April 20th is a national holiday to many. Hell, to some of my homies, it's bigger than Christmas! On this day, the world's counterculture gather and pay a hazy homage to cannabis, yesca, herb, pot, bud, ganja or whatever the latest slang name might be. It's celebrated by smoking it, vaporizing it, drinking it and... eating it. For this year's 4/20, your trusty, hard-working OC Weekly intern went out on the field and participated in some intense immersion reporting.
I met up with some chef friends of mine who happened to be one of the leading suppliers of medicated edibles in Los Angeles. They actually just rented out an industrial kitchen out in Anaheim; thus, my obligatory duty to report on this!
Naranjeros: welcome to TASTEbud.
They opted to keep their identities secret for this piece, but they have allowed me put up a link to their website for all you dispensary types out there. The team is actually a couple, and they are definitely not new to the food world.
An alumna from two prestigious cooking academies, she is the baker of the team. And he... well, he's definitely not unknown in the small world of LA chefs. He handles most of the business stuff. They have been working steadily at this for two-and-a-half years; now, they sell upwards of 100 chocolate bars, 50 bags of caramel popcorn and 50-80 brownies a week. None of them, of course, half-baked.
Their extensive fine-dining restaurant upbringing has resulted in doing everything they make exclusively from scratch, starting with their basic compound butter they use for the baked goods. Unsalted butter goes hand-in-hand with THC, as the latter is fat-soluble. For this, he uses some stuff he gets from up north, B-Grade buds with minimum stig and almost no sun leaf. He refuses to use the byproduct of a bunch of low-quality stuff known as shake that most other bakers use.
"We don't do it for the money; we take pride in every single piece," says the baker of the team. "All TASTEbud products are always made from scratch, and with love."
These guys seriously don't mess around with the quality of their ingredients.
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SHOW ME HOW
I rode along during a typical production day with them, a weekday from 11 in the morning until midnight. Their order list for the day included brownies, salty caramel popcorn, chocolate chunk cookies and and mini-banana muffins.
Notice the uniform, near-perfect placement of the cookies? This ain't Nice Dreams.
They don't just use butter for their products; they also use cannabis oils for items that call for oil, like their banana bread muffin recipe. TASTEbud also does whole cakes, peanut butter cups, dark chocolate bars, and granola and raspberry bars, and they are working on releasing a coconut-flavored ice cream for the summer as well.
TASTEbud's customers have grown to recognize their products by a special symbol found on all the products (found at left). Just as in the conventional food industry, reliability and consistency are really hard to find in a product, but their customers don't keep coming back for nothing...
They are interested in rotating their quality baked goods across Orange County. You must place your order (minimum order $100) by Monday 6 p.m. at the latest via phone or text. For more details vist their website at tastebudcali.com.