Fresh New Grinds At Anini Beach
“Buying your goods from local businesses rather than national chains generates about three times as much money for your local economy,” says Barbara Kingsolver in her book
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a memoir about her family’s decision to eat exclusively local food for one year.
That is difficult to do even on the Mainland, but two ladies on the North Shore offer a simple menu that relies on local products.
Partners Maria Maitino and Tewa Holloway have replaced the fish taco truck at Anini Beach with Lilikoi Lunch & Juice Bar, a lunch truck serving good food and carefully selected ingredients that fluctuate with the seasons.
“We support the local farmers and want to protect the environment for future generations,” says Holloway. “We can empower ourselves and our kids, support our local community, the soil, the ocean, even the air, all at the same time, just by eating organic food.”
Chef Alan Wong, an advocate for locally produced food, echoes the idea of sustainability in his new cookbook The Blue Tomato. “Sustainable means making sure that our children’s grandchildren will enjoy what we enjoy today,” Wong writes.
“It feels good to be serving food that is good for the planet, good for Kaua’i, good for the folks who eat it and it’s good for us in terms of preparing the food,” says Maitino, a former teacher and former owner of Thai To Go in Kilauea.
Maitino and Holloway buy their produce from as many as eight Kaua’i farms. “We could buy exclusively from one farmer, but we like to spread the wealth,” explains Holloway.
If you’re in need of sustenance, the hearty Mix Plate ($9) is easy on the waistline and light on the wallet. Island Style Chili is the main attraction, and you can choose between quinoa or brown basmati rice, and a green or kale salad.
The hearty chili is served in a recyclable plate, and is loaded with red beans, black beans, taro, Okinawan sweet potatoes and carrots. Coconut milk makes it rich and creamy, and the mild chili is a little sweet. I add some house-made chili pepper sauce to heat things up.
Everything is made fresh daily with as much as the island can supply. For the chili, Hanalei farmer Chris Kobayashi supplies the taro, the Okinawan sweet potatoes are from Kolo Kai farms and the carrots are from Moloa’a Organica’a. Kobayashi also supplies the ni’oi for the chili pepper sauce.
The green side salad is crisp and fresh not a bad piece of lettuce in the bunch. It’s a little peppery, a little bitter, but not in a bad way. Freshly grated carrots and diced cucumber add a juicy crunch. The savory house-made pesto dressing, made with basil from Wootens Produce of Kaua’i, is bursting with the essence of summer.
“We get our lettuce from Phil Davies twice a week,” says Holloway of the triple washed blend. “It’s a phenomenal mix of baby lettuces: mizuna, arugula, red oak and green. It stays really fresh and beautiful.”
Even the drinks are housemade and served in recyclable cups. Mint Lemonade, ($3), sweetened with organic sugar, and Ginger Lemonade ($3), sweetened with honey, are bright, healthy ways to wash down your meal.
For dessert, I try the Chocolate Cashew Chia Seed pudding ($5), sweetened with organic sugar. The soaked seeds are like individual balls of jelly, making a super-yummy raw “tapioca” pudding. “It’s very healthy and rich, but not too rich because the chia seeds lighten it up,”