We've all heard twitters about the cannabis dinners that have been popping up around San Francisco since the advent of mainstream marijuana. But if you've never been to one of these underground events, you've no doubt wondered what a cannabis dinner even is. Is there weed in all the food? Will I get high as a kite? Reasonable questions, for sure.
Now that cannabis is all legal, the green stuff is making appearances in increasingly haute culinary ingredients and will soon, we promise you, become a regular thing at even the most high-end events. So it's time you went behind the curtain: Here's what goes down at a cannabis dinner party.
You may have heard of the Cannaisseur Series, an ongoing pop-up of infused dinners launched back in 2015 by chef Coreen Carroll—a former butcher at 4505 Meats and a cheesemonger who's taught classes at The San Francisco Cheese School—and her husband, cannabis entrepreneur Ryan Bush. The founders and former owners of Madame Munchie—a line of luxury organic edibles including French macarons and madeleines—now hosts a twice monthly happy hour and supper for about 40 guests in San Francisco.
This past April, I joined the hosts for their Herbal Cheese Feast in a SoMa warehouse.
I was greeted at the door with a mocktail, which is always customized for each event. This evening's drink was an elderflower orange spritzer infused with four milligrams of THC. Beware the word "mocktail"—even without booze, this psychoactive aperitif has enough THC to give most people at least a little buzz.
I prepared to pace myself—the doors open one hour before dinner is served at eight, and there are plenty of edibles to sample, complements of the evening's sponsors (including Garden Society, Chemistry, and Kind Medicine). It's going to be a long night (and I'm trying to behave!).
Held at a secret location announced to guests earlier in the day, the event offers snacks to start. Bites of raclette were served with roasted potato and pickled shallot and infused with two milligrams of CBD—not psychoactive, thankfully, since the caprese was drizzled with few drops of sativa-infused organic olive oil. There were also sativa fruit gelees and indica milk chocolates. For anyone who was already feeling high, servers suggested they drink a CBD tonic to temper the spacey feelings.
I mingle throughout the space, talking with the other guests. Some of them are newbies, like me; others are back for their second or third experience and eager to share their enthusiasm for parties past. Chef Coreen, meanwhile, is sending out her tasty THC-infused appetizers, including a sorghum puff with spinach, manchego, and arugula; and goat cheese rolls.
At 8pm sharp, Ryan calls us to the dining room where we gathered among two long communal tables. Coreen explains that the menu is prepared with non-psychoactive flowers and that, after each course, we will share a selection of pre-rolled joints provided by Wolf Mountain Organics.
The first dish is a Bishop's Peak Mountain fondue with soft pretzel, veg, granny smith apples, and cornichon, infused with CBDa and THCa—non-psychoactive cannabinoids notable for their antioxidant powers and health benefits (including relief from pain, inflammation, nausea). At the end of the course, a joint is placed on the table. It is a perfectly named strain for the occasion: Green Goddess 2016 sativa. I share it with three women—it is time to get to know each other! There are also a few vape pens to try.
"This is my first dinner," says Jessica who works at UCSF and came with a friend. "I smoke regularly," she said. "but I have never participated at a dinner like this, so when Kristen invited me, I said why not."
Jessica is learning Italian, my native tongue, and perhaps loosened by the joint we shared she offered up a few words in Italian by way of conversation.
The dinner continued with pistachio lychee pears, venison schnitzel, and panna cotta for dessert, each course paired with red or white wine and sativa, CBD, or indica joints. For nearly three hours we ate delicious and delicate food, smoked high quality weed, and talking about religion, politics, Burning Man...and the next dinner.
We were high, yes, but most of all in a happy mood. The evening ended with a lot of hugs, jokes to see who was high and who wasn't, and the promise to meet again at the next Cannaisseur dinner. We all left the warehouse with goodies bags, filled with CBD olive oil, Buddha's Passion 2014 CBD flowers to smoke, a vape pen, some edibles, and chef Carroll's homemade Nutella infused with 20 milligrams of THC—you know, to keep the party going even after we went home.
// The Cannaisseur Series celebrates its third anniversary with a dinner on May 19th. Tickets $175/person) are available at cannaisseurseries.com.