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 broughtÂ to London.
Launched this Autumn, Il Cudega isÂ run by Italian-born Giovanni Brighi, a local Hackney resident of 20 years, and his MilaneseÂ business partner and childhood friend, Luca Gaggioli. Together they offer an originalÂ selection of charcuterie, cheeses and wines imported directly from handpicked â€˜slow foodâ€™Â 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 BrulÃ©e aperitivo, its version of the famous Italian pre-dinner treat with our own take on mulled wine.
Costing only Â£9.50, theÂ Vin BrulÃ©e aperitivoÂ 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 weekendÂ I tried some tasty prosciutto crudo (Parma ham), cookedÂ pancetta, la coppa ubriaca (or drunk Parma ham, prepared withÂ Bonarda,Â a Northern Italian red wine), different types of salami andÂ Del Curto bresaola, among the best Northern Italian charcuteries.
The evening’s highlight was however the Raspadura, a youngÂ Grana Padano coming from near MilanÂ 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, sevenÂ days a week. The business already supplies to local restaurants Pavilion CafÃ© in Victoria ParkÂ as well as Climpsonâ€™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