Hot Pot Republic pop up

It was my birthday last month and my husband really did well in his choice of restaurant for my birthday celebration. 

Hot Pot Republic is a pop up restaurant currently located in a back yard of the trendy cocktail bar Lindkoeb on Vesterbrogade. I was aware of the concept of hot pots (and no not Lancashire ones!) and really wanted to try one.

So what is hot pot? This is a popular Asian food concept where all the diners gather around a steaming pot of broth (kept warm on a mini gas hob) and cook raw foods such as meat, wontons, veggies, tofu etc in the delicious broth. In Hot Pot Republic we chose the mighty meat menu and were presented with a mouth-watering selection of foods as well as a divided broth pan with a spicy broth and a normal savoury one. There is a guidance sheet letting you know the recommended timings in the broth for each type of food to ensure it is cooked through. You can, of course, build your own hot pot.The food was amazing and my eight year old son loved it. Although the food is Asian the atmosphere couldn’t have been more hyggeligt! The pop up is carrying on until the end of July and you can find out more here.

Checking out their Facebook page I can see Hot Pot Republic are currently working on a permanent location to which I say ‘hurrah!’ Follow them on Facebook to make sure you know when they open up their permanent sight.

PostBox – culture oasis

A few weeks ago I received an email about a forthcoming pop up project in the city centre close to the main station, called Postbox. I headed over there with my son last week and we loved it. It is reached by a long open corridor from the back of the main station as well as in the street below. I was amused to see some tourists looking at the signage curiously but when they saw us walking down the ramp they followed and I later saw them enjoying a chilled glass of rose.

Postbox is billed as a new temporary culture oasis between Vesterbro and City focussing on art, design and culture. The post office – the area between Bernstorffsgade and the railway station at Copenhagen Central Station – has been closed to the public and the site has been empty for the last couple of years. In the coming years, the area will be transformed from industry into a new neighborhood (but I’ll save my thoughts on this until I understand more about the plans, which incidentally you can see visuals of along the walkway to Postbox).

Meanwhile, the large car park at Postgrunden has been transformed into a temporary creative haven in the city. Over the past few years, Designerspace, the group behind Postbox, has focused on pop-up design markets for talented artists and designers but now they have transformed the large car park on Postgrunden into a temporary creative culture in the heart of Copenhagen. The vision is to create a city space that emphasises community through activities, design and culture.

The PostBox project on Postgrunden will consist of loads of containers with creative workshops, shops and showrooms. In addition there will be dining and drinking places as well as a lot of cultural events such as Dovne Sundays with brunch and children’s workshops, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, ThursdayChill, Rita Blue’s flea market.

There is a little sandy area, deck chairs, a rose wine bar and an area where hops are being grown by Byhumle

Take the chance, before the area will be closed down and becomes a building site from 2018, to enjoy stroll to a huge and hitherto ‘hidden and forgotten’ area in the center of Copenhagen.
PostBox on Postgrunden runs from 6th May to 22nd October and is open Thursday-Friday 14-22 and Sat-Sun 11-22.

Settlementet – supporting the community in Vesterbro since 1921

Yesterday I wrote about the changing face of Vesterbro and the gentrification of the area but it is important to remember that Vesterbro is still an area with socially vulnerable, low-income and also marginalised people no matter how many trendy publications laud it as one of the hippest neighbourhoods in the world.DSC01755

Sidegaden (or Side Street) is an environmental and educational project set up to support the community in Vesterbro. Located in Saxogade (above), the project was started in 1986 before the start of the urban renewal in Vesterbro by Settlementet (more of this organsiation below) and is still in operation and very much-needed today.  It is run by a small number of employees and a lot of volunteers.

There are four main community businesses run by Sidegaden.

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Cafe Sonja is a community cafe that gives work to a variety of people, giving them the chance to use their individual talents and skills to keep the cafe running. The cafe exists to encourage a diverse labour market and aims to give its staff a reason to get up and do something meaningful.  Everyone involved does what they can to run the café. They offer a great selection of healthy and home cooked foods for anyone who want to come into the cafe. They recently added a small playroom area so parents can relax whilst their children play.

Gang i Gaden is a drop-in centre and work community where people can access advice on job training, support one another, take part in computer workshops and undertake odd jobs and maintenance for the other Sidegaden businesses. It also operates a small thrift shop. It is run by Settlementet and supported by Copenhagen Kommune.

