The Livingston Inn | Madison, Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast

New Year’s Resolutions Solved

Every year we hear about how many people make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get fit. Just as I’m writing these opening sentences, two separate commercials have appeared on TV about weight loss programs. Yet, every year we hear about how many people don’t keep their resolutions. Despite the odds against us, human nature prevails and we keep up the tradition of resolutions, many with good intentions such as losing weight and exercising more. And even if a small fraction of people stick with a resolution, it’s certainly not a bad thing that a few more people have found their way to a healthier lifestyle.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun and a source of encouragement to provide some ways residents and visitors in Madison can stay committed to a New Year’s resolution to get healthy and exercise more. My suggestions focus mostly on these darker and colder days of winter when the resolve to stay fit can sometimes be a challenge.

south_cherokee_ski_5Cross country skiing. Madison has a number of groomed trails at golf courses like Odana Hills and Yahara Hills. One of my personal favorites is Glenway Golf Course. This nine-hole course is tucked away in a near-westside neighborhood between a cemetery and the Southwest Bike Path. As you ski toward the back of the course, it’s very secluded with many beautiful old trees. Since it’s not groomed, be sure to be respectful of the golf course and only ski when conditions permit. Beyond the golf courses, I’d also recommend Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton, another beautiful and secluded area in the midst of our city. If you need skis, rentals are available at Odana Hills or at our local sporting goods store, Fontana Sports.

Snowshoeing on the lakes. While this winter has been abnormal where ice hasn’t formed, Madison lakes are often a great option for snowshoeing. Similar to going out on a lake in the summer, the views of the city are stunning, and a day or evening snowshoeing in the winter is a very peaceful experience as well. Guests at The Livingston Inn can enjoy a fun snowshoeing excursion from our lake access across to the UW campus and the union. If you need snowshoes during a visit, Fontana Sports is again a great option.

yogaJoin a health club. Similar to those weight loss commercials, health clubs heavily solicit new members this time of year. So why not take advantage of some of the special offers and make it the year join a health club? Madison has so many options from the nationwide chains to large and small local clubs. Close to The Livingston Inn are two great local options: Capital Fitness and Pinnacle Health and Fitness. If you’re a guest here and have joined a health club at home, remember The Livingston Inn offers free health club access to Pinnacle Health so you can maintain your workout schedule during your visit.

Schedule yourself on a walking tour or two. When the weather doesn’t cooperate with winter sports, like skiing and snowshoeing, running and walking are good alternatives. Walking is a great exercise, and if you’d like it to be more interesting, add in something like an architectural walking tour. While the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation has guided tours in warmer weather, the City of Madison has a very nice list of tours you can do on your own like the Old Market Place, Tenney-Lapham, and Mansion Hill tours in our neighborhood.

Exercise your brain. A New Year’s resolution to get healthy should include body AND mind. No matter what your age, the benefits of exercising your brain, or intellect, go far for a long and healthy life. With that in mind, I would recommend regular trips to the Madison Public Library. Our downtown library was re-modeled just a few years ago, and it is such a fun place to visit. Just from its exterior, the building draws you in and makes it very inviting to spend an afternoon reading books and periodicals, perhaps bringing something home until your next library visit. If you’re staying at our B&B and want to incorporate a little physical exercise, the downtown library is an enjoyable 20-minute walk from our inn.Madison Public Library Central Branch

Eat and drink well, locally. Madison features several companies dedicated to nutritious food as part of a commitment to health and well-being. One of my favorites is nut butter offered by the local company, Yumbutter. Yumbutter’s nut butters are an organic superfood made from nuts and seeds offering an ideal source for proteins and antioxidants. Available in peanut, almond, and sunflower, they all taste great, too. If you’re looking for something healthy to drink, many Madison residents have discovered the benefits of kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink made with living cultures of bacteria and yeast. While that may not sound appealing at first, kombucha has a very nice flavor similar to iced teas. The drink’s history stretches back to East Asian cultures where it’s believed to cure many diseases and afflictions. Today, fans of kombucha drink it to improve digestion and provide antioxidants to the body. While science has yet to support these claims, I’ll take a bottle of kombucha over a soda or sugar-intense energy drink any day. Here in Madison, NessAlla has been a local producer of kombucha for years and knows what it’s doing to make an excellent, quality product. You can find it in most stores and several restaurants throughout Madison.nessalla

If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution of some type related to your health, I want to be the first to say you can do it. Don’t let any naysayers tell you resolutions are meant to be broken. But if you need a little support, hopefully the list above will inspire you to discover fun, creative, and sustaining ways to make 2016 a great year for your health!

