November 19, 2004, Volume 4 Number 47
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
I'm starting this newsletter in my niece Nataya's room in Humble, Texas, which is where I've been since Monday, which seems like a long time ago since jet lag has a way of fogging things a bit. I have finally been able to take my long-overdue vacation to see my family and friends in the States. I'm enjoying myself immensely, taking things a little easier and even getting a brisk morning walk. Alas, though, this is still a "working vacation", since I am on-line attending to business matters. However, since I love the "work" I do, it's not that intrusive.
Today my brother Carl took me, my mother, Toni, and family friend David Guzman to a local Tin Roof BBQ restaurant where I was able to satisfy my craving for Texas-style BBQ. I was also able to see my dad, "Doc" Stewart, who will be celebrating his 79th birthday next week, just before "Turkey Day". In the picture with us is Andy, my step-brother, who is half-Filipino and 12 years old...he's certainly grown and become "Texanized" since he first moved to America over 2 years ago. I will finish composing this newsletter in Phoenix tomorrow, where I will be visiting with brother Lee and his wife, Barbara, and their progeny of adorable grand-daughters.
My upcoming weekend will take me to San Antonio where I'll see my leading lady, Zee, who is training at Lackland AFB for the Air Force Reserve. We've been apart since June so our reunion will make new memories that will sustain us for the next 7 months. I will also be meeting with Chef Jeff Hill's mother Christyne Harris and girlfriend, Patricia Herrejon. The latter part of my trip will take me to Idaho where I will see my daughter Avril, my son Sean, and my grandson, Carl Allen Snyder. This will definitely be the most nourishing part of my trip, since these 3 people are my progeny, and it's been too long since I've been with them.
Today's review of the new Jamaican Grill Tumon validates all the hard work and persistence of co-owners Frank Kenney and Tim Murphy, two men who didn't let the success of their first outlet make them complacent. They had bigger and better things to do with their entrepreneurial fervor. Pay a visit to the new Jamaican Grill and see for yourself the significant improvements and enhancements these guys have made to their service, ambiance, design, and food - everything is "seriously better"! Ya Mon!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
- Penfold's Wine Dinner At Al Dente - Superb Cuisine with Splendid Wines
- Around the Island - Hilton Sold, Nuts & Grains Smoothie, Jungle Java Visit
- Tin Roof BBQ - What Texans Do Best
- Creations of Korea - Korean Food Festival at La Mirenda thru Nov 20
- Coming Soon: "Let's Eat! A Guide to Dining in Guam"
- Jamaican Grill Tumon - Where Good Just Got Seriously Better! Ya Mon!
Penfold's Wine Dinner At Al Dente - Superb Cuisine with Splendid Wines
The Penfold's Wine Dinner at Al Dente on August 11 was one of the special wine events of the year. Penfold's is one of the oldest names in Australia having made top quality wines for 150 years. Chef de Cuisine Mirko Agostini created an awesome 7-course menu of Italian delicacies to match an extraordinary line-up of both Penfold's and Rosemount's wines. Among the notable items was the "Crema di crostacei e spinaci con olio al rosmarino" (Crustacean and cream of spinach soup flavored with rosemary oil) that was paired with a Rosemount Roxburgh Chardonnay. This Chardonnay was not at all like its American counterpart, and was smoother, softer, and not dry. It was easily drinkable, not too sweet, but had more fruit accents open on the palate. The soup was masterful, thick, gratiny, and laced with the essence of rosemary. The fresh spinach leaves and heavy cream in the center blended well to enrich the chunks of lobster, shrimp and crab meat. (Photo: Westin Guam F&B Director, Dieter Grun and Al Dente Chef de Cuisine, Mirko Agostini)
The most enjoyable pairing was served during the main course, which had a Filetto di manzo avvolto nella pancetta e risotto con fontina ed olio al tartufo, sals al caffe latte e spugnole (Pancetta wrapped beef tenderloin with fontina cheese, truffle oil risotto, cafe au lait sauce with morels) matched with a 1998 Penfold's St. Henri Shiraz. The St. Henri is a classic wine, in a league entirely of its own. It enjoys longevity, with peak drinking from 2004 -2022. It has a dark, purple color and is plushly rich. Marc Fahey, a representative from the wineries, explained that this wine is unique since there is no oak character or flavors imparted to this wine during its development. It consists of over 95% Shiraz with a little cabernet added to soften its structure. The wine was dreamy, with waves of perfume inundating the palate, with berries and warmed spices following. The filet was legend, with all elements working in concert to produce symphonic culinary delight. Bravo Mirko! It's hard to believe that St. Henri was only 6 years young and just beginning it's journey to full-aged greatness - what a destiny! Kudos to the Al Dente team and the wine merchant, MRM Distributors, represented by Mark Nanpei, who was supported by Mr. Fahey.
