I had no idea where an impromptu weekend trip was going to take me. After adding an extra day to our “one day visit to Santa Barbara”, we ended in Solvang, the beautiful Danish village.
When we arrived to town, we were hungry. I saw an ad for a restaurant specializing in Danish food. Since we were in a Danish village, it was kind of logic to try Danish food. Do I look like I have a small idea about the main staples of Danish food? No but when in Rome ….
Well, we went searching for the Red Viking Restaurant. After passing in front of it like three times, something clicked inside and we were finally able to recognize the place (hunger hallucinations).
Smörgåsbord? I have heard that word before. In the United States, we use it to indicate a vast array of something. I knew it was a type of Nordic specialty but wasn’t sure about the components.
Smörgåsbord is a type of Scandinavian meal served buffet-style with multiple dishes of various foods on a table. It is typically a celebratory meal and guests can help themselves from a range of dishes laid out for their choice. Surprisingly, it originated on Sweden but other Nordic (and Baltic) countries participate of it.
You know how this story ends, right? I didn’t lose the chance to try all the unknown items in the smörgåsbord. I tried a little bit of everything. Here is a sample of what was on offer:
- Homemade liver pate with mushrooms and bacon
- Danish Tilsit cheese
- Danish Ham
- Danish cucumbers
- Swedish meatballs
- Mashed potatoes
- Red Cabbage
- Danish sausage
- Pickled Herring
- Picked Herring in Mustard and Dill Sauce
- Cocktail shrimp
- Cabbage in Mustard Sauce
- Potato Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Crispy Onions
- Hard boiled Eggs
- Chocolate Pudding
- Freshly baked pastries and bread from Olsen’s Bakery
The Red Viking Restaurant’s menu offers other Danish specialties such as:
- Aebleskivers – ball of dough covered with raspberry jam.
- Hakkebøf – grilled onions, cucumber, lean beef patty, with an over easy egg on top with brown gravy and mashed potatoes
- Fisk filet – Fish and chips
- Open-faced Danish sandwiches
- Roast beef on pumpernickel with remoulad, horseradish garnished with Danish cucumbers and potato salad
- Roast pork with prunes, red cabbage, Danish Tilsit cheese, Danish ham, Italian salad, asparagus and homemade
American specialties like burgers, steaks and tuna sandwiches are also served.
This is an example of how much we can learn about other cultures in the most uncommon places. Go out and explore the areas surrounding your neighborhood. For example, Solvang is only 2.5 hours from Los Angeles but a world apart. I had no idea I was going to have a close encounter with Danish culture so close to home.
Other places to find Danish specialties in Solvang:
- Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery
- Mortensen’s Danish Bakery
- Bit O’Denmark
- Greenhouse Café (modern Nordic bistro)
- Ingeborg’s (Danish chocolates)
Have you eaten from a smörgåsbord? Let me know in the comments section below.