Thursday, 28 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving - Pumpkin Pie!

We're all foodies here at Authentic Adventures, so it's only seems right to share our recipe for Pumpkin Pie on Thanksgiving Day....

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie

For the gingersnap crust:
crushed gingersnaps - 1 and a half cups
sugar - 3 tablespoons
unsalted butter
ground ginger - half a tablespoon

For the filling:
3 eggs
Brown sugar - 3/4 of a cup
ground cinnamon - half a tablespoon
ground ginger - half a tablespoon
ground cloves - quarter of a tablespoon
fresh grated nutmeg - quarter of a tablespoon
salt - half a tablespoon
canned pumpkin puree - 1 and a half cups
double cream - 1 and a half cups

In a bowl, mix the melted butter, and stir all the other ingredients together. Pat evenly into a 9" pie pan. Bake until set - approximately 5 - 10 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until blended, whisk in the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the pumpkin puree and pour into crust. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, and let it cool on the rack. Serve with whipped cream.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Tutor profile: Brian Steventon - painting tutor

Join Brian Steventon on a Painting Holiday in Havana, Puglia and France in 2014!

Manorolo, Cinque Terre

In an attempt for you to get to know our tutors a little bit better, I will be writing a profile about each of them over the course of 2014. If you're thinking about joining us on a holiday, but you'd like to know more about the background, experience and personality of your potential tutor, then look no further. There are hard facts and some light-hearted banter, but I hope it exemplifies their and our passion for the holidays we are selling and the work that they do. They are all, after all both teachers and working artists themselves - whether they specialise in painting, photography, cooking, singing or indeed walking. They are continually honing their knowledge, skill and craft in order that their guests get the very most from their holidays.

Brian is a full time artist and tutor. His work is sold through numerous UK galleries and has also be purchased by Stephen Fry's Kingdom series. He is currently the official artist at the Black Country Living Museum. An experienced tutor, it is his innovative, free-flowing and impressionistic style for capturing atmosphere and light that most appeals to his students. He combines this with a warm and friendly approach with personalised tuition and demonstrations. His is committed to inspiring and improving the work of all his students.

Brian led some very successful trips last year, with two back to back weeks in Cinque Terre which SOLD OUT! Be quick to sign up for his holidays - they are selling fast!

A few questions....

Q: What's your special skill?
A: My special skill is getting to the essence of the subject in any medium, whether it be landscape, figurative etc.

Q: Why do you love being a tutor for Authentic Adventures?
a) We get to meet such a wide section of people, whether it be students, hoteliers, restauranteurs, who are mostly passionate about what they do.
b) We get to travel to some wonderful places.
c) We get to tutor a wide range of artistic abilities, and hopefully make a difference to peoples lives.

Q: What's your top tip for future guests on an Authentic Adventures holiday?
a) Be open to trying things out
b) Look hard at the tones and shapes before you put pencil to paper
c) Simplify the composition
d) Never make two marks if one will do.

Q: Which Authentic Adventures trip are you most excited about in 2014?
A: I am excited about them all, but if I had to single out one trip, it would be Havana. It's such an unusual place, it's culture, colour and the almost timeless element that will make it a superb painting trip. It's unlikely to remain like this, so go for it now, whilst you can!

Q: What's been the best holiday you've worked on for Authentic Adventures and why?
A: I've enjoyed all the trips for Authentic Adventures, but I still have very fond memories of my first trip to Zuheros in Subbetica. The people on the trip, the Spanish locals and the thrill of selecting new venues was amazing.

Q: Holiday tales...funny anecdotes, memorable holidays - weird moments!
A: How come Italian trains were always late but on the day of the rail strike they were all on time!! How weird is that!!!

Q: Tell us something we don't already know about you...
A: As well as being a painter I have also been a potter and enameller. When I was a little younger I played league Squash, rant the London Marathon four times - I should add, not all on the same day!

Q: Have you got anything special up your sleeve for your next trip?
A: I have not yet been to any of my new venues for 2014, but I always look out for things that will make a difference to artists trips. So rest assured, I will have something up my sleeve. A jazz club sketch night in Havana would be amazing!!

Q: Where would you like to travel to next that Authentic Adventures do not currently visit?
A: A painting trip to Venice would be great, I have been there numerous times but never with Authentic Adventures. It's an amazing place for artists.

