The encrypted text arrived at 4:20 p.m. on the day of the weed dinner. Of course it did. Once I’d decrypted it, using an app that the private medical marijuana collective behind the event had told me to install, I learned the location of the dinner. Being invited to an exclusive, clandestine, semi-legal/illegal party gave me a high all of its own. I’m guilty of being an experience junkie.
That evening I crossed quadrants, Ubering from the southwest to, as it turned out, Raw Eatery & Market in the northwest. By sheer coincidence, I’d visited the restaurant for the first time only the previous day. I wasn’t even high yet, and I was already attuned to parallels and serendipity.
Because I was solo and joining a group of unfamiliar people for a mind-altering experience, I was grateful for the warm welcome I received. A fellow guest in a grey hoodie greeted me at the restaurant’s threshold and we started our conversation in mid-sentence as if continuing from where we’d last left off. Bless him.
When he offered me a pull on his root beer vape, I knew it was going to be a great evening. “Pink lipstick smudge on the mouthpiece/ He didn’t seem to mind/ I wiped it off the tip/ He l-l-licked his lip.” I was channelling Nicki Minaj. That’s some good bud. I recall him telling me that I was buzzing. I’d crossed quadrants and now I was crossing realms.
This was the third weed dinner organized by the collective—the first one took place on 4/20, naturally—but the first to be held in a restaurant. The subterranean Raw was a calming space, illuminated by strings of faerie lights and the sunlight from west-facing windows. Buddha sat in silence on a table, and in the corner stood a tall tree whose branches were papered with handwritten notes.
For the collective, the dinners are a kind of passion project, dedicated to showcasing the full potential of infusing food with THC. Organizers work with different chefs for each dinner and provide them with the Alberta- and B.C.-grown cannabis. The price of dinner is $100. “We are focused on the organic side of things as much as possible and keeping everyone happy, healthy and living their best life,” one collective member told me.
On that last score, prior to the dinner I’d been asked what dosage I desired/could handle at the meal. I definitely wanted to get high but I also wanted to make sure I was going to be able to stand up from the table and walk, in my very high heels.
I said 20-30 mg per course. As it turns out, the average dose per course is 20 mg, bringing the total infusion of six courses to 120 mg. This is the equivalent of six small joints. Hardcore veterans can take 40-50 mg per course for a “full long-lasting next level experience,” the effects of which last for 24 hours. “Someone is getting roofied!” we joked, after someone wondered if the cooks might accidentally mix up the dosages.
The vegetarian menu was a light, natural complement to the weed. I’m omnivorous so this was fine with me. I love a juicy steak, but the last thing I want when I’m stoned is a meat-heavy meal. Plants with plants; it just makes sense.
Table talk touched upon past dinners themed around southern comfort food and Italian cuisine. I heard about the prosciutto-wrapped marshmallows and the deep-fried-garlic aioli-mashed potato lollipops. For sure I’d start giggling if I saw a marshmallow on the dinner table.
The 10 diners were either members of the collective or, like me, friends of members. I first learned about weed dinners from watching an episode of Chelsea Does in which Chelsea Handler hosted one at her L.A. home. (Who said TV wasn’t educational?) I laughed with them as they giggled their way through the evening. I really wanted to experience that kind of dinner party and so the hemp seed was planted.
As Chelsea and her friends got higher they were increasingly open, and shared opinions and experiences about sex, drugs and life. Because most of us at Raw were meeting for the first time there was restraint rather than over-sharing.
As we drank cold THC-infused tea out of small Mason jars, we talked about lemongrass, lemon sencha, mint and matcha, artists and art spaces. The blond in the black blouse on my right showed me photos of an art installation she’d created in a boarded-up building. “It’s the hype,” she said cooly.
We discussed the Miracle berry whose proteins have the ability to make sour foods taste sweet; French immersion; and “low rent raves” in the city. Oh yeah, and human firecrackers. My friend in the hoodie proclaimed that when he dies he wants his ashes to be stuffed inside a firecracker.
The dinner commenced with a “charcuterie” board of spirulina cheddar, almond brie and dates so soft and sweet. We drizzled THC-infused coconut oil over everything. The breakout track was the dehydrated tomato salami spiced with thyme, rosemary and oregano, and we resurrected its memory several times throughout the dinner. “That tomato!” (We were also wowed by the spiced pineapple stars, which looked like exotic flowers in vases. But it felt too savage to eat the table decorations.)
The second course featured butter-leaf-lettuce tacos filled with barbecued jackfruit, sunflower shoots and a THC-infused pico de gallo. Muy picante! The tacos proved slightly tricky for the man on my left, who had to do some strategic steering lest it become ensnared in his Dali-Indo moustache. “Find the mouth hole”—his words, not mine.
Between courses, to bump the high and experience another form of weed, guests could get a taste of dabs, a cannabis concentrate smoked in an elaborate glass rig. Euphoria and increased energy are the purported effects of vaping off the rig.
The fourth course, charcoal dehydrated falafel, stood like a Wagon Wheel in a light pink beet hummus infused with THC grape-seed oil. Charcoal cleanses the body of toxins, so its presence might have been some kind of hint, but we were transfixed by the pink hummus. “You’re absolutely tasting the colour!” said my friend in a kind of rapture.
And then came the sweet parting. Dessert was an apple-cider-vinegar cheesecake drizzled with a tart lemon salsa and THC-infused coconut honey. And this is where the miracle berry, that Willy Wonka fruit, came into play in the form of a pink pill branded mberry that flavour-trips the acidity of the apple cider vinegar and lemon into a sweet taste.
The fact that we were OK with gobbling up a single pill sitting on a plate revealed our (former) raver tendencies. Wait 10 minutes to eat after taking the pill . . . .
Six hours later I was still high. The birds are very chatty in the steely light of the early morning. And 22 hours later, I saw a man walking down the street with a parakeet atop his head. I really did.
P.S. Best goodies bags ever.