June 8, 2007, Volume 7 Number 23
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
One of the best gifts we can give and legacies we can share with the world is a great recipe! I thought about this tonight as I was pondering what to write about and had flashed back to our June 6, 2003 GuamDiner newsletter (Vol 3 No. 23) which featured the recipe for the Pacific Gardenia Hotel's finadene sauce. Everyone's got their own favorite finadene sauce and many have more than one favorite. The Pacific Gardenia Hotel is now closed. It was called Saipan's Best Little Hotel and had a popular restaurant called El Segundo's, where we spent many a morning having breakfasts as well dining there for lunch and dinners. However, the recipe for that finadene sauce endures in our local recipes' section. I didn't realize how prophetic it was at the time, however in that newsletter's intro I made the following comment: "If I were to write a guidebook for Food Tourism, it would include a mandatory stop at the Pacific Gardenia". Of course, the Gardenia's no more, though it could be resurrected one day. However, I did create a restaurant guide book called "Let's Eat - A Dining Guide to Guam" and one of the recipes featured is the Pacific Gardenia's "Awesome Finadene Sauce"!
A recently featured recipe at the site is "Spicy Mussels with Ginger and Lemongrass" by Lynda Frenay, excerpted from the Guam Women's Club Cookbook. Lynda's recipe has jalapeno, white wine, light brown sugar, Asian fish sauce, unsalted butter and cilantro along with the primary ingredients in the name. It sounds so appealing I feel like making it now!
What is amazing is that you can be in Arizona, California, New York, Auckland, or Singapore and prepare this recipe for friends and family. That's the power of the Internet. We have more than 700 recipes on the site and the list is growing. If you have any favorite recipes you'd like to share, we'd be delighted to post them. We have printer-friendly versions of a variety of recipes, including Local Dishes, Healthy Choices, Celebrity Chef, Seafood, Desserts, and many more.
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Vitale's Italian Ristorante
Plaza Arcade (Across from the DFS Galleria)
Vitale's is an "old school" restaurant, so the food here is prepared the way it's been for decades using recipes passed down from generation to generation. I go to Vitale's when I need to satisfy an Italian taste-craving, and Joseph Vitale makes his own breads, pizza dough, and Italian sausages, along with his gloriously flavorful marinara sauce, so good that one could sop it up with garlic bread and make that a meal!
On a recent visit to this charming second floor eatery (we passed through the new DNA store, cool place, to get there), I couldn't decide on a single or double dish since I had a case of multiple cravings! So, I chose the Tour of Italy ($14.95), which has Lasagna, Chicken Parmigiana, and Fettuccine Alfredo with a white sauce.
This may have seemed like enough, however, I still had a craving for Italian Sausage - once you've had Joe's home-made Italian sausage, you're going to be hooked. It's not on the menu but can be served as a side in a pool of chunky marinara for $4.
We also had the Spaghetti Peperoncino ($11.95), which is made with garlic oil and tons of garlic plus red and green peppers. We seem to have this dish all the time...it's vegetarian and darned delicious!
Joe's House Salad ($6.95) has a vinaigrette dressing that we noted as improved with a better flavor than before. This simple salad has black olives and tomatoes, and is perhaps limited by available produce. Green olives and pepperoncini would give it an added lift.
Vitale's has the largest menu selection for Italian classics on island. If you've not been to Vitale's yet, you should make it a point to stop there. I'm sure you'll find something on the menu you'll end up craving!
Islander Terrace's Healthy Night
Wednesday Theme Night
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
If you ever had doubts about whether healthy food could be flavorful, you will be completely surprised and satisfied with the abundant selection of healthy options served in the buffet lines at the Islander Terrace on the new Wednesday Theme Night Dinner Buffet simply called "Healthy Night". To be honest, it's far too much food to eat in one sitting, so you'll just have to be selective. The menu is inspired by the Farm at San Benito, which we wrote about a few months ago when the Farm's Executive Chef Felix Schoener visited and served a fantastic vegetarian buffet. Over 80% of the food served is vegetarian, and there are a few meat items such as steamed Lapu Lapu, Grilled Chicken Breast with a Tropical Salsa, and Chilean Sea Bass in a Saffron Sauce. These menu items will vary so don't be surprised to find other meat dishes on your next visit.
