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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

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Kind of nice food

When you think of cannabis edibles, you probably think of brownies, cookies, or gummy bears. That’s because an astonishing 69 percent of all edibles sold in the U.S. are candies or chocolates, according to analysis by infused goods manufacturer Wana Brands.

Even the few edibles that aren’t candy often seem to be cheap, sugary foods infused only with cannabis oil. There isn’t much gastronomic or culinary expertise in an edible market that still won’t grow beyond candy and Rice Krispie Treats.

This state of affairs is changing in San Francisco, thanks to a chef who has worked in multiple Michelin-starred restaurants. Chef Payton Curry cut his teeth in the prestigious kitchens of the French Laundry, Quince and the now-closed Ame, and now he’s concocting a refined cannabis cuisine that is different from the edibles you’re used to.

“I press cannabis and wash the dishes for a living,” says Curry SF Evergreen, maybe more than a little modest. He is now the founder of Flourish Cannabis, a gourmet kitchen where he holds the position of CEO — or, as Curry calls it, “Cannabis Education Officer.” And boy, does he have a vision for creating a five-star cuisine from fractional distillations of cannabinoids.

“We’re going to eat candy when we eat candy,” Curry says. “But I’d rather you eat cannabis in a way that your body will process it efficiently. You can eat it in a baked good, which I still do, but it has a lot of sugar in it. Your body then processes that sugar while trying to metabolize cannabis at the same time. Is that efficient? Not so much.”

Curry sees vegan and vegetarian dishes as a method to get more powerful and effective effects on the cannabinoids in the marijuana plant.

“Once you eliminate a lot of fake fats, you can really increase your body’s response to cannabis and the cannabinoids found in it,” he says.

He impeccably executed this vision at a recent Cannavore dinner event at a pop-up restaurant in SoMa, where a six-course prix fixe of interludes and amuse-bouche infused with both cannabis and incredible culinary skills.

SF Evergreen was in attendance for the event, and we happen to be ardent anti-vegan skeptics who generally order bacon cheeseburgers. Seated at a table full of professional potheads, we rolled our eyes to learn that the first course — a chilled heirloom tomato soup with cannabis juice made from “shake” leaves — contained a meager two milligrams of THC.

But that was no coincidence. The chef took us on a multi-hour, six-course journey, and the ride was designed for everyone from the canna curious to the serious stoner.

And those two small milligrams of THC were combined with two milligrams of CBD, as the chef is used to.

“Everything is one-to-one, from THC to CBD,” says Curry. “We don’t just come out and say, ‘Yeah, psychosis! Let’s just get high!’ We’re talking about that entourage effect of THC and CBD, we want to give people food that’s rich in both molecules, but also as complete as possible.”

Serious stoners were served an array of super-potent spices should they prefer a macro dose over a micro dose. These spices – or “chron-diments,” if you will – include Flourish Cannabis’ signature products such as Chili Crunk, Marynara and Forbidden Valley Ranch. (All are available for purchase on the Flourish Cannabis website or at various dispensaries in the Bay Area.)

Although this meal was billed as ‘Cannavore Dining’, it was not a menu for meat eaters. Everything was vegetarian. But the “Pot” Roast Herb Basted Maitake Steak appetizer — which is usually made from mushrooms — managed to taste just like meat.

Another course that was a big hit was the Creamy Corn Soup, especially for another professional pothead in attendance. Rachel Anne, founder of the North Bay delivery service Rachel Delivers Results, says: SF Evergreen“I’m a corn chowder connoisseur. But today I’m a cannabis-sucker of corn chowder.”

Payton Curry plans to host these gourmet cannabis dinners every month, so keep an eye on the Flourish Cannabis site for future marijuana dinner events. He also hopes to repeat a monthly Cannabis cooking class in SoMa’s pop-up space.

“We don’t sell edibles through the front or back door,” says Curry. “When you come in, you get CBD and THCA juice. People ask, ‘Where’s the weed?’ It’s a very low dose. And you will be focused on vegetarian dishes.”

For more information about future Cannavore dinners or classes, check BloomCannabis.com. A valid California Medical Marijuana ID card is required to participate.

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