Audio/Video

Audiophile Sound Systems, Home Theater, Computer Audio - Purchasing and Upgrades.

Automotive

Purchasing, Storage, Detailing, Aftermarket.

Wine and Spirits

Wine Tastings and Tours, Cellaring, Collecting, Purchases.

Travel and Leisure

Resorts, Hotels, Restaurants, Destinations.

Kitchen, Cooking and Food

Design, Appliances, Knives, Entertaining.

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

8/28/08

Amangani - Luxury Ski Getaway


With summer winding down, you might be getting ready to plan that next ski vacation. A chance to glide down some fresh powder in a magnificent setting and enjoy a little evening apr├Ęs ski.

Jackson Hole, a valley located amid the Teton Range of mountains just north of Jackson, Wyoming, is home to some magnificent skiing. And where there’s skiing, there would be the requisite ski resorts. One such standout resort would happen to be today’s subject…

A member of the luxurious Aman Resorts chain (one of our favorites), the Amangani property was designed to embrace its impressive natural surroundings, yet provide all the amenities you might desire. Architectural beauty, stunning vistas, top-shelf service, and lavish accommodations – Amangani has it all.

The property consists of 29 luxurious suites as well as several larger deluxe suites. A number of separate villas are also available for rent. The Grill restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a lounge and bar is available for relaxing with lighter fare. Other amenities include a library, gym, heated quartzite-tiled pool and whirlpool, and several gathering rooms.

Access is easy, as Amangani is a quick 20 minute drive from Jackson Hole airport. The city of Jackson is just a few miles to the south and the National Parks of Yellowstone and Grand Teton are short drives to the north. The skiing is based out of Teton Village (what most refer to as Jackson Hole) where you have access to Amangani’s private ski lounge. Even the summer months provide a plethora of activities including fly-fishing, horseback riding, hot-air balloon rides, rafting and kayaking, golf, tennis, mountain biking – the list goes on…

The snow will be falling soon, so wax the skis and make your reservations – Amangani is calling..! Connoisseur recommended!

8/26/08

A Carat For Your iPhone


So you’ve got that new Apple 3G iPhone, carrying it around, showing it off…

We’ve all seen it...

Then all of a sudden, unfortunately you are no longer the king of the hill… That is, unless you have one of only 50 of these made-to-order phones. Swiss jeweler Knalihs Athem is adding a little something to your run-of-the-mill iPhone: 4.5ct worth of 400 brilliant cut diamonds, to be exact.

With such a small amount of these slated for worldwide production, odds are you will never see another one other than your own. I think that is what they call exclusivity!

How much? Let’s say it falls in the “if you have to ask…” category.

And if you don’t care for all things Apple, you are in luck..! 20 Nokia 8800 Arte models are slated for production as well.

Is that your cell phone ringing..?

8/25/08

KBB Does Automotive Design

How much is my used car worth? To find out, the majority of us run to the Kelly Blue Book, famed for car value research in the used vehicle market. But you might not have known that the folks at KBB also conduct research into aspects of the auto industry other than price.

One of those subjects is design, or more succinctly, the public’s perception of design by brand. Kelly Blue Book Marketing Research releases a quarterly Brand Watch report on the subject of design and compiles the year long results into its Brand Image Awards, which are released each year at the New York International Auto Show in April.

The design awards are divided into two categories: Best Exterior Design and Best Interior Design, and each category is separated into several segments, a few of which we will note here.

The current front-runners are as follows:

Best Exterior Design

· Luxury Sedan/Coupe/Hatchback: BMW
· Luxury SUV: Lexus
· Sports Car/Convertible: Porsche

Best Interior Design

· Luxury Sedan/Coupe/Hatchback: Lexus
· Luxury SUV: Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz (tie)
· Sports Car/Convertible: Audi

Do you agree or disagree? Stay tuned for the final results this coming April in New York.

8/23/08

Our Favorite Travel Web Sites

Some folks – possible the slightly off-kilter type – may think that surfing the web is akin to traveling the world.

Wrong..!

To travel, you have to get up out of that chair and physically change location, and I’m not talking about going to the other room to make a sandwich. Merriam-Webster defines it as follows: “to go on or as if on a trip or tour; to move or undergo transmission from one place to another”.

Many of us love to travel, feeding a bit of that wanderlust, or maybe just getting away from the stress of everyday life. Unfortunately in this day and age it can be a bit tricky. Luckily the web / internet that I mentioned above can be a useful tool in the travel planning stages.

