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Welcome to Connoisseur Corner - Luxe Consulting and Executive Services

Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…

Marty can be contacted at: 916.952.9529 Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

2/5/17

2018 Lexus LS – Flagship Sedan Redux



Lexus vehicles have long been perceived as luxurious and reliable, but possessing high degrees of solemnity in driving behavior and design. 

Zzzzzz…

In recent years, the Lexus folks have been working to rid the public of this perception, first with the rather ghastly “spindle grille”, and now the infusion of sportiness in driving dynamics and overall design.  You see it showing up in their RC-F coupe or GS-F sedan, not to mention the upcoming LC uber-coupe.  Now it’s time for a total redux of the stately LS sedan, and fortunately the designers and engineers at Lexus managed to go in the (mostly) right direction. 
Debuting at this year’s NAIAS in Detroit, the LS now presents itself with a lower, sportier and almost aggressive stance, which should imbue the car with substantially more road presence, lacking in previous generations.  Even the interior has been well thought-out, as the design queues now show some cohesiveness and direction compared with recent Lexus cockpits.  Judges at the Detroit show were impressed as well, bestowing the EyesOn Design Award for Interior Design Excellence…!

A quick scan of the tech bits reveal a 200 lb. diet in overall vehicle weight, a 415 horsepower turbo V6 and a 10-speed transmission.  The interior sports 28-way power front thrones with the requisite massage capability, all the better to relax while scanning the 12.3” infotainment screen.  Tech and safety features will be comparable to other entrants in the luxury yacht class.

Due in showrooms this fall, pricing has not been officially announced.  Of course you can expect a premium over the current generations $72,520.00 starting price. 

A step in the right direction, the new LS should add some needed excitement to the lineup.  That Lexus automotive solemnity may yet ebb into the past. A job well-done...

Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

1/31/17

Wagons are Cool Again…!



Probably not, but…
There does seem to be a sudden renaissance-in-miniature of the full-size luxury 5-door.  I’m not talking SUVs here, let-alone crossovers.  These are honest-to-goodness wagons. 

Why am I preaching about hitching up to a wagon?  Logic points out that they are as equally utilitarian as the SUV crowd, unless of course you plan on going off-road on a regular basis.  Then add on the better gas mileage, superior vehicle handling and dynamics, and you have a great argument for taking a serious look at these buggies. 
Just exactly what buggies, er…  wagons, do I like?  Let’s take a look…



The Rock  -  “Solid as a…” one might say.  Something that Mercedes-Benz cars have been known for over the years.  There is also a long tradition of wagons, and the 2017 E400 Wagon carries forward in grand fashion.  Would you believe nearly half the E-Class cars sold in Germany are wagons!  The stateside version gets a 3.0L V6 engine with 329 horsepower, the excellent E-Class interior, and is bestowed with all of the high-tech insanity that has become Mercedes’ calling card. 

The Beauty  -  If you have any appreciation for design whatsoever, the Volvo V90 will catch your eye and not let go.  Volvo wagons have had a bit of a cult following for decades, and that cult is likely to grow with the new V90 coming to market.  The beauty in this case resides on the outside as well as the interior.  And you get some nice mechanicals as well, with the supercharged and turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder churning out 316 horsepower, available all-wheel drive and Volvo’s famous safety features.  A winning combination!



The Athelete  -  BMW is never one to be left out of a vehicle segment, and the luxury wagon world has their latest entry with the 5-Series Touring.  The latest 5-Series sedan is proving to be a real runner, and the wagon will share those nimble moves, all the while providing that extra utility.  Although not yet officially announced (the possibility is high we won't get these stateside), we hope to see the 530 wagon with the 4-cylinder motor, as well as the 540 with the V6.  What we will definitely get is a dynamic performer when called upon, as well as the highly improved 5-Series interior. 
Take your pick!  You won’t be disappointed with any of them…

“Wagons, ho..!”




Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

1/11/17

The Hot TVs from CES 2017



Whiter whites…  blacker blacks…

I’m not talking laundry detergent here.  The television and related technology is the topic du jour.

CES in Vegas is always chock-full of the latest and greatest releases from virtually all of the television manufacturers, each one trying to outdo the other.  Absolute heaven for the videophile tech geeks out there.  OLED and HDR were the central buzzwords this year.
I hate acronyms...!

Some quick acronym background...
OLED – Organic Light-Emitting Diode.  This is the latest and greatest way to produce light, and therefore digital displays, otherwise known as your TV screen.  You can geek out at the wiki here.

