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February 4 , 2005, Volume 5 Number 5


Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

The other day I was in the Hilton's kitchen visiting Executive Chef Christophe Durliat. His team was busy preparing for the Carnaval Mardi Gras Dinner event to be held Thursday evening February 3. Chef Christophe showed me a menu that was literally spread "all over the place" (it was on 3 sheets of paper) and it listed Mardi Gras food items from different parts of the world. I was amazed by the menu's diversity of flavors, tastes, names, and ingredients, with entrees from Brazil, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, New Orleans, and Basel. Basel is where three nations merge (Switzerland,Germany and France) and is famous for its three-day carnival celebration, "Fasnacht."

Exotic international foods like BBQ Alligator Tails, Cuscuz Paulista, Carne en Jocon, Pelau Chicken, Avocado Steak, Zwiebel Kuchen, Bacalaitos Catfish, Cuban Eggplant, Rellenos de Papa, and Black Beans & Rice with Mango will be part of a 50+ item culinary extravaganza the likes of which this island has never seen. The UOG Endowment Foundation is hosting this fund-raising event which will feature a Brazilian Revue headlined by Christiane Callil, a renowned entertainer whose show, "The Girls from Ipanema", has dazzled thousands. Although the dinner event will have concluded by the time this newsletter hits your mailbox, some of you may be able to catch Christiane Callil's revue at a Cocktail Show at the Hilton Tree Bar at 9pm on February 4. For long time residents, this is really a special treat to have so many intriguing food items prepared for one meal. I commend the organizers and the Hilton's kitchen team for raising the bar on culinary entertainment events.

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

Adios, Alvin Duenas - Former Jaycee Leader Passes On

When Alvin Joseph Perez Duenas passed away on Jan. 27 at the age of 50, there was no media fanfare, press release, or announcement. Yet, 25 years ago, Alvin was the Executive Vice President of the Pacific Jaycees, and destined to become the National President the following year. The Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) at that time was Guam's most dynamic leadership development organization. Many of Guam's current business and government leaders were members of the Jaycees.

In fact, Carl Peterson, President of Money Resources, and well-known local businessman, was the President of Jaycees International in 1978, and he managed to travel to over 60 countries during his tenure. He made Guam proud and put Guam on the map for tens of thousands of people around the world. He both inspired and challenged all of us to be and do our best for our communities. He inspired and challenged Alvin Duenas. Sadly, none of us "exhausted roosters" (Jaycees restricts membership to ages 18 - 40, so many were forced to "retire" before reaching their prime) were aware that Alvin was in the hospital for 30 days before succumbing to his illness.

There will be a memorial service from 9am-11am on Friday, February 4 at the Santa Teresita Church in Mangilao. One thing we Jaycees had in common was our idealism and optimism, both of which characterize our behavior and successes today. In Alvin's closing remarks to the Pacific Jaycees National Convention on Oct 16, 1981, he stated, "We must address the ills of our society from the strength of the individual. To temper random dreams with accomplishment...to encourage man to once again fly..." Well, Alvin, we're sure you are flying now...God Bless!

More Valentine's Specials - Firefly Bistro and Cup & Saucer Join the List

Cup & Saucer is offering some delightful treats for Valentine's Day this month with special Valentine's Cookies (with cute modern designs!) and a host of other goodies including Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Exotic Brownies spiced with Chili and Coconut-Curry...sounds yummy! Order for your office, your friends and family, or your sweetheart by calling 477-2585.

Firefly Bistro will celebrate Valentine's on Saturday, February 12 and Monday, February 14 with two special set menus. Priced affordably you'll feast on a choice of delicious dishes and get a unique homemade gift from Cup & Saucer. Call 477-2526 for reservations which are highly recommended.

Don't forget that Le Tasi Bistro offers their "Love is the Enchanted Dawn of Every Heart" menu (472-7877) and Planet Hollywood hasn't forgotten lovers either with their special 2005 Sweethearts Menu (647-7828). And, how can you resist the "Chocolate Lover's Retreat" at The View with a Chocolate Fondue feast or Manhattan Steakhouse's special Valentine's Menu available all weekend long (Guam Marriott Resort & Spa 648-1610).

