Leif Goods’ Carrie Solomon recalls visiting selmelier Mark Bitterman—like a wine sommelier but for salt—at Bitterman Salt Company on SE Division. She sought a salt to top her new line of cannabis-infused chocolate-covered marshmallows.
“His staff broke out tub after tub of exotic salts from every corner of the globe,” she says. “Salts that smelled pungently of hard-boiled eggs, flakes infused with coffee, mixed with truffles, doused with heat from ghost peppers, and one mixed with the famous tequila worm.”
This sort of casual—nearly accidental—collaboration (in this case, with one of the world’s foremost experts in salt) is already the cornerstone of Portland’s exalted food scene. But in cannabis edibles, where potency is often pursued over flavor, it’s revolutionary. “It gives us a bridge to the mainstream," Soloman says. "It’s also just really fun to meet chefs and makers.”
She and her husband, Jody Ake, founded Leif in 2014, and almost immediately began to seek experts in Portland’s culinary world. They partnered first with Ristretto Roasters on a chocolate bar. Then came a project with restaurateur and chef Jenn Louis: the limited-edition Sesame Harissa Bar, a Middle East–inspired chocolate bar with toasted sesame seeds, mint, coriander and cumin. Several forthcoming projects remain, at press time, top secret.
“We don’t come from a super-heavy-duty stoner background, so people have been really receptive,” says Solomon. “We’ve never gotten any resistance.”
Solomon, a brand strategist, and Ake, a photographer, say they escaped the NYC art world in 2010 to join a quieter community. Both former medical cannabis patients, they soon realized weed could also be their medium. Their visual arts background produces stunning packaging: bold pinks, greens, reds, and yellows, with minimal text. Solomon describes the aesthetic as Scandinavian modern—something that “could look good on a New Seasons shelf.”
As for those marshmallows? Solomon and Ake landed on chocolate salt. “Mellow, sweet, crunchy but not too intense,” she says. After all, sweets rarely call for the scent of hard-boiled eggs.