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!