Apparently, when you live in New England it’s imperative that you make an annual pilgrimage to the sugaring shacks. Sam and I had ignored our civic duty until this year, when we learned that our local Audubon Society (which we’re members of, big up to the little birds!) hosts an annual sugaring off tour. I thought it would be fun but what really caught my eye was that they were serving hot dogs cooked in maple syrup. Oh yeah!
I had imagined the hot dog situation like this: at the end of our tour, there’s this grizzled guy with a long scraggly beard and sporting a flannel shirt with suspenders, stirring this cauldron filled with hot dogs and maple syrup over an open fire. Maybe this would be outdoors, or perhaps it would be in the sugaring shack. Regardless, I had fixated on this cast iron pot and open fire for some time. I was a little disappointed when I saw the dogs being cooked in the electric pot above, especially since the dogs weren’t stewing in a bed of 100% pure grade A amber maple syrup. Rather, it looked like mostly water with a little syrup drizzled in for good measure. When the server went to get me a hot dog, it slipped from her tongs and landed outside of the pot. Hot dog overboard!
They had your typical hot dog condiments–relish, mustard and onions–but I didn’t want to overpower the maple sweetness so I opted out for the sweet relish. Sam, whose hot dog pallet isn’t as refined as mine, didn’t notice the subtle, smoky sweetness that the maple syrup imparted on the hot dog. I thought it was a pretty good pairing of flavors, the savoriness of the hot dog mixed with the sweetness of the syrup. Since having this dog, Alex and I have discussed other methods of using syrup to flavor the dog and we both agreed that the method of cooking in a mixture of water & syrup would be ideal. Another idea we had was to cook the dogs on a grill and, in the last moments, to slather on the maple syrup like a BBQ sauce.
Sam was much happier with the other lunch offerings, which I was pretty impressed by as well. They had three different types of homemade soups; I had the spicy black bean, Sam had the organic chicken noodle soup which had delicious fresh-made noodles, just like I remember my Grandma making. Our sugaring tour was not complete without some assorted maple syrup facts, like the “86 Rule”–it takes 86 gallons of maple sap, on average, to make one gallon of maple syrup. That’s what all those plastic jugs behind Sam were representing.