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A Rustic Charm Like No Other

By on March 21, 2017

It’s that time of year when we put off our diets and venture out to the wilderness for that maple goodness. Yes, I’m talking about “Cabane à Sucre” season.

Every year. I’m always on the hunt for the best Cabane, so I end up sacrificing a few notches on my belt to find the perfect gem. Of course I have to visit plenty of them every season, but I think I have found the winner. Auberge Handfield.

Snuggled away in a forest of maple in the Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu region, you will find this traditional Sugar Shack. The Cabane is off the beaten path, as you will have to walk down a trail in the forest to get there from the parking lot. Immediately when you walk in, you can see the charm and authenticity. You won’t be dining in a giant room with a sea of people and countless rows of tables, but rather a smaller setting, yet still able to host a few hundred people.

If you like traditional folk music, you won’t be disappointed. There was an accordionist walking up and down the aisles playing all the old hits you’d want to hear. And yes, we were all clapping along!

With all the great ambience, there’s only one reason to go to a Cabane à Sucre… And that’s for the food. What can I say about this without drooling on my keyboard? Auberge Handfield serves a meal that I would consider gourmet breakfast. Sure, it’s eggs, and sausages, and meatballs, and pea soup, and ham…oh geez…that ham… sorry I got sidetracked. So yes, it serves the traditional meal, but they seem to take extra care to make the food as delicious as possible. Personally, if a place has bad sausages, I won’t return, and Auberge Handfield has the best sausages and ham you can find in any Cabane à Sucre. They finish it off with pancakes, sugar pies, and cake, but at that point you’re already woozy from all the maple infused meal.

Before going outside for the “Tire sur la neige” (maple taffy on the snow), I had to stop in at the bar for some more delights. First I had a Caribou, which is a traditional alcoholic beverage composed of red wine, hard liquor, and maple syrup. After that I tried a maple gin called Rédiut Piger Henricus. I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of gin, but this Québec-made spirit was fantastic.

I couldn’t leave without picking up a few hams and some maple butter to come home with me. Food this delicious needs to be eaten more than once a year, so I guess I’ll be having my own Cabane à Sucre party at home.

Matthew Riopel
Le Planificateur

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