(Sap being collected from maple tree @ Wheelers)
It’s nearing the end of the sugar season - we have wonderful sunny and warm days but the snow is gone and the temperature hasn't been dipping below freezing at night. Before the sap stops flowing completely, I thought it would be fun if Dima and I went to see how syrup was made and indulge in a pancake breakfast drowning in maple syrup. I also wanted to get some maple taffy and go on a horse drawn wagon ride – I am such a child. With the directions inputted into the GPS off we were to Wheeler’s Pancake House and Sugar Camp in McDonald’s Corners.
Wheeler's Pancake House is about an hour and a half away from Ottawa depending on which route you take or which route your GPS takes you. My GPS seems to hate me and likes routing me through dirt roads that look like something out of a horror movie. You can get to Wheeler's Pancake House without taking these roads but I bet it won't be nearly as fun or as daring.
(Pancakes, french toast, sausages and a side of beans @ Wheelers)
When we did arrive we headed straight for the pancake house and ordered various combinations of things that required maple syrup or had maple syrup in them. I had a pancake, french toast, maple sausages and a side of maple baked beans. Dima had a stack of pancakes and a few slices of french toast and a side of maple baked beans. Before our food arrived our waitress put a whole bottle of maple syrup on our table as if she was daring us to use it all. When our food arrived I tried my best to drown my food, sausages and all, in syrup and enjoy the impending sugar rush. The pancakes were perfect, fluffy, obviously from scratch - delicious. The french toast was also good, made from grocery store bread but expertly dipped and fried. The maple baked beans were wonderfully sweet but could have used a hint of salt. We were a bit disappointed to find out that the fruit salad was canned and the orange juice was bottled. All in all, it was a good meal but we had only managed to use a third of the bottle of syrup, I feel as if I let the maple trees down.
(My friend the Scottish Highland Steer @ Wheelers)
After eating I decided I hadn't had enough maple and bought some maple taffy and we wandered around the farm. We visited the impressive chainsaw museum, made friends with a few Scottish Highland Steers, visited the Maple Heritage Museum and went on a partial walk on one of the trails before deciding I was just not up to a 10km hike. Sadly I did not end up going on the horse drawn wagon ride as I think Dima was a bit too embarrassed that we would be the oldest people on the wagon by about 20 years. Next time!
Despite no horse ride it was a fun morning. The last pancake house I had been to I had been served cafeteria style with plastic cutlery and paper plate so having a waitress and dishware was a nice change. I also enjoyed learning about the different grades of maple syrup and bought two grades which I haven't had before - extra light and amber. This definitely isn't the most authentic sugar camp experience but the food is good and it was fun running around the farm. Next year we'll try a different camp and see if we can find a more authentic experience.