Around the Island - Hilton Sold, Nuts & Grains Smoothie, Jungle Java Visit
The long rumored sale of the Hilton Guam was confirmed at a recent press conference. Hilton International which held majority ownership of the hotel sold its interest to a US-Japan backed investment firm. The good news is that Hilton International retains a long term management contract with the new owners and no changes to management are expected. Even better news is that the new owners will proceed with a multi-million dollar renovation of the hotel aimed at reopening the Magahaga Wing and Genji restaurant, both of which have been closed since Typhoon Pongsona hit in December 2002. Additional renovations will take place as well so we can look forward to an even better and rejuvenated Hilton!
One thing I do about 2 to 3 times a month is go over to Nuts & Grains in the Oka Annex, Tamuning, and ask Libby Pier for my usual smoothie, which is a meal replacement made of Strawberries, Mangoes, and Bananas blended together with frozen vanilla yogurt, with some Whey protein powder added. All this for $4.50 (large size, with the whey costing $.50 ). The blend is refreshing and filling, and makes me feel better about myself. I'm sure you can understand how eating some foods make you feel a little guilty - well Nuts & Grains is a place for redemption! They also have great Garden Burgers and Vegeburgers, as well as a chicken breast sandwich that's low-fat on a wheat bun. They also feature two Quiches each day. The Spinach & Mushroom is always a popular choice. They sometimes have asparagus. Go to Nuts & Grains for all your health food grocery, vitamin and ready-to-eat needs..they've got a complete selection! Call 646-9358 for information.
I can't say how long it had been since I went to Jungle Java in Tumon's Acanta Mall on a Sunday morning and ordered the Eggs Benedict, which is something they seem to do there better than anyone else (or so I recalled). I had just finished my 4 mile Tumon Beach/San Vitores Road power walk so I felt entitled to a little spiff. I also hadn't been to Jungle Java for a while, however, after this visit I'm going to go back and try a few other things on their menu. Who wouldn't want to try the Bagel and Lox ($7.95), The Burger with "Lots" ($8.95 a Half pounder with grilled ham, fried egg, sauteed onions, and cheese), the Juicy Lucy for Two (one pound burger with everything on it but the kitchen sink!! $9.95), and a Murray Dog ($4.75), a tribute to former resident Paul "Bombs Away" Murray!? There are other breakfast items on the menu, such as Scrambled Egg Bagel ($7.95), the Breakfast Wrap ($7.95) French Toast ($5.95) and Egg Breakfast ($7.95). However, no matter where I looked, whether on the menu, or on the menu board showing specials, there was no mention of the Eggs Benedict, and yet, miracle of miracles, they made it in all its Hollandaise glory...cooked perfectly with breakfast potatoes (tasty seasoned russet potatoes fried just right) and served with orange juice and brewed coffee of your choice, the Eggs Benedict is available for $7.95. The ham used is very lean and there's plenty of it. Jungle Java has fresh baked items available that are made right there in their kitchen...scones, cinnamon rolls, cookies, and over-sized muffins. They also have a list of espresso drinks and beverages. The Chicken Kelaguen wrap looks like a nice treat...it's featured on a sign that shows it drawn up alongside with a gecko - only $6.95. Call 649-4809 for food to go.
Tin Roof BBQ - What Texans Do Best
You can't go to Texas and leave without tasting the BBQ! I was able to get a quick fix to satisfy my craving for smoked meat (sorry to the vegetarians out there - in Texas bbq land they don't have tofu on the menu, nor even in their dictionaries!!) Although others in my party ordered simple one-meat sandwiches (Wildcat-Chopped Beef; The Texan -Link Sausage; and the Mustang- Sliced Beef), I had to order the master sampler, called the Tin Roof (any three meats for $11.99), which came with a choice of two sides. I ordered the potato salad and the steamed cabbage, which really looked good. The meats I chose were the beef brisket, pork ribs, and dark chicken meat (drum stick and thigh).
I guess you could say that my anticipation level was extreme, and from the way I was feeling, I could relate to the pork loin sandwich called the "Oink"! (all sandwiches were $4.55). My first bite was of the cabbage...it was great, made with bacon bits and just as southern-flavored as you can get. The beef brisket was a disappointment, as it was a bit on the dry side. I added a lot of the zesty barbecue sauce (which was perfect for any meat), and though the brisket had a good smoked flavor, it was tough to cut, as opposed to brisket I've had that was melt-in-your-mouth tender. They needed to keep their brisket wrapped and moist. The ribs were very good, bringing up the scoring, and I tasted a bit of David's sausage, which was an excellent, Texas-made (where else?) beef/pork blend with spices. The potato salad was worthy, and had that homey goodness thing going for it. The chicken was also good...moist, cooked well, and smoke-tasty. The plate also comes with two slices of white bread - guess they don't care about fiber. [After all this meat you're worried about fiber?? Besides, it's not Texas bbq without white bread! - ed note] I dished up a few onion slices, pickles, and jalapenos to munch on with my meat. I probably had enough sodium to cure a slab of bacon, but I did take care of my bbq craving...at least for the time being! Tin Roof BBQ is a charming place with all sorts of memorabilia. The place is big with both indoor and outdoor (with cute heaters) dining. In fairness, I would come again for their brisket, which I heard has usually been pretty good...have to check my flight schedules!
