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March 27, 2011

Gulf Islands Maple Syrup Surprise

 Maia Green and Elizabeth Woodward

Friend and Gulf Islands Driftwood editor Gail Sjuberg and I caught up at brunch at the Harbour House Hotel dining room this morning. The place was packed which was nice to see. We had a really good candied salmon quiche with a huge salad picked straight from the garden. Her husband Michael joined us to taste the  maple syrup that they were in the middle of producing from the 100 Maple trees out the back of the hotel.

Before that however, I peeked my head into the second location of Solace Organic Spa which has transformed a room off the lobby of the hotel  into a treatment room which is beautifully appointed complete with a fireplace. Leslie was prepping the room for a pedicure. The client was in for a treat with a front row seat of Ganges Harbour while being pampered. Darn. I should have snapped a pic. Sorry.

Elizabeth Woodward (above right) is the daughter of the hotel's owners, Jack and Glenda Woodward. She was busy explaining the process with help from Maia Green. They talked about how the maples were tapped last week and the liquid comes out of the tree completely clear. Boiling it turns it the tawny, syrupy colour. It takes about 100 maples to come up with 15 litres of syrup after a 7-10 hours of boiling. We tasted the liquid through the stages from clear to almost there.

 The Harbour House completes the process to about 90% because they use the syrup in their hotel kitchen and it's easier for the chef to transform it into sauces, etc. if it's not completely boiled.  They've been involved in this process for three years. 

We then took a stroll around the grounds to see how the many varieties of leafy greens were coming.
They just finished installing a second new greenhouse this weekend where they're going to put tomatoes and as we were in the first greenhouse, an employee was cutting more lettuce to satisfy the crowd in the restaurant.

 It's really amazing to truly know that the lettuce on your plate is coming direct to you from the garden right out back and picked minutes before it will end up in your mouth. Now that's fresh!
 Here's proof.

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