A.A. Gill poignantly satirises experiences like this, which is fine, because he is not high on my list of ideal holiday companions. But I suppose a good critic, well, criticises.
‘Casa Cambi’ is a hotel so small that it is considered full when occupancy reaches twelve. The cosy stone stack is settled on a terrace below a medieval castle in a village itself only populated by 200 people and numerous cats (including some real bruisers).
It is hard to put into words the almost lascivious joy gleaned from a freshly plucked fig. A plump, juicy sack oozing such ripe, sweet juices that adding syrup would be meddling. Proprietor, Mariello filled a whole basket and brought it to our crisply clothed trestle table. We emptied it artlessly.
More plates came, attacked by exploring fingers…
Deeply flavoured, pinkish Tuscan salami was studded with fat which decadently melted. Cross sections of silken courgettes were bathed in golden oil.
The various parts of a leftover ratatouille had unified overnight. Penne with a thick purée of fresh tomatoes was served piping hot, steaming my camera’s lens!
A Vermentino, made by monks a few miles away, served in clean, stubby glasses which quickly frosted, was beguiling: yellow fruits, mineral and relaxing. It evaporated fast and was followed by a crisp, gently vivacious, biodynamic version made near La Spezia (Linàro).
To finish, peaches were licked by lemon and sprinkled with sugar.
Coffee, brewed on the stove, was strong, malty and poured into delicate gilt cups.
The total price of a priceless lunch: €80 for four.
Casa Cambi - Via Roma 42, Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, Savonna, Italy. T. (0)39 018278009