Thursday, July 5, 2012

Silkeborg Dänemark & a Mexican Restaurant

My wife and I took a trip for only the second time to a city in the center of Dänemark called Silkeborg. To me the area is unique for a number of positive reasons. First, it's one of the last holdouts for viewing Danish Forests in their natural state. Like most of Europe, most of Dänemark has been cleared of it's forest trees, with the odd exception of pockets of woods here and there and of course the wooded riparian habitats along all of it's waterways. Various forms of Agricultural Enterprizes for the most part have taken the place of the once beautiful forest woodlands. 

Silkeborg on the other has an abundance of forests around it and a peaceful quietness about it despite the annual Riverboat Jazz Festival which we just happened to hit at just the right time --> both times we stayed. Actually, our first trip was spent outside of Silkeborg in the town of Bryrup at a Bed & Breakfast (Rum och Frukost) next to the old train station. Our next morning there, I got up early at around 5:00am and took a walk along the old railway tracks which run tourist steam train excursions through the forests then opening up running along side a large lake. The lake was like clear undisturbed glass and the only sound was that of a European Cookoo across the lake making it's presence known. Along with a pair of gliding Swans on the lake making a slight ripple in the water behind them, the scene was a restful & beautiful one. I could have sat in a chair by that spot on the lake and drank coffee all morning taking in & soaking up that whole experience for another 2 hours or so.

One of the first things you'll notice on the way traveling there are the dominent flower called Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)  in the large meadows and farm fields.

There were of course crowds there for the Riverboat Jazz Festival. I like the various Jazz Musics and such like, but so many people in and around those tents, it was hard to find a place to sit or stand. We heard one Latin Jazz Band  and we wanted to listen, but again the crowds were overwhelming and when my wife had some woman spill wine on her shoe, so oh well it was time to move along.  

 Below are some pictures along the river walk pathway and the numerous private boats by which a great number of people choose to visit and participate in the traditional Jazz Festival. My wife also spent much of her growing up in Sweden with her family during every summer on these boats where one can travel the waterways meandering through various water courses along with hundreds of others and all living life on the water. Bar-B-Qs are everywhere. I don't think anyone hardly uses a conventional stove or range on their boats.

Silkeborg's River Walk Pathway with private boats lining the banks

A large number of folks without boats pay for the beautiful steam riverboat excursions which have a lot of food, drink and of course a live Jazz Band on board

Across the water looking towards old town city center were where the numerous tents and Jazz celebrations were going on. The private boats were lined up 5 -6 rows deep in various inlet harbours with folks having their own private family Bar-B-Qs or getting to know their new neighbours from places elsewhere.
One of the highlights for me was in the old city center of town where there is a place so familiar to me that once inside, you'd think you were at Casa Guadalajara in old town San Diego California. Well, maybe not that clourful, but close. On our first trip there 5 years ago we were walking around the town looking for a place to place to eat. It was early and all we were really doing was just lookie-Looing around anyway. We walked along by these old quaint Danish buildings and I past by a window and for whatever reason just happened to look inside. To my surprise and pleasant astonishment, their interior decor I saw inside of this Danish Building below here looked authentically like being somewhere in Southwest or Mexico.

First of all I have to explain something here about Scandinavian restaurants in general. No matter what the theme of the restaurant (Greek, Spanish, whatever) , the decor (chairs, tables, etc) is almost always IKEA. Seriously, what's up with that ? I've never experienced such a generic lack of artistic character or imagination when it comes to most restaurant themes here in northern Europe (Scandinavia). So this was out of the typical norm and I didn't even have to look at the signage above my head to know what the theme of this restaurant was all about. For me personally, the idea of going to a restaurant is atmosphere and finding a potal to another place. For a brief moment leaving the insane world outside behind and experiencing an escape. That's why you don't mind paying a little more for the food. I don't care if there is good Mexican food, I can have good Mexican food at home. But I want good food with great atmosphere. Here are some more pics of the place and later a bit of history behind this place and it's owner who clearly has worked so hard to pull it all together.

