February 13 , 2009, Volume 9 Number 4
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
It's great to be back on Isla Guahan! I have returned from an extended tour of the mainland where I spent precious time with family and friends and traversed several states in the process. One of the highlights of my trip was a spontaneous drive to Sonoma and Napa Counties to do some wine tastings at several vineyards, one of the most notable being Robert Mondavi.
I even purchased his autobiography, "Harvests of Joy: How the Good Life Became Great Business", which is a fascinating story of how he, almost singlehandedly, changed the way Americans view wine. It is not too far a stretch to give Mondavi some credit for making what I do as a food reviewer possible in the sense that he raised awareness for bringing fine California wines to dinner tables. It was also a humorous coincidence that I saw the film "Bottle Shock" while flying back from Houston which recounts the story of how some California red and white wines were able to beat French wines in a blind tasting held in Paris in 1976. This is a must-see movie if you have an appreciation for wine.
Of course, there's nothing greater than being able to spend time with family, especially quality time with my grandson, Carl Allen Snyder. This was done on the next to the last leg of my journey and involved driving some 355 miles from Portland, Oregon to Clarkston, Washington, which is separated from Lewiston, Idaho by the Snake River. It amazed me to see how much the little guy had grown and how defined his sense of self and personality have become. You'd think that 8-years old is almost being a teenager! There an obvious truth in the wisdom that our greatest legacy in life is family, and it's always a blessing to reunite with our loved ones every year whenever possible.
The matriarch of the "Idaho and Washington" family is Louise Bateman, Carl's great-grandmother. She's a remarkable lady with plenty of stories and memories. She even ventured out to visit us on Guam back in the early 80s. This group photo of us spans four generations, which to me is a true feat, worthy of a lifetime achievement award. I look forward to the day when Carl has kids and I can be the great-grandfather! I wonder if I'll still be the Food Guy? Now that's something to chew on! [Photo - Seated: Judy Stewart, Carl's grandmother; Louise Bateman, Carl's great-grandmother. Center: Carl Snyder, GFG's grandson. Standing: Ken, proud father and grandpa and Avril Snyder, Carl's mother and Ken's daughter.]
And, we cannot forget that Valentine's Day is almost here. If you haven't made plans, check out these romantic offers from our restaurant subscribers.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show
Saturday February 14
Listen up this Saturday morning for the Guam Food Guy's segment of K57's "Tourism & You" Show, from 10am-Noon. This week's first hour guests will be Sheila Jordan, Brand Marketing Sales Manager and Lisa Bordallo, Sales Manager for Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort.
Our second hour guest will be Steve Gibanov, head chef and primary investor in Sugar + Spice, a recently-opened cafe/bistro in Upper Tumon.
These interviews will offer unique and interesting insights into the people behind the scenes at the island's restaurants. This will be an opportunity for you to hear compelling stories about their professions and their passions, which are often synonymous in this industry for people of their caliber. Your phone calls are welcome at 477-5757 or *57 on your cell phone.
Wet Willie's - Ring a Bell? Sharing Positive Comments about Guam from Navy Visitor
I recently received the following message from a sailor, Dominic Dolor, who wrote me an email to find out if Wet Willie's was still open. I told him that it had long since closed and its former location is occupied by the Outrigger Guam Resort.
"Hafa adai, Ken!
WOW! I have very fond memories of this place. Our Navy ship docked there and we participated the parade during the 50th anniversary of Guam's liberation. Afterword, a few of us walked around the beaches where ESPN was having a jet ski contest. Everywhere there were these huge parties that were having BBQ's. They all seemed to run into each other for what seemed like the entire beach. And, Ken, about every 100 feet or so, the families would insist that we join them and eat. I can honestly say that I have never been to a more hospitable place. They treated us like family. Absolutely wonderful! We eventually ended up at Wet Willies and then got a ride back to our ship in the very early hours of the morning.
I still tell my wife this story and how one day we should take a vacation and stop over for a few days. Even though it has been 15 years, the memories of the people, the beach, and the incredible kindness have defined, in my mind, what paradise is.
Thanks, again, for the update.
Le Tasi Bistro Lunch
New Marina Hotel
It's been a while since I'd been to Le Tasi Bistro (at least a month) for lunch! This place is usually quite busy during lunch and has weekly lunch specials in addition to its regular a la carte menu. The food is extraordinary with each meal masterfully crafted and prepared by chef/owner Bertrand Haurillon. Although the cuisine is home-style French, living on Guam has had some influence, giving this French food an "island-style" persona!
At lunch today, I was joined by two special friends, Tova Harel-Bornovski (visiting from Palau) and Sheila Peebles, who like me are avid foodies and wine enthusiasts. They both ordered what I consider the island's best Salade Nicoise ($14.50), which is made with fresh greens, tomato, egg, olives, and laced with fresh herbs, then topped with fresh ahi tuna steak seasoned with balsamic vinegar. This is one healthy meal as palatable as it is nutritious!
I opted for one of the Thursday lunch special selections, a Grilled Marlin with Garlic Aioli ($14.50). This came with a thick and savory mushroom soup. I didn't realize how big this chunk of marlin was until I was half-way through. It was also surprisingly moist. I was so enamored with the garlic aioli that I neglected the finadene which I finally resorted to as the aioli vanished! Le Tasi continues to please and impress so many, and retains an impressive clientele of loyal devotees. Eat there and you'll know why!!
