Event: Absolut Vodka x Founder Bar x Earth Hour

“Sustainability is not a trend, it’s a responsibility that we all share”

Hello, I’m Rachel Swinden, one of the interns behind this mouth-watering platform.

Earth Hour was on Saturday, March 24th, 2018 from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM and I was lucky enough to celebrate in a really inspiring way with Absolut Vodka and Founder Bar (a soon-to-be open restaurant and bar on Dundas Street).  The event was put together by Danielle Yoon, Ontario’s Brand Ambassador for Absolut Vodka.  I spoke with Danielle a lot throughout the evening, picking her brain and getting all the details about how she made every aspect of this event as sustainable as possible.

In having these conversations with Dani, I found myself feeling a little… uninformed. There were heaps of other sustainable aspects of the night, nestled in the food, drinks, environment and decorations.  Just to name a few examples…

1. Ice!  We didn’t have any ice in our cocktails, for a good reason. Often times, bartenders will shake a cocktail over ice, throw it away and then pour the drink over fresh ice.  What a waste!  Also, in many bar and restaurant settings, ice machines come hand in hand with wasted water and really high energy expenditure. AND I learned that most bars will use a common practice- referred to as “burning the well” – to get rid of leftover ice at the end of the day.  Hot water is poured over the leftover ice to melt it away- yet another massive waste of water and energy!  With that being said, all of the cocktails were served at room temperature or served hot (like a tea).

2. Citrus! I’ve never thought of my lemon wedge as a sustainability issue but boy, was I wrong.  For starters, in our market, citrus is always imported. This leads to really high carbon emissions, for a natural product that is often tossed aside because it’s too ugly. Even sadder that in most cases, it is only the juice or zest that is used and the rest of the fruit is discarded.

3. Decorations! The tables were decorated with locally sourced foliage, such as moss and ferns that were potted in repurposed wooden boxes (that we got to take home at the end of the night!).

 Locally sourced ferns

Locally sourced ferns

 Locally sourced moss

Locally sourced moss

4. Natural Lighting! An entire wall of the venue was made up of windows so the natural light flooded the space during the daylight hours.

 
 Natural light

Natural light

 

5. Alternate Lighting! As the sun set, we had Niagara beeswax candles and solar charged fairy lights tangled in re-purposed vines to really set the mood.

 
 Candle lit dinner

Candle lit dinner

 
 
 Solar Charged Fairy Lights in Re-Purposed Vines

Solar Charged Fairy Lights in Re-Purposed Vines

 
 
 
 

As soon as I arrived, the bartender was whipping up some Bitter Tea cocktails.  This warm, comforting beverage was made with mountain mint, forest floor tea, citric acid, spent oranges, tonic and wildflower honey.  This was a really interesting take on a cocktail.  It might have been my first time trying tea and alcohol together, but it was really tasty on the tongue! And after having time to socialize with other guests, we took our seats and braced ourselves for a mouthwatering 6-course meal.

 
 The kitchen was lit with solar charged lights from Ikea

The kitchen was lit with solar charged lights from Ikea

 

We started off with an artful spread (served on repurposed wood, obviously) made up of coriander cured beef, pork rillettes, sustainably sourced fennel and (Absolut) vodka salmon belly, seaweed vegan roe, quail eggs, pickled veggies and pumpernickel and rye crackers.  The salmon was definitely my top pick, but I want to touch on how incredible that vegan roe was.  The texture was so close to the real thing; I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference and the taste was just incredible.  It was perfectly salty, with just the right amount of crunch and pop.

 
 Smorgasbord served on re-purposed wood

Smorgasbord served on re-purposed wood

 

Next up, we were served oysters with an Absolut Vodka Gibson.  Remember when I said that we didn’t have ice in our cocktails?  Well, we also didn’t use ice to chill our oysters.  Instead, the oysters were served over chilled stones that replaced the ice cubes.  These heavenly oysters were served in a carbonated mushroom dashi with spruce tips, seaweed and topped with pickled beech mushrooms.  I’m not an oyster connoisseur but these flavours were to die for.  To compliment the dish we were served a Gibson martini which is typically made with gin but in light of tonight’s event, it was made with Absolut Vodka, morel-infused vermouth and charred cedar, garnished with a pickled onion rolled in mushroom salt.

 
 Oyster served over frozen pebbles instead of ice!

Oyster served over frozen pebbles instead of ice!

 Gibson Martini mixed with Absolut Vodka

Gibson Martini mixed with Absolut Vodka

 

As the sun began to set we were served our third course of the evening.  We had the most juicy salmon that I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting.  And to top it off, I learned from Danielle and Kendall Collinridge that the salmon was sustainably sourced, backed by Ocean Wise, “Ocean Wise is a conservation program created to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood.”

 
    Ocean Wise Salmon served with an Absolut & beet cure, diced apple and watercress, topped with goat yogurt and an “everything crumb”

 

Ocean Wise Salmon served with an Absolut & beet cure, diced apple and watercress, topped with goat yogurt and an “everything crumb”

 

The cocktail alongside this dish was a Red Beet Sour, served at room temperature. Such a unique combination of flavours made for a wonderfully sweet and refreshing drink.

 
 Red Beet Sour infused with Absolut, verjus, wildflower honey topped with a refreshing cucumber foam and garnished with dill.

Red Beet Sour infused with Absolut, verjus, wildflower honey topped with a refreshing cucumber foam and garnished with dill.

 

On to the fourth, and what would be my final course.  For this, we had the option to choose either the pescatarian dish or the omnivorous dish.  Since I am a massive supporter of Ocean Wise, I opted for the pescatarian seafood meatballs (but noted the Berkshire pork omnivorous meatballs).

 
 Seafood meatballs served on a potato base, accompanied by nordic wildberries

Seafood meatballs served on a potato base, accompanied by nordic wildberries

 

To compliment the meatballs, we were served a mushroom tea.  We were given the option of a pork stock or a seafood stock base, so it only seemed fitting to go full-pesc and order the seafood stock.

 
 Mushroom Tea made with Absolut vodka, wild blueberry shrub and forest floor tea

Mushroom Tea made with Absolut vodka, wild blueberry shrub and forest floor tea

 

This warm and unique beverage was the perfect way to end my night.  Sadly, there were two other courses that I missed out on, but at this point in the night, I had to get home. Not only was this event beautiful and delicious, but it was also very informative and eyeopening.  I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend on behalf of ToFoodies.

As much as this event was about the food, the real takeaway from this evening was that we can all do our part to help the earth.  Whether it’s cutting back on electricity and using more on solar energy, consuming sustainably sourced foods, or simply repurposing items that would have otherwise gone to waste, we can all do our part, big or small, to have a positive impact on this beautiful planet we call home.

Happy Earth Hour everyone!