Category: Food

story pitch: Ex-Restaurant Critic/Current Cannabis Journalist Reviews Cannabis Restaurant

The world’s first licensed and legal restaurant serving both food and cannabis is open. As a former restaurant critic and current cannabis journalist, I’m uniquely qualified to review it. Here’s my preview:

By Ed Murrieta

The world’s first restaurant selling and serving food and cannabis is open for business. 

Good luck snagging a reservation. 

Lowell Cafe opened in West Hollywood Sept. 24, serving farm-to-fork cuisine and premium California-grown cannabis in a full-service restaurant, retail and lounge environment featuring sommeliers on hand to advise diners on food and cannabis pairings and table-side rollers to ensure the joints you smoke are prepared as well the food you eat.  

A quick caveat about Lowell Cafe’s food: Chef Andrea Drummer’s contemporary California menu contains no cannabis but is loaded flavors that complement and pair with herbal, fruit and earthy flavors in the flower. 

Lowell Cafe also downplays edibles, offering them for sale while advising customers that edibles are best enjoyed by experienced consumers who can tolerate their delayed and potent effects. 

Lowell Cafe emphasizes the enjoyment of cannabis with meals the way people enjoy wine and beer with meals and allows smoking and vaping throughout the restaurant and bar, which serves only non-alcoholic beverages. 

Sommeliers work the dining areas helping, diners choose the best flowers and concentrates to enjoy with Drummer’s fried chicken sandwich, peaches and burrata or sweet potato beignets.

Not only can adults purchase and consume cannabis while also purchasing and consuming food and beverages, diners and smokers can make reservations through Resy, a leading online booking service that handles reservations for top restaurants in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington, DC. 

Lowell Cafe’s reservations were booked through October within four hours of initial availability on Sept. 1. 

But you can get in. Bar seating and some dining tables are available for walk-in customers.

Lowell Cafe is open 10 a.m. – 2 a.m. daily. Last call for cannabis sales is 9:50 p.m. 

Customers who want to smoke or vape after 9:50 p.m. have two options: make  reservations and pre-order cannabis, or bring your own and pay a $20 “tokeage” fee.

Non-smokers, rejoice: While smoking and vaping are allowed thought Lowell Cafe, one patio is reserved for non-smokers.

Lowell Cafe is not the first restaurant open to the public to pair cuisine and cannabis. The Green House Kitchen operated in Amsterdam circa 2015-2016 but under Dutch law could not sell cannabis (BYO was OK) and only allowed vaping, not smoking. 

Lowell Cafe opened under a pilot program by the City of West Hollywood. Like all new restaurants — and like cannabis businesses in particular — Lowell Cafe experienced pre-opening regulatory hassles. 

One kink Lowell Cafe smoothed out actually allows it to serve both food and cannabis.

Customers will receive one check for food and beverages and one check for cannabis. 

The only sign of this point-of-sales system work-around may actually be the most mind-blowing of all for cannabis consumers: 

You pay for your cannabis after you consume it. 

Lowell Cafe

1201 North La Brea West Hollywood
(323) 975-7676
www.LowellCafe.com

West Hollywood Abuzz: American Amsterdam in Southern California

WeHo Radically Mainstreams Cannabis Consumption with Lounges and Restaurants

City Leaders Envision Buzzy Entertainment Enclave Popular with Locals and Tourists Becoming the State’s Legal Cannabis Destination

By Ed Murrieta

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Viewed from Google maps, this buzzy enclave fits in the urban heart of Southern California like a jagged-edged puzzle piece abutting three other famous cities: Los Angeles, Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Viewed, smelled and tasted from street-level, West Hollywood fits your imaginary movie images of American Amsterdam.

Nearby Venice may have been up for the part with its picturesque canals and picaresque dispensaries, but West Hollywood, historically friendly to vice and alternative lifestyles, earns today’s leading role in mainstreaming cannabis culture and commerce.

