Salivating in Solvang

After a short tour through beautiful Santa Barbara, which was fun, we were pretty excited (mostly Papa Bear) to get to the Danish town of Solvang.  Amusingly, Mama Bear had difficulty pronouncing the name Sol-vang (said just liked its spelled), instead calling it ‘Sol-van’ or ‘Sol-ving’ or ‘Sol-ven.’  It was funny but weird.

Solvang, which means ‘sunny field,’ is nestled among the rolling hills of the Santa Ynez Valley, about 45 minutes inland from Santa Barbara.  The town was first established in 1911 by 3 Danish immigrants who obviously wanted to re-create the happiest place on Earth (Papa Bear, you will note, unabashedly exudes his Viking roots).  Here are the distinguished and well-dressed founders, looking cheerful…

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As we drove into Solvang, our Lurpak supply was running low so we wheeled into Neilsen’s Market and snapped up 2 fresh pounds of the world’s best butter.  For those of you who consume ordinary, tasteless North American butter, you have no idea.  This stuff is literally the crème de la crème of the lard world.

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We found a terrific parking spot in the middle of town and immediately began our search for each of the 5 authentic Danish bakeries.  It kinda felt like setting out on a quest to visit the various kingdoms in Lord of the Rings.  It’s important to note that for the past several months, we’ve been lucky to find a halfway decent loaf of bread let alone reasonable baked goods, so we were truly on a holy mission.  The first one we found was Mortensen’s.  A few seconds after walking in, Papa Bear started to hyperventilate – the selection was incredible.  They had all the favourites – pastries, kringles, almond butter rings, cakes, cookies…

Trying hard not to totally binge out at the very first bakery, Papa Bear used all his self-control, despite the urge to say ‘one of everything please,’ and purchased a single cream cheese Danish.  He walked out, presented it to Mama Bear, who took 1 bite and yelled (no exaggeration), ‘OH MY GOD, I’M NOT SHARING THIS!’  The Bear looked on with the same drooling hypnotic stare as PB.

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We carried on and fortunately we found bakery no. 2 just a couple of blocks down the street – Olsen’s.  Again, there was an incredible selection.  But this time, Papa Bear was single-mindedly determined to get at least 1 bite so the ‘cherry boat’ came out of the bag missing a corner.  It’s hard to describe just how melt-in-your-mouth the light, fluffy pastry was…

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We toured the rest of the town, doing a bit of shopping, taking in the sights, including a one third size replica of the Little Mermaid, a stroll through ‘The Great Hall of the Danes’ and one of several operating windmills…

As always, it was enjoyable to examine proud Viking history (fun as long as you aren’t a descendant from one of the pillaged countries) but we weren’t in Solvang to mess around, we were there to do some serious eating.  So following up on a recommendation from our Danish friend Rob who grew up in Solvang, we went to the Solvang Restaurant for lunch.  It didn’t disappoint.  This combination plate featured Medisterpolse sausage, a large Frikadeller meatball, Kartofler potatoes, and Danish-style red cabbage, all smothered in delicious gravy.  Heaven (Himmerig).

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We finished the day with stops at 2 more bakeries, then rolled ourselves back to the RV.  Solvang is a pastry paradise that easily substantiates why one particular baked good is named after the people.  It also featured more than decent Danish cuisine, although not as good as Aunt Astrid’s!   Solvang, while difficult to pronounce (for 1 person), is definitely worth a visit.  Bring stretchy pants…

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3 thoughts on “Salivating in Solvang

  1. Oh that gravy looked so good! There’s no gravy like that here in the SouthWest. Going back home come April….and will be hitting a poutine stand somewhere once I’m across the medicine line. ~ Smiles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So funny. Can’t wait to go back. Glad you guys enjoyed it! By the way, my Uncle Norman would have appreciated at least a shout-out to Birkholm’s Bakery – ahhhh so many bakeries, so little time. At least you found Lurpak!!

    Liked by 1 person

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