Charity Wine Tasting Cocktail Party at Planet Hollywood - Friday February 4

Planet Hollywood Guam and Louis de Coninck, President and Winemaker of Beaucanon Estates, will be holding a Charity Wine Tasting Cocktail Party on Friday, February 4 starting at 6pm. Planet Hollywood's famous appetizers will be served along with a sampling of fine Beaucanon Estate wines, with a special dessert prepared by Executive Chef Chito Iglopas. Donation for this event is $25, with proceeds to benefit local charities. For reservations, contact Amber at 647-7827.

Mushrooms Galore at Manhattan Steakhouse - Special Runs thru February 28

Treat yourself to a celebration of one of Nature's prized delicacies - the mushroom - at the Marriott's Manhattan Steakhouse's Mushrooms Galore promotion running nightly until February 28. Executive Chef Michael Devlin has created special mushroom appetizers and sauces to accompany your main dish selections. These unique creations are fabulous, with appetizers such as Mushroom Cappuccino, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Crab-filled Portobello Mushroom, Wild Mushroom Crostini, Mushroom & Potato Chowder, and Porcini Mushroom & Brie Tart. I was able to enjoy the Crab Filled Portobello Mushroom with Spinach Salad & Truffle Oil ($7). Aside from an enticing presentation, the taste combination of the fresh spinach with the truffle oil drizzled on the crusted crab cake was a delight, especially with the mushroom's unique flavor and texture.

I also was treated to a delicious Morilles a la Creme sauce (morrel mushrooms with shallots, cream and cognac) that I ladled over my Petit Filet. The steak was already in perfect condition, and now it was accompanied by a sauce that even further embellished it - another example of culinary magic. The sauces are available for an additional $5, and include Sauce Chasseur, Sauce Laperouse, Sauce Forestiere, and Cepes a la Provencal. These are classic French sauces (do other countries do "sauces"?) that are carefully crafted to make each meal both a journey and destination. For dessert, be sure to request the Baked Alaska - it's a presentation you won't forget! Call 648-1410 for reservations.

Dr. Shieh's New Website Has Health Care News and Information

Shortly before yesterday's 6.4 earthquake, I ran into Dr. Thomas Shieh at the Hilton's Islander Terrace and he told me about the new website he'd just launched, guamhealthcare.com. Dr. Sheih has contributed articles to GuamDiner.com, and he believes this new website will offer an opportunity for the public to get involved in on-line forums related to health care. There currently is a listing of Guam's doctors, as well as a number of useful links, such as current legislation and anti-tobacco information. Dr. Shieh has created an online Powerpoint presentation called the Miracles of LIfe, which covers health and nutrition aspects of child bearing for women, before, during and after pregnancy. It is a very informative online resource for which Dr. Shieh is to be commended.

Around the Island - Serenity Canteen, Chef Durliat Goes Polish, Lunar New Year

If you are ever down at the Hagatna Post Office checking your mail on a weekday and you notice a mobile canteen set-up adjacent to Skinner Plaza, go on over and say "Hi" to Kathy Pocaigue, owner of Serenity Canteen. This is a family endeavor, and Kathy is helped by her brother Rick. Serenity Canteen serves hot off the grill Pork & Chicken Shish Kabobs, Home-made Chili, Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, and even Tacos. I have had the Pork Shishkabobs (each skewer is $1.50, they were out of chicken that day), as well as a Hot Dog ($1.50). A teacher of one of the youngsters (Kathy's girls are in the Girl Scouts and even sell cookies here) happened by and ordered a cup of chili ($1). She raved about how good the chili was...I'll have to try it out next time. Serenity Canteen makes Lunch Plates, too, and you can order one by calling 888-1319.

