Weighing In on Eating Out
A food writer’s guide to dining well and living to tell about it
Photography by Stewart Pinsky
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As I gushed about the fried oysters at a certain new restaurant, my doctor inched the scale upward. “Hmm,” she said ominously. “Let’s watch your cholesterol intake.” Gulp. I needed a strategy quick, before my food-writing career fattened more than my wallet. I soon discovered vitamin-packed menus all over the island, most of them foreign-flagged. Dust off your passport; we’re touring Maui’s international circuit to find gourmet meals that fit our bill of health.
The Mediterranean Sea laps up to Maui shores at the Plantation House Restaurant (2000 Plantation Club Dr., Kapalua 669-6299), where Chef Alex Stanislaw makes generous use of ancient wisdom. For over 5,000 years, cooks have depended on olive oil, one of the culinary wonders of the world. Overflowing with antioxidants, its cancer-fighting and cardiovascular benefits are well documented. Chef Stanislaw’s sashimi drizzled in lemon olive oil atop arugula and sides of asparagus, snap peas, and spinach sautéed in olive oil make getting your daily dose of good oils a delicious prospect. Choose from an array of Mediterranean-inspired fish preparations, any of which can be transformed into a vegetarian dish upon request. (This is standard at many fine restaurants, though few advertise it.) My favorite is the pan-roasted onaga (ruby snapper) served on a light stew of shrimp, green beans, and baby fava beans in a pine-nut sauce.
A line out the door and family-style seating add to the jovial atmosphere of tiny Café Des Amis (42 Baldwin Ave., Pa‘ia 579-6323). The food here has to be fresh, given the pint-sized kitchen. The crépe-based menu is simple, but good ingredients don’t need much to make them outstanding. Spinach and feta crépes are served with wild greens and a dollop of sour cream. Lightly spiced curries come with chutney and raita, traditional Indian yogurt sauce. Go easy on the chutney, but eat all the raita you want—the low-fat yogurt is calcium-rich and provides beneficial live cultures. Try the appetizer plate with hummus (a garbanzo bean spread high in protein, fiber, and iron) and dolmas (Greek grape leaves stuffed with rice).