“Welcome to Psychedelicatessen, a weekly column exploring the world of cannabis cuisine, including recipes from the great chefs and ganjapreneurs who fuel our appetite for adventure.”
Ganja is becoming decidedly more gourmet as a growing movement of young chefs infuses our favorite herb into medicated meals, high-end desserts, cocktails and even cheeses. With the restaurant industry looking to treat weed like wine, interest from culinary professionals is at an all-time high.
Seeking to blaze a new trail in the world of cannabis cuisine, Chef Trevor Milbery partnered with cheesemaker Juliana Clark and entrepreneur Matt Gill to create THC Cheese, a project which grew out of their mutual friendship and love of marijuana.
After attending the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of San Francisco, Milbery began “kicking ass and taking names,” as he puts it, working for venerated establishments including Cowgirl Creamery, Foxtail Catering and Sprig. At the time, Milbery and Gill were sharing an apartment, and their adventure with cannabis infusions began as a deadly serious battle against cancer when Gill was going through chemotherapy.
“The hospital food was atrocious,” Milbery explained. “Matt was getting delivery to his hospital room from local restaurants.”
When his nausea became intolerable, Gill was only able to eat a scoop of ice cream at a time, as it melted in his mouth. Determined to help his friend, Milbrey kicked ass by infusing cannabis into cream and creating medicated ice cream. As Gill gradually recovered, the duo turned their triage project into “a game of what can Trevor get marijuana into,” as they experimented with infusing different high-end food products, including caviar, foie gras and cheese.
Joined by Clark, another cheesemonger friend, Gill and Milbery launched THC Cheese in 2015 to combine their passions for cheese and weed into a pioneering business.
“The sweet market is saturated,” Milbery said. “Grassiness is a welcome flavor in cheeses, so we’re just enhancing a natural component that’s desirable.”
Products offered include not only fine cheeses, like cannabis-infused Fromage Blanc and Camembert, with a Triple Cream Brie in development, but low-dose THC pickles, hot sauce, tapenades and garlic confit. Hilariously featured on an episode of Bong Appetit, the THC Cheese team is currently seeking investment in order to expand.
“The flavor of pot gets demonized,” Milbery complained. “It’s a little irrational. Cannabis works with savory dishes since it’s a nice herbaceous background note.”
This lemon mint pesto is a great example of how to work with the natural flavor of cannabis, and this soigné sauce pairs perfectly with hearty crackers and the Fromage Blanc created at THC Cheese. Milbery recommends a few uses for this versatile pesto, including blending it with mayonnaise to spread on a sandwich, using it to create glaze for chicken or adding it to pasta after mixing with a half stick of melted butter.
Lemon Mint Pot Pesto
Yield: about 2 cups (16 fl oz)
Dosage: 240 mg total / 15 mg per tbsp*
(*THC dosage is dependent on the potency of your cannabis-infused olive oil. I used Medicated Olive Oil from Om Edibles with a THC dose of 360 mg per 3.7 fl oz.)
- 2 hearty bunches of mint, de-stemmed (about 2 cups loosely packed or 1.5 oz in weight)
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup whole garlic cloves (1.5 oz weight)
- 8 oz infused extra virgin olive oil (15 mg per fl oz dosage)
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ¼ Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
Toast half of the sunflower seeds until lightly browned. Remove the mint from the stems, and add to a blender or food processor. Add garlic cloves, lemon juice and the raw sunflower seeds to the blender or food processor, and blend until completely combined.
Drizzle in the olive oil slowly while blending until all is incorporated and emulsified. Remove from blender/food processor and mix in the toasted half of the sunflower seeds and the grated Parmesan cheese.
If you desire to make this pesto into pasta sauce, simply melt half a stick of butter, add 1/4 cup of pesto, warm through (add a 1/4 cup of cream for creamy pesto sauce), and add to half a pound of boiled pasta. Toss until evenly coated and enjoy!