"Right now, we are all taking part in an act of civil disobedience!"
The crowd—enveloped in a thin blanket of fresh smoke—roared in approval at this statement. Not far behind me, some poor fool was silently hacking up a lung. I snapped a few photos of the boisterous scene and finished my last bite of a cannabis-poppy-seed cracker.
I was attending a not-very-legal book launch party, held in a downtown Brooklyn loft last week, for David Bienenstock's new book, . For those who might not be aware, David is the former West Coast editor for High Times and pretty damn important figure in America's cannabis scene. He also just so happens to be The Weed Eater, MUNCHIES' resident columnist reporting on the intersection of weed and food.
Bienenstock's book is a guide to the world of weed and includes "pro tips from cannabis celebrities," charts and illustrations, and the answers to pressing questions such as "How can I land a legal pot job?" and "Should I eat a weed cookie before boarding the plane?" It's essential reading for anyone seeking expertise in the nation's most polarizing herb.
Not that the people attending the launch party needed much instruction in the ways of cannabis. But there's always more to learn, right? Especially so when the edibles game was as high as it was at this party.
"[I] wanted to throw an event that celebrated and highlighted one of the book's central themes," David told me, "which is that despite being rather brutally oppressed, underground marijuana culture is vibrant, innovative, inclusive and joyous in a way that the dominant culture should be celebrating and learning from as we move into this wonderful, new, post-prohibition era." Mission accomplished.
But how to find a chef for such an event? As fate would have it, Jonah Reider—who has achieved some fame for cooking multi-course tasting menus out of his Columbia University dorm room—turned out to be a perfect fit.
"Jonah's boundless enthusiasm, all of the inspiration and improvisation he put into developing that delicious menu, the skill and focus he brought to executing it, and the perma-grin he wore throughout the process all make me feel that the future of weed culture will be bright and amazing," Bienenstock said.
Thanks to Jonah's menu, the attendees dined well. He told me he is "just starting to get into the cannabis food space" and doesn't necessarily want to be known as a "weed chef," but does love the idea of "integrating cannabis into dining beyond making shitty weed brownies and generally comically colored, single-serving snacks."
Who wouldn't agree with that?
Launch Party Menu: How to Smoke Pot (Properly)
Peter's point + wellfleet oysters + blood cockles (champagne-cannabis gelée, pink peppercorn mignonette) Cannabis-poppy seed cracker (cannabis butter, sea salt, muscatel pickled watermelon radish) Ash dusted chevre (rye crostini, cannabis-fennel-raisin chutney, chioggia beet) Octopus ('smoked' paprika, black pepper, olive-hazelnut tapenade) Duck breast (sweet pea, leek, morel, pea tendrils) Scallop crudo (meyer lemon, cannabis and charred ramp oil, chamomile, rhubarb, black salt) Cannabis-infused olive oil tasting (moriolo from umbria, casta 'ad de 'oro, agrigento) Ice creams (cardamom, salsify, and sour milk) Ice cream toppings (cannabis-rhubarb compote, cannabis caramel, cannabis Brownie batter, pistachio merengue, kumquat marinated in cannabis-chamomile syrup) Soda (cannabis, turmeric, ginger, lemon, black peppercorn)