June 1, 2007, Volume 7 Number 22
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
It's been an incredibly busy week, with so many events and activities that it's really hard deciding on where to begin and what to cover. As you'll see, most of today's newsletter is devoted to last week's Saipan visit where I attended the Taste of the Marianas Junior Chefs Barbecue Competition. It's always fun going to Saipan and I'm actually sad that I don't go there more often.
I do want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and give big kudos to Brian Artero and his team at Lone Star Steakhouse on the occasion of their 12th anniversary. I was one among many of the guests who were issued personalized "Wanted" poster invitations. It was an exceptional evening celebration with an array of appetizers, super-uber jumbo prawns with cocktail sauce (these crustaceans must have been on steroids), and sumptuous prime rib sandwiches that were cut fresh and served with cheese, horseradish and au jus.
I've known Brian over the past two decades and have witnessed his amazing rise to success - through his passionate commitment to hospitality, a disciplined work ethic, and a MBWA (managing by walking around) leadership style. He's become a master at delegation, which enables him to have a richer family life. He will be opening up Guam's first Chili's Grill & Bar later this year.
Congratulations, Brian! It is such a pleasure to celebrate our local heroes in the hospitality industry.
Ken the "Guam Food Guy"
Association of Government Accountants 6th Annual 5K Run/Walk/Wheel
Sat June 2
Be sure to sign up to join this Saturday's 5K Run/Walk/Wheel event with the theme "Building Better Communities". Proceeds from this Run/Walk/Wheel 5K fun race will benefit two local organizations, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Guam Girl Scouts. The location for Saturday's race is the Chamorro Village, Hagatna, with a Show Time at 5:30am and the Race Start is 6am. There will be raffle prizes and free T-shirts for the first 300 finishers. Register at Hornet Sporting Goods with pre-race fees of $6 per person; $20 for a group of four. Race day fee is $10 per person. For race information, contact Jojo at 477-5931 x323.
Taste of the Marianas Chefs BBQ Competition 2007
The one thing I was grateful for at this 9th Annual Taste of the Marianas Chefs BBQ Competition was that I was the Emcee for the event and NOT one of the Judges! Talk about difficult choices! It was so close that there was only a 1 point difference between the 2nd and 3rd place finishers. All in all, it was a very exciting and impressive competition, with beautiful displays and imaginative recipe creations. You can tell from the photos that a great deal of effort and time was devoted to the creation of these entrees, all of which used Certified Angus Beef (CABŪ) Top Sirloin as the main ingredient.
The Taste of the Marianas is put on by the Marianas Visitor's Authority and the Hotel Association of the Northern Marianas. It is a month-long event and features displays, bartending competitions, and food competitions during the weekend.
As in every contest, there are winners, and the coveted Certified Angus Beef Cup trophy moved to a new resting place for throughout the year, as the first place finisher was the team from the Hyatt Regency Saipan, whose entree was Micronesian Barbecued Layered Beef Top Sirloin with Trio of Tropical Salsas. The team members were chefs Zen Tomokane and Aguinaldo Tesado. This team also won the $500 cash prize and bragging rights for the entire year!
The 2nd Place team was from last year's winning property, the Aqua Resort Club. Their entree was CABŪ Top Sirloin "Tropical Breeze", a spectacular culinary creation in terms of complexity and use of ingredients. The team members who made this fabulous dish were chefs Carlito Eguin and Nilo Dino, Jr. This team took trophies and a $300 cash prize.
Finishing in 3rd Place was the team from the Saipan Fiesta Resort, with their intriguing Mang-Ga Ala Papaya, which really emphasized the use of local tropical fruits. The Chef team members were Edgardo Casing and Oliver Abengana.
Other entrees also finished well with one from the Nikko, "Tropical Asian BBQ", having a very compelling visual display that layered meat slices across a large platter surrounded by a huge floral display. PIC Saipan's entree, the Broiled Half Moon of Top Sirloin Surprise came in close behind the Nikko's 4th place position. It was a marvelous celebration of the culinary arts - seeing so many chefs demonstrating a range of cooking styles and techniques with fabulous presentation skills.
The judges included Andy Tidwell of Couture Marketing, Mili Saiki of Saipan International School, Jim Arenovski of Delta Management, and Jeff Schorr from the Department of the Interior. Thanks also to the major competition sponsor, Triple J Five Star Wholesale.
If you've never attended a Taste of the Marianas, perhaps you should consider attending next year's event...it's always in May, and usually the last weekend for the culinary competition. I plan on being there!
Tribes - For Extraordinary Drinks and Delectable Appetizers
Century Hotel (1st floor)
Tribes is not your ordinary lounge or bar...it is an adventure awaiting to be explored. This is a charming, sophisticated getaway that is full of surprises for the uninitated - like appetizers you just don't see anywhere else! I was awestruck by the visual appeal and mouth-watering taste of the Zulu Tuna ($9.50), which is Tribes' own version of blackened seared tuna with sesame. Another even more unique concoction is the Banana Flower ($7), which is a local recipe made with banana flower, onions, tomato, coconut and spices, served with toast. This is literally a "recipe from the heart of the jungle" as the menu rightfully proclaims.
