So don't miss this extraordinary meal and all of the good fun and entertainment that awaits at this year's 10th Anniversary gala dinner celebration! Call UOG Endowment Foundation Office at 735-2956/57 for more information and tickets.
MV Guam Burgerfest 2012
19 May 2012
The Marianas Variety's MV Burgerfest 2012 was the 3rd year for this competition. Eight teams vied for the Judges Cup by preparing their most creative "Gourmet Burger, (something that qualified by having a protein between two buns). This year's competition didn't include a category for Classic Burgers(thank goodness!) as in the past two events. This was my first time judging as I was off-island on the prior two events and I was very impressed with how well this event was organized. The Skinner Plaza location was ideal and this year Marianas Variety teamed up with the GHRA to hold Taste Guam, with the first day(Saturday) dedicated to the Burger competition (along with other food booths). There was also a People's Choice judging. The 2nd Day featured the Budweiser Chef's Cup Competition along with food vendor booths and entertainment.
Sweeping the Grilling Competition for Best Gourmet Burger and BurgerFest People's Choice was Mosa's Hotbox! Their Spinach Mushroom Bleu Cheese Burger was the all-out favorite! Sara Pleadwell and Monique Genereux have been practicing every day perfecting this flavor-packed burger, which you can purchase at their mobile canteen! Other competitors who made some pretty awesome gourmet burgers was Meskla Dos, Table 35, House of Brutus, Tony Roma's, Royal Orchid's Donne Dinanche, RV's Best, and Sunset Grill. All were worthy competitors, and all had burgers I'd order and eat anyway. One of my major complaints as a judge was that we had to eat each burger to get the full taste! Well, one thing for sure...we got "full!
Java Hut Coffee Shop
OP Plaza Building(behind Oka Pay-Less)
Boy am I glad I met Rubyjane Buhain-Redila @ a recent OOG Mover's & Shakers Mixer at the Santa Fe last week! She told me that she'd bought Java Hut Coffee Shop and that I should come by and try it out! Well, we did just that this past Sunday morning and were glad to find another place where you can order and enjoy a simple, straightforward breakfast without having to eat a buffet!!
I'd been to Java Hut before, but it is now an entirely new and unique experience, and reflects Rubyjane's personality and style. The artwork, cozy furnishings, and great background music all work together to keep you in your seat refreshing yourself!
There's a lot of options here that surprised me, including their Fondue offerings (Spinach Artichoke is $7.99, Triple Cheese is $19.99, and Chocolate is $15.99). I don't want to say "greedy" but you can get all three for $38.00. They serve breakfast all day and the breakfast menu items comes with a 12 oz. daily grind or iced tea. I ordered the Breakfast Deluxe ($7.95) which had fluffy pancakes with eggs and breakfast sausages(only they were out of sausages and gave me bacon instead). This was a very filling breakfast and I was generally satisfied, with the exception being my butter was still hard and needed warming to spread easier. Zee was a bit more ambitious and went for a Banana Strawberry Nutella Panini ($4.95), to which she added Bacon for $1.50. This was probably a little messier than she'd planned, but the taste was able to redeem the mess and she ate it all!
Java Hut's open Monday - Fridays from 6:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., Satuday from 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., and Sunday from 7:00- 5:00 p.m. Put a little Java in your day!
I Chinagen Chamoru @ The Beach - (The Chamorro Experience) Cultural Tour and Beach BBQ Dinner Show (Lina la show is closed on Wednesday & Sundays)
Lina'La Park, Chamorro Cultural Park
Hafa adai! That's our welcome to tourists and greetings to our friends. It's a phrase often used in letters and speeches, and there's even a popular song by Jimmy Dee called "Hafa Adai. However, I don't think I've ever felt the power of "Hafa Adai"until I heard it expressed by Ron Acfalle, who is the Maga'lahi (Chief) Halu'u in the magnificent show production in Lina'La Park's I Chinagen Chamoru (the Chamorro Experience). When the Maga'lahi says "Hafa adai, he is a strong, vibrant leader of the people and it's the only phrase most haoles and tourists understand from this production in which the Chamoru language is all that is spoken by the inhabitants of the ancient village that is hidden within the jungle. (Don't fret, there is some English and Japanese translation by Vincente "Guello"Rosario, the Narrator. ) All the chants and songs are in Chamoru, which maintains the authenticity of this journey to our island's past.
Before I go further, it should be noted that this is primarily a tourist attraction and is run by a company (the Baldyga Group) that packages and sells attraction experiences to tourists. In order for you to appreciate the entire production and experience as depicted in the photo collages for this review, you have to pay for the Complete Package(local rate is $45), which includes the Ancient Chamoru Village Tour, The BBQ Sunset Dinner at the Beach, and the after dinner Show Performance, which starts at the Beach and returns to the Village. You can purchase the BBQ Dinner only for $30(local rate) exclusive of beverages, and if you want to see the after dinner show, it will cost you an additional $10! The value is fantastic, and moreover, the proceeds from resident admission revenue are donated to the Baldyga-Lina'La Foundation towards the preservation of the Chamorro culture. My recommendation is for you to get the Complete Package, which means you arrive at 5:00 p.m. and take your tour of the historic village of Gogna that's been painstakingly replicated. In all of my years of seeing a variety of island beach bbq dinner show performances, many of which are quite good though mostly Polynesian, I've never seen one that even comes close to what you will experience here. If there is a way define "real"or "authentic", these folks have made a very convincing case defining the experience and it's one that will make your heart swell with the pride of the islands!
