The start of a new season brought another pairing dinner from Mason Jar Event Group, featuring newly grown cannabis as well as Blackbelly Market chef/owner Hosea Rosenberg, back for another round. The March 24 event was hosted by MiNDFUL, a dispensary that operates out of a historic storefront in Black Hawk, as well as San Francisco-based Pax, arguably the most famous vaporizor company in the country.
After an hour-long bus ride, the dispensary welcomed guests, who then purchased their goodie bags equipped with the evening's pairing necessities — a steal at $25 each. The storefront was quaint, the staff polite and the goodie bags heavy. Black Hawk charges a two-dollar fee (on top of taxes) for any marijuana transaction.
The crowd then moved across the street for dinner at Crook's Palace, billed as the "oldest saloon in Colorado" and now a special-events space owned by the City of Black Hawk. Far from run-of-the-mill stoners, the group was a veritable who's-who of the weed industry, and included Wanda James; Ryan Cook, director of operations for The Clinic; Jane West of Women Grow; and Ricardo Baca, editor of the Cannabist.
Inside the bar, the Healthy Headie team was featuring its top-of-the-line collection of Pax vaporizors. When smoking inside at private cannabis events, you're usually required to partake with a vaporizor; smoking cannabis is allowed outside — but only out of sight.
The evening featured the series' first non-cannabis industry sponsor, real-estate agent Barb Passalacqua. Other notable sponsors include the convenient check-in sale services of Try Baker, Pueblo's Sansal Hemp Farm and the childproof cannabis containers Anonymous Bags. Cannabis Trainers' Maureen McNamara introduced Mason Jar Event Group's Kendal Norris, saying that Norris "has the capacity to bring the indulgences of Colorado together with a group of extraordinary people." Norris was nearly teary-eyed as she told the group that the night "is a dream come true."
Next up was Pax's Natasha Lannerd, who told a story that captured Colorado's progression toward marijuana normalization over the past forty years. "I told my dad I was doing this event, and he just started laughing, because back in the early '80s, he came up to Black Hawk and got arrested in a sting operation buying some rolling papers at a gas station," she said. "They phoned the cops when he left, and it was a three-way attack. Back to what Kendal says, with it becoming normalized, this period is historic, and it's awesome to work for a company like Pax, taking this technology and moving it forward."
Erik Williams, national director for public affairs at MiNDFUL, had the most charming speech of the evening. "We put a lot of thought and care, as much in trying to match the bud to the meal, as Kendal has put into every detail here," he said. "Great things are coming to Black Hawk; we're going to have more events up here. It just shows that a group of diverse people can all come together into a room and do something that's truly big and truly iconic, that they can learn about each other, enhance each other, and bring this wonderful thing forward that will live in history. It's the kind of event that's going to make history — it has already."
He ended his speech with a brilliant Breakfast Club reference: "These people leave this space and find each other; each one of them is a brain, an athlete or a basket case, a princess or a criminal."
All joking aside, the dinner was seriously good. Diners swooned over Rosenberg's first course, an Alamosa bass ceviche and beet tartare paired with a sativa blend from MiNDFUL called Sour Boss. The sweet-yet-pungent notes of Sour Diesel genetically crossed with the equally sour sativa Mob Boss to make for a decadent pairing with the ceviche.
Also pairing with the Sour Boss was the next course, a delicious "roots & shoots" salad made up of a local quinoa-and-grain blend, citrus, mint, pea shoots and organic baby root vegetables, topped with a crumble of blue cheese and a burnt lemon vinaigrette.
The third course brought braised Carter County beef "country ribs," sandwiched by two types of house-made sausage and served over wild rice and roasted spring veggies. The flavors danced on the palate with the second strain course, a Triangle Kush. MiNDFUL is very mindful of its growing process, and the Triangle Kush uses a long cure, leaving an amazing and clean burn in its wake. The bud mixes citrus with an earthy, woody flavor profile; it's indica-heavy, yet still creates a really sociable high. Well done, MiNDFUL.
Dessert was a sweet way to end the night, as Rosenberg served a sea salt caramel and chocolate budino paired with incredible's Salted Pistachio Mint cannabis-infused chocolate bar. Just a little of the edible goes a long way, and a small crumble of the mint-green chocolate on top of the budino did the trick.
This well-executed cannabis-pairing dinner was a window into an America that could exist, but even with a 60 percent approval rating for legalized states, it seems a remote dream in many parts of the country. Still, for industry professionals who've made the marijuana business a part of their daily lives, the night was a dream come true.