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Two Hearts Become One (Seasonal Pre-Order File)

zuerchercheese:

Capriole
goat cheeses come to us from Greenville, Indiana, located near the Kentucky
border. Owner Judy Schad is considered one of the godmothers of the artisan
cheese movement in the United States. Schad produces cheese on the same land as
owned by her family since the late 19th century.

In
celebration of Valentine’s Day, we are offering Capriole’s Goat Cheese Hearts,
a specialty that makes an appearance but once a year. From the Fromage à Trois
line comes their Bourbon Chocolate Heart:
cocoa-rich goat cheese with bourbon-soaked raisins and pecans. For the
minimalist, there is the Pink Peppercorn Heart:  Capriole’s classic fresh goat cheese speckled
with fruity, floral and piquant pink peppercorns.

To get
you in the spirit this Valentine’s Day, Zuercher & Co. brings you a
collection of love stories the critics are calling “fresh,” “decadent,” and
“delightfully cheesy:  50 Shades of Whey,  a “choose your own adventure” saga that’s sure
to lift your blues. So, without further ado…

“Heart of a Goat”


It was the
heart of February in the big city. Cold and dank, the snow a dark gray from
exhaust and factory fumes. It had been a long time since the first snowfall,
pure white like the blanket on a child’s bed and as exciting as Christmas
morning. Now, as Rich peered through the blinds of his office window, the snow
on the street below was more like a motel coverlet, the smell of old smoke and
despair embedded deep into the fabric of the sidewalk.

It was going
to be a long winter, he could tell already. Rich picked up the bourbon on his
desk, swirled it around the glass, the lamp outside the window shooting orange
stripes across the floor, the glass, his arm. A long winter indeed. With a
sharp movement, he shot the bourbon. It wasn’t the cheap stuff he was used to.
Should have savored it, but he wasn’t in the mood.

Trouble was
about to walk through his door. Trouble with a capital T that rhymes with P
that stands for Pink. What her real name was, Rich had never bothered to find
out. Pink Peppercorn suited her, and that’s all that mattered.

She was
tall, and lean, with sharp eyes and a sharper tongue. When she walked into a
room, every eye followed her. When she left, the smell of her sweet perfume
lingered.

And she
seemed to be everywhere these days. Unavoidable, as if she were chasing him
down, wearing him out. But for what?

Rich poured
himself another bourbon and turned back to the window. He raised his glass to
his mouth and inhaled, smelling…fruit. He froze, then slowly lowered the glass.
He turned his head, and out of the corner of his eye he could see her, posed in
the doorway of his office like a statue in a damn museum. He hated museums.

“Should’ve
known you’d show up here eventually.”

“I always
do.” Her husky voice paused. “Eventually.”

Best to get
this over with. “What do you need, Pink? You gotta need something, showing up
here after all this time.”

She
chuckled, a rich, throaty laugh that made his mouth go dry. “Can’t a girl visit
a man she used to—“

He cut her
off. “Used to nothing. Tell me what you want and get out of here.”

Slowly, she
pulled the scarf from around her shoulders, revealing a slender, pale neck and
stark collarbones. “I want you to find someone for me. A buyer.”

“A buyer of
what?”

“Cheese.”

That was
unexpected, but then Pink never did what you thought she would. “Cheese.
Getting into the food business now, are you? Man-eating just wasn’t enough?”

One
exquisitely arched eyebrow lifted. “There’s good money in cheese these days.
But I’m not looking for just any buyer. This is a special one, dealing
in…special merchandise.” She moved to the desk as she spoke, her long fingers
trailing over coffee-stained papers. They dipped into the candy dish and came
out with two raisins. “Raisins?”

“Trying to
watch my figure. I got a bucket of pecans somewhere around here, too, if you’re
looking for a picnic.”

“Oh, Cocoa,”
– the pet name from years back still burned like a seven-day hangover – “don’t
pout, it doesn’t look good on a man. When you’re ready to talk business, you
know how to find me. In the meantime…” She plucked a raisin from the bowl and
raised it to his lips, one fingernail drifting to scratch the stubble on his
ragged cheek. “Keep eating the raisins. Whatever you’re doing, it’s working for
you.”

She turned
briskly on her heel and strode out of the office, the clack of her shoes
echoing off the tawdry walls.

