Travel Thoughts by Kim
Let’s go on an adventure together….a Maple Syrup Adventure!
Maple season in Western New York is about to get started, so I thought I’d talk about some great maple infused adventures I’ve experienced. A big spring crop that is very plentiful in our area is maple syrup and all things maple. There is an abundance of “sugar shacks” that harvest the sap from maple trees and produce the sweetest of delights…..fresh, pure maple syrup and maple sugar. And, by the way, New York is second only to Vermont when it comes to maple production and the sugar maple tree is the state tree of NY.
There are typically two weekends in the spring that are officially called “Maple Weekend” where you can visit many of the area’s maple producers for tours and a chance to purchase and, in most cases, taste the freshly made treats. I searched for the dates for this year’s Maple Weekends and found two sites that list it as March 19-20 and 26-27, 2022. I’m not absolutely sure that’s correct, but you’ll be able to easily confirm that as we get closer to the season. I see that Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn has announced they will be open for their famous pancake breakfasts starting February 8 through April 10.
My very first taste (literally) of Western New York maple was in 2016. That time I went with a group from my church. We gathered early in the morning and carpooled to Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn in Short Track, just outside Angelica, NY – about a one and a half hour or so drive. Cartwright’s is famous for their all you can eat buckwheat pancake breakfast – it includes ham, sausage, beverage of choice, and the never ending pancakes….and, of course, their own pure maple syrup. I’m not sure, but I think you can get an option that also has eggs, but why??? You will want to save as much room as possible for as many of those buckwheat pancakes as you can possibly eat. Hahaha (I don’t want to brag, but I believe I ate 6) Cartwright’s also has a gift shop near the dining room and a museum in the lower level that has lots of antique equipment. If they are processing, you can also go in and see that happening, as well. I got to see that on this trip and the aroma in that room was enough to make me a bit dizzy — so amazing. It’s a really cool place and the breakfast is TO DIE FOR!!!
After breakfast, we drove to downtown Angelica to shop. Angelica is a tiny little town full of unique shops and antiques. I remember it was a nice, warm, sunny spring day and I enjoyed sitting on a bench soaking in the fresh air and enjoying the feel of the quaint little town after I finished shopping. Angelica is also famous for their salt-rising bread – that was my first time having that local treat, as well. After we left Angelica, some of us took a drive through Letchworth State Park on the way home. It was an amazing day.
In 2018, I made the trip on a bus tour hosted by the Cobblestone Society. Our first stop on that adventure was the Merle Maple Farm in Attica, NY, where we learned all about the process of tapping trees, getting the sap to the sugar shack, and producing pure maple syrup and maple sugar. This was the first I had heard words like “Permeate”, “Retentate”, and “RO” since I retired from the Pharmaceutical industry. I’m proud to say I understood everything our guide was saying about the process of extracting and purifying the sap into syrup and sugar products. If memory serves, I think some of the others on the tour also enjoyed some maple ice cream while at Merle’s, too. After our tour, we went to Cartwright’s for that wonderful buckwheat pancake breakfast.
In 2019, I also went on the Cobblestone Society’s bus tour. This time, we went to downtown Angelica to shop, first. We even had the opportunity to pre-order some pies from the bakery in Angelica – I treated myself to an egg custard pie that was heavenly and brought back wonderful memories of my grandmother, who made the BEST egg custard pie. After shopping, we….of course….went to Cartwright’s for buckwheat pancakes. We also had an amazing guide on the bus – Georgia – who was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about maple production and products. She was fascinating and I learned so much. If the Cobblestone Society does this bus tour again, I highly recommend it.
There are a lot of other sugar shacks around the area that participate in Maple Weekend every year. A little research could provide you with so many options to make the two weekends jammed full of wonderful adventures and delicious treats. In 2020 and again last year, I had hoped to venture out and explore some of the other locations, but Covid pretty much threw a wrench in that plan. Maybe I’ll get to do it this spring.