Monday, April 14, 2014

MI Trail Rides gets a Change of Scenery

If you've driven up to the Expo center or arena lately you may have noticed that the Madonna Inn trail rides have made a mini move! Although it was a short trip from the corner of the arena parking lot to the base of the mountain, the wranglers, horses, and riders agree that the new location is a much better fit. Besides the more rustic, whimsical backdrop, the new location is conveniently located directly at the base of the mountain trail where rides are sent up - meaning less interference with Expo traffic in crossing the often busy road. As for the horses, they are now enjoying their expansive turn out lot which is much roomier, comfortable, and protected than the other location. For guests, the new location is easier to find, offers more parking and an opportunity to more easily interact with the trail horses in their turn-out pasture. Haddie Townsend, head wrangler, said that the main reason for the move was the expansion of their operation, due to a hugely successful response from locals and guests in the past year. In this new location, they can accommodate many more horses and larger riding groups. Stop by and see their new digs for yourself!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Toffee Magic

While Pink Champagne is perhaps the most well known of the Madonna Inn cakes, locals and family agree that Toffee Crunch is, hands down, our most delicious and unique cake. Combining delicate white cake with fluffy, real whipped cream and caramelized, crunchy toffee, this cake is simple yet decadently out-of-this-world! 

The secret to this sweet masterpiece is the fresh, handmade toffee bits. The toffee starts out with a bit of oil, a splash of coffee, lots of sugar and some corn syrup. If even a little bit of sugar starts to burn on the bottom of the pan, the whole batch will taste burnt - so it is very important to keep stirring throughout the process. When the mixture is hot enough, baking soda is added: turning the toffee from a dark caramel brown to a fluffy golden yellow. (If you're around the bakery during this stage of the process, you will hear Kyle yell out "hot sugar" as he carries the pot of toffee from the burner to the wooden counter!) From here, the boiling hot toffee is quickly poured onto sheet pans where it cools before being shattered into little golden nuggets. 

Click the link below to watch the toffee process in action!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Gold to Green

In San Luis Obispo, the "changing of the colors" is not an autumnal phenomena but a vernal one. Rather than the traditional turning of the leaves from green to gold, our Spring transformation turns the dry, golden hills to a lush, vibrant green. Rain is often scarce in California, but the past few years have been especially dry - meaning every drop we get is not just welcomed, but celebrated. Although we can't be sure this year will present us another "Miracle March," which would bring our rainfall totals up to the normal average, this past storm has given the Central Coast hope that it could indeed happen. Combined rainfall amounts from this recent downpour and an earlier storm this season have totaled over four MUCH-needed inches. And while this is still far from our annual average, I and many other San Luis residents have our fingers crossed that the remainder of this month will be full of "miracles." Today, the clouds have given way to blue skies, the sun is shining bright, and as my Grandpa George used to say, "You can almost hear the grass growing."

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Month of Love

In honor of the "Month of Love," as we've been calling it around here, we decided to have a love-inspired cake giveaway! The best part of these contests are the adorable stories shared by contestants on our page. It reminds us just how magical the Madonna Inn is for so many people. Here is the winning story, from Mrs. Britaini Fernandes-Caywood!
My husband for almost 5 years now proposed to me at madonna Inn. Here is the story...My husband, Luke told me a couple weeks before he proposed that we were going to do a date night at madonna inn, i was very excited, i had never been before. He told me we were going to just have dinner there and then come home. The night came, we got all dolled up and went to dinner. During the dinner i brought up the fact that madonna was known for their differant rooms to stay in and i told him i thought it would be cool to look at one. After dinner i begged him to go into the lobby and ask if there was anyway we can just look at one of the rooms that was vacant, he acted like that was so embaressing but he would do it for me. We finished dinner and drove over to the hotel entrance of madonna Inn, i stayed in the car and luke went inside (i thought he was asking if we could just look at one of the rooms but he was really checking in.) He came out and said that we can look at one of the rock rooms for a min then bring them the key back, i remember thinking how lame we were for asking to just look at a room really quick lol. We walk up to the room we were going to look at and luke unlocked the door then pushed me in first, rose petels were all over the ground and bed, our song was playing in the room and there was champaigne and glasses first thought was we just barged into someone elses room..after a couple seconds and hearing OUR song playing it hit me that this was our room! I turned around and saw luke on one knee with a ring and asked me to be his wife, of course i said yes! we spend the night in the rock room the night we got engaged. It was a memory i will never forget. He put so much thought into that night and it goes down as one of the best nights of my life!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Horsing Around

