I'd heard about Sociable Cider Werks pretty frequently after moving to the Twin Cities in spring of 2014, but it wasn't until early 2015 that I finally took a solo drive over to the brewery to check out a craft market they were hosting. The long drive down an unexpected off-shoot of a driveway is memorable for its industrial vibe. But then, as you finally glimpse what might appear to be the brewery's entrance--there's an orange dot that looms ever-brighter in the cider-seeker's eye. A beacon. A food truck, stationed next to Sociable's happy gates. Behold: The Curious Goat.
Ian Gray, local restauranteur-turned-food truck owner and his wife and business partner Kiri, are the two friendly faces behind the window of the truck, which is open for business Wednesday through Sunday outside Sociable Cider Werks. I sat down with Kiri last week to discuss what life as a food truck owner is really like, and talk about the reasons The Lone Grazer Creamery nominated them as a business making awesome waves in the local food scene.
So, Kiri, how do you source the ingredients you use at The Curious Goat? Do you just make a big shopping trip at the grocery store once a week, or what?
We do weekly pickups from several vendors at Mill City Farmers' Market and other farmers' markets, and sometimes take trips to local coop partners. It's a lot of picking up, usually one or two trips a week. But this is how we can guarantee our ingredients to be fresh and local.
What's the biggest way your food truck is impacting the local food community?
We make large weekly purchases from several small farms and vendors. In a way, we are really helping to sustain these businesses and pay their bills. Also, it's nice to know where each and every ingredient we use comes from, so when our customers ask us "do you sell happy chicken," we can say yes, because it came from Larry Schultz Organic Farm in Owatanna, Minnesota.
How did the partnership with Sociable Cider Werks come about?
When Ian owned The Gray House, his restaurant venture before the food truck, he wanted to get Sociable Cider on tap at the restaurant. So he came to the brewery for a tour, and met the owner, Jim Watkins, who asked him if he'd ever considered opening up a food truck. We pursued the opportunity, and now here we are! We've since opened a second, roaming food truck, The Smoking Cow.
What should I order?
From today's menu: ground turkey nachos! Our chips are topped with ground turkey from Larry Schultz Organic Farm, our house-made cheese sauce, chevre from Singing Hills Goat Dairy, and a seasonal salsa and greens. I also recommend the goat cheese curds when they are on our menu--they sell out fast!
And...which local food business or person will you nominate for my next post?
Singing Hills Goat Dairy! They are essentially a one-woman goat dairy in Nerstrand, Minnesota. They supply us with our goat meat and most of our goat cheese. They do an incredible job with their products, and we've been great business partners with them for quite a while.
Gotta say, I'm pretty happy I meandered down Sociable Cider Werk's Northeast driveway and discovered The Curious Goat that fateful day almost two years ago. Foodwise, I have never been let down by anything I've ordered from The Curious Goat's menu, and to learn more about the genuine passion Kiri and Ian have for creating the best food from the most local ingredients makes me love it even more. Stay tuned as the love train makes a stop in Nerstrand, Minnesota to learn more about Singing Hills Goat Dairy, and the woman who makes it all possible.