“He burns his nuts, I bake my rocks”
Donal came out about his love for Cath Kidson, Sharon admitted that she was an OCD control freak and twenty food bloggers got tips on playing with their food at Saturday’s IFBA food photography and styling workshop. From being picky at the shopping stage, getting inspiration from cookbooks (for Donal: Donna Hay, Nigel Slater, Leila Lindholm) and online (Cannelle et Vanille, What Katie Ate, Tartelette), setups, shooting and composition, there was a lot covered in a short day.
The Sharon and Donal show – there was a lot of banter! – focused on how to get the best from food shots without rendering your dinner inedible. There was no mention of glycerine, just passing comments on padding, cotton buds and large tweezers – Donal’s choice, Sharon goes with the magic stick (a wooden skewer that she uses to manoeuvre ingredients and garnishes for final flourishes) – and actually taking the photos was all about natural light.
It was an intimidating place to be if you didn’t have a big Canon, seemingly the blogger camera of choice. My wee point and shoot Nikon Coolpix – the reason for the bad quality of my food photographs, or so I’d like to think – was getting nervous as I listened to talk of camera recommendations, f-stops and manual options. But in all fairness, my problem has been more about the lack of time, space and interest in doing proper food shots. Newly inspired, this may yet change. The idea of setting up a spot in advance, by a window, complete with wooden board background, tea towel flourishes and colour coordinated props all seems a little more achievable. Maybe then I could really justify getting a decent camera, ahem.
The day ended with seventeen for dinner, along a railway sleeper banqueting table at the back of L Mulligan‘s in Stoneybatter for the official Dublin launch of the IFBA. Blogger, lawyer and one-third of L Mulligan, ‘Neen of 9 Bean Row had put together a menu which ticked all the blogger boxes. Local Irish produce intelligently cooked? Yes. Thoughtfully matched with Irish and international craft beers? Yes. The BEST chips and Hoegaarden mayo, Murphy’s legendary sea salt ice cream and the darkest chocolate rice krispy buns to finish? Yes, yes and oh yes again. Plus a knowledgeable staff who managed to walk me through an aperitif of Dry Sack sherry, a Belgian Kriek beer as a digestif and a nightcap of the smoothest Japanese whiskey (as well as a few beer matches with dinner). Would I go back? In a heartbeat. L Mulligan. Grocer. – to give it its full and correct name – would be my new local if I lived anywhere within a radius of 50 miles. As it was I had to ring the Husband halfway through the night to rave about it. They do, after all, stock Harrington’s beer, all the way from our former home of Christchurch in New Zealand.
Thanks to all at L Mulligan for looking after us so well, Kristin for her superb organisation, Rob Roberts and Stagrennan Farm apple farm for the samples, Sharon (that mini blueberry pie made a fine train snack!) and Donal for making learning so much fun – and all you IFBA members for your enthusiastic participation, ability to eat’n'tweet and some very fine appetites.
DIARY NOTE: the next IFBA event, a Milk Market Meet will take place in Limerick on Saturday 20 November. More information here.