Though it is filled with healthy options, this buffet simply overwhelms just as all buffets tend to do. The good thing is the result at the end of the day - you are eating food that metabolizes more efficiently and that provides your body a higher quality nutrition. You can't go wrong when drinking beverages such as Aloe Vera Juice or Barley Tea, or having a fresh smoothie blended using fresh bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe and oranges. There were several soups and I had a cold gazpacho and the mushroom soup. The gazpacho needed a bit more zest (garlic, hot sauce, lemon), however the basics were there. The mushroom soup was perfection. One soup I didn't have room to try was the Sour Seaweed Cucumber Soup...maybe next time!
Among some of the notable items were a fantastic Lettuce Roll with a Savory Soy Sauce, a delicious and true-to-tradition tasting Mushroom Stroganoff, a great Vegetarian Quiche, Long Beans & Mushrooms, Asparagus and Roasted Carrots, Vegetarian Calzone, Roasted Eggplant with Tofu, and Cheese Ravioli.
The salad bar is loaded with items, and some very unique wraps made with colored and sliced Daikon radish pieces that served as wrappers filled with marinated vegetables - fresh vegetable lumpia!
Desserts are also created as healthy treats, and these included Red Beans with Rice Balls, Poached Pears, Poached Cantaloupe, Pecan Nut Balls, Almond Nut Balls, Strawberries Romanoff, Papaya Salad, and Passion Yogurt with Berries. There is ice cream for those who prefer the real thing.
This dinner buffet is priced at $36 (plus 10% service charge). When you consider the large selection and variety of healthy foods you just can't get anywhere else for dinner on this island, it's really a fair value. I just hope more people who are looking for healthy dining alternatives make it a point to support this buffet offering. Let's spread the word so that more people are aware of the Islander Terrace's tasty fare on Healthy Night Wednesdays!
La Cascata Lunch Buffet
Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort
I've been asked alot about this lunch buffet. Though I had an a la carte dinner here just after they opened where we had an impressive Osso Bucco and a savory grilled vegetable appetizer, I've waited until now to write a diner byte review of the lunch buffet. Though still new, I believe La Cascata is well on its way to carving out a place in the higher echelons of the island's lunch buffet offerings.
The reality of La Cascata is that it is a beautiful place to eat, with a style and elegance that separates it from other restaurants - starting from the entry way and right down to the table ware. It seems that everything you touch with your hands and see with your eyes is unique. The International-themed buffet line includes a salad bar, hot food line, dessert station, and a live cooking/grilling station that serves Mongolian BBQ and Fried Tempura. One of the quality indicators is the use of induction cooking/warming devices for the buffet. This assures that foods retain freshness longer and are prepared in smaller batches.
The hot line selections this day included Seasoned Shrimp, Fried Noodles with Vegetables, Mahi Mahi with Thai Herbs, Chicken Adobo, Fried Rice, Pork Menudo, and Stir-Fried Beef with Vegetables. These were all palatable, though not exceptional. The "hot spot" for this lunch buffet is the Mongolian BBQ station where you are offered calamari rings, shrimp, and large chunks of tender beef grilled with your choice of vegetables including onions, eggplant, red and green bell peppers. Our group of seven all concurred that this was really good Mongolian BBQ. For $18 (plus 10% service charge), this is reasonable given the quantity and quality. We were seated in a private room for a business meeting and the service was attentive and quick. Our ice tea glasses rarely went empty and used plates were cleared quickly. The views from this room were distracting tropical dream scapes!
The dessert station offers more than a dozen selections attractively displayed consisting of tarts, pies, cakes, leche flan, cookies, and Jello glasses. The appearance was mesmerizing and I could only sample a few. Again, the pastries were good, but not as magical as the selection of Haagen-Dazs ice cream available. I opted for the chocolate ultra premium ice cream to go with my macadamia nut cookies.
Being the new kid on the block, there's a lot of expectations for this restaurant to perform well, and to offer a better food product and service than other restaurants. La Cascata's cascading waterfalls and scenic views overlooking the lagoon are the basic underpinnings that will draw people here for the experience. Though I still don't believe buffets will equal a la carte entrees in freshness and quality (exceptions are the live cooking stations), the taste and flavor of all foods come from the seasoning - of both the food and the cooks. With everything else La Cascata has going for it, it'll be hard to match once time and experience season the rest.
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