This week's feature restaurant: Actinolite Restaurant

12 September 2018

The Truth and Love about Actonolite Restaurant

We asked every restaurant in Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery to complete a survey detailing their passions, processes and philosophy. Discover more of our restaurants’ stories in their own words.

  • WHO: Justin Cournoyer & Claudia Bianchi, co-owners
  • WHAT: A Canadian restaurant focused on sustainable eating using local, seasonal ingredients
  • WHERE: 971 Ossington Ave, Toronto ON M6G 3V5

There are many different ways to practice sustainability and integrity in hospitality. Give us some examples of an action or principle that is important to you.

Locality:

“Actinolite is about hyper-regional cuisine. Our major goal is to find and source food that reflects our local region as well as the specific time of year. We respect our ingredients and our suppliers. That means supporting local and small-scale producers in as many aspects of the restaurant as possible. From our vegetables to our plates (Chef works with local potters who create the perfect feel and shape of the dishes for our restaurant), it is imperative that we are supporting our community. Our wine program follows the same philosophy, sourcing our wines from producers who farm in harmony with nature – sustainably, organically, and biodynamically. They use the cellar as an opportunity to guide a wine to its point of best and most unique expression, often without the use of additives, yeasts, enzymes, or sulfur. Our wine program focuses on small-to-medium-sized producers from both the Old and New World. Wines that are not from are region are always sourced through local small-scale agents. The few select beers that we carry in house are all from local breweries.”

Environmental impact:

“Making food for others and working towards our idea of Canadian cuisine comes with responsibilities; honouring the ingredients and the suppliers who are their caretakers means limiting waste. This is a necessity at Actinolite. Examples of how we limit waste and lower carbon emissions include:

  • We reuse drying salts year after year by dehydrating it after its intended purpose. This not only infuses the salts with flavour but also limits waste.
  • We use all by-products of vegetables (including peels of cucumber, celeriac skins, salt-baked vegetables trimmings, etc.) in many different ways. For example: creating oils, using them for dehydrating or fermenting.
  • Bones used for making stock are used a second time to make a remouillage for staff meals. It is important to us that our staff get flavourful and nourishing meals.
  • We save all organic matter to feed the animals that we then purchase. Farmers pick up the feed when they drop off our orders. This limits the number of trips that need to be made, reducing carbon emissions.
  • We always use the whole animal. For example, we make fish sauce from the guts of the fish we serve in the restaurant. We also use the scraps from meat that would otherwise be thrown away to make different kinds of garums, that are then used in the restaurant.
  • We bake fresh bread using the spent grains and wort (leftover from beer-making) in the winter months from our local brewery.
  • We use the shells of the oysters and ashes from the grill to make pottery that is used in service at the restaurant.
  • We serve a vegetable forward menu and limit the amount of meat on the menu. There are always alternatives to meat available.”

Describe three dishes that best represent your approach or food philosophy:

“1. Following the Land: Fiddleheads*, Succulents, Nettle Tea – Every year we create a dish using fiddleheads. We forage all our own wild foods, which means this dish is only available for a week or maybe two depending on the season. When using produce this fresh and time-sensitive, we want to highlight its excellence without overwhelming. The fiddleheads and the stonecrops that make up this dish are mild. In order to not lose these subtle flavours, we make a complex nettle tea that is lightly seasoned and split it with a small amount of ground elder oil. The result is a welcome burst of freshness after our long Canadian winter that gives the diner an expectation of what is to come: our interpretation of the best of the season.

“2. Following the Farmer: Overwintered Greens – Our philosophy requires cultivating relationships. One of these connections is with a place called Chickabiddy Farms. Every year they overwinter a variety of greens in unheated greenhouses. When spring arrives, these greens bolt into young tender flowering stalks which bring sweet and pure flavour due to the cold nights in the greenhouse. We try to honour the effort that Chickabiddy puts into growing these greens by placing much of the focus on the quality of the greens, gently cooking them and dressing them with a variety of products from our extensive winter pantry. This year, the greens were dressed with a house-made yeast extract, a kind of pork liver katsuobushi, and apple vinegar that we make each year from an abandoned orchard in Toronto. We use so much apple vinegar in a year that we’ve collaborated with Yongehurst Distillery to pick and ferment the apples into alcohol, which we then further ferment into apple vinegar. This dish would not be possible without the community of like-minded farmers and producers.

“3. Following Culture: Blackview Farm Beef, Magnolia, Ramps – Bill (from Blackview Farm) is focused on pasturing all of the animals that he raises for meat because he believes it’s the right way forward. Securing this high quality and idiosyncratic product, we want to develop the qualities inherent to it. This means carefully aging it. We buy whole shoulder sections and dry-age them for three or four months before we start to cook with it. Bill’s beef is often a little bit older than the industry norm for steers; just under two years old at the time of slaughter, it benefits from the enzymatic tenderization that comes along with extended aging. It also gives the meat a complexity of flavour that would not be possible otherwise. We attempt to find garnishes that are complementary to this very special meat, that fit into the precise time of year that we’re serving it. Right now, we’re serving it with wild ramps and foraged magnolia petals which are both cooked in a magnolia butter. These accompany a 2-ounce portion of this magnificent beef that we grill. While grilling, we add culture to this dish, brushing it with a little field pea miso (made from the same field peas that the cows are fed), a tamari (made from a beef garum that ferments for 1 to 2 years in our pantry and is a creative way we reduce waste and gain flavour) and butter. This dish is highly influenced by the Asian culture that is very prominent in our Toronto neighbourhood and within the Actinolite Team. By utilizing culture, creating different flavours through our fermentation program, we are able to give this dish great depth while keeping it simple, showcasing its natural complexity. This dish is everything that we strive for: it’s firmly rooted in this place and our relationships with the community around us, and it’s a uniquely flavoured representation of our landscape in spring.”