HDR – High Dynamic Range.  This bit of tech allows for substantially improved contrast ratio and color accuracy, thus improving the video image.  Details here.

Enough of that!  Now that you are on the edge of your seats, wondering what the best television introductions were in Sin City, I shall rid you of your angst and make you wait no longer…
Here are my faves…

Sony XBR-A1E OLED  -  Quite the name, but I know you have it committed to memory.  This gem will be available in 55, 65, or 77-inch sizes and displays Ultra HD and HDR in spectacular fashion.  The set is incredibly thin with a nearly non-existent frame, for that “floating image” experience.
Samsung QLED 4K  -  This one is not OLED tech, but a pumped up LED screen technology to get you pretty darn close to the OLED image.  Sized at 55, 65 and 88-inches, the Samsung televisions do indeed provide an impressive image close to the OLED experience.  Pricing will likely be a bit lower as well.

LG W7P OLED “Wallpaper”  -  This was the winner of the cool television sweepstakes at this year’s CES.  The TV is so thin that it literally hangs on the wall with magnets.  Yes, magnets...!  What is “thin” you ask..?  How does 0.15 inch sound..?  Amazing!  It is so thin that it will not work on a stand, but requires a wall for hanging.  In a slick bit of engineering, the electronics were moved to a separate soundbar, allowing for the skinny screen.  Available screen sizes are 65 and 77-inches, and pricing will be in the $8,000.00 range.  This television wins the wow-factor hands down...!
Until next year’s CES, happy viewing…!

Cheers!

Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

1/10/17

Wine Time – Chateau Boswell Elegance


Elegance…  Merriam-Webster might define the word as “refined gracefulness” or “dignified beauty of style”…

After spending time tasting through the lineup at Chateau Boswell, elegance was the word.


Tucked away off the northern end of the Silverado Trail in the Napa Valley, Chateau Boswell has been producing elegant wines for many a year.  Founded in 1979 by the late R.T. Boswell, noted Winemaker André Tchelistcheff took the reins as initial Winemaker and guided the Chateau down its current path.  Current Winemaker and grape guru Phillipe Melka continues the tradition, at the helm since November of 2015.  Current production hovers around the 5,000 cases/year mark.
Grapes from the estate as well as carefully selected regional sources form the backbone of current production, which concentrates on Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals.  All of the wines are terrior focused, deftly displaying the characteristics from whence they came.  Finely structured Pinot Noirs from the Sonoma Coast and Sta. Rita Hills, single-vineyard Chardonnays from the Rued and Ritchie vineyards among others.  Of note, the Pinots and one of the Chardonnays are labeled under the moniker “Absolutely Eloise”.

Who…?
Look no further than family for the answer.  Proprietress Susan Boswell emphasizes family, with granddaughter Eloise lending her name for these labels.


As for the Cabernets, bottlings from Oakville, Napa, and the renowned Beckstoffer To Kalon vineyard are all standouts.  Of course, I save the best for last when I mention the Estate Cabernet, which happens to be my favorite bottling of the lineup…!
Are you ready to taste these gems…?

As Chateau Boswell is a Private Estate, all visits are by appointment only.  I recommend a maximum of 6 persons to maintain the intimate feel of the experience.  With Director of Estate Operation Cameron James as your guide, the tasting will typically begin in the entry to the wine cave, referred to as the “dome room”.  Chardonnays and Pinots will be the starters here, with a stroll through the caves and tastings of the big reds capping the visit.  The overall experience is casual and relaxed, yet reflects the “refined gracefulness” of the wines themselves.
Elegance personified…

Cheers…!

Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

12/26/16

Magico S3 MK II – Magic for The Ears!


California-based speaker manufacturer Magico continues the overhaul of their S Series line of speakers with the introduction of the S3 MK II. 

Company founder and seeker of sonic perfection Alon Wolf is bent on continual advancements and improvements to the Magico lineup, and the S3 is the latest model to undergo a major redux.  The original S1 and S5 models have recently achieved MK II status, and the MK II version of the S3 rounds out the S Series lineup. 

Exactly how has the S3 earned the MK II grade?  After all, the original S3 was pretty darn good…

At quick glance, the updated speaker could almost be considered brand new.  While fairly similar in outward appearance, literally every facet of the speakers has been tweaked.  Let’s start at the top and work our way down…

The 1-inch diamond-coated beryllium-diaphragm tweeter has a new aluminum housing, along with improvements in the voice coil and other tweaks, providing lower distortion and resonance, and optimizing dispersion, power handling and blending with the other drivers.

