July 20 , 2007, Volume 7 Number 29
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
"You can't have too much fun!" This is just one of the phrases frequently exhorted by long-time Ipan resident, Carmelo (aka "Carmen") La Fata, who, along with his wife, Renee (Dr. Renee La Fata, of PDN's "Dear Renee" column), will be leaving Guam for their new residence and next life adventure at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I first met Carmen in 1988 when we both worked for Atkins Kroll's Commercial Division, where he developed the ECOLAB product line into a separate, stand-alone business unit, and eventually managed Ecolab for Dewitt. We became close friends and would spend weekends enjoying great wines and good cigars, whilst watching the day go by and the moon come up over the ocean horizon from his rooftop and patio deck in his backyard overlooking Ipan Beach Resort.
I made the following humorous reference to Carmen in my 2001 review of Jeff's Pirate's Cove: "The Cove's Bar is historic, too, and a tour of duty for Guam's military is not complete without the requisite visit to Jeff's. Traditions at the bar are still observed, with one bar seat's position having an unofficial honorarium for long-time Ipan resident, Carmen La Fata, whose elbows have worn the bar top down creating permanent slots.
We're are going to miss both Carmen and Renee, and for those who want to bid them "adieu" there will be a farewell party today Friday, July 20 at Jeff's Pirate's Cove, from 5-8pm. Some of Carmen's favorite "pupus" will be provided courtesy of Jeff Pleadwell and Bill Blair. Happy Hour pricing will be available and the kitchen will stay open until 7pm. Music will be provided by Mongoose. Come on down and have some fun...but don't worry, as Carmen would say, "you can't have too much fun!"
Happy Liberation Day! Biba Guahan!!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
- Jimmy Ferrante - "Salesman Extraordinaire" Passed Away on July 16
- Sons & Daughters of Guam Club San Diego Liberation Queen Alyssa Acfalle
- Bravo! Barista illy Cocktail Competition's Guam Winners to Compete in Saipan Grand Finale - July 21
- This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
- Around the Island - Chopstix Surprises, Ebisu Delights, Andaman's Great Grouper
- Latte Stone Cafe - Getting So Much Better All the Time!
Jimmy Ferrante - "Salesman Extraordinaire" Passed Away on July 16
The island of Guam has lost one of its living legends, James "Jimmy" Ferrante, whom I knew more as a "salesman extraordinaire" since he had been involved in a number of businesses and ventures and sold countless items, from confectionery food products to wines and spirits. He was also committed to seeing that his life-long passion, the sport of boxing, became a professional reality for Guam. He served as the Chairman for the Guam Boxing Commission. I knew Jimmy during the years that he ran Triple 888 Distributing Company. I would see him often at restaurants and bars, and we'd always greet with jokes or funny comments about my Food Guy diet or takes on Italian food. He'd brag about his stamina and about his thick mane of black hair that was slowly picking up shades of gray. He was very opinionated and always said what was on his mind. He loved to share stories of his past adventures. I can't think of a business he hadn't been involved with to some extent. I believe he had a few restaurants, too. After all, this guy had been on Guam since 1944, when he had come here as part of the Marines MCB. He really loved Guam and was completely devoted to his wife, Kitty Tenorio, whom he'd married in 1946, and who predeceased him be a few years, breaking his heart.
I recall that he had become ill in the months since I'd last seen him this past February, and his name would often come up when some of his acquaintances would ask about him, since he wasn't out delivering cases of wine or gin, something he had been known to do well into his 80s - he was 83 years when he passed!. He attributed his strength and longevity to his mom and to consuming olive oil. It was truly eerie this past Monday when about 3pm I was on the phone with Stanley Miller of Stanlee's and asked about Jimmy, since another acquaintance, Joe Vitale of Vitale's Italian Restaurant, had also asked about him the previous Friday. Stanley and I agreed it would be good if we could arrange to get together with Jimmy and spend some quality time with him. It was only hours later that we both heard that he had passed that very morning! We'll raise a glass in a toast to you, Jimmy!
