While I know I’m the barkeep, and both my job and social life often revolve around spirits and imbibing, I’m not too proud to admit that the epicenter of my milieu is not exactly a superfood. Occasionally, it’s time for me to indulge in a product that isn’t born from corn or agave, but, say, cannabis. The decriminalization of marijuana is a buzzworthy topic all over the U.S., with legislation changing and evolving rapidly. But it turns out that there are existing cannabis products that can be purchased right up the street at, say, Rainbow Blossom and from Kentucky companies working to revitalize the industrial hemp industry, educate folks on the difference between marijuana and hemp, and incorporate hemp products into our daily diets. And what better way to advocate for local hemp than to see a Louisville restaurant team up with Victory Hemp Foods and Against the Grain Brewery to create a five-course, hemp-infused dinner, complete with beer pairings?
That’s exactly what Migo did Monday, Oct. 24, so my friends and I reserved our seats at the table.
From a grilled asparagus, kale and hemp salad with a perfect poached egg, paired with Against the Grain’s Sho’Nuff Low Down Golden Ale, to a hemp-infused ceviche, paired with a hemp seed American Pale Ale, the Migo chef team certainly took great pride and care in crafting their hemp-infused menu, using Victory Hemp Foods’ hemp oils, hearts and pure plant protein. My friends and I savored each bite, with subtle hemp flavors that seemed to only increase the delightful complexity of each dish — washed down with their perfectly-paired brews. And our sweet server, Katrina, kindly served us Migo’s signature margaritas and mojitos in addition because — cocktails. Walking in, admittedly, I didn’t know if the entire evening would taste like biting into an herbaceous pot brownie — but on the contrary, hemp flavors are mild and earthy and mingled well with each of the chef’s creations (hemp-roasted cauliflower stroganoff, please come back to me).
Migo owner Gerald Dickerson made his way around the restaurant, paying visits to his patrons and chatting about the concept. He told us that many folks had called prior to the evening and wondered “how high” they would be getting off of this meal, or asked if they could take their food to go and give it to a friend because they “didn’t want to get too high.” We all had a good laugh as he told us that they’d have had to charge much higher than $60 per head if they were truly going to get folks stoned. Jokes aside, the public’s lack of knowledge is why hemp events are incredibly important to the growing industry.
“It’s the eternal quip,” said Chad Rosen, owner of Victory Hemp Foods, of the common misconception that hemp products will have any sort of psychoactive effect. “It’s important for us to get out there and give scientific framework — the entire cannabis industry is inundated with misinformation … (events like the Hemp Dinner) will help us get across the message and educate.” Rosen is dedicated to the hemp industry and uses any opportunity to sing the praises of hemp — from its incredible health benefits to its significant impact on the health of the planet and economy.
Victory Hemp Foods was incredibly excited to have Against the Grain use hemp in one of its beers, and it hopes to see other breweries catch on in the near future. “There’s a common thread between brewers and artisan hemp farmers,” said Rosen, who explained that both craft beer and hemp have a certain artisanal craft that establishes pride for their industry and product. The more that restaurants and brewers can use hemp in their products, the easier it becomes to break down the stigma that so many folks regionally seemingly believe: hemp = marijuana.
Gerald Dickerson told us tableside that he hopes to create a series of similar dinners, which made my friends and I giddy: “Sign us up,” we all exclaimed. Which brings me to wonder — what may be next for hemp in the restaurant and bar industry? Hemp in cocktails, anyone? A hemp-infused spirit? Might hemp be the new “barrel aged” trend? Let’s see what you’ve got, folks.