Bonjour! French Cocktail Night - July 12, 2013
Amika Lounge - 6:00 - 9:30 p.m.
Leo Palace Resort - Hotel Belvedere
Manenggon Hills, Yona
"Un Pot Couche du Soleil". The Leo Palace Resort has invited the public to come and enjoy a fabulous night of French food and wine for a price of $35/person inclusive. They will be introducing their French speaking Executive Chef Yasutomo Watanabe, most recently working at the Ritz Carlton Tokyo. "Ce repas de fete est bon! With delicious Hors' D'oeuvres including Ratatouille Tartlet, "Gravlax" Honey Mustard, Quiche Lorraine, Fish Terrine, Melon Jambon, Chicken Galantine, Bouchee a la reine (cream mushroom & onion pie), Madeleines, BonBon Chocolate and more. This promises to be a fun and entertaining evening of culinary delights. Call for reservations at 300-7154, 300-7707, 300-7708.
Farewell Devika!! Former Hilton F&B Director Leaves Guam for New Post in Singapore
Over the years we have welcomed and bid adios to a number of professionals in the hospitality industry. One such person is Devika de Alwis-Saelen, who recently left her position as the Food & Beverage Director of the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa. Devika has moved to assume a similar position with the Conrad Singapore. To say she will be missed by many is an understatement. Her colleagues and staff at the Hilton will definitely miss her unique leadership and vision. When it came to uncompromising standards, she was known as the "iron lady". We will miss her love and passion for the culinary arts. There are few if any who can match her appreciation for extremely hot and spicy peppers, most notably the dreaded Bhut Jolokia "ghost pepper", the world's hottest pepper, which she could eat without blinking an eye! Just before my trip to the Mainland, we invited her and her daughter Natasha to join us for dinner at Kai Restaurant(see photo with Devika in the center, flanked by Sue Yanase (Kai owner) and Zee Lynn). I had recently returned from Saipan where I picked up a jar of Tinian's Donne Salii, which I made a gift to her. Devika opened up the jar and put some on her sashimi ! Being ever adventurous, I tried it myself and lo and behold, it was a fantastic condiment for the sashimi. I've had it before mixed with soy sauce, but never straight on the sashimi! We will all miss her fabulous personality, her wit, charm, grace, intellect, and as Zee always points out, her British accent, which seems to elevate the spoken word to a higher level! She won't be far away, and has promised to visit Guam in the future. She has extended an open invitation to all of us to visit her in Singapore!
Food Bits from "Eat Your Words"
When friend and avid GuamDiner.com newsletter reader, Eleanor Artero, dropped off a copy a book she thought I'd find interesting, I had no idea it would be chockfull of curious and wonderful tidbits of information on my favorite subject - food. Cleverly titled, "Eat Your Words - A Fascinating Look at the Language of Food", this great book is authored by Charlotte Foltz Jones and illustrated by John O'Brien. It is published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books. The book describes the language of food, how food terms and phrases have become common expressions, and the origins of food. Some of the fascinating discoveries Jones shares are:
* Sandwiches - "John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, was a gambler. One night he didn't want to leave the gaming tables even to eat, so he ordered his servants to quickly bring him some meat between slices of bread. That way, he would still have one hand free to play while he filled his stomach. Today we continue to call his 'fast food' a sandwich."
* "A 'peanut' is not a pea and it's not a nut. It's a legume--a bean. It is also known by the name 'goober', which is a mispronunciation and a misspelling of the African word 'nguba'."
* Top Banana - "Early in the twentieth century a popular vaudeville or burlesque act involved the sharing of bananas. The star was called the 'top banana'. The phrase became popular, and the leading star in any show became known as the top banana. Today, the phrase can be used in any field from sports to business, as well as entertainment."
* Coconut - "The coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm tree. It resembles a human head and has thin fibers that look like dry human hair. At the base of the coconut fruit, three indentations make the coconut look like a face with two eyes and a mouth. In the 1400's explorers from Portugal discovered the fruit growing on islands in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. They decided the indentations looked like a 'coco', which means 'grinning face.' They called the fruit a coconut."
This book is fun reading for anyone curious about food names, and is ample "food for thought"!
Gabriel's House of Pasta
Hagatna (facing Chief Quipuha)
It has been some time since we last visited Gabriel's House of Pasta. This place has managed to remain viable since opening over 6 years ago. They don't sell wine or beer, however, you can bring your own bottle and there is a slight corkage fee. Since I've not written about Gabriel's for a few years, there have been many inquiries by people who've gone there asking if I'd been there or done a write up. If you've read my previous writing, you'll have noted that one of the driving forces in this restaurant was then co-partner/chef Joe Borja, whose passion and zeal seemed to exceed his hefty girth! When Joe and co-partner/owner Erica Taijeron parted ways, the restaurant remained open and operated with other cooks who really never could fill Joe's culinary boots!
We stopped by recently to try out some of the menu items. When we arrived, almost all the seats and tables were filled. It is a small restaurant, yet people kept coming in over the course of our visit. We had to modify some of the menu items to suit Zee's Vegetarian preferences. The Insalata Verde - tossed greens covered with a wheel of vegetables and mozzarella cheese with a side of roasted pepper vinaigrette ($9.25) didn't have the Mozzarella. I would have preferred that the dressing was on the side as there was too much on the salad.
The next appetizer was the Mussels Bianco which are whole mussels sauteed with garlic and onions then simmered in white wine and herb butter ($12). I remember this dish as being exceptionally flavorful, however, for some reason the taste was muted, almost understated with watery broth. I was a bit surprised by this and also by the mussels, which didn't have the same texture, nor color, as the previous ones. These seemed a less expensive mussel that came out a little mushy.
If there's one thing that Gabriel's still does as good as they used to, that would be their Garlic Bread Basket, featuring bread smothered in herb garlic butter then lightly toasted and topped with shredded parmesan cheese ($4.50). We ordered half with cheese and the other with out. I don't think any else had garlic toast/bread to match Gabriel's...it'll change the way you breathe and smell!!
Another appetizer I tried was the Sausage Marsala (spicy), which has sliced Italian sausage sauteed with onions, bell peppers, pepper flakes, garlic then flavored with Marsala wine served with Garlic Bread ($10.00). This was a fairly tasty dish and I was feeling better after my first few experiences.
For my main course, I had the Pasta Giuseppe (spicy), which is similar to the Sausage Marsala, but with a different sauce. The Pasta Giuseppe also has sliced Italian sausage sauteed with bell peppers, pepperoni, garlic, onions, mushrooms and anchovies then tossed with linguini ($11.75). This dish has all the elements to make it work and it was quite good and definitely will fill you up especially after having two loaves of bread!
Zee's main course was the Puttanesca (Spicy) sauteed garlic, kalamata olives, pepper flakes, capers and anchovies in a white wine tomato broth over linguini ($10). She seemed to like it, though I don't know how much anchovy they put in there. One of the dishes I have to try on a future visit is their Fettuccini Alfredo, which I remember as one of the island's richest and thickest! Also, I was impressed with their family-style dining version of spaghetti with their Lady and The Tramp - 2 soups, 2 salads, 1 large bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, and a slice of New York Style Cheesecake for $26.00! That's a deal!