Cooking with Cannabis

 Photo courtesy of SBSG.

Photo courtesy of SBSG.

The concept of ingesting marijuana is not a new one. In fact, the oil-solubility of cannabis has been capitalized on to produce all kinds of foodstuff since ancient times, evidenced by Sanskrit recipes for diffusing the herb into ghee. From tea to jam to coffee, civilizations around the world have found a multitude of ingenious way to make pot potable. The 20th century, however, saw the formal criminalization of the plant in the US, and most of the knowledge around dosing and responsible ingestion was lost.

It has only been in the past 50 years that edible culture re-emerged (on the fringes of society for the most part), and that the ‘pot brownie’ became ubiquitous. Despite the fact that medical marijuana has been legal in California for 21 years, and that our Golden State has seen a culinary revolution triumphing artisanal products and healthy, local foods, the edibles category has been largely confined to sweets. Walking into any dispensary in the city, you’ll find cookies, caramels, gummies... even chocolate-covered espresso beans (and of course, brownies). Still, the dosages per treat aren’t intuitive, and are sometimes frighteningly high for what one would consider a single serving.

 Marijuana infused olive oil over ice cream. Photo by Luke Beard. 

Marijuana infused olive oil over ice cream. Photo by Luke Beard. 

Realizing this gap in the edibles market, Yannick Crespo saw an opportunity. With a background in Finance and Accounting and a family of chefs that cultivated his love of good food, Crespo believed that refining the marijuana market had great medicinal, but also gastronomic potential. “I saw a disconnect between the SF food world and the lack of good edibles in the cannabis space,” Crespo says, “and wanted to solve that problem.” Through a mutual friend, Crespo met John Bradbury, who shared his vision to create a dosage-specific, flavor-neutral product that would appeal to marijuana users and chefs alike.

With their vision in place they needed the science to realize it, which is where Allison C. Bordsen came in. Bordsen is a biochemist and molecular biologist, and when her friend Crespo approached her with his concept, she eagerly joined their team.  She said, “I am a firm believer in the medicinal properties held within the plant and I’ve always wanted to study it further. With a surgeon for a father, I was taught that Mother Nature makes the best medicine, so I sought to learn about holistic and alternative medicine from a young age.”

 Pot d'Huile. Photo by Luke Beard. 

Pot d'Huile. Photo by Luke Beard. 

With this dream team assembled, Pot d’Huile was founded. Using an innovative proprietary extraction method, Crespo and company were able to produce a versatile cannabis infused olive oil that gives cooks unparalleled dosage control. As their ‘How to Use’ page instructs, “One milligram of THC is present in one milliliter of PdH, which creates an easy ratio for developing recipes and planning for dosage.” The site goes on to translate milliliters into hypothetical puffs of a joint, and recommend certain dosage for novices versus frequent users. Perhaps best of all, the cannabis is practically undetectable, leaving only the delicate pungency of the extra-virgin olive oil, which is sourced from Ternero Farms in Lincoln, California and made from a blend of Hojiblanca and Arbequina olives. PdH is equally discerning in sourcing their marijuana (using only the Gorilla Cookies strain which contains 28% THC).

Since Pot d’Huile is made with chefs and bakers in mind, PdH has worked with San Francisco area chefs to get the creative culinary gears turning. Leading chefs from restaurants like Lolo, WesBurger N’More, and Salvage Supperclub have contributed their recipes, showcasing how the flavor neutrality of this olive oil opens doors to savory and even uncooked recipes like Beet Salad or Vegan Aioli. Pot d’Huile has proven that with the same fastidious, technical approach dedicated to medicine development, and the same artisanship devoted to high quality food products, modern “edibles” can go far beyond the space brownie. With the arrival of 420, our minds (and tastebuds) are abuzz with ideas, giving whole new meaning to the potluck.