If you've visited the Inn lately, you probably noticed the abundance of horses and cattle on property. From the mountain-side meadows, to the riding stables, to the white-fenced pastures, ranch life pops up everywhere around the Inn. (My Mom's horse Butter even made it into this LiveFast Magazine Hotel Tour Editorial -- shot by Laura Austin with model, Brittany Panda! Read the full story at So right now you may be asking yourself,"Okay, but why horses and cattle... Isn't the Madonna Inn just pink and cherubs?" Believe it or not, the Madonna's western tradition actually goes back even further than the Inn itself, and is as deeply woven into the fabric of Madonna Inn as is the color pink!
In the early 1900s, my Swiss ancestors were some of the first European immigrants to settle on and begin farming the central coast land. My great grandpa, Paul Madonna, had a ranch on the outskirts of town where he raised dairy cattle. It was in these years that my grandpa Alex developed a deep and genuine love for ranch-life. One of my favorite stories is about how my mischevious grandpa Alex would race his pony through General Middlestaff's mounted cavalry out at Camp San Luis Obispo. He would later start a cattle operation of his own and go on to teach his children the importance of good animal husbandry and share with them his affinity for all things horses and cattle.
As grandma Phyllis put it in her book, "as much as the Madonna family is a part of the Madonna Inn, ranching is a part of the Madonna family" (189). My favorite stories from my mother's childhood were always the ones that involved the ponies: from their many famous neighborhood pony races, to their mounted escapades through town, to the stories of how they used to trot across the old freeway as a short-cut to cross-town neighborhoods.
Growing up on a ranch, our horses were not simply lawn ornaments -- they were like family. Making sure the horses, cattle, goats, and sometimes even pigs, ate before we did was not just a standard but a necessity. Cattle brandings, ropings and rodeos were as special to us as any holiday and washing the horses happened far more often than the washing of any vehicles. Ever since I was young, I have loved just going out to talk to the horses. After a hard, crumby day, my horses were always there to listen... and never charged an hourly fee for their services!
Besides being my friends and confidantes, our horses have brought our family so much unity and togetherness. Between late night practices and early morning road trips to ropings and rodeos, our involvement with horses allows us to spend quality time with each other and our animals. While it often just feels like regular old horse-play, I know that the memories we make in the arena are the ones I'm going to cherish later.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter Wonder SLO

We have probably all heard someone call San Luis Obispo "paradise" at some point in time. With its year-round Mediterranean climate, locals are just as likely to be spotted on a Central Coast beach in mid-January as they are sometime in July. While this is great news to the beach-bunny/outdoor-enthusiast/sun-worshiping types, SLO's weather can be somewhat of a disappointment for someone enchanted by the idea of a "white winter". Well, thanks to Jiffy Lube's Winter Wonder SLO ice rink, the latter can finally have their cake and eat it too (enjoy winter activities without all that pesky snow and ice). This year marks the second annual return of the ice rink to SLO... and to say that the attraction is a success would be a great understatement. Not only will you and your loved ones enjoy a genuine ice rink with festive decor and music, but you can also commemorate the experience with professional ice rink photos or fun photo booth prints. After you've skated up an appetite, enjoy a hot coco and cinnamon-sugar churro. No age or fun limits for this attraction, however the ice rink goes away (until next year) on January 5th, so you must hurry if you want to experience this winter wonderland!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


This past year has brought so many beautiful changes into my life, both personal and professional. Last year, I could've never guessed that 2013 would bring me a new major (Ag Communications!) OR a new position (MI's official blogger/social media and marketing intern!!!!!). I am so grateful for all the opportunities that have been set before me and for all the people that encouraged me to seize them. My life has never been so filled with love and laughter and for that I feel extremely blessed. Although I cannot say what 2014 has in store for me, I CAN with certainty that the best is yet to come.
Tonight, please celebrate responsibly and expect nothing but the best in 2014. Cheers!