I know, sounds like an unappetizing title for a post but just you wait....
We can be grateful that this past winter wasn't too brutal here in Toronto and still be annoyed that it seems to have clung to the calendar as it has. But while we're just starting to embrace the idea that spring is actually here, our friends the maple trees have been feeling it for a few weeks now and also showing their appreciation for the mild winter by offering up a veritable tsunami of sap. And that means 2016 is going to be a very good year for maple syrup.
We've got a little syrup tsunami of our own to celebrate this great Canadian delicacy, which - remember - is not just for pancakes and tourist gifts. The Domestic Goddess herself, Nigella Lawson, uses it in meringues for "the sensation of oyster coloured lingerie". And of course it works brilliantly in all kinds of cooking for a taste that is both luxuriously sweet and intoxicatingly earthy. We are a lucky nation indeed to be such a major producer.
But be warned, there is plenty of meh maple out there - just none in our store, where we've got a shelf full of the best organic syrups our region has to offer: Drip Maple's copper grade is a personal favourite; from Prince Edward County, Edwin Farms offers a beautiful amber syrup while County Yum serves up a darker syrup flavoured with smoked chilli (they also make a spectacular spiced honey you'll find on the shelf on the opposite side of the store); Jakeman's is the Canadian classic in three sizes of tin while Shady Maple No. 2 comes in the equally classic Leone Glass bottle; and for those of you who are traveling and want to share the taste of Canada with friends abroad, Citadelle's softpak will lighten your luggage considerably without sacrificing flavour.
Meanwhile on the Mediterranean....
What is the equivalent of the cabane a sucre in Italy, Spain, Greece or Portugal? You certainly dress differently and there's more wine involved but the celebrations of the production of olive oil are the stuff of legend going back many centuries. We've always had a great selection but have recently added some new offerings from Portugal and Spain so come on in and check them out because once you're done celebrating spring, that means summer is on its way and nothing says summer flavour quite like olive oil.