If you want to know what the hottest culinary ingredient is in California right now, the answer is clearly cannabis. And one of the hottest tables in San Francisco is at canna-culinary events, with elaborate tasting menus featuring dishes infused with cannabis, canna-cocktails, wine and cannabis sensory exploration, and even cannabis and cheese pairing events. (This is SF, after all.) But you can’t book a reservation on Open Table — it’s not legal for chefs to serve food with cannabis (or even CBD) at their restaurants (yet), so all canna-culinary gatherings are underground. Here’s a look at some of the top SF event hosts to follow:
Wine industry vets Allison Kosta and Devika Maskey produce beautiful events, with top cannabis partners, restaurant-worthy wine country cuisine from guest chefs, quality wine pairings and memorable settings, from Sonoma wine cellars to stunning homes in SF. Welcome receptions include Champagne and CBD cocktails from Chron Vivant (which has a line of CBD beverages, Proposition Cocktail Co.), along with oysters on the half shell, passed apps and passed vapes. You’ll sit family-style at long tables with bouquets of flowers alongside glass eighth jars of the other flower (wink). Rather than serve infused food, guests are invited to smoke flower from featured farmers, add cannabis olive oil to their dishes, and try TSO Sonoma’s own vapes. They book live music and unique entertainment, and the convivial vibe only grows as the night progresses. tsosonoma.com
The Herb Somm
The delightful Jamie Evans also hails from the wine industry, and her love of wine and cannabis appreciation plays a big part in her thoughtful events, which feature cannabis flower and wine pairings such as citrusy sativa with sauvignon blanc. Her Thursday Infused events are held at a residence in the Mission and highlight a curated lineup of products including Levo home infusers and Francis Ford Coppola’s cannabis brand, The Grower’s Series. Guests nestle in at communal tables, noshing on courses of light bites from guest chefs plus wine pairings. (You’re always guaranteed to meet a bunchof interesting and friendly people.) Evans also collaborates with many players in the cannabis scene to put on seasonal get-togethers, from Valentine’s Day dinners to holiday fêtes, which are always well produced and abundant. theherbsomm.com
Soft-spoken chef Michael Magallanes has quite the professional background, cooking at SF’s Aziza and Mourad for five years, and it really comes through in his refined, multicourse, seasonal tasting menus that feature infused dishes (his molecular sphere is a seminal and wondrous dish). He tailors the sophisticated menu individually — you tell him how much you’d like to ingest prior to the party. Pop-up settings for his “Hightened Series” range from private residences to urban locations in Dogpatch, spotlighting a variety of partners (among them: visiting Canadian canna-chefs). opulentchef.com
Chef Coreen Carroll is a trailblazer in SF’s canna-culinary world, and her themed dinner parties and wake-and-bake brunches with husband Ryan Bush draw an extra-lively and diverse crowd — they feel more like a raucous party than a sit-down affair. Many guests are experienced consumers, but beginners are always present and welcomed. Carroll is a master at infusing various forms of cannabis into her hearty dishes, and the meal is carefully designed to take you on a journey, with a peak and then a gentle descent around dessert, with flower pairings at each course. If this sounds a bit advanced, look into their cannabis-pairing workshops that feature oysters and chocolate. cannaisseurseries.com
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Infused dishes at cannabis events are dosed in milligrams, so you can track your consumption. Hosts typically have you fill out a form and let them know your preferred dose and experience level. A good rule of thumb for beginners to know: people typically start feeling psychoactive effects from THC at 2mg–2.5 mg; edibles can feel more potent and last longer than other routes of administration (like smoking), and often take up to a couple hours to fully appear. Taking 5 mg in an evening would be more than enough for most newbies or anyone sensitive to cannabis. Start low, go slow. Hosts usually have CBD available in case a guest has over-consumed. Exercise caution mixing wine or other alcohol with cannabis until you’re an experienced user (each potentiates the effects of the other). Arrange for transportation — no driving.