Lunch with Luca & Gio the owners of Il Cudega
This week I had the pleasure to taking lunch at the private home of Giovanni Brighi accompanied by Lardner Luca Gaggioli, partners of the new Italian restaurant Il Cudega soon to be opening in London Fields. I needed to get some illustrative photographs for the March issue of E9 where I will be talking all about this fantastic new restaurant.
The menu of Il Cudega will feature less well known dishes from the Lombardy region of Italy including Risotto alla Milanese (saffron risotto), Osso Bucco alla Milanese (bone marrow) and Barbajada (hot chocolate & coffee drink).
Traditionally the risotto would be served first as a starter then followed by the Osso Bucco, although nowadays it is often served together. There are many different types of rice used for risotto but Carnaroli, Maratelli (historical Italian variety) and Vialone Nano are considered to be the best (and most expensive) varieties. Luca and Gio provided some great cooking tips for making the best risotto, starting with the choice of grain. “The next mistake people often make is using oil.” To make the best risotto a good quality unsalted butter should be used all the way through the cooking process. Risotto made properly is most definitely not for those seeking a low fat dinner! To add extra flavour to the dish Luca used a stock made with bone marrow. I have always disliked riotto often finding it stodgy, however rossitto made well should not be like this, it should be rich and creamy yet light to taste. Luca’s Risotto alla Milanese was absolutely delicious, and did not skimp on the saffron which gives it it’s vibrant yellow colour, so you’ll need to save your pennies for this recipe!
The Osso Bucco followed pan fried with sauted onions, herbs and a little bone marrow stock. A simple dish yet expensive again. Gio and Luca of course source their meat ethically, acquiring these cuts from Ginger Pig at their local outlet on Lauriston Road in Hackney.
And to polish off the delicious lunch, Luca made a light dessert drink, Barbajada a kind of hot chocolate with coffee which in the summer months is served cold. It is usually served with soft Italian biscuits which are dipped into the drink.
All of these wonderful dishes and much more will be available to try at Il Cudega when it open in April 2015. Gio and Luca aim to bring London an Italian restaurant with a difference, so get ready for a burst of traditional Italian culture!