Last respects for James William Ferrante may be paid beginning at 9am on Wednesday July 25 at St. Anthony Church, Tamuning.
Sons & Daughters of Guam Club San Diego Liberation Queen Alyssa Acfalle
It was just by chance that we were having a late lunch at Wendy's this past week when we noticed a young girl who was holding a crown while sitting at a table with a group of ladies. I knew one of the ladies, Mary Ann Cabrera, who introduced me to the 2007-2008 Liberation Queen, Alyssa Nadine Oliva Acfalle, of the Sons and Daughters of Guam Club San Diego. I was also introduced to her aunt, Jojo Borja, who was involved in Alyssa's candidacy and who accompanied her to Guam to participate in our Liberation Day festivities and parade. It was really a coincidence of timing that we met, and I wanted to memorialize it with a photo opportunity, something that they thought was also worth noting, since I was introduced as the Guam Food Guy. I even autographed a copy of "Let's Eat! A Dining Guide to Guam" for Alyssa, who will probably be the first person in San Diego to get that book. Congratulations on your coronation, Queen Alyssa! Thanks for coming all the way from San Diego to share in our island's festivities! [Photo L-R: Queen Alyssa N.O. Acfalle, Guam Food Guy, Jojo Borja]
Bravo! Barista illy Cocktail Competition's Guam Winners to Compete in Saipan Grand Finale - July 21
Three excited winners from this past Friday's Bravo! Barista illy Cocktail Competition at T.G.I. Friday's will be flying to Saipan this Saturday to compete in the Grand Finale at the Aqua Resort Club that night. First Place winner was Claus Pableo (above center) of T.G.I. Friday's, Dindo Dizon (above left) from the Hyatt Regency Guam took 2nd place, and the 3rd place finisher was Marcial "Jomar" Servillon, Jr. (above right), from Planet Hollywood. They will be competing against Saipan's top baristas, Jaymar Torres (Aqua Resort Club), Ronnie Guevarra (Fiesta Resort & Spa), and Jaysan Gatdula (Mariana Resort & Spa), who were the winners from the March competition in Saipan. The first place winner for Saturday's competition will be a trip to Venice, Italy, to visit the home of illy Caffe and to compete internationally at the Venice illy Cocktail Competition in September 2007.
This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
July 26 2006 Vol 6 No 29
Restaurant Reviewed: World Cafe at Fiesta Resort Guam - Special Values and Intriguing Tastes
Cold Stone Creamery July 22 Grand Opening
Unagi Fair at Genji
Learn to Cook Chamorro Cuisine Guam Plaza
Around the Island - Chopstix Surprises, Ebisu Delights, Andaman's Great Grouper
We stopped by Chopstix, a relatively new Japanese restaurant the other night. I wonder why it's been so long between visits, as this place (located in East West Center in Upper Tumon next to Truong's) is really awesome! I give it high marks for aesthetics and ambiance, as well as music. You'll likely get a chance to hear some of Mike Sablan's Japanese and European cuts-world music, techno-pop, and Indo-Euro rap.
We had a vegetarian version of their Fried Noodle "Udon" ($6.75), which I found fabulous. Those thick noodles are wonderfully chewable and burst with freshness. I had the Mixed Grill ($13.75), which has a hamburger steak, usually teriyaki chicken which I substituted with ginger chicken, and sausage. The sausage is one of those hot, Louisiana-types that's truly delicious. I could have had more! The same could be said for the hamburger steak, which had a remarkable demi-glace that made this more of a gourmet treat. The chicken had grilled onions and a special sauce that Mike created. This is a big entree, as it comes with salad, rice, miso soup, and oshinko ( pickles). Good place! Call 646-7849.
