I first tasted Healey’s cheddar a couple of years back on a visit to Waterkloof Wine Estate in Somerset West, home to what is now one of the top rated restaurants in South Africa. I have a distinct memory of the creamy consistency and balance of salt and sweet flavours. Like all things that have been handmade with love and passion, Healey’s cheddar is something special, and so much more than the mass-produced chunks of cheese we buy in supermarkets.
I was thrilled when I found out that the brand had opened their first cheesery and deli on Waterkloof farm late last year. The space is quaint and comfortable, with a handful of tables to one end and shelves stacked with all sorts of delicacies. Aside from Waterkloof wines (sold at cellar door prices) and craft beers, you can buy fresh bread, jams, preserves, coffee, olive products, cured meats and of course cheese. Healey’s sells their own cheddar alongside soft cheeses from other boutique farms, and all of the products on offer have been handpicked.
Large glass windows between the eatery and cheesery allows you to watch as the team creates it all from scratch, stirring, mixing, pressing and wrapping the cheese in the next room. After scrubbing down and wrapping ourselves in the right gear – hair nets and all – we were taken into the “factory”, a small room where most of the activity takes place. Understanding the process behind this cheese gave me a whole new level of appreciation. There’s a lot of really hard, physical work that goes into making the cheese before it gets stacked into the adjoining room to mature.
Aside from their standard line of Slow Matured Cheddar, Healey’s had recently introduced a limited Single Release Cheddar which is produced from top quality unpasteurized milk. And before the word “unpasteurized” scares you off, I asked and was assured that harmful bacteria are destroyed when the milk is heated during the cheese making process.
Why is this cheese particularly special? According to them it has to do with the pasture conditions. Each year there is a three week window period when the pastures are truly lush, and the milk that is created during this time is exceptional. The cheese is left to mature for a minimum of 11 months, delivering a strong nutty flavour.
The deli offers a nice selection of cheese platters as well as lunch treats like homemade pies, quiches and bobotie, as well as cakes, all locally made and delivered daily to the deli.
We tried the Healey’s Platter with a carafe of False Bay Chenin Blanc and it was a perfect afternoon treat. This platter is an excellent choice if you really want to taste your way through their shop (everything you eat is also on sale). You’ll get to taste Healey’s Noble Matured Cheddar, Cremelat Emmental, Dalewood Winelands Chef’s Camembert, Cremelat Gorgonzola, Richard Bosman Cured Meat Selection, Isabel’s Whole Quince, Groot Intimis Farm Kalamata-Style Olives, The Larder Plum Chilli Ketchup, Quality Pickles Mango Chutney, Rootstock Seasonal Vegetables Crisps and Mano’s Bakery bread. Yum.
I really enjoyed hanging out at the deli that day. The atmosphere is laid back and the produce top notch. Head over for lunch and don’t leave without a few delicious things to take home.
Price wise, the platters range between R55 and R170, and hot foods start at R55.
Healey’s Cheesery & Deli is situated on the Sir Lowry’s Pass Road, Somerset West. It is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00, and on Sundays from 10:00 – 14:00. The cheese-making viewing is on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
For more information, visit healeys.co.za