Monday, March 29, 2010


Eggs poached in Maple Syrup & Bacon cooked in Maple Syrup: both are delicious! (scroll down for recipe)

Update in 2011: La pe'tite cabane d'la cote is still going strong and still worth a visit! The Dinning hall has been expanded as well as the petting zoo. It still gets a bit soupy so wear rainboots with wool socks, if you can, to save your boots!

When I first moved to Montreal just after my ninth birthday I went on a Cabane a sucre (Sugaring Off) field trip with my french immersion class. Cabane
a sucre for Quebecers means visiting maple producers who are open to the public in early spring when the sap in flowing. Most Cabane a sucre offer, on location, a traditional breakfast-like meal heavy on the maple syrup. A traditional Cabane a sucre meal may include: homemade meat and/or sugar pies, pea soup, pancakes, baked beans, sausages, bacon, ham, homemade pickles, eggs poached in maple syrup etc... What I vaguely remember about my first time is gleefully pouring maple syrup on everything including my sausages and bacon. It was a revelation! I remember being impressed particularly by the warm communal ambiance that came from having large groups share long tables. Traditional live music added to the festive mood. Horse drawn carriage rides were also offered, as they traditionally are, and were a hit.

Our school visit included a tour of the Cabane a sucre's maple syrup operation with an explanation of how the sap is collected from the trees and reduced to produce the good stuff. Near the end of the visit it was tire d'erable time (maple taffy) where hot, thick maple syrup was poured on to snow and then somehow wrapped around Popsicle sticks to be eaten like candy on a stick.

The Cabane a sucre experience has changed a lot in the last 30 years, and is very popular with tourists (read: tourist trap). Many Cabane a sucre are open all year round and host major events such as weddings. I have been to several Cabane a sucre on daycare visits with my children in the last few years and have been disappointed that the maple syrup must be purchased separately from the meal. The meals themselves have become more assembly line fare than anything with very little actually having been cooked in maple syrup. Some Cabane a sucre are like Disneyland and lack that rustic feel. Some places pack so many people in at one time that it can be difficult to use your utensils without elbowing someone. The Cabane a sucre experience can be, if you do not choose wisely, an overrated and over priced breakfast that you had to drive way too far to partake of. For several years I gave up going because I was disappointed so often.

Fine herb oven baked omelet

Luckily, last year, after much research and a strong desire to present my children with a more authentic Cabane a sucre experience (like that of my first field trip), I found a place called La p'tite cabane d'la cote in Sainte-Scholastique, Mirabel. A tad expensive: 25$ per person on weekends (although less than half that for children with children under 2 eating for free), but well worth it! The pea soup was rich and flavourful, the individual homemade tourtieres au veau (veal meat pies) were gratifyingly meaty, and the Grand-pere dans le sirop (dumplings in maple syrup) were bizarrely addictive. The homemade bread and pickles added that extra touch that was greatly appreciated. I would say all around my meal at La p'tite cabane was the best meal I have had at a Cabane a sucre in years. The rustic dining area held an ambiance that was casual and very lively in the right way. And thankfully we were not packed in likes sardines. And for the very small: there is also a petting zoo that doesn't horrify sensitive animal loving adults.

My kids enjoying Tire at Jean-Talon Market

Oreilles de crisse

I recommend La p'tite cabane particularly for those who have never experienced Cabane a sucre so that they may understand why we Quebecers love it so much. The pictures of La p'tite cabane where taken in late April when the snow had completely melted. I recommend going in mid to late March to get a better feel for the traditional experience. Here is a translated version of the menu offered at La p'tite cabane d'la cote:

Three pea soup
Homemade bread
Individual veal pie
Homemade ketchup
Homemade baked beans
Fine herb oven baked omelet
Smoked Ham
Roasted potatoes
Oreilles de crisse*
Buckwheat pancakes
Dumplings in maple syrup
Maple in the snow (tire)

*Oreilles de crisse is a traditional Quebec dish consisting of deep fried smoked pork jowls. (source:Wikipedia)

Eggs poached in Maple Syrup &
Bacon cooked in Maple Syrup

For the eggs: Very simply add equal parts water and maple syrup to a small sauce pan so that the liquid reaches at least 2 cm / 1 inch high. Bring to a gentle simmer. Crack egg into a small bowl and then gently deposit raw egg into simmering syrup. Poach until desired doneness is obtained. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon, and place on a clean dish towel. Trim poached egg and serve. I would poach no more than 2 at a time.

For the bacon: Cover the bottom of a cast iron pan with maple syrup (about 75 ml / 1/3 cup for a 26 cm / 10 inch pan), and heat pan on medium. Lay bacon in syrup and cooked until desired doneness is obtained. Watch out the maple syrup glazed bacon must be handled carefully as it becomes very hot! Remove bacon with a fork and serve. My rule for cooking bacon and it applies here is : when the bacon looks a minute from done take it out!

Petting Zoo h
as been recently expanded.


  1. Your kids are so cute!

    This sounds like a great place. We'll be looking for something family friendly next year. Thanks!

  2. Yes they are good little guys. Thanks

  3. Hmmm they really outdo most cabanes à sucre I've been to lately, but I'll tell you a little secret: the eggs and pancakes are just an excuse for me to eat basketfuls of "oreilles de crisse" (same as pork rinds, right?)!


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