Our Cork & Canvas High Tea at The Fairmont Palliser is tomorrow! To get into the spirit, we asked David Rousseau, owner of Calgary-based Ollia Macarons, what it takes to make this pastry perfect, and what flavours our guests will sample at the High Tea. Make sure you join us for the Cork & Canvas finale, Whisky Fest on March 26 at Willow Park Wines and Spirits.

How did you come up with the idea to open this bakery in Calgary? 

I have always been passionate about food and using local and organic ingredients. Back home in France, my grandmother would get veggies and fruits from her garden and teach me how to make soup, salads, cakes, crepes, galettes, pies when I was very young. Throughout my life as a young adult I always cooked and baked wherever I lived around the world and it was just natural for me to open a business in the food industry. Calgary made sense for a couple of reasons, my wife being from here and the incredibly booming food and drinks scene mixed with amazing support from the existing business community.

Macarons have been a part of my life since I was very young and when I learned how to master them professionally, it only made sense to focus on bringing my knowledge of macarons to Calgary. Offering them with the finest organic and fairly sourced tea made a lot of sense as we wanted to offer an opportunity for great pairings.

On the description of Ollia Macarons (on your Facebook page) it says, “we make classic French macarons with a modern touch.” Can you elaborate? 

Classic french macarons means that they are generally less sweet and a tad smaller than the North American version of macarons. That allows our customer to enjoy a few different flavours. We have up to 30 at our store on the 8th block of 16th Ave SW in Calgary.

The modern touch comes from our pairing flavours. We do have the classic chocolate and vanilla but we also have match/guava, yuzu/hibiscus and other pairings. We also offer a savoury collection of flavours such as: goat cheese and apricot, fig and balsamic, blue cheese pear and pecan.

What are they key components to making perfect macarons?

Macarons are very tricky to make in general and Calgary offers new challenges to bakers (altitude, dry weather, sudden change of weather…etc).

There are generally a few steps to follow and each step has its own challenges: Making a meringue, “macaroner” (mixing), piping, resting, making the filling, baking, cooling and assembling would be the main steps.

To help bakers – experienced or not – we do offer weekly baking lessons. Schedule and availability can be viewed at www.byollia.com.

What is your most popular flavour?

Sweet: Salted caramel, pistachio, calamansi, lemon cheesecake

Savoury: Goat cheese and date, maple bacon, blue cheese pear and pecan

What macarons will guests sample at the High Tea?

Being from Brittany, France, I naturally grew up around salted caramel and that is the flavour that Ollia will showcase at the High Tea.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Our focus is to chose local and organic ingredients whenever possible. Just the way I was taught. Our eggs are from a free run farm in Lethbridge, my whisky is from Alberta Premium, my rose and lavender are organic and we use the honey we get from our own beehive.

This is similar to choosing our tea: only organic tea with no added flavours is what we do and we chose tea flavours that pair very well with our macarons collection.