They say no visit to Calgary is complete without a taste of Alberta beef. But if you make it to the Stampede City you’ll also want to taste the salted caramel macarons at Ollia Macarons and Tea, the spruce-tip crème brûlée at Royale, or the spiced pineapple mimosa redolent of cardamom and star anise at Calcutta Cricket Club.
You can go around the culinary world in Calgary — if you have three hours to spare on a Saturday or Sunday — thanks to Alberta Food Tours’ Savour 17 Ave. SW tour.
The tour, which is limited to 14 guests, costs $115 (Canadian), and can accommodate vegetarian requests, is centered on the RED (Retail and Entertainment District) mile on 17th Avenue SW. You’ll walk between stops, so wear comfy shoes — and a stretch waistband is also a good idea.
First stop on the summer tour I took courtesy of Meetings Calgary was Cibo Calgary. (There are two Cibo locations in the city.) Cibo on 17th Avenue is romantically beautiful, with vintage wood and windows, and other reclaimed features throughout. But you’ll fall in love with the pizza — especially the crust. On the tour I sampled the pie with basil, tomato, fresh mozzarella, Grana Padano, and extra-virgin olive oil as well as the even-better mushroom pizza with roasted garlic, truffle oil, and fried rosemary.
Next stop was Vine Arts, a liquor shop with the feel of an old library. It has an amazing spirits collection alongside its wine and beer. We sampled a rhubarb saison craft beer and could have filled a growler with it, though we had too many more stops to go.
After Vine Arts we headed to “France,” and Ollia Macarons and Tea. The colorful, delicate, melt-in-your mouth macarons come in sweet (cotton candy) and savory (blue cheese, pear, and pecan) flavors, depending on the day and season. We also mixed herbal tea concoctions at Ollia, which is owned by husband (French) and wife team David and Lindsay Rousseau.
Anju Restaurant came next. Chef Roy Oh created an innovative menu with a Korean-Canadian fusion style (think fried Brussels sprouts, bacon, rice sticks, red onion and Soy Maple Syrup).
At Calcutta Cricket Club the food was yummy (I sampled a chickpea curry over corn bread), but it was the spiced pineapple mimosa that was the real show-stopper. The restaurant has cozy seasonal outdoor seating. But it’s adorable inside, with touches of fuchsia and green, light wood tones, and there’s even a carousel leopard behind the bar.
Last stop was Royale, where Chef de Cuisine Landon Schwarz prepared crème brûlée tableside (see video below). Schwarz, the son of a forester, uses the previously mentioned spruce tips to add flavor to the sweet treat, as well as maple syrup. We are, after all, in Canada.
Cristi Kempf is Convene‘s executive editor.