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October 29, 2004, Volume 4 Number 44


Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

While most of you probably don't know that I was in the GMH Emergency Room during last Thursday's GTA island wide phone outage, you can rest assured that I am quite alive and getting better. Though many were frustrated by their inability to make phone calls, I was beyond frustration in a state of near panic at the inability to alert any of my family, friends or co-workers about what was happening to me, and with the chest pains I was experiencing, the thought crossed my mind that I might not be able to even say good-bye. Fortunately, God has other plans in store for me, and since my heart is in good condition, there are some things I have to do to protect my health and well-being, such as lowering my blood pressure and adjusting my lifestyle to include exercise and making healthier food choices.

Today's review of the Synergy Cafe in Maite is ideal and timely since it launches what I expect to be a continuous journey of exploring health-conscious eating establishments, menus, and entrees. I'd like to be an advocate of healthy food choices and proper nutrition. I'd like to work with the food service industry and chefs to find ways to reduce the use of MSG, sodium, and fats, and to find healthier alternatives that can still be palatable. I'd like our website to become a forum for health, fitness, and nutrition specialists to write informative and pertinent articles.

I'm excited and energized about these enhancements and look forward to learning more about how the foods we eat affect our bodies and our overall health. We already have a Health & Nutrition section on the GuamDiner.com site, as well as a good selection of Healthy Choices in our Recipe section. Feel free to drop us a line to contribute a favorite healthy choices recipe you may have. Let's do this together! We will live longer and better!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Tribute to Chef Jeff - Memorial Ceremony
  • GMH E.R. Meals Get a "B" - Heroic E.R. Staff Gets an "A+"
  • Captain Diana Huntress Retires in Style - A Role Model For All
  • Around the Island - Jan Z's Surf & Turf Weekend
  • Synergy Cafe - Where Good Only Gets Better

Tribute to Chef Jeff - Memorial Ceremony

Before this message reaches your mailbox, we will have attended the memorial service remembering our dear friend Chef Jeff Hilgenberg (Hill) held yesterday, October 28. It's funny, but when I use the phrase "dear friend" for Chef Jeff, I truly understand the full essence and preciseness of the word "dear", for Jeff was certainly precious and rare. Though the words have been used over and over again countless times, they stand tall and overflow with an abundance of warm feelings and radiant smiles when Chef Jeff's name is connected. His voice could "electrify" a dormant line when he'd call, and bring a ray of sunshine to an otherwise cloudy day. His eyes would sparkle from a special energy he had when he would contemplate his next adventure. Over the past weeks since his unfortunate demise, I have been involved with what has been an overwhelming outpouring of support and love from his friends on Guam as well as family and friends in the States. It's astonishing that this young man was able to make immediate and meaningful connections with everyone he met. Ever curious, he was an explorer of life who relished in the joy of culinary creation, especially when he would carve watermelons and papaya, in the Thai tradition. His Cajun Gumbo and Tex-Mex Mole were as tasty and true to their origins as his Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Salmon and Middle Eastern Baba Ghanoush. Chef Jeff will forever occupy a happy place in our hearts and minds. He will still play a role in Guam's culinary arts via the Jeff Hilgenberg Culinary Scholarship Fund. We miss you, Jeff, dear friend, and knowing you, you probably would be wondering what all this fuss was about - well, Jeff...it's about you! Adios, amigo!

GMH E.R. Meals Get a "B" - Heroic E.R. Staff Gets an "A+"

My recent hospital stay (overnight in the E.R. for observation) due to chest pains was not what I had in mind for a food review; however, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the overall experience. I should first qualify that my meal service was prescribed as a "Strict Vegan Diet", thanks to the health wisdom of the good folks over at the SDA Clinic, who referred me to GMH. The breakfast was orange juice, coffee, oatmeal, fresh fruit, wheat bread, jelly, and water. Though I was famished and gratefully ate everything (2 portions of oatmeal), I would make a few suggestions that could improve things a little, such as using Splenda or NutraSweet instead of sugar and multigrain bread instead of processed wheat.

Lunch was more substantial, and I had lots of styrofoam container surprises (it was a bit like a gleefully X'mas morning, when you open up your gifts to see what's inside). I had two portions of brown rice, steamed spinach, vegetable soup, a slice of wheat bread, a small salad of lettuce, cucumber, and carrot with dressing, apple juice, iced tea, and cantaloupe. The food was bland but healthful in its naturalness, and I sparingly sprinkled a few grains of salt to flavor the soup and spinach a bit. The Promise spread (butter substitute) for the bread was a plus. The food was warm and fresh (bread was soft, and the salad veggies were crisp). Again, multigrain bread or roll would improve this, and the salad had a pack of Kraft 1000 Island, which wasn't a low-fat, low-sodium dressing. No big deal, though, it was good food and I was grateful to be alive, and understanding the budgetary constraints, I'm not complaining.

I want to commend the E.R. staff especially, whom I can only describe as heroic, determined professionals who are working in a difficult and demanding environment. They have developed a sense of humor that would quite possibly carry them through a nuclear holocaust. I admire and laud them for a job well done!

