Wanna cook a plump and juicy goose for Christmas? How about a succulent and sweet lobster? Or a well-marbled USDA prime New York steak that you can sizzle to perfect doneness on the grill?
No problemo. Maui Prime Fine Foods gourmet specialty store in Lahaina has it all, including a knowledgeable staff that will show you how to do it.
"The biggest thing going on right now at our store is that we're selling jumbo Alaskan king crab at wholesale prices, $1 cheaper per pound than at the big-box stores," says owner Cary Button.
Valery Magry and Will Hawkins showcase live Maine lobster from the Maui Prime Fine Foods tank, as well as live dungeness crab.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Maui Prime is selling these jumbo red monsters of the deep for $18.99 per pound. They are fresh, cooked right on the boats, brined and then kept frozen until you are ready to eat them.
"We also have a tank filled with live Maine lobsters and dungeness crabs. The quality is awesome," he says.
Cary and his wife, Karin Button, also own Oyster Seafood in the back of the house. It's the largest wholesaler of fresh oysters on the island, and every top hotel and restaurant on island buys from them. In addition, Maui Prime was recently voted the No. 1 Gourmet Store in Hawaii in a local contest.
"We've got it all," says Cary. "Several types of oysters, clams, mussels, crab claws and fresh fish."
For 30 years now, Cary has brought in more shellfish than any other wholesaler on Maui. The food constantly rotates out and so it's as fresh as it gets. The display case is a visual delight, packed with many items from faraway shores.
The Buttons are avid world travelers and recently returned from Romania, Serbia and the Czech Republic. They love fine dining and savor the best foods on the planet. They know the creme de la creme of purveyors and work with them to bring the products home to Maui.
"What was really cool on our recent trip was our visit to Belgrade, Serbia, where we stayed at the Grand Hyatt," says Cary. "We visited with Jeff Foster, who formerly was here on Maui as executive sous chef at the Hyatt Kaanapali.
"When we were there, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her entourage walked past us in the lobby."
Getting back to the foods that Maui Prime serves, Cary is brining in jars of Beluga caviar. Connoisseurs know it is the ultimate indulgence over Christmas and New Year's Eve, when savored and paired with a fine champagne.
"We're selling Beluga caviar for $65 per one-ounce jar, and you may also get it in three, four, or eight-ounce jars, or go for the gusto and buy one pound."
Prefer meats over seafood? Interesting holiday meats that Cary ships in are buffalo, pheasant, ostrich and venison.
"We carry everything from fresh quail to antelope to elk to yak to even anaconda meat," chimes in Karin. "And, don't be afraid to buy and cook a plump goose for your family dinners."
"I cook a goose the same way Julia Child cooked a goose," says Cary. "I brine it first, steam it for an hour, and then roast it for two-and-a-half hours at 325 degrees. It turns out almost like kalua pig; it's so tender and juicy. Plus, it renders all of the fat, and makes it so wonderful."
Cary has cooked a goose at his house for four years in a row. "Please make sure to place your orders now for unusual items such as caviar and goose, because believe it or not, they sell out fast."
The store's wine selection continues to grow each year.
"When we first started off here in our spot at Emerald Plaza, 142 Kupuohi in Lahaina, way above the Lahaina Gateway center, we only had a dozen different bottles of wine," says Cary. "Now, we've got at least 30 different wines on the rack."
Gourmets will also find a nice selection of cheeses, olives, crackers, spreads, mustards and more. I'm a big fan of Maui Prime's feta and oysters.
Employee Will Hawkins will shuck the oysters for you and put it on ice packs in case you forget your cooler. Choose from Fanny Bay to Kumamoto. And, as the name implies, Maui Prime sells only the best cuts of meat from rib eyes to filet mignon.
Store hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Call 661-4912 or surf the web at www.mauiprime.com.