Serenbe Style and Soul

with Marie Nygren

Monthly Archive: April 2010



April 2010



A wonderful salad recipe

Written by , Posted in marie nygren, Recipe Articles, Serenbe Farms

I featured my new salad recipe last week at the Farmhouse and everyone loved it. I know  you will enjoy it too!

Mixed Lettuces with Mushrooms, Radishes, Bleu Cheese and Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 4 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt
  • Tabasco

  • 4-6 heads young lettuces, washed and torn into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 12 radishes. trimmed and sliced
  • 6 tablespoons crumbled bleu cheese

Whisk first 4 ingredients in a bowl to blend or in a glass jar and shake. Season with salt and Tabasco to taste.

On plates or in bowls, place washed lettuce leaves. Scatter mushrooms and radishes on the leaves. Spoon vinaigrette on the salad.
Sprinkle cheese all over.



April 2010



Life at Mary Macs

Written by , Posted in "mary mac's", marie nygren, Serenbe Farmhouse

With Mother’s purchase of the building in 1972, she took over the last of the storefronts in the building that she was in on Ponce de Leon. That expansion gave her more seating, more kitchen space and a proper waiting room. Mother’s seating capacity became 375.
A number now that just amazes me because my restaurant, The Farmhouse, seats 65. To imagine that multiplied times 6 just boggles me because my mother seemed to handle it with such ease. On Mother’s Day, we will potentially have 360 guests or more. In the height of Mary Macs popularity in the late 70’s and 80’s, Mother served over 2000 meals a day! That is a lot of turnip greens, corn and green beans. And it was all fresh. Just think about all that corn shucking- like 500-600 ears a day.

When I am in the kitchen every Wednesday prepping with my staff for the week’s menu, we often discuss the amount of vegetables Mother had to have prepared every week. Of course, she had 40 in the kitchen prepping and cooking. But don’t we all just marvel when we find ourselves in a situation or job very similar to one our parents had and remember the grace and beauty in the way they dealt with it. I always had an amazing amount of respect for Mother and the job she did but I have even more now. Especially every Sunday when I am preparing my orders to place for the week ahead. When I call in my produce order for a case of green beans and whatever else, I think of Mother ordering 25 cases of those same beans and bless her for her fortitude and teachings. Love you Mama!



April 2010



Pimento Cheese for a party!

Written by , Posted in pimento cheese, Recipe Articles, serenbe

Steve and I had an afternoon wine and cheese party this past weekend at our house to welcome our new residents to Serenbe. In the last 6 months, we have had over 20 new residents move in. It is always great to have new energy on the streets.

“I think nothing is better than Pimento Cheese for a nibble to go along with homemade lemonade and wine. I serve Pimento cheese as one of the rotating cheeses we serve at tea time in the afternoon at the Inn. And do people love it!!”

Pimento cheese is one of those quintessential Southern dishes served at parties. Every southern cookbook has a recipe.

I like mine with a little kick so we add cayenne and Tabasco to the mix. Of course feel free to add more or less depending on your taste. And always be sure to serve it with crackers and celery.

Pimento Cheese

  • 3 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced pimento
  • 1 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayennes
  • 1/4 teaspoon tabasco
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mixed well with hands until cream cheese is incorporated into mixture.



April 2010



New shops at Serenbe

Written by , Posted in "keith robinson", gloriosa, inn at serenbe, marie nygren

Along with the spring flowers popping out of the ground, we have new businesses opening at Serenbe. Repurpose , a new venture for Keith Robinson of Gloriosa Design, is an amazing treasure of a store. Filled with beautiful antiques, paintings (some from Serenbe residents), fresh flowers for purchase and treasures Keith has found, Repurpose is a beautiful spot to visit at Serenbe.

Garnie, our oldest daughter, and I approached Keith some 7 weeks ago about the potential of the shop. We have known Keith for several years as he is the exclusive caterer for events at The Inn of Serenbe and love his style and design eye. A shop space was coming available and Keith had an inventory of beautiful furniture and objects from his years of styling events that his storage space was overflowing with. He loved the idea as we found out that one of his dreams for years had been to own a “lifestyle” store.

Well as is Keith’s way, he transformed a store space in 5 days! I love walking up to Repurpose to see what new piece Keith has recently found. He has an uncanny ability to  find items. I have known him to see a piece of furniture on the side of the road that has been discarded and  bring it back to life. Hence the name, Repurpose.

In this month’s Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, there is a story featuring Keith and his exquisite style. 

**photo from ATL Homes and Lifestyles magazine
I hope you’ll come to Serenbe this weekend or soon to visit his shop and take home a treasure for yourself.



April 2010



Dad inspired my love for Farmer’s Markets

Written by , Posted in "mary mac's", serenbe

                          Mom and Dad

Since I have been reminiscing about my childhood at Mary Mac’s on the blog, some folks have asked about my father and the role he played at Mary Mac’s. Mother was certainly the heart and soul of the place but my father was like the backbone. He tended to the maintenance issues and closed the restaurant each night so that Mom could leave at 8pm to get home to tell us good night. But one of his duties he loved most was buying the produce.

                               Dad and me!
Harvey, my Dad, had been in the wholesale produce business for years in Atlanta. That was how he met my mother. He made a sales call to Mom’s first restaurant, Margaret’s Tray Shop, in the mid fifties. He obviously did a great sales job as they married in 1956.

