Every Christmas, I turn Scandinavian. It's a return to my Danish roots and early years of eating my mother's butter cookies and listening to stories of julenissen, the Christmas elves who distribute gifts and consume the porridge you set by the fire.
Each year, I arrange a batallion of tiny julenissen on my mantel. Dressed like Santa Claus, these mischievous gnomes are as full of life as if they were real.
I'll make the cookies myself, but the breads come from Olsen's Danish Village Bakery in Solvang. Who could resist the tempting baked goods displayed in the counter there?
Solvang is dressed in its holiday gear now, and a day there will fill even the worst grouch with holiday spirit.
If you plan to buy breads at Olsen's, order them before you go, because they sell out rapidly.
There was plenty of kringle this trip, but I grabbed the last two loaves of cardamom bread from under the nose of a woman who took so long to make up her mind that I got waited on first. And it was only 11 in the morning.
Cardamom bread is $4.95 and kringle is $9.50 at Olsen's Danish Village Bakery, 1529 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA 93463. Tel: (805) 688-6314.