Adventures in Solvang

A natural museum, the exhibits painted in christmas shops and miniature ponies; Solvang is place for dreamers, tasters, and holiday-enthusiasts. Arrive at night and you'll be greeted with twinkling fairy lights and glass of pinot noir, preparing you for a sleigh ride into December.

Thanksgiving back east means frosted grass, 8am bloody marys, and collecting pinecones to decorate the centerpiece. Mish would be hard at work in the kitchen, while Uncle David and I lay flat on our bellies watching the parade as we chomped vodka-soaked celery sticks. Out in California, Thanksgiving is painted in shades of blue and gold. In the middle of this colorful landscape sits the town of Solvang. When my friend Dave first told me his family lived there, I proceeded to google image it and immediately thought he had sent me to some small town in Holland. Solvang was more than just blue and gold; it was red and white and Christmas-y and full of chocolate fudge and skeet shooting and coyotes and stars. So when Dave extended a Thanksgiving invite to Kaitlyn and I, we squealed and I threw my wooden shoes in a suitcase. 

We arrived just after sunset on Wednesday, meeting up with Dave and his best friend Dante. Molly and Rick Ballantine melted my soul with their immediate offering of red wine and enthusiastic embrace. Back in our Harrisonburg home, Kaitlyn and I slept next to one another in separate bedrooms. Neither of us could have predicted we'd eventually be sleeping next to one another in a Solvang bedroom equipped with amazing bathrobes and a cerulean wedding chest that I wanted to steal. But oh, oh, oh, I was glad we did! Especially at 8am, when Kaitlyn pulled the covers over her face and whispered "Happy Thanksgiving."

Thanksgiving-y things happened. There was a parade and a tennis game. I successfully threw a football. Oh, and cornhole!! Cornhole was great companion for this holiday, especially when paired with team Amante and team Daitlyn and team Stella Artois. Then there was the pinot noir, the turkey, the corn souffle, the roasted green beans, and the sausage-and-apple stuffing?! I was so excited I could have knocked the table over! (Which would have been a shame. There was a lot of wine on that table.) 

Celebration continued until the wee hours of the morning and then some more over the next 36 hours. We sang Sinatra around the piano, tasted wines, shot rifles that shattered clay pigeons, and visited the Sock Loft. We gave ourselves flash tattoos in the laundry room. Ohio and Michigan played against one another Saturday morning, and we celebrated with mimosas and pushups upon ever point scored. It led to some very tipsy and very enthusiastic exercise.

And in Solvang, where the food and fudge shops and wine pours from the sky, I remember that first kitchen meal. That time where I knew I was safe and with good people who cared about food and friends. We ate these carrots alongside flank steak, salad, and salted potatoes as the stars came out to play. 


molly's roasted carrots

8 imperator carrots (or others of a similar variety)

Olive oil 

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Peel the carrots. Use a chef's knife to cut them into slices. (I like an uneven cut. It looks beautifully imperfect and rustic.)

Place the carrots on a baking sheet and drizzle with the desired amount of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands, mix the carrots around the baking sheet to evenly distribute the oil and seasonings. 

Bake for 20-45 minutes, depending on how you like them. I do a solid 30. The longer you cook them, the softer they get. The edges also get oh-so-wonderfully charred. 

Let the holidays continue! I've discovered the Christmas radio station and now my LA drives are 10x more festive. Cheers, cheers, cheers.

- Stay cozy