One of his businesses was called Lupo’s Produce and his motto was “If it is in town, I have it. If it is in the world, I’ll get it.” Dad was never to be outdone.

Dad had closed his produce business in the early 60’s and went to work for a food wholesaler. When that job ended, he joined Mother at the restaurant. He loved to tell people that his salary was ” a new Cadillac every year, a closet full of clothes and sleeping privileges.” Needless to say, Dad was quite a character.

So when he joined Mom, it was a natural for him to be in charge of produce buying as he knew all the businesses down on “row.” That was what the area was called at the State Farmer’s Market because all the big produce businesses were all in big buildings in a row. He had his favorites that he called on- Cerniglia Brothers, Collins, Sonny’s and Sutherland’s are some of the ones I remember.

Dad had bought a used van and would drive down twice a week to get all the fresh vegetables for Mary Mac’s. He said it was to save money but I really think it was so he could visit all his buddies on row.

In the summers, I would go with Dad to market sometimes. It still is one of my fondest memories of time spent with Dad. I loved to ride in the van with him and hear stories about his time on row. But mostly, I just loved to hang out with my dad. I would get to go into all the big walk ins (REALLY big refrigerators) for all the produce. There is a distinct smell to a produce walk in. I can not describe it but when I go into my walk in at the Farmhouse there is a faint whiff of it  (obviously my walk ins aren’t that big!) and I am carried back to those times with Dad.

Then we’d drive down to the sheds at market. These are the places open to the public and in those days where the farmers from all over Georgia would bring their crops to sell. We would drive up and down the rows looking for items Dad didn’t get from wholesalers. Once he had found an item and a price he liked, we would get out to inspect the produce.
It is from Dad that I learned how to tell a fresh tomato from a hothouse one (look at where it was attached to the vine and look for ripening marks) and the best way to pick a ripe watermelon in season (it should have a yellow belly which means it was allowed to ripen on the vine.) Dad would only buy produce in its season so Mary Mac’s never had tomatoes in the winter and such. He prided himself on buying the best produce he could for the restaurant.

I still love to go to Farmer’s Markets. My family knows that when we go on vacation and there is a market that I will be there first thing to look all the bounty those area farmers have brought in. And just like Dad taught me, I’ll turn over watermelons and look for the rings on a tomato.



April 2010



Easter Lunch

Written by , Posted in "mary mac's", fried chicken, Serenbe Farmhouse

I am just now catching my breath from Easter Sunday. We started cooking Fried Chicken at 5am on Sunday morning (that was our sunrise service!!) in anticipation of a big crowd. When the doors opened at 11:30am, it was nonstop until the last chicken was served at 3:30pm. We served 258 guests out of what used to be my home kitchen. Of course the kitchen has been revamped, but when I stood back at the end of the day I had to smile knowing the Sunday lunch numbers were much smaller not so many years ago.

As I drove up to the kitchen early Sunday morning, I had a “conversation” with Mama.”Can you believe this Mother? Here I am on the way to the kitchen to cook Fried Chicken for several hundred just as you did so many mornings at Mary Macs.” Never in my wildest dreams did I see this as my Sunday work but as so many of us have learned, life has a very funny way of bringing you back to the destiny you were meant to live.

In the Atlanta restaurant scene, Mother’s title was “Queen of Dixie Cuisine.” And, it does not get more Dixie than Fried Chicken. So who would want to go up against a Queen’s chicken?  Until  I took over the Farmhouse restaurant just this past year, I had never fried a chicken in my life!!  Steve and the girls and I had dinner with Mother at least one night a week at Mary Mac’s  so it wasn’t as if they were deprived. When your Mother has the best chicken in town , why cook it at home. Plus, I had seen so much of it in my lifetime that it was never a choice of mine when we went out for Southern.

But I here I was in my “kitchen” serving Sunday chicken with horseradish potato salad, steamed asparagus and Mother’s squash souffle to all the guests dressed in their Easter finery. 

When I finally left the kitchen at 6pm, I could feel Mother with me, see her smiling and saying “mighty tasty chicken.”



April 2010



Serenbe in Bloom

Written by , Posted in "margaret lupo" "marie nygren", serenbe

Haven’t you just loved the spring light the last few days in the Atlanta area?  It is my favorite time of year with the spring flowers starting to show their beautiful blooms. 

I see more Serenbe residents out for morning and afternoon walks to soak in the lovely sunshine and be among the daffodils, quince and forsythia. Neighbors and guests sitting at the sidewalk tables in front of the Daisy having a latte or ice tea and visiting. It still makes me smile to see all this and realize it is all happening in the middle of the woods in what use to be our “backyard.”

Serenbe will be a bustling place this weekend. There is an Easter egg hunt at the Serenbe stables. I love seeing all the precious little ones running around looking for bright colored eggs and the joy on their faces when they find a treasure. 

And, the Farmhouse is having Easter lunch with ham, fried chicken and the first of the spring asparagus. I look forward to seeing all the Easter outfits and bonnets. Maybe I can wear mine the next week as I’ll be in the kitchen all day. Easter is busy day for the Farmhouse as we usually serve 200 people for lunch. Lots of fried chicken!!

Even my dog Pudge is enjoying the sunshine.