There are two shops. The first is Hva’ Så, which is a family shop selling used clothes and toys as well as offering family activities such as baby music, courses and lectures. There is also the opportunity to access advice from health professionals such as midwives and health visitors and get support and advice on things such as breastfeeding, baby sleeping and parenting. There is always coffee and cakes provided by Cafe Sonja here.DSC01756The second shop is Heidi go Bjarne (above) which sells good quality preloved clothes, handmade and redesigned clothes (my son’s current favourite T shirt is from this shop!) and unique interior things. They support many local artists and crafts people and sell things made by people in workshops in Gang i Gaden.DSC01746

All these businesses are run by Settlementet, a community project that aims to help the vulnerable residents of Vesterbro. It has been in existence since 1921 and has been very important the development of housing conditions and working people’s living conditions in Vesterbro. The main location is at Dybbølsgade 41.

Today it  is still a voluntary organization that advocates for socially vulnerable groups and operates a wide range of activities for Vesterbro’s citizens. The Sidegaden project above has motivated and integrated many unemployed people in a number of social enterprises. And the integration project, Project Sultana done a lot of work to integrate women with different ethnic backgrounds. Settlementet also organising many clubs for young and old as well as food clubs for those on low incomes and clubs for both men and women from the local Pakistani community.

The organisation offer confidential advice and support on social and legal issues for people of all ages and situations, psychological support, addiction support and support for those in violent situations.

This is all a fraction of the work Settlementet does.

You can support Settlementet by volunteering or donating money to keep this valuable charity going.

 

The changing face of Vesterbro

Just over eight years ago we were in the process of moving to Copenhagen and as part of our home search we were shown an apartment on Flensborggade in Vesterbro. It was newly renovated, in fact it was still being renovated when we viewed it, and outside the window we could see graffiti and drug users. The slightly run down street of 2008 is now popular with tourists staying in Airbnb type apartments and the place opposite is now a co-working space for creative freelancers and not a doorway for drug deals.

After viewing places in Frederiksberg that morning we  saw there was a real difference in the areas. Our relocator explained that he wanted to show us the other opportunities available for renters. The apartment was smaller than the ones we had on our list but the rent was close to the top of the budget. However he said this is going to be the place to live in a few years time and we could be at the start of this. Looking out of the window we decided we didn’t want to be the pioneers and quite frankly we were slightly disbelieving of this prophecy but baffled by the high rent. I think now what we would have been the start of and I am glad, for many reasons, we decided to move to a different part of town.

It was then time for lunch so he took us up onto Istedgade and into a shabby little cafe that smelt of, what I now know, frikkadellar and was full of workmen – it was the equivalent of a British greasy spoon. This cafe is now a Riccos (I think but it certainly no longer exists) and frequented by bearded hipsters smoking pipes outside. Not fancying the food in there that day and the fact there were no seats available, he took us to Cafe Høegs round the corner, still fairly gritty. Much more my speed and as we tucked into enormous portions of hummus on rye bread, he told us more about the area and how it would be much nicer in the coming years.

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Isted Herremagasin on the corner of Gasværksvej and Istedgade in 1968

Fast forward eight years and yes this area is ‘much nicer’. With the fixing room on Istedgade many drug users are off the streets and fixing up in a safe environment. Prostitution has been pushed to the top of Istedgade by the station and onto side streets (and if the media is to be believed further out into Indre By and Frederiksberg), there are fewer obvious drunks and addicts on the street (and a newish structure for them to congregate close to Enghave), but a lot less of the original businesses we saw in 2008 and loads more coffee shops, fancy and expensive boutiques, more young affluent people on the streets, sitting on pavement cafe seats drinking 45 krone coffees. New restaurants springing up on Enghavevej serving ramen and Mikkeller beers and locally sourced game meats rather than halal butchers, lanudromats and corner shops. The bodegas that just three years ago had hand-made anti hipster signs in their windows are now replaced by fancy bars and groceries. There are a number of old-time businesses hanging in there on Istedgade but how long they will last is debatable.
istedgade 102 1991

Istedgade 102, 1991 now Byens Bogcafe. This was a varmestue – a place where people could get a cheap hot meal, have a hot bath and clean their clothes. Kirkens Korshær still run these across Denmark and they have a place still on Istedgade at number 100.

