Pamela and Max of L’Ubriaco on the joys of selling cheese with your other half
Pamela on Max
I have known Max for a long time, maybe 10 years, and we have both always loved cheese and wine. We met while working for another company at the Market called Villanova. I worked at the stall and he worked in the warehouse, but we sometimes did shifts together.
When we were introduced to a producer who made a cheese aged in wine, two of our favourite things combined, we thought it would be good to try and do something with it together.
The business started with one cheese, the L’Ubriaco Classico. For a couple of years we only had that and one other cheese, then slowly, our range of cheeses began to grow.
Max is really passionate about food in general, especially when it comes to discovering new ingredients and dishes. While he enjoys working on the stall, one of the things he really loves is being part of the Borough Market community. He likes the variety of food here, the atmosphere, and we have many friends here. It feels like working in a little village. And he loves that.
There isn’t really any part of the business that Max has sole responsibility for, because we tend to work interchangeably. It’s not a big business and we built it together, so have both learned to do everything along the way. Whoever comes to something that needs doing first will generally be the one to take care of it.
Max loves his food. It is actually difficult to pick a favourite type of food for him because he is very adventurous, but if I was taking him for a celebratory dinner somewhere, I think I would look for a regional Italian restaurant—and the great thing about London is that you can always find those sorts of places here.
We have found one that’s not far from where we live in south London, which is run by a Sardinian family. They serve a-typical Sardinian dishes but at the same time, they experiment a lot and try new things.
Max loves to cook, he is always experimenting and very good at it. He likes potato gnocchi with four cheeses, which is quite easy for us—he often uses our ‘drunk’ cheeses. At the moment his favourite cheese on the stall is Margot, which is a soft cheese made in Piedmont and aged in blonde ale. It is very creamy and the flavour of the ale is amazing, so it inevitably arrives on our plates at home.
For me the best think about working with Max is that we make each other laugh, it’s a nice atmosphere to work in. The worst is that we are two Sardinians and can be very stubborn—but we usually find a solution in the end.
Max on Pamela
We really enjoy working together—so much so that we actually started this business as friends and then became a couple later on, so you can see we enjoy it very much. It is a mixture of the humour and the connection between us that makes it so much fun.
Pamela is quite a laid back person, both here and at home, but at the same time she is a bit strict about some things and if she is not happy, you will know! Which is a good combination to have for a business.
One thing she is obsessed with is hygiene; everything has to be very clean, which of course is great for the business, but she is also the same at home. Everything has to be at the same level. While I am the same as her on the stall, I am a little more relaxed at home so I’m always getting told off about something I haven’t done properly.
The thing that Pamela likes most about working here is easy to see—it is the cheese. She loves what we sell and you will see her tasting the different samples throughout the day. I taste the cheeses in the morning so I know how they are but then that is it for me, I prefer to enjoy my cheese at home. Pamela is the opposite, she is always sampling, and of course she doesn’t turn down cheese at home either.
Her favourite cheese on the stall is the Blu ‘61. It is a gorgonzola matured in a dessert wine. It was created in 2011 to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of the cheesemongers who make the L’Ubriaco Classico—our first cheese on the stall. In fact, the wine used for Blu ‘61 is the dessert version of the wine they use in the Classico.
Pamela is actually a wonderful cook. She cooks a lot of Italian food, but not very much pasta—she loves fish and shellfish. One pasta dish she cooks beautifully is carlofortina, which is typical of the island of Carloforte in Sardinia. She uses penne or fusilli pasta and the sauce has chunks of tuna, pesto and raw cherry tomatoes. Pamela also adds some black olives which isn’t traditional, but the dish is wonderful.
Like me, Pamela doesn’t really like very posh restaurants; she prefers good food from the kind of small, family-run places you find all over Italy: small, not pretentious, and sell genuine local produce. There is a lovely fish restaurant we found in Whitstable last year which looked like just an ordinary fish and chip shop from the outside.
One of the dishes we had fresh local fish garnished with chunks of chorizo, and Pamela had a risotto which was a small amount of risotto, placed on top of a cod fillet and served with local shellfish. Everything was super fresh and the cooking was superb. That’s probably where I’d take her for a special occasion meal.
The worst thing about working together is when you have an argument, at home or on the stall, if it is not resolved where it is started it will carry on at the other location and that isn’t so much fun. But in the end we always make up. The best thing about working together is the amount of time we get to spend together. Some couples say it might not work for them, but for us it has been the perfect solution.