Grown by Swami Select and processed by Frenchy Cannoli
by The Dank Duchess
Every so often we are lucky to experience a collaboration between people whose deep understanding of our unique connection to the plant produces an extraordinary creation. Reverence for the terroir (the soil, water, micro climate, natural soil composition) infuses the cannabis with a special quality inherent to its place of growth. Royal Sour Hashish is of pedigree stock, grown in expert conditions, and processed with the utmost care. When given the opportunity to smoke eye popping combination of factors, I expect this experience is going to be practically holy.
Royal Sour (Sour Diesel x Purple Kush x Highland Afghani) is a Indica dominant Hybrid Cultivar bred by Aficionado Estates (IG:@aficionadoestates). This crop of the 2013 4th Place Emerald Cup finisher was grown by Swami Select (IG: @swamiselect) in 2015 at Turtle Creek Ranch in Mendocino County, California. Dedicated to outstanding, organic, outdoor cannabis, Swami and his partner Nikki Lastreto, who have both lived in India for many years, are the co-directors of the Ganja Ma Gardens Collective. They take extraordinary care to give their seeds the very best start, beginning with mantras and dripping the water of the Ganges River in India on them before planting them. The cannabis plants on there farm delight in the bountiful sun and mindful attention they receive at this sacred, spiritual place. Gently guiding the plants along their journey, Swami listens to the needs of each plant, and harvests only when the plant says she is ready. Cutting down the entire plant at the peak of its ripeness, Swami captures the resin at its most viable level. The plants are dried slowly, but thoroughly. Preferring dried, and cured material, Hash Master Frenchy Cannoli (IG: @frenchycannoli), who in India learned how to make Charas, the oldest concentrate, was very pleased to receive the Royal Sour which had been well preserved over the last year. Washing entire buds, Frenchy produced absolutely beautiful resin; high in quality and at 22% yield, which is almost twice average, very forthcoming. Believing in the intrinsic value of whole plant medicine, Frenchy collects a full spectrum of the resin for pressing. Frenchy aims to age some of the Hashish he produces and he stores palm sized temple balls in organic cellophane, which is in turn housed in an airtight Jyarz container.
Three months after storing, the temple ball has matured enough for me to taste it. The cellophane paper is transparent and I can see the shiny brown mass sealed tight within. I begin to untwist the wrapping and the barest aroma of perfume wafts out. Being very partial to floral flavors, my mouth starts to water. Opening the paper fully, I am greeted with the full bodied presence of deep, dark muscadine grapes. The surface of the Royal Sour Hashish is shiny and slick, bouncing the light from the overhead lamp. The trichome heads, pressed with heat to create a cohesive mass, glisten. A deep inhale reveals notes of pine, camphor, and dark chocolate. I do not favor chocolaty flavors, but Swami's cannabis flowers are always a joy to smoke and I love everything Frenchy makes, so I am justifiably excited. After staring at the gorgeous ball of Hashish for a little while longer, I gouge a dab out of the surface. When Frenchy first made Royal Sour Hashish, time lapse video depicted its melty transition from a perfectly round ball to a thick slab of resin as its shape collapsed under its own weight. At this time, the Hashish retains its shape and the texture is smooth like cream cheese. Taking a low temp dab, I glance into the banger to watch with glee as the Hashish bubbles wildly as it coats the quartz surface. Eventually the sizzle fizzles to nothing and a little puddle has been left behind.
Waste it to taste it and boy is it worth it!
Sweet, bulbous grapes burst into my mouth and I savor the juicy flavor. I am unprepared for the fuel that rumbles into my mouth afterwards and just as I feel the tickle of a cough beginning, smooth chocolate evens out the inhale and the urge is quelled. Exhaling, a complex mix of berries and spice rolls out, like drinking a chai tea while eating maraschino cherries. I grasp the firm mass and dig in again; this time with even more gusto. I am willing to overindulge just about anything that I really like, and with a dank chunk like this, I can afford to be greedy. The full-bodied taste and sensation of full spectrum, full melt Hashish is incomparable. I scoop out a larger dab and slide it onto the banger. This time I notice the pine aroma coming off the banger, followed by warmed cocoa butter. The warm vapor slides easily up and down my throat; exiting robustly, but with ease. Almost immediately, my body is awash with thousands of mini fireworks like when your leg wakes up after having gone numb, but not unpleasantly so. Pleasant sparks dance along my skin and I am ready to walk.
Packing away my travel rig, I step outside of my car to the site of my latest adventure: Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Conceived while the construction of New York's similarly Central Park was underway, Golden Gate Park is a large urban park that was completed in 1870 as a place of respite among urban sprawl. My husband, Nicholas, and I have our own precious memories of growing up in urban forests. I learned the ways of the natural world in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and he, a Vermont native, fostered a great love for the outdoors both in the forests of the green mountain state and in the well tended confines of Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC. We are here to de-stress, find some peace, and leave feeling more energized than when we came. I have a vague notion of a mile long walk until I reach Huntington Falls, one of the two artificial waterfalls in the park.
Walking jauntily past the Conservatory of Flowers gleaming in the bright sunlight on this cold and damp day, I alternately take puffs from my vape pen and suck on my lollipop. Along the way I see, huddled together for warmth, nervous and giggly teen aged girls sporting high school track team shirts, defiant and oblivious young men skateboarding, and health conscious moms jogging by; tirelessly pushing baby carriages made for this punishing activity. Barely stifling a smile, I skip forward with a light heart, buoyed by the effects of the Sour Diesel portion of the plant. With what feels like rocket ships on my ankles, we will be over at the falls in no time.
