Well, I finally managed it. I finally got tickets for the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail! The tickets for this event are like gold dust and always sell out in a flash. This is the event’s fourth year running, and at just €25 for a whole lotta tapas and wine, I can see Campo Viejo celebrating many a milestone here in Dublin (and now Cork!) city. I miss Salamanca and having tapas regularly throughout the day (they make an excellent breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack in between) so I figured this would fill the Spain-shaped hole in my heart until I return.
We were a little early for the trail, so stopped into Metro Café on South William Street for a coffee. ‘We’ being my Dad and I. I decided to take him as my date purely because I’m a nice daughter. It’s also my birthday week, and if anyone knows how to milk a birthday, it’s my Paw. He gets me.
Speaking of things that get me, look at that blackboard! It gets me too! It knows what I’m about, and clearly knew what kind of event we were going to. Who needs a smartphone when you’ve got a smartboard! Have a glass of wine indeed.
Espresso macchiato please! A good choice I think…a coffee you can drink in a few minutes when you’ve got to be somewhere, and the milk stops it being hard on your stomach which is totally empty, full of echos and ready for tapas.
The restaurants participating in this year’s tapas trail are Bagots Hutton, The Market Bar, Drury Buildings and Zaragoza. Four different groups of 20 were at the event last night, and we all started at different places with our own tour guide. A very clever idea! We joined our group at 7pm. Our first stop? Bagots Hutton, just across the road from Metro Café.
We went to the back of the restaurant (there’s a CAVE back there!) and we were greeted with a glass of Campo Viejo cava. The tables were covered in charcuteries of meats, cheeses and bread. The colours and presentation were impressive – everything looked so fresh and vibrant.
Jamón and chorizo
Thick chunks of bread with tomato and rocket, dripping with olive oil – every bite was messy!
A selection of cheeses with olives, quince and balsamic vinegar…
..all washed down with a glass of Rioja.
Just kidding! They were for the next group.
Our tour guide talked to us a little bit about the trail and Campo Viejo wines, the Rioja, Tempranillo and of course the cava. My paternal pal and I ate as much as we could, doing our best not to overdo it – we did have three more stops on the trail after all!
We left Bagots Hutton to head toward our next stop, the Drury Buildings. Here I am, a woman on a mission..
With the rest of the group behind me and no guide to regale me with city stories, I think I got a bit ahead of myself! We had a brief chat about Dublin and Thom McGinty (a.k.a. The Diceman) and before we knew it, the next spot were ready for us.
We all got started on our second glass of wine over lamb meatballs, croquettes and crusty bread with goat’s cheese and pesto. The Drury Buildings are lovely and bright, and I got chatting to two lovely girls from our group, Aoife and Lauren. The tapas here were the most artisan in my opinion, and the size was just right. Two more. We can do this!
Our third tapas feast was at The Market Bar on Fade Street. I liked that they gave us a little menu so we could see exactly what we were getting – I couldn’t hear our guide in the last two places but it was pretty easy to guess, so we got on just fine!
Piri Piri chicken salad, goat’s cheese crostini
Patatas Bravas with garlic mayo and tomato sauce. I didn’t like the tomato sauce at all, it was really bland. The rest of the food was delicious, and at this stage I was feeling mighty stuffed.
We went full circle, back to South William Street where we finished the trail at Zaragoza; for one final glass of Campo Viejo to accompany dessert.
Waiting for each of us at the table was a little memento of the trail. Enclosed in each envelope was a collection of cards of all the artwork we saw in each restaurant participating in the event. The illustrations were created by the hugely talented Steve Simpson, who’s behind a lot of artwork in Dublin these days. You might recognise his work at Tuzo‘s Mexican Kitchen on Dawson St., or perhaps the humble Smorgasboard board game? I highly recommend Smorgasboard. It’s a lot of fun.
There’s me, with the last of the summer wine that night. That was a TV show reference, to a TV show I’ve never seen.
Our dessert was Crema Catalana, which was delicious. The strawberries complemented it so well, I’m going to copy this myself! I think I’ll hint that I want a little blowtorch. What better time to do it than my birthday week?
Any dessert of this variety, Crema Catalana, crème brûlée, whatever you wish to call – it is flawless. And the crack is so darn satisfying.
We finished up just before 10pm. Lo and behold, it was still bright out! Isn’t summertime wonderful?
The whole evening was very pleasant – the food and wine were very enjoyable, we got lucky with the weather and our guide and group were very friendly and approachable.
The Campo Viejo Tapas Trail 2014 runs from June 4th – June 29th in Dublin, at €25 per person and in Cork from July 2nd – 27th at €25.
Once again the event is sold out, but keep an eye out for next year. The value and experience are worth it.
Campo Viejo Tapas Trail website.
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