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2 0 1 5 T r a d i T i o n s M a g a z i n e 37 restaurant business." Visalia was also not the collection of culinary choices it is today. Kim said there were only about six restaurants in downtown Visalia in 1982. irty-three years later, there are about 40 competing for custom- ers. e increased competition created a necessity to provide more food that people want more often. But many of the restaurant's signature danish dishes re- main. "i get a lot of joy out of cooking my favorite dish- es especially when they make people warm and fuzzy inside," Kim said. "People tell me this or that is better than somewhere else. it's very rewarding to hear those compliments." a great dish for the cold mornings of Christmas time is aebleskiver, more commonly known as danish pancakes. eir signature sphere shape makes them a cross between a pancake and a popover. ey are not hollow, but solid like a pancake and light and fluffy like a popover. Kim remem- bers she and her siblings eating the delicious pancake-like puffs off the counter as fast as her grandmother could pull them out of the oven. "ey are very labor intensive and you can only make seven in a pan," Kim said. another great danish dish to warm you up during the holidays is medisterpolse, a scandinavian sausage made of minced pork and seasoned with allspice. Valhalla offers the sausage split on an open-faced sandwich topped with red cabbage. another danish staple of the restaurant is frikadeller. often likened to swedish meatballs, these pan-fried dumplings of minced meat are a blend of veal or pork, chopped onions, eggs, milk and bread crumbs. "We had more danish food then than we do now," Kim said. "Times change and tastes change. i would call it danish food with an american twist." When her mom retired in 2012, Kim said the restaurant underwent a huge transition. she was now the matriarch of the establishment and started to identify ways to distinguish her restaurant from others while maintaining her ethnic menu. Comfort foods and desserts dominate the menu. "i have made 53,000 pies in my career and per- fected my grandmother's recipe," she said. To take the home-cooked heritage to a new level, Kim and rande have purchased eight acres of land outside of Visalia where they grow walnuts, oranges and pecans to garnish their plates of food. ere hope is that one day they will create a wed- ding/event venue out there where they can combine their two passions – food and family. Kim is now passing on the danish recipes to her step daughters who work at the restaurant. ro- chelle Crisp has worked at the restaurant for 12 years while her younger sister Melissa has worked there for eight years. rande runs much of the financial side of the business as Kim keeps a lid on operations and customer service. Kim's son ryan Penton has also worked on and off at the restaurant through- out the years but now makes his living working for a solar instal- lation company. With her mom retired to the Central Coast and her grandparents passed on, Kim said the restaurant's dash of dan- ish has helped keep some of the family's traditions alive for the next generation. "Visalia has made this a des- tination that keeps these traditions alive for another generation," she said. "i think people like that they can find something familiar but have something unique also." irty-three years in the restaurant business could accelerate the aging pro- cess, but Kim's passion keeps her young, just like her grandchildren do. every Tuesday, Kim takes a day off to spend with three of her grandchildren. Called her "grandma day," Kim spends her day playing with 5-year-old emma, 4-year-old daniel and 3-year-old Boston, and occasionally gets her youngest grandchild Kade, just 4 months old. Kim said Tuesday morning breakfasts have a familiar feel as emma stands next to her on a stool to help cook. it may not be aebelskiver on the stove, but who knows, maybe emma will take her grandmother's place in the hallowed family heri- tage of Valhalla. "My husband and i feel like this restaurant is a gift to the community," Kim said. "People come here to visit for comfort, joy and a great home-cooked meal. i think this place is special to my family and many families in Visalia." "Visalia has made this a destination that keeps these traditions alive for another generation," she said. "I think people like that they can find something familiar but have something unique also." K i m Pay n e O W N E R O F VA L H A L L A R E S TA U R A N T

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