Back to Fiction - Chrissy Swinko



Welcome To My Artisanal Cheese and Chocolate Farm by Chrissy Swinko



Welcome to Meredithís Artisanal Cheese and Chocolate Farm, that is to say, my artisanal cheese and chocolate farm. I hope that you all enjoyed the horse-drawn carriage journey from the parking round-about. The answer to your unspoken question is yes, that magnificent stallion is a Percheron. Please, make yourself at home on my Pennsylvanian estate. The foliage is especially breathtaking this October. Do be sure to take in the Mockernut Hickory on our journey.


Just a brief history before we get started. Youíve no doubt noticed the exceptional design of my gathering foyer. The reclaimed hardwood planks beneath the hand-fluffed mud catcher were salvaged from a local historical site. I first spotted these planks several years ago in a rustic one room church. Recently, it was nearly burned to the ground in an unexplained fire. Fortunately, the local fire department arrived just in time and we were able to rescue these incomparable planks.  We are literally standing upon the floorboards of God. Take a moment to feel the spirit flow from the floor to your mouth as you enjoy my handmade cheeses and chocolates. Outstanding.


We are waiting for one more couple to join our little soiree. While we do so, please take in this vintage cross-stitched chart detailing cocoa bean production in the early 19th century. Youíll note it is suspended on the wall using the Becka technique.


Oh! That sprinkling of light tones filling the air means we have our final guests. One might call it a bell ringing, but the hand-cast metals produce such a melody that to merely say ďa bell is ringingĒ would certainly be a travesty of decency.


Well, youíre not here for my frivolities, letís get back to the tour.


Hello, new friends! Welcome to my artisanal cheese and chocolate farm! We now have everyone.


Come along, we will begin the tour by visiting the Ayrshire bovine barn. Of course we have our own herd; I donít trust anyone else with my milk. As we travel over my hand carved cobblestone path, please turn your attention to the expansive fields on your right. Here we have our organic pasture where our blue ribbon bovines graze on natural grass- youíve no doubt noticed the blend of greenery is the product of seeds transported from Kentucky via cyclists. The secret, proprietary blend encourages my bovines to slowly and naturally prepare the organic milk that will provide an exceptional base for my artisanal cheese and chocolates.


Ah, here we are now, watch your step. Please stay within the ribbon-edged path. My bovines are very sensitive. Iím sure each of you recall the smoothness in the cheese and chocolates you experienced earlier. My bovines are very relaxed and stress free. Myself, the staff, and the bovines share a 20 minute yogalates session each morning.


I can see some of you are very relaxed. Please raise your hand if you are joining us after a tasting at a local winery. I see. Which one? Really. Well, Iím sure they would tell you that. Ridiculous. Why would I participate in a secretive late night mission to vandalize a road sign pointing visitors to that particular winery?  I am sure whomever is responsible is justified, to be sure. Oh! Look, here we can observe a new batch of cheese aging!!


Please keep your voices low and breathe gently in the presence of this semi-soft cheese; itís just been bound in cloth. Weíll stop for a moment here so that you can experience the aging of this cheese.


Quietly breathe in, and quietly breathe outÖ


Ahhhh. We have all just had the exhilarating experience of aging with the cheese. Outstanding.


Can everyone hear me? I must speak softly as this next cheese is very delicate. As you can see, we have placed it within a hollowed out Northern Red Oak tree stump. This creates the perfect humidity and shade level for this sharp cheddar.


We must now continue the tour as the cheeses do not like to be observed for too long. We shall continue onward to the confectionary where the chocolates are hand-crafted.


Please watch your step as we enter the confectionary. This small out building is raised four inches above the ground. This elevates the air within the space, which then produces a finer grade of chocolate. This technique was first discovered in Egypt.


Most people pair cheese with traditional delights such as wine, meats, even beer! But we here at Meredithís Artisanal Cheese and Chocolate Farm have discovered that our unique pairing style showcase the inimitable qualities of our cheeses and chocolates.


Here you can see the mortar and pestle where the transformation from cocoa bean into chocolate begins. We will not observe any chocolate, as it is currently resting while the flavor fully develops. Outstanding.


The chocolate you see in stores is a disgusting plebian that uses wax and other fillers. My artisanal chocolate must be kept at a precise temperature and humidity level.


I do invite you to take in the black and white photographs on the wall. I have developed and mounted these photographs myself to give you a sense of what is happening here on the farm when we have no visitors. Youíll see in this photo, I am conching the chocolate. What you canít see is that I sing to the chocolates. Original melodies only, of course.


Letís journey onward to the gift shop. We do have a few more samples and plenty of treats available. As a special thank you for joining me on my artisanal cheese and chocolate farm, you are all welcome to a ten percent discount on any purchases made today. Please note all prices are marked in Euros as most of my friends are European. Perhaps this flight of truffles is to your liking? Itís only $173 Euros, after the discount. Absolutely outstanding.