From grass gravlax to psychedelic tasting menus, restaurants in green friendly destinations around the world are taking cooking to another level.
In the Dutch capital, Noah Tucker and Tony Joseph own a restaurant called Fraiche, and according to an article in The Guardian, recently invited 25 people to sample an eight-course “psychedelic dinner”.
They were advised on potency levels and possible effects by “weed sommelier” Manas Akdag from non-governmental analyst Test Lab. “Sacred herbs” such as kanna and Syrian rue, as well as magic truffles, are also incorporated.
Writer Jules Marshall says: “We tuck into the starter, a hamachi ‘shashimi’ with smoked avocado and Red Angel dressing, fermented plum and a bacon and kanna-extract dashi.
“Red Angel is an Amsterdam-bred cannabis with a unique cannabinoid profile – high in psychoactive THC (15 per cent) and counterbalancing cannabidiol (CBD; also 15 per cent). It is designed to lift us – but not too high so early in the meal.
“Next up is wild salmon in a crust of toasted hemp seed, salsify with a fennel Syrian rue – intensely bitter, but pleasant here, cut with sweet liquorice.
“Tucker’s fondness for fish is evident with the third dish: wild bass with lemon vinaigrette and Pineapple Kush cannabis, red grapefruit and chervil, accompanied by individual pillows of weed vapour that don’t get us any higher, but do add to the ambience…
“It’s not as if the walls are melting, but rare-cooked venison in chocolate/hash sauce? My knife is getting heavy, the chocolate sauce looks weird. I am intensely aware of the feel of flesh in my mouth; it is tasty and I finish, but other plates remain half eaten. Shroomy hilarity reigns… “
Marshall concludes: “Psychedelic dining is not something you want to do every week, but for special occasions? Very much so. It is an exciting new direction for experimental chefs who are interested in taking a gastronomic approach to consciousness.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, four states in the US – Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska – have relaxed laws to such an extent that it can be bought for recreational purposes.
Since legalisation in Colorado at the beginning of 2014, a flurry of cannabis-based edibles have come on to the market.
You can but “extremely potent” Cheeba Chews, cherry chocolate cheesecake from Twirling Hippy Confections, and Cannabutter from Julie and Kate Baked Goods.
Over in Washington, soft drink start-up Legal is flogging bottles of THC-tinted sodas and tonics.In Vancouver you can buy Fairwinds cannabis-infused coffee, while San Francisco-based company Auntie Dolores produces upscale popcorn and pretzels laced with marijuana oil.
Chefs have also been recognising the potential for cannabis cuisine, pot-spiked food that is taking dining to the next level.
Josh Pollack, who owns Rosenberg’s Bagels in Denver, Colorado, was reported this month by grubstreet.com as having created cannabis-infused gravlax, salmon cured with salt, dill, lemon, sugar and essence of marijuana.
Chris Crowley writes: “To achieve the effect, the salmon is cured for about 72 hours; the finished product isn’t tinted green, but it will definitely get you high. It smells strongly of pot, too.”
Pollack is quoted as saying: “Weed is no longer valuable [in Colorado] because everyone grows it,” But “you can roll up with a bunch of weed fish and bagels and people are freaking out.”
“The issue with most edibles,” says grubstreet.com, “is that they tend to make people feel totally, uncomfortably blitzed for entirely too long.
“When amateurs, and even some professionals, make edibles, it seems like they try to cram as much green into it as possible, so they’re too potent. Pollack’s THC salmon, however, doesn’t assault your senses. The recommended dosage, Pollack advises, is about two ounces, just right for a bagel.”
In the US, cannabis is available for medical use in more than 20 states, with about ten of these expected to extend this to recreational use in the near future.
According to The Huffington Post: “Legal marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in the United States and if the trend toward legalization spreads to all 50 states, marijuana could become larger than the organic food industry.”
At the beginning of last year, legal marijuana sales in the United States were estimated to be US$2.6 billion – by 2018, it is predicted to rise to US$8.2 billion, with edibles making up at least 50 per cent of sales.
Politicians in the UK are debating total legalisation of cannabis after an online petition received 125,000 signatures.