Comprising just 1.8 square miles of Los Angeles County land, West Hollywood is home to 34,000 people and 40 approved cannabis business licenses, from delivery services to dispensaries to lounges to the world’s first licensed and regulated restaurant serving food and cannabis. West Hollywood estimates weed tourism will bring in about $6 million in tax revenue annually.

“We think this will drive more hotel nights in the city, that it will drive more people to come into the city, to go to our restaurants and bars, and patronize our other businesses,” West Hollywood’s weed czar John Leonard said.

Lowell Cafe recently opened, serving non-infused cuisine and menus of cannabis flowers, joints and extracts. Other cannabis restaurants in the works include Budberry, a garden cafe with a koi pond that’s scheduled to open on Valentine’s Day,and Aeon Botanika, a 7,000-square-foot wellness-shop / superfoods cafe / cannabis boutique / Moroccan-themed cannabis tea lounge / cannabis-enhanced acupuncture spa that is scheduled to open in the spring.


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Smell, Taste and Feel Why Cannabis and Tea Inspired By Friendly Farms Are the Perfect Pairing

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“Tea is definitely my choice of beverage while consuming cannabis,” says Classy Hippie’s certified tea sommelier Leo Hickman.

By Ed Murrieta 

Cannabis and coffee.

Yes, it rolls off your tongue. But the classic combination also dries out your tongue, mouth and body.

Conversely, tea hydrates. 

Also, the aromas, flavors and effects of tea complement the aromas, flavors and effects of cannabis. Furthermore, the aromas, flavors and effects of cannabis complement the aromas, flavors and effects of tea. 

“Tea is definitely my choice of beverage while consuming cannabis,” said Leo Hickman, a certified tea sommelier who owns Sacramento’s Classy Hippie Tea Co., where he’s crafted a menu of cannabis-friendly artisanal teas inspired by Friendly Farms’ artisanal cannabis extracts.

Tea contains many of the same terpenes that make up the bouquet of essential oils that give plants, fruits, and herbs from cannabis to lavender to lemons to lemongrass their unique aromas and flavors plus therapeutic benefits including pain relief and anti-inflammation; mood, appetite, sleep and sexual enhancement; and even cancer-fighting properties. 

Coffee also contains terpenes but tea, as a blend of botanicals, contains more.

And since tea has historically been used as a code-word for cannabis, tea is a perfect pairing with cannabis.

From a geeky perspective, tea contains catechins, antioxidant compounds that enhance the endocannabinoid system by binding to cannabinoid receptors in human bodies’ central nervous systems.  The potent catechin antioxidant Epigallocatechin gallate is abundant in green tea.

As part of Friendly Farms’ local business Inspired By program,  Hickman crafted a menu of green, black and herbal teas that pair with Friendly Farms’ True Full Spectrum Liquid Live™ artisanal cannabis extracts. You may purchase and enjoy Friendly Farms and Classy Hippie’s Tea Trios — three green, three black and three herbal teas — by the cup in tore at Classy Hippie Tea Co. or you can buy Classy Hippie’s loose leaf tea online, both for a limited time starting Sept. 1.  Buy Classy Hippie’s Inspired By Friendly Farms green, black and herbal teas and enjoy exclusive savings on Friendly Farms’ products at a nearby cannabis store.

GREEN TEA

Beautiful People
Strawberry & Orange Tea

Nirvana
Goji Berry, Blueberry & Pomegranate Tea

Gen Mai Cha
Japanese Green Tea with Brown Rice

 

BLACK TEA

Sweet Mystique
Ginger, Orange & Peach Tea

Milky Oolong
Vanilla Bean & Oolong Tea

Fireflies @ Night
Lavender & Lychee Tea

 

HERBAL TEA

Abeula’s Love
Hibiscus, Lemon & Lemongrass Herbal Tea

Latin Nights
Orange Peel & Pepper Rooibos Tea

Vanilla Horchata
Cinnamon, Almond & Vanilla Bean Rooibos Tea

Watch this video and find out why Hickman says, “Tea is definitely my choice of beverage while consuming cannabis.”

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FIND CLASSY HIPPIE: Classy Hippie Tea Co.: 3226 Broadway, Sacramento; (916) 235-3243.

