Serenbe Style and Soul

with Marie Nygren

Monthly Archive: September 2013



September 2013



Cocktail Infidelity: Why I Cheated on the Pimm’s Cup

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For years my go-to summer cocktail has been the Pimm’s Cup. They’re light, lovely and I could make them in my sleep. Actually, I probably have. But earlier this summer my dear friend Anne Quatrano—chef/owner of Bacchanalia, Abattoir and Floataway Café—introduced me to the best summer cocktail I’ve ever had. And once I cheated on the Pimm’s Cup, I’ve never gone back.

Anne and I were talking about how much we love San Pelligrino sodas. She said she liked the grapefruit the best and mixes it with the Italian aperitif Aperol.

Friends, this drink is to die for. There are two ingredients: Aperol and San Pelligrino grapefruit soda. No muddling. No dashes of bitters or fancy garnishes. The grapefruit gives it sweetness and the Aperol adds a light fennel taste on the back of the tongue.

As much as I adore fall, I’m going to be sad to see the summer season, and my afternoons with this fantastic drink, come to a close.

Pelligrino Grapefruit Cocktail
  • 1/3 aperol to 2/3 Pelligrino grapefruit soda

Stir, sip, sit back and sigh.



September 2013



Chef John Besh gets the picture

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2S3U2138Chef John Besh had 26 hours at Serenbe, and I knew most of it would be spent in the kitchen for the Southern Chefs Series. So shortly after he arrived for his first visit to our spot in the Chattahoochee Hill Country, I took the native Louisianan on a tour of the property. I showed him the farm, stables, neighborhoods, shops, restaurants and everything in-between. And with every stop he’d hop out of the car and take picture after picture.

I could just see it on his face: He instantly got the beauty of the area. When we returned to my house, his team had unloaded 6 Mega coolers of food into the backyard for the classes. John took one look at them and said, “Nope, these are going right back in the van. No way are we ruining the scenery in this spot.”

Though I tried to play it cool, I had to pinch myself repeatedly over those two wonderful days last month. Josh Besh, the chef, restaurateur, author and TV personality, was in my kitchen! Cooking roasted black sea bass! I think everyone was a little star-struck because when I asked my friend Jill what name I should write on John’s cup for the day, she said, “Hotness.”

John made a gorgeous seafood paella for lunch on Sunday. It was an intense dish, but the perfect thing to make if you have a whole afternoon and a house full of friends to help. All the recipes from his visit came from Cooking From My Heart, his new cookbook coming out in October.



September 2013



In a Pickle at the Southern Chefs Potluck

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The 25 Georgia chefs who participated in the fourth annual Southern Chefs Potluck at Serenbe had four rules to follow:

  1. Bring 1 side, 1 pickle and 1 dessert.
  2. Put them on the table.
  3. Sit down, eat and enjoy yourself as a guest.
  4. If you show up in your chef whites you will be shot.


A few of them violated the No. 4, but I let them off with the evil eye. How could I be mad when so many talented chefs came together at Serenbe to raise $78,000 for Wholesome Wave Georgia?

Everyone said it was our best year yet and I have to agree. Anne Quatrano (Bacchanalia) brought dry fried pole beans; Kevin Gillespie (Gunshow) brought Jell-O parfait; Chris McDade (Kevin Rathbun’s Steak Bar) brought bacon pecan maple bars and Linton Hopkins (Restaurant Eugene) brought a beautiful peach, Vidalia onion and bacon salad.

I contributed my green tomato and Vidalia onion pickles. Of all the pickle recipes in the world, this is my favorite because it’s the perfect marriage of tart and sweet. There’s a very fine balance between vinegar and sugar in a pickle recipe. And between the green of the tomatoes and the bright red of the cherry bomb peppers, they look gorgeous on a shelf.

Together with Joy, one of my evening cooks at the Farmhouse, I put up 36 quarts last year and was happy to share the harvest at this event.

Green tomato and Vidalia onion pickles
  • 3 cups thinly sliced green tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1/2 cup cherry bomb peppers
  • 5-10 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 2-3 sprigs fennel blossom or parsley
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour the mixture over the vegetables in a large glass bowl and cover with a plate to submerge. Let stand at room temperature until cool. Then place in a plastic container and refrigerate. Good for 1 month.