In INFUSED, a new weekly column, Elizabeth J. Musgrave connects spirits, wine, and beer with culinary and creative arts
The tale of two small children abandoned in the woods by their father and stepmother is well known. Hansel and Gretel left a trail to find their way home again. A trail created with crumbs of bread. But man does not live by bread alone. And a trail of crumbs is quickly gobbled by birds. Taking these bits of knowledge to heart, Tim Burton leaves a different kind of trail when he embarks on a journey -- a sweeter one.
When leaving Burton’s Maplewood Farm, the southern Indiana artisan leaves a trail of gourmet maple syrups. All are delicious, but some are made even more so by the process of infusion – the infusion of alcohol, that is. Rum, bourbon, and brandy-infused syrups are the tree sap gatherer’s specialty. Creating the pancake and waffle toppers is an idea which has kindled an unexpected outpouring of fans across the nation.
Burton’s trail most often leads him to the nearest epicenter of gastronomic delights: Chicago. Windy City chefs and celebrities alike have taken a fancy to the newest epicurean treat. It has been well received when served at Oprah Winfrey’s farewell brunch and the tables at top Chicago restaurants. Gourmet eateries, such as Table Fifty-two, Trump’s Sixteen and The Signature Room at the 95th all serve -- and note on the menu -- Burton’s unique signature product, while Goose Island Clybourn Brewpub gives craft beer lovers a double dose of infusion with its on-tap Burton's Maplewood Farm Maple Bacon Stout.
Offering limited release Grade A and B syrups at festivals, such as Chicago Gourmet, Indianapolis’ Dig-In, and at specialty shops, like Williams-Sonoma on Michigan Ave., Burton’s demand outsells the supply.
Bottles come in maple leaf-shaped 2 ounce samplers or 12 ounce oval bottles for the serious syrup fan. Grade A reflects a smooth syrup, generally served atop other food items, such as ice cream or waffles, collected from the trees earlier in the season, resulting in a lighter, amber color and taste. The B grade, more often used during cooking, generally used in recipes, is collected later and takes on a darker, almost molasses color and a deeper, rich flavor.
Often wearing a flannel shirt, the soft spoken giant of a man is reminiscent of good folklore. Crowds gather when the modern day Paul Bunyan arrives at foodies’ favorite meeting spots.
Burton then disappears back to his home in Medora, Indiana, leaving his sweet trail of infused syrups so others may also find their way to Maplewood Farm.
Elizabeth J. Musgrave is the editor for GottaGo.us, writing the fine-living syndicated column and syndicated blog, Gotta Go. Published both in print and online at GottaGo.us, AroundIndy.com, and BroadwayWorld.com, Gotta Go offers reviews and recommendations on food and drink, the performing arts, and travel destinations.
Elizabeth is also a freelance writer, photographer, public speaker, and a leading Indianapolis performing arts and restaurant critic. She can be heard on 93 WIBC's Saturday Morning News Show as Indy’s entertainment adviser, and can also be found on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.