Travel: A Sunny Thanksgiving at Auberge du Soliel in the Napa Valley

The view from our table at Auberge du Soliel, looking southwest across the Napa Valley.

I hope your Thanksgiving is turning out to be as memorable as mine. A combination of made-to-order weather,  peaceful wine country setting, wonderful food and great friends made for a nearly-perfect day. As you know, I’m a bit fussy (sometimes even cranky) about what I eat. While I have strong vegan/vegetarian leanings, I am open to eating widely–if the food is of exceptional quality. I’m a rice and veggies kind of guy, but on special occasions I like to drop my guard, have a glass of wine and just enjoy. All of which brings me to Auberge du Soliel, an inn and restaurant perched on a hill with an expansive view of the Napa Valley. In a relaxed mood today at Auberge, and because it was Thanksgiving after all, I couldn’t resist the Willie Bird turkey. Accompanied by an intense oyster stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry “jus,” it was a contemporary, but satisfying take on Thanksgiving (I can’t help but be amused at the trendy menu use of the word “jus”–it is French for juice, as in jus d’orange, [orange juice], but more and more in the U.S. it seems to mean any kind of light sauce). For me, the meal began with wild shrimp, went on to an arugula and radicchio salad, and ended with a pumpkin custard which tasted very much like a light pumpkin pie. Having worked in a number of restaurant kitchens, I appreciate the demanding work which goes on behind the scenes, and I salute everyone who cooks on a holiday so that others may enjoy.

I suppose I should end on a serious note, perhaps with a reminder that Thanksgiving isn’t only about food, but is about experiencing gratitude for life and the abundance many of us take for granted. However, I’m not going there.  As readers of MacroChef, I’m pretty sure you’ve already done that, that and so much more.  But do stay out of the stores tomorrow, and thanks for reading MacroChef as we move into our second year! Happy Thanksgiving!

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I think it's tacky to interrupt a meal to take photos, but I did snap a quick pic of the dessert which we all ordered: pumpkin custard with ginger molasses cake, candied pepitas, and chantilly cream. (More photos after the jump...)

Friends Robert Starkey and Mary Nichols peruse the menu.

Near the entrance to Auberge du Soliel.

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