FOLLOW CLASSY HIPPIE: @ClassyHippieTeaCo Instagram and @ClassyHippieTea Twitter.

Friendly Farms Inspires Local Food Specials and Community

Sacramento’s award-winning artisanal cannabis extracts producer partners with like-minded local businesses to create specials “Inspired by Friendly Farms” and promote a sense of community.

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BY ED MURRIETA

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 5, 2019 — Friendly Farms, the Farm-to-Fork Capital’s award-winning producer of farm-to-vape cannabis extracts, is partnering with Sacramento food businesses to promote menu specials inspired its food-friendly live-resin sauces, an artisanal style of extracts that captures plants’ full spectrum of flavorful and intoxicating terpenes.

For the month of  March, Creamy’s by Cayla Jordan and Backbone Cafe are featuring “Inspired by Friendly Farms” specials highlighting exotic fruit, spice and confectionery flavors of Friendly Farms’ decadent and indulgent Dessert Collection designer cannabis vape oil and sauce extracts.

  • Backbone Cafe, the organic downtown restaurant that appeals to vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, stirred up Forbidden Sunset, a luscious banana-berry-pineapple-citrus-coconut milk elixir spiked with ginger, turmeric, beet powder, cayenne pepper and pink Himalayan sea salt inspired by Friendly Farms’ Forbidden Sunset extract. Backbone Cafe’s Forbidden Sunset Smoothies are $9.50 each.
  • Sacramento’s Cheesecake Queen Cayla Jordan created Creamy’s Creme Brulee Cheesecake, inspired by Friendly Farms’ Creme Brulee strain. Bite-sized vanilla cheesecakes topped with torched sugar are $3.25 each or six for $18. Options include graham cracker crust and gluten-free crustless. Purchase at Creamy’s downtown food cart or order online at caylajordan.com.

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Unlike the 100-percent pure cannabis extracts that inspired Creamy’s Creme Brulee Cheesecake and Backbone Cafe’s Forbidden Sunset Smoothie, “Inspired by Friendly Farms” specials contain no cannabis.

“I personally do not consume cannabis but many of my customers do,” said Creamy’s Cayla Jordan. “I’m often asked if Creamy’s are ‘edibles.’ They’re not, but if you care about high-quality ingredients prepared with care, Creamy’s are made for the munchies after vaping Friendly Farms’ Dessert Collection.”

Creamy’s Creme Brulee Cheesecake and Backbone Cafe’s Forbidden Sunset Smoothie are the first two “Inspired by Friendly Farms” specials. “Inspired by Friendly Farms” specials will expand in the coming months with other Sacramento food businesses that share Friendly Farms’ community and business values.

“Friendly Farms’ Forbidden Sunset extract instantly inspired our Forbidden Sunset Smoothie,” said Tomas Woolston, a member of the family that owns Backbone Cafe. “Tropical fruit, uplifting spice and earthy funk appeal to cannabis and culinary senses.”

Said Darrin Gatto, Friendly Farms’ CEO: It’s really exciting to work with companies outside of the cannabis industry. Our goal, really, is to introduce Friendly Farms’ customers to local business we love and build relationships with those businesses.”


friendly-farms-new-logoAbout Friendly Farms

Based in Sacramento, Friendly Farms is an artisan producer of award-winning True Full-Spectrum live-resin cannabis extracts containing all-natural flavors, aromas and effects of sought-after designer strains. Friendly Farms’ vape cartridges and sauces are available in state-licensed retail stores and via delivery services in Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. Friendly Farms vapes retail for $50 per half-gram in convenient, lead-free cartridges enjoyable on the go or on the couch. Friendly Farms donates $1 from every gram sold to non-profit organizations combating homelessness. Friendly Farms’ whole-plant extraction process powers collaborations with noted growers Sherbinski and Connected Cannabis. In non-cannabis collaborations, Friendly Farms sponsored the Downtown Sacramento Partnership’s Ugly Sweater Christmas Crawl

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About Friendly Farms Dessert Collection

