Sunday, 8 July 2012

Bites and Pieces: Campo Viejo Tapas Trail

Seats with a view at Havana

Rachel, Dublin

This is the second year of the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail in Dublin and, having listened to me wax lyrical about it last year, the bf was keen to accompany me when I saw it promoted through Campo Viejo's Facebook page again this year.

The trails are being run every Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoon until the end of August.  For the incredibly reasonable sum of €20 you are accompanied by a guide (we had the very lovely Eimear) to four of Dublin's best tapas spots where you receive three tapas (or one dessert in the final spot) and a glass of Campo Viejo.  To allow the venues time to prepare between each of the four groups on the trail you are treated to various interludes from your guide along the way including, for us, a fantastic reading of an extract from James Joyce's Ulysses.

From top left, clockwise: Nachos, At the Market Bar, Orange Crepe, Tapas trio at Salamanca Fusion, Patatas Bravas, Calamari, Black Pudding at Havana. 
We started the evening in Havana where there was live Spanish guitar music.  Our tapas here strongly featured Irish produce and we had Whelans' black pudding on toast with apricot sauce, Boile goat's cheese and spinach filo wraps, and Galway Bay prawns fried in chilli and garlic with a lime and sour cream sauce.  Our second venue was Salamanca Fusion and we had a trio of tapas on one plate.  Egg fried rice with bacon and shrimp, fajita beef with sour cream, and, my favourite tapa of the evening, slow braised pork belly with white truffle mash.  The pork belly was meltingly soft and the white truffle mash was an inspired accompaniement.  We were then whisked off to the Market Bar where we were presented with very generous portions of Nachos with all the trimmings, Patatas Bravas and beer battered calamari.  Now quite full, our final stop was at Salamanca for dessert which was an orange crepe with vanilla ice cream. 

Based on feedback from last year the number of venues has been reduced from five to four and I felt this made for a more relaxed experience.  The introduction of a dessert in the final venue was also a welcome change.  The quality of the food we received was generally excellent, the black pudding and the pork belly being the stand out dishes for me.  The only small grievance we had, and it was one I heard throughout the group, was in relation to the size of the glasses of wine.  'They must be using a thimble as a measure' was a comment from one of our companions that summed up the situation nicely.  While I realise that there is little-to-no profit to be made from promotional events like these I feel that one extra centimetre of wine in each glass would not have broken the bank and would have eliminated any feelings of stingyness.  Luckily, the "thimbles" of Campo Viejo we did receive were delicious and I'd happily purchase a bottle. 

I believe that all the tickets for the trail are currently sold out, however, it could be worthwhile following the Campo Viejo facebook page as they released a limited number of tickets for today's trail at the last minute and may possibly do so again.  It's a fantastic 'something different' to do and is great value, though you may want to do like we did and stop in somewhere on the way home for a 'proper drink'. 

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