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Pullman Plaza Hotel chefs to serve up a world of French flavors this weekend

Jan. 16, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- While food and dining are at the heart of French culture, Pullman Plaza Hotel chefs take you on a journey to explore a world of French flavors this weekend in Huntington.

"Paris at the Pullman," an exclusive dinner served with a specially selected wine for each course, begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18.

When Thomas Hickey, the hotel's executive chef beginning his culinary career at age 16, worked for a Frenchman, Pasqualé, he was told that he carries a "knack" for French cuisine, which aided in the idea for this event.

The former sous chef at Sheraton Tower Hotel in Boston now leans toward cooking in the French style, such as "making my own stocks, cooking from scratch, using seasonal fresh ingredients, taking no shortcuts," Hickey said.

A graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Norfolk, Va., he brings 25-plus years of food industry experience to the hotel.

"I love the energy of cooking, the action in the kitchen, the camaraderie that an event of this nature brings out in the staff," the executive chef said. "This gives us the opportunity to showcase our talents to the town.

"Being relatively new to the area, this also gives me a unique opportunity to meet the locals," he continued.

Beginning at the hotel in 2007, Pastry Chef Joe Mayes shares the same thoughts about this event but in a somewhat different tone.

Mayes, who attended Culinary School at Jefferson Community College, said "I am most excited about the upcoming 'Paris at the Pullman' event because it is an intimate setting and it's a chance to showcase some of our culinary skills."

The food and wine menu includes prosciutto wrapped fig with fried green olives, Marc Roman Terret; bouillabaisse (clam, mussels and fish stew), Heritages Cotes du Rhone Rouge; cheese and bread board (brie, gruyere and goat cheese, French breads with whole grain mustard and pepper jam, Santi Pinot Grigio; charcuterie (sausage and dried meats with olive oil), Chateau Bouisson-Redon; flounder with creamy dill sauce (poached in white wine), Heritages Coles du Rhone White; lemon vodka sorbet; roasted boneless duck served over wild rice with grilled asparagus, topped with jumbo lump crab meat and Hollandaise sauce, Gassier Sables d'Azur Rose; bitter sweet field greens with peppered goat cheese, Marc Roman Malbec; and Patisserie Sample Plate (French pastries).

Chris Jones with Galaxy Distribution Co., event co-sponsor, describes three of the available wines to be served at this event.

He notes that Heritage Cotes du Rhone 2010 wine is a complex and powerful nose dominated by aromas of white peach and pear, with notes of acacia and elderberry. Gassier Sables d'Azur Rose 2011 is an elegant nose with delicate hints of white flowers, small red frit and citrus zest. Heritage Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2010 is an expressive, elegant and complex nose with flavors of ripe red berries and light spice.

A selection of French classics on the piano is provided by Adam "Key Breaker" Stephenson.

This is a limited, reservation-only event. Tickets are $75 per guest and must be purchased by Thursday, Jan. 17. Call 304-691-5414.

Derived from the French word for "cooked meat," charcuterie is a platter of fine cooked and dry-cured meats with various garnishes served as an appetizer served in a variety of colors, flavors and textures.

Although this recipe is not one from Chef Tom, it is taken from "Real Simple:"

CHARCUTERIE

1 small head green leaf lettuce

1/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto

1/3 pound thinly sliced soppressatta (dried Italian salami)

1/3 pound thinly sliced turkey

6 ounces cheese (Provolone, Asiago or Parmesan)

1/4 cup jarred cocktail onions

1 cup gherkins or cornichons

4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 (12-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained

1 large baguette, sliced into rounds

Arrange first eight ingredients on platter. Serve with artichoke hearts and baguette slices. Take cold cuts out of refrigerator about 20 minutes before placing on platter. At room temperature, they'll be tastier, more tender and less likely to tear.

This recipe is adapted from "Louisiana Real and Rustic" by Emeril Lagasse:

HOME-STYLE FRENCH BREAD

2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sugar

2 cups warm water

11/2 tablespoons salt

5 cups flour

4 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Using electric mixer with dough hook, combine first three ingredients; mix 2 minutes to dissolve yeast. Add salt and flour. With mixer on low, mix until dough starts to come together. Increase speed to medium-high and mix until dough comes away from sides of bowl and crawls up to dough hook. Grease mixing bowl with oil. Place dough in greased bowl and turn once. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; place in warm, draft-free place until dough doubles in size about 11/2 hours. Remove dough from bowl and invert it onto heavily-floured surface. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Pat each portion in large rectangle, about 3/4-inch thick. Roll up dough, beginning with short side and stopping after each full turn to press edge of roll firmly into flat sheet of dough to seal. Press with fingertips. Tuck and roll so any seams disappear into dough. Sprinkle baking sheet evenly with 2 tablespoons of cornmeal. Place loaves on baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. Sprinkle with remaining cornmeal. Cover loaves with cloth; let rise until double in size, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With sharp knife, make diagonal slashes, about 1-inch apart, on top of each loaf. With pastry brush, brush egg wash evenly over each loaf. Place cup of hot water in oven-proof container on baking sheet with loaves. Bake 45 minutes or until bread is golden brown. Remove from oven; cool on rack. Slice to serve.

This recipe is courtesy of "Sandra Lee:"

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED FIGS

4 large whole figs or 16 small mission figs, quartered

Goat cheese

1 (3-ounce) package prosciutto

3 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Cut small hole in center of flesh of each fig. Fill each hole with 1/4 teaspoon goat cheese. Take prosciutto slice and tear in half. Use one half to diagonally wrap around fig, starting from top. Tuck underneath at ends. Repeat until all figs are wrapped. (Secure with toothpicks if necessary.) Place wrapped figs on prepared baking sheet, evenly spaced. In small bowl, combine honey and pumpkin pie spice. Drizzle honey evenly over each fig. Place in oven on top rack; roast 8-10 minutes. Remove; serve immediately.

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