Waterkloof Estate’s noble Healey’s Cheddar makes waves in the States
South African cheese voted second best in the world
Waterkloof Estate’s noble Healey’s Slow Matured Cheddar, which is made by hand in limited quantities, excelled at the 2014 World Champion Cheese Contest in the USA, by churning out the much coveted second place for its round bandaged, raw milk Cheddar in the Round Cheddar Category.
This prestigious competition which is presented in Madison, Wisconsin, every two years, draws cheeses from all corners of the globe and this year saw a total of 3000 international entries that were scrutinised by 19 international and 19 USA cheese experts. Healey’s Cheddar performed the best out of the 22 South African cheeses that were judged and was pipped at the post with a score of 98.55 out of 100. In celebrating its runner-up status on the world stage, Healey’s reaffirmed its standing as one of the finest cheddars in the country.
According to artisanal cheese maker Desiree Stuart – born and raised on Lourensford, where today she oversees the small, close-knit Healey’s Cheddar dream team – this winning cheese was made in October 2013 and is still relatively young: “We will only make it available in October this year,” she says. “However, it already boasts the nutty cheddar taste of the very popular English round bandaged cheeses.” Stuart adds that the complex savoury notes of the cheese are undoubtedly a result of the use of Friesian milk produced from natural grazing.
According to Kobus Mulder, international cheese consultant who also represented South Africa as a judge at the prominent World Champion Cheese Contest, the cheese has a harmonious savoury and nutty flavour, which is in perfect balance with the saltiness and acidity.
“For the Healey’s Cheddar to be judged the second best round Cheddar cheese in the world means that it is really an exceptional cheese. The fact that this particular cheese was not especially made for the World Contest, but taken from everyday production stock means that the cheese maker applies excellent cheese making practices on a daily basis,” shares Mulder.
How Healey’s Cheddar is made
Following the same traditional recipe of 150 years ago, the popular Healey’s Slow Matured Cheddars are handmade, contain no artificial colourants or preservatives and are matured in muslin cloths in a natural cave like environment – like in the old days. This process encourages mould growth that enhances the flavour development over a period of time. The cheeses are then greased to form a natural outer rind.
“Someone once said that you need a passion for making the best cheese and that is exactly what we have at Healey’s. Over the years we have grown to be passionate about what we do and are now reaping the rewards. There is no simple recipe for making great cheese; you have to adjust your methods to the condition of the milk you receive,” shares Stuart.
Cheese aficionados can sample a selection of slow matured Healey’s Cheddar at Waterkloof Estate, an awe-inspiring Winelands destination soaring on the slopes of the Schapenberg on the outskirts of Somerset-West, at R40 per person or indulge in a sensory cheese and wine tasting at R80 per person which includes six estate wines.
In addition, Healey’s Cheddar takes center stage on Waterkloof’s new Winter Platter which adds comfort to cosy gatherings at the massive open fireplace in its wine tasting lounge from May until the end of October. Additional tase sensations on this hearty platter include homemade meat terrine, the estate’s own organic olives, sourdough bread and other cheeses and its costs R130 per person.
“Our cheddar is in a league of its own and incredibly versatile. I can easily combine it with sweet and savoury dishes and it is probably one of the finest examples I have seen around the world,” says Waterkloof Chef Grégory Czarnecki.
Get your Healey’s Slow Matured Cheddar at Waterkloof’s tasting lounge at R40 (for 200 grams) or at selected deli’s, food stores and leading supermarkets including Spar and Checkers countrywide.