about carbiou, Quebec's answer to sangria: "White wine, red wine, blueberry wine, white whiskey. I would join you in a toast, but I don't drink the stuff...To life. To sex before marriage."
Sucrerie de la Montagne serves guests all year, but the house is especially crowded during sugaring off season.
When enough guests RSVP for a meal, they're greeted with live French Canadian folk music. Stefan Faucher, son of Pierre, often joins the musicians onstage to play the spoons.
Maple taffy is made by lashing ice or snow with extra-thick maple syrup. Visitors wind the cooling syrup around popsicle sticks to form a kind of soft maple popsicle. Impossibly addictive.
Pierre Faucher, Founder
By the end of our weekend on the farm, we'd taken to calling Pierre "the most interesting man in the world." His accomplishments include traveling across Africa by foot, building the sugar shack and cabins that comprise Sucrerie de la Montagne, and informing me that "work is stupid."
Stefan Faucher, Manager
Pierre's son Stefan grew up in the sugar bush and has grown into a caretaker role as manager of Sucrerie de la Montagne's business. If you pay a visit, you'll probably end up chatting with him, and you'll definitely enjoy it.
Simon Rozon, Boiler
As the maple harvest reaches its peak, Simon mans the boiler room every day. A former lumberjack who's been making maple syrup for almost 40 years, Simon personifies the accumulated skill, tradition, and warmth that makes Sucrerie de la Montagne's operation a national treasure.
Pierre's Face on Everything
If you enjoy drinking games, take a shot of caribou anytime you see Pierre's face printed, painted, or carved into an inanimate object at Sucrerie de la Montagne. If you see Pierre's face on an animate object, I believe the rules require you to down a quart of maple syrup.
The Sugar Shack
Dear Lord, protect this sugar house and all who dwell within the sugar house.