Twenty years ago at Carleton University, you got cheap, fast food courtesy of a catering service unfamiliar with culinary innovation. Hot plates were forbidden in dorms; irons and kettles, on the other hand, were allowed.
A student at the time, Anna Barone, owner of the new Cucina Barone in Westboro (and Victory Strength & Boxing, also in Westboro), took the matter in hand. She boiled water, upended her iron, and made a coat hanger fixture to hold an old tin pot. Pasta for supper!
In the same resourceful way, Barone, upon discovering she suffered from connective tissue disease (an auto-immune disorder), investigated foods and exercises to alleviate her body’s stress and clear her head. Barone was her own experiment, as it were, determining what made her feel good, to “set myself up for the rest of my life,” as she puts it.
Meanwhile, her undergraduate degree in economics had led her to work in Toronto as broker and senior credit risk manager, instilling change at various banks. With this experience in hand, Barone returned to Ottawa in 2012 to open up Victory at the City Centre, a health coaching centre and café.
This past December, the two parts found separate Westboro addresses, albeit blocks away. The new fitness centre offers a place to work on your strength and mobility (the full range of motion, that is, that your body can attain) or learn how to box. The idea? Develop a balanced body (and a calmer mind) so you don’t go crazy playing catch-up all your life.
Good eating (much appreciated) can be part of the package, if you want. From the kitchen of Barone’s café, Cucina Barone, comes a 20-day tailored meal plan running the gamut from braised beef to barley salad with mango dressing to tiramisù. Italian blood identified! (Although latkes have been added to the expanding menu.) To up the nutritional value, Barone might swap, for instance, cornmeal for wheat flour in a lemon cake with wined cherries, or use figs to sweeten walnut biscotti.
These dishes not only nourish you physically but, due to Barone’s fertile imagination, give you a great lift, too. You can take home the café’s dishes, and their shelves are stocked with products from the likes of Bread by Us and Poppa Bean Coffee Roastery.
First though, sit down with your espresso and a crisp anise-flavoured waffle cookie called pizzelle. The ever-enterprising Barone did all the hard work to give you the easy part: work a little, eat a little. Hey, welcome back to life.
Cucina Barone, 393 Winston Ave., 613-695-6995; Victory Strength & Boxing, 294 Picton Ave., 613-769-6380