The list of restaurants where I could happily move in next door and be content to eat in every day got a bit longer this week after a visit to Il Talucco. The organic restaurant, which its owners Valentina Aimone and Nico Zara define as “atipico” on their business card, is also a B&B. So the whole moving in next door plan isn’t so impractical.
Il Talucco is located in Valdengo in northern Piedmont, a short distance from Biella. It occupies part of a retired monastic complex; part of this is dedicated to the restaurant, the rest to the B&B and living quarters of Valentina, Nico and their daughter Francesca. Valentina’s parents also live in the complex.
Il Talucco’s food philosophy is guided by the Kousmine Method, an approach to eating that promotes the nourishing and health promoting function of food. The dishes are a mixture of organic, biodynamic, and healthy ingredients that rely on closely studied sourcing, mainly from small local producers.
Lunch started with a tall glass La Farinela’s rice beer, fragrant cumin bread baked by Eugenio Pol, and an assortment of cold antipasti: roasted peppers, couscous, goat cheese with pink peppercorns, spinach salad, beans with carrot and onion, cured olives, spelt salad, eggplant “carpaccio”, raw shrimp with strawberry puree. (I was surprised to find seafood on a table deep in the heart of landlocked Piedmont, but the chef is from northwestern Sardegna, so the shrimp are a nod to his distant origins.
Next came a platter of fried things: lemon, squash, artichokes, and paper thin slices of eggplant. This was seriously one of the best things I have eaten in the past decade. The fried lemon was a revelation and everything was so impossibly light and crispy.
The first course was a dish of home made ravioli stuffed with a mild cheese and vegetable filling. The ravioli were served with sautéed sugar snap peas, scallions, and garlic shoots, and garnished with borage.
The second course was a simple baked lamb shoulder cooked with mirto, a liquor from Sardegna. The lamb was fragrant and sweet, cooked to perfection. Apparently lamb is one of Nico’s strong suits, along with baked suckling pig. The dish was paired with Luigi Castino’s Barbera d’Asti.
Desserts are Valentina’s thing. She is strongly influenced by her mother’s French origins and prepared me a lovely île flottante with crystallized rose petals and served it with a glass of Recioto di Soave. To conclude, cocoa beans and dark chocolate (70 and 100%) and a nip of 20 year old rum.
Via Raffaello Sanzio 31
13855 Valdengo (BI)
Closed Monday & Tuesday