Kaua‘i find: Living Foods Market + Cafe

San Francisco transplant (and a 1996 Food+Wine Best New Chef) Jim Moffat is going island wide. With his Bar Acuda in Hanalei getting play in every national food magazine (though not so known in Hawai‘i—why???), in January he expanded to the other end of Kaua‘i with Living Foods Market and Cafe in the faux old plantation mall Kukui‘ula Village just up the road from Po‘ipu Beach.

I was in Poipu on assignment and Bruna Stude, owner of the singular Galerie 103 (if you’re going to Kaua‘i soon, don’t miss the exhibition The Golden Thread: Works by Kathleen Adair Brown, on view through July 31) recommended I check out the new café. Walk past Dude Dogs, tchotchke shops, Quiksilver, and a lot of empty storefronts, and lo—a fresh food oasis. A place where you can get a quick, simple, well-made bite to eat and stock up on groceries not even available in Honolulu. There’s a cheese selection—imported and local, island-grown fruits and vegetables, wine and beer, and gourmet oils, sauces, pastas, condiments and other containers of things that I wanted to buy but would have been confiscated from me at airport security. Because I am a vinegar-bomb-making expert!

At the counter facing the open kitchen, featuring a gas-burning oven, choose from pizzettas, crêpes, panini, chopped salad that comes as a disk, like tartare, and sandwich specials made with house-baked bread. (The tuna salad sandwich was light and herby.)

Kitchen leader X (he did not want to disclose his name), is doing a great job and hinted that bigger plans are afoot for the cafe. I’ll keep you posted. He promised he’d even tell me his name. Cautious is good.

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