Thursday, July 22, 2010


I was on a bus one Saturday morning on the way home from Borough Market, laden with bags of lovely stuff in preparation for the week, the highlight of which was the arrival of my parents from Australia. They eat well - had to get it from somewhere! - and my mother is a total tea fiend. A pot of tea is the solution to every eventuality. It must be quality tea that is made with all the attendant rituals of warmed pots and precise quantities and, for her, milk before tea in the cup. Which obviously matches its saucer.

In Neals Yard they sell a small selection of wondrous goods as well as their exquisite dairy, one of which is boxes of Barry tea. I confess I'd never heard of it but I was sure that if they stocked it here it would be the best. So I bought a box along with my other bits for the week and thought no more about it till we were almost to Elephant & Castle. There was another couple on the bus, sitting across from us. She caught sight of the tea in my bag and exclaimed loudly to her man 'Oh look, they've got Barry tea. I can't believe it.' Then she leant over to me 'Where did you get it? I love Barry tea and I've never been able to find it in London. It's Irish!' When I told her she rang the bell, grabbed her man and jumped off the bus to go back and buy some.

I love those that love good food to the point where they must always seek it out.

On Wednesday night, along with a couple of dozen food bloggers, I was invited by Bord Bia to the Irish Embassy where we were whisked into this delightfully elegant room. The focus of the evening was learning secrets - of food styling and photography from consumate professional Alistair Hendy in order to spread the word of just how much brilliant food is produced in Ireland.

Alistair talked in detail about styling shots and, surprising to me, shooting only in daylight.

Extra Relish took notes

while he explained tricks like angling the camera for the shot on the left to give the impression of movement. Works!

Sunshine streamed through the enormous windows - shooting with natural light started to make some kind of sense - particularly if you were sitting with Maison Cupcake and Cook Sister ...

The room was full of gorgeous Irish produce - literally piles of it.

These extraordinary cheeses I was expecting - think Irish, think soft rain and green green grass and lots of fabulous dairy. I have bought the brilliant coolea from Neals Yard which has the richness of Parmesan.

We were let loose to shoot what we liked, Simply Splendiferous applying a little of what we'd just learned.

Such an extraordinary marbling.

Ultra unfussed honeycomb.

Exquisite jelly beans - and who knew they make Turkish Delight in Ireland?

I was intrigued by some of the surrounds to the photos being created

Scraps and discards

and 'faux amis' - the pink is not a savoury but an exqusite handmade strawberry cheesecake nestling up with to the flat leaf parsley. And they say the camera never lies!

There was this to one side

after check matches check

I can confirm that these yoghurt pots are simply divine

Tis an Irish crab to be sure.


5am Foodie said...

Great post, Bron. And some lovely photos that so beautifully capture the light. It was nice to see you and to chat that evening. I too was really impressed with the quality of the produce on show. I'd had coolea once before but forgotten how much I like it. I brought some home and it's almost all gone! Must find a local supplier...

Ailbhe said...

I ALWAYS stock up with Barry's Gold Blend loose tea when back home in Dublin. The loose tea version is really hard to find here - so I know exactly how that lady felt when she spied the tea : ) Yes it was a good evening wasn't it Or I should say 'grand craic'

Pascale said...

Fab post Bron! It was a really good event wasn't it? Hope to see you again soon. Pascale

bron said...

5am Foodie - Have to say all my cheese it be gone already. Neals Yard for when you're in London do sell it...

Ailbhe Barry leaf tea is £3.95 a pack this morning at the market ;)

Cheers Pascale - really enjoyed the evening and seeing everyone. More soon I hope.

Anne said...

Looks like a great informative evening Bron, I was invited but couldn't make it, would have been nice to see you again :)

Will have to try some Barrys Tea as I do love a cuppa!

bron said...

What a shame you couldn't come Anne - be nice to catch up.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

It was a fun evening, a really well put together event. I learned a lot from Alastair's talk (to be blogged still!) and although I found shooting in the severe sunlight with no tripod extremely challenging, it was well worth taking part with the added bonus of bumping into so many FBC friends.

I chickened out photographing stuff like crabs! I was on home territory with the sweets.

bron said...

Sarah just loved your hair in the sunshine!

It was interesting to learn some of what goes into professional food photography and meet with other bloggers at the same time. Especially in such a gorgeous location.

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

It was a gorgeous location, wasn't it?? And such great company - lovely to see you again! Alastair was truly inspirational - and I wish I always had access to that table of props :) Great shots - yo urealyl made the most of the golden light (love the one of my and Sarah's hair - we should offer our services to Redken;-))

bron said...

Ah yes Jeanne I want it all - preferably catered!

Great to see you too - and I second the idea you and Sarah should be glossy haired stars. Loved the way you caught the light.

Charlie said...

I loved reading this post Bron - some great photographs too