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The Sweet Smell of Success – Our Maple Syrup Weekend

After a week of intensive wine tasting in Napa Valley, we decided to treat ourselves to a maple syrup weekend in the Hudson Valley. We picked two farms to visit in nearby Dutchess County: Madava Farms, producers of Crown Maple Syrup, and Soukup Farms.

A “farm” can be many things much like a “country house.” The large stone sign at the entrance to Madava Farms was followed by a long driveway opening up to a vast property still covered with snow and surrounded by a forest of maple trees linked by sap tubing. The large sap production building and company store was packed with visitors coming for the weekend of maple syrup tastings, maple inflected cocktails and lunch offerings such as maple chicken tacos, maple pork sliders, fried chicken strips with maple syrup waffles and maple shakes. Outside, kids (and one big kid) roasted marshmallows over a fire pit.

David at Madava Farms, home to Crown Maple Syrup
Fool the eye photo: The sign is actually down a long driveway leading to the sap house.

Madava Farms started as a family retreat for Robb and Lydia Turner. They’ve turned it and their sought after maple syrup into quite a business! Madava Farms has 20,000 trees over 800 acres, plus 4000 acres in Vermont.

Just a short drive away and a world apart in style but equal in substance when it comes to a quality product lies Soukup Farms. It’s more of a farmstead with all the Soukup family members living in separate houses on the property. Originally a cattle farm, the Soukups started tapping maple syrup in 1955 as a hobby. Today they produce over 2000 saps from two sugarbushes (a cluster of sugar maple trees).  Pat Soukup gave us a tour of the small facility where we met her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.

Three generations of the Soukup Family Farm in their store.

The maple season is short, roughly 40-50 days depending on the weather. It takes freezing nights and thawing days for the best sap. Higher temperatures can affect the quality. This year’s warmer winter was a curse; the recent blizzard and colder temperatures were a blessing. As Pat Soukup told us, “We are farmers first. We learn to deal with the weather and the outcome.”

Demand for maple syrup is on the rise. Health and wellness gurus promote it as a preferred natural sweetener (in moderation) and filled with antioxidants to fight inflammation, among other benefits. Chefs and bartenders are adding maple syrup to dishes and drinks. There’s even Drink Maple water which we tasted at the Summer Fancy Food Show.  We learned at our tasting at Crown Maple that lighter grade maple syrup is better for diabetics and the darker grade for athletes. We learned at Soukup Farms that the tree holds the secret to the color of sap that will seep out as demonstrated by this rainbow of saps collected this winter.

Saps at Soukup Farms

Listen to our interview with Michael Cobb, CEO at Crown Maple Syrup. The Connected Table LIVE! on iHeart.com

 

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David Ransom Drink Melanie Young THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

A Beer That Is Good for What Ales You

Remember that college mantra  “beer makes you smarter?” Memory hint: it was usually uttered by someone with beer goggles on.

We did a little research asking if drinking beer made you smarter. A 2012 study at Oregon State University reported that xanthohumol in hops, a main ingredient in beer, has been found to increase brain function in high doses. Here’s the catch: “High doses” equals about 3,520 pints or 2,000 litres of beer. And, the study was conducted on “young animals” and not “young men.” Maybe the folks in Oregon should stick to studying coffee. You can read this article on the subject

Here’s a more intelligent rationale for drinking beer according to this article in OrganicFacts.net:

The health benefits of beer include anticancer properties, a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, increased bone density, the prevention of dementia and coronary disease, aid to the digestive system, and anti-aging properties, as well as treating diabetes, gallstones, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and hypertension. Beer also acts as a serious stress buster and a diuretic.

Okay, that’s more like it. What’s more intelligent is drinking better beer, sustainably produced and organically made.  Just ask Gabriel Heymann, founder of Smart Beer, New York State’s first certified organic beer.

20150918-gabesmartbeer_headshot2_SSP

An avid beer drinker, farm advocate, and certified yoga instructor, Gabriel felt he wanted a beer he could feel good about drinking, and that wouldn’t compromise his health conscious, environmentally-inclined lifestyle. When he couldn’t find it, he decided to make it.

SMART BEER

Made in the Hudson Valley (near us!)  from sustainably farmed and sourced ingredients, Smart Beer is made for those who don’t want to compromise their food philosophies to drink a few suds. “I wanted to enjoy both my social life and my healthy, active lifestyle,” Gabriel says, adding. “You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your lifestyle or values in order to celebrate, and that’s what this beer is about.” www.smartbeercompany.com

We welcome Gabriel to The Connected Table LIVE! on Wednesday December 16, 2pm  EST to talk about striking a balance between  health and healthy imbibing and Smart Beer, a which he says proves the fact that “we can have it all.”

Listen live Wednesdays, 2pmEST on W4CY.com

Listen to show podcasts anytime on iHeart.com and the iHeart App.

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Follow us on Twitter@connectedtable and Facebook/TheConnectedTable