Tag Archives: Serenbe

Queen for 1.5 days

Living high off the hog

It’s good to be Queen, even for a day and a half. Here I am in “my” $1.8 million home in the luxurious planned community of Serenbe, just outside Atlanta. Please note that I have all the essentials of the good life. Wine, Vaseline, cigarettes and a bag of Char-Broil goodies. One of my roomies, Julie Reinhardt, snapped the photo.

“Our” pool and pool house

We are two of eight Char-Broil All-Star Bloggers invited to Serenbe to commune with the company executives, cook next to a picturesque lake, enjoy cocktails and fabulous dinners at the Inn at Serenbe and just basically have a good time. It’s a hard-knock life.

So this is one of those times when it’s good that “there’s no room at the inn.” After a long and arduous ride in a limousine fully equipped with a bar, which we took advantage of, we were regretfully forced to bivouac at a four-bedroom luxury home with pool, cabana, waterfall and our very own golf cart to toddle around the property on.

Serenbe is set up like a collection of English villages surrounded by lush forests, farmland and meadows. It is beyond beautiful. After we put away our meager belongings, we jump in the golf cart for a brisk ride down a country road to dinner at the Inn. Our other roomie, Danielle Dimovski, is the

Chicken with a red pepper jelly glaze

driver. Actually, brisk is an understatement. For the next day and a half Julie and I hold on for all we’re worth as Danielle lurches along the road at top golf cart speed. Thank goodness we’d been drinking.

Is it possible for anything to be too perfect? I think not. The Inn is a picturesque former farmhouse. Many of the menu items are grown on Serenbe’s organic farms. We have more cocktails. We feast on organic chicken glazed with Serenbe’s own pepper jelly, sitting jauntily on a cloud of mashed potatoes with green beans from the garden. I am immediately so so very happy that a year ago I picked up the phone to hear a stranger say, “We’d like you to blog for Char-Broil.” Barry Martin, I love you man.

Well, the whole 1.5 days is just a dream and a half. Breakfast at the Inn – French toast with strawberries from the farm and crispy bacon. Lunch? The Char-Broil folks present about 15 pounds of various cuts of chicken, steak, sausages and fish to us so we can play on the bevy of grills they’ve set up at the Lake Pavilion. We do not even have to dirty our dainty digits turning the grills on. They are already lit. Then a tour of the HGTV Dream Home at Serenbe, which is sponsored by Char-Broil, and more cocktails. Dinner? Oh, yes, we have not eaten nearly enough. The frogs chirp as we enjoy a late night glass of wine in the courtyard of our $1.8 million house overlooking the pool. We wonder if anyone would notice if we simply do not leave. Ever.

It is exactly one week later as I write this, sitting in my garage because we don’t smoke in the house anymore. I am back to being a serf. In about two hours I will be a day laborer at the Community Resource Center, unloading donations from a major retailer. Where is my golf cart? Where are the drinks by the pool? Where in the hell is my organic salad and steak with horseradish cream? It was good to be the Queen.

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Filed under breakfast, Uncategorized

Chopped

Despite a language barrier, Danielle and I work well as a team using hand signals

We had an hour, but it is 20 minutes now until judging and the chicken is raw. And then there is the peanut butter issue.

In our basket at the Char-Broil version of Chopped are the mystery ingredients: a whole chicken, a fennel bulb, a stick of butter, bacon, a wedge of blue cheese, a pineapple and a horrifying jar of chunky peanut butter. We have to use all of them in our dish. The Char-Broil people, who have kindly invited the All-Star Bloggers to a resort outside Atlanta, have thoughtfully provided us with a nifty “kitchen” consisting of two disposable cutting boards, a half sheet pan, a moderately sharp knife, and four miniscule bowls.

Fear the Diva

But I have the ace card in my corner. My teammate is Danielle Dimovski, the reigning world pork champion better known as Diva Q. I am totally set here. This is going to be a walk in the park. “I know exactly what we’re going to do,” says Danielle as she hacks away at the pineapple. “We’re going to make beer-can chicken but we’re going to use the pineapple as the beer can. We can totally do this in an hour.” I have a slightly difficult time understanding her. Danielle is from Canada and she uses words like “aboat” (about) and “hoose” (house). Then again I use words like “haid” (head) and “bidness” (business). We have a slight language barrier, but we’ll work through that.

There are screaming hot Char-Broil TRU-Infrared grills set up around the Lake Pavilion at Serenbe, an insanely gorgeous planned community. Danielle slams that chicken onto the pineapple spike, rubs on some spices and citrus juice (the bloggers have a common “pantry” of additional ingredients we can use),  slaps the whole thing authoritatively on the grill and slams the lid shut.

If you’ve ever watched Chopped, the Food Network Show where four chefs are given mystery baskets of insanely inappropriate ingredients, you will understand that Danielle and I had to take a few minutes to ponder the butter, blue cheese, bacon, fennel and peanut butter.

Bacon? Obviously, no problem. We cook it on a grill pan. Fennel? Shave it and briefly kiss it with some grill marks. Alrighty then. We’re left with the butter, blue cheese and peanut butter. Yummy, yum, yum.

I am slightly reticent to offer suggestions to the world pork champion, but I wonder if we can’t use the peanut butter with some barbecue sauce to make a dipping sauce for the chicken. Why the hell not? We throw the peanut butter, barbecue sauce, a bit of lemon juice and a bit of Worcestershire into one of our pygmy bowls.  We throw in some bacon grease and butter. It looks like baked beans. But it tastes good.

It is now 20 minutes before turn in. Danielle lifts the lid of the grill. The chicken is…raw. Plan B. Plan B! This woman is a rock star. She takes the knife and dissects that chicken right on the grill! Two chicken breasts off the bird and onto the grill. I retreat to make a vinaigrette for the fennel.

Grilled chicken with fennel slaw and our almost-award-winning pineapple and bacon bites

I am going to cut to the chase.We made a grilled chicken breast over grilled fennel slaw in a citrus vinaigrette topped with blue cheese and bacon crumbles. But the single thing that makes our dish is this: We took some of the pineapple, cut into spears, and grilled it. Then we topped it with our peanut butter barbecue sauce concoction and then we put a strip of bacon on top. Sweet and salty on top of sweet and salty. They were over the top. The chicken and the fennel, not so much. Danielle and I knew this. Even though we don’t speak the same language we are realists.

We got honorable mention, based solely on our pineapple bacon bites. The winner was a New York

Christo modest in victory

City chef, Christo Gonzales, who made a chicken breast stuffed with fennel, bacon and blue cheese with a peanut butter and citrus jus. What a show off. Oh, I’m sorry. That’s not ladylike. But we’re not bitter. We applauded Christo, took a bite of his chicken and conceded we were outdone.

I will say this. After the competition, we had quite a few pineapple bacon bites left. And one by one, our fellow bloggers slowly sauntered over to our station and ate them all. I’m just sayin’.

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Filed under cheese, chicken, pork, salads, sides, Uncategorized, veggies