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The Ha’penny Bridge is lit up, and from behind us the sounds of chatter and the lights of the new Dublin Woollen Mills restaurant illuminates our little group as we meet for the first time beside the statue of the gossiping women with the shopping bags on the north bank of the Liffey.
We were about to take the Tapas Trail Dublin. I had heard of it before, and there are other iterations of it in other European cities, but I suppose I had thought it would purely be a tourist pursuit. However when Paul and Laura asked us to come along to one, we thought it would be fun.
We ended up as a group of ten; an aunt who was whisked along by her niece, two work colleagues from a tour company, a young woman there to satisfy her curiosity and our guide Richard and me and my wife Deirdre.
We headed over the bridge, and up through Temple Bar where Richard pointed out some of the interesting buildings and made our way to the Port house Pinxto. We all got into a long table and were soon eating a selection of Tapas platters. Pa amb Tomaquet got us started, and was followed by calamari rings with a garlic aioli dip, tortilla Espanola, Meatballs made and appearance and the staff took care of us, while the conversation fairly galloped along, reminiscences of tapas eaten in Spain interspersed with some getting to know you bits. Wine is included, so a choice or red or white fuelled the mood, and in no time we were getting ready to leave, and head on to your next stop.
A short stroll through temple Bar brought us to one of my favourite places, Caffe Italiano. Ok, so it’s not strictly tapas, but hey, we’re not in Barcelona, so who cares. Caffe Italiano is one of Dublin’s finest authentic Italian restaurants, and serves some of the best pasta and antipasto in the city. In Italy their version of tapas are called ciccihetti, and so once shown upstairs we were fairly bowled over.
Once again we were at a long table, but random seating saw us with new neighbours and more chatter, and we ate Italian Parma ham, little Caprese spears with fresh basil tomato and buffalo mozzarella, delicious chilli infused prawns, freshly baked breads . Italian wines here of course and a choice or red or white as before, but the Italian exuberance obviously got the better of our waiter, as he was more that generous on refills, so by the time we left we were a little bit tipsy, as well as very happy with our new friends and our sense of the convivial.
Our last stop brought us back up to the South William Street area, where we finished the evening in Zaragoza. We were fairly full by this time, but another delicious array of dishes, with more wine saw us all find our second tummies, where we had room for crispy duck in filo pastry with almonds and cranberry chutney, patatas bravas, a mini pork burger and perfect little crema Catalana.
We had a ball; Tapas Trail Dublin is a great night out. Sure you could get your own group together, orjust rock up with a friend, and meet some cool like-minded people and have a blast. Loved it!
For more information on the tapas Trail, check out www.tapastrail.com