Fresh, Local, Organic Living Foods

Living Foods Market and Cafe owner/chef Jim Moffat

Living Foods Market and Café, located in Kukui’ula Village Shopping Center in Po’ipu, is as much about community as it is about high-quality, fresh, local and organic foods.

“We need the locals to be here. We need to make sure that we have the things that they want,” owner Jim Moffat says. “We want to be here for the community.”

As a longtime chef, Moffat savors the intimate connection to the community – a direct relationship that living on Kaua’i gives him. He is passionate about self-sufficiency and sustainability. He closes the community circle by creating relationships with local farmers, fishermen and ranchers. Farmers are encouraged when he tells them: “Put 400 pineapples in the ground, I’ll buy every one of them!”

Inspired by his life experiences, Moffat has created an air-conditioned environment with great music and outside dining, where folks can enjoy leisurely conversation over well-made dishes, or take home fresh ingredients to create nourishing meals and connections over the family table.

A custom-made mortadella sandwich

The market displays 1,800 grocery items, including fresh, local produce. A variety of imported and local cheeses offers Рin my opinion, the best cheese selection on the island. In the coolers, dairy products are nestled next to meals prepared at the caf̩ along with house-made dressings, sauces, marinades and sausages. You can even have the kitchen prepare a picnic basket for a day at the beach!

Fresh-baked breads and pastries, all golden and flaky, beckon from the bakery case while pastas and sauces, beer and wine, beauty, body and household products line the shelves. Soon, Moffat will be adding four feet to every shelf to accommodate the addition of 600 new grocery items, including supplements.

While fresh chickens are being loaded into the rotisserie, Moffat explains, “We had a lot of prepared meals, marinated meats restaurant-style, ready for your grill, sealed in a grab-and-go fashion. We found that people wanted a relationship with a butcher to talk about prosciutto or a steak, so we adjusted.”

He points to a meat case lined with trays of glistening local shrimp, certified organic Angus beef, Kaua’i beef burgers, local fish, all-natural chicken and racks of lamb, and adds with a smile, “You can still take it to your grill.”

The cafe offers sandwiches, pizza, panini, salads, crepes and fish tacos with house-made corn tortillas. Drinks, such as the pineapple agua fresca or hibiscus tea, provide a fresh alternative to soda. The café roasts coffee on site with beans from each island and creates a variety of espresso drinks.

The market offers 1,800 grocery items, including fresh, local produce

Hubby Dan and I decided to share the Fungi Pizza ($12) and a custom-made sandwich off the sandwich board ($8.50). From eight cold cut selections we chose mortadella – an Italian pork sausage lightly spiced with whole peppercorns and pistachios. Jack cheese, yellow mustard, garlic mayo, avocado, Hawaiian lettuce and tomato were piled high and tucked between two fat slices of house-made focaccia.

It was a thing of beauty, a man-sized sandwich with a soft golden dome of fresh baked bread smelling of fresh rosemary and olive oil. The focaccia was moist and had a bounce to it. Large, airy holes laced the tender bread and a light sprinkling of sea salt made the flavors come alive. A generous amount of mortadella was nestled in layers of crunchy lettuce and juicy tomatoes. Great tomatoes are hard to grow on Kaua’i, and that means Mainland varieties often arrive on our island lacking life. The tomatoes on this sandwich were sweet and flavorful, the texture was smooth, with the juices mingling with the garlic mayo and mustard bringing the whole thing together.

Leonard Aguinaleo slides a Fungi Pizza in the oven

The Fungi Pizza is my idea of a great pizza: thin crust and simple toppings. It’s fire-roasted and whisper-thin with crackly brown bits and topped with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, a combination of mild fontina and salty Parmesan cheeses and sprinkled with fresh thyme.

The crust snapped between my teeth and an explosion of sweet, salty, earthy herb flavor swam in my mouth as strings of cheese clung to my chin. Every ingredient was easily distinguishable on my taste buds, another nod toward Moffat’s use of fresh, quality ingredients.

Living Foods offers educational activities, such as the once-a-month cooking courses at 5 p.m. at the Wednesday Kukui’ula farmers market. Monthly wine tastings add to the bustle of seasonal events. Patrons recently competed in a pumpkin-carving contest that featured a $100 gift certificate for the winner. A pie-making contest is scheduled for Nov. 22.

Freshly made, fire-roasted Fungi Pizza

Moffat’s parents taught him the value of communal meals and how they enrich our lives. He recalls a family trip to the Bahamas over New Year’s when he was 11 years old. “One evening my dad handed us a huge net and sent us off down the pier to catch crabs,” he says. “We boiled up a big pot of water and put all these huge crabs in it, and we just sat there and tore open crabs.”

His smile grows wider. “The beautiful thing about food is that it forces communication and family. Food forces the family together. It’s an excuse for connection.”

Living Foods Market, located 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St., Poipu, in Kukui’ula Shopping Village, is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 742-2323 or go to livingfoodskauai.com.

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