One step down the frequency ladder is the 6-inch midrange driver which Magico reports as being 20% lighter and 300% more rigid than the previous S Series midrange.  You can thank a new cone material using Multi-layer carbon fiber and XG Nanographene.  This is high-tech stuff…!

The final rung of the frequency ladder is held down by a pair of 9-inch bass drivers using the same cone materials and manufacturing techniques as the 6-inch midrange.  These speakers have a full ½ inch of linear excursion courtesy of a pure titanium voice coil in the magnet structure. 

Nice…!

The speaker enclosure itself is formed from what Magico describes as “a single piece of extruded aluminum that is 3/8-inch thick and 12-inches in diameter.  The top plate is convex for sonic benefits, and the base plate has 4 outriggers to increase stability.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the crossover electronics, as they have been massaged to coincide with the driver and cabinet improvements.  Components from the crossover system come from highly-regarded Mundorf in Germany and use Magico’s Elliptical Symmetry Crossover design.

The end result is one nice pair of updated speakers.  The cabinets stand 48” tall and weigh in at 170 lbs. per.  Don’t move them alone!  Frequency response is rated at 24Hz-50 kHz with a 4-ohm impedance. 

Pricing is set at $28,000 for the standard M-Cast finish, with painted finishes a bit more.  The S3 MK II will be shipping to dealers in January.

12/23/16

The World’s Most Expensive Pizza Lives in NY



New Yorkers have a reputation for doing everything big.  Pushing the limits, raising the bar, yada-yada…
It turns out that pizza is apparently included in this mindset. 

Let’s head to New York’s South Street Seaport, just down from the Brooklyn Bridge, and stop in at the bustling and stylish restaurant Industry Kitchen.  Inspired by the wealthy folks buzzing about the nearby Financial District, Executive Chef Braulio Bunay has created what he terms “the epitome of decadence”, in the form of a pizza pie named the “24K”.
We all love pizza, right…?

And now for the toppings…  France supplies the Foie gras and truffles, England sends over the stilton cheese, gold leaf glitter (I’m not joking) comes from Ecuador and the ubiquitous Ossetra caviar (Caspian Sea) tops of this ultimate indulgence. 
You will have to plan your hunger carefully, as this big-buck pie requires a 48-hour advanced order.  And don’t forget to bring your platinum card.  The fee for this hedonistic delight?

$2,000.00
Cheers…




Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

12/20/16

Stolen Fruit – Mixers for the Cocktail Connoisseur







Let’s chat today about a little bit of magic known as “verjus”.  You know…  that grape juice stuff...!
Well, let me be more enlightening…

Derived from the French term vert jus (green juice), verjus is a grape juice processed from green grapes before they ripen or ferment.  The sour juice is high in acidity and low in sugars, and can easily be combined with herbs and spices.  Over time it has been added to various sauces, condiments or salad dressings, but its use is not as prevalent as once was.
Now let’s wander off into the land of mixology, and talk about craft cocktails. 

The creative minds at Stolen Fruit, residing in Healdsburg, California, bring us an update on the use of verjus with a quintet of cocktail mixers that will take your adult beverages to another level.  Not only will your palate be impressed, but the taste buds of your friends, family, and any local glitterati will swoon as well…!
The current lineup consists of Jasmine Juniper Viognier, Lemongrass Ginger Sauvignon Blanc, Blood Orange Muscat, Hibiscus Grenache and lastly the ever-popular Fig Grains of Paradise Zin.  The Stolen Fruit website provides recipes for cocktails, mocktails and food pairings that are sure to inspire.

Does a Jasmine and Juniper Martini float your boat?  How ‘bout a Hibiscus Margarita?
Priced at $18.00 for a 16-oz. bottle, these mixers are the perfect addition to your mixology toolkit, guaranteed to remove you from the cocktail doldrums…

Cheers!


Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

12/17/16

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe – Just Right..!



Mercedes Benz has debuted their newest 2-door, the middle sibling of their 3-size coupe family.  Based on the E-Class midsize sedan, the E-class coupe shows tremendous promise...!

So, what about this “coupe family”?

The baby Benz coupe, the C-Class, is a nice car, but lacks the exterior gravitas and design quality to have it exceed in the road presence category.  The interior is excellent, but once you step outside the car…
Nice, but…

The largest and utterly top-shelf S-Class coupe is sharp, but is also a large car by coupe standards and may frankly be overwhelming to some drivers.
I’m thinking the E-Class Coupe will be…  you guessed it…  “just right”…!

