Flipot, Torre Pellice

November 6, 2007

I always consult the Michelin Red Guide for Italy while planning a trip there, although I know that their preference for Frenchified cuisine makes the restaurant ratings very unreliable. When planning this trip to the Piemonte, I noticed again that there was a two-star restaurant a bit southwest of Turin, while the other two-star and the three-star restaurant in the region are in the far northeast, almost in Lombardy. Our itinerary ran nearby, so it seemed like a good stop. 

The Pellice Valley runs up into the Maritime Alps and ends without a vehicle pass into France. Torre Pellice has its own ice hockey team. Chestnuts and cheeses are the local produce. It is also the global headquarters of the Waldensian church. This predecessor of Calvinism has been implanted there since the 12th century. There is a lovely section of the town with plain, but elegant, late 19th century Waldensian buildings. 

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Albergo Flipot di Walter Eynard is on the edge of the old town right on the one through road which runs up the valley. One comes on it without warning. There is no organized parking. The building is over a hundred years old. The Eynards have only had it for twenty-eight years, although he was born in Torre Pellice. There are eight rooms for the night. Ours had a contrasting modern bathroom. The parlour and dining rooms look out onto a lush patio garden. We were the only ones staying at the inn and the only diners from 7:50 until 9:15 when two couples who had been driving to the area arrived for dinner. 

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We ordered the Menu’ della tradizione Valligiana at 80 € and glasses of Marolo Arneis as aperitivo.

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The first amuse gueule was a well executed tempura of tuna and one of borage leaves.

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The second amuse-gueule was a quail egg in an herb broth with bits of black truffle.

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The 1999 Sandrone Cannubi Boschis Barolo we had ordered was brought up from the cellar and put into a decanter. It turned out to be delicious.

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The fish course was 
Filetto di trota fario cotto sulla pietra di Luserna alla spuma di petto d’oca affumicata. A piece of brown trout, cooking on the very hot piece of local basalt on which it was served, was dressed with a mild lemon cream. Served with it were a foam of smoked goose breast and a small salad. The trout was firm, tasty and hot; the sauce was just right. The accoutrements were ok in themselves, but didn’t seem to have any point alongside the trout.

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Next came a Tortino di topinanbour alla fonduta dolce di toma. A light pastry crust had been filled with a mixture of a local hard cheese, melted with eggs and butter, and pieces of Jerusalen artichokes. It was topped with delicious little fried chips of Jerusalem artichokes; a little salad was alongside.

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The “pasta” was Calhiettes (Gnocchi tradizionali valdesi.) In the valleys they didn’t have wheat so potatoes or chestnuts substituted. The traditional recipe for these “gnocchi” uses grated raw potato, sausage cooked in milk and onion cooked in butter. Here they were “gratineed” after being formed. I liked them.

(le calhiettes fatte con patate grattugiate crude, salsiccia cotta nel latte, cipolle imbiondite nel burro, il tutto impastato, raccolto tra due cucchiai a formare delle conche)

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The meat course was Stincetto di Maiale cotto nel fieno di Maggio. I found this piece of pork, its sauce and its vegetables to be completely boring. The little pumpkin custard flan was nice.

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Then came a big basket of Formaggi Valligiani. A variety of local cheeses, in good condition, were presented, along with a block of local honey. This was nice.

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The pre-dessert was
an orange-cinnamon mousse.
It was very light
and not too sweet.

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The dessert was a Biancomangiare di latte di capra e sorbetto di pino mugo. A goat’s milk custard was served with a sorbet of pine buds. Nice regional flavors.

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The two-level tray
of mignardises 
had light pastry puffs
in different flavors.

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We had breakfast in the morning at the same table. 

We enjoyed our meal and we could see that the chef has considerable talent. I really appreciate the local origins of the ingredients and recipes, although they obviously had to be updated for a restaurant with ambitions.  In view of the history of the area, the non-Italian feeling of much of it was understandable, but our experience was nowhere near what two Michelin stars should be. The menu, except for the disappointing meat course, was at a competant one-star level.

    

http://www.flipot.com/storia.htm 

  

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