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December 5, 2003, Volume 3 Number 49

One of the best things about living on Guam is the number of annual events, celebrations, and festivals we enjoy, perhaps more than most places on the planet due the diversity of cultures we share. One celebration in particular is the Japan Club of Guam's Annual Autumn Festival, that was held at Ypao Beach Park last Saturday. If you were there, you had to be impressed by the lively entertainment, variety of food, and shopping bargains. This festival has grown in size and popularity each year, and has established itself as one of the liveliest Japanese cultural experiences you'll find outside of Japan. Several dance troupes flew in from Japan to perform. Even some of our visiting Japanese tourists commented how similar Guam's festival was to Autumn Festivals held in Japan. This is mostly due to the strong participation and pride demonstrated by the Japan Club of Guam, who really put on an outstanding show. Though I've attended many of these celebrations, I could see that this one was one of the best, and though it was packed with people, it would have been even more crowded if San Vitores wasn't under construction. It is an event the whole family can enjoy, one that truly rouses the spirit, energy, and enthusiasm of those participating in the traditional Japanese dances and songs unique to this celebration. If you missed this year's activity, try to catch it next year around this time. You'll be amazed at the fun you'll have at this stimulating and interesting festival.

Speaking of other significant annual events happening this weekend, read more below about the Guam Girl Scouts Annual Christmas Tree Sale and the Guam Symphony Society's 2003 Annual Seaside Concert.

Ken - the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Around the Island - New Restaurants, Hotel Santa Fe Guam Grand Opening
  • New Executive Chef Offers Taste of New Orleans at Manhattan - Thursday Dec 4
  • Guam Girl Scouts 17th Annual Christmas Tree Sale - Saturday, December 6
  • Guam Symphony Society's 2003 Annual Seaside Concert - Sunday, December 7
  • Firefly Bistro Lunch - A Premium Dining Experience

Around the Island - New Restaurants, Hotel Santa Fe Guam Grand Opening

There have been a spate of new restaurants opening on Guam. In addition to the recently reviewed Big Stomach Restaurant in Mangilao and all of the new places at the Leo Palace Resort, the Yakitori Factory (649-8011) has opened in the food court at GPO. A new Chinese place in Tumon called Red Dragon (649-8882) has opened and they are located between Pacific Place and the Guam Hotel Okura. Additionally, Yummy Tummy restaurant in Tamuning is now Fast Wok (647-8989). We'll get around to eating at all of them either this year or next!

Congratulations to the staff and management of the Hotel Santa Fe on their recent Grand Opening! The new company operating this beachside property has renovated and revitalized the hotel's facilities. All who attended the opening celebration were encouraged by the professionalism of the new management team and the new owner's commitment to Guam tourism. The Hotel Santa Fe offers guests a relaxing seaside escape in a smaller, more intimate setting. The Grille at the Santa Fe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Look for a review in the near future. We welcome this new addition to the island's restaurant, hospitality and entertainment scene...we are sure it will be both positive and popular!

New Executive Chef Offers Taste of New Orleans at Manhattan - Thursday Dec 4

We welcome Jeff Hill, the SandCastle's new Executive Chef, to Guam. Jeff comes to us from Austin, Texas and though he's only been here a couple of weeks, he's already participated in the recent GHRA Jingle Bell 5K Fun Run and is looking forward to diving in our beautiful ocean. This Thursday, December 4, Jeff is taking us on a culinary journey to New Orleans at the Manhattan Lounge. Amongst the menu offerings will be Chicken & Seafood Gumbo and Shrimp Etouffee. See the complete menu. Stay tuned for future culinary adventures with Chef Jeff.

Guam Girl Scouts 17th Annual Christmas Tree Sale - Saturday, December 6

Need a great Christmas tree? Well, the Guam Girl Scouts will have their usual selection of high quality Noble and Douglas Firs available starting at 9am this Saturday morning at the Guam Girl Scouts Building on Marine Drive in Tamuning just before the Shell service station. The sale will run until 6pm. Since there were fewer Christmas trees brought in this year, it is expected that these trees will sell quickly, so it is advisable that you come early to claim your tree! Also available will be tree stands, fresh wreaths, wreath hangers, and bows. We thank you in advance for supporting the Guam Girl Scouts in this extremely popular and successful fund-raising event.

Guam Symphony Society's 2003 Annual Seaside Concert - Sunday, December 7

Many Guam residents consider the Guam Symphony's annual Christmas concert an essential part of their holiday tradition so be sure to add this event to your list of weekend activities. The 2003 Annual Seaside Concert on the Hilton Guam hillside starts at 3pm, and will feature the Guam Symphony and Chorale, the Territorial and University Bands, the Guam Choristers, Safe Sax and Mankazu. Be sure to bring a picnic basket and blanket or mat to sit on while you enjoy the musical performances. The Hilton's lawn and oceanview is a destination on its own merits, and when coupled with this musical event, it will be an edifying, unforgettable experience you, your family and friends will certainly enjoy.

Firefly Bistro Lunch - A Premium Dining Experience

Firefly Bistro, located in Hagatna next to Cup & Saucer on the ground floor of Calvo Enterprises' headquarters, is a restaurant worth reviewing more than once. After all, my first review was in January 2001, and there were two subsequent reviews in August 2001 and February 2003, with the former done by guest "Food Guy" Eddie Cruz and the latter review by staff. This is my second lunch time review and I can say unequivocally that the quality of the food and service has not diminished an iota. In reality, the only thing that has gone down is the price, which is definitely a trend-defying plus! Actually, the menu prices are the same for those few items which are still on the menu from three years ago. However, when I say the price has gone down, it's because the total bill was reduced when I used my Premium Dining Club Card, which gave me one free entree with the purchase of an entree of equal or greater value. If you enjoy dining at some of Guam's more upscale establishments, and usually eat with a companion, then you should seriously consider investing in this card since it will pay for itself after a few uses. I'm not promoting this card, just giving you a heads up on a good value that will save you some money.

Firefly is about eating delicious food, food that stimulates your taste that grabs your attention and holds that makes you feel good about you just love to eat. Maybe this is the experience owner Ronnie Calvo-Perez wants her customers to have. I'm pretty sure it is. I believe the quality of food served here is a reflection of her culinary vision, one that draws the diner's attention and awareness to the ingredients used in preparation and overall presentation.

Take the hot roll served after you've placed your order. This fresh baked yeast roll has the same "DNA" of a genuine "Thanksgiving Roll" - one filled with that homey, butter-melting goodness you dream about but rarely find. (I had to have one more!). The Firefly House Salad ($6.95) has toasted pine nuts, golden raisins, blue cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette drizzled over fresh romaine lettuce and shredded red cabbage. You don't take this salad for granted...who else has pine nuts, golden raisins and blue cheese? The Soup of the Day ($4.50) happened to be Firefly's signature Kabocha Squash Soup, which is a visually appealing, flavorful dish made with poblano cream and spiced nuts. It had a nice, light consistency and soft, ground fibrous texture of fresh cooked vegetables.

The two entrees we ordered were the Seafood Pasta ($13.95) and the Fish & Chips ($12.95). The Seafood Pasta seemed like a popular dish since I'd seen several of these go out to other tables, though I think that an equal number of big salads with sliced chicken breasts were served. If you've not been to Firefly yet, you'll find this to be one of Guam's most intimate, close-knit dining experiences, since the tables are close to being communal. Amazingly, though, as close as everyone else is, your only focus is on your food and your guests, so you really don't feel any intrusion.

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Bon Appetit!

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