Rich looked
down at his glass. Dammit. It was going to be a very long winter.

“Cold Comfort”

 

She should have known better than to go with
him. On the outside he seemed like a perfect Southern gentleman. A little
dense, maybe, but smooth—and god, was he rich. She’s always been a sucker for
the dark-and-handsome type. Like any good Southern boy, he had an affinity for
fine bourbon and pecans. The raisin thing seemed a little eccentric, sure; but
somehow he pulled even that off, made it alluring. And then the big, rough
hands, and the box, and the endless truck ride, and now this…

It’s cold here, cold and dark. She doesn’t
know if she’s alone—doesn’t know if she should call out, or if anyone would
hear her if she did. She can’t see anything, but to her other heightened senses
the space feels huge, cavernous, sterile. Did he know what he was doing? Did he
trade her for a song, or maybe a raisin? After all, there are a thousand other
tasty morsels out there, his for the taking. Had she been a fool to think he,
with his many admirers, could fall for a simple country girl like her?

Abruptly, a whisper interrupts her tortured
reverie. “Pink Peppercorn? Are you there?”

“Fromage à Trois! Is that you? I thought
you’d abandoned me!”

“Abandon you?” His voice grows louder, urgent.
“Never! Pink…I love you!”

She is silent for a moment, stunned. Even in
this frigid nightmare, his words are like a hot knife cutting straight to her
heart.

“Oh, Fromage! Forgive me! I just never
thought…you have so many facets, but the sum is somehow greater than all of
your parts. You’d have to be nutty to fall for me!

“I am nutty, Pink. Nutty for you.”  His
voice is quiet now and trembles a little, but she can hear his deep chocolate
tones. “People see me and think I’m just another piece to be consumed. Rich,
sure, decadent, but forgettable. They think they can just take what they want
and move on. But it eats away at my heart.” He’s close—the faintest trace of
bourbon perfumes the chill air. “You’re not like that, Pink. You’re bright.
You’re fresh. You’re soft as velvet but you still bring the heat…Pink, you
complete me.”

For a moment the only sound is a faint whirr
and hum from above. She breaks the silence, dreading his reply. “Fromage, I
think we’re in a refrigerator.”

“I think you’re right, Pink.”

“Oh, Fromage….are they going to eat us?”

“I don’t know, Pink, but whatever happens,
I’ll be by your side. We’ll be together until the end—two hearts, eaten as
one.”

“Fromunzel”

 

In a grand castle in the Loire
region of France lived a princess named Poivre Rose. She was a beautiful woman
with flowing, peppery red hair and fair ivory skin. She was kind-hearted and
respected all living beings within the kingdom, regardless of class. This, in
turn, made her most loved princess of all time. Sadly though, Princess Rose
wasn’t allowed to leave the castle. You see, the princess had a cruel husband
named Prince Livarot. Prince Livarot was so jealous of Princess Rose’s beauty,
and the attention she garnered, that he kept her locked in an upper room of the
castle’s turret and given only a pet goat, named Capriole, to keep her company.

With much time on her hands, and
humble working-class sensibilities, Princess Poivre Rose became quite skilled
at making goat cheese. After all, Capriole needed to be milked a couple times a
day, and she was left with quite a large surplus. She made all types of
cheeses:  chèvre, crottin, tomme de chèvre, camembert…the castle tower
served as a prime environment for aging, and Capriole was a trusty producer.
The castle servants and attendants were allowed to eat Princess Rose’s
creations and were grateful for her delicious contributions.

The princess had a couple of
creations that were her favorites. Like any good French cheesemaker, each
provided a symbolism. As her namesake, the pink peppercorn chèvre represented the princess, her zesty optimism and gentle
compassion for others. The chocolate
chèvre
, with raisins and nuts, represented her quest for freedom. No one in
the kingdom had been making such a unique delicacy, and her creativity showed
no bounds.

Mademoiselle Mornay was the
lady-in-waiting for the princess. Mlle. Mornay would visit briefly during the
day to deliver meals, escort her to the bath or bring supplies. The ladies
shared a mutual fear and abhorrence for Prince Livarot. Mlle. Mornay recalled
how the prince once withheld food from her for three days simply because she
conversed with the princess for too long a time. However, both ladies
communicated in subtle ways to express their empathy and solidarity.    

