Minga Skills Hub – Goat Cheese Making & The Joint Cafe
I love trying new things. The courage needed to get started is what keeps life interesting. Afterall, you can only say “I’ve never done that before” once! After that, it is definitely “practice makes perfect”.
Uhm, maybe except for tennis. I can’t play to save my life.
Minga Skills Hub is a place where neighbours can come together and learn skills from other neighbours. The goal is to take the newly acquired skills home and teach others so that skills are not something that we leave for only for the ‘experts’, but are acts that we are able to do with our hands that will ground us emotionally, physically and spiritually .
Minga offers an affordable fee with a sliding scale of $35-$55, encouraging people with different budgets to sign up and join the fun. Different skill classes have different costs though. I was ecstatic and surprised when Y announced that he would love to join me for the goat cheese making class – it was 9am on Sunday in Guelph and Y is really no early bird.
Artisanale generously allowed us to use their restaurant for the morning since they are not open on Sundays. I need to head back to Guelph one day to dine at this place!
Ami, Greg. and Greg’s little boy, Michael, were there bright and early. Four stations were set up with little portable stoves, warming up the goat milk; milk which Greg had originally stored up for the winter but generously shared it with us.
Instructions were provided. Amazing coffee too.
Warm milk to 86 F, add feta culture, let sit for 5 minutes then stir in well. Let stand for 60 minutes in warm water bath (maintaining at 86 F).
Since we only had 3 hours together, our goal was to make feta. Greg had already prepared a batch of chevre. I love cheese but have never actually bothered with researching into the different types. I just know that they all taste like heaven. My favourite gouda is actually a type of chevre!
Chèvre in French simply means goat. Chèvre cheeses come in a variety of sizes and shapes including cones, cylinders, discs, drums, and pyramids. The cheeses are often covered with ash or leaves, herbs or pepper.
Although I stopped eating processed cheese slices two years ago, I only started venturing into the mysterious world of goat cheese a couple months ago. I love the odd tart goaty taste which not many can appreciate. Normal cow cheese just seems slightly boring in comparison to the unique flavours of goat cheese.
Oh, the only cheese I dislike is bocconcini. Taste like rubber to me.
Since there was quite a bit of waiting time, Greg taught us how to make egg noodles.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup durum semolina flour
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 1 whole egg
- 3 egg yolks
- Water as needed (approximately 1/4 cup)
Mix all ingredients and knead well.
Let rest for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, add rennet solution to goat’s milk. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
This is how we roll.
We decided to go with long & flat noodles for our pasta dinner.
While letting the dough dry on newspaper, Ami and Greg served up some beautiful snacks.
Homemade fresh chevre!
Cappuccino chevre cheesecake.
Greg then gave us the batch of chevre he pre-made, as the process would take longer than 3 hours to complete. We mixed in herbs and spices to make our own boursin chevre.
The basil was so fresh that I got a little greedy and added too much.
Still delicious though. We got to bring home two jars!
Next, Greg demonstrated on how to check for a ‘clean break’.
After about 45-60 minutes, we check for a ‘clean break‘. This is a cheesemaking term that means the cheese is ready to make perfect curds. At this point we should be able to insert a knife into the cheese and remove it cleanly.
Looked like tofu.
Cut cheese in checker board pattern, then stir the curds gently for 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, Ami served up more cheese – feta this time.
I happily took over the stirring for 30 minutes. Time flew by, I did not even realize it was time to drain the curds.
Transfer to a cheese cloth and let it drain for 5 minutes.
Transfer the curd package into a mold and let it drain for another 10 minutes.
Let feta drain for 1 hour, flipping every 15 minutes.
I was brimming with pride when the feta became firm!
Greg mixed up some feta brine (whey and salt) for us to take home. It will keep for several months.
Noodles were also ready to go.
In total, we brought home 1 huge cube of feta, 2 jars of chevre, 2 servings of egg noodles, had cheese + crackers + cheesecake + more cheese, and amazing new knowledge about the art of goat cheese.
I had an amazing time – looking forward to future classes at Minga. A sincere thank you to Ami, Greg and Michael for being incredible teachers and so generously sharing their experiences. Next on my to-try list – milk a goat/cow! Ami promised to share a list of some farms around the area that allows visitors to experience milking the animals! Yay!
We then drove 1 minute to The Joint Cafe for lunch.
I thought it was a cafe but it is more of a bistro-type restaurant.
Y got a funny leaf as a coaster.
On the Table for Maple:
- Peameal Bacon panini with house made kettle chips & slaw ($12)
- Quinoa Salad ($12)
It was AMAZING. Fast service – check. Beautiful presentation – check. Appropriate portions – check. Absolutely delicious – check.
Melted swiss, grainy & creamy mustard on ciabatta bun. I did not try the panini but the kettle chips were so crisp and fresh. Fresh is not usually what I would use to describe chips but yes, they were fresh. Absolutely quality chips.
Fresh quinoa, corn, black beans, peppers, onions, lime, coriander, balsamic, topped with fried tofu and grilled pita. The ingredients seemed to have magical chemistry with each other – I loved the slight citrus-y taste. It was an unusual brunch item and my first quinoa restaurant order really surpassed all expectations.
I was really pleased and could not stop talking about how everything else on the menu is probably as amazing and that we definitely have to be back. Y chuckled and said that I am probably feeling that because I was in a good mood. Disagree – I was in a good mood because everything tasted perfect!
It was back to the basics. We went to a restaurant, and everything tasted wonderful. What a great day in Guelph.