Sycamore Street Grill
900 6th Street
Clarkston, WA 99403
It was my first night in Clarkston after the long drive from Portland, Oregon, and I arrived just in time to go out to dinner. My daughter Avril and her companion Cathlin had decided to take me to what they considered one of the best Italian restaurants they considered worthy of my "fine-tuned" palate! Sycamore Street Grill certainly met the grade and reinforced my belief that there are many hidden gems out there in small towns where there exists exceptional culinary talent.
It was Thursday night and we were the only customers in the dining room. Normally, that would be an ominous sign, but my concerns (not that I really had any - frankly, I was just happy to be sitting inside somewhere warm) were allayed by the wine suggested by our server, Andrew, who gave the nod to Dunham Cellars Three-Legged Red Table Wine. Washington has some fabulous wines and this restaurant has an impressive collection.
We ordered two appetizers to share amongst the three of us and the two proved more than enough. The first was Shrimp Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Cream Sauce ($8.50). This made a powerful first impression, filled with the rich, chunky and creamy feta sauce inundating the islands of toast on which large sauteed shrimp were perched. This we managed to finish. I had a great minestrone, too.
The second appetizer was a spectacular Bruschetta with Roasted Bell Peppers ($6.95). I'm used to tomatoes and basil, yet the bell peppers brought a whole new dimension to bruschetta that I really enjoyed. We had to take some of this home as leftovers so we'd have room for our main entrees..
Dinner entrees included a large New York smothered in a delicious green peppercorn sauce, a seared scallop dish that I thought was just dreamy, and my choice was the Veal with Mushrooms in a Marinara Cream Sauce that was exquisite!
I think we finished with a Tiramisu, one of the house specialties. A notable factoid about this great little eatery is that the chef/owner is a former lumberjack who traded in his ax and chain saw for tongs and a spatula. I'll definitely go back for a return visit and spend some time at their wine bar sampling some of the state's proud creations.
Sugar + Spice
All I can say is "wow"! That's got to be your first reaction upon entering Sugar + Spice, a relatively new cafe, bistro, and bakery that has the look, feel, and substance of one of the Bay Area eateries I just visited during my trip.
The owners have made a significant investment in furniture and fixtures, as well as all of the right kitchen and preparation equipment. They do have a pastry chef on staff. Being in the industry, I noted all the familiar name brands on the ovens, ranges, mixers, espresso machines and refrigerators. Someone knew precisely what they were doing, from the lighting fixtures to the Sant'Andrea flatware. I'd been meaning to visit this place since January but never made it before my vacation. I've gotten some positive endorsements on the food at Sugar + Spice and was happy to have the chance to stop by late yesterday afternoon for a sampling of their menu.
Upon entering, I was warmly greeted by Kaileen (hostess, server, barista) who asked if I'd be dining in. I thought she was being especially nice to me being who I am and all, but she didn't know me from Adam, and greeted everyone who entered the cafe with the same hospitality. Impressive!
I ordered an Italian soda with Torani's sugar-free strawberry syrup ($2.50), along with Grilled Shrimp Louie Salad ($9), which has grilled prawns, romaine lettuce, 1000 Island dressing, and avocado. Maybe they were out, but there wasn't any avocado on the salad. Not that it mattered much as the salad was pretty good. The dressing had to be made from scratch, and the romaine was cut-up uniformly for easy eating. I'll have to try the Pear & Pecan Salad next time - that really sounded promising.
I also ordered the Black Angus Bistro Burger ($9.50), which is made with an 8 oz. ground beef patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, spicy aioli, and pommes frites which were truly good French fries. For $1 more each, I added cheese and bacon. For the purposes of this review, I asked Kaileen what she liked and she said the new Bar-be-Qued Pork Sandwich ($10) was a popular favorite, so I ordered it as well.
The burger was bigger and juicier than it looked. The spicy aioli opened up another taste dimension on this burger. The fries were plentiful, crispy, and lightly seasoned - really great fries!
The Bar-be-Qued Pork Sandwich was made with slow-roasted pork shoulder pulled and lathered in a spicy barbecue sauce then set between a sliced French roll. It was also quite good, although I only managed a tasting bite.
his is an amazing little restaurant that features free Wi-fi and now serves breakfast on Sunday. The seating capacity is maybe 20-25, and there is a large flat screen TV on the back wall. It is cozy and comfortable inside, which demonstrates impressive engineering since the kitchen is semi-open and occupies a large part of the interior, without giving off any heat.
As of this writing, I had not yet met the chef/owner, Steve Gibanov, though I talked to him on the phone about a month ago and then again today. He is a new resident on Guam and brings a wealth of cooking experience. He's a graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and worked in various restaurants in the San Francisco area.
The food at Sugar + Spice is self-described as "comfort food". The hours of operation are Mon-Wed 7am-5pm, Thurs-Sat 7am-9pm, and Sunday from 7am- 2pm. Breakfast features signature waffles and pancakes, and Grand Marnier French Toast. True to their gourmet status while still appealing to the locals, Spam and Chamoru Sausage are featured on the menu.
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