The Farm-to-Table Economy

In our last blog, we celebrated the many successful farmers’ markets around Madison and their foundation to the growth of organic and sustainable farming. Now that farmers’ markets are the norm for the daily and weekly needs of a household, we are starting to see other industries develop and succeed as part of the farm-to-table movement. In Madison, restaurants have really hit their stride in this area, and recently at The Livingston Inn, we have also found a new grocery delivery service that is doing an incredible job at bringing local products to our doorstep.

There are many fantastic restaurants in Madison that support local, organic producers and farmers. Many of them shop directly at the farmers’ markets mentioned in last week’s post, reducing trucks bringing in product and keeping “food miles” to a minimum. It would require a very long list to describe all of them, so we’ll feature just a few that are near our B&B and frequent spots for our guests.

Heritage Tavern3Heritage Tavern. Opened in 2013 by Chef Dan Fox, Heritage Tavern has quickly become a favorite spot among locals and visitors. The essence of this restaurant starts with Dan’s involvement in raising heritage pigs at his Fox Heritage Farms, becoming part of a growing movement away from factory pig farms. With his colleagues, he also orchestrates the annual Slo-Pig festival, an event that celebrates a better and closer relationship to the food we eat. Dan’s commitment to heritage pigs has led to many local restaurants purchasing pork from him such as Hamilton’s on the Square and The Madison Club. But his restaurant is more than just about the meat. Many of his dishes also feature the local produce at our farmers’ markets. Recently, Peggy and I went there for dinner and ate incredibly tasty beets and tomatoes, fresh and full of flavor since they came from Dane County and not halfway around the world. We have never had a guest disappointed with Heritage Tavern and highly recommend it to anyone looking for an excellent farm-to-table dining experience.

ForequarterForequarter. Amid the growing little business community around The Livingston Inn, Forequarter opened in 2012. Only one block away at 708 ¼ Johnson Street, the restaurant has also been a guest favorite for the phenomenal food, with the enjoyable walk to get there as an added bonus. Like Heritage Tavern, Forequarter’s roots are in its commitment to local produce and meats. The restaurant is one piece of the Underground Food Collective where the organization processes its own meats, sells its product in a butcher shop, and operates a catering service. A recent Madison Magazine article noted the Underground Food Collective business model has returned $1.5 million to local producers each year. The creativity of the menu at Forequarter and the intimate setting create a very special dining experience, and we are very happy to have them in the neighborhood.

Madison ClubThe Madison Club. Farm-to-table and support of organic products isn’t just for the new and up-and-coming in our city. The Madison Club, an inviting private club on Lake Monona, has been in existence since 1909, and Chef Andrew Wilson has beautifully incorporated local organic produce into the menu over the past couple of years. Besides purchasing from Fox Heritage Farms, The Madison Club regularly shops at the downtown farmers’ market just steps from its front door, creating fresh menu items incorporating the bounty of the seasons. The Madison Club also dedicates a page on their website to their Food Philosophy – fresh, local, incredible – and provides a list of all the local farms from which they purchase ingredients and products. We are always very impressed by how The Madison Club respectfully embraces giving back to the community, and its support of organic farming does so wonderfully while also creating an outstanding dining experience.

