A Little Piece of Denmark

All too often we take where we live for granted, and don’t truly appreciate a place until we leave it behind us. This is especially true if the place is where you spent your childhood – in my case, the little kingdom of Denmark. I was born and raised in Copenhagen, and spent 18 years there before heading to (much, much bigger) Canada. And every now and then, I miss that little Scandinavian country, with its friendly people, laid back attitude, and unique traditions. But most of all, I really miss the food. Granted, Denmark is typically better known for it’s architecture and functional design aesthetic, good looking people, and social welfare (with high taxes to match), but recently it’s also put itself on the global culinary map (with Noma taking the top prize). For the longest time, I was longing for some good old-fashioned Danish food.

So imagine my excitement a few years ago when I found a small Danish community in the township of Puslinch, near Guelph, about an hour’s drive from Toronto. The Sunset Villa Association is a retirement community of Danish immigrants, and consists of a number of apartments, a campground, and gardens on a 50-acre lot. There is also a small cemetery on the grounds, and there are reminders of the homeland everywhere. But most importantly (to me, anyway) is the restaurant! Finally I found a place that serves smørrebrød, the open-faced sandwiches that are the staple of a traditional Danish lunch. And they are really, really good.

Every since discovering this little gem, I’ve been visiting on a regular basis, and always bring my friends along for a taste my childhood in Denmark. This time, I brought my camera too. It can get quite busy and festive on the weekends, and everyone is very friendly – who knew there were so many Danes in the Toronto area? And it’s always fun to see the surprised look on their faces when I speak Danish to them – yep, I’m the Chinese Dane!

If you are in the Toronto area, be sure to check out this little piece of Denmark.

Sunset Villa

The main building at Sunset Village, which houses the restaurant.

Sunset Villa Restaurant

One of the many dining rooms in the restaurant.

Sunset Villa Restaurant

Pictures of Danish royalty and noblemen. That’s Queen Margrethe II, the reigning sovereign.

Sunset Villa Restaurant

Looking out to the gardens.

Sunset Villa

Of course the bar is the most popular hangout. Danish beer!

Sunset Villa Restaurant

In addition to smørrebrød, the restaurant serves other traditional items too.

Sunset Villa Restaurant

A typical smørrebrød platter: the ‘stjerneskud’ combo.

Sunset Villa Restaurant

Roast pork, liver pâté – flæskesteg, leverpostej. So delicious!

Sunset Villa

And for dessert – marengskage. Meringue cake. And real whipped cream, of course.

Sunset Villa Restaurant

Nostalgic artwork on all the walls.

Sunset Villa Restaurant

We had this same poster back in school in Copenhagen.

Sunset Villa Association

A carving of a traditional Danish royal guard. There are some short trails through the grounds.

Sunset Villa

Big shoes.. err.. clogs to fill.

sunset Villa

A small pine forest.

Sunset Villa Association

The grounds include a small urn cemetery.

Sunset Villa Association

Many Danes have made this their final resting place, among friends.

Sunset Villa Association

A memorial to Danes in Canada.

Sunset Villa Association

There is also a small pond at the back of the property, and a trail that loops around it.

Sunset Villa Association

Wild daisies reminiscent of a Danish summer.

Sunset Villa Association

H.C. Andersen, Denmark’s gift to fairy tales and children’s stories. The Little Mermaid, anyone?

Sunset Villa

On one of the short trails.

Sunset Villa

Retirement residences at Sunset Villa.

 

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