The Sweet Spot: Experience Maple Syrup Season at JW Marriott Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa
Andrew Hind The warming days of April bring with them maple syrup season, an annual tradition in rural Canada and a favourite for family eager to experience a taste of spring. There’s no place better to experience the bounty of the liquid gold than JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort, where the resort’s talented chefs have crafted a maple inspired menu to tempt your taste buds. Maple syrup isn’t just for drizzling over pancakes and waffles. Executive Chef Shaun Crymble is excited about the new menu and how it reflects the season. “This is a new endeavour for us this spring and we’re excited about it,” he enthuses. “We’re using only the best-locally sourced maple syrup from Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm. Robin (Executive Sous Chef Robin Little) did a tour of the farm so that the experience could be incorporated into the menu. What we came up with speaks to the character of maple syrup season in Muskoka.” Begin your dinner with steaming bowl of maple-roasted butternut squash soup, made with pumpkin seeds, sage and maple-infused cream, and maple bacon lardons. It’s so good you’ll be scraping the bottom of your bowl for every last mouthful. For a main, savor the maple-glazed pheasant breast, served with braised red cabbage, apple and onion soubise, and drizzled with a mouth-watering red wine maple syrup reduction. Perhaps the best was saved for last, the sinfully good maple syrup sugar pie. Put aside your diet for this one evening and enjoy. “This is pure Canadian flavour,” enthuses Little. “It’s like a buttertart and is inspired by a Quebecois tart that uses maple syrup. The rosemary and thyme crème fraiche and lemon thyme pudding provide a unique twist, and the local cranberry compote (sourced from nearby Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh) roots it in Muskoka.” Pull yourself away from the table long enough to experience the process behind the maple sugaring process as performed by Muskoka’s settlers. Tap, collect, boil, and taste during onsite demonstrations every Thursday and Sunday from 1-4pm starting March 20th. With gorgeous views of Lake Rosseau, an indoor-outdoor heated pool, and soul-soothing spa, it’s easy to get lulled into a sense of tranquillity at The Rosseau. But if you can pull yourself away from the comforts for just a few hours, you may perhaps want to tour Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm in Huntsville, or any one of the other area sugar bushes taking part in the first annual Muskoka Maple Trail (www.discovermuskoka.ca/muskoka-maple-festival.html), to appreciate how a commercial maple farm operates. Maple sap runs for only a brief window, and so too does the maple menu at JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort. Visit before April 24 to savour the bounty of the springtime Muskoka woods. Resorts in Ontario offer an incredible range of experiences for all season, and many member properties have integrated the sweet taste of maple into their menus. For more information, go to www.resortsofontario.com. Maple Syrup Sugar Pie With Rosemary and Orange Crème fraiche, Bala Cranberry Compote, Lemon Thyme Pudding Courtesy JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort and Spa Maple Syrup Sugar Pie Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar 2 large eggs at room temperature 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (preferably dark amber) 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together brown sugar and eggs until creamy. Add cream, syrup, and butter, then whisk until smooth. Pour filling into pie shell. Bake pie in lower third of oven until pastry is golden and filling is puffed and looks dry but still trembles, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on a rack to room temperature (filling will set as pie cools). Rosemary & Orange Crème Fraiche Ingredients: Juice of 2 oranges 2 tbsp golden caster sugar 2 small fresh rosemary sprigs 2 x 200g cartons crème fraiche (recipe follows) Directions: Pass the orange juice through a sieve into a small pan with half of the caster sugar and rosemary and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely, then remove the rosemary sprigs and discard. Fold into the crème fraiche, then cover and chill until needed. Crème Friache Ingredients: 1 cup whipping cream 2 tablespoons buttermilk Directions: Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature (about 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days. Maple Cranberry Compote Ingredients 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (about 8 ounces), rinsed 1 cup pure maple syrup (preferably grade A dark amber) 2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries 1/2 cup maple sugar or (packed) golden brown sugar Directions (Do AHEAD; can be made 3 days ahead): Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until berries pop, about 4 minutes. Cover and chill. Rewarm over medium heat before serving. Lemon Thyme Liquid Gel Ingredients: 100ml Lemon juice 100ml Water 100gm Sugar 2tsp thyme leaves 3gm Agar Agar Directions: Bring water, sugar and thyme leaves to a boil add in Agar Agar and cook 1-2 min more. Allow to cool before mixing with lemon juice. Allow to set until cold. Process in Vitamix until creamy, strain, reserve at ambient temperature Andrew Hind is a freelance writer specializing in travel and history. He is the author of 19 books, including Muskoka Resorts: Then and Now. He can be reached at maelstrom@sympatico or followed on Twitter @discoveriesAM.