Day 60: Denmark
It’s been a little bit of an exhausting stretch here at Man Bites World Headquarters. After an all day Japanese food event that went late into the early hours of the following morning, I awoke under rested, then reached for my camera so that I could start uploading photos, but hit a water glass, and while trying to catch it in my hand, managed instead to shatter it, slicing my thumb open. That should be pretty good for typing. So already behind the 8-ball and struggling to complete the post for the aforementioned Japanese adventures, I still need to eat food from a new country. But GirlfriendBites has a birthday coming up, so we first need to make the drive up to Ventura to visit her family. As for the Japan post, I’m about two sentences in and they’re both terrible. Meanwhile new food still needs to be eaten, so GFB’s lovely parents are nice enough to make the Personal Food Project in Blog Form a part of the day and GFB’s part-Danish aunt leads us to a place she highly recommends in Santa Barbara called Andersen’s Danish Bakery & Restaurant.
We arrive with GFB, her friend Aaron from high school, who is in town working on a political campaign, GFB’s father, mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle and in his first appearance, our small and fluffy white dog, Franklin. We all sit outside to accommodate Frankie and take a gander at our menus. With the election fast approaching, Aaron’s thoughts on the political process are a popular discussion and with the novelty of a ridiculous food adventurer sitting at the table, so, apparently, is Man Bites World. I’m pretty exhausted and would be more than a little happy to talk about GFB (it is her birthday dinner after all) rather than myself, but family dinners tend to take on a life of their own and have delicate interior politics which predate any new-to-the-scene live-in boyfriends.
“What do you want to know about Denmark that you don’t already know?” asks GFB’s aunt. I take a long pause and realize that I have no idea how to answer that question. Then the “Mini Smörgaasbord” arrives, described on the menu as “Pickled Herring, Dover Sole, Smoked Scottish Salmon, Crab Salad, Roast Beef, Home Made Liver Pate, Cheese & Fruit”. There are, however, a few surprises. The herring, over dense, brown bread is very pleasant (though not for everyone), but I find the sauce to be a bit on the sweet side. A soup described as “split pea with ham” arrives, but is really just a bowl of vegetable soup with one square centimeter of pork hiding carefully in the broth (“It’s not particularly Danish” says GFB’s aunt). The salmon and crab salad are quite nice, as expected, as is the chicken pâté. I also enjoy the Dover sole, which would have been more aptly called “sole almondine” on the menu (breaded, fried and served with toasted almonds). A bowl of bright red cabbage is an interesting condiment, but like the sauce for the herring, seems to be overwhelmed by a high degree of sweetness. The “roast beef” is a particularly confounding description, as it would not raise any eyebrows whatsoever if it were topped with pickles, lettuce, onion, tomatoes and ketchup, and served on a sesame seed bun. The sliced apples with brie and havarti, however, are quite nice.
The most unfortunate part of the night, unfortunately, is that I can’t help but feel like this was in no way the type of birthday meal that GirlfriendBites— who has done nothing but completely work her ass for my benefit, designing the website, handling maintenance, proofreading posts and dealing with the crushing nature of having someone who lives with you that has un-moveable events on the schedule every single day for 60 days and counting— could have wanted. Oh, and to top it all off, I’m not exactly the easiest guy in the world to date, let alone live with (you can also add in “unemployed, broke and car-less”). Noticeably, but quietly disappointed with her meal of baked brie, she would of course never speak up, so I figure it’s my opportunity to do so for her. Hopefully my words here today will lead to long, drawn out and slowly simmering discomfort and resentment at future family events. Those are, after all, so much fun.
So with the deepest and most sincere apologies to my amazing girlfriend, I can only hope that one day, when this whole food related adventure is over, I can make it up to her. She sure as hell deserves it.
Andersen’s Danish Bakery & Restaurant
1106 State St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Food Breakdown: 8 entrees, 2 alcoholic beverages
Price: Unknown, thanks to the kind meal purchase by GFB’s mother and father.
Distance From My House: 92.5 miles