A day in the life of La Locanda del Falco

We’ve explored the Varaita Valley, and the Maira. But our itinerary of Piedmontese valleys doesn’t end here. In the dinner Behind the best cheese there’s grass, in fact, there are six different valleys present.

Today our focus is Valle Gesso, a paradise for hikers of all levels, with easy walks like Pian del Valasco to demanding treks like the legendary road to the Pagarì refuge.

At the beginning of the valley, in Valdieri, there’s a wonderful little restaurant, La Locanda del Falco, which opened four years ago and is now featured in the Slow Food guide to the best places to eat around the country, Osterie d’Italia.

The staff at La Locanda del Falco.

LA LOCANDA DEL FALCO AT CHEESE 2019

Alessandro Re and her team are among the protagonists of the unmissable dinner which closes Cheese 2019, Monday September 23 at 8.30 p.m., where they present one of the antipasti, roasted peppers with goat’s milk robiola, bread with anchovies, mint and lemon zest.

COME TO THE EVENT!

FROM MAÎTRE D’ TO HOST

La Locanda del Falco is run by Alessandro Re, just 29 years old but with a lot of professional experience. Originally from San Rocco Castagnaretta, he studied at the Hospitality School in Dronero before moving first to Saint Moritz in Switzerland and then to Roquebrune in France to begin his career.

After these experiences abroad, Alessandro felt the call of home, and returned to become the maître d′ at Antiche Contrade in Cuneo, where he met Juri Chiotti, his travel companion in the next stage of his professional development.

Alessandro and Juri shared a similar vision, a vision which pushed them to establish a closer relationship with their local area and with nature. They moved to the Varaita Valley, where they took over the mountain refuge of Meira Garneri, 1810 meters above sea level.

It was the beginning of a profound change in Alessandro’s professional life, who stopped being a maître d′ and became, instead, a host. “This allowed me to be myself. As a maître d′ you have to be faithful to the role, keeping some distance between yourself and the guest. As a host, I have a more direct and immediate relationship with my customers and I can be more welcoming!”

Gathering wild herbs.

VALDIERI: TROUT, RYE AND POTATOES

Alessandro has been able to test himself in this new role by opening La Locanda del Falco, entrusting the management of the kitchen to Luca Bocchiardo and Michele Gallo, 25 and 29 years old respectively, and helped on the floor by Debora Perano, who’s just 24.

The most important element? Choosing the ingredients. “The products which best represent the valley are the mountain potatoes of Entracque and Valdieri, rye which isn’t cultivated exclusively as food, but which is also used to make roof coverings, and trout. The trout of Valle Gesso are renowned, and always present on the menu. We get them from Marco Borroni, who breeds brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout in mountain springs. Our task is to find the best recipes for each of these varieties.”

It doesn’t end there. As for Juri Chiotti and Lou Pitavin, for Alessandro promoting artisanal products from the local area is a priority. “For meat and charcuterie we buy from Parracone, a butcher here in Valdieri; the vegetables come from local small-scale producers, and we make the rye bread ourselves. The breadsticks come from Fame di Roccasparvera (who’ll also be at the dinner on September 23). Then there’s the wild herbs, which I started studying when I was at Meira Garneri, and the Esterate mushrooms.” I remember these mushrooms too, porcini and red-capped scaber stalks, that I used to collect together with my father and grandfather, but that’s another story.

The cheeses.

And the cheeses? “These are local too, or at most they come from a neighboring valley, as we occasionally cross the border! For the most part we work with Gemei, that has been working exclusively with pasture-raised cow’s and goat’s cheeses for three or four years now, as well as the Valle Gesso Dairy that also works with sheep’s milk.”

FUTURE PROJECTS

When I ask him what his plans for the future are, Alessandro becomes a little timid, and says “to always keep improving”, but then, from what he says after, I understand that there are clear, moral ideas. “We’re trying to focus more and more on pure, original products. We want to put animal welfare under the spotlight, too. For example, on August 20 I went up on the pastures to check for myself how our lambs were. And we’d like to focus more on vegetables too, not because this is a vegetarian restaurant, but because we want to raise awareness among our guests of the importance of reduced meat consumption, as an act of love for our planet.”

I’ve already booked my place at the Dinner Date, as although these are people who work close to home, the chance to see them all together, and taste their food together, is truly unique. So far, we’ve brought you to the Varaita Valley, the Maira Valley, and Valle Gesso, but there are another three local kitchens collaborating to bring us this dinner!

The closing dinner of Cheese 2019 is on Monday, September 23 at 8.30 p.m. at the Garden Restaurant in Pollenzo.

GET YOUR TICKET NOW!

by Silvia Ceriani, info.eventi@slowfood.it

Esterate mushrooms.

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