Rums of the Caribbean – Themed Dinner

A night out with great food, drinks, friends, and live music… Yes, please! Sawgrass picks the best theme dinners for members to enjoy! Tonight’s theme was Rums of the Caribbean, and there was no shortage of rum! The chefs and organizers put thought into the menu, the drinks, the music, and the atmosphere to bring the Caribbean to Sawgrass. The Caribbean-inspired decorations and flowers added to the mood of the dinner. It was so fun! We just couldn’t help walking through the dinner ooo-ing and ahh-ing at the variety of food presented. 

Events are better when you make new friends…always! I spotted new members, Alexis and Chris Milo by the jerk chicken table. Our oldest sons are in second grade at Ocean Palms and have the same teacher, so I recognized her from school events. We ended up sticking together the rest of night getting to know each other while we sampled the food and drinks. She later said of the event, “My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our first event we’ve attended as new members. We were especially impressed with the bartenders and their knowledge of all things rum!”

Let’s talk about the food. I tested everything, and I had a few standout favorites!

Food

Starters – To start, we enjoyed a Caribbean-inspired salad and crunchy conch fritters. The sauce with the conch fritters was so good!

Main course – The main course options were to die for. One table featured flavorful coconut crusted mahi and mojito roasted pork accompanied by a Mojo dipping sauce, and the other table was home to Jamaican jerk chicken, rum-glazed sweet plantains, and coconut curry black eyed peas & rice.

Roasted pork and mahi

The tender jerk chicken was my favorite! I went back for more… The mojito pork was a close second! The mojo dipping sauce was wonderful paired with it.

Jerk chicken

Desserts – Oh my. If I could choose one thing to eat for a whole week, it might be the coconut ice cream made by Chef Mike and his team. It was thick and creamy with bits of real coconut to add a pleasant texture. The coconut flavor wasn’t overpowering, it was just right. There was also a huge pineapple upside down cake at the dessert station as well. The cake was moist, the pineapple was sweet and a little tart. It was heavenly paired with the ice cream. I might have to eat dessert first at the next dinner!

Drinks

But more importantly, the drinks were amazing! There were four drink stations, and we may have hit up our favorite stations more than once…shhhh… The bartenders mixed each drink by hand with fresh ingredients and flare!

Bermuda Yacht Club

Bermuda Yacht Club

The first drink we tried was the Bermuda Yacht Club made by Randy Smith. It was delicious! The Golden Falernum was the star of the drink with its exotic flavor profile composed of spicy ginger, citrus fruits, almonds, and allspice.

Ingredient list:
-Banks 7 Rum
-Lime juice
-Orange liqueur
-Golden Falernum

Rustic Rum

Rustic Rum

Next, we went to Bo’s table. He was mixing up a drink called the Rustic Rum. Bo says, “This drink was the product of a trip to Puerto Rico. I got to hang out with a group of top ten bartenders at an event, and they were talking about Rustic Rums. When this dinner came up, I just had to make it for our members!” What made this drink memorable was the flare at the end. Before handing me the drink, Bo torched a sprig of rosemary briefly, blew it out, then stuck it in the drink. It gave the drink a fabulous aroma and added to the enjoyment of the drink!

Ingredient list:
-Bacardi Ocho
-Cardinal Mendosa Brandy
-Strawberry rosemary simple syrup
-Topped with a ginger foam
-A squeeze of fresh lime
-Torch a sprig of rosemary for aromatics

Key Lime Kiwi Mojito

Key Lime Kiwi Mojito

Onto the third drink, the Key Lime Kiwi Mojito. It was uniquely created and named by Jay Dial. “We love Jay! You’ll see him bartending at both the beach club and golf club, and he has a knack for coming up with great drinks,” Bo says.

Ingredient list:
-Kiwi simple syrup
-fresh key lime juice
-Bacardi
-rum topper with agave, mint, and sugar

Canchánchara

Canchánchara

This is not your ordinary Canchánchara! Bartender, Corey Phelan, made this drink a bit different than the traditional method. It was fantastic….a little sweet, a little tart, and a lot of rum! (I might have had two of these!)