Slightly larger than the previous generation car, the exterior of the new E-Coupe is pretty darn sexy for a Mercedes product.  Current Benz Design Chief Gorden Wagener and his team can be applauded for that.  The interior carries over from the E-Class sedan, which is all good.  This is a nicely conceived driving environment and has a bit more room for all occupants than the previous generation car, even those relegated to the chairs in back.  Design, ergonomics and fit-and-finish set the bar high.
So, the aesthetics are good, but…

Fortunately, there really is no “but” here, as the E coupe has all the tech goodies as expected.  Safety, autonomous driving, and infotainment features can be tailored as desired.  Chassis and suspension bits are well sorted out, providing the proper Mercedes-Benz roadgoing experience. 
The initial powerplant available in the States will be a 3.0 liter biturbo V6 with 329 ponies and the 9G-Tronic transmission handles the shifting duties in both 2 and 4-wheel drive versions.  You can expect a 4-cylinder model sometime soon, along with an AMG version boasting substantially more power and performance.

This 2018 model will arrive in a showroom near you mid-summer. 

Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com




12/10/16

Botanical Mixology – Toque’s Ultimate Gift Case



The folks at Spain’s Toque (“Touch”) have put together what surely is the preeminent collection of botanicals for the mixologist crowd.
Botanicals…?

noun  a substance obtained from a plant and used as an additive, especially in gin or cosmetics”
Ah yes, let’s add some (plant) life to your cocktails…!  Enter the Mixology Case!

Under the auspices of renowned mixologist Pepe Orts, Toque has put together a kit of 12 handpicked botanicals, a deck of cards with information and recipes, and the necessary tools to get you from Point A to Point B, otherwise known as cocktail Nirvana…!
What exactly might those dozen prized botanicals be?  Let’s take a look…

·         Juniper Berries
·         Cardamom
·         Mace
·         Star Anise
·         Kumquat Peel
·         Mallow Flower
·         Persian Roses
·         Hibiscus Flower
·         Cassia Cinnamon
·         Jamaica Pepper
·         Cocoa Beans
·         Elephant Coffee Beans

Intrigued?  This is an impressive and creative collection of ingredients.  A truly unique way to “get your drink on!”  The case is available directly from the Toque Store priced at 105,00 €.
Cheers…!




Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

12/3/16

Leftover Turkey? Roasted Poblano Cream Soup with Turkey, of Course…




Turkey casserole…?         Nah…

Turkey pot pie…?             Nah…
What to do, what to do…

Likely a universal truth in these United States at this time of year, we have leftover turkey.  My goal this year was to take those leftovers to a slightly different place.  I wanted to stay away from the usual suspects.  How about something with origins from south of the border? 
Roasted Poblano Cream Soup with Turkey and Potatoes

A big shout out goes to one of my favorites, chef Rick Bayless, for the inspiration on this one…  His book, More Mexican Everyday has a section on converting a roasted poblano rajas into soup.  For some twisted turkey reason, I decided this would be a good marriage.  Read on for my take on this rich and earthy soup…
For the rajas:

·         8 poblano chiles
·         2 white onions, sliced
·         4 garlic cloves
·         1 tsp Mexican oregano
·         Olive oil
Roast the poblanos under the broiler, turning as skin chars.  Remove and steam in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel for 20+ minutes.  Remove skins, stems and seeds and rough chop.  Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.   Add onions and cook 7 – 10 minutes, stirring often.  When nicely browned, add chopped chiles, oregano and chopped garlic.  Stir for 1 -2 minutes and remove from heat.
(the rajas alone is commonly used to top tacos, and it is killer...!)

For the soup:

·         ½ cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
·         6 cups stock, preferably homemade turkey (chicken works fine)
·         2-3 cups shredded “leftover” turkey
·         3 – 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
·         ¾ cup heavy cream
·         Salt and pepper to taste
·         Goat cheese and cilantro for garnish
For the corn, add it to the rajas along with the chiles, to heat the kernels through.  Add rajas and corn mixture to a blender along with a cup or two of stock and blend until smooth.  Add to your favorite soup pot along with the remaining stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the turkey and potatoes and cook until potatoes are fork tender.  Stir in heavy cream and season to taste.  Serve topped with a garnish of chopped cilantro and goat cheese.

Cheers…!



Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com