Chefs Start to Experiment With Cannabis
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Chefs Start to Experiment With Cannabis
Posted by CN Staff on December 29, 2014 at 18:02:10 PT
By Kim Severson
Source: New York Times
Boulder, Colo. -- Recreational marijuana is both illegal and controversial in most of the country, and its relationship to food does not rise much above a joke about brownies or a stoner chef’s late-night pork belly poutine. But cooking with cannabis is emerging as a legitimate and very lucrative culinary pursuit.In Colorado, which has issued more than 160 edible marijuana licenses, skilled line cooks are leaving respected restaurants to take more lucrative jobs infusing cannabis into food and drinks. In Washington, one of four states that allow recreational marijuana sales, a large cannabis bakery dedicated to affluent customers with good palates will soon open in Seattle.
Major New York publishing houses and noted cookbook authors are pondering marijuana projects, and chefs on both coasts and in food-forward countries like Denmark have been staging underground meals with modern twists like compressed watermelon, smoked cheese and marijuana-oil vinaigrette.“It really won’t be long until it becomes part of haute cuisine and part of respectable culinary culture, instead of just an illegal doobie in the backyard,” said Ken Albala, director of the food studies program at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco.Two problems, however, stand in the way: First, it’s hard to control how high people get when they eat marijuana. And second, it really doesn’t taste that good.Still, what if chefs could develop a culinary canon around marijuana that tamed both its taste and mood-altering effects, and diners came to appreciate dishes with marijuana the way one appreciates good bourbon? Paired with delicious recipes and the pleasures of good company, cannabis cookery might open a new dimension in dining that echoes the evolutions in the wine and cocktail cultures.“I am sure someone is going to grow some that is actually delicious and we’ll all learn about it,” said Ruth Reichl, the former editor of Gourmet magazine and a former New York Times restaurant critic. Who could have predicted that kale would be the trendiest green on the plate, or that people would line up for pear and blue cheese ice cream, she asked.“Cuisine is a product of people who cook and the ideologies they bring into the kitchen and what they are able to do with the instruments they have on hand,” said Adam Gomolin, a lawyer and amateur chef who helped found the crowd-funded publishing company Inkshares.In the fall, his company plans to publish “Herb: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Cannabis,” a project which has attracted the cookbook author Michael Ruhlman.The place where culinary science and heightening pleasure meet interests Mr. Ruhlman, who is in talks to write a chapter on proper ratios for preparing culinary cannabis.The rest of the book will contain recipes like marijuana-infused black pepper biscuits, butternut squash soup and sausage marinara developed by Melissa Parks, a Denver chef who once worked for General Mills and now serves as vice president of product development for Nutritional High International, a company based in Toronto. “What intrigued me,” Mr. Ruhlman said, “is the notion that you could figure out a ratio that would allow you to use pot in the way one would enjoy a martini and still have a pleasant experience.”Cannabis cooking will hit the mainstream, he said, only “when you can give it to someone and not make them a complete idiot.”The book is the second, more sophisticated effort from the people who created “The Stoner’s Cookbook,” a website that has more than five million page views a month. The site’s chief executive, Matt Gray, predicts the legal marijuana industry will be worth $10.2 billion in five years and that edible marijuana could be as much as 40 percent of that.Cooking with marijuana requires a scientist’s touch to draw out and control the cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which alter one’s mood and physical sensations. To get a consistent, controllable effect, marijuana is best heated and combined with fats like butter, olive oil or cream.But it could also work — albeit less effectively — as a seasoning, which was the point of a discussion in the hallway of a five-star hotel here this year, when a few chefs in town for a conference took a break to huddle around a collection of marijuana-infused sweets including one called a rookie cookie.The snicker doodle, purchased at a shop that looked like a pared-down Apple Store, was baked with just enough cannabis-infused butter to give a novice a tender high.“The weed is pretty faint, but it’s not an un-delicious weed type flavor,” said Michel Nischan, a chef from Connecticut. “It’s almost like when you do a savory cookie and you might find sage or rosemary or verbena in it.”Although culinary skill might coax deliciousness from cannabis, dosing remains a vexing issue. Karin Lazarus runs Sweet Mary Jane, a commercial bakery in Boulder. Her recipes will be featured in “Sweet Mary Jane: 75 Delicious Cannabis-Infused High-End Desserts,” due out in June from the Avery imprint of Penguin Random House.Ms. Lazarus, who New York magazine called “the Martha Stewart of weed baking,” makes confections like the Scout’s Honor, which is a play on the Thin Mint cookie, and tart key lime and white chocolate truffles.Because law prohibits tasting dosed products at work, she first works out recipes without using marijuana, and then adds cannabis-infused sugar, oil or butter. She tests the products in a laboratory. They get taste tested as well, but not at work.For the moment, her products are for the medical-marijuana market, which allows for higher doses than food sold under a recreational license. Under new rules beginning in February, each product can only have 10 milligrams per serving and only 100 milligrams total. