• Cheré Dastugue Coen

Pouring love at Florida's Old Spanish Sugar Mill

Updated: Jun 25

Visitors to the DeLeon Springs State Park in central Florida can create their own breakfast.

They don't just serve great pancakes at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House at DeLeon Springs State Park in central Florida, they make you do it yourself. But that's part of the fun.

The mill dates back to the early 1800s when the first structure was built near the springs to crush sugar cane. The mill was destroyed during the Second Seminole War of 1835 and again during the American Civil War but rebuilt around 1900. Peter Schwarze saved the building from destruction in 1961, once again grinding flour utilizing the springs and serving the finished product in a home-style restaurant. The family continues the tradition today.

Customers sit at tables with griddles in the middle and are served two different types of pancake batter made from stone-ground grains. One pitcher contains "early American" batter consisting of unbleached white flour and the other, a homemade mix of buckwheat, rice, rye, corn and whole wheat flour. After the waiter/waitress instructs diners on how to operate the griddle, the final product is up to them. Diners can make plain pancakes or add ingredients such as banana slices, blueberries, chocolate chips or real peanut butter, among many others. Once the pancake begins to bubble, diners must flip them, let them become nice and crispy, then enjoy, topped with real maple syrup, local honey or a flavored syrup. Pancakes aren't your thing? Those griddles can also be used for cooking eggs and French toast. Meat is prepared in the kitchen and delivered to the table. And for those with gluten intolerances, vegan pancakes are available.

I have to admit, it was pretty darn fun pouring our own pancakes and the blueberries we ordered made for some nice happy faces.

DeLeon Springs State Park in DeLeon Springs of West Volusia County, Florida, centers around a springs that delivers crystal clear waters at 72 degrees year round and manatees that love to visit in the winter. No one knows if explorer Ponce De Leon visited the springs or if they were indeed the Fountain of Youth but the Timucuan Native Americans lived here and called the springs Acuera or "Healing Waters." Naturalist John James Audubon visited the springs in 1831 and a resort existed by its shores for many years. Today, in addition to pancakes, visitors can enjoy swimming, boat tours and hiking.

Want to see how it's done? Check out Georgia Turner, the executive director of the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority, showing me how to pour pancakes here.

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