Ingredients:
-Havana club
-lemon juice
-agave nectar
-lemon to garnish

Music

The music deserves it’s own shoutout. King Eddie & Pili, Pili rocked it out. Word has it that the leader, King Eddie, toured extensively as a young man and still plays all over north Florida. We were very lucky to have him and his band at Sawgrass. They played classic Caribbean jams like “Could You Be Loved” by Bob Marley all night. And with the dance floor set up, members were dancing the night away! And I must say…I was very impressed with the moves! It made me want to sign me and Cory up for dancing lessons (we need it!).

Caribbean Rum Dinner

It was such a fun evening! Me and Cory got to experience flavors and sounds straight from the Caribbean, and we were stuffed by the end of the night! Check Foretees for the next themed dinner, and maybe we’ll see you there!

Experience Winterfest at Sawgrass

“First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, then we’ll go ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie-dough as fast as we can, and then we’ll snuggle.”
-Buddy the Elf

I’m sure you guys have seen the movie Elf. This quote from the movie seems to sum up the season pretty well for our family – Let’s do all the things, and then let’s snuggle. In the craziness of the holidays, don’t forget to take time out and just snuggle. Enjoy each other’s company and be together as a family.

Darling family Santa picture

Today’s post is focused on a fun tradition at Sawgrass called Winterfest. I’m so thankful for a club that promotes family time by organizing events like this. I’m not sure how many years they’ve been hosting this event, but I know I’ve been asked about a thousand times over the last month if we’re going! So, I went into it thinking it was going to be amazing, and it lived up to the hype! From the food to the activities to Santa, it was well-planned and enjoyed by all.

Food

I don’t need to tell you that Sawgrass creates spectacular dishes. They had prime rib, omelet, and pancake stations (eggs benedict was here, too) as well as chilled shrimp, cheeses and fruit, biscuits and gravy plus bacon and sausage, and their famous shrimp and grits! On top of that, they put together the best dessert station with cupcakes, pies, and cookies!

Perry and Chef Mike

My husband’s favorite dish was the eggs benedict (he went back for seconds), and he also commented on how good the sausage was! My boys just HAD to have chocolate chip pancakes. Of course I had to test them, and they were really good! My personal favorite was the shrimp and grits. The grits were cheesy, the shrimp was cooked perfectly, and the sauce was creamy and flavorful.

Omelet station

pancake station

Cupcakes

Activities

If your kiddos need to stay occupied like mine, Winterfest is the perfect place. They had a ball! Here’s what we did:

Magic show – The magician was so good at keeping the kids engaged! She was constantly recruiting volunteers from the audience to do different tasks. She even managed to recruit a reluctant teenager to be Santa for one of the tricks! This one turned out to be the favorite…she literally made a cute fluffy black rabbit come out of a box. It was adorable, and that poor rabbit had to endure every child petting it. Will asked me later that night if we could get a pet rabbit…I told him to ask his Mimi. (haha!) Even the dads got in on the action. My boys had fun competing with the other kids and dads to see who did the best job of wrapping dad up like a snowman.

snowman game

Snow, real snow – Yes, it happened to be 80 degrees on Sunday. Yes, the snow was melting about as fast as they could spray it out. But apparently that’s a Florida Christmas! They managed to get a decent amount of snow for throwing and sledding, so it worked out! All in all, I saw some pretty happy kids playing in the fake snow!

Colleen and Madeline

fake snow

Face painting – If you’ve been to any event in the past year, you have seen the amazing face painting masterpieces that Heather Aquilera creates. Will chose The Grinch, and Wyatt chose a tiger. I saw all kinds of characters from butterflies to unicorns! She truly does an amazing job!

Will Darling

Wyatt Darling

Mallory & Elise

Horse drawn carriage rides – What?!?!? How exciting! Nothing says Christmas like a horse drawn carriage. The ride took about 5 minutes, and the boys had a great time!

Horse and carriage

Santa

Let’s be real, Santa was the real star of Winterfest for the boys. The chocolate chip pancakes were a close second! They each took a few minutes to tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Will asked for more Pokemon cards, and Wyatt asked for PJ Mask toys. Can you see the excitement on their faces? I wish they were this happy when I put dinner on the table, or when I fold their laundry…am I right, moms?

