Two West Maui Ventures Want You To Eat Better

Lahaina Farms & Maui Prime Fine Foods Open for Discriminating Foodies

Two West Maui Ventures Want You To Eat Better

If any of you dear readers haven't been to the west side of Maui in a while, things are a-changin' in them parts of the chain. First off, the number of townhomes, condos and developments on the mauka side of the highway is staggering. Which obviously isn't going to help the insufferable traffic problems West Maui is already experiencing. Yet aside from the gridlock, a long-running complaint had always been the lack of markets and organic produce in Lahaina and beyond. And with the sheer number of farmers from Haleakala to Hana, it had been a crying shame no one north of the Pali could seem to get ahold of so much as a Maui-grown papaya.

All that has allegedly changed with last week's official opening of the 14,000 sq. ft. Lahaina Farms market, located in the new Lahaina Gateway Plaza (also home to a new Borders bookstore, Melting Pot restaurant and other such attractions). Situated across the bumper snarled road from the extremely tired and in need of an overhaul Lahaina Cannery Mall, Lahaina Farms is owned by the Sullivan Family, who brought you the Foodland chain.

Yet unlike it's gynormous sibling, Lahaina Farms aims to bring West Maui'ans 75% natural or organic foods, in addition to an R. Fields Wine Co. section complete with fine foods, wines and cheeses.

Purchasing director Simon Cutts, who escaped a California organic market before it was gobbled up by Whole Foods, promises that Lahaina Farms will more resemble Zabar's and the market at Grand Central Station (both in New York City) more so than the more well-known natural food markets around the nation. Cutts also alluded to keeping a keen eye on what clientele hopes to have made available to them, instead of larger, corporate markets who merely dictate what we eat, and focus on the price margins of said items.

Cutts will also stock local Maui products, which include Ono Gelato from Pa'ia (which is all the buzz on Maui at press time), among others.

Another relative newcomer on the Lahaina food scene is Maui Prime Fine Foods, located in the Emerald Plaza in Lahaina. Owners Cary and Karin Button had one goal in mind when they opened the shop: To offer top quality seafood, meats, wine and accoutrement to Mauians that were previously available only to restaurateurs and chefs.

We met the Button's at this year's Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, where Cary shared his passion for importing select oysters from the Pacific Northwest, Snake River Farms rib eye and Kurobuta pork chops. He speaks with pride when noting that he carries local products like Maui Cattle Co. ground beef and Haleakala Ranch lamb, which have raised the bar for Hawaii-harvested meat as of late.

Maui Prime is also home to a tasteful selection of cheeses from the big producing European countries, in addition to olive oils, vinegars, salts and other odds n' ends from around the globe. Another of Maui Prime's winning qualities is the ability to stock well-rounded and hard to find wines, complete with price tags that are unbeatable in the islands. Yet perhaps their most stand-out characteristic is their availability to all clients who request help in party planning or food preparations. Cary Button, a CIA-trained chef, is on-hand and willing to discuss any and all food pairings you have time for.

Maui Prime is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Maui Prime owners Cary and Karin Button had one goal in mind when they opened the shop: To offer top quality seafood, meats, wine and accoutrement to Mauians that were previously available only to restaurateurs and chefs.