Sure, there’s good fried chicken all over the South. But the fried chicken at The Inn at Serenbe’s Farmhouse is exceptional—juicy on the inside with a crispy, flaky, perfectly seasoned coating, served with seasonal vegetables fresh from a local organic garden and best washed down with a giant peach sangria loaded with peach slices and whole strawberries. Or maybe a mojito with muddled mint plucked from the thick mint beds out back. Well worth the forty-minute drive from Atlanta (and only twenty minutes from the international airport), this sublime fried chicken is just one element of the tremendously hospitable Serenbe experience. At The Farmhouse you feel as if you are dining in someone’s house. And you are.
Marie Nygren and her husband Steve bought this place on a lark about twenty years ago. After years renovating the house, cottage, and old barns, they started purchasing adjacent parcels of land to buffer their sweet retreat, turning their original sixty acres into nearly a thousand. Eventually they dedicated themselves full-time to Serenbe, turning it into a bed and breakfast. Concerned with the threat of encroaching urban sprawl, they then hatched an environmentally sensitive community plan for what is now Chattahoochee Hill Country—forty thousand acres of development loaded with green space and a community farm. You can get lost hiking or horseback riding on miles of trails. You can saunter up a hill, through a field of wild flowers, past an artsy bottle tree, and into a little hamlet where fresh coffee and pastries await you at the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop, then pick wild blackberries on your way back. You can play croquet on a beautifully manicured lawn tucked in the forest beneath towering pines, relax on swings beneath wisteria arbors, or feed a baby lamb milk from a baby’s bottle.
Once a month, you can sign up for the culinary opportunity of a lifetime: to spend a weekend learning in The Farmhouse kitchen from some of the South’s top chefs. With Serenbe’s Southern Chef Series you can cook, chat, drink, and dine alongside culinary superstars in this little utopia.
In the food world, you hear a lot about perfect pairings. Indeed, on the menu at The Farmhouse you will find a goat cheese salad beautifully paired with sauvignon blanc, a flat iron steak complemented by Rioja. During my stay, I also learned a different lesson in pairings. I learned that geese like to hang out with horses. I learned that buzzards roost patiently alongside pigs (clever buzzards—they know that kitchen scraps from The Farmhouse go straight into slop). I also learned that pigs and Georgia red clay mud are a match made in hog heaven. I learned that if you separate donkeys into different fields, they will conduct long-distance braying conversations with one another, that some chickens refuse to give up their eggs, and that no one in his right mind hangs out with Gus, the ornery, territorial pot-belly pig.
At breakfast time, I learned that soft choral harmonies go nicely with coffee, perfectly scrambled eggs, bacon, and melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, all within sight of a sunlight-dappled flowering cherry tree. Perfect pairings indeed.
Published June.July 2013
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