There was a time in my life when I was totally addicted to Food TV. This was pre-cable shutdown in my household. Cable or groceries, cable or groceries? Yeah, it was a tough decision. I figured I could just go for the Nicole Richie look while wasting away in front of the boob tube but alas, I couldn’t do it. A Food TV addiction needs food. Duh. It’s like watching “Flair Bartending” without a drink in hand. No bueno.
Anyway, I would watch Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, and (be still, my heart) Michael Chiarello (Hello, Napa Valley!) and then rush out to the grocery store for dinner supplies. Sounds simple, but it’s not. First of all, buying a bunch of ingredients costs a bunch of money. Who knew farina costs six bucks a box? It’s still cream of wheat, right? Not to mention, half the time I couldn’t find what I was looking for. The biggest problem is that I’m a crappy cook. Let’s not dwell on that.
So we shut off the cable, bought a dozen cases of saimin and I’ve been unsatisfied ever since. That is, until I figured out that I lived right down the road from John Paul Fine Foods in the Pukalani Square. Thank you, God.
John Paul Fine Foods is in the little spot where Maui’s Best Tamales used to be, right next to Paradise Pharmacy. It’s great—you hit the pharmacy for your week’s worth of Tylenol PM and then you pop into John Paul’s for a homemade dinner to go. Can it get any better?
On a daily basis, you can find good stuff like chicken potpie, veggie lasagna, lasagna bolognese (fancy name for meat lasagna), mac and cheese, meatloaf, turkey meatloaf, salads, shepherd’s pie, cold fried chicken, and a bunch of other staples. They also have a great selection of homemade soups, varying gourmet dishes like osso bucco and crab cakes, cheese and charcuterie (fancy name for cured and dried meats), and interesting bottled beverages like fermented lemonade.
I have tried the turkey meatloaf, the porcini scalloped potatoes, the pumpkin soup, focaccia and that fermented lemonade drink. It was all tasty.
The turkey meatloaf was hearty and had great flavor—a little nutty, a little sweet, very savory. The porcini scalloped potatoes were creamy, extremely filling and had a hint of nutmeg to them. You can’t go wrong with butter, cream and starch.
The pumpkin soup was refreshing; one of those things you can eat cold or warm. When it’s warm I like to plop a big spoonful of sour cream into it.
The focaccia was good—especially when I started using it as a medium for consuming ungodly amounts of olive oil and balsamic. The lemonade was fancy—it had just enough alcohol in it to make you feel, well, fancy. Plus, the bottle it comes in is really cute and doubles as a small vase.
You can buy a complete dinner for two for about $30. This is good considering it would cost about the same to go out to dinner at a so-so restaurant, and way more if you were to buy the ingredients to make all this stuff yourself. Not to mention, if you’re smart, you could really impress someone by going to John Paul’s, sticking the food that you got into the oven and then pretending you made it. Not that I did that. Really, that meatloaf recipe has been in my family for generations. MTW