ROAD TRIP: Ten reasons to visit La Sucrerie de la Montagne in Rigaud for sugaring off time
1. It’s the REAL deal. This “old-time” sugar shack, a designated Quebec Heritage Site, will make all of your other sugar shack experiences feel like Chuck-E-Cheese compared to the Disneyland that is the Sucerie.
2. The property, a 120-acre forest of century old maple trees, is absolutely idyllic. Horsedrawn wagon rides add to the “there was a life before iPads” moments.
3. It’s the choice of Laureen Harper.Two weeks ago, Mrs. Harper put on her rubber boots and drove up to Rigaud with a crew of kids and friends as well as a few Mounties. “She has a good sense of humour,” says Pierre Faucher, the owner of the Sucerie who personally hosted the group during March Break.
4. The scent of fire. There is an enormous fireplace in the dining hall. The bread is baked in wood ovens and the sap is boiled over real fire. The intoxicating scent of campfire permeates the visit from start to finish.
5. The food is fantastic! No buffets, food is all served to your table. Forget stingy pancakes from a mix with a couple of limp sausages: this is the ultimate traditional no-holds-bar Quebecoise feast: pea soup, crusty bread, maple-smoked ham, wood-fire baked beans, omelette soufflé, sausages, traditional meatball stew, real mashed potatoes, Oreilles de crisse (crispy-fried pork rinds), meat pie from Québec’s Beauce region, homemade fruit ketchup & pickles.
6. Save room for dessert: traditional sugar pie that oozes creamy maple [insert name of addictive substance here] and the most tender, delicious pancakes I have ever tasted. It’s almost impossible to put a dent in the huge bottle of syrup on each table. Then just before your raise the white flag, maple syrup on snow awaits outside.
7. Did I mention the food is amazing? Everything is fresh and homemade using the traditional techniques. That means the kitchen goes through 100,000 eggs during the sugaring off season. Remarkably there are only 8 cooks who turn out this unbelievable feast to nearly 1800 people every weekend.
8. The music…the dancing…getting swept up in the fun. All of your senses will be tingling by the end of the meal, that’s when the musicians come out and everyone gets stomping, clapping and dancing. It really feels like a glimpse of what life was like for Quebec pioneers.
9. Pierre Faucher and his family have been running this place for 34 years. Everything is exactly the same as it was and it feels like it will always stay this way. Such a comforting thought.
10. It’s the best-kept secret of 35,000 visitors every spring. And that is perhaps the real magic of this place: that it manages to transform what might otherwise feel like a kitschy tourist trap into a genuine authentic (and did I mention, delicious?) experience.
Sucerie de la Montagne, 300, ch. St-Georges, CP 1540, Rigaud, Quebec, 450-451-0831,www.sucreriedelamontagne.com