July 27, 2007, Volume 7 Number 30
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
I've been making a series of working visits to our northern neighbor Saipan in the past few months, and I rarely had much time for recreation. This past Sunday I played tourist and took a boat ride around the northern tip of Saipan, an ideal way to view the extraordinary cliff line vistas of Suicide and Banzai Cliffs, as well as the unique coral and limestone formations only visible from the sea. It was a magnificent day, the sea was relatively calm, there were mounds of white billowing clouds, and gloriously aquamarine waters.
Given the idyllic seating, what happened next was completely unexpected. I was fully dressed in blue jeans, polo shirt, hat, tennis shoes, and had both my cell phone and camera on me. It was right off of Managaha Island, that I had the misfortune of tumbling head first into the water. I had been attempting to grab a floating tow line on a buoy so that we could tie the motor boat to it....I obviously was not prepared for crew duty. Perhaps in my younger days when my physique was lithe I could have managed the task, but this day was not my day, so I discovered first hand the laws of physics, momentum, and gravity
Of course, it's easy to laugh now as I reflect on it...it was initially shocking and somewhat embarrassing, as one does not like to lose control. I was very fortunate and everything turned out alright...in fact, the water was refreshing, though I really wasn't dressed to enjoy it. (Try climbing back up aboard a small motor boat with soggy jeans and tennis shoes!) Visually, it had to be extreme comedy, and I wish I had video to share!
Aside from this, Saipan is definitely a fantastic and incredibly beautiful (and clean) vacation spot. The people of Saipan take pride in their island, keeping their parks and tourist destinations well-maintained. They seem to have developed a real sense of place, making Saipan a bona fide resort and holiday adventure. We were truly amazed at the quality of the landscaping as we drove up the long and winding road to Suicide Cliff. I don't think I've seen anywhere as well-maintained on Guam (barring Andersen AFB). Cutting grass, trimming trees, and picking up trash can really do a lot to spruce up a destination. Why do we have such a hard time doing that here?
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
P.S. Le Tasi Bistro re-opens for business on Monday, July 30 following their annual summer holiday!
Old Hagatna Grill Summer Wine Dinner's Tastes Still Linger
On July 14th, Executive Chef Christopher Aguon impressed diners with an exquisite combination of tastes and flavors that are best described in pictures.
The 1st Course of House Cured Norwegian Salmon & Chive Crepe Roulades with Fried Capers, Fresh Dill Creme Fraiche, and Olive Oil Marinated Cucumbers was exactly as written, but with mouthfuls of appreciation (and Chardonnay). Fried capers was a first, and were certainly more intensified being cooked that way.
he Hearts of Romaine Salad with Poached Pears, Spicy Candied Walnuts and Gorgonzola Vinaigrette was a unanimous favorite since it had the most divergent flavors....the walnuts added a sweetly crunchy touch and the Gorgonzola was creamy bliss...it was a refreshing and delightful salad and the Pinot Griogio paired with it "bloomed"!
The 3rd Course was a riff on "Surf & Turf" with Coffee Crusted Hanger Steak & Proscuitto Wrapped Scallops with Sage Infused Demi Glace and Port Wine Reduction Over Smoked Bacon Baby Red Potatoes. It was interesting, and certainly a profound effort, with complexity and rich ingredients, but perhaps a bit too many different flavors. The steak was similar in taste and texture to venison, and the serving was much more than one usually gets - it was generous. The Arboleda Cabernet Sauvignon held steady against this onslaught of flavors.
The Dessert of Mocha Pate Napoleans with Mint Scented Strawberries and Dark Chocolate Grappa was the crowning point. I don't think I've ever heard so many sighs of pleasure exuded simultaneously before, or was it just me in quadraphenia?!! No, this was a fantasy fulfilled and should be entered into the Pastries in Paradise competition!
Bravo, Chef Chris! When can we do this again?
illy barista Bravo! Barista illy Cocktail Competition Winner Announced
Elation is the only word to describe first place winner Ronnie C. Guevarra and his large group of supporters! Ronnie's prize is a trip to Venice, Italy, to compete in the international illy Cocktail Competition on September 19, 2007. If you look closely, you can see that he printed the name of his cocktail "Red Cool Summer" on his t-shirt and his "fans" made posters to show their support. Ronnie is an employee of Fiesta Resort & Hotel. Congratulations, Ronnie!
"Red Cool Summer"
Ronnie C. Guevarra
3 oz illy Coffee
1/2 oz Tequila
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Malibu Rum
1/2 oz Creme de Banana
1 oz coconut syrup
1 1/2 oz strawberry puree
15 ml fresh milk
Fresh strawberry for garnish
Pour all ingredients into a blender together with ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into cocktail glass. Garnish with strawberry. Enjoy!
