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Last Sunday, we joined the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail in Cork and soon we saw why this now annual event has enjoyed such remarkable success, the events sold out (and with long waiting lists) in both Cork and Dublin. First you have the wine, the Campo Viejo 2008 Reserva, also specially commissioned art in each venue, then you have the excellent food at the restaurants and invariably good company and a guide, like our Paul, who pulls it all together with good grace and good humour.
Sunday’s “gang” (there is also a Wednesday trail) joined up at the remarkable Arthur Maynes Wine Bar in the city and the ice was broken with a welcome glass of cava by Campo Viejo. Paul introduced himself and soon each of us had a glass of the Reserva in hand.
Then came the tapas, a selection of three: bruschettas and dips, a lovely chorizo stew and a very popular dish of rustic patatas. This set the pattern for our first three visits; the fourth would be for dessert. There are four groups on the trail, each starting and finishing at a different restaurant. Had we finished at Arthur Maynes, we would have been been treated to Lemon Posset and Fresh Strawberries.
Great platter at Oysters
There were a few on- street stops as well, not for food but for a little local history from our guide. Perhaps his most interesting story was that of Cork born Dr James Miranda Barry. She was born Margaret Ann Bulkley, at the end of the 18th century, before going on to have a remarkable career as a male doctor with the British army. An amazing story. Check the Wikipedia version here.
A big welcome awaited us at Oysters and a classy platter of Savoury Tapas. Loved those pickled fennel and carrot but perhaps the highlights were the Sea Trout (with dill mayonnaise), the spicy Crab, and the American Style Meatloaf. Another group would enjoy their dessert menu: Cafe Gourmand and three miniatures of Chocolate Fondant, Champagne Sorbet and "Flambe" Pineapple.
Paul then illustrated the rise and rise of street art, reminding us that the original artists were fined for their efforts and now they are being paid. How times change. Soon we were in Electric and their three tapas were Tre Arancini Formaggi, Panko Crab Cakes and Moroccan Lamb Meatballs.
Arthur Maynes (left) and Electric
Paul had some vocal competition in Cornmarket Street but got his story told and then there was a musical welcome (by Treble Clef) at the Cornstore where Mags O’Connor greeted us and showed us to our seats and our deserts of Chocolate Negusse, Lemon Roulade and Vanilla & White Chocolate Cheesecake. Had we started here, we would have enjoyed Vietnamese Beef Brochette, Wild Mushroom Risotto Beignet, Smoked Mackerel Feuillett.
The wine throughout was the Campo Viejo Reserva, mainly Tempranillo but with some Graciano and Mazuelo in the blend. Smooth and fruity and with a long finish, and also very versatile as we discovered at the various venues on Sunday, it is widely available in all the major supermarkets, O’Brien’s (where it is currently on offer) and off licences nationwide. RRP is €14.31.
The art on this year’s trail is by renowned illustrator Steve Simpson. His stunning piece, evocative of the sun and the colours of Spain, is in four quadrants and each restaurant had one quadrant and the titles were Musica, Hola, Fiesta and Tapas. See the full art story and read more about the Tapas trails here.
cool spot in the hot city centre a few days ago and enjoyed a tasty lunch
there. This longish narrow outdoor area is at the back of the Arthur Mayne’s
Pharmacy, the relatively new wine-bar in Pembroke Street.
a chemist, though many interesting artefacts remain on view. Indeed, you might well
think you are making a visit to the chemist when you see things such as Senna Leaves, Brylcream
and Wrights Coal Tar Soap on display. These and much more were found during the
renovation and, luckily, not thrown away! Indeed, the ladies can check out some
old style lipsticks.
Had been there a few weeks earlier on the Tapas Trail and noticed
quite an extensive menu. On this follow-up visit, I was there for lunch. And
was glad to get a seat in this outdoor oasis where the concrete is softened by the
addition of some greenery overhead.
Had a look at the menu, set up by head chef Darren Connolly, and decided to start with the Mushroom Soup. Got a big bowl of it, an excellent
soup and the brown soda bread was also spot-on.
rarely pass up a chance of trying the local spiced beef and didn’t miss out on
their “stack”: a Sandwich Stack to be precise, packed with the spiced beef, with
caramelised onions, cucumber pickle, mixed leaves, seasoned tomatoes, and served
with a seasoned mustard aioli.
I was well
fed and so too was CL. She had also enjoyed the soup and her mains was a very tasty
Asian Infused Chicken salad (with chicken, bean sprouts, noodles, onions and
peppers with a sesame, chilli and honey dressing).
off with some of that excellent coffee from Maher’s. Oh by the way, I did have
to try something from the long wine list. There is quite a choice of wines available and a
prescription (yes, I kid you not) will allow you sample from the 24 kept fresh
on their state-of-the-art enomatic system.
Didn’t go for the prescription but did order a glass
of their Obra Prima Reserva, a smooth strong Merlot from Mendoza. Took my time
with that as I enjoyed my lunch break in the sun. Cheers, Arthur!