Hilton's Chef Christophe Durliat must be aiming for another trophy, this time for the most arcane buffet menu selection. This past Saturday's Polish Cuisine night at the Islander Terrace featured mostly unpronounceable foods that were so good they spoke for themselves. Foods like Schabwieprzowy (Roast Pork Loin with Caraway Seeds), Kaczkaduszona (Roast Duck with Braised Red Cabbage), Pierogis stuffed with Cabbage and Pierogi Ruskie with potato, onions, and sour cream, Klopsy (oven baked Meatloaf stuffed with Eggs,), and Kielbasa Sausage in Tomato Sauce were featured, with what seemed like at least twenty desserts. The stuffed River Trout a la Juive was a winner, as was the Bloch Cod White Wine Dill Sauce (simmered black cod in a white wine and creamy dill sauce). Well, all this is going somewhere since Chef Christophe will be featuring a different country's cuisine the last Saturday of each month. So, look forward to another exquisite buffet (hopefully with names you can pronounce) on Saturday, February 26, when Christophe takes us to the French region of Alsace.

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Happy New Year (Lunar New Year, that is). Yes, the Year of the Rooster is upon us and we again celebrate the annual changeout of the Lunar Calendar. This celebration will be observed by most Chinese restaurants in some way or another, however, if you'd like to see the Chinese School perform the traditional Lion Dance, you can do so at the Hilton's Main Lobby at 9pm on Wednesday, February 9, right after the Islander Terrace's Chinese Specialties Dinner Buffet (6pm-9pm, $34). A Lunch Buffet will be held earlier from 11:30am - 2pm, for $17.50.

Planet Hollywood's Seafood Festival - Set Menu Abounds with Seafood Choices

There is no shortage of seafood at Planet Hollywood's Seafood Festival, which is currently running as a limited-time promotion. A lot of people are looking for some seafood options and for seafood restaurants, which are surprisingly in short supply on Guam (surprising because we are surrounded by the ocean, and no matter which direction you go in, you're going to pass a lot of fish before you reach the next land mass!)

Planet Hollywood's Seafood Festival is interesting not because it introduces new and unusual fish to us, it's more in that the special Set Menus they are serving offer a rare line-up of seafood entrees, entrees that have allowed Executive Chef Chito Iglopas to flex his culinary muscle (no pun intended) with five distinctly different seafood variations. The entree choices are Blackened Mahi-Mahi and Shrimp (an island favorite, cooked to order with red rice, locally grown vegetables, a lemon wedge and finadene); Seafood Paella (a traditional Spanish dish, made with crab legs, mussels, mahi-mahi, shrimp, calamari, and salmon, surrounded with vegetables and a pure mancha saffron essence); Seafood Linguine Pomodoro Pasta (al dente linguine tossed with fresh Roma tomatoes, basil, oregano, white wine, garlic, and a seafood mix of mussels, crab legs, calamari, salmon, and shrimp the topped with parmesan flakes and fried basil); Grilled Fish Medley (combines grilled mahi, salmon, and swordfish with saffron rice, fresh vegetables, lemon and a Creole mustard sauce); and last, but not least, the Seafood Thermidor (calamari, mussels, mahi-mahi, salmon, shrimp, crab legs, mushrooms, and bell peppers served with saffron rice and fresh vegetables).

My first choice was the Seafood Paella, however, my effervescent server, Monaleigh (this gal could sell a hairnet to Kojack) convinced me to try her favorite, the Seafood Thermidor, which I'd initially resisted since I wasn't in a cheesy mood. It turned out that it really wasn't cheesy at all, and that the cream sauce was fairly good. Before going any further, you should be aware that this is a set menu, and is served in three courses with a price of $45. This includes a glass of a La Crosse 2003 Merlot or the La Crosse 2001 Chardonnay, as well as an intriguing dessert creation, Dark and White Chocolate Terrine. The warning I have for you is the portion sizes involved, especially the starter, which is a New England Clam Chowder.

Served in a fresh, oven-baked bread bowl, the Clam Chowder is a thick, rich, flavorful blending of potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, and green peppers, with a nice topping of fresh cut green onions...these just float on a surface that's so thick they can't sink. Once you get started on this you'll find that you can't stop with just the soup. No, you'll start scraping the sides (I'll even bet you'll have already eaten the top cut-off slice of the bread that's been toasted and glistens with a light butter swath spiked by a sprinkle of paprika...) While the bread coated by the soup can be quickly picked up with your spoon, you'll soon find yourself tearing piece by piece of the bread to get to that homey, yeast-flavored goodness that this kind of bread has. Well, you better be careful because there's still food coming...after all, this was just the starter, so pace yourself!

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Bon Appetit!

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