Friendly Farms’ Dessert Collection is a new limited-edition line of designer cannabis strains deliciously curated to evoke decadent indulgence. Dessert Collection strains include Forbidden Fruit, Creme Brulee, Forbidden Brulee, Raspberry Creme Brulee, Vanilla Sherbert, Raspberry Sherbert, Raspberry Kush, Ogre Berry and Headband.


creamys-logoAbout Creamy’s by Cayla Jordan

As Sacramento’s self-taught Cheesecake Queen and Instagram influencer who launched her own Internet baking show, Cayla Jordan got her sweet start in business while in high school selling caramel corn for $1 a bag. Today, after operating a pop-up store at Roseville’s Westfield Galleria, Cayla sells her Creamy’s cheesecakes, cookie/cheesecake sandwiches and cheesecake-filled donuts from a custom-made mobile bakery cart in downtown Sacramento.

Creamy’s by Cayla Jordan
12th and R Streets, Sacramento
Website | Instagram


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backbone-logoAbout Backbone Cafe

Backbone Cafe is casual counter-service cafe with a Burning Man vibe in downtown Sacramento serving organic foods that appeal to all diets — vegan, vegetarian, meat-eating omnivore and gluten-free. From breakfast to bone broth to smoothies to dinner, Backbone Cafe’s menu is a tour de force of human fuel for maximum performance, featuring vegetables sourced from small organic farms and meats from grass-fed, free-range ranches.

Backbone Cafe
729 J St., Sacramento, (916) 970-5545
Website | Instagram  


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Vape at Home, Dine Downtown

Friendly Farms’ artisanal True Full-Spectrum live-resin cannabis extracts pair perfectly with Sacramento’s fund-raising restaurant promotion

BY ED MURRIETA

There’s a lot of meat and even one totally vegan menu awaiting consumers of Sacramento’s 2019 Dine Downtown promotion featuring 35 restaurants offering three-course dinners — appetizers, main courses and desserts — for $35 each.

Not only is Dine Downtown, is a great way to discover new restaurants, it’s also a great way to enjoy great meals for just a few bucks more than regular menu prices for some higher-end entrees alone.

Friendly Farms’ award-winning True Full-Spectrum vape pens are great for preparing your appetites for dinner — and great for repairing your tummy after dinner if you order wrong.

As a former restaurant critic whose tools of the trade included cannabis and credit cards with fake names, I recommend enjoying Friendly Farms’ vape pens before hailing a ride-share vehicle or taking public transportation to dinner downtown.

You can find Friendly Farms’ vape pens — honored at the 2018 High Times Cannabis Cup and The Emerald Cupat Sacramento stores and delivery services. If Friendly Farms vape pens are sold out, check out, check out Friendly Farms’ collaborations with Connected Cannabis, Sacramento’s leading designer cannabis brand.

$1 from every meal sold during Dine Downtown from Jan. 11 through Jan. 21 will be donated to social services and food literacy programs. Having sponsored the Sacramento Downtown Partnership’s Ugly Sweater Christmas Crawl last month and raising more than $1,000 for local homeless services, Friendly Farms will toke to that.

Here are seven Dine Downtown restaurants I recommend pairing with Friendly Farms’ award-winning True Full-Spectrum live-resin 100 percent cannabis extracts. Friendly Farms’ farm-to-vape ethos fits with many of these restaurants’ farm-to-fork bent.

Binchoyaki
Modern Japanese barbecue never tasted so hip. Start with crispy rice, charcoal chicken and prawn dumplings; dig into New York steak and roasted veggies; and finish with apple upsidedown cake, evocative of the bright apple notes beneath the berry sweetness of Friendly Farms’ award-winning Forbidden Fruit strain.

Camden Spit & Larder
Get the organic roasted half chicken, $26 on the regular dinner menu at Sacramento’s newest power-business restaurant that brims with bustling brasserie eye-candy decor. Start with wedge salad and finish with citrus olive oil, a match for Friendly Farms’ zesty Headband.

