The opulent Chef, Michael Magallanes, brings new meaning to elevated dining.
By Laura Matise
He pulls from his years of experience in professional kitchens — most notably the Michelin-starred restaurants, Aziza and Mourad — where he worked alongside internationally renowned, and critically acclaimed, Chef Mourad Lahlou.
It was in these kitchens that Magallanes met Barron Lutz, founder of NASHA extracts. The two eventually developed a partnership, and now, deliver some of the finest cannabis dining around.
Both chefs are artists in their own right. Magallanes specializes in fine dining, whereas Lutz’ expertise lies in the delicate art of cold water extraction.
NASHA uses pure mountain water to gently extract intact trichomes from the highest quality cannabis. The resin rich water is drained through a series of filters. The “hash” is then dried, using state of the art machinery to maintain both the potency and flavor of the cannabis. Lutz explains that quality hash contains all of the natural benefits of the whole cannabis plant, thereby giving diners an “entourage effect.”
Unlike some, Magallanes isn’t trying to mask the flavor of the cannabis he works with. Rather, he showcases the full flavored quality extract provided by NASHA by complementing and balancing flavors. He primarily infuses the first three courses, which allows diners to begin to experience the effects around the fourth or fifth course. As an added challenge, Magallanes allows each diner to pre-select doses for the evening in order to accommodate different tolerances.
As the first course is served, I’m informed that the diners have selected doses ranging from ten milligrams to one thousand. I am struck by how important it is that those plates not get mixed up, but I needn’t worry. Magallanes and his team are precise, and move through the kitchen just as dancers move through a well choreographed routine.
Excitement fills the air as we take our seats and prepare for the first of eight courses. Magallanes announces the first course, simply titled “Milk.” He explained that all life begins with milk, so it’s only fitting that our dining experience began with it. The small bowl holds a perfect white bubble that Magallanes said we should consume like an oyster shooter. I throw caution to the wind and tip it back. As I bite into my bubble, the milk gushes into my mouth, filling it with the slightly astringent flavors of licorice and juniper, which is offset by the subtle, pungent flavor of cannabis. It’s definitely a unique and entertaining sensory experience, and it left me excited for the next seven courses to come.
The second course comes on a delicate crispy rice cracker topped with an earthy and sweet carrot puree, pickled Fresno chilies and a dust of infused coconut powder. The balance of earthy and sweet is echoed in both the puree and the coconut hash powder, balanced by the brightness of the chilies and cilantro.
The third and final cannabis infused course Magallanes presents sea urchin flown in from Japan. Atop sits a hash infused savory French toast stick with pickled rhubarb and shiso leaves. I love the idea of the odd coupling of something as familiar and comforting as French toast, and the exotic sea urchin. This dish is again a perfectly balanced marriage of flavors that seem like they shouldn’t go together, but inexplicably work beautifully. The savory French toast stick carries subtle earthy flavors; the shiso adds a note of herbaceousness; the pickled rhubarb adds a bit of texture and a note of acid.
The fourth course is a beautifully cooked cuttlefish topped with black sesame, citrus, and scallion. The true star of the dish here is the veal pepper sauce. It’s intense, spicy and bright. It’s the sauce you want to put on everything. I wonder if there is any way I can get a vat of that sauce to go, and muse that I may be beginning to feel the effects of some of the hash infused cuisine.
Magallanes casually informs us that the veal sauce takes more than four days to make. This is because he makes a concentrated veal broth with an extended period of simmering. He assures us that it isn’t as impressive and time consuming as it sounds, but most look skeptical or are trying to scrape the remnants of veal sauce off our plates.
The fifth course features a sweet potato seared in honey and brown butter with an allium puree, ginseng au jus, pickled blueberries, mini turnips, and spiced pepitas. Magallanes’ caramelized sweet potato perfectly complimented the nutty flavors of brown butter. The delightful crunch of the spiced pepitas and the added freshness of the pickled blueberries created a lovely, balanced bite.
This was followed by one of my favorite plates of the evening, a playful and inventive dish featuring melon compressed with lime juice, cucumber, yogurt, peppercress, and a jellied au jus topped with crispy shallot.
The different colors, flavors and textures were a feast for the senses. It helped that it was served when the effects of the infused dishes had set in, which made this dish even more pleasurable. I flit between the different flavors and textures on the dish, but I can’t get enough of the jellied au jus with crispy shallot.
The “main course” of the evening is beef spare ribs cooked so tenderly, a knife wasn’t needed. The rich savory beef is balanced by a salad of wheat berry seeds, tomatoes and corn.
The penultimate dish of the evening was an unassuming, small cube of a shrimp and yam egg soufflé. Magallanes explained that this dish is a play between savory and sweet, meant to bridge the gap between our savory beef course and dessert. By this point in the evening, I am most certainly enjoying the effects of my custom cannabis dose, and while my pallet struggles to comprehend the complex flavors packed into this little square, I know that this bite is delicious… and I wish there were more of it.
Finally, the last course is presented; a delightfully fluffy angel cake served atop a longan berry puree and a crunchy sablé for texture. This course is the perfect, delicate end to such a beautiful, well-balanced meal, and it is quickly devoured by all of those in attendance. The guests sit comfortably and exclaim over the culinary journey we have all just experienced. While no one can seem to agree which course was his or her favorite, there is one universal theme – we all wish it wasn’t over!
For more information, visit the OpulentChef.com