Essentially, the story conveyed describes the creation of the Chamorro culture, which is estimated to be over 3,500 years old. I Nina' Huyong is the story of its creation. When you arrive in the village, you are welcomed with a cleansing ceremony and greeted with a shell lei. The villagers only speak Chamorro and they are all dressed as was customary in their time, revealing muscular firm bodies in the men and soft, supple ones in the women. There is no modesty here, just an honest depiction of ancient Chamorro life. Their wholesome natural beauty enhances the performance. The guided village tour takes you to the men's house, the chief's house, the medicine man's house, and the cooking area. They had baked parrot fish in the ground and sampled some to us . In the village they inhabitants raised animals that included deer, chickens, goats, wild pigs, birds, turtles, water buffalo, and coconut crabs. It's a fun area for interaction as guests can pet some of the animals.
We were then lead out of the jungle to an open area on the beach with huts. Here demonstrations took place, including spear throwing, weaving, coconut husking, stick fighting, and dances. I was able to toss the wooden spear into the target a few times. Tourists enjoyed the hands on husking, grating, and drinking fresh coconut juice. There is a souvenir hut nearby where you can purchase trinkets and souvenirs including coconut oil.
It's now time(around 6 p.m.) to move to the ocean front BBQ which has tables with BBQ Grills in the center. On the table is your dinner salad, red rice, chicken kelaguen, and a tray with two sauces(finadene and garlic ginger). You can order your beverages here(at additional cost), however they do have drink specials(ask your server). While you enjoy your company and the beautiful ocean and shoreline just a few feet away, you are treated to the mellifluous and melodious voice of entertainer Brandy J who strums the guitar rhythmically. Her singing is enchanting and she lures you into a near dream state—it's not loud, discordant music—its like having your spirit massaged by her singing---now that's a talent you don't see or hear often! You then receive a food platter with raw chicken breast, hot dogs on wooden skewers, a shrimp kebab with bell peppers, onion, and eggplant, steak, corn, and fish (basa filet) in foil. There's also a bowl with a special seasoning blend, kind of a seasoned salt. You cook all this yourself and enjoy the passing time as the sun begins its descent into the ocean's horizon. The timing of dinner's ending is just after the sun sets, and a dessert is served (coconut pudding). As I mentioned, this BBQ Dinner by itself is $30. If you'd like to upgrade with a lobster tail, it will be an additional $20. The food is all palatable, and can actually be quite good, depending on how you cook it and season it!
As Brandy J ends her set, you then see a line of flaming torches coming up the beach by a group of natives. They stop in front of you and begin another chant, which is the start of the Cultural Performance(I Fiananu'en Pengnga' Haya). You are then guided back into the village in the jungle where a fire burns in a pit. The lighting is amazing (it is a theatrical production) as your eyes adjust to the darkness. The Maga'lahi picks out from among the assembled guests a Chief, a wife of the Chief, and then a bodyguard. The Maga'lahi then narrates I Tinituhon(The Beginning), which is the story of creation. The villagers chant a reprise as the guests are seated. Next, Guiya Mana'takkilo'(He is Made High) is performed. It is a chant praising a navigator who sails a canoe. His knowledge of celestial navigation and canoe building is recounted. While you are watching you can't help but internalize the passion and sincerity of these performing artists! They are more than acting...they are embodying the performance. And you are more than just a witness...you have been anointed with coconut oil...you are part of it!
Next there is a modern dance interpretation by a beautiful young woman who is dressed in fairy like garb personifying an ancient spirit which acknowledges the Maga'lahi as he recounts his ancestry. This is the story of how Puntan, the first Chamorro, made a gift to his mother's clan of a special place with fresh water and springs, with no people. He empowered the first paramount female, his sister Fo'na, begin the process of the creation of the tribe. Fo'na and Puntan are actually portrayed by the youngest villagers—they are in fact brother and sister performers. A really emphatic chant comes next, Hita I Manaotao Ini Na Tano(We are the People of this Land) . This chant asserts the people's claim to the ocean and the land. The performance concludes with I Matao(the People), which is the last call and response with the Maga' lahi urging his people to respond to his calls "The pride of the Chamorro people. We are he ancient people. The first people." The villagers respond resoundingly "The People!
Kudos to all the performers(would you believe that 6 of Ron Acfalle's children are part of the cast?!!) The solo dance performance by Heather Manley (as the ancient spirit) is wondrous and elevating. Kudos to Leonard Iriarte for his chant and musical creations. The sound and lighting were expertly set up by the show's co-producer, Chuck McCarroll. Finally, one huge thank you to Mark Baldyga for making this production a reality . His creative inspiration and collaboration with McCarroll and Iriarte have made this an amazingly memorable and life-affirming renderings of a people's story -among the most authentic and heartfelt I've ever seen.
Si Yu'us Ma'ase'
Ken the Guam Food Guy