Last week I had the great fortune of attending an Angela Ritchie Ace Camp, in East County Clare, Ireland. Our instructor was Béatrice Peltre. This was my first trip to Ireland. It's a beautiful, beautiful country. The landscapes, the people and feelings you get as you travel are like no other. I don't want to bore you with 900 photos, but I'd love to share a sampling of my week. I flew into Shannon, and stayed one night to shake off my jet lag. The Carrygerry guest house not too far from the airport. As I stepped out of the cab, this was my view. The answer to the question, is Ireland really green?
I noticed all the blue and yellow banner flying in front of businesses and homes. It's to celebrate the upcoming Hurling Championship game in a few weeks. Country Clare is in the match, and it's not to be missed. The Irish are crazy about Hurling.
After a warm, hearty dinner and a good sleep I was off the next morning to meet my classmates at the Caher House near Feakle. Yes, after asking several locals, it's pronounced just the way it looks. But with a nice brogue.
This grand home was my home away from home for the class. We walked, talked, and learned so much about food styling, the ins and outs of food photography and many other tidbits. If fact, we created a Sharing List, to document all the movies and odd & ends that came up in conversation, but we knew we might forget. Thirteen women have a lot of conversations!
Our first morning we walked to see the chickens and horses, and explore the property. We discovered wild blackberries which would come in handy for our food styling exercises later in the day.
Our first styling exercise was styling a cute little jar of yogurt. Sounds simple? Add the spoon and the lighting with a pretty cloth and I had my work cut out for me. Here's my final result. We made a few more trips to the grocery store to pick up more jars. They'll come in handy for other photos. The best part is they all made it home in once piece.
Bea (pronouced Bay-ah) presented demonstrations and ideas for styling desserts, cheeses, meats and cooked foods. Always natural light, and getting the food positioned just so. Not too much, just right.
It was great fun working in pairs to style our own versions of the foods. Sometimes the food and sun cooperated, sometimes the sun went behind a cloud and changed our plans. Here are some of my shots.
One afternoon just before dinner a few of us piled in a car and were taken by the grounds/animal keeper to the other side of the lake. The views were stunning. As were drove down the single land road, we came upon a herd of wild horses. They were as interested in us as we in them.
Our field trips included a trip to an organic goat cheese factory complete with goats. It's a very small facility producing great cheese.
Normally, the goats are out grazing but the day of our visit it was raining. The goats preferred to be inside so they were treated to fresh cut lush green grass.
After my week ended, I traveled back to the Carrygerry House joining my cab driver, Finbar, for an afternoon trip around County Clare. He grew up in the area and had many ideas for things I should see before I left. My first order of business was a pair of Wellies for home. We had found several guest pairs in the basement of the Caher house and wore them into the woods and out and about on rainy days. With my country life, I thought they'd come in handy here in Wisconsin too.
Finbar stopped to ask a friend where he thought would be a good spot to find Wellies. They concurred it would be Dan, Mac & Ernies. Sounded like a good spot. They told me it has lots of farming equipment and would surely have authentic Wellies. We drove into Ennis, and pulled into the farm supply store. Silly me. It wasn't Dan, Mac & Ernies. It was Dan McInerney's! I kept my phonetic spelling to myself.
We quickly found the boot section. All the styles were lined up in a row. I tried on a few pair to find my size, finding the perfect pair. I was now the proud owner of real Wellies. No, I didn't wear them out of the store, but I did put them on in my room to test them out before I packed them for the trip home!
After some gorgeous views, touring an Abbey, and seeing many ancient sites on the area, it was time for a bite. To accompany my seafood chowder, I had a hard cider. I'm including a shot of my first Guiness too. Delicious!
I'm looking forward to my next post where I'll make Seafood Chowder and Cheddar Scones for you. The recipes are on their way from the Carrygerry House Chef and his wife, Gillian who own the Inn.
Finbar drove me to the Cliffs of Moher, one of the most beautiful places I've seen. The Atlantic is all its spendor. The area is now a National Park with safety rails and a Visitors Center. Finbar showed me the spot near the edges of the cliffs where he had picnics as a child.
It's great to be home and putting my new skills to work. A special thanks to Angela Ritchie of Ace Camps, Allison our talented chef, and Beatrice Peltre for her talent and great teaching skills!