Québec’s Cabane à Sucre/Sugar Shack Tradition
4 April, 2017
It’s springtime in Québec. And that means, among other things, that the cabane à sucre (sugar shack) visiting season is open.
What is a cabane à sucre? It is simply a seasonal restaurant, housed in a large log cabin, that serves an all-you-can-eat buffet of all things maple syrup: maple baked beans, maple ham, maple scrambled eggs, maple pancakes, maple bacon, maple dumplings, maple sugar pie…you get the idea.
Is there anything more Canadian than maple syrup? Maple syrup, you may be aware, is pretty much a Canadian badge of honour and a trademark product of the Canadian economy. And Québec just so happens to be the #1 maple syrup producer of not only Canada but also all of North America.
Cabanes à sucre, or sugar shacks, are offered by maple syrup farms in the Eastern provinces and open to the public in late March, just when conditions are best for tapping sugar maple trees to harvest their sap. These conditions include temperatures rising above 0 Celsius and the winter frost starting to thaw––basically, cold nights and warm days, as is the case in early spring. Maple farms are typically family-owned, though they are becoming increasingly commercial, and also typically have a tire sur neige/tire d’érable (maple taffy) stand and an exhibition of maple-extraction equipment on the grounds.
If you have never visited a sugar shack before, you really should, during your trip to Québec. It is a great way to discover a fun aspect of the local culture and to sample a champion product of the Canadian economy. Not to mention, the food is absolutely delicious. A common beginner’s mistake at sugar shacks is to not leave enough room for dessert during your meal. So take note, after each round of table service, and after each course is savored, that you’re not done until the phat desserts sing.
Click on each image below to explore 5 highly rated sugar shacks in the vicinity of Montréal, Quebéc.