In the blink of an eye, we are at the base of Strawberry Hill, an island in the middle of Stow Lake. The 404 foot (123 m) hill angles up to the sky steeply, much like the mountains that surround the city. Not one to be deterred by a slight effort, I make my way up the first step of stairs that wind around the hill. Raspberry bushes, stripped bare of their delicious fruit, cover the hillside, overshadowed only by coastal ivy, an invasive vine slowly strangling the native species like the wood strawberry for which the Hill was named. Nevertheless, on close inspection, I see the little red jewels dotting the landscape; reminding me that all is not lost, just merely muted for a moment.
As the top of the hill beckons me from Narnia, the Indica effects begin to hit me and the hill seems as insurmountable as a mountain. I take a few deep breaths and continue to walk up the stairs. Just as I feel I may pass out, we reach the apex. I am relieved when I see that there are several benches at the top of the hill as I need to recharge and possibly think about getting fit with an dedicated exercize program. As I make note of my less than ideal physical condition, my eyes land upon a large crumbling chimney-like structure standing before me. I slowly walk around into the clearing and realize I am in what is left of a hall of some sort. Using Google search, I find out I am standing in the remains of the Sweeney Observatory. Touching an uneven surface, I close my eyes, and I try to envision the stately building that once stood here. Constructed as a beautiful vista point, the observatory afforded views of western San Francisco before it, and 80% of the city, was decimated in the devastating 1906 earthquake. Now the ruins of the foundation is all that is left, obviously destroyed, and yet still retaining the majesty of the aforementioned building. Thoughts in my head are swirling and suddenly this quiet, shaded hilltop is re-imagined as a castle. The large pine trees tower above my head and I cannot help but feel like I am in in a pine tree cathedral. An eerie calm settles over me and turning around in a circle, I see glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, Mt. Tamalpais, downtown San Francisco, and San Bruno Mountain, and I feel like a queen especially dialed into her domain and perfectly in the flow. I try to express how I feel to Nicholas, but a barely audible grunt is all I can manage. A multitude of thoughts are dancing around my mind and, not being able to verbalize really anything coherently, I keep quiet. Nicholas makes one mention of my introspection, but getting no response, lets the issue die. The wind is picking up and the temperatures have dipped into the 50s. I am thankful of my purple leather jacket, but the exposed parts of my body feel no discomfort, in any case. The sky is now overcast and a dull, grey-brown blanket cloaks the city. However, somehow, on top of Strawberry Hill, everything is still glowing in afternoon light from an unknown source. Perhaps I alone see this golden light. The soft, pine needle covered ground is gently springy beneath my feet, comforting me with every step. Though the chill factor is growing by the minute, I feel like I am engulfed in a warm embrace of quiet gratitude. I feel positively alive, and yet at ease and reserved.
I take two long drags on my vape pen and let out the smoke. As expected the flavor profile is weak compared to when using my rig, but some of the berry sweetness still comes through. I can hear the rushing water of the Huntington Falls though I cannot see it in its glory. Following the sound, we arrive at the top of the waterfall, and stop to read the informational plaque. I turn away as the words and their meaning fail to capture my interest. I want to try to touch that water. I head to the stairs along the side of the flowing water and note to myself that curiously, just as I am getting higher, I am simultaneously taking myself lower; walking down the tiers of the waterfall. I remember when I first started smoking cannabis, Nicholas stressed the importance of allowing my high to plateau before taking in my cannabis to get to the next level. Now I find myself getting lost in thought at each landing; absorbing the spellbinding view of the rushing waters caressing each moss-laden rock before hurdling downwards to the man-made like. Always fascinated by the concept of finding place, I sink into the reverie of decades past, when women in tight corsets and parasols stood in these same nooks and admired the same wonder of gravity. Were they as intrigued as I by the human drive to create, manipulate, and arrangement the environment? Did they feel transported as do I, to a tropical paradise, entirely out of place in the urban mecca of San Francisco?
I take another puff and descend until I am at the very bottom of the cascade. At this time, I can hear nothing except the symphony of the water, the singing birds, the rustling trees, and the soft thuds of my footsteps. Right here at the base of the waterfall is a small slice of heaven. Artificial rocks have been fashioned in such a way that the water from the gushing waterfall collects in a small pool and then “seeps” through cracked earth to eventually spill into Stow Lake. One the surface of the pool, two mallard ducks bob lazily without a care in the world. I feel like those ducks. I am coasting on the sea of life right now. I feel badly that I am not being an overly cheery partner right now, but I actually feel quite fabulous. My skin is buzzing with electricity and I feel like all of my hairs are standing at attention. I am in perfect communion with everything and here where I am is where I will always need to be.
Sanctity can be created in any place we choose as we can feel blessed and spiritually connected no matter the circumstance. Strolling through the lungs of San Francisco while puffing on the Royal Sour Hashish, I am able to appreciate the wonder of every moment and enjoy the banal and the mundane just a bit more. High spirits, an open mind, and boundless energy are quite th recipe for bliss and may we all have any more occasions to experience it.
This article first appeared in issue 126 of Weed World Magazine