When we arrived at Hani Khouri’s home in Redland on Sunday, only 12 hours had passed since one of his goats, Maria, gave birth to two babies. Nearby, three baby goats napped inside a plastic igloo warmed by a heat lamp. The three – Nelly, Clark Gable and Errol Flynn – were born six days ago to Cleopatra.
The family of Nubian goats is now 13 strong (another one was born the morning after we visited) and more babies are on the way from other expectant mothers. At Khouri’s home, the floppy-eared, playful goats, which live well in warm climates and produce milk rich in butterfat, roam freely except at night and when they’re milked. The milking period for the goats is between March and September after the does (female goats) have given birth to their offspring.
Originally from Lebanon, Khouri is a multi-lingual MBA who traveled the world to places like Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Salzburg starting up businesses before moving back to South Florida with his wife Mary Lee to semi-retire. He purchased a home and bought a few goats from a friend.
Always a fan of cooking, Khouri decided to get a table at the Great Green Family Festival at the Fruit and Spice Park in November 2008. It was his first exposure to the public.
“People liked the food a lot,” he recalls. So he began going to farmers markets and developing different varieties of cheese.
Today, Hani’s Mediterranean Organics sells healthy, organic prepared foods like hummus and baba ganoush; goat, feta and halloumi cheeses; and goat milk ice cream in tropical fruit flavors.
A lot of Khouri’s business comes from farmers markets. If you’ve visited the Pinecrest or Coral Gables markets, chances are you’ve tasted his food. He also takes orders online. But his products have found their way to other outlets too.
Last summer, for instance, Redland Organics started offering cheese and Mediterranean shares as add-ons to its CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares. These have done well, according to Khouri. He also provides cheese to Paradise Farms for its Dinner in Paradise series. This exposes Khouri’s products to chefs who may have never worked with them.
But chefs have also been catching on. Khouri is radiant when he tells us that his goat cheese is used at Michael’s Genuine. And this week, he’ll be making 30 pounds of cheese for chef Michael Wagner of Lola’s on Harrison.
“The response to the food is very satisfying,” says Khouri. “It’s very good when people tell me my hummus is the best they’ve had.”
And of course he’ll always have his goats and the serenity and quiet that he says tending to them brings him.
Hani’s Mediterranean Organics
* All photos taken by D. More over on his Flickr photostream.