Where in world...?

An old friend phoned the other day. He never phones. But this time he just had to know: "What are you doing living in Florence?"
He thought I was in Florence, Italy. I told him it was Florence, Massachusetts.
Here are some answers -- my occasional wanderings through Florence, MA and the surrounding Pioneer Valley.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sugar Shack in the Hills

Last Sunday, I went with my yoga buddy, Jeff, and his wife (my sushi buddy), Lori, up to Ashfield, Massachusetts to go swimming in maple syrup. I am only slightly exaggerating. South Face Farm has been a farm for about 150 years, and the maple sugaring has been going on since 1952. Jeff and Lori come up here frequently from Northampton, with only a 25 mile drive through the hills. I was really excited to be asked along on this trip, as I had been wanting to go to a sugarhouse since moving to Massachusetts. I had grown up in a part of New England that is closer to New York City, without such attractions nearby. The main objective on this visit was to eat a meal dripping with maple syrup. Jeff had refrained from eating anything that morning, except for a yogurt, in order to have enough room for the maple sugar-covered brunch he was envisioning.

The maple sugaring season has started early this year, as have other natural processes related to springtime. Usually the sugaring happens when it's still really cold, but the days have grown longer and the longer hours of sunshine provoke the sugar maple sap to start running. The photos below show the typical wintry look of maple sugar season from previous years.
Sap drips into these pails, to be boiled down later.
Inside is maple syrup mecca. (http://www.southfacefarm.com)
While I am not the greatest connoisseur of maple syrup, I did appreciate being able to pour it on everything without guilt or paying extra. To have this privilege so close to the source of the syrup made it very special and perhaps made each of us even more gluttonous.

We were so busy with eating and pouring maple syrup that I neglected to take pictures. (I would have ended up with a sticky phone, if I had tried.) But here is a quick rundown of how we tried hard to replace our red blood cells with maple syrup:
  • Three coffees with maple syrup (at least two tablespoons per cup)
  • One waffle with maple syrup ice cream and blueberries
  • Short stack of French Toast made with cinnamon bread, covered with blueberries and maple syrup (at least one cup)
  • One combo plate with 1 pancake, 1 French Toast, 1 corn fritter, covered with two cups of syrup
  • One plate of corn fritters (four), each to be covered with maple syrup (1/4-1/2 cup) on individual plates
  • Small plate of pickles
Okay, so the pickles weren't dipped in syrup. They were meant to give us a palate cleanser, of sorts. And a disagreement arose around the waffle with ice cream, but I supported the notion that the ice cream would have had enough syrup, offsetting the need to pour additional syrup on top. I will admit it would have looked pretty, but would have caused the ice cream to start melting even faster than it already was trying to do. You can check out the menu yourself, and if you're coming to next year's maple syrup season, let me know! Many thanks to Jeff and Lori for showing me the way to maple syrup nirvana!

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