I had to share these pictures of lobsters caught by fishermen and offered for sale at the DJ Fishmobile location in a Saipan park. These were from Tinian and I don't think I've ever seen so many large lobsters available for sale here on Guam. I had a craving to buy some of these and throw them on a BBQ grill! Of course, that'll have to happen sometime in the future as it wasn't part of the plan that day. The little mobile fish stand seemed to have a variety of fish for sale. We stopped by on our way from the Airport after a quick bite at Shirley's and were quite surprised at the variety of fish for at this little mobile fish stand. Imagine how popular I'd be if I brought a whole cooler of these beauties back to Guam!
Kili Cafe & Terrace
I think it was my last visit to Kili Cafe & Terrace that compelled me to return again...there was something on that a la carte lunch menu that I mentioned I'd like to try sometime in the future. It was Habib's Pakistani Chicken Curry with Cumin and Coriander ($14.50). This is what I ordered along with a Greek Salad appetizer ($6), that was laden with Feta Cheese, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Onions and Capers. Everything in that salad was fresh and the light vinaigrette accentuated each ingredient's taste. Habib's Pakistani Chicken Curry was not at all hot and spicy, it was mild and well-seasoned, more like a stew. The cilantro was the dominant flavor throughout, followed by the cumin.
Other guests at the table ordered different selections including the Vegetarian Burger ($8), which was something the chefs created themselves - a truly original vegetable blended patty.
Another dish was the Chef's Ramen with Sliced Beef, Ham, Egg, Bean Sprouts and Spring Onions ($12.50). Of course, this must be one of the pricier bowls of ramen you'll buy, but they do fill it up with meat and other ingredients, so you get your money's worth. A visiting chef ordered that and found it quite good. Make sure to stop by Kili Cafe & Terrace for a relaxing lunch or dinner (or even breakfast, depending on your time.) It overlooks a marvelous garden lagoon that makes dining all the more pleasurable.
Aqua Resort Club
"A tropical haven of comfort and harmony, enveloped by towering palms and fragrant blossoms bursting with vibrant color depicting an atmosphere of resort life." So states the brochure describing the property. Though a bit wordy, it's definitely what I call "truth in advertising"! Aqua Resort Club is Saipan's secret hideaway, and is a preferred resting place for travelers from Guam. The Raraina Restaurant is ARC's flagship fine dining outlet, and is the only restaurant in Micronesia that I would define as having "haute cuisine" in the classic French connotation. Raraina is only open for dinner, and in the review I did a few years back, I recalled the attentive service along with the wandering musicians strolling from table to table playing requests. What a repertoire of talent!
This night I decided on a few different items, so I started with the Escargots "Bourguignon" ($10.50), which are cooked with spinach and garlic, and served with toast. This is a dinner one does not rush...I'd say we were eating and sitting for two hours.
We shared the famous Caesar Salad, prepared tableside. Our server Peter concocted a perfect blend with egg, olive oil, garlic, and anchovies. The romaine spears were coated perfectly in this hand-whipped Caesar dressing. Watching him make this was as much fun and pleasure as eating it...no,...eating was decidedly better!
For the main course I had the Filet Mignon au Poivre Vert (Green Pepper Steak $29) , which was flambed at the table. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Saipan, please make it a point to dine here at least one night. It's a gastronomic fantasy you'll love indulging in along with a fine bottle of Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The green peppercorns literally burst in your mouth with their sweet peppery fire with every bite. The rich sauce was precisely prepared for optimum taste. The menu at Raraina is filled with too many other delights...I've got to go back for more!
Andaman Restaurant Lunch Buffet
Western & Thai Cuisine
Next to Cost U Less
The daily lunch buffet ($9.75) at Andaman is a surprise waiting to be discovered. The $9.75 includes regular iced tea, and features a salad bar with numerous selections, a hot line with five items, and a dessert bar. The hot line and cold salad items change every day, so the Spicy Lemon Chicken served today took the place of a really delicious Fried Chicken they've featured other days. Today's hot line also featured a delicious Vegetarian Curry and Vegetarian Pad Thai. The Saow Rong Hai "Eggplant Salad" has ground pork with spicy coriander garlic shallot dressing. This was one of the cold items, along with Larb, a kelaguen-like minced chicken dish with roasted rice, shallot, mint, and a spicy lime dressing. The Soup was a Tom Kah Gai, which has a light coconut broth and the flavor of young galengal. Both simple and elaborate, this lunch buffet has taken a great deal of effort to produce and when you've tried Jhamnong's creations, you'll definitely know the difference. Desserts featured have been seasonal fresh fruit, baked pumpkin custard, and a sweet rice custard with cream. Andaman's all-you-can-eat lunch buffet is open Monday-Saturday from 11am- 2:30pm.
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