Ebisu Sushi is quickly approaching "legend" status, and that scares me! This Tumon eatery serves that most addictive sushi I've ever had, and every time I share it with someone new, they end up with the same experience. Just look at how much meat appears in the center of the sushi roll, especially in proportion to the rice. The Spider is a California Roll (uramaki) with Soft-Shell Crab ($12) that's really an amazing creation. The Spicy Tuna ($7.50) is value-priced and flavor rich, with big pieces of tuna, a special pika sauce, and green onions! My reasons for fearing Ebisu's legendary status comes from a "scarcity mentality" - what will we ever do if they close down? In the words of Alfred E Newman, "What? Me Worry?!!" Nah! Let's just eat it while we can and enjoy. Ebisu is located in that weird triangle shaped brown building in Tumon just past the Holiday Resort, and are open for lunch & dinner, weekdays, and for dinner only on Saturday. They close on Sunday.
I've talked about and promoted Andaman Restaurant for its terrific Thai cuisine for good reason. It's what I do and it is still a fledgling business with peaks and valleys when it comes to guests coming for dinner. Sadly, like many of our smaller, family-run restaurant businesses, they need more peaks to stay open. I had not yet tried Chef Jham's Fried Grouper though I've had the Sea Bream and the Parrot Fish. I have also had his 3 Flavor Chili sauce and his Thai Curry Sauce, but I had never tried the Sweet and Sour Sauce until now. I honestly don't like sweet and sour that much, and rarely if ever order it, unless someone really presses me to try it. In this case, it is totally not like any sweet & sour I've ever had. It has pineapple, cucumber, white onion, green onion, and both red and green bell peppers, along with coriander. The sauce is not that thick, cloying, gooey sauce usually served for sweet & sour...this is a light, intense, and clean sweet & sour, so you never get the extreme of either, but a well balanced complement to the extraordinary and delicate fish. The grouper was superb - I had the medium size for $18. Chef Jhamnong saw me the day after and told me he was impressed at how thoroughly I enjoyed that fish - I didn't even leave anything to make a soup stock! Try Andaman for dinner or do their lunch buffet ($9.75).
Latte Stone Cafe - Getting So Much Better All the Time!
Flashback! It was in our December 23, 2005 GuamDiner Newsletter that the following announcement was made:
"Latte Stone Cafe Opens in Acanta Mall"
"The Latte Stone Cafe has opened in the Acanta Mall and has already received "two thumbs" up from both old timers, who previously frequented the old Jungle Java, and newcomers. Owned by Liz and Martin Gerber, Latte Stone Cafe (the "latte" is pronounced like the espresso-based beverage and not the ancient Chamorro stone) features Lavazza coffee, Italy's top-selling brand. Aside from fresh-baked scones, muffins, and pastries, they offer a breakfast menu that includes French Toast ($5.95), Breakfast Wrap ($6.95), Chorizo Omelet ($6.95), Oatmeal ($3.75) and Bagel ($3.50). It's the weekends, though, that offer the classic favorites such as Eggs Benedict ($7.95), a Cream Cheese Spinach Omelet ($6.95), Chamorro Fried Rice ($5.50) and that south of the border standard, Huevos Rancheros ($6.95)! Latte Stone Cafe is a colorful cozy getaway with beautifully tiled tabletops and cute wooden counter stools. The cafe has a cheery decor with an art-inspired ambiance. Those familiar with the venerable Jungle Java Cafe won't believe the transformation. Latte Stone Cafe is open from 7am-10 pm daily (closed for Christmas), and their phone number is 646-9392."
A lot has transpired since those days, and frankly, based on some of my early experiences with Latte Stone Cafe, I really wondered if they would make it since there were some serious food challenges. However, it is entirely due to the persistent effort of owner Liz Gerber that this small eatery has taken root and blossomed into a worthy dining destination, far more than just a coffee house. As you will see from many of the new dish creations now offered on Latte Stone Cafe's menu, this establishment is a true labor of love and a creative dream come true for one of Guam's most persistent and determined culinarians.
And talk about style! This place has been inspired by a designer...its very ambiance, furniture, and decor have even transformed from the first day they opened, with new black parasols gracing the outdoor tables added just this week.
Before you order you can view your selections in Guam's only menu collage, which is something Liz creatively put together on a counter up against a wall to showcase 16 entrees with tantalizing food pictures she took.
