I Gumbi - Agriturismo

i gumbiWe are, I confess, a bit lazy when it comes to taking the car and crossing the border to Italy to find a typical little family restaurant. And the drive home again not a pleasant prospect. A dark, rainy, winter’s Saturday night even less tempting and auspicious. But we have an energetic and enthusiastic friend who decided we ought to get out more and he had a charming lady he wanted us to meet. My husband was rather glued to the rugby and reluctant to leave before the end of the game but duty called. At least we went in our friend’s car!

I Gumbi is precisely one of these small family run restaurants, tucked away in a little back street in Dolce Acqua, itself tucked away in the folds of the hills behind Ventimiglia. It seems a lost little medieval village but the number of cars and the impossibility of finding a parking space gave the lie to that. We waded through the mud and along the river side to reach our goal. The restaurant itself is small and was very crowded. Our table was right by the entrance to the kitchen and we were bothered every time the doors swung open and the servers swept past , the kitchen lights and the noise being invasive.

The menu was a set one and so no need to choose, except for the main course , pork or rabbit, and the dessert. The ingredients are produced by the family, therefore fresh and of good quality but we did not feel that the preparation really did them justice. We started with a small portion of stock fish mashed with potato which was excellent and then the hors d’oeuvre, “antipasti”, comprised a slice of butter-nut squash tart, artichoke heart with mashed potato and a cod fritter. The fritter batter rather heavy and undercooked.

The charming lady-friend and I were too full for the main course but the men tucked into rabbit with fried potatoes. Nothing special , said my husband. I ordered a Panna Cotta for pudding and wished I had not. I can make it better myself; and I should absolutely have avoided the “red-berry sauce” which was offered. It was a bright -red chemical tasting syrup and the liberal pouring of it took away the remotest possibility of any pleasure. My husband’s apple cake bland and unexciting.

The price was quite high for not much at all and we were charged the full price of the meal even though two of us had not taken the main course. The red wine, home produced, was rather good, smooth and full-bodied and did taste of “dance and Provençal song and sunburnt mirth”. But a long trip for little reward. The only consolation was avoiding the disappointment of the rugby score, France 26. England 24