  • Editor’s note: fiddleheads are the furled fronds of young ferns, which can be harvested for use as a vegetable.

To read more about Actinolite Restaurant, visit their Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery profile here.


Adding to the Volume of Good: Paws for Thought

12 September 2018

Each week we highlight restaurants demonstrating truth and love with amazing, inspiring and selfless acts that make the world just that little bit better.

  1. Fauna (Turkey): The bones from Fauna are donated to a stray dog shelter, and all edible food remains are sent to the stray cats of Istanbul.

  2. Young George (Australia): Western Australia restaurant Young George holds an annual Trash Dinner, which highlights the importance of using all of the produce or animal and educates dining guests about the best ways to combat waste at home.

  3. Amass (Denmark): Amass removed squid from its menu after finding out that the majority was caught using trawlers, meaning other seafood was being collected and discarded in order to provide it.

  4. Mary Eddy's Kitchen x Lounge (USA): Oklahoma eatery Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge holds multiple pet adoption days each year on its patio for brunch, with a percentage of money going to the animal shelter of the day. They also make homemade doggie treats for new owners.

  5. Arimia Estate (Australia, pictured): The staff at Arimia Estate care for and feed the restaurant’s pigs and chickens themselves, ensuring that they are raised ethically, humanely and sustainably.

  6. Amber (Hong Kong): Bluefin tuna has not been served at Amber since 2008, due to the fish’s endangered status. The restaurant was one of the first in Asia to take a stance against sourcing and serving the popular fish.

The Q&A: Lauraine Jacobs

12 September 2018

We asked Lauraine Jacobs, contributing editor to our World edition, to answer the Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery Questionnaire. There are only two rules – you have to tell the Truth, and do it with Love (with apologies to Marcel Proust).

Lauraine Jacobs, a past president of the Food Writers New Zealand, is the food columnist for the New Zealand Listener magazine, an internationally respected food and wine writer and author/editor of ten books.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Cooking at my bench top with my three-year-old grandson Teddy – he dons on an apron and says, “I’m a restaurant man!”

What is the purest thing you have ever tasted? Fresh kina, (New Zealand sea urchin) broken open on the seashore and eaten raw, right there.

What is the best thing you can do with your hands? Wave!

What do you love most about what you do? I am passionate about recording the stories of good farmers and artisan food producers.

What do you consider the most overrated ingredient? Sundried tomatoes.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever been taught? To be constantly curious.

Is there anything you don’t particularly care to eat? The allium family, including garlic, do not like me, sadly.

When was the last time you ate out, and where? A superbly orchestrated collaborative dinner on Friday evening at O’Connell St Bistro, where Bradley Hornby and Liz Buttimore of Arbour (a TL&CC entry) brought a bevvy of regional Marlborough artisan produce and producers to cook with Chef Mark Southon.

What are your favourite books or cookbooks? Dan Barber’s The Third Plate, and The Cooks Companion by Stephanie Alexander, which might be the closest thing to a food bible.

What do you make from scratch? Everything.

What are the qualities you most admire in others? Honesty and generosity.

Can you tell us something we don’t know about you? I have never been in my husband’s fishing boat, even though it is named after me.

If you could eat only one thing today, what would it be? A fresh sourdough loaf with butter.

What do you see when you think of the cuisine of your own country? Fresh, natural ingredients that have more flavour than any other food on earth.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Delicious”.

Which talent would you most like to have? I wish I could speak Te Reo – the language of New Zealand’s indigenous Māori people.

Do you have a motto or mantra? “If it is simple to make, it will be simple to eat” – and everyone loves that.


Ocean Cleanup Project Sets Sail

12 September 2018
Image courtesy of The Gallivant

More than five trillion pieces of plastic are currently polluting the ocean. Left to accumulate in five ocean garbage patches, this plastic poses a major threat to our ecosystem.

Aiming to provide a solution to this issue is the Ocean Cleanup Project, which has just launched its first cleanup system. Founded in 2013 by then-eighteen-year-old Boyan Slat, the initiative intends to both clean up the existing waste and prevent new plastic from entering the ocean in the first place.

The project uses a unique system that harnesses the natural force of the ocean’s current to catch and concentrate plastic. A special floater that sits above the ocean surface and is powered by wind and waves is able to capture the plastic moving with the current beneath it, without the need for external energy sources. Project managers are able to monitor the performance and trajectory of the system through real-time telemetry.

The system launched from San Francisco on 8 September will be trialled before being towed out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – the biggest of all five patches. If successful, a full fleet of 60 systems will be employed around the world by 2020.

A full-scale deployment of these systems is estimated to reduce the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by 50% in 5 years. By combining the use of these systems with source reduction on land, the project is set to transform the state of our seas – and puts the globe on track to achieve a plastic-free ocean by 2050.

Visit www.theoceancleanup.com to learn more about this revolutionary project.


Fervor's Truth & Love: We asked every restaurant in Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery to complete a survey detailing their passions, processes and philosophy. Discover more of our restaurants’ stories in their own words.

Each week we highlight restaurants demonstrating truth and love with amazing, inspiring and selfless acts that make the world just that little bit better.

(With apologies to Marcel Proust). We asked Andrew Stephen, the CEO of the UK's Sustainable Restaurant Association to answer the Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery Questionnaire. There are only two rules – you have to tell the Truth, and do it with Love.

The sixth MAD Symposium explores how to create a more fair, sustainable and ethical restaurant world.