This past April Fools’ Day, I journeyed to a top secret cannabis feast thrown by chefs Laurent Quenioux and Starry Kitchen‘s Thi Tran.
Getting an invite required filling out a “personality survey” (Tran says “No D-bags allowed!”) as well as the use of code words, nondescript meeting spots, and secret shuttles tagged with the sign “Grammar Rodeo.”
A fun crowd of LA’s finest foodies, journalists and pot-lovers assembled, and we mingled over cannabis-infused cocktails from Daniel K. Nelson, mixologist from The Writer’s Room. He served up an original concoction called Cho Son One, which is Ganja Sesame oil on perilla leaf, Korean pear, and American moonshine.
The menu promised a plethora of delights over the eight course meal.
We began with an amuse bouche of longan, winter melon, hamachi, and quail egg. These few bites set the tone for the entire meal: bold, rich flavors balanced by bright acidity and fresh fruity flavors.
The first course was Papaya Soup with America Ginseng, Wild Boar, Partridge, and Salsify. The sweetness of the papaya played nicely with the strong flavors of the game, and I especially enjoyed the addition of the apricot almonds in the intoxicating broth.
Moving on to the second course, we were treated to a Silky Bantam Chicken, Fried Pigeon Skin, Avocado, Pink Grapefruit, Cannabis Leaves, Citrus Oil, Pickled Beets, and Solomon’s Seal. This dish exemplified the Asian-French creative cross-pollination found in the collaborative dishes of these two chefs, with the traditional idea of a Chinese black chicken rolled into a gallentine and then sliced.
Next, we were served Spare Ribs, Angelica Root, Wolfberries, Bergamote Glazed Pork Belly, Green Apple, Green Garlic, and Cauliflower Gremolata. While there was no ganja in this dish, several diners “got high on pork” served two ways. The addition of the wolfberries, also known as goji berries, offered a tartness that was refreshing when paired with so much fatty, rich fare.
Mixologist Nelson paired this dish with a cocktail called “Tea Weed” which included apple-cannabis tincture, and Earl Grey (aka bergamot).
The fourth course consisted of Spot Prawns, Herbal Lobster “jus,” Head Tempura, Favas, and Peas. The cannabis was infused into the “jus,” a light, broth-like sauce that begged to be sopped up with bread. Both chef Quenioux and Tran wanted this dinner to be all about the flavor, with not so much potency, so they used fresh cannabis leaves and flowers to provide the “sweet, citrusy, sexy flavor” that Quenioux so enjoys.
After the prawns, we enjoyed a very smooth and buttery Monkfish, Congee, Cannabis Epazote Pesto, Nettles, Shiso, and Young Carrot dish as a fifth course. The monkfish had been seared in cannabis-infused coconut oil as well as brushed with cannabis butter.
The cannabis flavors grew bolder over the progression of courses, and by the time we reached the sixth dish, I felt like I needed to smoke a nice joint and come back to the table with a renewed appetite! The Beef Culotte, Onion Bacon Cannabis Tart, Sunchoke, and Morels was an incredibly savory and delicious dish.
Another paired cocktail arrived, this one “curiously with a hint of bongwater!” The Gin Gibson was infused with cannabis smoke, delivered using a smoke gun.
Finally, we reached dessert, and I was really impressed with the incredible creativity brought forth in this course. We had an Osmanthus Panna Cotta, Rhubarb Gel, Frozen Cream, Blood Orange Sorbet, and Cannabis Soil. Made using the techniques of molecular gastronomy, the “cannabis soil” was actually a small pile of fluffy white powder, and a tiny taste revealed the amazing flavor of a full-fledged cannabis infusion – nutty, earthy but also sweet and citrusy. The cannabis had been infused into cream and then dehydrated with tapioca maltodexin, reminding me somewhat of the best astronaut’s ice cream infused with ganja I’ve ever tasted. It was phenomenal mixed in with the floral, subtle flavor of the panna cotta and the rhubarb gel.
Finally, we wrapped up the evening with the presentation of a small jar filled with two chocolate truffles and cannabis smoke, which wafted up to tickle the nose with the sweet smell of unfettered intoxication, as well as a warming Bhang Lassi cocktail, made with garam masala, milk, almonds, and hashish.
If you would like to check out the next “Weed Chinese Herb” dinner, go to starrykitchen.com and sign up for the newsletter.