Captain Diana Huntress Retires in Style - A Role Model For All

On October 26 I was invited to attend the Retirement Ceremony for my friend Captain Diana Huntress at the Top of the Mar. Captain Huntress' illustrious career spanned 30 years with the Supply Corps, and she was stationed in Taiwan, Japan, Germany, Italy, the U.S., and Guam. She graduated first in her class at both the OCS and Navy Supply Core School, which was a first for woman. She had five years of sea duty and qualified as a Surface Warfare Supply Corps Officer. She received a Masters of Business Administration from the Wharton School, which explains her mastery of business. (L to R: Capt. Huntress, Mike O'Hagan, R. Adm Bird)

I had the pleasure of serving with Diana on the board of the Guam Girl Scouts. Diana and her husband, Mike O'Hagan, Commander, SC, USN (Ret), have been together 27 years, and have filled each day with adventures during their world tours. They've been on 6 continents and visited 66 countries. As a retirement gift, they are going on an Antarctic Cruise! Diana and Mike are avid divers and have been active in each community where they've been posted, making solid contributions.

The guest speaker for Diana's retirement party was her life long friend, Rear Admiral Linda J. Bird, Commander, Defense Supply Center Columbus, USN Supply Corps, who, like Diana, is an exceptional achiever. The entire ceremony was filled with so much pride, warmth, and heartfelt admiration for Captain Huntress and her life companion, Mike, you didn't want it to end. They both shared many special times on Guam, and made it a point to rendezvous with friends every Thursday night at SandCastle's Manhattan Lounge, to enjoy the sumptuous international cuisine buffets made by their friend, Chef Jeff Hill. We wish Diana and Mike "fair winds and following seas" in this next stage of their exciting life adventure!

Around the Island - Jan Z's Surf & Turf Weekend

This weekend you better plan on going down south to Jan Z's at the Agat Marina because they are having a Surf & Turf Dinner Special. Starting this Friday at 6pm, and continuing through Sunday, you can get a Steamed Lobster and a New York Strip Steak with Baked Potato, Salad, and Garlic Bread for the incredible price of $25! For couples who want to share a meal, you each can get a steak and you can split the lobster for $35 (with each getting the potato, salad and garlic bread). These steaks will be char-grilled and if you know Jan Z's, they don't skimp on anything! It's time to take that pleasant early evening drive, catch the sunset and catch a great meal at a fantastic price. Call 565-2814 for information and directions.

Synergy Cafe - Where Good Only Gets Better

"Synergy" is defined as "the working together of two things to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects". This certainly applies in the real life joining of Clare Calvo and Roland Dela Cruz in their creation of Synergy Studio, located on the 2nd Floor of the Market Wholesale Building in Maite, next to Bunny Hardware. Though I've not met either one of them in person, I can fairly say that their reputation has preceded them, at least in the realm where I weigh in, the world of food! The Synergy Studio is a fitness/wellness center, where people can take classes in yoga, taebo, pilates, and dance. However, what I'd heard about and the reason for this review, was their awesome Portobello/Shitake Mushroom Sandwich that you can buy in their Synergy Cafe.

The Synergy Cafe is the first thing you see after you've climbed the stairs and entered the Synergy Studio domain where your arrival is announced by a tinkling bell chime. I am amazed by the atmospheric transition that takes place upon entering from the outside world...it's truly a different climate inside...talk about relaxation therapy!! Not just that, but the air is cleaner!!! Really...they have one of those free-standing Ionic Breeze air purifier, and guess what..it works! The soothing mellifluous singing of Sarah McLachlan offers a sound massage that complements the tastefully appointed wood tables and rattan chairs, Balinese artwork, Buddha statues, and woven curtains. The room has a mystical feel that's rejuvenating as well.

It's a quiet place (it wasn't their busy time, which usually happens on Fridays), so I was able to place my order with Amar, who would also prepare it for me. Though he's only been there about 3 weeks, the work he did was special, since he was knowledgeable about the foods and had a pleasant personality. The Portobello/Shitake Mushroom Sandwich sells for $5.95 on Whole Wheat Bread and is $6.45 with 7 Grain. It comes with natural organic chips. The mushroom sandwich is panfried in soy butter (non gmo & no hydrogenated oils), and has crisp romaine lettuce, fresh tomatoes, and soy mayo. The Portobello mushrooms were so good..these are known as "the poor man's steak", since they take on the grill flavor much the same way a steak does, and they also have a thick, chewy (almost meaty) consistency.

Shiitake mushrooms have a woodsy, pungent flavor and have high nutritional value,including the essential amino acids, 18% protein, potassium, B vitamins,phosphorous and magnesium. They also contain anti viral and immunity boosting qualities, and are reported to lower both cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Wow - these are amazing foods! I wasn't aware of all the nutritive values of this grilled toasted sandwich that was served sliced in half, but I did take my time enjoying bite after bite, marveling at how good these mushrooms tasted. I'll even wager these were natural log-grown shiitake mushrooms and not the kind that are grown on sawdust blocks.

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Bon Appetit!

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