Traveling Circus: Veraison Starts and Mains

Friday was a day full of wine and laughter, culminating in a fantastic dinner courtesy of Magneto’s wonderful parents. After touring the Inglenook winery (my dad’s treat to our special guests), exploring the neighborhood of our Airbnb, and a tasting at August Briggs where my dad and I indulged in a few tastes of their Charbono, the six of us were starving and ready for a decadent feast.

We walked a couple blocks to Veraison, a casual but elegant eatery connected to the Mount View Hotel and Spa. Below you’ll find photos and explanations of our starters and main courses, as the desserts were so good, they deserve a post unto themselves!

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Magneto loves fried squash blossoms, but he REALLY loves shishito peppers.

We started with fried squash blossoms served with grilled avocado and shishito peppers. As soon as Magneto and my mom saw them on the menu, they knew we had to have an order for the table. The blossoms were delicious, not at all greasy, but leaving us with the feeling that we’d just treated ourselves to something special. Surprisingly, grilled avocado is fantastic, super creamy and rich. As always, shishito peppers are a coin toss – sometimes spicy and sometimes not, but these were balanced nicely with the pistou underlying this dish.

Our next starter was the heirloom melon and cucumber salad, huge chunks of both, tossed with pickled red onions, fromage blanc, mixed basils, and mint. Using lime salt to finish the dish tied everything together and kept the flavors light, summery, and savory.

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Gorgeous, refreshing, and perfect after a hot summer day of exploring the Napa Valley.

Magneto’s mom decided to go light with her entree, choosing the heirloom tomato salad served with burrata. She added a side of polenta, which was so creamy, it looked like Magneto would have dived face-first into it if he could have.

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What a fresh and light entree!

My mom went for a classic French dish, a fish stew with lemon aioli called bourride. The creamy stew and grilled bread were a tasty foil to the lovely cod, sea scallop, mussels, prawns, and lobster saffron fume.

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Soooooo delicious! The stew was a revelation of flavor and silky texture.

My dad’s entree was the soft shell crab, a seasonal specialty flown directly from the East Coast. The juicy, fatty crab and light batter made this the ultimate indulgence. Served with farm-fresh sweet white corn, the soft shell crab was everything a summer dinner should be.

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Who knew this simple set of ingredients could produce such magic?

Magneto’s dad ordered the type of dish that cowboys and city folk alike can love, the classic filet mignon. With oak roasted mushroom, spinach ragout, and a green peppercorn sauce, this was steak au poivre taken to the next level. In fact, he was so busy enjoying his dish, I didn’t even get a chance to snap a photo!

Magneto went meaty, too, but he did so by adding lardon to his spinach spaghetti, which he also requested to be topped with a fried egg. This bountiful bowl of veggies, pasta, and tons of lardon was a creamy delight when he mixed the egg into it.

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Let’s be real here: this was pretty much breakfast pasta in the best way possible.

I decided to order something I haven’t had in years, mostly because few restaurants know how to treat the protein delicately while still rendering out the fat to create a crispy but not oily skin. Duck breast l’orange (top photo) is a difficult dish to make, but I trusted that Veraison would do justice to it. I was so right. I almost didn’t want to share, but I gave my dad a hefty piece and most of my potatoes to Magneto so that I’d have room for dessert – which you’ll find out about tomorrow!

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