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.