The Fine Cheese Company

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When I was 18 I had a wise idea; I was going to pack a suitcase, get a student work permit and visit a friend in London for 6 months. I knew the difficulties in working in a foreign country from friends and figured I better jump on the chance to make this cosmopolitan dream a reality. So with passport and a work visa in hand, I hit the UK running.

Like many other 18 year olds, at the time I thought I knew everything and that I could wing it. The phrase "culture shock" wasn't even a part of my vocabulary, and why should it have been? My bravado and wanderlust were going to carry me through my travels, naturally! Boy, was I wrong.

Apparently I forgot to pack my motivation and confidence.

What I discovered was a big, giant, bustling urban sprawl, filled with cars and people living their busy, busy lives. It was quite the opposite of the slow, relaxed Texan pace I knew. I also discovered how to live off of only £3 a day, and most importantly I discovered that I wasn't cut out for a retail job on Bond street. Nothing better than a big giant city to slap a boy into reality!

Of course I wouldn't change my experience for anything. It wasn't until passing through London 13 years later on my way to Spain that I was able to laugh at the experience and see it through a different set of eyes. A set of only slightly more mature eyes – I still have a whole lot of growing up to do and I'm fighting it at every step of the way!

So why am I sharing all this? Because I have regrets. I regret, first and foremost, spending two months in London and never venturing out of my tiny gastronomic comfort zone. I regret having never visited the places I dream about today, from farmer's markets and pubs to places like Neal's Yard Dairy. I regret having gone too young in my life, and I regret biting off more than I could chew. However, I hope to make all these regrets disappear someday, and I hope it's soon.

I've still got a little bit of that wanderlust in me.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ok, so I may live on the other side of the planet on the edge of Western civilization, but thanks to importers and modern technology we're all able to enjoy foods from around the world. While I'm talking about England I must include a blurb about The Fine Cheese Company of Bath, England. I was recently given their English Pickles to taste and can I just tell you that my socks have officially been knocked off? As if I wasn't impressed enough by the adorable packaging, man, this stuff is amazing. Meant to be served with various cheeses, these savory and tangy pickles are made with natural ingredients and come in Apple, Plum, Onion and Tomato. A generous dollop of the English Onion on a piece of sharp cheddar (I mean English Cheddar, naturally) sends me out of this galaxy. And their crackers are the perfect accompaniment to cheese. If you can get your hands on the Charcoal crackers, by all means, do!

Now if you'll excuse me I have some almost-empty jars that need licking.

Online at The Fine Cheese Company.

17 Responses to “The Fine Cheese Company”

  1. Anonymous melissa mcgee 

    yay! english food! there is so much to be said for the little island with a bad culinary reputation, at least to the rest of the world. i hear so many horrible things about "english food" but have such a deep love for it myself. from the pub fare the snooty, i'm an anglophile, and i always have been.

    one of my favorite things in the whole world is a jar of branston pickle. i could eat it on anything and, truth be told, i can eat it alone off of a spoon. that's better commented on your "secret eating" post, though!

  2. Anonymous MM 

    Would you hate me if I told you I used to live in Bath near the shop and I would walk there on Saturday mornings to get me cheeses, chutney, bread and get a pie to tide me over on my weekend groceries shopping?

  3. Anonymous Alisa 

    It's not English, but it's really good.....There is a small, wonderful shop in South Pasadena called Nicole's. Nicole is French, and manages to import wonderful French products, and sell them for a reasonable price, including CHEESE! When I lived in L.A. it was a haven (live in Paris now). Here's her web site:
    p.s. have i mentioned how much enjoyment i have been getting from your blog?:)

  4. Anonymous matt 

    Melissa, need I have ANOTHER reason why I love you so?

    MM, GOSH, I'd never hate you for that! I'd only be incredibly envious and happy! So you lived close enough to walk to the store of my dreams?????????????????????? We must talk. Hehehe :)

    Alisa, my goodness I have never heard of Nicole! I can't thank you enough for the info. I am checking it out this Friday!

