A Culinary Adventure, From Gardens and Markets to Restaurants and Home Kitchens
Mar 6, 2013
01:26 PM
Local Flavor

Maple Syrup Medley

Maple Syrup Medley

Banana French Toast with maple caramel at 4&20 Bakery and Cafe

As a child, maple syrup was a rare treat. I still consider maple syrup a splurge, and I usually wait until farmers’ market season to purchase it directly from the farmer. I then stow it away, safe out of the hands of my over-eager, syrup-loving children.

Recently I was gifted some syrup from my friend Tim Patterson of Patterson Sugar Bush. And may I say that syrup is one of the finest gifts to receive! A beautiful bottle of amber syrup, just for me...and my family, of course.

Patterson Sugarbush was established in 1988, but the Patterson family has been tapping syrup for over 120 years in Wisconsin’s northwoods. What started as a small 5,000 tree operation has grown to 20,000 trees and 7,000 gallons of maple syrup produced per year—quite a lot of syrup for a family owned operation!

Maple syrup is one of Wisconsin’s quintessential culinary products, and I’m guessing if it were more prolific, we’d drink it like beer, or in beer, fried with cheese curds, and perhaps stuffed into our brats. But its short tapping season is exactly what makes maple syrup so special. The sap only flows when the temperatures fluctuate between daytime highs in the 30s and 40s and nighttime lows in the teens. And last year’s season proved even shorter than normal due to the sudden onset of warm temperatures. According to Tim, last year “was the worst season ever. It was only ten days long.” They are hoping this season is much better, and Tim assured me they are at the ready this year, waiting for the sap to flow.

You can purchase a bottle or two from Patterson Sugar Bush directly via their website, or get it at the Eastside Farmers’ Market beginning April 23. Tim hopes their syrup “will be featured in local restaurants and available for retail at various stores very soon.” 

I am dreaming of what I will do with the syrup. Perhaps I’ll make soy-maple glazed salmon, maple-balsamic dressing, and sweet potato pie with maple. Or maybe I’ll head out to one of our local eateries and enjoy it in one of my very favorite breakfast dishes—French toast. See you there!

4&20 Bakery and CafeBanana French Toast
Homemade banana bread French toast is topped with sliced banana, rum raisins, toasted walnuts, maple caramel & whipped cream.

Marigold Kitchen: Brioche French Toast
French toast from buttery brioche is drizzled with pastry cream, seasonal berries and pure maple syrup.

Crema Cafe: Sweet Berry French Toast 
Thick sliced baguette French toast topped with orange mascarpone, fresh berries, and real maple syrup.

The Green Owl: Vegan French Toast Bread Pudding
Cubes of tender white bread from Batch Bakehouse baked in a creamy vegan custard with a hint of cinnamon and real Wisconsin maple syrup, served in an individual ramekin.

About This Blog

Writing has always provided an anchor for my passions, which focus deeply on food, dance, environmental conservation and culture. I grew up “helping” my dad cultivate a prolific garden that produced too many radishes and watching my mom make almost all of our food from scratch, including horehound candy. Meanwhile I took my first African dance class in high school, which ignited my continuing quest to travel to West Africa, via Europe and South America, to study dance.

Through my travels, I learned that we are all connected by food, and our basic need to eat. Since moving to Madison in 1998 to pursue degrees in conservation biology and dance, I have developed an appreciation for the richness of our local food community, and a great desire to share it with others. What started as a personal food blog, A World of Flavors, has since grown into a business teaching cooking classes and leading local and international food tours.

I look forward to sharing culinary adventures with you through my Madison Magazine blog Local Flavor and monthly Dining In recipe column.

  – Otehlia Cassidy
Follow Otehlia on Twitter @madisoneats

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