Our blog

  1. Perfecting the Art of the Picnic
    Perfecting the Art of the Picnic

    I’ll share a secret with you. I used to think picnics were overrated.
    I know… I know... It’s an unusual and unlikely opinion to hold, especially at this time of year. The popularity of the picnic puzzled me. If you can't imagine this, well, bear with me…you might be able to relate more than you first thought.

    Picture the scene. It’s your first picnic of the summer; the anticipation is high, the journey is long and the hamper is heavy.

    After a long drive, you find the ideal spot to settle down, but it turns out… everyone else has had the same idea. Worse still – someone tipped off every insect in the area, both land and airborne divisions, which come out in force and eagerly swarm around your blanket.

    As you rummage your way through your groaning hamper, searching between the now squashed finger food and the leaking thermos flask, the good time you were looking for slinks away into the bushe

  2. Father's Day: A look at Cheesemaking Families
    Father's Day: A look at Cheesemaking Families

    James and George Keen

     

    ‘I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.’
    Umberto Eco

    Cheesemakers obsess over the smallest of details, in order to perfect that taste they are seeking. Over the years, a cheesemaker will build up a laundry list of tips and make-notes.
    This Father’s day, we took a moment to celebrate a few of the father-son teams in artisan cheesemaking. In many cases, traditional cheeses have stayed within one family for generations, allowing the knowledge, the cheese and the ‘little scraps of wisdom’ to stay on the same farm as one cheesemaker passes the torch to another. Whether they are perfecting existing recipes, or laying the groundwork for the creation of breathtaking new cheeses, fans of cheese everywhere owe a lot to these father and son teams.
    George and James Keen are

  3. The British Cheese Awards 2018
    The British Cheese Awards 2018

  4. Duckett's Caerphilly
    Duckett's Caerphilly

    We adore Duckett’s Caerphilly. Being but a short drive away, we recently visited Tom Calver of Westcombe Dairy to see how it is made, and to learn a little of its incredible story.

    Duckett’s Caerphilly is a traditional territorial cheese and is one of but a handful of Caerphilly that are made with raw milk. During spring and summer, its taste enters a peak period and has a wonderful fresh taste with bright, fresh flavours of citrus, offset by savoury notes. It has a crumbliness in the centre and becomes softer near the rind. We love to have it crumbled over salads or anything with pea shoots as it is so light and delicious.

    Tom Calver was taught the recipe personally by Chris Duckett when Chris moved production of his farmhouse Caerphilly from Wedmore to Evercreech. Being so passionate about raw milk, Tom persuaded Chris to revert the recipe back to an older version first used by Chris’ mum. Tom pushes the envelope in artisan chees

  5. The Artisan Cheese Awards 2018
    The Artisan Cheese Awards 2018

    What a weekend it was at the 2018 Artisan Cheese Awards. We were the sponsors of the event so we spent some time in Melton Mowbray celebrating the best that the British Isles have to offer the world of fine cheese. As ever, there were triumphs and trophies galore. It is always rewarding to see the number of cheesemakers we work with come home with some gold. It is a fitting testament to the hard work they put in making the Artisan cheese market on our shores such a dynamic and vibrant one.
    Here are a few of our highlights. There are of course, far too many to mention them all, but that is a small price to pay for working with the best of the best.

    Best in Class:

    Best PDO Cheese:    Keen’s Extra Mature Cheddar
    Best Ewes’ Milk Cheese:    Berkswell
    Best Raw Milk Cheese

  6. Raw Milk Revolution
    Raw Milk Revolution

    Raw Milk Revolution

    Imagine if you discovered, quite by chance, a forest at the end of your garden.

    Certain it had never been there before, you proceed to venture into this wild and unexplored territory, whereupon you encounter sights, tastes and smells that were strange and delightful to your senses.

    Reeling from your discovery, you rush to tell your friends and family about it, but to your astonishment you are met with incredulity, or, even worse – declarations that you shouldn’t or couldn’t go to this mysterious new place.

    You suddenly begin to doubt the validity of your new discovery. Everyone you know seems to be against it, without really knowing why. Apart from one knowledgeable friend, who tells you that the forest is not new. It has always been there, is every bit as good as you thought it was and it is the natural way things are meant to be.

    This, dear reader, is something like what faces the fan of artisan cheese in today’s world. On Saturday April 21

  7. An Ode to Our Founder, Ann-Marie Dyas, on International Women's Day
    An Ode to Our Founder, Ann-Marie Dyas, on International Women's Day

    International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women in all walks of life, but as cheese is our business, we got to thinking about the women who have influenced us and from whom we draw inspiration. Well, one name stood out above all others, that of our founder, Ann-Marie Dyas.

    For 30 years, Ann-Marie Dyas held a place at the heart of the artisan cheese industry.

    In the 1980s, she left behind a successful career in advertising and marketing, to open a cheese shop in Bath. The west country was the ideal place for a cheese shop as there were a clutch of fine, artisan cheesemakers nearby. The climate and pasture of our patch of England is just perfect for dairy cows, and Cheddar was not far down the road.

    Cheddar had long since become a commodity cheese, mass produced and sold in uninspiring blocks, but not far away, Jamie Montgomery and the Keen family were defending the great traditions of British cheesemaking, making authentic, hand-made, clothbound Cheddar. Ann-Marie was delighted to bring their cheese to the people of Bath, who lapped it up, keen for more interesting and unusual cheeses, that they could find nowhere else.

    It was an exciting time, and she was a part of a pioneering band of people, like Patrick Rance and James Aldridge, whose aim was to defend British cheese and see it flourish. Soon she was making connections with other cheesemakers in the west country and across to the east of England too. They would load up their cars in Devon or East Sussex, and meet up to do a cheese swap.

