Yesterday I was invited for a sneak peak of a new boutique shop opening up on 16 Ave SW. Not only are they basically my new neighbours, but they’re literally a hop and a skip from the ever so popular 17th Ave.
Ollia (pronounced: oh-lee-ah) is stacked with shelves of premium loose leaf teas and rows and rows of those colourful French macarons we all love.
The whimsical atmosphere of the boutique transports you back to the days when things were much simpler. Or back to beautiful Paris if that’s your kind of scene (yes please!).
Pastel pinks and greens cover the walls, paired with funky and chic wallpaper.
Little dressers and tables act as shelves for their merchandise, giving everything an antique feel.
They offer beautiful heavy-duty teacups and saucers (the kind you won’t have to worry about chipping), teapots, gift sets and more.
It’s hard not to notice the white marbled counter. The streams of grey weave in and out like a flowing river, directing your eyes onwards to the pièce de résistance. Take a deep breath and sigh it out. This is definitely a place you can relax (Even if it is just for a take-out order).
From the décor to the packaging, every detail has been carefully planned out and the branding is superb. You can easily see why it has taken almost a year to put things into gear – but after leaving, I can’t think of anything that isn’t 100% perfect.
The makers of Ollia are about supporting local businesses and promoting eating local. The teas come from around the world, but the macarons use many local ingredients to reduce their carbon footprint. As an interesting fact, the honey used in the teas has been harvested from a local bee hive they sponsored!
But what about the teas you ask? How are the macarons?!
The teas come in simple yet elegant packaging. Small containers for those not wanting to make the commitment, and larger bags for any of you who develop a favourite. Carefully selected and aided by a “Tea sommelier”, they are the perfect pairing for any treat.
The blends have been made in store – such as Summer in Paris and Beaux Reves. With names like that, how could you not give them a try? Looking outside on this cold, dreary, winter day, I myself could definitely go on a mini vacation (even if it’s just in my imagination).
The Black Rose blend is inspired from an Iranian tea, containing rose petals and black tea. It’s described as a “Tea of romance”.
For now, the drinks will be made to take-out. You can order a regular tea, steeped tea, London fog, tea latte, or a blueberry matcha (vibrantly green and blended with milk powder).
The macarons themselves will come in a variety of sizes. Minis, standard, and hopefully “extra-large”. They are kept in the freezer to develop and expand, preserving the light texture and silky-smooth ganache required of a high-quality macaron.
I sampled a few of the house-favourites, and the words that come to mind are…light, fluffy, crunchy, sweet, and flavourful. As you bite into each one, they are the opposite of heavy. The ganache sort of melts into the meringue topping, and with each bite into the meringue you get a slight crunch. It is unbelievable how fluffy these little guys are, so you’ll just have to head on over and try them yourselves.
My favourite of the bunch was mint chocolate. Usually when you order a mint-chocolate combination the chocolate is overpowering and the mint is quite subtle. However, in this macaroon you could definitely taste it – a welcome change. The overall taste was fresh, light…and if I must admit, addicting.
The salted caramel was easily the most mouth-watering. I was salivating over my next bite while still enjoying the one in my mouth. It is incredible to believe the filling does all the work flavour-wise.
Perhaps the most surprising was the lemon cheesecake. Just a hint of lemon filled the ganache and the texture was bang on. I could see this becoming quite the crowd pleaser.
The rest of the selections aren’t nailed down yet, but I am sure you can expect a few seasonal and holiday varieties.
And, that is not all. Ollia isn’t just offering sweet macarons for those in need of a sugar fix. They will be offering a selection of savoury as well. What is a savoury macaron you might ask? A few they have in store for us are goat cheese, maple bacon, cream cheese, and salmon. It will be hard not to find that special macaron for everyone.
Now the shop isn’t limited to sweets, teas, and merchandise. They also have a more hands-on approach. Monthly baking classes will be offered, in which – you guessed it – you can make your own macarons.
This is the perfect event for friends or couples looking to chat while doing something creative. Plus, in the end you get a pretty sweet treat. Private bookings will also be available for those of you planning a bachelorette, bridal shower, book club, or any other event. However, space is limited to about 8 people.
^ The cavalry ^
What about Valentine’s Day? Don’t worry, they have something in the works for that as well.
When the summer comes, the big garage-door style window will open, and little patio sets will serve as the perfect place to congregate and enjoy a tea & macaron. French style. But for now, sneak out on a warm day and relax in the park across the street, grab a box for a picnic, or just grab some to enjoy at home with a blanket and glass of wine.
They will be opening any day now, so head on by this weekend and show your support! With the incoming bakeries and brassieres, I must admit I am looking forward to my very own petit Paris. Hey, if you can’t have the real deal right?
For now, the 16th Ave shop will be the only location, but keep an eye out for pop-up boutiques in the future. With a massive kitchen, they can easily double production and spread their delicious treats around the city. Plus, with a loyalty program, they’re sure to keep customers coming back.
Address: 810C 16th Avenue SW, Calgary AB
Phone: (403) 993-6364