Like bears who crawl out of the den in search of honey, this time of year we crawl out of our own den (living room, basement, et al) in search of maple syrup and pancakes.
Once again New York State Maple Weekends are upon us (March 18-19, 25-26), so you have a little time to plan your pancake attack.
Seasoned MW pros that we are, while perusing the revamped New York State Maple Weekend site (nysmaple.com) the name Sweet Time Maple & Honey (5680 Webster Road, Wyoming) caught our practiced pancake eye.
We don’t recall seeing that name before, so we contacted them. Turns out they are new to the circuit.
In January 2016, Nicole and Brad White purchased the farm, making this year just their second Maple Weekend.
What started as a hobby for Brad White is now a full-time endeavor. (He had been dabbling in maple syrup production since he was a teen.)
“Brad helped boil the syrup with the previous owners along with working with them on the farm,” said Nicole White, who works as a CPA in Batavia.
The farm is now a family affair that includes honey production in addition to the maple syrup operation. (Maybe they will get a few bear visitors on the weekend, too?)
“Brad and his father, Todd, keep their own honey bees, and pollinate fruit crops in May along with various vegetables throughout the summer. They extract the honey from the hives, which we offer for sale in our store,” she said.
Since taking over, the Whites have expanded Sweet Time’s taps to approximately 16,000 throughout several surrounding woods.
With recent strange weather patterns we were curious about this year’s production. Brad White said he has boiled three times already. Normally it takes a month to tap all 16,000 trees, a process that started much earlier this year.
“It’s a record since we started boiling maple syrup. It’s unheard of to boil in January. This time last year we had started to collect and even had a boil, but there wasn’t much consistency. The sap would run a few days and then stop, but not this year,” he said. “Maple season isn’t supposed to start on Jan. 8.”
Another first this year, Sweet Time Maple will host pancake breakfasts in addition to tours. Breakfast runs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. all four days of the Maple Weekend celebration. On the menu are pancakes, eggs, sausage, ham, home fries and oatmeal with real maple syrup. Price is $9 for adults, $4.50 for kids younger than 8 and free for kids 2 years old and younger.
Below are some other tried and true places we love for pancakes. (Note: not all locations listed on the Maple Weekend website serve pancakes, so be sure check if you specifically want pancakes.) Some pancake stops are open through April, so if you miss Maple Weekend dates, you can visit at another time.
For all the places you can visit and get goodies like maple candy, maple nuts, maple jelly and syrup, visit nysmaple.com.
Arcade Center Farm Pancake House (7298 Route 98, Arcade). Open Saturday and Sundays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. now through April. All-you-can-eat pancakes; see a wood burning evaporator in action.
Beaver Meadow Audubon (1610 Welch Road, North Java, buffaloaudubon.org). Open Maple Harvest Festival March 18 and 19 only. Visit a sugar shanty and see maple syrup made the Native American way. All-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.
Buffalo Niagara Heritage Museum (3755 Tonawanda Creek Road, Amherst, bnhv.org). Hands-on family friendly activities. “Lumberjack” breakfast seatings at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. only.
Byrncliff (2357 Humphrey Road, Varysburg, byrncliff.com). Maple Weekend Sunday brunches with made-to-order pancakes, waffles and more.
Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn (4321 Country Road 15A, Angelica, cartwrightsmapletreeinn.com). Cartwright's celebrates its 55th year. Trust us, it’s worth the ride. As usual, enjoy all-you-can eat scrumptious buckwheat pancakes. Open now through April 15.
Fairbanks Maple (1968 Shaw Road, Forestville). Pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free horse-drawn wagon rides from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.
Genesee Country Village Museum (1410 Flint Hill Road, Mumford, gcv.org). Maple Sugar Festival both weekends in the woods. Kids can see maple syrup simmering in giant pots over the wood fire. (We are imagining Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in The Big Woods). Tickets are $10 adults, ages 18 and younger are free. Unlimited pancake and sausage breakfast ($9/$7 youth ages 2-10) served 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., event runs to 4 p.m.
Johnson Estate Winery (8419 West Route 20, Westfieldm, johnsonwinery.com). Once again enjoy French crepes and the winery’s maple-infused liqueur for an adult maple weekend experience.
Lodge at Hidden Valley (2887 Royce Road, Varysburg, hiddenvalleyadventure.com). All-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts start at 9 a.m. Reservations recommended.
Maple Glen Sugar House (2266 Gowanda Zoar Road, Gowanda, mapleglensyrup.com). Home to the maple-boiled hot dog as well as pancakes breakfasts both weekends, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Gowanda Fire Hall (230 Aldrich St.) a short drive away.
Moore’s Maple Shack & Pancake House (10444 Galen Hill Road, Freedom, mooresmaple.com). Serves pancakes through April 16.
Sprague’s Maple Farm (1048 Portville Road, Portville, spraguesmaplefarms.com). A bit of a ride but worth it because you can get pancakes and turkey — two of our all-time favorite food groups. Open year-round, Sprague’s is a destination restaurant that features maple food all over the menu — from pancakes and waffles to maple bourbon sirloins and maple milkshakes. We are partial to a turkey and biscuits dinner with a side of pancakes. Tours and activities keep the kids busy indoors and out.
If pancakes aren’t your thing, we noticed the ad on the Maple Weekend brochure for maple chicken wings at Schunk’s West Hill Grill (4274 Keller Road, Eden, schunkswesthillgrill.com).
Located in our old high school stomping grounds, we had to check it out. Slugging down Genny Cream ale in this quintessential dive bar (that happily really hasn't changed much since we were in high school), we loved the wings tossed with a combination of maple syrup and hot sauce. Get a side of maple syrup to drizzle on top before you eat them.
For a complete list of pancake breakfasts, sugar shacks locations and tours, go to nysmaple.com. For the tech savvy there's a new app, for the old school folks, a PDF brochure to download and print.