Ecobags, part of the Whole Planet Foundation Initiative, not only come in handy for your summertime farmer’s market shopping. They also make suitable party favours.
Though the summertime award show gifting suites have historically focused on eye-popping swimwear, casual footwear, designer T-shirts and a mix of high-end and budget accessories that make a variety of statements, the planners of the Secret Room and the Rock ’n’ Rolla Eco Party certainly knew how to turn any setting, from a landmark Hollywood mansion to a hotel ballroom, into a sort of “model home” for anybody wanting to plan a summertime party that people will be taking about through Labor Day.
by Elyse Glickman
Debbie Durkin’s picnic at the Pickford House was catered by Whole Foods, which shed a stellar spotlight on their charity (the Whole Planet Foundation) as well as affiliated causes National Pet Day, the Celebrity Green Writing Prompt Project, and Musicians for Microcredit (where young musician can get their peers and fans to donate money to a variety of causes). While there was a liquor sponsor (Arta Tequila), much of what guests could enjoy amid a backdrop of talented new bands and artists was healthy, ethically sourced and beautifully presented. The statement being made here? ‘I care about my guests and the world.’
And with that, what better way to toast the crowd with Artá Tequila, whose Pucci-inspired bottle is made of recycled materials. The portfolio of tequilas is 100 per cent organic, and a great foundation for very simple, refreshing cocktails.
Artá Citrus Mint Splash
Splash of grapefruit juice
2 lime wedges
3 mint leaves
2 oz Artá Reposado
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz club soda
Muddle lime wedges and mint leaves. Add with remaining ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Serve in a rocks glass, garnish with mint and lime.
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3¾ oz Artá Añejo Tequila
1½ oz fresh lime juice
3 oz fresh pineapple juice
¾ oz simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
Garnish: fresh rosemary
In a shaker, muddle the rosemary. Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a highball glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.
If Debbie Durkin’s overall setup proved anything, it was that a summertime picnic or pool party did not need to have a complicated or hard-to-prepare menu to attain a certain level of elegance. The rule of thumb was simply to have a little something for everybody, including omnivores, vegetarians, children and pets. The spread for humans included vegetarian, turkey and chicken wraps, Israeli couscous, tomato and mozzarella skewers with salt and pepper olive oil, fresh-baked breads, organic tortilla chips, fresh fruit and a frozen yogurt bar with toppings (featuring US brand ) which offered frozen yogurt as well as kefir, which makes a tangy foundation for smoothies).
Harmless Harvest Cocoanut Water, which was being sampled, is delicious on its own or mixed with a spirit like Artá or VeeV (a vodka-like spirit made with Acai). The company sources cocoanuts from small organic agroforestry farms, then use a cutting-edge, heatless, high-pressure process for food safety and extended shelf life in your fridge. The result is rich, coconut flavour and the nutritional benefits of raw and organic without the need for unnatural and harmful additives.
Anybody looking for inspiration, not just for nutrition or weight loss, but also hostess gift and party favor bag ideas could turn to Kathy Kaehler’s booth, while Lucire Home readers can turn to her star-studded website for tips and tricks for healthier entertaining and better eating habits everyday. While Ecobags are excellent party favours for more formal gatherings, such as a baby or bridal shower, for those who cannot resist the urge to include candy, Amella Caramels provides a lovely alternative, in a rustic but attractive box.
Though the Secret Room took its MTV party indoors, some of the vendors managed to bring the great outdoors inside. We loved the following products, which also had great stories behind them.
The Jelly Queens: this is Americana-in-a-jar on many levels, hand-made from organic Texas produce, and sometimes infused with quality beers, champagnes and wines. Whether you buy these for yourself, give them as party favours or do a big basket for the bride or Mom-to-be, they are sure to start conversations and make a chef out of anybody who dares to pop a top.
MegaLoad: the classic peanut butter cup did not grow up exactly, but it certainly got creative with toppings. While the chocolate and peanut butter still taste great together, the pretzels and cookies join the party and blend in well. These updates on an American favourite are also certified kosher and halal.
Mommy Juice Wines: you can say that Mommy Juice Wines’ founder Cheryl Durzy is a mother of invention. The Mom of two, and ten-plus-year sales and marketing wine industry veteran at Clos LaChance Wines, was inspired by her young children who pointed to wine glasses everywhere claiming, ‘That’s Mommy’s juice!’ According to her mission statement, her vision includes balanced, fruit-forward wines that bring just a bit of peace after the chaos of everyday life as a parent.
Gogee juices: another wonderful thing to have around for cocktail mixing or powering up one’s non-alcoholic beverage selection. Rich, fresh-blended flavours and full body characterize these alcohol-free, super-fruit cocktails.
Illyissimo: the classic Italian coffee is not just portable and potent, but also very refreshing and not too sweet. This is literally a natural for a brunch or late-afternoon pick-me-ups, as they are made from 100 per cent Arabica coffee beans. There is also a sugar-free, unsweetened formula with fewer calories and no lingering “artificial” taste.
Cultures for Health: as baby showers and family parties are becoming more activity-driven, this company offers a variety of fun and educational ways to show guests not only how to prepare foods at home, but how ingredients can be sourced naturally, from the start(er)! The website features over 300 starters for yogurt, bread yeast, fermentation, cheese-making and other “real foods” that promise a healthier lifestyle and wallet (lower grocery bills) if you follow the directions and pick up a few healthy habits. •