Pairing Cannabis Strains With Cuisine

 A natural accompaniment to food, cannabis enhances the sensual delights of cooking and eating.

A natural accompaniment to food, cannabis enhances the sensual delights of cooking and eating.

As cultural attitudes around cannabis shift, there’s been a movement to treat the herb as a culinary ingredient, including gourmet infused meals, chef-driven edibles companies and “wine and weed” pairing events. Most visibly, the hit TV show “Bong Appetit” brought the idea of high-end cannabis-infused meals into pop culture, and now more people are looking for ways to integrate weed with food. Beyond infusing herb or hash into butter and cooking with it, you can also select strains that compliment the flavors of your meal. Pairing strains to be consumed through smoking or vaporizing between courses is a great way to enhance dinner parties!

As an accompaniment to food, cannabis serves to pique appetit while actually making food smell and taste better, with a 2014 study published in Nature Neuroscience showing how this effect works in mice. While most people who’ve used cannabis know about the “munchies,” it’s worth noting that this plant is one of the only effective appetite-increasing substances known to humankind. As many have experienced, being high can transform even ordinary foods into the absolute best thing you’ve ever eaten, so you might as well take advantage of this effect when you’re cooking up something really special!

 Like mushrooms, cannabis is a local ingredient that can be integrated into unique culinary experiences.

Like mushrooms, cannabis is a local ingredient that can be integrated into unique culinary experiences.

My preferred method of pairing cannabis with a multi-course meal comes from Chef Coreen Carroll, who serves up delicious fare through her Cannaisseur series in San Francisco. Considering the “mental progression” of her pairings, Chef Carroll opens events with a sativa strain aimed at energizing the guests and provoking conversation, with a planned “joint intermezzo” between each serving of food. Before the second course, guests are treated to a CBD-rich cannabis joint, which calms the mood, and then an indica strain is chosen for smoking before the dessert course.

Keeping this idea of a mental progression when choosing strains adds another element to a dinner party, and when choosing which sativas, hybrids, CBD-rich and indica strains to feature, it’s helpful to consider the dominant flavors of the dishes you’ll be serving.

Much like pairing food with wine, cannabis strains can be chosen to compliment flavors in the foods, and the basis for these type of pairings is the expression of the terpenes within the flowers. Terpenes are the chemical constituents of cannabis that deliver its unique aromas, with flavinoids giving cannabis specific flavors, and these molecules are present in all plants.

For example, if you’re using rosemary with lamb or beef, compliment those bold flavors by rolling up a cannabis strain rich in pinene to share. Present in both rosemary as well as strains like Kosher Kush, pinene is a terpene that smells like pine. You can also find pinene in herbs like basil, dill and parsley.

With these ideas in mind, we’ve prepared a few pairing suggestions for a sumptuous multi-course feast based on KindPeoples’ favorite flowers for the ultimate in Santa Cruz dinner parties!

 Lambsbread has notes of cheese, berries and citrus.

Lambsbread has notes of cheese, berries and citrus.

First Course

Starting Strain: Lambsbread, Lemon Skunk, or Tangie, as these citrus-flavored strains are all recommended to liven up your mood.

Pair with with a bright citrusy salad that uses avocado for a rich contrast in textures, something like a Blood Orange, Fennel and Avocado Salad.

 Cannacopia is a mellow option that counteracts the intense effect from too much THC.

Cannacopia is a mellow option that counteracts the intense effect from too much THC.

Second Course

CBD Rich Strain: Cannacopia will balance your high while adding sweet, earthy flavors.

Pair with a delicate pasta dish like Brown Butter Capellini where the lemon zest adds a bright note to distinct flavors like garlic and fried sage.

 Ogre OG is incredibly pungent strain with gassy, earthy flavors.

Ogre OG is incredibly pungent strain with gassy, earthy flavors.

Third Course

Savory Indica Strain: SCVA Kosher Kush, Bob Saget, or Ogre OG

Serve before the main course, as this heavy-hitting Indica will close out the night.

Pair with rich meats including grilled beef and or lambchops, especially when using rosemary, or an herbaceous chimichurri as an accompaniment. Pesto lasagna would make a great vegetarian option.

 A sweet strain like Pink Champagne rounds out the meal.

A sweet strain like Pink Champagne rounds out the meal.

Fourth Course

Sweet Strain: Strawberry Chunk, Pink Champagne, or Blackberry Kush will get you primed for dessert!

Pair with a chocolate and berry dessert such as a flourless chocolate torte for a satisfying finish to a wonderful evening.