Author – Jon Russell
Edited by Noah Persin
GreenSea recently launched our “Cooking with Cannabis” series with a fun article on decarboxylation featuring a cannabis butter recipe by GreenSea’s very own Chef Sharber Howell. With last night’s Cannabis Science Pub covering the same topic, we wanted to gain insight from a local, artisan chef boasting a cannabis background of what it’s like to cook with cannabis and the unique tasting opportunities it presents. Today, GreenSea’s own Jon Russell sits down with Ben Nadolny, founder of Fox Hollow Flora and formerly of King Estate Winery, to learn about cannabis, terpenes, food pairings and cooking experiments.
Jon – Before starting Fox Hollow Flora you were a chef of some renown, can you please give us a brief rundown of your culinary experience?
Ben – I was in culinary for 20 years. Most recently I was executive chef for King Estate Winery, an absolute dream job. I had the liberty to focus on purely local foods, which was my dream when I moved to Oregon 15 years ago. After reaching dream status in Oregon culinary I wanted to chase that same feeling with cannabis.
Jon – Tell us about your first times cooking with cannabis. What were some of the difficulties you faced in those first experiments?
Ben – I did not do much cooking with cannabinoids, other than for the flavor. I enjoyed sharing my trim material with other cooks who enjoyed the craft. My early and only recipes produced very potent treats, too potent if you know what I mean.
Jon – In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of eating cannabis infused foods?
Ben – Besides being an alternate way to ingest that doesn’t involve inhaling smoke or vapor I would say flavor and cannabinoids. Cannabis tastes amazing when used appropriately. And it would be good if we could get some more CBD back into our diets.
Jon – Now you host a pop-up style cannabis & food pairing event. Can you tell us a bit about how that came to be?
Ben – A couple years ago I started enjoying cartridges of Evolvd and Herban Tribe CO2 oil. The sensory experience from their high end product was inspiring. I eventually found that those cartridges were a complement to some wines, beers, and foods. I thought about putting together a menu that could show off this potential. I have good friends who host pop up dinners with local and Portland chefs to come throw down anything they want. I eventually scheduled one and it was a wonderful experience. 12 guests, 6 courses, terpenes, oil cartridges. Future events of this kind will focus more on the cartridges as well as using the terpenes in more unique ways.
Jon – Where does your inspiration come from when pairing food and cannabis terpenes? Do you have a specific muse?
Ben – Years of conditioning. I trust my instincts with aroma and flavor. I used the terpenes as background accent to classic flavors. First course was scallop and prosciutto with jillybean x sour diesel x blue dream compressed apple and cucumber. Game course was cast iron roasted duck breast with foie gras, madras curry, charred sungold, corn grits, and finished with a honey infused with the strain Queen. The terpenes do exactly what you want them to do, they change the sensory landscape of an already delicious dish. The terpenes also modulate your experience while smoking and vaping cannabis during the meal.
Jon – This month’s Cannabis Science Pub is about cooking with cannabis, what are some of suggestions you would give someone just getting into cooking with cannabis?
Ben – Taste your food a lot and be bold. If you choose to use straight terpenes in any way please please understand that you only need a super tiny amount. For example, I infused a 1/2 cup of Bear Mountain honey with a fraction of a terpene drop and it was beautiful.
Jon – Are there any plans for Fox Hollow Flora to get into the edibles market?
Ben – Of course. I have a lot of respect for production style cooking, there are some very delicious products right here in our community and the rest of Oregon. Production cooking is a different beast than a restaurant though. I will take it on when the time is right.
Jon – Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! I have to ask one more question before we let you go though. What is your favorite edible at the moment?!
Ben – I miss La La’s Delights. They were really tasty, and had a moderate dose of cannabinoids. They made seasonal treats and also made non medicated ones that they gave away at the dispensary counter. It was very tasty stuff, I hope they come back. Currently, I am into the Sour Green Apple gummy candy from Herban Tribe.
GreenSea would like to thank Ben for taking the time to answer our questions. We appreciate the insights he has on pairing food with cannabis terpenes. Have you tried your own cannabis recipes? Let us know your experiences!
Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted via email and is being presented in its entirety, without edits.