December 3, 2004, Volume 4 Number 49
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Whew! I'm on the return leg of what has been an extraordinary two and a half weeks of travel, and am sitting in Portland's Airport terminal after having driven 348 miles from Asotin, Washington, where I've spent two precious days with my grandson, Carl Allen Snyder, my daughter, Avril and son, Sean. I also managed to stay away from e-mail and phone calls since I didn't want work to interfere with what was supposed to be a vacation. As it turned out, with all of my projects and deadlines, my trip was a semi-working vacation. This was a long-overdue family Thanksgiving holiday for me, since I've missed the gatherings we used to enjoy when the Stewart clan lived on Guam. My mom, Toni, is doing well and sends her love to all her friends on Guam. I was fortunate to experience two Thanksgiving dinners, with the first being in Houston where we prepared two turkeys, one traditionally in the oven and the other deep-fried in peanut oil.
The second Thanksgiving dinner was this past Sunday in Asotin, where I was the guest of Rob & Adrienne Bennett (with whom my daughter stays). The Bennetts were anxious to finally meet the Guam Food Guy and Adrienne had really cooked up a storm, with turkey, an awesome broccoli salad, fresh baked handmade rolls, a zesty fresh cranberry sauce, a baked corn pudding, stuffing, baked yams, and pumpkin & nut pies! They had me make the gravy and a second dressing, which was neat since I was able to get some fresh rosemary and parsley from their garden.
I truly feel blessed to have spent quality time with my family and to make new friends. Now, I'm anxious to return to Guam and to get back to my eating routine. My observation about restaurants I've sampled during my travels is that the U.S. makes the best "American" food, but for Asian cuisine, Guam rules! I can't wait to get back to our Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chamorro restaurants. Travelling has made me really appreciate being the "Guam Food Guy". Everyone who lives on Guam and eats out often should count your blessings - Guam is definitely where America's food day begins and it's a difference you can taste!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
- Thanks to Kris of Backspace in Portland who made this newsletter possible!
- Around the Island - Congrats to the Jeff Pleadwell's, Planet H's Christmas
- Scrumptious Guam's Marine Drive Location
- Westin's San Antonio Treats - A Taste of Two Hotels
- Bestseller Cafe - Where More Meets the Eye
Thanks to Kris of Backspace in Portland - Who made this newsletter possible!
I've got to give a big THANK YOU to Kris of Backspace in Portland Oregon; he successfully installed a wi-fi card to my laptop so that I could send this newsletter. Kris also makes a delicious Cafe Latte...just the right balance of premium Stumptown espresso (Stumptown is a local coffee roaster). If you are ever in Portland, this trendy little Internet cafe is an awesome getaway for all netizens! Check out their super cool website.
Around the Island - Congrats to the Jeff Pleadwell's, Planet H's Christmas
We were delighted to learn that the old pirate himself, Jeff Pleadwell, of Jeff's Pirates' Cove fame tied the knot with his long-time companion, Roseanne Perez, on Thanksgiving morning on the beach (of course) in Palau. The ceremony was officiated by none other than Chief Justice Arthur Ngiraklsong of the Palua Supreme Court. All of us here at GuamDiner.com send our heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to the newlyweds!
Planet Hollywood is once again first with getting some of their Christmas specials on-line. In addition to the continuation of the Hollywood Carvings, they also offer a great venue for that company Christmas party. We also hear that there will be a special Holiday Set Menu debuting on December 6 so be sure to check the site to see what treats Chef Chito has in store. Call them for reservations and information at 647-7827.
Scrumptious Guam's Marine Drive Location
Got a note from Vangie Cruz-Quintanilla of Scrumptious Guam advising that her "Funnel Cake Mobile" has moved (since Nov 1) to the West Agana Beach Park, across from the GCIC Building. All of you Marine Corps drivers probably have seen her big white canteen, however, you may not know that she has the only place where you can get loaded with funnel cake, and a variety of deep-fried sweets including Oreos, Twinkies, and Snicker Bars. She also serves up more typical fare such as burgers, hot dogs, fries, and recently introduced Bar-B-Q chicken and rib fingers. She's open Sunday - Friday from 8am 5pm, and closed on Saturday. For those of you going to this Friday's Pleasure Island Dance Fest, you can sample some of Vangie's scrumptiously decadent confections and food in Tumon. For those health-conscious eaters, Vangie does offer a vege-hot dog and garden burgers.
Westin's San Antonio Treats - A Taste of Two Hotels
My San Antonio visit afforded me the opportunity to dine at two separate Westin properties, the Westin La Cantera, which is a golf resort and has a restaurant called Brannon's Cafe, and the Westin Riverwalk, located downtown, which houses the Caliza Grille. Although La Cantera is home to a critically-acclaimed fine dining restaurant called Francesca's, we opted to have a lighter (and faster) meal at Brannon's, since I'd driven 6 hours from Houston and needed rest. Brannon's offers casual dining with an all-day menu served from 11:30am to 10pm, with intriguing appetizers like Pork Carnitas and Roasted Poblano Quesadillas, and Tiger Shrimp Medallions, made with diced shrimp, roasted corn cakes with poblano peppers, cilantro and served with black bean salsa & cilantro cream topped with chili oil. The real treat we had was the Creamy Chicken Poblano Soup, which was a savory "pika" blend of roasted chicken and poblano peppers and cilantro. It was near perfection...the only drawback was when the bowl became empty! Brannon's also served wonderful fresh baked pretzel bread sticks. We shared this soup, a salad, and a main dish, the Pasta Shrimp Diablo, with had a real kick (the reason for the "diablo" you could taste the flames! It was made with Penne Pasta topped with tiger shrimp, applewood smoked bacon, jalapeno, tomato, garlic and tri-colored peppers. The service standards (and accomodations) at La Cantera were superb.
