For Ottawa Magazine, published April 23, 2012
If I were feeling peckish and fond of the Rolling Stones, I might seek out the band’s former chef and see what’s cookin’. I’d have to go to Orléans to find him, to a strip mall on St Joseph Boulevard next to a Jumbo Video, where a bright yellow sign announces ‘Gourmet Meals to Go.’
Ordinarily, trolling Orléans for good eating can be a disheartening exercise. But Marc Miron and his wife, chef Chantal Gagné, have had cooking careers that have taken them to hotels and restaurants all over the world, (and, for a time, says Miron’s CV, to the kitchen of Mick, Keif, Ron, and whoever the other guy is). But they’ve now settled down in Orléans where they feed we commoners, grub that’s inarguably the best in these suburbs. They do this at their gourmet shop and cooking school “Cuisine & Passion.”
Among the shelves of fancy pastas and oils, cookbooks and cutting boards, cases of frozen prepared food, baskets of bread and fridges of cheese, there are a few comfy couches and high top tables. (There’s Lunch To Go service as well as an eat in option.) You can have the daily special – quiche, say, with a salad, or a the morning’s sandwich – but I had my eye on the chicken in the display case, wrapped in pandan leaves. I ordered it rewarmed, along with a small container each of roasted squash with onion, roasted cauliflower with a toasted crumb and parsley topping, and a cold chickpea salad. These I brought to a picnic bench by the Ottawa River and tucked in.
You remove the pandan leaf – it’s not edible – but its exotic aroma had infused the ultra moist chicken with a bright flavour. What it and a good rub had done for boring old boneless chicken breast was commendable. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and seasoned, while the chickpeas were elevated with grilled onion and peppers, and with long threads of house-smoked salmon. If I had a complaint, the legumes were too al dente for my taste. But that’s minor stuff. I still got satisfaction.
Cost: my sampling cost $16 and gave me leftovers for another meal.
Open: Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm; Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Cuisine & Passion, 2297 St. Joseph Blvd., Orléans, 613-845-1090