Wednesday 12 June 2013

Campo Viejo Tapas Trail 2013

People often ask me why I started blogging, the obvious answer is my love of food, but what really made me do it was the Campo Viejo Tapas trail 2012. I enjoyed it so much last year that I wanted to write about it and so, French Foodie in Dublin was born.

As soon as the tickets were available for sale, I booked for the 1st day of the trail in Dublin and told my friends to book it too. Tickets were sold out within a few days, at €20 each I call it the 'foodie bargain of the year'!

This year the 4 participating restaurants are Salamanca, Havana Tapas Bar, Market Bar and Bagots Hutton.  Mr. FFID and I were glad to have the same guide as the previous year, Paul. Believe it or not he remembered I was on the trail last year and that I was wearing red! Incredible, isn't it?

So what is the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail? Basically you stop in 3 restaurants for 3 tapas and a glass of wine in each place and you get your last glass of wine and the desserts at the fourth restaurant. Plus you get nice little touches of culture and history brought to you by your guide on the way from one restaurant to the other. As my friend Cedric said they should call it a 'Tapas marathon' because serious eating is involved here.

Dublin certainly felt like Spain the day we were on the trail, the sky was blue and cloudless, the sun was shining and there was a nice warm breeze in the air. There were 6 of us amongst a group of about 25 people which included a very lively group of ladies celebrating a birthday.

We started off in Salamanca where we were greeted with a glass of Campo Viejo cava. Then 3 tapas were brought on the same plate along with a glass of Campo Viejo Reserva. The food portions were generous and pretty much the size of a regular lunch. A Spanish classic of seafood paella, fried potatoes with chorizo and spinach and ricotta croquetas were the first delicacies served on the afternoon and went down a treat.

Our second stop was Havana on Georges street where the owner warmly welcomed us along with a waitress from San Sebastian who greeted us in Spanish, which was a lovely touch! A tasty slice of tortilla (Spanish omelette) served on toast with some tomato pesto and a slice of Spanish salami was served first. Then the second tapa was a pan-fried fried garlic and chilli prawn with lime and sour cream sauce, I could have eaten more of those! We ended with a tasty pan fried Spanish sausage on bread with apple sauce. The three tapas were actually 'pintxos' which were the perfect size for not being too full, plus and they were 'summery' and light, just what we needed with the outside heat.

Our last savoury stop was at the Market Bar where a huge piece of art was mounted on the wall especially for the trail. Portions at the Market Bar are generous and as much as I wanted to I couldn't finish the delicious food. We had their excellent patatas bravas, I haven't found better ones anywhere in Dublin. It was nice to have a bit of green, with the feta and chorizo salad dish which was lighter than the rest. We also ate marinated chicken and chorizo skewers with yoghurt and spicy tomato sauce.

Our last stop was at Bagots Hutton, a wine bar located in a basement on South William Street. Our desserts were waiting for us, they weren't particularly Spanish but were still delicious: a rich chocolate cake and a pannacotta dessert. Each couple was given 2 desserts to share and I was so full at that stage that Mr. FFID had to pretty much eat them on his own as I was in in a total food coma.

The tapas trail is a fun event and I'd recommend it to anyone for next year, if you hadn't had the chance to get tickets for this year. I did think the dishes were less diverse than last year: we had fried potatoes twice and chorizo three times and even if I love these products I think Spanish food has more to offer and also I'd love to see Spanish desserts next time.  But I'd call this more of a suggestion than a complaint as there wasn't a tapa I didn't like. I greatly appreciated that Mr. FFID, who doesn't eat fish, was offered non-fishy alternatives, you couldn't expect much attention than that for such a low price. I also  have to mention Paul who was a fantastic guide and entertainer. He had the incredible ability to remember the name of every single person on the tour,and was great at managing some of the 'merrier' members of the group. We enjoyed every minute of the trail filled with fun, sun, tapas and wine. Roll on tapas trail 2014!

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