By Vivienne Pearson
At the time of writing it is exactly six months since the legalisation of hemp food. The world hasn’t stopped turning and I have finally tried a hemp burger.
Elixiba, a plant-based restaurant in Byron Bay, added hemp burgers to their menu on the first day they were allowed to. They work closely with Bangalow-based Hemp Foods Australia.
‘There was lots of conversation about it when it was first legalised,’ says Grace Hosken, general manager. Since then, the burger, which combines hemp seeds with black beans and sweet potato, has attracted surprisingly little comment other than how yummy it is (and I can now concur). ‘It is in our top three best-selling menu items every week,’ says Grace.
That hemp has finally been granted legitimacy in Australia is the source of joy to those who have long understood its versatility as a plant (with uses in food, textiles, plastic alternatives and biofuel), its eco-friendliness (requiring minimal water and with high carbon absorbency), and its health benefits (high levels of Omega 3 and 6, a complete protein, and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants).
For those not yet in the know, hemp used for food contains almost no THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) and any that does exist (at very low levels) has no psychoactive properties. In short, it is a plant, not a drug.
Elixiba has trademarked the slogan ‘Home of the hemp burger’ but it’s not stopping at burgers. In fact, the whole restaurant is far from a burger bar, with a full range of plant-based foods including salads, macro bowls, nachos, bruschetta and desserts.
Hemp also features at Elixiba in the world’s first hemp beer. Chilled is one within a range of beers brewed specially for Elixiba by Pickled Pig Brewery in Tweed. Each one contains herbs designed to evoke moods. You can choose from Dreamweaver, Aphrodite’s Ale, Brainstorm (ginko, rosemary, tulsi, brahmi and herb Robert), or Chilled (with chamomile, passionflower and damiana as well as hemp).
Or, if you want to try sipping hemp but aren’t a beer drinker, try a Hemp Happiness cocktail, which features the house-infused hemp vodka as well as damiana liqueur, lemon and mint.
If you need extra incentive to check out Elixiba, consider heading there on the last Wednesday of each month for Pay As You Feel day. Drawing from a model made famous by Lentil As Anything, you can choose from a set range of dishes and drinks and, at the end, choose to pay whatever you feel inspired to.
‘It has been received very well,’ says Grace of the Pay As You Feel days. ‘It attracts people from all walks of life and some really click in with the feel.’
Other events are best found out about via Facebook or Instagram, with offers such as $10 hemp burgers or Mexican-themed nights. ‘We have such a beautiful base of regular customers who are attracted to our holistic and ethical ethos.’
The team are key to this ethos also, with Elixiba choosing a young, vibrant and, at times, eccentric crew. ‘This is reflective of our product and space,’ says Grace. ‘When you eat here, you can feel at ease and be yourself while you enjoy your evening.’
Elixiba: Shop 10, Feros Arcade (23 Jonson St), Byron Bay. Open 7 days, 12–late. Facebook and Instagram: @Elixiba. Trip Advisor: Elixiba Plant Based Restaurant. Ph 6685 6845.
People paying what they feel – photo www.danescott.com.