Let's get to the foods I decided on for my lunch review. I ordered the Crispy Coconut Shrimp Taco with Fries ($8.95), The Turkey Spinach Club Wrap ($6.95), the Dried Beef Tinala served with Fried Tatijas ($8.95), and a Crispy Fried Fish Taco with Fries ($8.95).
The Crispy Coconut Shrimp Taco was a complete surprise since the soft flour shell gave way to a crunchy, flavorful shrimp and purple cabbage slaw combination laced with a secret sauce that made this an eyebrow raising treat. The panko and coconut were fried just right after being lightly applied to the shrimp. A lime slice accompanies to add a citrusy zing if you so desire and I did!
The Turkey Spinach Club Wrap was perfect. I don't know Liz's secret sauce (she won't tell me) but it works well with this delightful, healthy dish. The turkey meat is slightly smoked and there's plenty packed in each sliced roll. The wrap is served like sushi, with the spinach circled around and in the center of the meat. It's garnished with pimento and has a grilled pineapple slice and tomato slice on the plate with red cabbage spears. It's a wrap worth having more than once.
The Dried Beef Tinala was an appetizer portion and located in her Local Favorites section, one that I hope she'll grow in time. The smoked dried beef used good quality beef, and the hot, fried corn titijas along with the finedene brought it all together...it was good enough to embolden me to try some of the hot green chilies that graced the plate...they were hot but tasty! I don't know exactly how she cooked the beef, because it seemed different from many I've had, but it managed to satisfy my katne craving.
The Crispy Fried Fish Taco with Fries was another surprise, since I hadn't had a fried fish taco since I was in California. Of course, I was used to a picante salsa blend, however, Liz's secret sauce was enjoyable, though not as spicy. It was light and served with that red cabbage slaw. There was a lot of the lightly breaded fish in the flour shell and I thought that both the fish and shrimp tacos would be major hits during the Lenten Season.
I forgot to mention that I opted for an Italian Beach Soda ($2.50) to accompany my lunch. It was suggested by Jake (the server/cashier) that I try the Passion Fruit or the Melon while Liz later suggested the Raspberry. I did the Passion Fruit and loved it...it's made with Torani Syrup and soda so essentially it is an Italian Soda, but we're on Guam, so let's take it to Tumon and make it a Beach Soda!
By now I was royally stuffed, even though I tried to portion my eating, however, there was one more duty and that was to try one of Liz's home-made dessert creations. I have to say, she's done a remarkable job working on her recipes to get her consistencies and tastes right. The pay off is in this fabulous Mango Bread Pudding with warm vanilla sauce ($4.25). I relished only part of this and had to balutan the rest home for my late night snacking. The mango chunks were huge and she used golden raisins - a nice touch for both appearance and taste.
Another "nice touch" is the fact that Latte Stone Cafe has brought in an exclusive line of teas made by Harney & Sons, who are Master Tea Blenders. I had a cup of "Serene Caribe" tea which the bag aptly described as "unique and uncommon" that blended green & black teas with guava and strawberry. This comes in a single silken sachet that you'll immediately catch a whiff of when the outer package is torn open. It's full of promise, and drinking it certainly satisfies.
One sandwich I've had before and really enjoyed is the Famous Latte Stone Burger ($8.95), which comes with bacon and cheese. It's a lot of burger (1/2 pound), but isn't so big that it can't be finished. Latte Stone Cafe has a lot of other items including more wraps, a variety of salads, other sandwiches, lots of intriguing desserts (including mini-cheese cakes), and, of course, a full line-up of espresso-based hot and cold beverages as well as regular coffee blends and flavored coffee that's served every day in air pots.
The breakfasts at Latte Stone have improved since my first attempts and now you can get an impressive Eggs Benedict here as well as French Toast, the signature Breakfast Wrap, Chamorro Fried Rice, a Chorizo Omelet, and heart-shaped "Sweetheart" pancakes.
Latte Stone Cafe is a work in progress and that's a good thing, since things can only get better and more creative! Kudos to Lizzie Gerber and her team over at this Acanta Mall hotspot. Things are getting better all the time..yes...getting so much better all the time!
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