We are smack dab in the middle of sugaring off season here in Quebec, so it is the perfect time to gather together your family or a bunch of friends to sample some maple sugar. One of the places that has been around for a long time is the Famille Constantin Cabane a Sucre located in St. Eustache. This family run cabane a sucre first opened in 1941 and has been a favourite ever since.
Most Quebecers have partaken in the spring tradition of going sugaring off at least once in their lives. Personally I think it is something that should be done each spring. If you are not familiar with the tradition then let me tell you that you have missed out on something.
Each spring when the sap starts running people in certain areas of this province have celebrated it with a feast. Today the meals at different cabane a sucres vary, but at Famille Constantin you can be sure that you will get plenty, it will be delicious and it won’t set you back an arm and a leg. Here you get bread (white and whole wheat), butter, pickles, beats, chow chow, pickled onions, cole slaw, pea soup, beans, omelets, boiled potatoes, ham, cretons, sausages, salted lard crisps, and of course, maple syrup. For dessert there is a choice of crepes, pudding au chomeur, soft ice cream, and sugar pie. To drink there is milk, water, coffee, or tea. All this is brought to you at your table and you can keep asking for more until you are full. At the end of your meal you can waddle over to the sugar shack where you can partake in some taffy on the snow. This is one meal that you won’t be hungry after.
After your dinner you can go for a horse pulled (a nice Clydesdale named Zach) sleigh ride through the grounds while the driver tells you a little bit about the history of the sugar shack and shows you how they tap the trees and collect the sap. This will set you back a very reasonable $2.00. For another $2.00 they have an impressive exotic animal collection that you can visit. There are over 150 animals and 80 different species housed there. Also in the same building where you eat there is also a dance hall where you can go work off some of those calories you consumed.
Before you leave make sure you stop by the gift shop where you can buy the food you ate and bring it home. They have an impressive variety there in that you can buy everything from main dishes like Beef Bourguignon and Cannelloni with ricotta and spinach on to sides like beans and cretons, desserts like donuts and apple pie and maple syrup products like maple lollipops and maple butter. These things can also be ordered online.
Reservations have to be made for groups of 30 or more and can be done online (www.constantin.ca) or by phone.
-Season: February 13 – April 25, 2011
-Entrance Fees: Monday – Friday: Lunch or Dinner: $15.75
Saturday – Sunday: Breakfast: $15.75
Saturday – Sunday: Lunch: $18.75
Saturday – Sunday: Dinner: $17.25
Kids: 0-2 – Free (1 kid per adult)
3-5 – $6.50
6-12 – $9.50
-Hours: Monday –Friday: Lunch – 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Dinner – 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday: Breakfast – 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Lunch – 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Dinner – 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Sunday) or 8:00 p.m. (Saturday)