In the last decade, marijuana has moved into the mainstream and onto the dinner table. As more chefs and entrepreneurs get in on the green rush, we’re left to wonder: How do you eat and drink cannabis?
We convened at a swank curso bolo no pote gourmet space at the invitation of 99th Floor, a cannabis dinner party pop-up company helmed by Jeepney chef Miguel Trinidad.
“We want to destigmatize cannabis through the universal language of food,” Trinidad said, before sending out a tour de force of cannabis cooking: Weed permeated the stock for the beef shank served in a gingery broth with spaetzle and fry bread; its flower was shaved over a carpaccio of charred, cannabis-infused octopus; terpenes, nonpsychoactive aromatic chemical compounds from the cannabis plant, provided floral notes to the roasted fennel that accompanied lamb chops that had been cooked, sous vide, in infused fat. (And my fears aside, nothing tasted like bong water. It was all delicious.) As each course was served, Trinidad called attention to where THC (the compound responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects) was incorporated—in a smoky eggplant puree with the carpaccio, in a Bordelaise sauce on the lamb—allowing us to moderate our intake somewhat. It was good that I’d talked to Trinidad about all of this ahead of time, because somewhere between the second and third courses, my eyeballs started feeling really weird, and my notes from the rest of the dinner were limited to: “Feeling great. Mirage burps. Womp womp.”
Trinidad and his business partner, Doug Cohen, compare their approach to cannabis as analogous to a fine-dining meal with wine pairings. “The goal is not to have you hammered,” says Cohen. “It’s a journey of the senses, an experience.”
99th Floor is one of many new businesses working to meet the new cannabis consumer: me, and maybe also you. Thanks to the growing social acceptance and legalization of cannabis, the number of adults trying it for the first time is skyrocketing. And an awful lot of us aren’t smoking it—we are eating and drinking it.
According to studies by Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, which studies cannabis consumption, the top growth category is consumable cannabis. For the most part, that means edibles, which is a section of the cannabis market that has evolved far past the pot brownie; it also includes THC- and CBD-infused drinks, even ice cream. And across the nation, chefs and diners are exploring the versatility of the cannabis plant at the table in ways Jerry Garcia could never have imagined: infusing foods, pairing inhaled marijuana with food, and mining the spectrum of flavor profiles and distinct psychoactive effects of different cannabis strains.
At 99th Floor, I was lucky to be in the hands of a chef who was conservative with the dosing, so I left the evening pleasantly buzzed and not too high to find my way home. But it’s the wild west when it comes to culinary cannabis, and for every carefully dosed dinner party series, there’s somebody eating too many THC-laced gummies and having a terrible night. Wondering how to navigate this new world?