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The Lens & Larder maiden voyage was a great success and I’m happy to report that I am already plotting and planning another retreat for Spring 2015…stay tuned for more details. It was positively wonderful to work with my partners, my dear friend, former chef, and fellow food enthusiast, Cliodhna Prendergast of Breaking Eggs, and her husband, Patrick O’Flaherty, the ebullient and charming general manager of Ballynahinch Castle. Thank you for giving so much of yourselves and the idyllic and raw setting of your home in Connemara, and for offering so much at such a fair tariff. Your latest Condé Nast Traveler accolade could not be more deserved.

We were also privileged to share several very generous gifts from friends: Helen James, Makers & Brothers, Jameson Select Reserve Irish Whiskey, Hen and Hammock, Feast Journal, 31 Chapel Lane, Superfolk, The Tweed Project, and Connemara Marble. A massive thank you to each and every one of you for your support, our students were absolutely thrilled with their magnificent bag of treats.

We were exceptionally fortunate to have special contributions from modern medicine girl, Claire Davey of America Village Apothecary, stylist, Triona Lillis  who kept us fed at the schoolhouse and even provided extra pretty props from her vintage store, and The Ashe family who graciously gave us the run of their schoolhouse on Inishlacken Island. Gosh, we were certainly a lucky, lucky bunch, thank you all. (or, as Beth would say, thanks y’all!)

Our instructors, Beth Kirby and Susan Spungen were incredibly liberal with their teachings which all felt very natural and informal over the two days that we spent making, styling, and shooting together. Everyone seemed to take away something a little different, which is a positive in my view. I feel honoured to have had the chance to work with these two exemplary women in food. Thanks so much again ladies!

Above all, I’d like to extend extraordinary gratitude to the fantastic creatives who took the plunge and came along on this first Lens & Larder retreat. The group was just a savage bunch; I couldn’t have curated a lovelier mosaic of bloggers, photographers, stylists, chefs, bakers, and food crusaders who gathered together from very different backgrounds, levels of experience, and parts of the world. I loved meeting and sharing the experience with each and every one of you and your inspiring, individual, kindred spirits. I’m so grateful that you came along.

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Lily Ramirez-Foran

Skye McAlpine

Claire Ptak

Kristin Perers

Nessa Robins

Anthony O’Toole

Hung Quach

Susan Bell

Mairead Jacob

Brittany Darrah

Niamh Browne

Jette Virdi

Shannon Butler Keane

Hannah Fullenkemper

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I’ll be back with some autumn recipes and a turkey update soon!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Images by Imen McDonnell 2014, Mushroom foraging with brush photo by Skye McAlpine. 

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7 Responses to “Scenes from Lens & Larder”

  1. […] are absolutely thrilled to announce that registration is now open for our next Lens & Larder retreat. For this workshop, we are offering the rare opportunity to study with acclaimed […]

  2. Bernie Herlihy says:

    Hi Imen,

    I’ve been a fan of your blog from pretty much day one, really love the photography and stories about your new Irish life. I would love to book myself in to the Spring 2015 Lens & Larder trip, if it’s still going ahead, so just wondered whether you had any dates in the diary yet or any more details to share.

    Regards
    Bernie

  3. Kathie Ferko says:

    Hello,

    Just discovered your great blog! Always wanted to visit Ireland. You are so lucky living your dream. All the recipes sound yummy…I need to start cooking!

    Kathie from Limerick, Pa, USA

  4. Ahh, such a beautiful post, Imen. I hope I get to meet you one day and learn.

  5. Kimberly says:

    That was so lovely! Thanks for sharing the fun.

  6. Hannelore says:

    First off I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick
    question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to
    writing. I have had a tough time clearing my mind
    in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing but
    it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend
    to be lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips?
    Many thanks!

  7. Sally-Anne says:

    Absolutely beautiful account of what only looks and sounds like a fabulous few days. I have to admit I was incredibly jealous of all the photos streaming through my instagram!Ballynahinch looked stunning and it was so obvious that yourself and Clionadh had worked so hard to make it perfect! Congratulations! X

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