Princess Rose had an idea to escape
from the tower. She requested that Mlle. Mornay bring her a bit of extra
cheesecloth each day from the garde
manger
kitchen. The princess would secretly weave a ladder with which she
could use to climb down the tower. If she was caught weaving, she would explain
that it was simply a technique she used for her curd draining. So, each night
she would weave and weave until she had enough to reach the bottom.

Prince Livarot enjoyed his wife’s
cheeses, but increasingly noticed how much the castle attendants enjoyed them,
as well. The prince’s jealousy mounted, and ordered that Capriole be roasted so
that Princess Poivre Rose could no longer make her cheeses. So, that night, the
chefs created a grand banquet featuring roasted goat as the centerpiece.

Upon hearing of her dear pet’s
demise, the princess cried and cried, secretly vowing to kill the prince.
However, she had to be sly in her plan. She convinced the prince to allow her
to not waste the remaining milk she had and make one last cheese. For this, she
had Mlle. Mornay bring her calcium chloride powder. Although the powder is used
in goats’ milk cheese to produce a firmer setting for the curd, it produces
vomiting, heart and kidney failure, coma, and even death, when ingested in
large amounts. That night, the princess would serve her husband her tastiest
invention yet.

After her concoction was completed,
Mlle. Mornay delivered the spiked cheese to the prince. He ate it greedily, and
continued with the rest of his meal. Meanwhile, Princess Rose made preparations
for her escape. She packed the few items that were important to her:  some simple clothes, her book of cheese
formulas and her metal cheese trier.

Mlle. Mornay hurried up the tower
to alert the princess that the deed had been done. The princess connected her
cheesecloth ladder to the anchor points and prepared to make her descent.

S’il vous plaît prenez-moi avec vous, princesse! Take me with you!” begs Mlle.
Mornay. “I have a secret of my own, one that you will be overjoyed to hear.

Groans begin to echo from below.
The poisoned cheese begins to take effect on Prince Livarot.

“Mademoiselle Mornay!” the prince
shouts amidst his pain.

The princess frantically begins to lower
the ladder. “Hurry, Mademoiselle! You go first!”

“But madame…” Mlle. Mornay says
worriedly.

“Go!” The princess insists. “I will
follow.”

The groans get louder, and the
prince, realizing that the plan for his murder was coordinated, begins to storm
up the stairs, stopping intermittently to grab his midsection and howl in pain.
“I will kill you both!”

Mlle. Mornay makes her exit and
begins to climb down. She must be careful, though. The weave is strong, but it
is cheesecloth, nonetheless. The princess allows Mlle. Mornay to reach the
bottom before starting to climb herself. The ladder may not be able to hold the
weight of them both. Once Mlle. Mornay is safely on the ground, Princess Rose
swings her leg over and out the window.

Prince Livarot barges into the room
and realizes that his wife is making an escape. She is a foot or two below the
window opening, and in a rage, the prince hangs out and tries to reach down to
choke Princess Rose. Without missing a beat, the princess grabs her metal cheese
trier, like a soldier grabbing her sword from its holster, and stabs Prince
Livarot in the eye. Screaming in pain, he falls from the tower and plummets to
his death.

Princess Poivre Rose carefully
makes her way down the ladder to safety. Both women take deep breaths and
embrace in relief and appreciation of each other’s help.

“What shall we do now,
mademoiselle?” the princess asks.

“Madame, I can now tell you my
secret! With the help of the chefs, we have hidden your precious Capriole. Your
goat friend was not roasted.” Mlle. Mornay says excitedly. “She is with a
farmer in the village. We shall bring her back to the castle. I will announce
to the servants that Prince Livarot is dead, and that we are all free from his
terror.”

With that, the princess, crying
tears of joy, makes a plan to create goat cheese for the entire kingdom. With
the help of Capriole, the chefs and Mlle. Mornay, Princess Poivre Rose decides
that her pink peppercorn and chocolate chèvre
cheeses will be distributed throughout the land. She will shape them into
hearts as a reminder that only love shall prevail throughout the kingdom from
this point forward.

