The Jillian Bolger Column

 Clíodhna Prendergast & Imen McDonnellFood & Travel Writer JILLIAN BOLGER samples Lens & Larder’s pop-up Village Life dinner at Kildare Village - Summer’s most exclusive dinner party

Garlands of trailing ivy hung above long trestle tables. Candles flickered beside bottles filled with wild flowers. Strings of fairy lights zigzagged overhead. A projection of dreamy Irish images illuminated the back wall and guests mingled drinking blush-coloured martinis. This was no ordinary dinner party, rather a media-preview of a two-night Lens & Larder pop-up dinner designed especially for Kildare Village as part on an exciting new initiative.

The creative Lens & Larder – award-winning chef, the Connemara-based Clíodhna Prendergast of and American food writer and cook Imen McDonnell of (pictured right) – were invited to create a tantalising menu of Irish produce for three truly special long-table dinners.

Before dining Justin Green of Ballyvolane House shook up delicious rhubarb martinis using his magnificent Bertha’s Revenge Irish milk gin and rhubarb syrup from Ballyvolane’s gardens. Then there were pristine oysters from Dungarvan Bay Oysters, shucked by oyster farmer extraordinaire, Jim Harty.

Lens and Larder

Once seated guests enjoyed a feast of local ingredients that included a stream of delicious starters: Plump fresh radishes with handmade pepper dillisk butter (which some guests had helped churn beforehand) and wedges of charred mackerel with tart pickled rhubarb. 

Seaweed crackers smothered with Jerusalem artichoke and apple sauce were followed by The Market Brother’s creamy bone marrow and slices of Tartine sourdough. Incredible turf-smoked Atlantic salt-baked beetroot was paired with cooling St Tola goats cheese while pretty-in-pink pickled eggs from Connolly’s were topped with a dab of creamy Irish ricotta.

The final starter, Gubbeen chorizo braised in Craigies Original Ballyhook Flyer cider was served on bread like the best kind of hot dog you’ll eat in your life.

For mains Clíodhna appeared from the kitchen to plate and serve a magnificent whole turbot, that had been landed at Howth earlier that day. Bowls of minty new potatoes and salad leaves were passed around as everyone tucked into the wonderfully rustic course.

Jillian Bolger

Supping on wine or craft cider – Craigies Dalliance 2013 – we moved onto a lovely interactive cheese course of Hegarty’s Cheddar, Cooleeney Camembert and creamy Cashel Blue, all served with Foods of Athenry crackers, Bretzel Bakery bread, honeycomb from Brookfield Farm and Connemara quince paste. Such a clever way to honour Ireland’s burgeoning cheese heritage.

To finish guests not only enjoyed Farmette’s legendary buttermilk tart with Toonsbridge ricotta and honey, but we all had the opportunity to whip up our own Irish coffees with Teeling’s Irish whiskey, a great new success story. A little guidance from food writer (and former waitress) Aoife Carrigy, ensured everyone’s cream stayed floating!

As menus go you’d be hard pressed to find another anywhere in the country offering such an abundance of excellent Irish produce. As evenings go, you’d find it harder to find a more unique or enjoyable celebration and as value goes there’s simply no hotter ticket in town.

Lens & Larder Village Life dinners run on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 June.

€45 for four courses with complimentary paired drinks including Bertha’s Revenge Small Batch Irish Milk Gin cocktail and a DIY Teeling’s Whiskey Irish coffee and free bus transfer to and from Kildare Village from Dublin city centre.

Tickets can be booked here

Dates for your diary

Saturday 25 June, 12pm: Meet the Makers butter-making workshop with Imen McDonnell of (free)
Thursday 21 July, 6pm–8pm: Victoria Sponge and Spelt Scone baking class at Le Pain Quotidien, €60 includes drinks, nibbles and treats to take home(€60)
Tuesday 2 - Sunday 5 August, 11pm–12pm, kids cookie decorating classes at Le Pain Quotidien (free)


Jillian Bolger

Jillian Bolger is an award-winning editor and journalist specialising in food and travel writing. A member of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild and former editor of Food & Wine magazine (1999-2003) she writes for The Irish Independent, Image, Food & Wine Magazine, Image Interiors and The Herald and is editor of Irish Brides magazine. She has worked with Georgina Campbell’s since 2008 and is the Dublin Editor. Jillian has won several awards for her travel writing and holds an honours degree in the Arts. Her love of travel has seen her live in Australia, Sri Lanka, the USA and Germany. She lives in Dublin with her husband and three young children. Follow her on Twitter at @JillianBolger


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