The Green Party The Herb Somm lets guests experience a new kind of dining.
Opposite bottom: Shutterstock. Top: Heather Tafolla, Middle: Tyler Arneson, Bottom: The Herb Somm
Jamie Evans is tall, blond, and gregarious. She floats around a San Francisco Victorian mansion greeting arrivals with an Orange Blossom and Berry Spritzer. The cocktail is spiked with 1 milligram of THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. Evans is exactly the type, on the face of it, that you’d never suspect of inhaling. Yet, here she is, Herb Somm, hosting buzzy get-togethers like “Thursday Infused” and “Feast of the Flower,” a wine-food-cannabis pairing meant to introduce foodies to the flavors of the flower. With 10 states and the District of Columbia passing laws legalizing recreational marijuana use, it’s people like Evans—fresh, articulate—who are needed to change the stoner-reputation of cannabis. A wine industry veteran, Evans created these parties to draw parallels between wine, food, and marijuana, thereby elevating that last component. She calls it “the new era of dining.”
ABOVE: The Herb Somm, Jamie Evans, pairs food, wine, and flower for her elevated dining experiences; LEFT: An almond olive oil cake served at the Herb Somm’s “Thursday Infused” event; BELOW: A hands-on terpene exploration is part of the Herb Somm’s wine and cannabis pairings
Dip into cannabis: 1. In her newsletter, The Herb Somm announces canna-culinary parties that sell out in a blink.
Any advice for people trying cannabis for the first time at a hosted dinner? Jamie: In general, the saying is go low, start slow. 2.5 mg of THC is a good starting level. That will give you some euphoria without being overwhelming. Also know that CBD can enhance or inhibit some prescribed medications. THC can as well but not to the extent of CBD.
2. Pick the right dispensary to learn. Some may be intimidated by dispensaries. Truly, though, everyone is friendly. Evans recommends Solful in Sebastopol (Sonoma County). It is outstanding and educational. 3. Take a tour of the farms. Sonoma Valley’s Happy Travelers Tours introduces participants to the growers. The Weed-andWine diversion includes lunch.
Why dinner parties? J: I think there’s a good synergy between food, wine, and cannabis because they all have terpenes (aromatic plant oils). At these dinners, we use wine as an accent piece. We find that people understand cannabis better when it is compared to wine and food.
4. At the chic Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma County, cannabis education is now an amenity, with interested guests paired with a Solful consultant. Farmhouse also sells CBD-infused bath bombs to use in soaking tubs, offers a CBD massage, and will customize spa treatments.
We keep hearing that pot isn’t the same as it was. Has it really changed over the past 20 years? J: It has. You know what you’re getting in edibles. Cannabis brands are intensely tested. We also are getting to know the people who grow the plants. It’s more transparent. What do you see as the future of cannabis tourism? J: It will get bigger. Cannabis tourism boards are trying to develop licenses to bring visitors to farms. It’s the same concept as visiting a winery. You’ll get to explore the romance, the process. There will be a rise of cannabis restaurants. We’re a couple years from seeing “tasting centers,” but when we do, it’ll happen in Sonoma or Mendocino first. Flow Kana in Mendocino is working on a type of visitor center, the Flow Kana Institute. It used to be an old winery, and it’s not open to the public yet. 11