    While the beginning may have been modest enough, the business soon began to grow. Local chefs were amazed by the quality and complexity of the cheeses Ann-Marie had on offer, and soon she was supplying local restaurants, then wholesaling across the UK, and finally exporting across the world. We now send cheese to Australia, America, Dubai and throughout Europe. But one of her proudest achievements remains selling British cheese to the French.

    I don’t believe Ann-Marie set out with the intention of building a global business. She simply couldn’t help herself. Every opportunity was to be grasped with both hands and seen through to the very best of her ability.

    Ann-Marie was bold, determined, decisive and resilient. But she was also instinctively creative.
    Having amassed an array of the finest cheeses, including from beyond our shores, she was dismayed by the quality of the crackers alongside them. She set about creating a range of crackers that would be worthy of such great cheeses.

    They were a great success and could soon be found in the best retailers across the UK. As an independent retailer herself, she promised not to sell them to the British supermarkets.

    In 2006, when the bakery that made her biscuits unexpectedly came up for sale, Ann-Marie and her husband, John, our co-owner, poured everything into buying the business. They soon found themselves the owners of not only a successful cheese retailer, wholesaler and exporter in Bath, but also of a bakery in Derbyshire.

    The bakery has gone from strength to strength, but Ann-Marie always said that cheese was the beating heart of the business. She said that to be a cheesemonger was a profession, a commitment and a vocation.

    Ann-Marie was tireless in her pursuit of perfection. She said “always seek out the best, and when you have found it, keep looking.”

    She was full of energy and had a great gift for communicating her enthusiasm. Her style was cheeky, irreverent and approachable. She fully admitted to being a purist when it came to cheese, but she was determined never to be snooty. She said that you don’t have to have a PhD in cheese to enjoy it. She never wanted anyone to feel intimidated when they came in to her shop. Everyone was sure of a welcome, her keenest wish that they would leave having found a new cheese that they loved.

    She was passionate about the industry in which she worked and was heartened that it remains so vibrant and dynamic.

    We lost Ann-Marie just last September, but she was the spirit of our business and that spirit lives on. International Women’s Day seems a fitting time to commemorate a woman who dedicated so much of her working life to sourcing, nurturing and selling the very best cheese. She was, quite simply, an extraordinary woman.

    By Ruth Raskin, Cheese Care and Quality Manager.

  8. International Women's Day, A Time to Celebrate the Cheesemakers
    International Women's Day, A Time to Celebrate the Cheesemakers

    Women have long held a place at the heart of traditional cheesemaking. In the very early days of British cheese, monasteries were important centres of production. With their dissolution by Henry VIII in 1560, recipes often passed to the local farmers' wives, broadening the styles of cheese to be found on British farms.

    There is a long tradition of the women of the family taking control of the dairy, and making butter and cheese both to feed their family and to take to market. Women cheesemakers have played a key role in the resurgence of artisan British cheese and have inspired a new generation of women to take up this noble profession.

    In homage to these wonderful women, we have created a selection called Sisters in Cheese, which celebrates the accomplishments of four great women cheesemakers who have revived lost cheeses or created new classics.

    Do cheeses have a gender?

    It wasn't easy to choose just four, in fact, so great is the choice of cheeses made by women that, when talking to us recently, Mary Holbrook of Sleight Farm, and maker of Tymsboro’, observed, with a tongue in cheek, that each gender is often attracted to certain styles of cheese.

    “In Portugal, for example, lots of women make soft cheese up to a kilo, whereas men tend make more hardy cheeses,” she s

  9. Flipping Marvellous! Pancake Day’s Almost Here
    Flipping Marvellous! Pancake Day’s Almost Here

    The French have La Chandeleur and the Americans, well, they like pancakes most days. In the UK, however, we celebrate those flat, circles of joy each year on a specific day in February for Pancake Day.

    It might be the tradition for lemon and sugar on your Pancake Day pancakes, but we like to make things a little more cheesey at The Fine Cheese Co. So, with the help of our Cheese Care & Quality Manager, Ruth, we’ve come up with some suggestions for several, delightful cheese fillings.

    1. Kirkham’s Lancashire & The Fine Cheese Co. Peach Chutney for Cheese

    Immediately after you’ve flipped your pancake for the first time in a pan over the hob, crumble a generous amount of the wonderfully moist, Kirkham’s Lancashire on top. It is perfect for pancakes because the cheese bubbles rather than melts.

    Once you’ve placed the pancake on a plate and rolled it up, dollop some fresh and fruity The Fine Cheese Co. Peach Chutney for Cheese on the side. Add a little chutney to each bite for a wonderful mixture of

  10. Our Blue & White Ceramics: It’s all in the Design
    Our Blue & White Ceramics: It’s all in the Design

    From platters to Stilton pots, our charming ceramic range was developed with the illustrator, John Broadley, because we believe that lovingly crafted cheeses deserve to be honoured with a beautiful presentation.

    A new Ceramic Butter Dish was recently added to the blue and white line-up, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to speak with John about how the range started and how it has evolved over the years.

    “The original design I made, in collaboration with Julian Roberts’ Irving & Co, was the stilton pot,” he said. “Ann-Marie had a d

  11. Westcombe Dairy and White Lake Cheese, Two of Our Cheesemaking Neighbours
    Westcombe Dairy and White Lake Cheese, Two of Our Cheesemaking Neighbours
  12. Judges Hooked on Blu di Bufala and Rachel at World Cheese Awards 2017
    Judges Hooked on Blu di Bufala and Rachel at World Cheese Awards 2017

    Two of our