The last time we were in Victoria together, we visited Ulla on in Chinatown. Since then, it has changed hands to become OLO – a farm to table gem of a restaurant.

OLO is all about showcasing the best of BC ingredients. OLO means ‘hungry’ in chinook jargon – a combination of Chinook, English, French and Chinese used by the earliest settlers and first nations in the region. The tasting menu was quite special, with locally sourced ingredients, paired with fantastic BC wines. We really loved that all of the wine selections were local.

After some discussion, I decided against a vegetarian tasting menu (with selections that were right up my alley, like risotto) to join David with the regular tasting menu that would really test my palette and get me out of my usual comfort zone.

The first course was a fantastic white hakurei turnip dish with mustard greens, a cider dressing and fantastic little bursts of toasted puffed rice. It was bright and woodsy and not too acidy, with a light asian flavour. It was wonderfully paired with a sauvignon blanc.

 

The second course was where I was definitely stepping out of the ordinary for me. The thought of tartar is something I don’t love, and the lamb tartar offering was one of the reasons I thought I would try the vegetarian tasting. While it wasn’t my favourite of the night, it was perched on a wonderful seedy dark bread and mixed with a lovely mixture of soy, sherry, onion flowers and mint. I think for me the lamb chunks were a bit too large, but David loved the gaminess of the meat and the onion flowers. The bubbly gamay noir sparking wine ‘Bella” was not too sweet and had a great nutty finish that played off the nutty bread perfectly.

 

 

The next wine that we tried was our favourite of the night. An unfiltered cloudy Lock and Worth semillon (from the Naramata Bench area of the Okanagan that we love) that smelled like blue cheese (in the best way possible) but was nice and light.

 

 

The pairing was the most gorgeous plate of the evening. The red smoked salmon with green spring vegetables and green herb foam was striking – it looked and tasted like BC on a plate. The salmon had a wonderful smoke that melted in our mouths, and the green sauce had some lovely lemon, citrus and onion hits. It was like the ocean and lush forest in a bowl. Really wonderful.

 

Our main course was a lovely duck breast that was perfectly seared (so it wasn’t too fatty) with fennel, cabbage shoots and a rhubarb sauce (that made us both think of home in Saskatchewan where rhubarb is also abundant). The sauce was not too heavy around the duck and it was an interesting choice that made it different from the usual sweet duck sauces I have tried. We also loved the pasta capiletti it came with that was outrageously herby and good. The wine pairing was a really nice merlot from Marionette in Salmon Arm.

 

 

We had our choice of dessert and loved this rhubarb dessert with a bright and tart lemon ice cream and a chewy and delicious macaron. It was paired with an island dessert wine called Brandenburg No. 3 from Venturi-Schulze winery. We loved that it was a not too sweet amber wine with caramel and coffee undertones.

 

 

Overall, our visit to OLO was exceptional. I congratulated myself for going out of my comfort zone (which is what all tasting menus are about after all), and trying some really unique new dishes and wines.

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