Monday, September 27, 2010

Restaurant Le Corte in Odalengo Grande

Piedmont is a place where extraordinary restaurants are not rare and yet, once in a while, you stumble on a restaurant that completely catches you off guard and thoroughly delights you in every way. Le Corte is just that sort of restaurant.
We had eaten at Le Corte once, and it was good, and we had been meaning to return but for one reason or another we never got around to doing it. Well recently some friends visited and we decided it was high time to go back. A quick check on the web page and it was easy to see that everything had changed. Formerly owned by Anna Cortevesio and Corrado Calvo, Le Corte has been operated by chef/owner Marco Casalini since March 2010.

Le Corte is an old school house and is well off the beaten track in Vallestura a frazione (comune) of Odalengo Grande. It’s remote country location ensures you of a quiet dining experience, especially during the week. We arrived on a Wednesday evening and Marco greeted us at the door with an enthusiastic welcome and from the first introduction we felt his natural honest warmth and graciousness. We were seated on the screened terrace which seats 15 or 20 people in a tasteful minimalist modern décor and we had the terrace to ourselves.
Moments after we were seated, Marco brought us a bottle of “Corteranzo Spumante” a delicious sparkler made just a few kilometers away at the winery Isabella in Corteranzo. Made of Chardonnay and a touch of Moscato, it was refreshingly dry and delicious and the perfect way to start the evening.
Although there is a menu on the webpage, we were happy to put ourselves in Marco’s hands and let him bring us a tasting menu of everything he had prepared that day.
To say Marco is a passionate Italian chef barely scratches the surface. He is a local produce fanatic and spends all of his spare time looking for interesting and seasonal local ingredients. Marco cooks and serves all the dishes himself with the help of Simone Gennaro his sous-chef. During the evening’s conversation he told us about finding an outstanding source of eggs nearby and confessed to paying one Euro each for them, but ‘the price isn’t important, quality comes first’ he told us. One of our courses contained one of these precious eggs and I can vouch for their outstanding quality. His Euros were well spent!

Course after course, the food came out. Some of the highlights were: A poached egg topped with a fillet of “tinca gobba” (a local fresh water fish) and guanciale a kind of bacon made from pig's cheek. (sorry, no picture)

A roasted red pepper flan, over roasted yellow peppers and very mild anchovies and onions (I think). (unfortunately my picture did not come out very well). We drank an outstanding Isabella Carpe Diem Chardonnay with the first few courses.

Then came the main course which was house made Tajarin with black truffles, bacon bits and a fonduta di toma (local cheese) sauce. Tajarin is a fettuccini type of pasta and the traditional recipe is 40 egg yolks and one kilo of flour and a pinch of salt.

We drank a beautiful bottle of 2008 Ruché by Cascina Tavjin 14% with the pasta course. The food was delicious but there was simply no way we could eat a roast course on top of all this.

Dessert was a tartlet filled with crème anglaise and topped with poached apple and gianduja chocolate.

Followed by two very nice grappas from Antica Distilleria di Altavilla. The first was a 1997 Grappa di Moscato and the second was a 2001 Grappa di Ruché. Both were lovely but the Moscato was softer and easier to drink.
The price was 45 euros per person wine, tax and tip included and worth every penny, but just as important as the food was the warm and passionate reception we received from Marco.

Via Odalengo Grande, 2
15020 ODALENGO GRANDE (AL) Fraz. Vallestura
Telephone: 0142 949044 - Marco understands a little English but is shy to speak. If you say "prenotazione questa sera per quattro, ad otto", he will understand and you reservations this evening for four at 8:00.



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