Square HarvestBeyond our excellent farm-to-table dining scene, we’d also like to mention a new business that has grown out of the local food movement. A few months ago, one of our fellow innkeepers mentioned a company she had been working with called Square Harvest. Square Harvest is a grocery delivery service with a focus on bringing local products to your house. We gave it a try, and with our first order, it has been an instant hit for us. While we have been able to purchase organic items such as dairy and eggs from the supermarket, we now have the ability, through Square Harvest, to get them delivered from local producers, reducing the food miles for our business and household. We’ve enjoyed quality and affordable products such as eggs, milk, half and half, cheese, vegetables, and fruit – all critical menu items for a B&B. We’ve also bought bread, tortillas, meat, pasta, and veggies burgers for our family’s lunches and dinners. It’s easy to order online with Square Harvest and their deliveries are always timely (even getting through Saturday Badger games around here). And every week it seems they have new items added to their selection. We are thrilled to include them as part of our operations at The Livingston Inn and hope they enjoy many successful years supporting our local farmers and businesses.

We hope you enjoyed our recognition of all that is organic and sustainable in Madison over the past thirty years. It is quite an accomplishment when you see how far we’ve come. It seems just a few years ago that organic food was something found in the far corner of the grocery store, but we are happy to see it has taken center stage among the many markets and restaurants in the community.

 

Farm-to-Table Abundance

farmersmarket2As we head toward next month where we celebrate harvest and are thankful for all that we have in our lives, we want to step back and recognize how far our communities have come with organic and sustainable farming. Without a doubt, the farm-to-table movement has grown tremendously nationwide, but we’re particularly proud of Madison’s accomplishments over the past decades.

To start, we must commend our iconic Dane County Farmers’ Market. Started in 1972, DCFM or “the Market” has undertaken ongoing positive steps to support local and organic farmers and producers, and today the Market is stronger than ever. Its flagship market day, Saturdays on the Capitol Square, continues to attract throngs of community members and visitors. It’s always the top attraction among our guests at The Livingston Inn, something they hear about whether coming from a neighboring state or halfway around the world. After an impressive forty years, you’ll find anything at the Market from the regulars at 6am zipping quickly to their normal vendors for items like honey and fresh produce to the leisurely mid-morning strollers sampling cheese bread while people watching on the counter-clockwise circuit.

561598817e394.imageThe phenomenon of the Market has led to its expansion as well as the growth of other farmers’ markets. DCFM successfully added a Wednesday market from 8:30am to 2:00pm a few years ago, attracting downtown workers on their lunch hours. Realizing a farmer’s market is more than fresh produce, the Market has also expanded into indoor winter markets at the Monona Terrace and the Madison Senior Center. Those markets can still feature the sought-after cheeses, breads, and tasty treats but then offer preserves and jarred products that extend the life of seasonal market products.

Beyond the Market, farmers and other vendors have enjoyed the opening of other markets stretching to all points of the compass across the isthmus and beyond. This list alone on the City of Madison’s website points to the incredible growth: http://www.cityofmadison.com/live-work/neighborhoods/farmers-markets. In addition, many of Madison’s local restaurants now purchase their ingredients and menu items from the many markets throughout town.

To add to our bounty of markets, we learned more exciting news this fall about our enthusiastic support of local farming. Starting up just a few weeks ago, Madison’s downtown will now also offer a Sunday Farmers’ Market. This market is open from 6am to 2pm on Pinckney and Mifflin Streets. The focus of the market is to provide healthy food to consumers from all income levels and to educate about food sources, nutrition, and preparation.

556e2116b1d6a.imageWhat’s wonderful and amazing about these markets is almost all of them are busy. The Hilldale market, on the west side, always draws a big crowd and continues to grow as well. Beyond that, no matter if it’s the Northside markets or those in Madison Southside neighborhoods, the stalls have a regular stream of patrons looking for fresh, local produce and other products for their weekly menu planning. In fact, some of those markets operate in food deserts – generally lower-income neighborhoods without a nearby grocery store – thereby offering a healthy and community-based source of food for the local residents. (Also notable is that DCFM accepts federal food assistance dollars and is the largest market in Wisconsin accepting them.)

The growth of farmers’ markets and their support of organic and sustainable farming has resulted in some positive “secondary” markets. In our next blog, we’ll feature the restaurants and a food delivery service that have helped local businesses succeed in their commitment to the farm-to-table movement.

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