Maple Syrup: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore (When in Quebec)

Full disclosure: I never really liked maple syrup before I went to Quebec City. If I ate pancakes, waffles, or French toast at all – a rare occurrence as I’m a savory breakfast sort – I’d slather on a good fruit jam. You know, something with texture and a more complex flavor profile than just sweet.

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It All Began with Pie

My first meal in Old Quebec City, nonetheless, ended with a wedge of maple syrup pie – or tarte au sirop d’érable – thanks to my husband’s aching sweet tooth. Something of the consistency of the center of a pecan pie and oozing onto a sturdy homemade crust, it surprised me. In a good way. It started out sweet, but then the maple flavor said bonjour and mellowed that cloying flavor with something just tapped, forestral.

From Soup to…

That, I was to discover, is how maple syrup rolls. And that it behooves a gourmet snob to embrace its versatility. At La Buche Cuisine Québecoise, for instance, the soupe du jour was tomato and maple syrup. See what I mean? It’s omnipresent. Again my first reaction was “too sweet.” Then I licked the bowl clean.

Maple bacon at our favorite patisserie, Paillard. Sure, that makes sense. Maple jelly, maple butter, maple candy and cookies. Bien sur! Maple syrup in cocktails from maple whiskey to maple mojitos: Clever, but even with alcohol, I remained skeptical.

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A very rich poor man’s pudding

Stuck on Maple Syrup

The turning point came with dessert at La Buche, which specializes in local folk food such as poutine and meat pies. Named simply Pouding Chômeur, the poor man’s pudding sweetly enriched my appreciation for maple syrup’s agility and dimension. It slathers chunks of “stale cake’ with caramel-y maple sauce and a healthy drizzle of cream.

Maple-glazed carrots, maple vinaigrette, maple cola, maple beer, fruited maple yogurt…. Did I detect a hint of maple in my soupe a l’oignon? Bring on the sweetness. Bring on the flavor and dimension that grow and grow on you.

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