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February 2 , 2007, Volume 7 Number 5

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

Whew! I've just returned from an exhausting week-long trip to San Diego where I attended my Aunt Ruth's funeral. It was good to spend time with family members and relatives, many of whom I'd not seen in decades. Many were amazed that I made the trip all the way from Guam. Most had a really hard time wrapping their heads around the question of just where Guam is located. Others came from more familiar places, like Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Mississippi, Arizona, Oregon, and Texas. But Guam?

What's really funny is there are a lot of people who know folks from Guam (and always had something really nice to say about them) but even then, they still couldn't tell you where Guam was located, or in what general neighborhood Guam was. I guess it's time we get some kind of campaign going with GVB that would help people more easily locate the island of Guam, like maybe a special Guam t-shirt with a regional map showing distances from Guam to Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Australia. How about a map that shows the distance from the West Coast to Hawaii, and then says that to find Guam, continue West for another 4,000 miles or so?

It became obvious to me during this trip that Guam has picked up a new mystique, one promulgated by Hollywood, and not intentionally. Guam used to be portrayed as a bleak re-fueling station with some connection to the War in the Pacific. Now it's considered to be one the most remote places on the planet. In today's new mind-set, this remoteness has made Guam all the more attractive since people are looking for faraway places to escape the congestion of the big cities. The question we must ask is do we want to share this best-kept secret with all those people, or is it already too late?

I wouldn't worry too much...the best deterrent we have is the travel time to get here. For most people, that's just too much "seat time" flying over an unimaginably large ocean. Let's enjoy every day we can in relative obscurity until supersonic jets can get people here from the West Coast in four hours!

Ken, The "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Bad Dinner Experience? Join the Club!
  • Outrigger and Power98 Team Up for 2nd Annual Chocolate Festival
  • This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
  • The View at the Marriott - Tumon's Unique "Bistro Italiano"

Bad Dinner Experience? Join the Club!

I was both amused and concerned about a recent dinner experience I had at a very popular Tumon eatery. It's one of those "name brand" theme type restaurants where you'd think they'd have a clue about genuine customer service. Our problem came about when we received a less than satisfactory main dinner course - in fact it was just awful. We showed our friendly and sympathetic server the large amount of fat in a lamb dish and even showed the manager, who thanked us for our comments and went on about her business (she was a trainee from off-island).

It was quite distressing that even though I had clearly shown the problem with the dish to both the server and the manager, there was no provision made on the bill for the bad entree, so we paid it. I have been a writing about restaurant meals since I debuted as the Guam Food Guy in 2000, and in that entire time I've never written an unremittingly critical review that slammed a restaurant. However, the attitude of this restaurant could only be viewed as ignorant at best, if not just plain arrogant.

If a customer has a problem with the quality of the food and doesn't eat it, the restaurant management should be informed and that item should be replaced with another entree or not charged. This is a far better way to handle a food complaint than to ignore it. It can mean the difference in retaining or losing a customer. And yet, some restaurants just don't get it. This is to let some of you know that even the Food Guy gets treated the same as you when it comes to the indignity of paying good money for bad food. The fact is no one should be subjected to that type of treatment.

Outrigger and Power98 Team Up for 2nd Annual Chocolate Festival

Chocolate lovers and seekers of Valentine's gifts must make their way to the Outrigger Guam Resort this coming Sunday, February 4 from Noon-6pm for the Second Annual Chocolate Festival. Lots of samples from vendors and delicious pastries from the Outrigger pastry chefs will tempt your taste buds and help you pick the very best sweets and treats for your beloved. There is no entry fee and the fun happens in the lobby area of the Outrigger Guam. For more information please call 647-3142.

This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter

Feb 3, 2006 Vol 6 No 5

Restaurant Reviewed: Vitale's Ristorante - For Food That's Amore

Highlights: Guam Jazz LIVE Series with Larry Franquez at SandCastle's Manhattan Bar
5th Annual UOGEF/MCA Celebrity Chef's Cup Competition Slated For March 24

The View at the Marriott - Tumon's Unique "Bistro Italiano"

The view of Tumon Bay from The View at the Marriott is an immersion in one of Guam's greatest natural attractions - our beautiful Tumon ocean panorama! There is something absolutely compelling about the dramatic and powerful dynamics of the ocean stretch from the Hilton to Two Lover's Point, and it has certainly been the object of countless photographs and paintings. It is truly living art!

What better way to complement this pristine vista than to meld it with a memorable dining experience, with one of the world's most adored "romantic" cuisines? Yes, you've got it - that's "amore". From the moment you enter you'll see a table to your left displaying all manner of marinating olives, garlic, mult-colored pastas and a variety of beans, along with a magnum of San Pellegrino. Flanking all of this are Chianti casks, and the trademark blue Barilla boxes of Mostaccioli and Farfalle. On your right is a refrigerated dessert display case, with fresh-baked muffins and rolls packaged on top. Near this is a counter with a plated sample of the daily special - today's was Beef Tenderloin with Salmon with Soup of the Day ($15) and you could add dessert for an additional $3.

Once seated at one of the comfortable, white table-clothed covered indoor tables (there is outdoor seating, as well, ideal for smokers), you can relax to the soft tones of Italian music...its happy sounds create a mellow and pleasing ambiance. Being in this place will cheer up anyone's day, no matter how bad! The menu has a modest selection of appealing appetizers and entrees, so you should plan on multiple visits to eat your way through it. I decided to forego the daily special and opted to order a series of a la carte items, including the Italian-style Caesar Salad with Proscuitto Ham ($7.50), the Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil ($4), the Marinated Baby Chicken with Lemon & Rosemary ($18), the photos on the laminated menu made this dish all the more appetizing. To round out the choices I added the Fettuccine with Seafood, Spinach & Cheese ($14), and a Margarita Pizza with Tomato, Cheese with Pesto ($12).

The service staff is attentive and courteous here, and one of the first things you get once you've ordered is a hot dish of pizza bread, with cheese, olives, and thinly sliced (almost strings) pieces of pepperoni, along with a dipping dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The Bruschetta was first to arrive, followed soon after by the Caesar Salad. It was a remarkably fresh blend of tomatoes and basil atop the right-sized chunks of French bread. I was delighted with the plentiful layering of lean proscuitto on the salad. The greens were fresh and crisp, accentuated by toasted croutons and sprinkled with parmesan. The dressing would have made it's Roman namesake proud. I had a glass of Iced Tea, and later thought it would have been nicer to have gone with a bottle of the San Pellegrino to maximize my Italian feast! Even though the tea was neutral, not sweetened nor flavored with any fruit, traditional is better with Italian, it doesn't compete with the flavors.

The Marinated Baby Chicken's entrance was one of those spell-binding moments when you just marvel at the dish presented - in this case, it was how that Cornish Hen looked in the center of its triangular red-rimmed glass plate. It looked like it had been flash cooked by a comet and delivered on a slice of molten glass - an innovative and bold presentation. The chicken sported fresh rosemary sprigs and sprinkles of lemon, garlic and parsley garnished the rim of the plate. The visual promise of excellence translated to a dish where every bite was truly delicious. The chicken had been marinated for a day and pan-fried to perfection.

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