A Taste of Savory,
Story & photographs by Greg Aragon
aybe it was the handmade sweets at Ingeborg's Chocolate Factory, or
the boutique luxury at Hotel Corque. Or was it the wine and friendly
atmosphere at Wandering Dog, the comforting, cuisine at Chomp, or the
town's Danish-inspired architecture? Whatever the reason, Solvang has
a special way of putting me in instant vacation mode.
My recent trip to Solvang
began last week when a friend and I took the 101 Freeway north along
the coast to Santa
Barbara, then transferred to State Route 154. From here we drove
through the Santa Ynez Mountains, past Lake Cachuma, to our destination,
where we checked into Hotel Corque for a couple nights.
Hotel Corque is inspired by nearby vineyards, horse
Santa Ynez Mountains
Featuring 122 guest rooms, including 17 specialty suites
and the Presidential Suite, Hotel
Corque is inspired by nearby vineyards, horse ranches and Santa
Ynez Mountains. The hotel, owned by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians,
is covered in beautiful wood designs, with exposed beams, rich doors
and floors and art pieces scattered about. The architect has captured
the relaxed appeal of a home created as a wine country retreat.
Our room at the hotel overlooked the pool and Jacuzzi,
a giant lush meadow and nearby rolling hills. It was perfectly located
a block from Downtown, which meant we didn't need a car during our stay.
Hotel Corque is covered in beautiful wood and wooden
art pieces, like an
Once settled into our home base we went exploring. Our
first stop was lunch at Chomp,
a local favorite, with an All-American menu of locally sourced meats,
produce and bread, yielding some great burgers, fries, seafood, shakes
and more. My lunch was a delicious lobster wrap with avocado, chipotle
salsa, lettuce and tomato in a flour tortilla and a side of onion rings.
My friend had fresh fish and chips, with Pacific cod, cole slaw, tartar
sauce and crispy fries.
Chomp serves an All-American menu of locally sourced
meats, produce and bread
After lunch we walked down Mission Dr., the towns
main drag, to Wandering
Dog Wine Bar. Here we met owners Jody Williams and her husband Charles,
who took us on an eclectic journey of wine, beer and shrubs. The latter,
made from vinegar and other natural flavors, was popular in the days
before refrigeration and is now making a comeback in the craft cocktail
The shrub market has been so good that Jody and her
husband Charles now make and bottle their own line called Broken Clock
Vinegar Works. During our tasting session, Jody made us a few tasty
shrub cocktails with strawberry and ginger; blueberry and vanilla; and
peach and jalapeno.
Wandering Dog Wine Bar offers tasty shrubs as well
as wines from the Central Coast and all over the world
From Wandering Dog, we investigated the city's Farmer's
Market, which was full of fresh, local produce, honey, snacks, and flowers.
We then explored more of town. Named by Sunset magazine as one of the
"10 Most Beautiful Small Towns in the Western United States,"
Solvang's rich history dates back to 1911 when adventurous Danish-Americans
traveled across the plains from Iowa to establish a colony and escape
harsh Midwestern winters. Since then the city has retained its heritage
with numerous Danish-styled structures with windmills and pitched roofs.
Solvang was named one of the "10 Most Beautiful
Small Towns in the Western United States" by Sunset Magazine
The village is home to a copy of the famous Little Mermaid
statue from Copenhagen, as well as a large bust of Danish fable writer
Hans Christian Andersen. There is also the Elverhoj Museum of History
and Art, one of the few museums outside of Denmark devoted to the Danish
culture and the Danish-American experience, as well as a few Danish
bakeries, restaurants, and stores offering comfort food and trinkets
to remind one of Denmark.
One of my new favorite spots is Ingeborg's Danish Chocolate
Factory, which first opened in 1961 by Ingeborg Larsen, who prior to
moving to Solvang, ran her own chocolate shop in Copenhagen,
Denmark. When she came to America, she brought with her many original
recipes, some of which are now over 70 years old and still popular today.
Ingeborg's Danish Chocolate Factory makes handmade
During our visit, we met owner Kim Jensen, who took
us behind-the-scenes to see how they make their world famous chocolate.
We watched fresh chocolate roll along a conveyer belt getting cut and
dipped and covered with various tasty nuts other ingredients. One of
my favorites samples was a dark chocolate piece, dusted with syrah infused
Owner Kim Jensen shows off his fresh chocolate-making
Back at the hotel we caught a free shuttle to the nearby
Resort, where we gambled, had a smoked rib dinner and probably the
best cheese cake I've ever had at The Sweet Shop.
In the morning, we had a traditional Danish breakfast
of Aebleskiver at Solvang
Restaurant. Similar to a waffle or pancake, these delicious breakfast
treats are formed like a tennis ball. The most common way to serve them
is with sprinkled powdered sugar and then topped with raspberry jam.
Solvang Restaurant serves traditional Danish dishes
such as tasty Aebleskiver
The 25th Annual Taste of Solvang is coming March 15
- 19, 2017. This unique experiential culinary weekend will feature Solvang
farmers, chefs, bakers, winemakers, brewers, distillers and artisans
showcasing the bounty of Santa Barbara wine country set amidst our quaint
Danish town. This is a great opportunity to taste your way through dozens
of restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and wine and beer tasting rooms while
wondering beneath Danish architecture, thatched roof cottages, old-world
craftsmanship, traditional windmills and rich Danish heritage. Go
here for more info on Taste of Solvang.
For more information on visiting Solvang, check out:
Luxury at The Landsby in Solvang; California's
Central Coast: A Tale of Three Cities; Santa
Barbara Scrumptious; Coasting
Through Californias San Luis Obispo County; Ventura
"The Real California" On the Central Coast