Front entrance to La Casita 

Mexican Food with Cerveza Corona ?

Public Toilette with Mexican Theme 
The day before, we had recommended this restaurant to a large group of friends from Sweden who were with us at a convention there and they ALL gave it two thumbs up. 😍 They were also impressed by the bathrooms with their decor. This picture to the right  is the restroom wash basin. The his and her toilettes are behind this scene and have the similar authentic  coloured Mexican theme and created from Mexican tiles the owner imported. The owner really thought of everything when it came to decor for her place and her guest's experience. The funny thing is that the Salsa was mild, but there was a hotter version (it actually wasn't to me) which most of our friends couldn't take, with the exception of one of them who was from India. What can I say, most northern Europeans burn their lips on Katsup, go figure 😲. The place has expanded from when I was there before. They have a back patio area and another indoor dining area. Below is that back dining room and the outdoor porch area and seating along with a Jazz Band playing for guest entertainment. Also one shot of the actual owner hard at work as always over the Bar-B-Q grill.

Owner Sanne Jensen

I didn't have a chance to speak much with the owner Sanne Jensen as we could before because their business at that moment was so intense with numerous guests coming and going. But I remember the first time I visited 5 years ago & I was impressed by not only the decor choices and selection on the menu but also the authentic flavourings of the dish recipes themselves. This particular time they only had a shortened abbreviated menu for the crowd coming in from the Jazz Festival. Made perfect sense to me. Otherwise any other visit would have been the full Menu selection. My wife and I both had the all you could eat chicken & carne asada fajitas with all the rice, beans, guacamole, 2 kinds of salsa, sour cream, grated cheddar, etc you eat.

Image from La Casita website
The name La Casita means "small home" and this describes this  cozy little Mexican restaurant in Silkeborg. The restaurant owner Sanne Jensen opened her restaurant 1997 after traveling in the Southern USA, but in particular San Antonio, Texas, where she experienced lots of good tasting Mexican food. She said it wasn't just about opening a Mexican restaurant, but also providing a good atmosphere where families and business people would always want to come back and visit. The decor is kept in warm, autumn colors and contains a wealth of Mexican handicrafts and antiques. The food is classic delicious Mexican dishes such as burritos, tostadas and enchiladas. La Casitas' specialty is fajitas where you get served a number of small Mexican specialties that you combine to create your own tortilla meal. Fajitas would be unusual for most Scandinavians who think Mexican food is only about Tacos. So that explained the authentic taste and appeal of the food. He background also explained her taste in dining decor for the overall theme of the restaurant with many of the items actually imported from Mexico. The photo above left shows some of the collected southwest items arranged along a shelf all along the walls close to the ceiling. Even still, it was a pleasant surprise to actually find an authentic Mexican Food restaurant with escapism atmosphere in Europe period.

Image - haciendagrill
For those in Scandinavia who have no clue as to what fajitas looking like, the example on the right is a combination of grilled hot carne asada, chicken, chiles, onions, etc served on a cast iron grill plate. Along with that you can get either flour or corn tortillas, guacamole, different salsas, cheeses, beans, etc. You seriously can NOT get this kind of superior Mexican Dining and atmosphere anywhere else in all of Europe. There are some good tacos stand like a mobile La Taqueria trailer stand that sets up at Saluhallen in Gothenburg. He is a Swede and is girl friend from Mexico. Not even in Spain, even in our favourite place the Canary Islands. I know because I looked. The closest thing we ever found was in Puerta de La Cruz , Tenerfie and it looked authentic enough in the sense of an out of the way Cantina in a small in the middle of nowhere Pueblo in Sonora, Mexico where Pancho Villa & his Banditos would have probably hung out on occasion. But there was no comparison to the food at La Casita and the immaculately clean atmosphere was lacking in Tenerife. If anyone in Europe or from anywhere else wishes to experience authentic Mexico, it's food and it's culture without the expense of traveling to the United States or Mexico, then La Casita in Silkeborg, Dänemark is the closest you'll come to the original. 
Here is a link to the restaurant's website:
La Casita MexiCantina
Our Guest House

