Higher Dining, a curated cannabis infused dining experience hosted by Dominican sisters and chefs, Shanelly and Roshelly.
By Carolina Zapata
One night, last week, I awaken in the middle of the night by a persistent stream of calls and texts coming from my phone. “WAKE UP! CALL ME ASAP! THEY RESPONDED. WE’RE IN”. I knew immediately what my sister was referring to. She just received confirmation we had been invited to cover Higher Dining, a curated cannabis infused dining experience hosted by Dominican sisters and chefs, Shanelly and Roshelly.
Pot legalization in states such as Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, have spurred a culinary cannabis movement that’s expected to grow exponentially as regulations change and demands rise. I’d recently been diving into research on culinary cannabis and reading on the likes of Miguel Trinidad, considered one of the top 10 cannabis chefs in the US.
But attending cannabis infused dinners in New York City is not easy. First it’s illegal, so the risks are great to both hosts and guests. Second, options to attend these underground dinners are limited. Regardless of the risks, I was intrigued. The forbidden fruit is always so tempting, so I refused to pass this opportunity up.
We followed the carefully disclosed address which led us to the front of a vintage shop. Didn’t seem like much was going on until a woman came out and asked: “are you ladies here for higher dining?” “Yes!” The moment I entered the shop, I was engulfed by Mary Janes scent. You could hear the music bumping. We were led to the front of a wardrobe closet in the back of the shop, which opened to another door that led us inside the venue. Pretty sneaky.
Shanelly and Roshelly graciously greeted us. At first sight, I was impressed. Beautiful floral center pieces were placed on each table and the date, 4.20, was vined to the wall. The music set the mood with a mix of Hip-Hop, R&B and Reggeaton, while perfectly rolled blunts were being passed around as party favors throughout the evening.
The menu reflected a Spring theme with its use of seasonal ingredients throughout the dishes. Inspiration behind most dishes stemmed from a recent trip that Roshelly made to the Dominican Republic, as well as influences from past travels.
The menu was cleverly written with constant references to weed. Each course was re-named with lingo that’s commonly used when someone is high and eating: Snack’N (Appetizers), Munch’N (Entrée), ITIS (Dessert). The dishes also made references to weed or its effect: GANJA Chicken, SMACKED Cheesy Celeriac.
The courses were served family style and infused with THC. The cannabis strand used in the food was Pineapple, which is a sativa strain that gives off an energetic high. Shannelly and Roshelly pay close attention to their pairings and make sure to only use strands with flavor notes that compliment their dishes. This was evident given the flavors in each dish. Not only was the food delicious but the flavors and textures in each dish blended very well. And although there were slight hints of cannabis flavored notes in each bite, it wasn’t enough to dominate the flavors infused from each ingredient. This made eating their food dangerously fun since we didn’t know what to expect by the end of the night.
The YERBA Burrata (Yerba means Herb in Spanish) was served with pickled radishes, snap peas and orange grape tomatoes. The creaminess of the Burrata paired perfectly with the crunch and acidity from the vegetables. The FRIED Cheese was a grilled cheese sandwich served with spicy seasonal greens and a sweet tomato jam. A bite into this sandwich turned into a nostalgic trip to my summers spent in the Dominican Republic, as the flavors reminded me of grilled cheese sandwiches prepared in the campos. The SMACKED Cheesy Celeriac was a creamy mash of celery root. We learned from Roshelly that the inspiration behind this dish was due to a recent trip to the Dominican Republic. While there, she learned that mashed celery root was commonly eaten and she tried it for the first time. It was so good, that she had to recreate this dish for the event. The end result was SLAMMING!
“Yo WTF was dat! Dat shit was mad good! And WTF was dem little chunks?!” The exclamations which came from a guy sitting at our table, was in reference to the dessert, which stole the show! An ice cream with a creamy pistachio base and a blueberry layer surprised each bite with its hidden chunks of soft strawberry cake. This was a wonderful combination of flavors and definitely a crowd pleaser! By the end of the evening we were definitely feeling higher and the munchies persisted after we left the event.
Shanelly and Roshelly’s love for the kitchen stem from their childhood. They grew up cooking together. Shanelly’s choice to pursue a culinary path came from her desire to do something that she loved. “I always loved cooking and I wanted to do something that I loved – I didn’t always know I wanted to cook professionally, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it – my motto is: if you think about it a lot, you gotta do it, you gotta find a way” Shanelly followed her thoughts and decided to attend culinary school at the International Culinary Center. She now runs a small café called Bronx Bites, along with her mom and aunt.
When Shanelly initially thought of Higher Dining, her sister Roshelly innately came to mind. “We’re stuck to the hip and we do everything together. So when I thought about this idea, I didn’t think of anyone else I could go with. When I hit her up, we exchanged ideas and built this”.
The initial stages of Higher Dining started a few years ago. Roshelly really loves baking so both sisters started experimenting with cannabis pastries. When Shanelly graduated ICC, they created Higher Dining and launched their first event on July, 2017. “We wanted to do something different. Since we love smoking and enjoy eating with cannabis, we decided to host a dinner party where you can do both, eat and smoke at the same time.”
Shanelly and Roshelly are definitely making moves in the culinary scene. We’re excited to experience their growth and get higher with these ladies!
If you’re interested in catching one of their events, be sure to follow them on instagram @Roshelly_ and @ShanellysTaste to stay informed.