One of the best value events to hit Dublin in recent years has been the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail. I attended the very first trail in 2011, which turned out to be both great fun and educational. Since then, the event has continued to prove popular, and this year it has expanded to include the fine city of Cork.
Last Sunday I re-joined the Tapas Trail, starting with a reception in basement wine bar Bagots Hutton. This little corker of a venue is the continuation of a business which was started in 1829 and ran for 150 years before closing down in the 1980s. Owners Giovanni & Brian have bought the name back to life, including the excavation of underground tunnels which originally linked Bagots Hutton to the George's Street Arcade. Lit only by candlelight, these secret tunnels are surprisingly cosy. We rolled out of Bagots Hutton, fueled by an impressive spread of tapas and several glasses of Campo Viejo Reserva and Cava.
|Inside Bagots Hutton|
|Tapas at Bagots Hutton|
From South William Street, we walked to the Market Bar on Fade Street, although I would have much preferred to take the more historic subterranean route from Bagots Hutton. Here, we were plied with more Campo Viejo Reserva (are you seeing a theme yet?) along with portions of chicken and chorizo skewers, patatas bravas and finally a tasty rocket, feta and chorizo salad.
|Chorizo and feta salad at the Market Bar|
|At the Market Bar|
We left the Market Bar through a rear entrance which bought us out into the middle of George's Street Market Arcade, showing yet another example of the hidden Dublin. Outside on the pavement, our guide detailed the history of the Arcade, which opened in 1881 in the middle of a furore around the lack of involvement of native Dubliners in the project. The market burned down in 1892, but this time, the rebuilding project was far more inclusive.
|Outside George's Street Market Arcade|
|Tortilla tapas at Havana|
We continued on to Havana tapas bar on George's Street where we were treated to yet another three tapas and some impressive Spanish from a San Sebastian native. Our insight into the historic Dublin continued as we learned that Havana is situated on the former sight of the Pims department store. For some insane reason, this gracious building which featured tall display windows was demolished in the 1970s to make way for the current hideous concrete office building. We stopped briefly outside St Andrew's Church to get some gossip on the romantic life of Dean Johnathan Swift, before heading to our final stop at Salamanca. Here, we received another warm welcome along with a tasty crema catalana and several more glasses of Campo Viejo.
Having twice been on the trail, I really do think that the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail offers great value for money. With tapas, wine and an entertaining look at Dublin's history available for just €20 per ticket , it's a fun few hours around our great capital. I must get myself to the Cork version next year to see how the magic translates to my home city. To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/campoviejoireland or www.campoviejotapastrail.ie.
Disclosure: I was given a complimentary pair of tickets to the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail. All thoughts are my own.