Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Cows Came Home!



Over the weekend, the Madonna Meadows became a temporary home to 101 uniquely painted fiberglass cows - which were on display as part of a traveling art exhibit called the International Cow Parade.


Stopping in various locations all around the world, Cow Parade events are a fun way to showcase the work of local artists, bring together community members, and raise money for deserving charities and organizations. The SLO event this past weekend drew nearly 10,000 visitors, lots of cameras, and more cow jokes than you could shake a stick at!



Now that the event is over, the cows are being delivered to their new "homes" around the county. Some, like our "Lady Moodonna" and her matching mini-moo, will be permanent fixtures at local businesses; while others, such as our "Grazing Monarch" and "Cow on a Mission," will only be on display till they are auctioned off in early May.


The cows are such a wonderful addition to our Madonna Inn landscape, and serve as a great reminder of our values: community, agriculture, and fun. Make sure to check them out during your next visit!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Once Upon a Pretzel...

As part of this year's Oktoberfest celebration, Madonna Inn is proudly teaming up with House of Bagels to bring our guests the most authentic and delicious soft pretzels on the Central Coast!


Today, I was invited by Mike Prowse: co-owner of House of Bagels, to get a sneak peak of the behind-the-scenes-magic happening at their SLO location. He and Molly, one of his talented bakers, kindly gave me a tour of the bakery and walked me through their pretzel making process from start to finish.


It all begins with a special high-protein flour and distilled, temperature controlled water. The ratios of each and every ingredient are carefully monitored to ensure consistency.


Once the dough is mixed and rolled out, it is covered and left to proof until it reaches the right temperature. This, Mike explained, is a very critical point in the process because consistent size and density of the finished product depends on perfectly-timed proofing of the dough.


After proofing, the dough is cut down to a proper size and weight, then rolled out and twisted into it's famously recognizable shape.


Traditionally, both "legs" of the pretzel are tucked underneath the bottom curve of the dough; however Mike and his crew only tuck one of these legs underneath to give each pretzel their signature touch. They even have pieces of rope in the bakery for practicing the House of Bagels twisting technique!


Next, the pretzels take a dip in a solution of food-grade lye and boiling water. This step allows for the dough to achieve a deep caramel-brown crust on the outside, while remaining soft and airy on the inside.


Following their dip in the boiler, the pretzels are hit with some course-grain salt before heading to the oven. The entire cooking process only takes about 10 minutes. 


While this picture may be worth a thousand words, it will never do justice to the aroma of these pretzels taken fresh out of the oven - talk about heavenly!

 
Before I left, Mike graciously insisted that I take a big bag of warm pretzels with me to share back at the office.


After such a lovely, educating, and carb-filled morning, I can hardly wait for this year's Oktoberfest. Get your tickets online today!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Farm-Fresh Goodness



Of all the reasons I love living on the Central Coast, having access to incredibly fresh produce is definitely near the top of my list. Our Mediterranean climate, mild seasons, and rich soils allow us to enjoy fruits and vegetables that have literally been harvested in the same day they're eaten. Living in an agricultural society also allows us to meet our local farmers and get to know more about their processes, history, and passion for the land.


Marcus Hunt is a San Luis Obispo resident, father, farmer, and Madonna Inn Steak House server. He was kind enough to invite us to his small farm in Los Osos for a tour of his operation - which has grown from an eighth of an acre to five full acres in only four years!


While Marcus focuses mainly on blackberry production, he also has a few rows of Serrano peppers, squash, beans, and pink blueberries.


Last but not least, he has two boxes of bees which he uses to help pollinate his crops, and make quite literally the best raw honey I've ever tried. Seriously, this stuff is next-level.


Although the berries are still about 19 days away from a widespread harvest, we did find a few that were just asking to be eaten. Stay tuned for Hunt Family Farms blackberries at the Madonna Inn; and trust me... they will be so worth the wait!



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Match Made in Heaven

For a lover of vintage memorabilia, matchbooks have a certain je ne sais quois. Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, they harken back to a (not so long ago) time in our history when smoking in public was not only the norm - but fashionable! Decoratively branded, complimentary matchbooks were offered by hotels, restaurants, bars, salons, and even grocery stores as a small courtesy for patrons who needed a light. As smoking lost popularity over the years, many establishments stopped offering these matchbooks since there was no longer so much of a need for them - moving them from a necessity to more of a novelty. This also made these little mementos increasingly harder to scout out if you weren't a serious collector or an antique shop regular.
 






Wednesday, June 22, 2016

SLO Happenings

Having been born and raised in San Luis Obispo, people often think I know everything there is to know about this beautiful city. And while I can certainly get around without having to use a map, I am often surprised to find out how many awesome events and opportunities SLO offers on a regular basis.


To stay in the loop on upcoming concerts, food and wine events, outdoor and recreation opportunities, workshops, and meet-ups in the area I love the SLO Happening app. It's completely free to download and is really great if you are vacationing/staycationing (or even a local like me) and looking for things to do around town. Give it a try!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Stained Glass Narratives


These vivid artworks not only add to the Inn's colorful flair, but also serve to illustrate historical vignettes of the Madonna family. 

Below are just a few of the stories these stained glass masterpieces tell.


In the mid 1950s, the Madonnas owned and showed the smallest team of pony stallions in the world!


One of the first families to settle on and begin farming the Central Coast land, the Madonnas valued hard work. 







As Swiss-Italian immigrants, the Madonna's ancestors came to America by ship. 





Although the gold rush days were far before Alex's time, he did mine for gold, chrome, and silver in his youth. 




A tribute to one of Mr. Madonna's lifetime passions - construction.




The pick, shovel, and Model-T Ford that started it all!

Stop by the Silver Bar, or pick up a copy of Phyllis Madonna's book, My Point of View, for more!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

MI in Ag Circle Magazine

Madonna Inn was recently featured in Cal Poly's Ag Circle magazine for it's involvement in local agriculture and agri-tourism.

Photo by Emma Morris of Cal Poly

Ag Circle is a completely student-produced publication for the Cal Poly College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences. Check it out here!