The other Westin experience was a lunch at the Riverwalk's only restaurant. Since we were "innocent" about food portions served, we ordered a minestrone soup special, Buffalo Wings (appetizer), a WBLT Sandwich, and a Portabello Chicken entree (ground chicken patty layered with sauteed Portabello mushroom slices along with avocado and tomato salsa). The wings were unique, and seemed to have been lightly battered and re-fried, giving them more surface texture and hot-sauced flavor. The blue cheese we dipped the wings in was rich, flavorful and fresh, truly in a class of its own. We were served a plate of rolls - two mini-cornbread muffins, a flour dusted hard-crust sour dough roll that we loved, and a poppy seed and grain covered French roll that was equally as good. This restaurant has it's own bakery and they have their breads (and desserts down pat). What we didn't expect was the huge portion on the WBLT - which had planks of turkey piled about 2 inches thick with some bacon and tomato, and a half a dill pickle that was bigger than most large jars - talk about Texas-sized! Needless to say, we were unable to finish, though both entrees compelled us to eat. If you're ever in San Antonio, try to stop at this Riverwalk location...it's charming to see boats carrying tourists in the river that runs like a canal through the town center and just outside the Caliza's windows.
Bestseller Cafe - Where More Meets the Eye
When you think of a bookstore, it is understandable how you could associate reading books as feeding the mind. When you put a cafe in a bookstore, then you have the best of both worlds, the literary and the gustatory, and that's what awaits you at Bestseller Cafe, located in Tamuning's Guam Premier Outlets, adjacent to PC Outlet on the way to the WDI Megaplex. Most folks would think that the food court is where you can get all the food you'd ever need, however, there are a lot of goodies to be had at the Bestseller Cafe that you will not find anywhere in the food court!
When I went to the Bestseller Cafe, it was for a late lunch, and though I originally had a sandwich in mind, the large lighted display case captured my imagination and I fell for what looked like the largest spinach quiche slice I'd ever seen. For $3.50, I guess you certainly get your money's worth with Bestseller's Vegetarian Quiche. I also wanted something to satisfy my health "conscience", so I ordered one of the salads - the House Salad, which had mixed greens, dried apricots, cranberries, and pecans, along with a sour cream spicy vinaigrette dressing ($4.95). The server behind the counter put my quiche in the microwave, took my drink order for iced tea. Bestseller features Xanadu brand fine teas, and the flavor I had was Snow Monkey Plum, which is a blend of red ripe plums and fine black tea. For $1.50, it's reasonable, with the added feature that it is fresh brewed for you right on the spot, with the tea bag steeped in hot water before being poured in an ice-filled glass.
The sandwiches at Bestseller are huge! These are pre-made daily and wrapped in cellophane, and for this type of sandwich, I can honestly say that they literally sell themselves with their fresh-looking appearance, which is well-advertised as they are wrapped already sliced in half, center-side facing up! The slices reveal tomato, lettuce, an ample amount of sliced meat, and cheese. The Deli-Style Sandwiches ($3.75) I saw were a Turkey with Cheese and a Ham & Cheese. They also have a Roast Beef Sandwich, but I think they were out already of this one (only so many are made each day!). They had whole wheat buns, so I was happy to see that.
Bestseller Cafe has a full range of Espresso beverages (hot & cold), Chai, Torani Italian Syrup shots, and teas. A single shot of espresso is $1.50, and the other beverages go for $2.50 for a Cappuccino and $2.95 for a Cafe Latte or a Mocha. But the truly amazing thing about Bestseller that makes it a bookstore cafe beyond bookstores (and even other cafes!) is the "Sweet & Savory " menu items you can buy. This includes such exotic items as a Passionfruit Tartlet ($3.95), Pain Au Chocolat, Citrus Teacake, Spicy Ginger Teacake, Sour Cream Coffee Teacake, Chewy Date Bar ($1.75), Butterscotch Coconut Chip Bars, Cream Scone with Jam, NY Cheesecake, Fruit Crostata (Italian Style Tartlets-$3.95), and Biscotti. These are just some of the confections awaiting, and these are all made at Cup & Saucer, which is where all the magic happens! Bestseller Cafe is the "off-spring" of Cup & Saucer, and its talented Chef/owner, Ronnie Calvo-Perez, who also owns Firefly Bistro. So it's no wonder the food at Bestseller has such style, taste, and star quality. It's made in one of the island's best bake shops.
Bestseller Cafe is open early on weekdays, at 7am, with closing hours varying Monday - Thursday (9pm) Friday (10pm), and Saturday hours from 9am-10pm, with Sunday's schedule being shortest from 10am-8pm. Bestseller Cafe is a place where you can feed the mind with your favorite reading material and feed your body with more food than meets the eye!
Don't miss this week's features at GuamDiner.com!
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