Friday, May 26, 2017     Volume: 18, Issue: 12
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Taste of Solvang kicks off: The little Danish village packs a serious culinary punch

BRENNA SWANSTON

Trying to figure out what to do next weekend? Yeah, me neither. Let me rephrase that: Trying to figure out where to eat next weekend? I’ve got a suggestion.

Next week kicks off the 24th annual Taste of Solvang, aka probably the best reason you’ll ever get to blow off that not-so-hot date you’ve got Friday night with your couch and a bag of greasy popcorn. Think about it: You can meld with your living room furniture on any old weekend. But next weekend, consider instead spending a few days stuffing your face in everyone’s favorite Danish village. You can’t go wrong with that.


DRINK AND WALK
The five-day event includes a wine and beer walk, this year featuring Figueroa Mountain Brewing and local winemakers.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TENLEY FOHL PHOTOGRAPHY

Taste of Solvang, traditionally a food and wine affair, has grown to include beer and spirits in its events. The five-day celebration for your taste buds starts Wednesday, March 16, with the farmers’ market chef walks. First & Oak chef Steven Snook will accompany guests on a stroll of the market, teaching them to select and prepare seasonal produce. Afterward, Snook will bring attendees back to his restaurant, where he’ll prepare a four-course tasting menu with produce from the market while guests enjoy a glass of wine. OK, seriously—when has a Wednesday evening ever sounded that cool?

Chefs David Cecchini of Cecco Ristorante and Seth Nathan of the Mad & Vin restaurant will also be in on the chef walks.

Susan Williams, Wandering Dog Wine Bar co-owner and participant in the Taste of Solvang production team, said Friday night is usually her favorite part of the event. This year, Friday’s evening reception is called Opening Night: Sip and Savor, and it includes chefs, bakers, restaurants, wineries, craft breweries, local spirits producers, and other food establishments—all from the Santa Ynez Valley.

Sean Wiggins and her band will play the opening night event.


CASUAL VIBES
Susan Williams, who participates in the Taste of Solvang’s production team, said the event is unique because it takes over an entire town instead of a crammed venue. This thins out the crowds and keeps everything flowing smoothly.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TENLEY FOHL PHOTOGRAPHY

“It’s kind of like going to a nice cocktail party with live music,” Williams told me when I asked her about Friday night’s vibes. “It’s the beginning of the weekend, the people who are there are all excited about Taste of Solvang and coming to the event.”

She added that as far as “the people who are there” go, it’s unlikely you’ll find Taste of Solvang too crowded.

“You get to walk around the town and really enjoy the European ambience that Solvang has, and people just really seem to love it,” Williams said. “It’s not in a field or convention hall. I would say this is done for people who really don’t love big crowds. Because it’s so spread out, you don’t get that crowded feeling.”

After Opening Night will come a packed weekend: a wine and beer walk, a Danish cooking class, a St. Patrick’s Day dinner, blind wine tastings, a buffet brunch with live music, and a wine tasting trail.

“There’s something for everyone,” Williams said.

Danish culinary traditions are incorporated into many of the weekend’s events, offering a fresh, farm-to-table dining experience for attendees. But Williams was sure to emphasize that Taste of Solvang is much more than the Danish staples.

“We have so much more to offer in Solvang than pastries,” she said. “We have Vietnamese, we have Japanese, Italian-American. There are some Danish specialties, but it’s really just a wide range of foods that Solvang has to offer. It just gives you some insight into all the different food options Solvang has.” 

Get set to eat

Tickets are available at solvangusa.com/events/taste-of-solvang in a variety of packages.


BUBBLY BREAKFAST
Taste of Solvang’s Sunday brunch event features a breakfast buffet and delicious mimosas. This year, the buffet will include egg dishes, Danish sausage, a biscuit bar, and Solvang’s famous Danish pastries.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TENLEY FOHL PHOTOGRAPHY

  • • The “Weekend Passport” goes for $110 and includes Opening Night, tasting trail tickets, and wine and beer walk tickets.
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  • • The “Whole Shebang” is priced at $175, offering tickets and VIP early entrance to Opening Night, tasting trail tickets, wine and beer walk tickets, and tickets to Sunday’s brunch buffet.
  •  
  • • Thursday chef walk tickets vary depending on the experience.
  •  
  • • Thursday’s blind tasting challenge tickets: $30.
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  • • Thursday’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner: $60.
  •  
  • • Friday’s Opening Night event: $45.
  •  
  • • Saturday’s Danish cooking class: $20.
  •  
  • • Saturday’s tasting trail: $35.
  •  
  • • Saturday’s wine and beer walk: $40.
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  • • Saturday’s Buttonwood Farm winemaker dinner: $90.
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  • • Sunday’s brunch buffet: $45 to $65.
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  • • Sunday’s First & Oak wine release dinner: $85.

 

Brenna Swanston is now battling pastry cravings. Send your foodie daydreams to bswanston@santamariasun.com.