As American as Maple Syrup

I recently heard a radio interview of an author who’d just written a book about maple sugaring. That’s a topic near and dear to B&B owners in the Northeast given a propensity for pancakes and French toast. Here are some of the interesting things I gleaned.

  • Maple is one of the few truly North American flavors. Maple does not come from other sectors of the world.
  • 75% to 80% of the world’s Maple Syrup comes from Canada, primarily Quebec. (Just imaging their national flag with that dominant maple leaf.)
  • The rest—1.32 million gallons– comes from the U.S.—Vermont being the #1 producer, followed by New York, Maine, Ohio and Wisconsin.
  • There is a new Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, called “the OPEC of maple syrup,” and maintains a “global strategic syrup reserve” containing tens of thousands of barrels of maple syrup. Canada in fact, sets pricing of Maple Syrup and is moving to change the labeling of grades
  • The bulk price for Maple Syrup has increased by 89% since 2000.

That’s a bummer. Unfortunately anything that good seems susceptible to getting roped in, controlled, doled out and makes me want to move into a grove of maple trees and make my own. But…

  •  It takes 30 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup! Or about one tree yielding a pint of syrup.

One of my friends was diagnosed with a kind of “fatigue syndrome” some years back and her nutritionist took her off all white foods—flour, sugar, pasta, rice—and told her to use only maple syrup as a sweetener. She got better, and she got very inventive with her maple sweetening. True maple doesn’t cause those spikes in glucose levels like most other sugars.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with artificial maple syrup of the Log Cabin type, which is mainly high fructose corn with maple flavoring. After this frigid winter, the maple season is not projected to be that great. The sap has yet to flow steadily—to do that, it must maintain 40 degrees in daytime, 20 degrees at night—and the weather doesn’t make it likely that pricing will get better. The narrow window of time between ideal sugaring weather and the budding of the maple leaves, which detracts from the flavor of the syrup, can get reduced greatly in a year of late storms like 2014.

Down the road in Dover, Madava Farms, the home of Crown Maple Syrup, opened as we reported back with our Red Chair sagas; their website touts 100% Certified Organic Maple Syrup.  It’s a remarkable operation; the site is worth checking out. MapleFactory


Here’s a quote from their site: “Visit Madava Farms on weekends to sample the week’s fresh cuttings for lunch in our selection of fresh sandwiches, grilled panini, composed salads, hearty soups, maple baked goods and specialty desserts.” They’re open 11am to 5pm most Saturdays and Sundays.

Oh, and by the way, it is officially spring in this hemisphere. Will someone tell the Big Guy?


Hudson Valley Restaurant Week— Bring Your Appetites!

There are seven counties north of the Bronx that claim the historic Hudson Valley as their own. (Hilltop House Bed and Breakfast is in Dutchess county, on the east side of the mighty Hudson.) So when they put together the Hudson Valley Restaurant Week and a .com loaded with delicious details, it’s well worth the gander.
First of all, HVRW is a misnomer since it runs for two weeks, 14 days, beginning March 10th through the 23rd. Nearly 200 top restaurants will spread their collective table clothes to offer up 3-course dinners for $29.95 (plus beverage, tax and gratuity). Some offer 3-course lunch fare for $20.95 (plus beverage, tax and gratuity). You must call the restaurant in advance, but no ticket is necessary—and most, but not all times (usually high traffic seatings of Saturday nights for example) offer the special pricing.





Don’t forget, Hudson Valley is home to the Culinary Institute of America [ CIA ] as we’ve pointed out previously—so the proverbial dart board of great chefs circling it is pretty packed.

The Valley is also home to fabulous apple orchards, wine vineyards, maple sugaring operations, and pure and simple historic tourist attractions. Saute that all together and there’s lots to do, lots to eat, and after this winter, mud season will be welcomed with open arms!

You can find a great listing on their website that maps out the restaurants, has menu listings, shows hours of operation and how to contact them:

And because the Hudson Valley is also flush with local produce and crafts, we’ve edited this list of indoor farmers’ markets in the Hudson Valley that coincide with the Hudson Valley Restaurant Week(s). Bon Appetite! and we hope to see you soon at Hilltop House.

Pier/dock by Sloop Club across from train station
open all year, Sun 11-3

Hudson Valley-Greig Farm
229 Pitcher Ln., Red Hook
open all year, Sat 10-3

Millerton Indoor
North East Community Center, 51 South Center Street
Jan-Apr, 2nd & 4th Sat: 10-2

61 & 80 E. Market St.
open all year, Sun 10-2

Pine Island
W. Rogowski Farm, 329 Glenwood Rd.
Mar 15 & 29, 10-3

Cold Spring Indoor
Philipstown Community Center in Garrison
Nov 24-May, Sat 8:30-1

Palisades Indoor
Palisades Community Center, 675 Oak Tree Rd.
Jan 18-May 17: Sat 9-1

Callicoon Indoor
8 Creamery Road, Delaware Youth Center
Mar 9 & 23; Apr 6 & 27: Sun 11-2

Kingston Indoor
Old Dutch Church, 272 Wall St.
Dec 7-Apr 19, 1st & 3rd Sat, 10-2

Chappaqua Indoor
St. Mary’s Church, 191 Greeley Ave.
Dec-Apr, Sat 8:30-1

Hastings Indoor
Library (Dec, Apr, May); James Harmon Community Center (Jan-Mar)
1st & 3rd Sat, 8:30-1

Mt. Kisco
St. Mark’s Church, 85 E. Main St.
open all year, Sat 9-1
(914) 666-8069

Pleasantville Indoor
Pleasantville Middle School, 40 Romer Ave.
Dec 7-May 10, Sat 9-1

South Salem
Gossett Brothers Nursery
year-round, Sat 9-1