“Taking the Goat by the Horns”

The meal was
winding down. Jokes and stories were being traded. Pepper glanced across the
table, and caught Coco’s sly wink, which caused her rosy peppercorn cheeks to
glow with a rush of excitement. Nervously, she got up to help her mother in the
kitchen, hoping that no one caught on quite yet.

Entering the
kitchen, Pepper joins her mother and offers to dry the dishes.

“So, Pepper,
what do you think of young Colby? He’s such a clean-cut and handsome fella,
don’t you think?”

“He’s okay.
Why?” Pepper asks suspiciously. “Please tell me this isn’t one of your matchmaking
efforts again, Mother. May I remind you of the time you set me up on a date
with that loathsome Jack Stilton, who assumed that I was nothing but a tart? He
tried to get fresh with me the entire night.”

“Why don’t you
try to just talk to Colby, Pepper? I heard that he’s graduating from Kraft
University in the fall, and is landing a promising job in a processing plant.”

“No, Mother! He’s
boring, and his jokes are ridiculously cheesy. What really gets my goat are the
inappropriate wisecracks he makes, saying things like, ‘Have you heard this
malarkey about the Supreme Triple Crème Court recognizing same-rind marriages?
The Lord Cheesus made Edam and Brie, not Brie and Brillat! Huh, huh, huh.’” She
bellows a gut-deep laugh, mocking Colby’s words. “Ugh. I could never be in love
with someone like that!”

“Well, he’s
right, though. Soft-ripened cheeses shouldn’t live on a cheeseboard with other
soft-ripened cheeses; it’s not natural. I mean, take Mr. Zamorano next door.  I’ve heard that the raw Manchego he’s living
with is less than 60 days old.  And I’m
pretty sure the Winnimere-Époisses couple down the street has Listeria. They’re all a bunch of
sickos.”

Pepper takes a
deep breath. She couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“Mother,…”

“Yes, dear?”

Pepper fidgets,
trying to find a way to say it so that her mother doesn’t crumble.

“I’m in love
with someone.”

“In love? Well,
why haven’t you introduced him to us? Who is this mysterious gent?” Pepper’s
mother squeals with delight.

Pepper’s heart
was pounding so loudly, she could barely hear the words as they slipped from
her lips.

“It’s…Coco
Capriole.”

A dish slips
from her mother’s hands and smashes on the floor. C-r-ash! The sound of the shattering dish resonates through the
doors and out into the dining room. Coco jumps up from the table to see what
the matter is.

“Pepper,” her
mother curtly asks “you’re joking, right?”

“What’s going
on?” Coco asks, trying to evaluate the situation.

“I mean, you
can’t be serious!” Pepper’s mother shouts, ignoring Coco. “I didn’t raise my
daughter to be a, a…”

Pepper
interjects, “A what, Mother? A loving
chèvre deserving of love in kind?”

By this point,
the rest of the dinner party gathers in the kitchen to see what the commotion
is all about.

Pointing at
Coco furiously, Pepper’s mother howls, “She’s nothing but a drunk, a loser!
Besides, who mixes chocolate with cheese, let alone nuts and raisins?”

“And I sprinkle
myself with pink peppercorns! What’s your point?” Pepper shouts. “At least I’m
true to who I am! Why don’t you tell all these nice folks about your dependence
on growth hormones over the past thirty years?”

Gasps fill the
room.

“The world is
changing, Mother, and I’m proud to live in an era where American cheeses are
becoming more accepted, celebrated and are free to be themselves.” Tears of
whey begin to roll down Pepper’s cheek.

Coco turns to Pepper,
holding her delicate, smooth hands in hers. “Pepper, run away with me. My truck
is right outside. We can sign the bill of lading right now and leave this all
behind. We could travel across the country. Where do you want to go? A co-op in
Oregon? A Wisconsin cheese shop? I hear that the farmers’ markets in Vermont
are beautiful this time of year.”

Pepper cracks a
grin underneath the tears. “You’re sweet, but I think the bourbon is talking
now, Coco.”

“My point is
that there’s an entire world of stinky, fruity, moldy, unpasteurized,
wood-aged, mite-covered cheeses out there, living in the shadows of their
families and the FDA. I don’t want to live my life in secret, Pepper. I don’t
care where we go, as long as I’m with you.”

And with that,
they made their escape from Greenville, hand-in-hand, never looking back.

It’s back! Get your pre-orders in while you can!