Haute cuisine, lifted palate

Published on April 12, 2019 by Special to the oz.

By Simon Gerard

Over the last year, the cannabis-infused pop-up dinner scene has grown in Vancouver, with several notable chefs applying their signature styles to multi-course menus.

Feeling like the last person in the universe to attend one (and by universe I mean who I follow on Instagram), I finally got the chance.

Chef Evan Elman, best known for his literally elevated cuisine experience with Dinner in the Sky Canada, hosted a cannabis infused dinner in Vancouver. After seeing a preview on Instagram, I bought tickets for his inaugural infused dinner through his new company Verde Vancouver. Judging by the happy and relaxed disposition of all the guests, it was a definite hit.

The pitch was “an eclectic four-course elevated street food menu.” Enough to sell me.

Elman’s secret weapon is his personally-developed infusion technique that’s odourless and flavour free, as to not factor into the taste of each dish. Each guest picks a level between one and five, with each adding 10mg to the total of THC across the dishes. CBD was also infused into each dish to help balance out the effects. It was a nice addition, with its touted ability to reduce the psychoactive aspects and anxiety. This was good news to the couple of enthusiastic, but inexperienced, cannabis consumers who sat next to me. It alleviated their pre-meal jitters, with one of them opting for an extra dose of THC.

All the dishes burst with vibrant colours – and flavours to match. Each dish is sublimely contrasted with sweet and savoury elements and crunchy and soft textures.

The street food dishes were inspired by Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, using local ingredients. As someone dying to visit a Nobu restaurant, I was especially looking forward to this style.

A sunny spring day, the tropical menu felt right at home. All the dishes burst with vibrant colours – and flavours to match. Each dish is sublimely contrasted with sweet and savoury elements and crunchy and soft textures.

The saki-steamed, miso-buttered beach oyster had a light bacon crunch against a smoked sea urchin hollandaise. A crispy empanada stuffed with Char Sui Chinese BBQ pork bounced between a chili-spiced mango and jalapeno emulsion that I’d almost consider a dessert. A Peruvian ceviche with a sweet potato puree was highlighted with crispy chulpe (also known as corn nuts). The softness of the miso panna cotta was topped with a little crunch. Sweet with cream and fresh berries, it contrasted with savoury through miso and balsamic sour cherries.

Whether cannabis newbie or experienced, all guests shared the same enthusiasm.

Being the first infused dinner for most, everyone was excited to chat with their neighbours. Laughs and smiles started strong and slowly increased.

I’m not really a fan of edibles, often finding them too strong/too tasty to resist eating the whole portion. Having the THC staggered through the meal resulted in a slower, subtler high, compared to eating the same dose in one go.

I enjoy a drunken dinner as much as the 80% of Canadians who drink — and while alcohol was offered, it took a back seat to THC for most guests.

To catch details for the next Lifted Palates event, follow @chefevanelman, @artofsupper and @thisisverde.

Simon Gerard is a digital content marketing strategist in Vancouver. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.