Maple Syrup, the Vermont Way
Johnson oversees the day’s pièce de résistance. To make “sugar on snow,” she tells me, you heat the syrup to at least 232 degrees Fahrenheit, then drizzle it slowly over shaved ice. Twist the chilled syrup onto a spoon and it instantly becomes “soft ball candy,” a gooey, caramel mouthful of taffy that is sure to give you a sugar rush. To cut the sweet and cleanse the palate, these Vermonters serve it with a dill pickle, a pairing comparable to the yin-and-yang tang of Chinese sweet-and-sour sauce. The crunch of the pickle does indeed cut the sweet—and zings my taste buds.
I start to wonder aloud what else within sight might go well with the leftover warm syrup. Then I spot the coffee pot across the room. “Now you’re thinking like a Vermonter,” says Shallow, pointing out that coffee beans—like maple sap—can be grown and harvested in ways that protect bird habitat rather than destroying it. Indeed, farms growing coffee the traditional way—beneath a shady tropical tree canopy—shelter more birds than any other agricultural landscape (see “Gold Standard,” May-June 2011).
Marry that coffee and a swirl of maple syrup and you have a heavenly combo: the promise for a future where birds can continue to breed in the north and winter in the south.