Tin Roof BBQ
5520C FM 1960 East
Creations of Korea - Korean Food Festival at La Mirenda thru Nov 20
The Hyatt's La Mirenda's Korean Food Festival is an extravagant cultural experience you don't want to miss. I was able to enjoy Sunday dinner the night before I left Guam and had the opportunity to meet the two visiting chefs from the Hyatt Regency Cheju (Korea's own semi-tropical island getaway). Chefs Cho Bon Lai and Lee Man Phil have done an excellent job in bringing traditional Korean cuisine to Guam. The Pine Nut Porridge was quite good, as was the seafood soup, which had a delicate broth that contained the essence of the sea. The Jap Chae (clear noodles with beef and vegetables), Kalbi (grilled marinated beef) and Yukhoe (raw seasoned beef) were all appealing. The kimchi was brought with them from Korea; it was fresh and quite good. On this night they had mandoo dumplings (gyoza) and gamjajeon (seafood potato pancake). The Korean cuisine items were paired with the full spread of La Mirenda's buffet, with an abundance of sashimi, snow crab, shrimp, and oysters on the half shell. Try to get to La Mirenda by this Saturday, otherwise, you'll have to wait until these great chefs visit again!
Coming Soon: "Let's Eat! A Guide to Dining in Guam"
It was "bound" to happen, with "bound" being the operative word. Yes, in just a few short months the book we've all been waiting for will be on news stands, bookstores, and retail outlets throughout the island. This book will finally end the perennial problem of trying to determine where to eat. It will even go a little further in many instances and will tell you why to eat at those places. "Let's Eat! A Guide to Dining in Guam" is a joint venture with Directions Magazine and GuamDiner.com. This "bound" guide will list over 500 eateries, alphabetically and by category. Anecdotes, notes, comments, mini-reviews, and hints will be interspersed throughout representing the Guam Food Guy's insights into many aspects of eating on Guam. The book will be portable, fitting easily in your purse, pocket or briefcase. It will finally give a face to the voice so many have heard on the radio - which will mean I'll be recognized before I even have a chance to open my mouth (to talk - not just eat!)...stay tuned for more, and if any one of you readers would like to advertise your restaurant or cafe in this guide, call 635-7501 and say "I wanna be in Let's Eat!"
Jamaican Grill Tumon - Where Good Just Got Seriously Better! Ya Mon!
The recent opening of Tumon's Jamaican Grill marks a milestone in the ten-year development of a unique culinary adventure that has brought the spiced flavors of a Carribbean island nation to stimulate and satisfy the palates of the people of Guam and its Asian visitors. It is also a personal triumph for two entrepreneurs, Frank Kenney and Tim Murphy, to see their dream evolve from a small barbecue stand in the Chamorro village restaurant incubator to eventually grow in popularity to enable them to branch out with a second location in the heart of Guam's tourism district, Tumon.
Located in the 2nd floor of the Carl Rose Building, across San Vitores from the Pacific Island Club, the Jamaican Grill has done everything to draw attention to itself, with outrageous colors and bold signage - try to imagine what a visitor would make of the words "Serious Food"! Once you get into the spirit and personality of this charming, carefree eaterie, you'll begin to spout off phrases like "Ya Mon" and "Irie", and you'll find yourself bopping along to the Jamaican rhythms and tunes popularized by the legendary performer, Bob Marley. What still amazes me is how both Murphy and Kenney have captivated the local taste buds, introducing a completely new and different cuisine to Guam, giving them a virtual franchise on jerk-seasoned meats. They are the only game in town for Jamaican food, period, amen!
If you've never had Jamaican food, the Grill offers a palatable introduction to the medley of sweet, aromatic, spices that comprise the blend called "jerk seasoning". These spices are primarily chilies, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, allspice,and onions, which can be made into a wet paste or rubbed on the surface in its dry form. The Jamaican Grill's menu originated with foods dear to the local hearts - chicken and ribs, with fish coming in a distant third. These meats form the basis for most of the menu offerings, and are served as single or combo meals, on plates for individuals or on platters for large groups.
The genius of what Murphy and Kenney have achieved with the new Tumon eatery (which offers both comfortable indoor as well as outdoor dining on a patio deck overlooking Tumon's main artery), is that they have moved from competing with established fast food outlets (like McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC, Subway, and Burger King) to more upscale eateries like Tony Roma's, Capricciosa, Hard Rock Cafe, T.G.I. Friday's, and Planet Hollywood. These theme restaurants are franchised and offer sit-down dining with varied menus and an entertaining "atmosphere". When you visit the Tumon Jamaican Grill, you'll notice impressive design elements and artistic enhancements, meticulously created to set a festive mood for enjoying one of life's great pleasure - eating! The bright, colorful mural above the open kitchen window has a medley of fruits and vegetables that typify the festive ambiance and rural essence of Jamaican life. It sets a pace that resonates throughout the restaurant, along with the reggae sounds beating in the background.
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