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Part Three: Las Vegas Big Smoke Sunday Seminars

Charlie Palmer Breakfast
Michael Marsh
Posted: November 15, 2007

If there is a better way to start the Sunday seminars at the Las Vegas Big Smoke, I can't imagine what it might entail, because the Charlie Palmer breakfast seems about as good as it gets. Maybe that's why attendees -- many sporting headaches and pasty faces from Saturday's carousing -- are eagerly lined up each year half an hour before the doors even open. This year was no different.

The morning began with Wayne Suarez of Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia. introducing two cigars: the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Robusto and the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos No. 3. "When I asked Carlos [Fuente] Sr. about hosting this breakfast," Suarez told the early morning crowd, "he told me, 'If you're going to do it, do it right: give them two cigars, not one.'" The hungry diners, who were also cigar-hungry, erupted with applause.

The crowd also broke into applause for Charlie Palmer, an award-winning, all-star chef with 11 restaurants around the country, including Aureole, Metrazur, Astra and Kitchen 22 in New York; Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Reno; and the Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg in Sonoma County, California. He's authored several cookbooks, is a die-hard New York Giants fan and has hosted the Las Vegas Big Smoke breakfast the past four years.

Wayne Suarez

"This year I wanted to do something different," he said after giving several Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys fans some good-natured ribbing. "I figured we're all going to smoke cigars, so why not smoke some salmon and smoke some pork bellies too."

Breakfast began with a selection of pastries and a hangover cocktail called the Bloody Smoke, made with two parts Belvedere vodka, three parts blood orange juice and one part pomegranate juice, and a few dashes of Tabasco and Worcestershire for extra kick. To eat, seminar-goers enjoyed poached eggs over shrimp and green onion hash, smoked salmon and crispy bacon, which Palmer suggested was "the essence of life."

Guests enjoying smokes and Bloody Smoke cocktails

While his audience satisfied their hunger and tobacco cravings, Palmer went on to demonstrate how to cure and smoke salmon and pork belly. "Curing," he said, "adds the flare and signature" to salmon or pork. Palmer then presented the crowd with basic instructions on how to cure each while explaining that curing meant drawing the moisture out of the salmon or pork with a mixture of sugar and salt, while imparting a certain flavor and essence to it.

Unfortunately, Palmer, under orders from the Venetian, was unable to use the Weber smoker that sat on the stage. "They said they didn't want me to fire up the smoker," he told the crowd. "I told them there was going to be more smoke from the audience than [from the smoker]." He did go into the art of smoking, however, and explained that there is something "special when you say that's my smoked salmon [or my smoked pork]."

Palmer then went on to field questions from the audience, who with full bellies, reduced hangovers and two Don Carlos cigars steadying their hands, were ready to test their rolling skills at La Gloria Cubana's Roll Your Own Cigar seminar.

Photos by Sjodin Photography

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR LAS VEGAS BIG SMOKE PHOTO GALLERY.

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE SUNDAY SEMINARS:
CHARLIE PALMER BREAKFAST
ROLL YOUR OWN
SCOTCH AND CIGAR PAIRING

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE SATURDAY SEMINARS:
TOP LEGAL CIGARS
WRAPPER LEAF
CUBAN CIGARS
THE BLIND TASTING
LUNCH WITH THE EXPERTS

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE EVENING FESTIVITIES

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