Akvavit, Aebelskiver, and Ogden

Solvang’s Centennial Celebration Closes with a Second Century Celebration

Brad Ogden
Courtesy Photo

After a year’s worth of events, Solvang is wrapping up its Centennial Celebration, a fest that has marked the town’s 100 years with highlights ranging from the U.S. premiere of My Fairytale, a musical about Hans Christian Andersen, to a visit from His Royal Highness Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark. The festivities culminate in the Second Century Celebration on January 6 with a wine reception hosted by Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards and Toccata Wines, dinner, and presentations of family memories that, according to events coordinator Linda Johansen, “hope to recognize everyone who has had an impact on making Solvang what it is.”

The evening itself is centered on a three-course meal at Hotel Corque’s widely acclaimed Root 246. The menu offers a mixed green salad with a special house dressing, an oven-roasted herb chicken with red creamy potatoes and green beans, and then a signature dessert: butterscotch pudding that’s “to die for,” said Johansen, who explained, “It’s not a Danish-themed menu, but that’s not [Chef] Bradley Ogden’s type of food. When we had our first event, he did make a gravlax — the best I’ve ever had — but it’s still not his usual style of food.”

Although the food menu is light on Danish specialties, Johansen assured there would be akvavit, which is “like Danish tequila,” she said. “It’s a requirement for Danish people to drink it, but it’s really horrid. It tastes like rat poison, but every Dane has it in his freezer for celebrations.” When it was suggested that the creative bartenders at Root 246 might be able to make a cocktail of it, she laughingly replied, “Maybe they can do an akvavit martini? That’s a great idea — that way you can hide the poison taste.”

As much as Johansen kids about Danish culture, she’s very serious about the event being a good time. The hope is that families will wear costumes, buy tables, and decorate them with anything from photos to heirloom aebelskiver pans. “I’ll have a photo my mom had with my whole family in Danish costumes, and I’m just a baby in it, wearing a little pointed hat,” she said. “I had never taken it off the wall at my mom’s house, but it turns out it was the official postcard photo for Danish Days that year. I’m hoping others have interesting old photos, too. This entire centennial has been a reeducation process for Solvang; there’s so much heritage about the community.”

And then Johansen has a very personal connection to the evening. “My father [Daryl Nielsen] basically built the Corque Hotel,” she said. “He was the original builder and contractor when it opened as a Sheraton, so it’s fun to go back to it.” The Second Century Celebration, while looking forward, certainly seems a delightful dinner for remembrance, too.


Join the great Danes at Solvang’s Second Century Celebration, Friday, January 6, 2012, 5:30 p.m., Hotel Corque, 400 Alisal Road. $55 per person; all reservations must be made by December 30, 2011. Make checks payable to the City of Solvang, Centennial Committee, 1644 Oak Street, Solvang, CA 93463. For more info, call (805) 686-1644.


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