When the snow begins to soften and the sun gets stronger, its "sugaring off" season in Montreal. Sugaring off is an annual activity that takes place every spring from approximately March to early May at the 200 or so "sugar shacks" that surround Montreal. The warmer weather causes the sap in sugar maples to start running. These trees are then tapped to allow the sap to drip into pails. The sap is then collected and boiled down to a thick, sweet syrup and voilà! You have maple syrup. According to industry groups, 77% of the world's maple syrup is produced right here in the province of Quebec and a big portion of that is actually consumed in the province as well. Going to a sugar shack, or "cabane à sucre", is a rite of passage that must not be missed as part of your introduction to life in Quebec. Every local school organizes a field trip and it is even part of the Quebec government's cultural integration program for new immigrants. There are different ways to enjoy this special treat. The easiest way is to visit one of the urban outdoor markets, such as Jean Talon or Atwater Market, where there will surely be a stand serving maple taffy on snow. Yum! For the real deal though, you can head out to one of the many sugar shacks outside the city. Your visit will include a traditional Quebecois meal of eggs, ham, bacon, split peas, crepes, as well as specialties like tourtiere (meat pie) and "oreille de crisse" (Don't ask! Just eat!). Folk music is also part of the entertainment sometimes. No matter the format, you can rest assured that everything will be served drowning in maple syrup. For more information about this quintessential Quebec experience visit www.cabaneasucre.org.