Heading south on a road trip earlier in the week provided the perfect opportunity to stop at Mercer Cheese. The lone car taking the off ramp at Mercer, there was a stillness in the air despite the traffic that buzzed below. A wide tarsealed road with plentiful angle parking out front, the weathered building the colour of pale cheese stood out on the barren street.
Cheerfully greeted by Steph, the wall of yellow rounds caught the eye. Twenty-three varieties of gouda style cheese with a diverse range of flavours from: walnut, nettle and sundried tomato to mature gouda, parmesean and of course the award winning Mercer Mature Cumin – winner of the Puhoi Valley Champion Artisan Cheese Award at the 2015 New Zealand Cheese Awards.
Steph assured me Tuesday was the quietest day of the week but in the space of half hour no less than six groups of people came in. It was no wonder that she said a busy day was like being in the supermarket at peak times.
Dutchman Albert Alferink has been making his trademark rounds for more than 30 years. The cheeses are made up the road at Onewhero using cow, sheep, goat and buffalo milk. The shop is well stocked with Dutch products reflecting the owners’ heritage, including biscuits, apple sauce and traditional licorice, as well as local chutneys, relishes and vinaigrettes from Peplers at Te Kauwhata.
Mercer Cheese has been winning awards for a number of years, with 2015 the second time that they have won the coveted Champion Artisan Cheese Award with Mercer Mature Cumin. Who could resist its gorgeous spicy packed flavour and a homemade pottle of quince paste to take home.
Mercer Cheese is the perfect destination to taste and purchase – the cheeses are rarely available elsewhere. And if you’ve got time, there are picnic tables overlooking the Waikato River nearby if you can’t wait until you reach your destination – bring your own plate and knife.
Open: Monday to Saturday 10am- 5pm
Where: Roose Rd, Mercer
Phone: 09 232 6778
Stop on your next trip south of the Bombay Hills and don’t forget your chilly bag.