Pasquale Laera, plenty of Langhe and a Mediterranean touch

Discovering the dishes of the Apulian chef, previously working with Cannavacciuolo. Since 2013 he’s at La Rei de Il Boscareto Resort in Serralunga d'Alba

26-12-2017

Pasquale Laera, born in 1988, is chef at La Rei, the gourmet restaurant inside Il Boscareto Resort in Serralunga d'Alba. He arrived as executive chef under Antonino Cannavacciuolo’s direction: when the latter left, he stayed

Photogallery

Our journey as portrayed by Tanio Liotta. We start with a long series of entrees, like Sausage from Bra with leeks and cabbage wafer
Quenelle of scampi, cream of veal brains, catalogna chicory and ginger
Mousse of parsley and anchovies
Tartufino with hen paté, onions, Porto and powdered mushrooms

«I want to smell the aromas, the pan, the frying, the mirepoix. I like strong flavours. I serve Italian food that tries to respect the nature and tradition of the Langhe. Aromas are important, because too often I see lots of attention paid to aesthetics, and too little to flavours. I love fonds: I spend 15 or 16 hours in the kitchen each day, and it’s a triumph of pheasant, veal, capon, pigeon fonds…». Trimalcionly impeccable, pantagruelianly exalting, gargantuanly inviting: one could say that given his young age, Pasquale Laera, born in Gioia del Colle in 1988, goes against the tide while the culinary mainstream leads to frugal banquets, an oxymoron, and culinary accounts lead to sobriety instead of pleasure for the palate; in other words we’ve moved from light-hearted dissipation to dining while keeping an eye on sustainability and waistline.

2014: Laera with Antonino Cannavacciuolo at La Rei

2014: Laera with Antonino Cannavacciuolo at La Rei

Things are different here. We’re in the Langhe, the land of orgasmic culinary fantasies and of products “all the world envies us”, to use a cliché; plus Laera is a disciple of Mediterranean Neoclassic Cuisine, and with French accents too, its first author being that big man called Antonino Cannavacciuolo, his master. 

This is how it went, more or less, in the kitchen of La Rei, the gourmet restaurant at Il Boscareto Resort: when in 2013 Cannavacciuolo started directing the restaurant’s offer, he chose Laera, his sous at Villa Crespi, a kid at the time, at 25, as his executive chef. Three years later, when the contract between Antonino and Il Boscareto ended, patron Valentina Dogliani called Laera and basically said: «Pasquale, don’t go. Stay here, I’ll give you the helm of the restaurant». He accepted with no hesitation.

Il Boscareto Resort

Il Boscareto Resort

Dogliani, as we saw, is one of the main actors in this story and thus deserves an extra note. She’s director-owner-general manager and host of the resort, born in 2009, the only five-stars locally, «I took care of it since its birth, and I followed its growth step by step, as if it were a child». It has 38 rooms, on her family’s estate, some of the most famous wine producers in the Langhe: vineyards since 1978 with winery Beni di Batasiolo (with vineyards in La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Barolo, Bricco di Vergne and of course in Serralunga d’Alba).

The spa at Il Boscareto

The spa at Il Boscareto

«The whole area was lacking a luxury resort that would satisfy the needs of clients who come here attracted by truffles and wine»; of course, on top of a structure with all the necessary frills, including a beautiful spa, we also needed a proper restaurant. At first, we handed it to Gian Piero Vivalda of Antica Corona Reale in Cervere, who sent his trusted Chen Shiqin – Piedmontese of Chinese origins. Then, as we saw, came Cannavacciuolo. And as of two years ago, Laera is here “solo”.

The brigade at La Rei: left to right sous Alessio Bucella, for 5 years with Laera, they were already working together at Villa Crespi. Then Gilvinas Sulcius, Silvio Sedda, Giuseppe d'Onofrio, Giuseppe Pignatello, Damiano Semeraro, Federico Tesse, Stefano Magna, Edoardo Bello, Sofia Bianchi, Tommaso Roberto, George Uta Ionut, Costantin, Alfred, and of course Pasquale Laera

The brigade at La Rei: left to right sous Alessio Bucella, for 5 years with Laera, they were already working together at Villa Crespi. Then Gilvinas Sulcius, Silvio Sedda, Giuseppe d'Onofrio, Giuseppe Pignatello, Damiano Semeraro, Federico Tesse, Stefano Magna, Edoardo Bello, Sofia Bianchi, Tommaso Roberto, George Uta Ionut, Costantin, Alfred, and of course Pasquale Laera

He shows his energy by directing a brigade of 12 people, and seating maximum seventy. In our meal, we noticed a great soundness above all: he gave an excellent interpretation of the great tradition of the Langhe, an essential part of the menu (the Vitello “tonnè”, that is to say the veal without tuna was delicious. It starts from the tradition of cooking meat “in concia” with vinegar, anchovies and capers, elements that also appear in this beautiful dish, together with dehydrated egg. The tajarin and plin were also remarkable). As for the main courses (sweetbreads, delicious, then pheasant and pigeon…) we have the opulent flavours we described earlier, and without hesitating on fonds and, in general, on flavour. Sometimes even too much, we could say: here and there one feels the need for a “cleaner” dish, to reset the taste buds.

Time for white truffle at La Rei

Time for white truffle at La Rei

This task is something the chef is capable of, as proven by the entrées: Laera here proves he knows how to use (even) milder colours, he shows an elegant hand and a voice that can scream goodness and whisper harmony too. Raw meat, turnip tops, mayonnaise of sea urchins, kombu seaweed and Murazzano is a perfect proof of this. It’s a sort of geographical short circuit that elegantly overlaps Langhe, the Mediterranean Sea and Japan (where Laera worked. His curriculum also includes an internship at Geranium in Copenhagen); and the even more spectacular Raw amberjack, beetroots in carpione and pepper sauce, perfect and essential. Then, well, given it’s truffle season, there’s not much to add.

A final note of merit goes to the dining room: maître-sommelier Fabio Mirici Cappa is a great professional, he knows what he’s about. (In the photo gallery by Tanio Liotta our long series of tastings)
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Sections

Carlo Mangio

An outdoor trip or a journey to the other side of the planet?
One thing is for sure: the destination is delicious, by Carlo Passera


Photogallery

Our journey as portrayed by Tanio Liotta. We start with a long series of entrees, like Sausage from Bra with leeks and cabbage wafer
Quenelle of scampi, cream of veal brains, catalogna chicory and ginger
Mousse of parsley and anchovies
Tartufino with hen paté, onions, Porto and powdered mushrooms
Mozzarellina, tomato and basil
Wafer of Senatore Cappelli wheat, buffalo milk butter and wild fennel
Grissino and salami
Steamed bun, veal tongue and bagnetto rosso
Bread, butter and oil, powdered garlic and Pomodoro
Cauliflower cannolo, mousse of Seirass del Fen, almond and lemon
Raw amberjack, beetroot in carpione and pepper...
...followed by beetroot "nature"