I was invited to join a Toronto food bloggers' day trip to Stratford, Ontario for a maple syrup tour this past weekend. Not having grown up in Canada, it was a first maple syrup tour experience for me (apparently it's a yearly thing for many Canadian kids). It turned out to be a great (albeit freezing cold) day, I learned a great deal. And as expected, we ate very well. Our gracious host, Emily Chandler from the Stratford Tourism Alliance was so kind to plan our itinerary and take us around to local farms and restaurants.
I had no idea maple syrup came out from trees very watery with a very mild flavour! It tasted just like sugary water, actually quite refreshing. Different grades of maple syrup are specific to the time of the year it's harvested (ie. lightest syrup in the spring and heaviest towards the fall). The sugar content of the sap determines the grade of syrup you end up with. So many interesting facts and figures I had never heard of before. We even had culinary demonstrations (and recipes) at Let Them Eat Cake for using maple syrup in cooking. Everything was SO good!
It was a great way to spend a Saturday and it's not too far outside of downtown Toronto. Stratford not only has quite a vibrant culinary scene, it also has a very well known theater community and festivals that happen every summer. Apparently, it's also Justin Bieber's hometown ;) it looks similar to parts of Vermont, actually. I met some great people (and even a few adorable animals). I even brought back some amazing maple cured bacon from McCulley's Farm and farm fresh eggs from Soiled Reputation. I'm looking forward to coming back for more great food this summer. Many thanks to Suresh, publisher of Spotlight Toronto for the invitation and Emily Chandler for organizing the trip!
Here's a list of the places we hit and things we did and ate in Stratford:
Balzac Coffee Roasters (cappuccino and croissant)
Revel Caffe (for delicious cappucinos and house-made schnecken pastries)
McCully's Hill Farm (an informative maple syrup tasting/tour and maple cured bacon from happy animals)
Simple Fish & Chips (delicious lunch, all Ocean Wise seafood and local veggies)
Perth Pork Farm (learned about heritage pork breeds from farmer Fred Martines)
Soiled Reputation (great story telling by farmer Anthony John and organic fresh eggs and greens)
Let Them Eat Cake (cooking demos for cooking and baking with maple syrup, more great food and a more syrup facts from Hoover's Maple Syrup)
I'm getting hungry again. More photos in my Flickr album.