Happy hour in Italy means so much more than just cheaper drinks: it means cheaper drinks with a bunch of tasty, unique nibbles you can’t find anywhere else. This is what Il Cudega, a top notch Northern Italian restaurant in London Fields, has just brought to London.
Launched this Autumn, Il Cudega is run by Italian-born Giovanni Brighi, a local Hackney resident of 20 years, and his Milanese business partner and childhood friend, Luca Gaggioli. Together they offer an original selection of charcuterie, cheeses and wines imported directly from handpicked ‘slow food’ producers in Lombardy.
I’ve been tempted by Il Cudega’s impressive set of events for a while now, but I decided to stop by recently for its Vin Brulée aperitivo, its version of the famous Italian pre-dinner treat with our own take on mulled wine.
Costing only £9.50, the Vin Brulée aperitivo allowed guests to try the delicious Italian mulled wine accompanied by a selection of Italian charcuterie, cheese and home-made focaccia. Accompanied by blues music by Gianni Frasi’s John Papa Boogie Band, Il Cudega’s aperitivo is perfect to start your weekend on a classy note or to end it in a chilled style.
Last weekend I tried some tasty prosciutto crudo (Parma ham), cooked pancetta, la coppa ubriaca (or drunk Parma ham, prepared with Bonarda, a Northern Italian red wine), different types of salami and Del Curto bresaola, among the best Northern Italian charcuteries.
The evening’s highlight was however the Raspadura, a young Grana Padano coming from near Milan and left to rest only for two weeks rather than for months. Served in delicate curls and eaten by hand, you can’t find the Raspadura anywhere – sometimes not even in Italy!
Il Cudega’s meats and cheeses are available exclusively wholesale, as well as retail, seven days a week. The business already supplies to local restaurants Pavilion Café in Victoria Park as well as Climpson’s Arch.
Both the service and the food will make you feel as if you’re truly back in Italy. Time for a proper, Italian-style aperitivo!
Pictures: Giovanni Brighi, Symmetry Breakfast, Mark Van Beek, Carolina Are