If you've ever used cannabis as an ingredient, you know it's as tricksy as a hobbit in a cave.
Because this is a food column, we'll just skip over the complications of dosage, which are significant. Just in terms of integrating it into a recipe, the green dragon can overwhelm, especially if you're going for a high dosage.
Now, me, personally (that is to say, as a person), I like the taste and aroma of cannabis. But while occasionally I'll argue it can even add an unexpected and tasty twist to some recipes, such as the mango lassi I recently reviewed, more often than not it behaves like what it is: an herb. And like a typical garden herb, a little goes a long way.
So it's particularly gratifying to find a product that manages to tame the herb, weaving it into a balance of flavors that is more of a hint than a hammer.
I'm talking about Xternal's Canna caramel corn. Xternal is well known in the secret world of cannabis vending for a topical pain relief rub that has been endorsed by mixed martial artist Leslie Smith, so it was a safe bet I could trust the company knew its way around a mouth-watering medible munch.
And I was not disappointed. This time I was sharing with a friend who isn't particularly enamored of the pungent dominance of weed in many medibles, and she couldn't believe there was a high enough dosage to be effective, because you could hardly taste cannabis at all.
Instead, Xternal has produced a top-notch caramel corn. You get all the wondrous flavors you expect from caramel corn, medible or not. It's truly impressive that you can't detect pot in the recipe, because butter is all up in it. Creamy and salty, it punches the sweetness in the face and does its best to come out on top in the taste tussle.
Xternal doesn't skimp on the delicious caramel coating, either. There's a liberal lathering all over the corn, though it avoids killing the crunch of the kernels. All in all, one of the most impressive demonstrations of culinary control of cannabis I've ever enjoyed.
Unfortunately, the dispensary I got Xternal's Canna caramel corn is no longer open as a brick-and-mortar service. The Green Door in Novato closed up shop in mid-June after its landord was threatened with action by federal authorities. However, Xternal's products can be found at various dispensaries, including Oakland's Purple Heart Patient Center near Jack London Square. If they don't stock the Canna caramel corn, ask for it! Then throw on Meek's Cutoff and just listen to that stagecoach squeak. Squeak. Squeak.
Steve Robles is a San Francisco-based writer and blogger. You can find his blog at www.oldenasty.com or follow him on Twitter at @mrsteverobles. Follow us at @SFoodie, and like us on Facebook.