my favorite things in Solvang, California

Solvang Map

©2011, Monika Roe

When Nate & Salli of told me they were starting a new site called that featured illustrated maps I couldn’t wait to contribute! My first map is of Solvang, a little piece of Denmark in California.

It isn’t your typical street map but more of a collection of my favorite things that are found in Solvang. My mom is from Denmark so Solvang has a special place in my heart.

When my grandparents (her parents) would visit, we would make the hour and forty five minute drive to Solvang. Olsen’s Bakery was always our first stop. The “Seven Sisters Butter Ring” from Olsen’s is the first thing I drew in this illo. It’s divine with it’s individually iced tops and creamy filling! Growing up (and even now) my goal was to get the middle piece!

Solvang used to be the only place in California that you could get the salty licorice that my mom craved from her homeland. Now there are plenty of online sources, but nothing beats a trip to Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates to buy it by the pound. I used to hate that double salted licorice but now I love it. It took me many, many years to acquire a taste for it!

Another place worth noting is The Little Mermaid Restaurant. Their coffee tastesexactly like my grandfather made. It’s shocking and almost disturbing. I don’t know how they do it because I can’t recreate it at home. (Don’t get me wrong it’s goodcoffee!) My grandfather passed away a few years ago and drinking coffee at The Little Mermaid brings me great memories of him. I like to imagine that he’s back in their kitchen looking through the door at me and smiling. As far as the menu goes, their leverpostej (liver paste) tastes like my grandmother’s made-from-scratch-recipe. Absolutely delicious. Even if you don’t like liver (and I hate it) I recommend that you try their leverpostej open face sandwich. So now when I tell you that going to The Little Mermaid Restaurant is like going to visit my grandparents, you know why!

About the illustration: My inspiration for this artwork was the traditional folk art of Scandinavia along with the bold graphics found on Danish tourism posters from the ’50s and ’60s that I love so much. I wanted to combine the two influences and create a new, contemporary look. Instead of the traditional flowers usually seen in Danish folk art I used wildflowers, poppies and lupin local to the Solvang area. I also chose a fresh, bright color palette. The original illustration had fuschia pinks instead of reds. I changed it because my mom thought the Danish flag absolutely had to be accurate. “The Danish flag isn’t PINK!”, she said.

Here are both versions, which do you prefer? (Click to enlarge.)

Solvang Map

©2011, Monika Roe


Solvang Map Pink

©2011, Monika Roe



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