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.The renewal of Vesterbro began in 1989, and at this time 64% of homes in Inner Vesterbro were without heating, and 70% without bathrooms. The city injected 4.3billion krone into the area and now all apartments are connected to district heating and only 4% (as the request of the tenants) are without a bathroom. All of this has come with a cost to the original residents of Vesterbro, many of whom have been displaced thanks to the 50% rise in rents since the renewal process. There has certainly been conflict between the new more affluent residents and the ‘old’ vulnerable Vesterbro, which is still in evidence but increasingly marginalised . At the time of renewal 50% of residents used their rights to permanent rehousing elsewhere as they feared the rent hikes after the assisted period of rent control was over. It is hard to see the statistics of those forced out of the area as many have not been registered elsewhere but many are displaced to Sydhavn and  they are sleeping on friends’ sofas, taken up homes in allotment areas and Lorterenden area in Sydhavn.

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Outside bathroom in a backyard on Saxogade in 1974

Vesterbro is now described by city authorities as having an ‘economically sustainable population’ and the area has undergone a deliberate urban change driven by public policy and market forces. There are still a number of community projects in the area including the Kirkens Korshær one above and another major project (which I shall talk about tomorrow) and the area is not completely gentrified but I am sure there are many people living and staying here who would like to see less of the original Vesterbro outside their expensive New York loft style apartments, coffee shops and hipster hotels. I recently watched this video and like many including Vice, wonder if it was trying to be ironic (sadly I don’t think so) but it sums the direction Vesterbro is going.

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Arbejdsløshedhuset (Unemployed House) on Istedgade in the 1970s (above) and now below, still housing a small drop in centre for vulnerable people in the area. Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 18.07.09

Old photos courtesy of Copenhagen Museum 

Exploring Vesterbro – Dybbølsgade

Wow! What a terrific response to yesterday’s post, thank you!  It is great to engage with readers and see debate and dialogue happening. I still believe that Denmark is the best place for my family and I but sometimes not everything is plain sailing. Hopefully the next time I write about my elbow (yawn I know!) it will be with better and more positive news. However back to normal programming today….

It is usually Istedgade and Kødbyen in Vesterbro that get talked about the most but I have a real soft spot for Dybbølsgade, which runs diagonally cross Vesterbro from Dybbølsbro Station towards Istedgade. It is a cosy street with communal seating dotted around and spots where the local residents have planted up areas in the street. You certainly feel that there is a lot of street life here, which I think it a great thing.IMG_0227IMG_0846I thought I would share a few of the places that I like on this street. IMG_0850 First is Kihoskh, this is a corner shop with a difference. They sell all the convenience things you would expect from a kiosk but also books, coffee table magazines and international titles plus a great selection of fruit and vegetables. Their thing is beers so you can choose from a decent selection of unusual brews to take home or enjoy outside. You can also grab a morning coffee and pastry and sit on the tables outside and watch the vibrant and diverse life of Vesterbro go by. One morning I spotted Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen sitting doing just that.

(Kihoskh, Sønder Boulevard 53, 1720 København V)IMG_0852Next up is Kost, an organic grocers, just across the street but I have a separate post planned for this place so I won’t say too much here but check it out if you are in the area.

(Kost, Sønder Boulevard 53, 1720 København V)IMG_0855 Wandering further up the street towards Istedgade you will see a large cafe on a corner called Sweet Surrender. This is one of the only (but do tell me if you know of others) specifically family friendly cafes in the city. It is not for profit and has an interesting menu and a play area for young children. I am not generally a fan of ‘child friendly’ cafes despite having a child but this places hits the mark of balancing a nice cosy place for adults with an inviting space for children.

(Dybbølsgade 49, 1721 København V)IMG_0856 IMG_0858

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Enghave Kaffe, although not technically on Dybbølsgade, but at the very top on Enghave Plads, is a great place to stop for a decent cup of coffee before you hit Mania CPH, an amazing clothes shop selling bright and individual designs, for something a little brighter than the normal ‘Danish Rainbow’!

(Enghave Kaffe, Enghave Plads 3, 1670 København V)

(Mania Copenhagen, Enghave Plads 1, 1670 København V)

maniaThese are my favourite spots on this street – perhaps you have yours?

