Tasting best of Denmark

Sep 16, 2016

 If you already know about aebleskiver, you may want to skip the rest of this editorial because you also already know about the Danish community tucked into the hills of the Santa Ynez Valley.

Aebleskiver is a Danish staple — some might say Danish delight — and if you venture to Solvang in the mid-county today through Sunday, you likely will get your fill of the staple of Danish happy food. It’s all part of Solvang’s annual Danish Days celebration, and this weekend’s fete is special because it also marks the 80th anniversary of the small Danish enclave in its bucolic setting.

Aebleskiver, by the by, is defined by Wikipedia as the “Danish pancake puff.” They are literally balls of pancake. They may look like pastry baseballs but they are light and fluffy, like a popover. Aebleskiver is not the only attraction in Solvang this weekend. There will be a free concert in Solvang Park in the heart of downtown at 4 this afternoon. That kind of music will be accompanied by the whine of a chainsaw, as a local artisan creates his unique sculptures.

Shortly before dark, there will be a torchlight parade, followed by opening ceremonies and the introduction of this year’s Danish Maid, Natalya Nielsen.

The fun continues all day Saturday and Sunday, with aebleskiver breakfasts kicking off each day’s menu of events.

Interspersed with the music, food, drink and dancing will be opportunities for visitors to learn a little something about Solvang’s storied history and its Danish culture — in case the copious aebleskiver consumption didn’t get the point across.

The fun continues all day Saturday and Sunday, with aebleskiver breakfasts kicking off each day’s menu of events.

Interspersed with the music, food, drink and dancing will be opportunities for visitors to learn a little something about Solvang’s storied history and its Danish culture — in case the copious aebleskiver consumption didn’t get the point across.

Solvang was founded in the early 1900s by a small group of Danes who scoured the country for a good place to replicate their home town in Denmark. Not only was the Santa Ynez Valley a good place, it is the place perhaps most representative of the town’s namesake on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean

Part of the history you will learn is that the Danish capital of America actually didn’t achieve its homeland 

look until the mid-1940s, when citizens bought into the notion of reshaping the town’s facade. But if you’ve never been, you will be thrilled to see a slice of Scandinavia so close to other North County communities.

Solvang has about 5,000 full-time residents, but it also plays host to a litany of special events — from world-class bicycle racing to major entertainment acts — so on any given “special day” there could be upwards of 100,000 folks cramming the sidewalks, shops and restaurants. Those special days and the general ambiance are among the reasons Sunset Magazine has chosen Solvang as one of its 10 most-beautiful small towns in the West.

Those kinds of accolades have drawn a lot of public attention, as has the creation a few years ago of the Chumash Casino, which in recent years has added a hotel/spa.

Solvang’s now-international reputation as a wonderful place to visit, coupled with the tribe’s casino/hotel amenities, have generated some friction among Valley residents, many of whom migrated there from the overcrowded communities and highways in the Los Angeles Basin, and most of whom are not shy about opposing more development. That is a problem still being ironed out.

But for the next three days, it’s all about the Danes, their lively culture and history, and making sure locals and visitors alike gorge themselves — primarily on aebleskiver — while enjoying the hours and hours of fun things to do.

If you’ve never been to Solvang, now is the time to go. You’ll have fun, guaranteed

Posted in Featured Articles.