Empress Tavern
The pork porterhouse — two chops (loin and tenderloin) in one — is $31 on the menu and the butter lettuce salad is $11 on the regular menu so you’re pretty far ahead when an easy chef dessert like peanut butter and chocolate ice cream sandwiches arrive and you wish you could sneak tokes on Friendly Farms’ Raspberry Creme Brulee vape pen instead.

Frank Fat’s
Sacramento’s only restaurant honored to be honored by the James Beard Foundation is worth the trip for 90-year-old restaurant’s banana cream pie alone, but enjoy pot sticker and egg roll and honey walnut prawns. Friendly Farms’ Vanilla Sherbert would round-out a sweet Cantonese meal and slice of Americana.

Iron Horse Tavern
If Shrimp Louie wedge salad sounds classic and braised pork belly sounds modern, then French toast bread pudding will sound like it could use a scoop of raspberry — say Friendly Farms’ Raspberry Sherbert.

Mayahuel
Not only does Mayahuel serve Dine Downtown patrons a couple of extra nibbles, it’s serving a 100-percent plant-based menu — something that resonates and pairs with Friendly Farms’ 100-percent farm-to-vape cannabis extracts. Start with a spinach-watermelon-mango-agave-mint aperitif, blue corn mini tostada and black lentil soup; move on to Portobello mushrooms sauteéd in pistachio mole; and finish with hot chocolate and a churro. If you’re a flexitarian, the Impossible Cake on the non-vegan menu — flan on chocolate cake — is a mind-messing match for any Friendly Farms vape pen or, Friendly Farms’ Gelato #31 collaboration with Connected Cannabis.

Tiger
Served in a first-floor bar and dining area overlooks a sunken, basement-level bar and dining area, Tiger’s regular menu is what culinarians might dream up when high of mind and body. For Dine Downtown, it’s small bites (Thai fried peanuts, bacon-ranch cheese ball, beet poke) and small plates (poached prawns and chickpea stew, Crying Tiger Thai beef, and ham-and-broccoli Hock Pocket. Kabocha budino may not have a burned-sugar crust but the Japanese pumpkin pudding makes me think Friendly Farms’ sweet and exotic Forbidden Brulee.

About Friendly Farms
Friendly Farms is a craft producer of artisanal cannabis extracts that capture and retain premium plants natural terpenes — from farm to vape pen, featuring 100 percent natural cannabis and zero additives. Friendly Farms works with top California growers and has produced cannabis extract collaborations with leading designer cultivators Connected Cannabis, Alien Labs and Sherbinskis.

Ed Murrieta, a veteran food writer and cannabis journalist, is Friendly Farms’ media and culinary consultant.

Hungry for Hemp

Originally published in the Tacoma News Tribune, Jan. 12, 2005

downloadBY ED MURRIETA

When the pipe dreams of food entrepreneurs, hemp activists and libertarian farmers come true, America’s fruited plains will be ripe with emerald waves of industrial hemp, a plant deeply rooted in the nation’s fabric and politics.

In this imagined world, we’ll eat a perfectly balanced, scientifically documented source of the essential fatty acids we need to keep our arteries supple and our brains finely tuned, in consumer foods from hemp tofu to hemp ice cream. Never mind debunked claims of positive drug tests.

Hemp will rotate with corn and soybean crops, boosting domestic farming, processing and manufacturing as the United States joins industrialized economies from Germany to China in hemp cultivation.

Before American consumers get a mainstream hit of hemp, however, some hemp activists insist the ultimate shift in consciousness must occur: The United States government must end its prohibition against marijuana, hemp’s heady cousin.

These entangled political, market and consumer issues have bummed hemp’s high hopes of becoming the greatest thing since soy.

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Cannabis Tourism Is a Thing in California

San Francisco Chronicle Travel section dives into Golden State’s legal new attraction.

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BY ED MURRIETA

I’ve got two stories in the San Francisco Chronicle’s California cannabis travel package today.

Here’s my story on the Top 5 California cannabis tourist destinations.

Here’s my story on the best cannabis-friendly lodgings.

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