No one can mention Quebec without thinking of maple syrup! Every year, the long-awaited start of spring after the winter months marks the time for sugar and trips to the countryside when sugar shacks open their doors to us. This sweet water, signature of our province, amazes us and makes us travel everytime with its flavours and colours.Photo credit: Mia Du Sault
But what makes maple syrup so special?
Nos Cabanes, a local company dedicated to showcasing our maple syrups, shares with us the magic that surrounds this golden fluid.
It's a winter day in February 2015 that it all started. Claudie Brassard, founder of Nos Cabanes, wanted to combine product launch, beautiful packaging and a product she loves to start a business.
It is at this time that Nos Cabanes' DNA started to take shape by promoting Quebec’s local produce through maple syrup.
The name, chosen in collaboration with Nicole Lapierre, a renowned strategist in Quebec, who contributed to the foundation of the brand, was obvious: simple, it aims to create an emotional link for Quebecers and allow people to discover syrups from various regions of Quebec. It is in October 2016 that the adventure officially began for Nos Cabanes.
Photo credit: Wiktor Pajor
Nos Cabanes embellishes our tables with different golden shades syrups that awaken our taste buds with their own character. It makes us discover and appreciate different flavours of maple syrup presented in beautiful reusable bottles with a sophisticated design, while making us travel through the stories of our regions and the traditions of a rich terroir.
A reference here, people met at markets there, a first human contact; this is how the selection of syrups is made. It all starts by meeting the producers, the human behind the syrup, the stories of the maple grove and the family. Claudie strolls from cabin to cabin to discover the flavours that flow from our maple trees, and spot the little sweet temptation that will stand out to please the taste buds of syrups lovers.
Indeed, she tastes one or two syrups proposed by each producer to choose her favourite. And the love story continues until the first sip of syrup before bottling.
But what differentiates each syrup? Why are there different colours and tastes? Photo credit: Mia Du Sault
Minerals, the soil, the time of year and temperature are all factors that help differentiate one syrup from another, in colour and taste.
Each syrup has its own story, and what makes it a success with people is often the reference to the past, the emotional connection with childhood memories that the taste of syrup comes to awaken again. For others, syrup is like the first kiss, a special taste that is remembered forever.
But there are also those who love maple syrup without being emotionally connected to it, like many French people. For them, syrup tastes Quebec and conviviality. And for those who discover it for the first time, Claudie describes it as a sweet product like honey, with an enveloping and harmonious taste.
When Claudie is asked what her favourite area is, the answer cannot be more charming. "It's always the last one I bottle... The syrup is always good after a long day of work at the maple grove, the meeting with the producers and the bottling, just like the first sip of wine on a Friday after a long week ".
And her recommendations?
The Fulford syrup from Bromont is perfect to remember the beautiful childhood moments spent at the sugar shack.
The syrup of St-Ferdinand is excellent in cooking, especially on salmon. In general, dark syrups are very good for cooking and salad dressings.
Lighter syrups are perfect and mild to eat with yogurt and pancakes because they taste more like maple butter.
Her favourite recipe?
Caramelized walnuts with maple syrup because she likes the ritual of turning walnuts in sugar and seeing them take shape with the golden colour of the syrup.
Nos Cabanes currently offers 9 different syrups, some of which have been offered since the beginning of this great adventure. But with 13,500 producers in Quebec, Nos Cabanes still has a lot to make us discover. Although some syrups return from one season to the next, several other sources are added over time.
And what about maple produced outside the province? It's definitely part of Nos Cabanes' plans to have a collection outside Quebec eventually, but for the moment, there's a lot to discover here and the company is focused on promoting Quebec.
Claudie's dream for Nos Cabanes?
"I would like Nos Cabanes to be well established in Paris in the short term. We already have some points of sale in France and the French response to maple syrup is very favourable, "says Claudie. "In the long run, I would like to distribute products across Canada to Vancouver."
Discover the flavours and colours of maple syrups offered by Nos Cabanes here.
Photo credit: Wiktor Pajor