Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's Maple Syrup Season!

It's that time of year again! As temperatures begin to creep above freezing, the maple tree sap begins to flow. It's maple syrup season in New England! 

My mom was in town this weekend to keep me company while my husband gallivanted around Dublin for St Patrick's Day. We had a great time cooking, bidding in an antique auction, eating as much seafood as we could manage (there's not much fresh seafood in northeast Texas), watching girly movies, exploring Cape Cod, and visiting a sugar shack in New Hampshire: Sammy's Sugar Shack!
March is "Maple Month" in New Hampshire, and as a part of the festivities, many syrup producers open their doors for tours and free samples. We made the drive up to Milford and had a great time at Sammy's. The sugar shack is in a beautifully renovated barn located on their family farm (complete with beef cattle grazing out back).  This is only their second year of operation, and as we toured the cozy facility, their evaporator was running with a fresh batch of sap for the first time this season. Shelves were lined with bottles of syrup, maple cream, maple candies made by Sammy's wife, and maple sugar -- we brought home a little bit of everything!
Another I would recommend is Parker's Maple Barn in Mason, NH.  We toured their sugar shack last year when our friends Jimmy and Laura visited from LA, and we loved it. It's a larger, well-established (yet still rustic) facility with an in-depth guided tour. Their roaring wood-fired evaporator is a sight to behold.
If you want to make a morning of it, they also have a restaurant serving up breakfast (including pancakes and their own maple syrup). Sadly, we had to skip out on breakfast as there was a 2 hour wait by the time we arrived later in the morning.
Last but not least, if you want to make the trek to Vermont, the maple syrup motherland, you might want to pay Mom and Pop's a visit in Rochester.  It's an adorable little family-run operation, and we're big fans of their syrup and their maple cream. About 20 minutes down the road, you can also find beautiful handmade maple wood bowls at The Bowl Mill. In between the two is the cutest little shop called Sandy's Books and Bakery (formerly Seasoned Books), a perfect pit-stop for a freshly-baked pastry with coffee, a sandwich for lunch, or a little book browsing.
There are dozens of producers in the area that we have yet to visit, so let me know if there are others I need to try! Here's to celebrating maple syrup season!

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