July 16, 2010, Volume 10 Number 13
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Greetings from Houston, where it's been baking hot with little humidity! Actually, with temperatures in the mid nineties it is still better than Newark, New Jersey, where the temperature was 103 Fahrenheit when I arrived from Hong Kong. As I disembarked the plane and strolled through the jet way, I thought I was being "shrink-wrapped". I can't complain since things really got cooler in the Bay Area, where temperatures were in the 50s. You really have to be ready for anything when travelling, whether it's adding layers of clothing or removing them!
I am glad to be here in the U.S. visiting family on holiday. It's been too long since I had a "real" vacation and I can honestly say that I am having a great time and it looks to get better. When you read this I'll have left Houston on my way to Seattle where I will drive across state to see my daughter, Avril and grandson, Carl Allen Snyder, who will be 10 in August! My how time flies! I vividly recall being at Al Dente doing a review when my daughter called me with the news that I was going to be a grandpa! I'll cover some of this Washington and Idaho visit in our next newsletter. In today's newsletter I will briefly share with you some of the highlights of my journey thus far. Although, Guam may be a great distance from the mainland, many folks are aware of our great island and even have friends from Guam or know someone stationed there. All have said positive things about the island, with not even a mention of "brown tree snakes".
We do live in paradise after all!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Dim Sum In Hong Kong
Maxim's Chinese Restaurant
Hong Kong International Airport aka Chek Lap Kok Airport
I over-nighted in Hong Kong on the way to the States and really didn't have a chance to hang out and enjoy this exciting destination. It has been more than 12 years since my last visit and I couldn't believe the enormity of the changes that have taken place. Feeling a bit disenchanted about my "fleeting" visit, I decided that I was going to fulfill one of my culinary fantasies and have dim sum in Hong Kong, which I managed to do at Maxim's Chinese Restaurant on the 2nd level of the main concourse where the Continental ticket counters are. Now, of course I am well aware that airport restaurants usually leave a lot to be desired, however in this great place, they've managed to capture the essence of the dim sum experience so you can expect and receive attentive, polite service and excellent food. I ordered from the dim sum carts (each one had a different variety of dim sums you could select). I had Har Gau (steamed shrimp dumpling), Siu Mai (shaomai ), Steamed BBQ Pork Buns, and on that featured vegetables wrapped in bean curd skin.
I had two pots of Jasmine tea and sat at my table delighting in the exquisite flavors of authentic Cantonese dim sum, something I've been craving for years. There are a few places on Guam for dim sum, like Kar Kar (formerly May's), which serves a decent selection and the local Chinese call the food "okay.". However, the Har Gau here in Hong Kong was terrific - I think I had "goose bumps" when I had my first bite! The Siu Mai had minced pork and shrimp with Chinese black mushroom. The orange dots on the top were fish roe and I exalted in the full flavored freshness of this combination dim sum, with its perfect texture.
I drank more tea and had to refuse the overtures of the dim sum cart ladies who kept pushing up to my table offering me more dim sum. I didn't know I'd ordered the floating dim sum soup that had vegetable filled rolls wrapped in tofu skin. I tried it anyway and it was alright.
My final thrill was from eating the Steamed BBQ Pork Buns. These were magnificent and I was amazed at the steamed texture of this semi- sweet savory bun exploding with taste. Yes, I was in dim sum heaven and wished I had company so I could enjoy more by sharing! There's always a "next time."
Guaymas - Authentic Mexican Cuisine
If you are ever in the picturesque town of Tiburon located in the Bay Area north of the Golden Gate Bridge, try Guaymas which is on Main Street and on the pier facing the Edward Zelinsky ferry boat landing. I had just arrived in San Francisco and was picked up by brother Lee and his grand-daughter, Ashlyn. We did a little touring around the shops and marinas before stopping for an early lunch.
I had no idea what good fortune awaited. Sitting out on the open air deck, we ordered margaritas and enjoyed crisp tortilla chips and an irresistibly delicious salsa. I opted for lighter fare and ordered the Sopa de Tortilla ($6.75) and the Ensalada Guaymas ($7.95). While waiting for these dishes to be served, I couldn't help but notice an amazing sight on the neighboring table. It was a bowl full of the most verdant guacamole I'd seen in years, and it was calling me! I gingerly injected myself in their conversation (excusing myself) and asked if the guacamole was as good as it looked and the lady immediately began raving about how delicious it was - she sold me! For $3.50 you couldn't go wrong! I don't need to tell you what a pleasure it was to eat.
It was then that the most amazing thing happened. I noticed what I thought was a familiar face strolling along the boardwalk in front of the restaurant on the pier. The face was strangely familiar and belonged to someone I'd recently seen on Guam! It was Dr. Bruce Reynolds, DDS, and his wife Marian. We were all shocked and excited by this serendipitous moment. What were the odds of this happening? Bruce was there looking for a famous guitar store. What a great coincidence!