    You guys are the reason I blog!!!!!!!! Man oh man!

  5. Anonymous Meryl 

    1.) you're my hero. i want your job, and your blog.

    2.) I am a student living in London for the semester and I know how you must have felt- it is hard to live here, with everything so expensive- i'll smuggle some cheese from Neal's over if you want.... ;)


  6. Anonymous bea at La tartine gourmande 

    ahahh Matt, it almost looks like you were born in the wrong country! ;-) You are a cheese guy! And I am sure those regrets will fade away. Life is a process and every stage brings its own richness. When you do experience what you missed, wow, it will be good!

  7. Anonymous bea at La tartine gourmande 

    Hmmm, I am wondering. Wrote a comment and it disappeared?? Ou est-il?? In any case, what I was saying is that you are funny as it seems that you were born in the wrong country as you are a true cheese guy! ;-) And you will one day get back to what you missed. No need for regrets, and then it will be even better!

  8. Anonymous melissa mcgee 

    matt = senor queso!

  9. Anonymous tara 

    My goodness, you've hit my weakness .. cheeses. Top that off with pretty packaging and you have my shallow, fromage-loving soul happy. Love the combinations you've mentioned, and have happily gone to their site to browse; it has definitely inspired a trip to our local cheesemonger.
    I can't help it, I keep scrolling up to covet those adorable little bottles once again. The photos are gorgeous!

  10. Anonymous tara 

    My goodness, you've hit my weakness .. cheeses. Top that off with pretty packaging and you have my shallow, fromage-loving soul happy. Love the combinations you've mentioned, and have happily gone to their site to browse; it has definitely inspired a trip to our local cheesemonger.
    I can't help it, I keep scrolling up to covet those adorable little bottles once again. The photos are gorgeous!

  11. Anonymous Alisa 

    Matt, you welcome! How was it?

  12. Anonymous Dianka3103 

    Wow, thanks for this link, Matt! I will definitely have to try ordering. The cheeses look prefect.


  13. Anonymous rob 

    Matt, I'm of the opinion that the whole point of being eighteen is to try crazy things and screw up. If you do it then, you still have time to learn from it.

    As a fellow cheese lover, I have to say you've assembled a mighty fine cheese plate. I know Brit food gets frequently maligned, but there's no doubting the quality of English cheese. I'd love to try some of the English onion on sharp cheddar -- damn!

  14. Anonymous gastrochick 

    Sad to hear that your first experience in London was disappointing. It's amazing how youth and inexperience can make one oblivious to what is on your doorstep I had a similar experience when I went to Sydney on my gap year from university.

    I'm glad to hear that England has partially redeemed itself, there is a lot of great food over here!

  15. Anonymous kimc 

    I too had the wonderful opportunity to live, work in London in my 20's, and I have regrets as well. I wish I had not let poverty stop me from being more adventurous! I should have done so much more with my life there and did not, a depressed 20-year-old. (Yawn). I had a wonderful time, learned alot anyway, but it could have been grander ;) Oh, but I do still have my love for Indian from those days (somosas, donner kebab on the street, lots-o-yummies).

  16. Anonymous greenOLIVEtree 

    hmmm... i'm all for cheese! I'm going to London end of June and it shall be a redeemed chance to do the gourmet run I've forsaken the last time :)

  17. Anonymous Pam 

    hi matt,

    i'm a student from the UK who shares your love for great english cheese, pickles, etc.. in fact i work at the fine cheese company in bath and have also worked at neal's yard dairy in covent garden!!

    if you want any cheese advice/want to know whats good at the moment in the uk cheesewise, im your girl!!

    ps. if you can, try gorwydd caerphilly, it's my favourite!!

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About me

  • I'm Matt Armendariz
  • From Los Angeles, California
  • A man with a passion for good food and a wonderful life with a dash of irreverence. Read at your own risk. Advertising director by day, wino by night. All photos on this site by Matt Armendariz.
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