Lose your heart & fill your stomach in Copenhagen…

Copenhagen is without doubt one of the most on trend places to visit right now. Constantly ranked as the happiest country on earth, it possesses such a pervasive sense of effortless style that you might be forgiven for imagining that the people are every bit as intimidatingly cool too…except they’re not. Nope. They’re just really, really nice which makes it even more of a splendid place in which to dwell for a few days.

With a sometimes justified but also often over exaggerated reputation as an eye-wateringly expensive place to enjoy, I’m happy to report that it’s nowhere near as bad as you may have been led to believe. This might be because I already live in London, a city rarely blessed with the nickname of ‘bargain’, but if you do a little investigating and spend some time planning what you’re going to do and where you’re going to do it, you’ll find there’s just as much that you can afford as you can’t.

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New year, new class, new cooking school…

Hands up who loves a brand new year? Come on, let me see them! Okay so maybe not the cold & wet bleakness of January…and maybe not the too tight clothes & the too empty wallets that follow Christmas with alarming annual regularity…but the flawless, spotless, pristine pages of a new diary, a new week and a new year are pretty wonderful, right? I don’t make resolutions – call me crazy but I’ve never felt the urge to put myself under extreme amounts of pressure to start delivering something new at the hardest time of the year! – but I do like the thought of filling my life with new experiences and if they’re connected to something delicious that I can eat, so be it!

With that in mind, last week I ventured out to try a cooking demonstration at the Divertimenti Cooking School on the Brompton Road, a few doors down from the twinkly-against-a-black-velvet-sky lights of Harrods & Harvey Nichols, y’know, the cheap end of town…

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Gold medal al fresco dining at Dinerama…

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Exciting, authentic street food. Smoky, sparky bonfires. Communal, dining benches. Passionate, buzzing atmosphere.

If any of these sound even vaguely appealing – and if they don’t, maybe lay a finger on your pulse and check it’s still working, hey? – then you’ve got until October 4th to arm yourself with wallet, jacket, sunglasses (this is England so maybe throw in the factor 50 & some snowshoes too) & your most impressive appetite and get to Dinerama in Shoreditch.

Located a straight-as-the-crow-flies 10 minute walk from Liverpool St tube or a hop, skip & jump across from Shoreditch Overground, Dinerama boasts some amazing street food offerings with 6 diners, 6 bars, 5 shacks and 2 trucks all set under a canopy of bulbs that glow gently as dusk falls, the sky darkens and the sky-scape of East London lights up around you.

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Now good folk, you must prepare yourself for the fact that a wall of incredible scents will lovingly smack you in the face as you enter; taste-buds will perk up, stomachs will rumble, mouths will water. Your dining options are laid out in an open courtyard surrounding long wooden picnic style tables and whatever your food drug of choice, something here will give you the fix you’ve been craving. Crispy baja fish tacos? Done. Sweet pulled pork? Sure. Pizza, steamed buns, wings, brisket, burgers? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

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As someone who’s been looking to try poutine for a while, it was Cheeky Italian’s stall that hooked me in; sadly I wasn’t as bowled over as I thought I would be – chunkier chips, thicker gravy & extra cheese would have made it more the comfort food I’d been day-dreaming of – but if I was left a little underwhelmed by my first course, the second one from Birdbox hit a home run with a heaped portion of freshly chopped & glossily, stickily roasted chicken snuggled up to bite-sized, crunchy, roasted, skin on potatoes & whole cloves of sweetly golden garlic.

FYI I am rapidly becoming addicted to roasted garlic. Seriously. This kind of addiction is what interventions were created for. Anyone else feel my fragrant & lusciously delicious pain?

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The aroma of Birdbox drew me in…their food left me a total groupie; washed down with generously boozy Big Kahunas in candy-cane cups and eaten one greedy forkful at a time, this was gold medal al fresco dining.

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And for those who lay their cap at the altar of sweetness, a tub full of salted caramel licked, cinnamon kissed, crispy edged yet softly squidgy pillows from You Doughnut! will leave your inner glutton sugar lipped & oh so happy.

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If you’ve ever thought you’re not hip, cool or bearded enough for Shoreditch, believe me when I say you are. Suited & booted corporates mingled with plaid shirted, designer hand-bagged & high street dressed crowds and by 8pm, the place was packed with people taking full advantage of a glorious Thursday September evening. Every dish I saw was under £10 and portions were generously served by people who were proud of their food and excited to share it with new diners…as someone who is constantly enthusing about this dish or that meal that you SIMPLY MUST TRY, it was nice to be on the receiving end for a change.

So if you’ve a hankering to try something new but don’t know what, if you want to soak up every last drop of sunshine before it disappears into British myth & legend once again, if you fancy dipping into food without the formality of walls, linen napkins & service charges, Dinerama should be on your London ‘must-do-must-eat-must-try’ list this September.

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