The Sopa De Tortilla was made with guajillo-infused chicken stock, shredded chicken, queso anejo, avocado, and tortilla threads. Guajilllo pronounced "wha-hee-oh", is the most commonly-used chili in Mexico after the ancho,and though it's not hot, it imparts rich smoky flavor into dishes. This soup really satisfied a craving and I was starting to get full since I had so much guacamole, chips and salsa.
I did manage to finish my Ensalada Guaymas, which combined romaine hearts, jicama, avocado, tomatoes, and goat cheese drizzled with a lime-oregano vinaigrette. This refreshing salad was better by the bite. The jicama ("hikama") is a sweet root vegetable related to the sweet potato but looks like a turnip. It was cut in strips and served raw. I liked the mixture of flavors and textures in this terrific salad. What a great welcome to California.
532 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94133
Little Italy seems a befitting name for an enclave of restaurants along this block of Columbus Avenue. Everywhere you turned you see an Italian eatery of some sort. Rose Pistola is one we went to since this is a favorite of Lee and Barb's. We came here after picking up Barbara from her downtown offices headquartering DFS. I met some of her team on that Friday afternoon and we chatted about Guam restaurants and viewed newsletters and recipes on our Guam Diner website.
Rose Pistola's menu has some standard items always available along with pastas and seafood dishes that change daily. We ordered a bottle of the 2008 Barbera d'Asti, Damilano, Piemonte, which seemed to go well with all of our orders.
One of the first dishes we had was from the Cold Antipasti menu. It was County Line Harvest Mixed Baby Greens with Croutons & Parmesan ($7), drenched in a vinaigrette with what seemed like mounds of parmesan cheese. What caught my eye was a Hot Antipasti item, Grilled Day Boat Scallops with Orange, Fennel & Cumin Sauce ($13). The sauteed scallop was huge and easily shared. The fennel was cut in pasta-like thin strips and mixed with radish chunks and pieces of orange. It was an unusual but intriguing appetizer.
My main course was one of the "Today's Pasta" choices. It was a glorious Penne with Pork Meatballs & Fontina Val D'Aosta ($16). This must have been one of their specialty creations as I hadn't had anything like this before. There were more meatballs than I expected and the pasta was just about as "al dente" as you can get without it being undercooked. The sauce with the melted fontina cheese was fabulous, and the best thing was that no one wanted any but me!
One of the dishes we shared was a vegetable side, Sauteed Spinach with Green Garlic and Lemon ($6), which was powerfully fresh and mouth-filling, cooked to perfection with an awesome blend of flavors.
Rose Pistola seems like the ideal place for meeting after work for Happy Hour . They have a worthy selection of wines and a wood-fired oven that puts out some amazing thin crust pizzas. It's a place I'd like to return to just to do a bit more menu exploring. I was hoping to try out one of their Salumi Plates (you can choose five items for $15), which has Spicy Coppa, Mild Coppa, Bresaola, Salami Calabrese, Tellicherry Salami, Fennel Salami, Pepperoni, and Mortadella. Next time!
Paul McCartney Live at A.T.T. Stadium Park
San Francisco, CA
July 10, 2010
This was the apex and highlight of my trip to the States. In fact, it was the pivotal and deciding "push" to rescue me from my work routine!
The opportunity to see former Beatle Paul (now known as Sir Paul) McCartney performing live on stage along with my brother Lee (also a musician), sister-in-law Barbara, and their third grand-daughter, Ashlyn was more than just a dream coming true! It marked off a big box on my personal "bucket list"!
Photo: Mystic Chapter V circa 1968
Top L-R Steve Hazlitt, Drums; Lee Stewart, Lead Guitar; John Cleek, Lead Singer.
Bottom L-R Ken Stewart, Bass Guitar; Bobby Goodman, Rhythm
Paul has been my musical hero, dare I say "idol" for the entirety of my teenaged and adult life. As a musician playing in a rock band during my high school days, I always looked up to him for musical inspiration. I even went as far as to imitate him by getting his famous violin-shaped Hofner acoustic electric bass guitar.
The audience of more than 40,000 fans came alive once he started playing. His song list included old Beatle favorites, some Wings songs, and a few newer releases.He did tributes to John Lennon singing "Here Today" and "Give Peace a Chance" and to George Harrison with "Something". The fireworks that went off during "Live and Let Die" were electrifying! It was hard to believe this 68-year old living legend could perform non-stop for 3 hours. His band was tight-knit and played every song meticulously, retaining the heart and soul of the original music.
It was for me, the performance of a lifetime and I cheered, sang, danced and applauded Sir Paul with the same enthusiasm and ecstatic love showered on him by all attending! It was heart-warming to see all those middle-aged and older people rocking out like there was no tomorrow! Fun, fantastic fun! Bravo, Sir Paul! You are still the greatest!
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