Q: Tell us about your forthcoming exhibitions, master classes or anything else you are up to.
A: I lead the Kingswinford 'All Media Art Group' and we're currently working on Christmas week I travel to Bevere Gallery to deliver some new work, and also to Bircham gallery. Early in 2014, I'll be exhibiting at the RBSA (Royal Birmingham Society of Artists) for their start and open exhibitions. I have work ready to submit to the RBA Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in the new year. Keep your fingers crossed. In 2014 I'll be running my Plein-Air painting days at David Austin Roses in June & July and at The Wodehouse in May and Harvington Hall in August. I also have a Watercolour Masterclass arranged for 12th April - to give you a taster of my work and teaching style if you want to then come on holiday with me! I'm doing a Café Scene demo for Spalding Art Society and tutoring my Wednesday group at Quatt. I am also travelling to Weoley Castle art Society to demonstrate acrylic collage and tutoring a monthly easel club. I'm a busy man!!

Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre

Vernazza, Cinque Terre - straight from Brians sketchbook

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

Monterosso al Mare, Café Scene


Domaine d'Arton - a beautiful, hidden corner of South West France - vineyards as far as the eye can see!

Domaine d'Arton

Patricks wonderful vines with crocuses in the foreground

If you travel with us to Gascony in South West France on one of our very special Cooking Holidays you will be privy to a very special treat - a visit to Domaine d'Arton, the home and vineyard of Patrick and Victoire de Montal. They are two of the most elegant and charming hosts I have ever had the pleasure of meeting - and I do not exaggerate! Whilst staying at Castelnau des Fieumarcon, the Authentic Adventures team were introduced to this wonderful place by Didier Billes, our host and local knowledge in Gers. We spent a morning exploring the estate and tasting the wines, as will you on your Cooking Holiday. It will be an experience you will take with you and remember for years. Excuse my lack of knowledge regarding wine - I am learning (slowly), and merely re-iterate the facts as recounted by Patrick!

Elegant interior of the drawing room

We weave through the hills, known as 'the Tuscany of France' and arrive at a very solid, but not ostentatious pair of iron gates, which slowly open to reveal a single track drive towards a beautiful, stone property surrounded by vivid, limey-green, healthy vines - forty hectares to be precise. It is a family run estate, planted and tended to for the past forty years by Patrick and his whole family. Every single grape grown in Domaine d'Arton goes into the bottles of wine, nothing is bought in from outside the estate. Seven different varieties of vines are grown, and blended together to create the delicious wines each year. How lucky we are, then, that Patrick supplies the wine for our guests at Castelnau des Fieumarcon, which you will taste and savour alongside the delicious food you will cook with Anneli Faiers. The wines will be carefully matched by Didier Billes, himself a knowledge on wines of the region, and he will provide a good and basic guide to Armagnac (white also) which is famous in this part of France.

Wine tasting (Patrick centre)

Armagnac - famous in this region of France, and made predominantly from the Ugni Blanc grape variety (because of its high acidity), in 400 litre oak casks at low temperatures. It creates a kind of 'eau de vie' and was first produced in 1310 - one of the oldest in the world. We sit, and chat to Patrick and enjoy his quiet, yet confident manner, supremely elegant, when suddenly two gun-shots ring out, "C'est la chasse," explains Patrick, "Hunting." He continues - "seven varieties of grape are grown here - merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, colombard, sauvignon, petit monsant, gros montsant. Three grapes are used in producing red wine, and the remaining four for white." He is clearly passionate about his product, and we taste every single one, accompanied by delicious morsels of local food that are perfectly matched. For example, Patrick explains his white wines are perfect when drunk with fois gras, and surprisingly, Indian food! The sweet wines should be eaten with game. I feel priviledged to listen to his ideas regarding food and wine - I must remember to drink fine wines with fois gras at home (if only).

Wild croci carpet the lawns surrounding Domaine d'Arton

After much enjoyment and replete from wine, cheese, pate, fois gras.....we slowly walk around the estate in the morning sunshine. Victoire smiles - she is well versed at playing hostess - and leads us through her garden carpeted with tiny, violet crocuses left to grow wild. From a vantage point, we look down upon the vines that snake away in neat rows into the distance, each vine and grape carefully tended to. Vinotopia is a true art, a religion almost, every waking hour spent nurturing these precious vines.

John Brough tasting the product!

Wine with accompanying nibbles


The only way meet Patrick and enjoy his delicious wines is to join us on a Cooking Holiday at Castelnau des Fieumarcon! We still have places left on our convenient short breaks (three and four nights) in May and October. Order your brochure, email our office to express your interest, or give us a ring for an informal chat - we are so excited and passionate about our 'culinary experience' holidays. Places like this are what make Authentic Adventure holidays different from the rest - something special that you would never find on your own.

For more information about where you will stay and what you will learn on your holiday, go a little further back in this blog and delight at the interior shots of Castelnau.