I can tell you that the Chicken Kelaguen ($8) was excellent and was only surpassed in taste by one of my favorites, Shrimp Kelaguen ($9). Both are served with titiyas. Really good eating and matched by something that people usually go to bars to have - cocktails! Actually, one of the beverages I tried was one of the featured Taste of the Marianas bartending competition winning entrees, the Green Splash, made by Day-Ann, an employee of Tribes. It is a soothing, palate quenching beverage made with mint, other elements and featuring a green mango slice. I also had a Green Mango Margarita, the month of May featured a Mangofest at Tribes, and all of these green mango drinks were available with and without alcohol. They were all magical!
I sat nestled up against the blue tiled bar, enthralled by a George Benson concert on a large plasma screen, followed by Carlos Santana....I could have stayed all night, especially after I had Fyke (the bartender) whip up some of the best Mojito's I think I've had anywhere outside of Cuba! He muddled the mint leaves with a pestle, squeezed local lime juice, added rum and...well, that's a beverage certainly worthy of a repeat tasting! Tribes also has some select wines and other beverage creations that you should consider sampling when you visit Saipan. Bring your friends and plan a rendezvous here...happy hour is from 5-7pm week nights.
Hyatt Regency Saipan
(670) 234-1234, ext. 30
Looking for an unusual meal that's not a buffet? You can find several on the a la carte menu at Hyatt Regency Saipan's Kili Terrace, where I stopped by last Saturday. I was too full from a breakfast buffet eaten earlier that day, so I thought "light lunch" and was not looking for another buffet, although Kili is renowned for its superb food arrays at their daily lunch, dinner, and especially their Sunday Brunch buffets.
Hyatt's international chef team members are adept at re-creating tastes from all over Asia and I settled on the "Char Kway Teow" Malaysian Flat Rice Noodles with Shrimps, Chicken, Chili, and Bean Sprouts ($12.50). This was as flavorful as it looked and was truthfully more than I thought I'd be getting...I guess it's prepared to meet the heartiest of local appetites, and the tastes were authentic being just as good as the version of this dish I had in Singapore.
Another dish my companion had was one I've had several times when visiting Bali, the "Island of the Gods". It was "Nasi Goreng", which is Indonesian fried rice with assorted satay topped with fried egg ($13). Again, when you order something like this and you are NOT in Indonesia, you are elated when your first bite takes you BACK to Indonesia! The rice was the real deal, and the satay (I was given a piece of the chicken, which was also true to its origins). So this little deviation from the buffet lunch spread has piqued my curiosity so that my next visits to Kili may have me test-driving another intriguing entree, "Habib's Pakistani Chicken Curry with Cumin & Coriander" ($14.50). Want to join me?
Proa Restaurant's First Wine Dinner Features Ironstone Vineyards
This past week I had the good fortune to attend a wine dinner at Tumon's Proa Restaurant, which is a place where some of tastiest future of foods is being created. A visit by Michael McCheane of Ironstone Vineyards was a further bonus as he was able to educate the guests about this interesting little winery located in the Sierra Foothills of Murphys, in Calaveras County, California. I like it when reps come from the winery since we get a first-hand glimpse into the spirit and essence of the wines that are served - who made them, what makes them special, and how you can enjoy them. In the case of food, it is done wonderfully with pairing.
The menu and wine pairings for the evening's four course dinner follow:
(Accompanied by Viognier)
Chive Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Tender Herbe Remoulade and Fried Capers
PROA Style Beggars Purse with Wasabi Buttermilk (ahi poke wrapped in crispy wonton skins)
Barbecue Chicken Quesadilla with Grilled Tomato Salsa
This was eaten during the welcome and chit-chat time. I found the Viognier, which is made from a rare grape with ripe apricot and orange blossom overtones and a fruitiness just short of the sweeter Gewurztraminer, and a dryness nearer to Chardonnay offered a subtle balance to all the appetizers, despite each having unique flavor profiles.
(Accompanied by Chardonnay)
Baby Mixed Greens with Asian Pears, Duck Two-Ways and Spicy Candied Walnuts
This was a perfect pairing, with the Chardonnay's dry, buttery nuttiness, picking up the flavors form the diced pears and sweetness from the candied nuts. One of the duck preparations was shredded and texturally like roast pulled pork, while the other was smoked and sliced with fat caps.
(Accompanied by Cabernet Franc and Shiraz)
Charbroiled Hanger Steak and Banana Crusted Prawns with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Relish and Cabernet Reduction served with Breaded and Sauteed Scallop Potatoes
I don't recall ever having two different wines with a single course, however, with this entree it seemed to work. The Cabernet Franc had a rich, full bodied luster with a smooth finish on the palate, balancing the hearty mix of sauce and meat with aromas of toasted oak, strawberry, cherry with a bright garnet color.
The Shiraz was drier, but with an explosive, flavor-laden depth, which at first overwhelmed, but later subsided to where I appreciated its character. I think that the consensus at our table was that we'd never had Hanger Steak which is a special cut of meat just hanging from the ribs. It's akin to flank but not as dense...this has fat marbled flavor throughout its sinews, and would make a great kelaguen!
(Accompanied by Cabernet Sauvignon)
A Trio of Chocolate: Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Mousse, and Chocolate Cake
I loved the chocolates but didn't quite jump on the pairing bandwagon here. I'll have to work on my taste-tuning skills. This was a great cabernet and being a red wine lover, I could have just had this alone, or with my Hanger Steak. The desserts were decadent...you know how Proa just sneaks up on you!
Good Job, Team Proa!
Thanks to Ironstone Vineyards and Ambros Distributing for making this first-ever wine dinner a success!
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