As marijuana worms its way into the sphere of accepted adult activity, weed-related food products are increasingly becoming a subject of legitimate epicurean exploration.
Just ask Chef Oscar Toro, executive chef and partner at Jue Lan Club in Manhattan. He doesn’t smoke marijuana — but he recently put his chef’s cap on to prepare a cannabis oil-infused four-course gourmet "Dankquet" on 4/20 at members-only club NSFW.
“My mother, since I was a kid, has had migraines all her life, like every day,” Toro explained. Taking medicinal herbs alleviated his mom’s pain, and Toro thought, “Let me take a second approach to this, even though I don’t smoke.”
The kicker in Toro’s CBD-infused food is the oil is not cooked, which means the potency of the high is not “dumbed down," he said.
“A lot of people incorporate it in the middle to cook with. You don’t have to. If you’re making a vinaigrette, you’re taking an acid and a fat and putting them together,” Toro said, punctuating his point with a whirring noise. “You don’t need to heat them up. … Make things fresh and raw.”
Fans of food prepared with cannabidiol or CBD oil said it gives them a different experience than normal marijuana edibles.
“When you eat a weed brownie, you don’t really want a brownie, it’s there to serve a purpose,” said dankquet guest Jing, from Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “But this — you get the enjoyment of knowing you’re going to get high, but there is a whole other level of enjoyment where you get to eat this really great food.”
Cannabidiol or CBD oil is nonpsychoactive and doesn’t cause the same high as regular THC products or marijuana. But it does cause a state of relaxation many users equate with feeling “high.”
The “dankquet” scene at the clubhouse in Williamsburg, where last month's sex party "playdate" was held, was intimate on April 20 (my birthday and the stoner holiday), with guests in dress-code black lounging on pillows around a mirrored table, the NSFW signature red light and Moroccan-style drapes.
It was a bit difficult walking on a mattress in heels while avoiding sprawling guests’ feet to get to a seat on the couch, and that was before the food was brought out, but those on the floor cozied up. Even newcomers, like me, were treated like an old friend.
DJ Brayden Vlack kept the beat going while guests enjoyed Gem & Bolt mezcal mixed as a sweet pineapple drink that finished with a nice pepper bite. Booze-soaked fresh blackberries were extra fun after the glass was empty.
As NSFW’s motto says, the club specializes in legal adventures in sex, drugs and mischief, so every course was infused with legal CBD oil, which is common in hemp oil and can be purchased in Whole Foods stores.
The clubhouse even had a special guest, seemingly straight-laced Charles who is renting a room through Airbnb. The hopeful actor from Chicago thought he was staying in an art gallery until June, but he said he’s not mad — It’s good for him to get out of his comfort zone.
Guests ate family-style, some opting for fingers while others, like me, were fed by other people from forks.
Before dessert, a mentalist (name withheld) performed and blew everyone’s semihigh minds using two guests as hypnosis guinea pigs. Instead of the usual slits for eyes you’d expect a pothead to have, eyes were wide with wonder as the mentalist walked around and performed slight of hand for groups of one or two.
The CBD dose tapered off as each course was introduced; the effects of the first course crept up on those snacking on the dishes, so everyone was euphorically high just before dessert.
DJ HardCandy provided the soundtrack to the rest of the evening. A few people fell asleep on the cushions around the table. I got the giggles.
The first course was a raw fluke ceviche with Calabrian chili-hemp oil vinaigrette, nori and micro basil from a farm owned by one of the chef’s friends. Chef Oscar Toro described each course as plates were passed around and told the diners that the fish was locally caught at around 7 a.m. that same day.
I hate fish. All fish. I pretty much won’t eat anything that swims or lurks underwater, but with fish that fresh, I thought, “This is my chance to try it. Also, it’ll get me high.”
The next round of dishes served up pan-roasted skate wing, also caught just that morning in Montauk, with an arugula canna-brown butter, chanterelles and spring onions clipped that very morning from Blue Moon Acres farm.
One NSFW member, also a shunner of fish, described the dish as “killer.”
The third course was a grilled hanger steak with a rainbow carrot and watermelon radish salad finished with a CBD-infused miso-mustard vinaigrette.
Eating a subtly CBD-laced meal is "more feasible than being blown off your face with one cookie," DJ HardCandy noted.
It was tough to only eat one piece of the dessert, which was a tad sloppy without a dish, but by then, who really cared? The meal ended with a ricotta cheese cake with burnt orange, crystallized ginger and blueberries … and yes, CBD — this time from a cannabis strain called White Widow.
Licking my fingers was a delight.
Make it at home
Fluke crudo with CBD-infused Calabrian chili vinaigrette, courtesy of Chef Oscar Toro
Makes 5 portions
1 pound fluke fillets
1/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Calabrian chili
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup olive oil
40 milligrams CBD oil
Slice the fluke into 2-inch, very thin cut slices and set aside on a piece of parchment paper and keep cool. In a medium mixing bowl, place all the remaining ingredients and whisk vigorously to emulsify. On a small plate, arrange 5-8 slices of the fluke fillets in the center of the plate fanned out and spoon two tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the fluke. Serve immediately.
D.A.R.E. in 2017
This isn’t your “just say no,” Nancy Reagan-endorsed anti-drug program. D.A.R.E. for NSFW’s “chief conspirator” Daniel Saynt means “Drugs Are Responsibly Entertaining.”
A weed aficionado and marketer for "sin-fluencers," Saynt said that the most important thing about NSFW is education. From how to participate in BDSM without a trip to the emergency room to enjoying cannabis, people “need an educated experience.”
Part of NSFW’s $69 monthly membership opens the doors to free classes on taking a multitude of topics, including courses led by a physician who can speak to what damage certain drugs do to the human brain.
“It’s really, just like, be aware,” Saynt said. “I’ve met a lot of people who do Molly every single week or just go really, really hard on certain things and that’s not how you do that drug without damaging yourself.”
“We tell them what’s the dangers of taking drugs,” Saynt added, “how to identify if you have an addiction, which I think a lot of people don’t know how to figure that out or they don’t realize it because everyone around them seems to be doing the same type of things.”
The next NSFW Dankquet will be held on June 1 with a meal prepared by a to-be-announced chef.