In 2019, cannabis made culinary history at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen with the acceptance of the first CBD brands as official exhibitors in the Grand Tasting Pavilion. The mainstream media outlet’s nod to the ever-popular cannabis plant compound at such a prestigious festival, which was soon followed by a glossy print feature, signaled a stereotype-shifting stamp of approval for cannabidiol as an ingredient.
Later that year, High Country kicked off its quarterly spotlight with the leading cannabis food and wellness magazine Kitchen Toke, where founder Joline Rivera shares expert insight and infused recipes from the latest issue. Set to debut her own CBD product offshoot, Red Belly Honey (formerly Kitchen Toke Hemp Honey), at the coronavirus-canceled Classic in 2020, Rivera was recently accepted again for the already sold-out 2021 edition (Sept. 10-12).
“To say we’re excited would be an understatement,” Rivera shared. “We’ve received so much positive feedback (so far) and it’s one more milestone that proves our initial idea: people want delicious superfoods, and nothing delivers like our naturally infused CBD honey.”
Despite the in-person interruption of its initial launch plan, the momentum for Red Belly Honey has continued to build with Food & Wine’s support a major part of its popularity; the website gave it a glowing review and an “F&W Pick” designation in December.
“We’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Joline and Kitchen Toke on recipes for foodandwine.com and the Food & Wine Guide to Culinary Cannabis (over the past) two years, and we’re looking forward to having them (at the Classic),” added Food & Wine editor-in-chief Hunter Lewis. “Red Belly Honey has a floral, savory and pleasantly bitter flavor (with a) pretty, red amber color. Lately I’ve been drizzling it over crostini and stirring it into herbal tea.”
Rivera’s plans for the Grand Tasting Pavilion include unique food creations, made with Red Belly Honey by award-winning chef Derek Simcik with free samples of single-serve, on-the-go snap packs, which she promises “will help people recover if they drink a little too much wine — CBD is great for hangovers!”
According to event organizers, the Classic “looks for companies that are new, innovative and interesting to help bring the Food & Wine brand to life throughout the weekend.”
In addition to Kitchen Toke’s Red Belly Honey, the sparkling CBD beverage company CarryOn and luxury topical and ingestible brand Lord Jones will also be at this year’s event. As we count down the days until one of Aspen’s best weekends of the year, here are two Kitchen Toke Red Belly Honey recipes to try at home this summer.
Melón con Jamón Serrano
•1 cup Red Belly Honey
•1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely minced
•1 tablespoon green serrano chili, seeded, minced
•1 tablespoon Fresno chili, seeded, minced
•1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
•1 tablespoon apricot preserves
•4 ounces serrano ham, thinly sliced
•1 half cantaloupe, peeled, cut into bite-size chunks
•Place honey in a microwavable container to warm, about 30 seconds, to make sprinkle sauce. Stir in lemon zest, serrano and Fresno chilies and heat 15 more seconds. Whisk in lemon juice and apricot preserves. Allow the flavors to meld for a few hours.
•To serve, wrap a ribbon of ham around each piece of cantaloupe, securing in place with a toothpick; arrange on a serving plate. Lightly drizzle with sprinkle sauce.
•Serves 8 as an appetizer with leftover sauce that can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Sparkling Calamansi Bee’s Knees
•2 ounces gin (preferably Ginebra San Miguel)
•¾ ounce Red Belly Honey syrup (recipe in sidebar)
•¼ ounce freshly squeezed calamansi juice (or bottled)
•Sparkling water or wine to top
•Calamansi, halved, for garnish
•In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine gin, honey syrup and calamansi and shake well. Strain over ice into a collins glass. Top with sparkling water or wine. Garnish with calamansi half.
•Makes one drink.