March 8th, 2010

Meet Hani Khouri, local cheese maker, goat herder, food producer

Hani KhouriWhen 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
305.562.3202

The goats feed on alfalfa, corn and organic greens often from neighboring farmers

The goats feed on alfalfa, corn and organic greens

Mary Lee takes one of Maria's babies closer to her

Mary Lee takes one of Maria's babies closer to her

Cleopatra

Cleopatra

Scratch, scratch

Scratch, scratch

Gretl nibbling at my shirt

Gretl nibbling on my shirt

The goats run up to Hani when they hear the sound of the bucket containing corn

The goats run up to Hani when they hear the sound of the bucket containing corn

* All photos taken by D. More over on his Flickr photostream.

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11 Responses to “Meet Hani Khouri, local cheese maker, goat herder, food producer”

  1. Did you notice that one of the goats is saying cheese for you in the first picture? :)

  2. Yes, they like to smile. Some even posed of us, like this one.

  3. I met you at Erickson Farms with Slow Foods and follow your blog. Is there any possibility of doing a tour or tasting down at Hani Khouri”s. Sounds like a wonderful place and I love goat cheese. Long drive from Ft. Lauderdale but would be worth it.

  4. Hi Rosalie – I remember. Thanks for stopping by. I’ve forwarded your inquiry to Hani and will get back to you. Great idea!

  5. Great picture of Hani!

  6. [...] brought a goose egg home with me today. I found it at Hani Khouri’s stand at the Pinecrest Farmers Market. Next to the tiny chicken egg, it looked [...]

  7. I really love goat cheese desserts, their are awesome. If I have guests, I just make goat cheese deserts and they love it. Are there any other good uses for goat cheese?

  8. [...] also has a wonderful story on the mushrooms grown at Paradise Farms and the cover story features Hani Khouri’s goats and delves into how he makes his goat cheese. Norman van Aken writes about mamey and lychees and [...]

  9. [...] after, Mango & Lime came out and took pictures of Cleo’s kids, including the very pregnant doe Maria. [...]

  10. I would like to meet this Cheesemaker, goatherder.

    I would like to buy some cheese, and/or milk, but I do not know his address or phone #.

    Thanks,

    Ammon Hamm

    I just moved here (miami, fl) from Pennsylvania.

  11. [...] Hani’s Organics: I met Hani, the goat cheese farmer and his lovely family at Fairchild Tropical Garden when I did a cooking demo there. He was a big hit, long lines wait for his Mediterranean lunch offerings. Mango and Lime did a great writeup. [...]

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