Will & Wyatt Darling

Santa

Wouldn’t it be great if Christmas was that easy for us adults? What if Santa could bring things like better health or the healing of a broken relationship? I recognize that this season of joy also brings sadness for some. Know that I’m thinking of you and wishing you peace, comfort, and hope for the season and the new year. Whatever your personal circumstance, I encourage you to be a light to those around you this Christmas – your friends, Sawgrass members around you, the random person at Publix. You never know when a kind word or action can bring hope and meaning.

After all, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
-Buddy the Elf

Enjoy a Group Tennis Lesson at Sawgrass!

Tennis is my jam. Since moving here and joining Sawgrass, I have become addicted to the sport! It’s challenging both physically and mentally. It requires a “getting better” attitude because there’s always an element of your game that needs improvement, especially for me as a new player! As a mom of young children, it feels good to go out on the court and release the stress of the day.

tennis lesson

Recently, my mother-in-law, Shelley, came to visit us. She has seen my love for the game grow and has played on and off for years. She’s familiar with singles but doubles makes her nervous. I don’t blame her….it’s tough to learn! You want to be in the right position at the right time, and there’s a drive to make the shot and win the point for your partner!

Her excitement to learn gave me an idea: to set up a group lesson with a pro so she can begin to learn doubles. She was ecstatic! And let me tell you…my mother-in-law, Shelley, is full of life! We enjoy spending time together whatever we’re doing. She has a zest for life that keeps her young. She is constantly learning new things, traveling, and soaking up time with her grandchildren playing games. So naturally, she was on board with a group tennis lesson.

The lesson

I booked the lesson with the Tennis Director, Ken Veney, for an hour and a half. I invited two D-team ladies to join us, Lindsay Long and Jennifer Werba. It was important to me that we play with other women who are still beginners to make her feel comfortable. We started with typical warm-up drills practicing baseline strokes, approach shots, and volleys.

Then, we moved into talking about basic doubles positioning and each person’s purpose on the court. If you’ve never heard them before, terms like “garbage collector,” “hot seat,” “big or small” can sound silly, but to play effective doubles, you have to know where to be. Shelley “loved how Ken made the group lesson so much fun by tailoring it to each of our four levels and giving equal advice to us all. His lessons are the BEST! I learned so many aspects of the game because he makes everything understandable.” He does. Ken is a seasoned professional who loves the game and loves instructing others in order to improve their game.

From there, we did fast-paced drills that focused on being in the right position on the court and working with your partner to win the point. It was a great lesson overall, and I really enjoyed the time with my mother-in-law! Plus, she got to meet the ladies I play tennis with every week!

I asked Jen if she would want to do this again, and she said, “I absolutely would want to schedule a similar lesson when family is in town or even with some friends locally.” She adds, “I really liked the doubles drill because it helped reinforce the doubles strategies you want to use in a match.”

Tennis events at Sawgrass

I’ve been so impressed with the social focus Ken and his team have brought to Sawgrass. They tediously plan events, clinics, flexi leagues, and tournaments so members can interact and get to know each other.

One of my favorite events is called “Triples,” and it happens once per month on a Friday night. It’s fast-paced, entertaining, and casual. Be warned…it’s a lot of cardio (but we all need that, right?)! You’ll get your steps in that day for sure. It’s basically three vs. three with a pro on every court feeding in the ball each point. It takes away the serve, which makes it less intense! I won’t go any further explaining it, but sign up on Foretees! The next date is Friday, December 14th. I promise you’ll have fun, and it’s a great way to meet other members who play tennis. For me, it’s a great way to interact with different levels of tennis players…I’m always open to learning, so it’s neat to see how they play versus how I play the game.

Want to play during the week? There are mens and womens clinics during the day and in the evening. And if you have kids, there are kids clinics in the afternoons. Matt and Klara run these clinics, and they are amazing! They’re both so patient with the kids, and they really make it fun with games that teach tennis technique.

Tennis is a game that can be enjoyed at any age and at any level. The staff at the racquet club would love to see YOU on the court! Why not try something new this coming year? According to Ken, “It’s all about fun…this is a way to spend time with your family and do something active while learning new aspects of the game.”

So, when family comes to visit, schedule a tennis lesson with Ken (kveney@sawgrasscountryclub.com) or one of the other pros! Get outside, do something active, and learn new skills!