 

Delicious smørrebrød and beer at Øl og Brød

For my birthday yesterday, my husband took us for a surprise lunch at Øl og Brød in Vesterbro. It is part of the Mikkeller group of bars and restaurants and serves a carefully created selection of modern smørrebrød (open sandwiches) and small lunch plates as well as a decent selection of Mikkeller beers.DSC00868The interior is pleasingly simple and Nordic and the food follows through with this aesthetic. We had two smørrebrød each and this was sufficient for a decent lunch. I was particularly taken with my two choices of hand pulled prawns and white asparagus on a crispy toast and tartar with an amazing blend of mustard mayo and capers and cornichons. Many of the vegetable components of the smørrebrød are lightly pickled and super delicious.IMG_0815I love a simple and seasonal menu and of course some craft beers never go a miss, it was the perfect place to celebrate my birthday. DSC00872 Note for people looking for gluten free beers, they have a good selection here although they do occasionally sell out. In the evening they offer a set number of courses with beers. Check their website for the current menu.IMG_0811Address: Viktoriagade 6, 1655 København

 

Bang og Jensen – the place of dreams

This cafe, located in an old pharmacy building, at the more salubrious end of Istedgade (close to Enghave Plads) in the trendy Vesterbro area of the city is the place where dreams are made. The story goes that the owners of the successful shop, Girlie Hurly, across from the cafe, first dreamed of the shop sitting outside in the sunshine, drinking a coffee and looking at the empty shop across the road.

The girl working here told me that if you are looking for a job, a boyfriend or an apartment or just inspiration, hang around here long enough and you will find it.

bangogjensen1 If nothing else, Bang og Jensen is a wonderfully different cafe compared to a lot of identikit kind of places to be found in the city. I popped in for a morning coffee, whilst I waited for here to open, and a bit of quiet work time and the back room was perfect. I just missed the morning buffet which looked lovely (what was being cleared up) and the place gets lively in the evening with cocktails and DJs – so there is something for everyone, whatever time of the day.bangogjensen2Still a little mystified by the multitude of portraits of the same bearded chap on the wall – perhaps someone can share the story?

Address: Istedgade 130, 1650 København V

Website

 

‘Mother’ of all pizza

I have had coffees in the morning in at Mother and never been around Kødbyen at lunchtime to try their acclaimed pizza until last week. My son and I were at an event at Oksehallen and decided to have our lunch in Mother. It was one of the last warm sunny days in September and we sat outside on the rows of benches, along with other diners soaking up the last rays. The menu isn’t vast, which I like, as it can mean that they do a few things well rather than a lot of things just OK. There are also three daily specials – one meat, one vegetarian and one salad.motherUnusually for me I chose a sausage pizza, to which the Welsh waitress commended me on my choice. Apparently the sausage is made by the chef and it didn’t disappoint. They offer smaller pizza for children, which are half the price but not half the size. Unfortunately my son tucked into his too quickly for me to get a shot but the juicy and delicious prosciutto soon disappeared, as did the lovely crispy base.

Normally I can be a bit disappointed by places that everyone raves about but I must say Mother make some of the best pizzas I have tasted in a while and we will definitely be back for more.

 

Healthy lunches at We do Food

As the summer holidays are still going strong it is great to grab a healthy lunch and sit outside and enjoy some food whilst the sun shines. Close to Kødbyen is a great concept cafe called We do food. It is basically a chose your own salad bar. You pick a plastic tub of base (leaves) and then chose various toppings and a dressing which the staff behind the counter put together for you in big metal bowls and then back into the plastic tub for you to enjoy at the tables inside and out or take with you.CIMG6135

If like me you find the wide selection a little overwhelming (I’ve lived in Denmark for too long!) they have suggestions for you such as Caesar Salad – which is my usual choice. They are quite generous with the dressings, so I ask for a little less on that front, but that is personal choice. CIMG6139 weedo foodIts a great place for a filling, healthy lunch.

 

Værnedamsvej – Copenhagen’s Little France

Værnedamsvej is one of my favourite streets in Copenhagen. It is known as Little France due to the number of French inspired shops and cafes lining the street as well as the French school being located behind a metal gate part way along the street. I love the atmosphere here. I thought I’d share a few of my favourite spots on the street.værnedamsvej general

There are a couple of florists on the street but my favourite is Blomsterskuret. They always have such a beautiful display outside and sell some more unusual flowers and plants.

blomsterkuret

 

Les Trois Cochons really makes the street feel like France – I can’t get enough of the cafe chairs and tables outside.les trois cochonsTucked down behind the main shop fronts is a little courtyard with a lovely little cafe called Mad Synergi serving lovely homemade food to take away.mad synergy

Looking for a caffeine fix in a cool place then pop into Rist Kaffebar. I love the brick wall and the little touches in this place.rist coffee bar

If you are looking for clothes you are unlikely to find elsewhere in the city and something a little brighter than the usual Danish rainbow, Kluns is the place to go. I regularly lust after dresses in this place.kluns

Finally my other two favourite places are Granola, its in every guide book but worth a visit and Theimers Bookstore.granola