MATT PRESTON on the buzz around cannabis cuisine.
Cannabis cafés are on the horizon in California and, with an eye for the main chance, Matt Preston explores the possibilities of such budding businesses.
I’VE moved into a new phase of my life where get-rich-quick schemes seem suddenly appealing and the increasing pace of the relaxation of cannabis laws could offer a world of opportunity to the savvy food lover or restaurateur. Global spending on legal cannabis hit $12 billion in 2018 and is predicted to reach more than $31 billion by 2022, according to a report by Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.
You can now subscribe to a magazine like Kitchen Toke, for instance, which is all about cooking with cannabis, and California is welcoming its first eatery with cannabis on the menu – all part of an explosion of cannabis businesses as liberal states reform the laws.
West Hollywood’s Lowell Café is the first of eight planned lounges that will offer a ‘flower menu’ selling cannabis in edibles or to smoke or vape in-house. Your friendly ‘bud tender’ will guide customers through the products on offer and whether they’re best consumed by bong, joint, vape or concentrate. These lounges will cash in on California’s expected cannabis tourism boom as well as the ‘California sober’ trend for locals to smoke but not drink.
Similar lounges are planned in Colorado where the laws have also been relaxed.A fleet of AmeriCanna Café food trucks will appear this year targeting cannabis dispensaries and serving foods that contain hemp and smoothies that can be spiked with active THC oil. A restaurant will follow.The operating partner in the food trucks is Colorado’s Illegal Burger, a fast-casual chain that plans to introduce condiments infused with cannabidiol oil like a stoner’s truffle aïoli or other seasonings.
Obviously, a lot needs to happen first before this can roll out here, but it’s got me wondering what the perfect concept would be for a cannabis restaurant when Australia eventually gets around to legalising weed.
I have 20 crucial questions on resin restaurants and cannabis cuisine before I cash in.
1 Is offering pot in cool LA restaurants just a cunning way in health-conscious California of making all those chaga and cordyceps smoothies and shilajit brownies seem actually edible?
2 Will the ‘snacks’ fancy fine-diners serve at the start of a meal stop being ridiculous 'ocelot wafers with monkey cheese and piped feijoa gel' and be proper snacks of Cheetos or Cheezels? 3 Will menus be just five savoury dishes and 40 desserts?
4 Would those five savoury dishes be pizza, fried chicken and sweet potato fries, tater tots with burgers with the lot, cheese toasties, and a Mexican meze platter of tacos, nachos and burritos?
5 Would the desserts mainly be ice-cream with something syrupy and something salty, be it crushed pretzels, caramel popcorn, smashed lollies, cereal or any number of gaudy sprinkles?
6 Will this lead to an international shortage of chocolate fudge sauce and salted caramel?
7 Will Dan Hong’s Stoner's Delight dessert finally find its perfect niche?
8 Will waiters be equipped with two notebooks, one to write down your order, the other to write down any brilliant thoughts you might have at the table?
9 Will you then have to tip the waiter to stop him revealing your drivel later when you’ve straightened up?
10 Will specials now include conceptual dishes like ‘last night’s cold curry eaten in front of the open fridge’ or ‘cake eaten from the tin with your fingers’?
11 Will cannabis restaurants take a lead from those soft-serve yoghurt places and offer a cold milk and cereal bar where you can top your Coco Pops or Crunchy Nut Cornflakes with mango or lychee pearls, crumbled chocolate, crushed M&Ms, a shot of vodka or Frangelico, whipped cream or frozen berries?
12 Will they charge for the whole shebang by weight and will this be as crazily expensive as those yoghurt bars?
13 Will more refined stoner fine-diners serve, after some single-estate tips hand-milled by your budtender (or here probably som-mull-ier), no more than a perfectly juicy peach on crushed ice because fresh fruit just tastes so amazing, man?
14 Will the microwave be the new guéridon service with a chocolate brownie or a carrot mudcake made at the table instead of crêpes Suzette?
15 Will cannabis restaurants employ hosts to answer all the big questions like “Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?” or validate insights like “No matter how long you live, you’re dead a lot longer.”
16 Will staff be trained to smile and agree with guests' conspiracy theories, no matter how crazy? “Yes, sir, of course Olympics ice-skaters are from a frozen alien planet, and the government isn’t telling us.”
17 Will the inevitable paranoia induced by excessive potent marijuana mean that private dining rooms will be turned into rooms with a one-way mirror to the dining room so you can be assured that people are all starring at you? 18 Will all phones be confiscated at the start of the meal to prevent the posting of ‘very funny’ images that aren’t that funny, dangerous random texting, and the accepting of calls from your folks? 19 Will people start wishing each other “Bong appetit!” and think it's hysterical? 20 Instead of a bowl of mints on the way out,will restaurants offer single-serve bottles of Visine for Red Eyes? If you know the answer to any of these questions, share them on our Facebook page.
MATT PRESTON POT LUCK Caramel popcorn with ice-cream is a shoo-in for stoner menus (see these choc top and popcorn sundaes at delicious.com.au).