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana sales. Only four states — Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Colorado — allow recreational sales. The people who sell edible marijuana often advise people who have not tried it before to start with 10 milligrams or less. Dosing is easier to control in batter-based dishes or chocolate, where the drug can be distributed more evenly. In savory applications, dosing is trickier. A cook might be able to make sure a tablespoon of lime-cilantro butter has 10 milligrams of THC, but will the guest eat exactly that amount?Cooks who work with cannabis are apt to compare it to cooking with wine or spirits. But opponents counter that a bottle of young red wine brings an important flavor component to a dish like beef bourguignon. In cannabis cookery, the point is usually to mask the taste.“From my very limited experience with edibles, the flavor is pretty awful,” said Grant Achatz, the Chicago chef who made his reputation with experimental cooking.Ms. Parks, who only rarely uses cannabis and began cooking with it to help a friend with cancer, argues that marijuana can be delicious.“There are dozens of strains and some might smell like lemon grass or strawberry or sage or wheatgrass,” she said. Different strains also offer different highs. A well-placed dose of cannabis might provide just enough elevation in an appetizer or a calming finish to meal that alcohol could become less interesting.“A lot of people could argue that a lot of alcohol doesn’t taste good, either,” said Ms. Reichl. “So maybe you won’t need to drink wine with your dinner. It could be very bad for the wine industry.”A version of this article appears in print on December 29, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Pot Pie, Redefined? Chefs Start to Experiment With Cannabis.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Kim SeversonPublished: December 29, 2014Copyright: 2014 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #5 posted by observer on December 30, 2014 at 14:14:47 PT
Denver Post Editors are 'Disturbed'
Notice that the survey the Denver Post trumpets as disturbing is a self-reporting adult use increase of about 2% - from about 10% to 12%.Then, taking a page straight from How to Lie with Statistics the Denver Posts reports this not as a two percent self-reported increase, but the Denver Post editors play this up as a (confusing and seemingly scary) percent-percent increase. I.e. they say 2% is 1/5 of 10% (and so thus is a 20 percent, percent increase, according to the Denver Post). But only if you follow the how to lie with statistics playbook, which the Denver Post seems quiet unashamed to do brazenly.So, it went from 10% a few years ago (adult self reported use), to 12%. That's a 2% increase, not 20% increase. And notice that Denver Post never tells you the margin of error. Which that %2 is almost certainly within. Big whoop.
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Comment #4 posted by Oleg the Tumor on December 30, 2014 at 11:31:06 PT
And the Problem is . . .
Use?  Is this how we assess things? Those who object to the relegalization of cannabis must point at the effects of use, not merely that they are "Dissatisfied with ANY USE-Period!"We can point to the collective problem that alcohol brings to our society in the "statistics of dysfunction" - alcohol related deaths, injuries, broken families and much more.Between the years 1776 to 1937, cannabis was not a problem. The historical record does not feature stoners stumbling around the colonies. There were plenty of drunks but curiously, no "reefer madness", not until the full manufacturing value of cannabis hemp was revealed to the same chemists, manufacturers, bankers and their Representatives of the People – don't forget them – that already had chosen a petro-dollar future for the world - so do we cue the evil laughter?Nay brothers and sisters, fear not, for we have come to an age where future growth no longer involves creating new products or making a better mousetrap. Instead the vehicle of choice is the financial instrument d'jour, be it student loans, mortgage-backed securities, credit default swaps or tickets to the Secret Policeman's Ball (those would be the ones with no date or address for the event).The problem with this arrangement is simple math in the end: with everything reduced to an ap from a cloud, manufacturing (and the price of raw materials like oil and iron ore) drop like millstones in the ocean.And yes, that is kind of bad news, actually. But look at what else this means. In the meantime, enjoy the cheap(er) gasoline. 
By the time the "price" of these commodities finds a "bottom", the production costs are eclipsed and production stops. Then put on the popcorn and watch the fools go at it!The highly leveraged will get hoisted by their own petards and everything else will come apart quite quickly as the "Please Pay Us so We Can Pay Them so They Can Pay Him so He Can Pay You" paradigm collapses in ever widening circles. This is just about where we are right now, give or take a few degrees of arc. Investments not backed by hard currency (or something of real value) will simply disappear because a divided house cannot stand. I'm not just making this up. Its a fact.We need cannabis hemp back in American agriculture, and we need it now!FREE THE PRISONER OF SCHEDULE ONE, QUICK! 
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on December 30, 2014 at 09:58:28 PT
Personally I don't get the big hoopla over edibles. Never liked them! If you're used to vaping or smoking very high potency organic cannabis I don't see the edibles adding much.You can't control the dosage or the timing of the effects. I always advise people new to cannabis to avoid edibles altogether. Maybe in our gluttonous culture we're always looking to EAT something? I just don't get it.I wouldn't be too surprised over this type of article. We know the Denver Post was steadfastly against cannabis over the last 10 years, nothing's going to change. I expect we'll continue to see irrational ranting against cannabis and the people who use it for many years to come.
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on December 30, 2014 at 07:33:03 PT
As Aladin found out...
You can't put the Genie back in the bottle!
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on December 30, 2014 at 04:58:11 PT
Post Editorial 
Disturbing news on Colorado marijuana use
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