There's nothing more Canadian than maple syrup. It's not only Canada's most delicious export, it's an extremely versatile and all-natural ingredient that's become one of our most iconic identifiers internationally. But did you know that the Ontario's Highlands region, located just 30 minutes west of Ottawa and 2.5 hours northeast of Toronto, is home to the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario, many proud producers and tons of opportunities to enjoy the sticky treat?
Maple Bacon Parfait
Mix maple with adventure in Ontario's Highlands. Learn how to make maple syrup — and "OMG!" treats like the maple bacon parfait, a decadent mixture of gooey brownie, smooth ice cream and sweet, sweet maple — on the Ottawa Valley Maple Adventures tour. Take a one or two-day tour to literally see and taste the best the region has to offer, and you'll even make your own maple syrup to take home.
The Maple Bacon Donut
Yes please! This delightful and flavourful combination can be found at Fulton's Pancake House & Sugar Bush, located in Pakenham, as well as Healthy Food Technologies in Almonte. Called "The Great Canadian Donut," this delicious treat features pan-fried bacon covered in Fulton's maple sugar. Oh yeah, we went there.
Italian sausage. Polish Sausage. Breakfast sausage. Chances are you've tried one or more of those. And if you're a fan, you'll love the sweet and savoury magic of maple sausages at Palmateer Farms Maple Sugar Bush in Tweed. Their Annual Pancake Breakfast in mid-April promises fun for your taste buds, while the wagon ride through a sugar bush with over 5,000 taps is sure to fascinate kids of all ages.
Russian Maple Mustard
While in Ontario's Highlands, visit Wintergreen Maple Products & Pancake Barn just east of Minden for this handcrafted condiment embellished with maple flavour! This epicurean spread is sure to become a new pantry staple. Just imagine the sweet kick on your summer burgers, or whisked into a dressing over oven-roasted veggies. Housed in a timber-framed barn, Wintergreen is also home to La Sucrerie Restaurant where you can enjoy traditional French-Canadian cuisine.
Coffee with maple syrup is the perfect pick-me-up, and Madawaska Coffee Co. in Barry's Bay has perfected the marriage of the coffee bean and locally sourced maple syrup. The Dark Maple Roast and Iced Maple Latte have made this anything-but-average coffee shop a popular stop en route to Algonquin Park for cottagers, hikers and coffee enthusiasts alike. Just repeat after us: Extra maple foam, please.
Maple beer has arrived and it's here to stay. Local brewers have tapped into the rich and nostalgic flavour profile, showcasing delicious notes of syrupy goodness in their best artisanal malts. Treat your inner beer lover to the Belgian Waffle Maple Quad at the Square Timber Brewing Company in Pembroke, the Oh Canada Maple Ale at Perth Brewery and the Maple Porter at Cartwright Springs in Pakenham.
For those that prefer spirits to a cold one, Top Shelf Distillers in Perth makes a Maple Reunion Moonshine worthy of a taste and a tour. Cheers!
The thought of fragrant, melty maple butter on our warm toast is what gets us out of bed in the morning. Seriously. You'll find this glorious combination of savoury and sweet at O'Hara Sugar Maples in Madoc, a family-run operation led by Stephen and Heather Needham, along with their children Vanessa and Jager. Take a trip to the family's sugar bush where you can derive your own sap and sample treats like their maple sugar candy and, of course, their maple butter.
As the winter thaw signals the coming of spring, you'll want to satisfy your craving for everything maple. Come wander over to Ontario's Highlands this coming maple season.