Every year Diva #1 plans a trip to the cabane à sucre with her cousins and P’tit Frère. Growing up with six male cousins and a brother was quite the experience. Now in our twenties, we also inherited another male cousin who moved here from Greece, and along the way we have collected what we affectionately call our wannabe cousins. These people are defined as friends who want to be cousins and have gotten to know the entire family by coming to family events, celebrating holidays with us, attending weddings and birthdays, and the occasional pig roast. The first honourary member was Sweet Pea, a favourite amongst the cousins, she has spent many hours with Diva #1’s family. All the women in the family fight to have her marry their sons but the cousins love torturing her, so Sweet Pea remains disinterested. Well, except one cousin who is trying to wife her… never mind, he too tortures her in a different way. Diva #2 is one of the newer additions to the wannabe cousins, and this was her second year trekking to the cabane à sucre with Diva #1’s family.
This is not the Au Pied de Cochon Cabane à Sucre; this was not meant to be gourmet, but instead it was the typical sugar shack for families. Extra loud, full of children, with Quebecois country music playing live, long tables characterize the hall, and food à volonté. Usually we stick to the same sugar shack, but this year we decided to try something new. So we piled up in our assorted cars and headed to Cabane à Sucre Bouvrette because this sugar shack came with a petting zoo… making it a huge motivating factor for the child in all of us.
Unfortunately the meal started off badly. Our reservation was at 1:00 pm and we were only seated at 2:15 pm, everyone was starving and ready to scalp the host calling out the reservations. We sat down to our homemade bread, pickles, beets and these weird onions that we fed to one of the new wannabes tagging along. The bread was unfortunately not the usual crusty bread that we have grown to expect, but instead it was slice bread, a little ghetto but hey, cabane à sucre is not meant to be gourmand! And for 19$ all you can eat, how picky could we be?
The large pot of pea soup arrived, was tastier than we remembered, we added plenty of salt and pepper, and scoffed away. Sweet Pea served everyone while they yelled at her to serve faster and she yelled back at the group of cousins that she has come to love. One of the cousins brought along his girlfriend that Diva #1 was meeting for the first time, she was appropriately mocked, and the implication that she was being cheated on was thrown around many times throughout the lunch. We are happy to note that for some reason they are still together! You need to be thick skinned to be part of this family.
Next came Sweet’s Pea favourite, the wieners in syrup [insert inappropriate sex joke here] – yup, when we were choosing which Sugar Shack to visit Sweet Pea insisted that they had to have the little hot dogs. And she got her way! The coleslaw was nice and vinegary but it is the wieners that were devoured in minutes. At this point one of the cousins, who is known for berating Sweet Pea, usually by calling her hefty, began his usual abuse, while another cousin flirted with her shamelessly. Why does she come back?
Next came Diva #1’s favourite treat, the pork rinds and jowls which is a lot of crispy bacon and oreilles de crisses. After all, maple, pork belly and fat are the essence of a trip to the cabane à sucre. One of our friends had recently broken kosher so we all eagerly watched him eat pig and egged him on. Diva #1 has a remarkable understanding family who accepts people who are different … well we accept that we will change them in some fashion. So we watched him eat pork, and then yelled that he didn’t leave us enough. You really can’t win! More pork was ordered and Diva #1 ate even more until she had to ask Sweet Pea to move the oreilles de crisses away from her because she couldn’t stop eating.
The potatoes and baked beans arrived, the boys all threatened to fart after an overdose of beans on the car ride home, and the women sharing cars with them glared and muttered. The potatoes were decent but we’ve had better at other sugar shacks, but the beans were delightful. We had brought along three immigrants on this trip, an exchange student from France, a permanent student from Haiti and our cousin from Greece, all three experiencing a Quebec cabane à sucre for the first time. Not to mention the little ex-Kosher boy who had never gone before because well… what is a practicing Jew going to eat in the home of pork? We taught them the Canadian way!
At any sugar shack, Sweet Pea also loves the baked omelette, and this one was scrumptious! After re-reading this article Sweet Pea does sound rather portly, but we assure you that she is not. A monsieur came to carve up the oven baked fluffy egg and passed it around; it was delightful, especially when slathered in maple syrup, which is the only way to eat at your typical sugar shack. Pile your plate high with food and then pour on the maple syrup, it isn’t refined, it isn’t classy but it is what it is.
Sadly this sugar shack did not come with wonderful pudding chomeur, we were too focused on the petting zoo and little wieners to remember to check the dessert section before reserving! The crêpes came two to a plate and were as expected. The winner was the sugar pie with a delicious homemade crust and tasty filling that wasn’t too sweet. The other option is that perhaps we had eaten too much maple so we were incapable of tasting sweetness anymore, regardless, we were pleased with the pie.
Of course we moved on to enjoy tire sur la neige. Diva #1 found an extra ticket and got two rounds…like she does every year. She also got tire in her hair…like she does every year, but this time one of the other girls also got it in her hair, so she felt less silly. The annual snowball fight then ensued, sadly this year there was less snow because we went later in the year so it wasn’t as dramatic. The boys attacked the girls, one of the cousins got beaten up by his accomplice, and the tradition survives another year. Diva #1 has to stop wearing her cool cowboy boots to the sugar shack, it makes escaping from flying snowballs rather difficult, but at least this year she didn’t lose a boot in the snow!
We went to see the animals, petted a few, and almost got attacked by geese, which reminded Diva #1 and her cousins of an unfortunate incident involving being attacked by geese when they visited their grandfather at his country house. We all shuddered at the thought. After being bitten by geese a few times, especially when you are little and they are the same height as you, you eat foie gras with sadistic glee.
At Cabane à Sucre Bouvrette you can also take a train ride, horse drawn carriage ride or play in their playground. Of course Diva #1 and Sweet Pea went on the swings, after staring at some kids and pressuring them to get off. The cousins tried to push us off and Diva #1 spat at them to get them to go away. Somehow the cabane à sucre brings out the children in all of us, especially for Diva #1, her cousins and wannabe cousins who start acting like children in these settings. Next year we may go back to our usual cabane à sucre, or try a new one, unfortunately it was a long wait for our table at Cabane à Sucre Bouvrette, and the food could use some improving. But don’t go to this cabane à sucre expecting a Diva-esque soirée, for us, it is all about childhood fun.
Our Rating: Meh!
Tagged: 1000, Bouvrette, Cabane à Sucre, Cabane à Sucre Bouvrette, Horse Drawn Carriage, J7Z 7A3, Maple, Maple Season, Maple Smoked Ham, Maple Taffy, oreille de crise, Pea Soup, Petting Zoo, Pork Rinds, Private Parties, Quebec Cabane à Sucre, rue Nobel, Saint-Jerome, Sugar pie, Sugar Shack, Tire sur la Neige, Train Ride