Adventures in Ostrichland!

If you drive to Solvang on highway 246, you’ll see stretches of rolling green hills, wineries, and ostriches. Yes, ostriches!

Ostrichland has over 50 ostriches and emus on premises. The place is open year-round and you can pay $4 to feed them or you can hang out in the gift shop where you can buy ostrich meat (which is lean) to emu eggs! Note: The ostrich meat they sell is not from the ostriches raised onsite. Ostriches in Ostrichland are a tourist attraction and not raised to be food.

I know the picture above looks like a pair of avocados but those are emu eggs. The guy behind the register said we could buy it and take it home to make a few omeletes (with just one egg) if we wanted. We decided to pass on the eggs (and ostrich meat) and paid the $5 to feed the ostriches instead.

I admit I was really excited to see ostriches. I always thought they were graceful with their long necks and large eyes. However, when I stepped outside, I saw warning signs that said they bite. I began to have second thoughts and wondered what I had gotten myself into. But before I could turn away, they knew there was food on me.

Below, you’ll see me feeding the ostriches. I almost backed out but figured if I stood my ground, they wouldn’t hurt me. Let me tell you – they have strong beaks! I had to hold the bowl against the wooden fence because the force of them pecking at the bowl almost knocked me down.

I definitely recommend stopping at Ostrichland to stretch your legs and to check out the sights even if you’re not going to feed the two-legged birds.

But before you go, check out these facts about ostriches!

A little bit of Denmark in California = Solvang

The best thing about living in Los Angeles is exploring the areas around it. Just head a few hours south and you find yourself on the beaches of San Diego. Head two hours east and you end up in Palm Springs. And when you head a couple hours north, you end up in a quaint Danish town called Solvang. The town is something out of a storybook – half-timber construction shops, cobblestone streets, mom and pop shops. Oh! And a couple windmills to boot.

You’re probably asking yourself, “Why did a group of Danes set up shop in the San Ynez Valley?” The Elverhøj Museum says it began as a dream for three Danish immigrants who wanted to create a Danish colony – a church, school, and community – where Danish culture would thrive. 100 years later, Solvang still exists. By the way, Solvang means sunny field.

For me, I associate Solvang with bakeries… more specfically, the baked good I associate with Solvang are the apple turnovers.

The puffed crust is flakey and topped with granulated sugar. The center of the pastry is filled with sweet (but not overly sweet) apples. The first bite is the best because the flakes fall like confetti all over the plate. I stopped in at Mortensen’s Danish Bakery for my pastry fix.

One of the famous pastries that tourists stop for is at Solvang Restaurant. And like the sign says below – it’s the home of the famous Aebleskiver.

Aebleskivers are something between a pancake, popover, and donuts rolled into one. Some may actually call it the Danish pancake. You can sit inside and order up food and the Aebleskivers on the side or you can wait outside and get an order to go.

Aebleskivers get the round form because of a special pan that the batter is poured into. Once it’s all cooked, it looks look a pancake ball.

And here’s the photo you’ve been waiting for…. the Aebleskiver in it’s finished form. The doughy goodness is covered with a raspberry jam and powdered sugar. Tip: The key is to eat it while it’s hot while you’re walking down the streets of Solvang.

Stay tuned for part two of my trip where I tell you about my adventures at Ostrichland!