National Maple Syrup Day: Vancouver Chefs Gets Creative with Maple Syrup

Image: The Vancouver Fish Company

Today, December 17, is National Maple Syrup Day, a chance to celebrate the sweet tree sap that has become a quintessential Canadian food product. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canada produces 85% of the maple syrup in the globe from its sugar, black, and red maples, mainly located in Eastern Canada.

Here on the west coast, there are a range of artisanal small producers in the Okanagan and Vancouver Island, many of which harvest from bigleaf maples.

Vancouver chefs use this complex natural sweetener in both their savoury and sweet creations, giving you plenty of ways to enjoy maple syrup today as well as every day.

Until January 8, 2021, in line with the public health order updated on December 7, non-essential travel into and out of BC is not recommended. BC residents, let’s do our part by continuing to stay local and support local with our immediate household or bubble, in accordance with the latest guidelines.

Salmon n’ Bannock

Candied salmon with maple syrup drizzle; Photo sourced from Salmon n’ Bannock

As Vancouver’s only Indigenous owned and operated restaurant, Salmon n’ Bannock (7-1128 West Broadway) is truly a unique and special dining experience. Owner Inez Cook is a member of the Nuxalk Nation in Bella Coola, while staff proudly come from the Carrier-Sekani, Haida, Long Plain, Muskoday, Nuxalk, Ojibway, Pinaymootang, Quw’utsun, Squamish, and Tsimshian Nations. When you visit the restaurant, make sure to order their fantastic candied chum salmon, which combines heat from its peppered outside and sweetness from maple syrup that’s been drizzled on top. End your meal with the Boozy Sundae, which comes with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and sage-blueberries, and is finished with silky smooth maple whisky. Salmon n’ Bannock is also offering a 3-course December Baconfest meal ($55 per person, call ahead to reserve), which has a maple-bacon butter tart as your dessert.

Forage Restaurant

Buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup; Photo sourced from Forage

To appreciate the deep, often amber flavours of maple syrup, there’s nothing like drizzling it over brunch. Compared to pancake syrup, which contains mostly corn syrup, maple syrup is the pure sap from the trees. Forage Restaurant (1300 Robson Street) does a lovely weekend brunch (9am-2pm) that pays tribute to local producers and their ingredients. Particularly delicious are their piled-high buttermilk pancakes, topped with Fraser Valley blueberries and honey butter and served with maple syrup for generous pouring. The restaurant will also be open for brunch on Christmas Day, as well as New Year’s Day.

Bridges Restaurant

Maple salmon; Photo sourced from Bridges

With its prime location on Granville Island and its spectacular views of False Creek and the North Shore mountains, Bridges has long been a local restaurant icon. Both their bistro and pub, as well as upstairs dining room incorporate maple syrup in a delicious west coast salmon dish. The wild sockeye salmon has a maple-soy glaze and is served with mashed potatoes and citrus-tahini charred broccolini. Go for a stroll around picturesque Granville Island after your meal.

The Vancouver Fish Company

Maple walnut prawns; Photo sourced from The Vancouver Fish Company

Also located on Granville Island, The Vancouver Fish Company (1517 Anderson Street) is one of the first places you’ll see when you enter the Island (located on your left). With gorgeous marina-side views and a seafood-focused menu, the restaurant makes for a memorable dining occasion. Maple syrup figures twice on their menu, first in their tempura battered fried prawns with maple, spiced walnuts, toasted sesame, and togarashi–served with Yuzu mayo. In addition, the restaurant features coho salmon on a bed of maple-glazed butternut squash, double smoked bacon lardons, and toasted walnuts.

Salmon House on the Hill

Seafood Platter with maple shallot vinaigrette; Photo secured from Salmon House on the Hill Facebook

The Lower Mainland is certainly not short of restaurants with phenomenal views. Salmon House on the Hill (2229 Folkstone Way, West Vancouver) is perched above downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park, offering panorama sights while dining. Specializing in west coast cuisine and seafood, the menu contains many items with maple syrup. Start with the fresh local oysters on the half shell with maple shallot vinaigrette, and then move onto the pan seared Fraser Valley duck breast with roasted baby potatoes, maple citrus confit, and passion fruit vinaigrette, before finishing with a warm maple pecan tart with salted caramel gelato. The maple shallot vinaigrette also appears in the seafood platter that comes with Dungeness crab salad, candied salmon, chilled prawns, fresh oysters, and marinated shrimp.

Nightingale Restaurant

Buttermilk fried chicken with spiced maple syrup; Photo sourced from Nightingale Restaurant

There’s something about maple syrup on fried chicken, that makes for the ultimate sweet/savoury combo. Nightingale Restaurant (1017 West Hastings Street) has a version that you will leave you dreaming for more: it’s that good. Their buttermilk fried chicken comes atop spiced maple syrup, and is then finished with a dusting of sumac and sliced pickles. Think tender chicken with a golden crispy exterior, sweet maple syrup with slight heat, and then tanginess that cuts through the richness of the fried chicken. The interplay is clever and very satisfying.

Joe Fortes

Fried chicken and waffles with maple brown butter;  Photo source from Joe Fortes

Another excellent fried chicken with maple syrup option can be found at Joe Fortes (777 Thurlow Street). At both lunch and brunch, go for their fried chicken and waffles, which consists of a crispy chicken breast with buttermilk waffles, drizzled with maple brown butter and chili glaze. Another classic choice is Joe Fortes’ sockeye salmon with maple brown butter; it is accompanied with roasted potatoes and market vegetables and is available on all menus (brunch, lunch, and dinner).

St. Lawrence

Sourced from St. Lawrence

The loving ode to Quebec cooking at St. Lawrence (269 Powell Street) has garnered substantial critical praise and diner loyalty. Their December menu features l’oreille de crisse, fried pork rind with maple and Montreal spices. A must is their tarte au sucre, sugar pie with maple syrup based on chef J.C. Poirier’s memories of his grandmother’s version. It’s served with vanilla ice cream. You can also buy a whole pie in ready-to-bake or ready-to-serve format.

And St. Lawrence is now taking reservations for their annual “Cabane à Sucre,” inspired by the Québécois tradition where families enjoy meals together at their sugar shacks in the heart of maple tree forests. The special three-course menu runs from January 14 to February 28, 2021, and has a dine-in ($69) or takeaway option ($49). Choices include cured trout with maple and Quebec gin with blinis & truffle crème fraîche; vol-au-vent with maple-marinated salmon, mussels & Diplomat sauce; and vanilla cake with maple liqueur, apples, and Chantilly cream.

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