Day trip to
October 26, 2018
Have you always wanted to go to Denmark but can’t afford that pricey airfare? Luckily, we have our very own Danish Village right here in California. Just north of Santa Barbara, nestled in the scenic Santa Ynez Valley, lies Solvang. Danish for sunny fields, Solvang, is a quaint little Danish village filled with European charm, windmills, craft local brews, tasty local wine and decadent pastries. It’s the taste of Europe you’ve been looking for.
You can easily walk through Solvang within two to three hours, depending how on much time you spend visiting the many souvenir and antique shops. Tourism is the town’s largest revenue source, and the whole town is geared towards the weekend tourist. This becomes very obvious if you visit during the weekend. On Saturdays especially, Solvang is filled with people walking the small streets and browsing the many shops. It is a relaxing place to go visit especially on a sunny day which abound in California. It is best to allocate at least 5 or 6 hours in Solvang, to allow you to enjoy this beautiful village as there are many things to do in Solvang, especially for the first time visitor.
There’s a giant wooden clog sitting street-side, a windmill that’s modeled after some of Denmark’s finest, and steeply sloped roofs despite the fact that it never snows here. On almost every menu in town, alongside club sandwiches and hamburgers, you’ll find the ever so comfort food called aebleskiver: a golfball-size hybrid between a pancake and a donut that literally translates from Danish to “apple slices.”
Cozy downtown Solvang features Danish restaurants unique half-timbered architecture, and great boutique shopping. Bakeries seem to be the most popular storefront which results in the scent of pancakes and pastries wafting through the air. Your best bet is to arrive in town hungry and ready to consume some sugar—you can easily pass a few hours alternating between popping into shops and munching on mouthwatering Scandinavian goodies.
Legend has it, in the early years of Danish Days, residents would set up large skillets on the street and serve piping-hot aebleskiver. Today, residents and tourists line up outside Solvang Restaurant, a mainstay in the heart of Solvang’s downtown with a low-hanging roof and a painted-on facade of timber framing.
Though the batter is basic, for many families it’s what you put inside or on top of these buttery treats that gives them a dessert-like quality. Some may add cardamom to the batter; others may add an apple slice, while another family may just dust it with powdered sugar.
The real beauty of these pancake-like balls, and what separates them from any profiterole or donut hole (aside from the fact that they are much bigger), is the aebleskiver pan. A cast-iron skillet similar to an egg poacher or a takoyaki pan, the device with half-spherical molds gets this Danish dessert crispy on the outside while keeping it soft and fluffy on the inside. That golden-brown perfection only happens under constant watch and with a spinning technique that comes with lots of practice.
Even though many people are turned off by its somewhat touristy atmosphere, Solvang still remains a very appealing place. Due to its great geographical position, the town is an attractive destination for food a wine lovers. From farm-to-table rustic Danish cuisine, American and Danish foods, sweets in all form to award-winning beers and world-class wines, there are plenty of temptations for your taste buds here. So if you happen to be in Los Angeles and you are in the mood for a unique experience, Solvang is a good choice. You’ll be able to experience some great scenery, good food, Danish pastries and fine wines in a relaxed European atmosphere. The town is small enough to be able to walk from one end to the other within a couple of hours.