We actually stayed at a private upstairs guest house loft which was very roomy and very comfortable. You could ask for a squeaky cleaner place that the one we rented. Around the neighbourhood there were a number of walking trails through the forests. We walked quite a bit and passed through what are some private garden summer houses on small lots. This is common in Scandinavia where land is scare and expensive where you find it. But I'll have more on that later in a comparison of several such communities in another future post.

Silkeborg has alot more to offer for those looking for a relaxed summer atmosphere. You can rent a room almost anywhere or even a complete house if you wish. But I would go there over the more well known Dänemark capitol of Copenhagen any day.


  1. How cool! It's funny, but when I go out of the area, some people want to take me to get Mexican food. Rarely it's good and similar, sometimes it's good but different, and many times it is not so good... Some of us won't even eat it in Santa Fe, since it is not as good as down south.

    IKEA decor...seems that's the way many places are going in the US. I like atmosphere, too, especially when authentic and understated. But bright also good! Thanks for the tour.

    1. I love Mexican and anything southwest foodwise. Even desert bush food. Exactly one hour ago I made Habanero Salsa and the wife chicken enchiladas. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

      I personally dislike IKEA. Of course it's promoted as a god around here. We've bought less expensive and better quality furniture from an immigrant supplier from India. The style of very heavy constructed furniture we've purchased is old colonial Spanish and blows away anything coming close to it from IKEA.


  2. I would have been drawn like a moth to a flame to La Casita! And that is funny about the sensitivity of the local folks to the "hot" salsa -- I seem to be turning into a hot-sauce-addict! Thank goodness I live in the part of the world where I do ; )

    Good to see those relatively unspoiled forests.

    1. Just made some Habanero Salsa. You know, the funny thing about hot habanero salsa or any spices is that though you have to take a break from eating when your senses need a break, you minutes later crave more. Anybody else experience this ?

      There a well know southwestern brand name out there that has a line of Habanero products and one of them being the famous Ass-Kickin (Donkey Logo) Habanero Cornchips. You leave them alone and eventual crave more of the pain.

      Go figure!


  3. A interesting post to read and know. Hope to get some opportunities in near future to visit this fantastic place specially Danish Forest and Mexican food.

    1. You will love Mexican Food Mohan. It has a lick in the spice department and that is something you wilol never get with northern European food. I have many India friends here in Sweden and they all like my cooking.

  4. Silkeborg looks like a lovely place. The restaurant reminds me of our favorite local Mexican restaurant a couple of miles from here. It's a nice little mom & pop place with delicious, reasonably-priced, fresh, homemade food, and the decor is very similar.

    Looks like you had a lovely trip!

    1. It's really unbelievable if you've ever tried to search over here for authentic Mexican Food. There are only cheap imitations and La Casita is the real deal. Silkeborg is a lovely quiet place. We actually drove along the river for a place to turn around and kept going because the scenery was so beautiful. They are restoring the railriad through Silkeborg. It was shut down along time ago, but the are upgrading to an electric train transport. So that will make access easier without have to rent a car, although I enjoy driving around the area.

  5. I know what you mean about good Mexican. It's hard to find. And the IKEA comment makes me smile. It's similiar to our Asian buffets here:) Disgusting. The city sounds very interesting and one that I would want to visit. I'm glad you were able to enjoy a nice dinner and be surrounded by good vibes. IKEA is considered cheap college furniture here. We have one store up in Phoenix:) Hope you have a good start to your week. If you ever come to Tucson, I highly recommend the most delicious Mexican food....Cafe Poca Cosa! Saludos de Tucson! Chris

    1. Last time my son and I were there, we went to that Mexican Restaurant that Bill Clinton went to called "Mi Nidito"


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