Now we all know about Travelocity, Orbitz and Hotels.com. Here are a few other sites that we like. They may aid you in the research and planning process so you can undergo transmission to another place…

Kayak.com – this is an aggregator, essentially searching several of the travel sites at once for airline deals or hotels.

Tripprep.com – a resource for overseas travel with embassy listings, vaccine recommendations and crime reports.

Hotelchatter.com – an accumulation of hotel reviews (uncensored at that!) from around the world.

Lastminute.com – as you might guess, the specialty here is finding deals for those last minute weekend getaways.

Chowhound.com – A resource for foodies at locations around the globe.

Xe.com – A global currency exchange site. Browse to it on your smart-phone for help whenever you need it.

Dontforgetyourtoothbrush.com – A handy tool for that pre-travel checklist.

Now make those plans and go..!

8/22/08

Nice New Napa Reds



Yes, it’s thirsty time again..! And that means it’s time to talk about wine.

A little grape juice…

Today I’m going to introduce you to a pair of red wines / wineries from the Napa valley. I’ll put these in the “new, up-and-coming” category. Wines that I feel are well worth a little effort to seek out and procure. You need to know about these…

Palazzo – defined as “a large splendid residence”…or how about a winery in Napa that makes an excellent red wine. Scott Palazzo, a fan of “Right Bank” Bordeaux style wines (merlot based blends) has crafted an elegant, medium to full-bodied wine for the 2005 release with 70% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. There are lots of wonderful aromas and flavors going on here in a silky and well-structured style. Cherries and black currants, chocolate and espresso, all wrapped in a package that drinks well now or should easily age for another 10 or so years. This is an excellent value, priced in the $40s, but only 1100 cases were made, so move fast..!

For my second introduction, let me direct you to Shirley and Charles Roy. Originally from the east coast, the Roy’s purchased golfer Johnny Miller’s Napa estate in 1999 to follow their passion for wine. Their 17-acre vineyard on the eastern side of the Napa Valley is planted predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon, rounded out with Merlot and a bit of Petit Verdot.

Under the Roy Estate label, winemaker Philippe Melka crafts a Bordeaux blend as well as a Cabernet Sauvignon. Both are excellent, rich wines showing gorgeous fruit balanced by an earthy character. We recommend leaving them in bottle for another couple of years to mature, after which they should drink terrifically until 2020 and beyond.

Palazzo and Roy Estate…both Connoisseur Corner Recommended new Napa reds..!

8/15/08

Simple Summer Desserts – Pt. 2

…And now for another desert recipe. Again we are talking something for summer. Cool and refreshing, using delicious berries. But this recipe has a twist…

Adults only..!

This is a great desert for a little dinner party or other adult gathering. Not only do folks love it, but it is the absolute easiest dish you can put together. This is especially helpful if your dinner took a great deal of time and preparation.

· 1 pkg raspberries
· 1 pkg blueberries
· Chambord liqueur
· Vanilla ice cream (use a good quality brand or make your own)

This can be served in the bowl or cup of your choosing – presentation is always a plus!

Scoop ice cream into the bowls. Add a portion of both berries to each ice cream serving. Cover with a healthy splash or six of the Chambord liqueur and voila! You are done.
Serve and enjoy..!

8/14/08

Simple Summer Desserts – Pt. 1

Summertime…

Time of sunshine, warm temps, and fresh fruit stands along the side of the road.

This got me thinking about a couple of desserts using berries. Good for this time of year.

The first one – subject of today’s article – is full of everybody’s favorite: strawberries! A strawberry pizza that’s great for gatherings of friends, family and young-uns. The prep on this delectable delight is fairly quick and painless, so give it a try…

Strawberry Pizza

· 1 cup flour
· ½ cup powdered sugar
· ½ cup butter, softened

Cut these ingredients together as for a pie crust. Press firmly into a 12” or 13” pizza pan. Bake @ 325 for 15-20 munutes until lightly golden. Set aside to cool.

· 8 oz. softened cream cheese
· ½ cup sugar

Combine the cheese and sugar with a mixer. Spread evenly over the cooled crust.

· 1 pint mashed strawberries
· 1 ¼ cups sugar
· 4 Tsp. cornstarch
· ½ cup water

Combine above ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. (Option – add a couple drops of red food coloring for that full “red” look.)

· 2 pints strawberries, sliced

Fold the sliced berries into the cooled topping mixture. Spread on top of cream cheese layer and chill until you serve. Slice as you would a normal pizza.

Enjoy!

8/13/08

Gotta Have: Kobalt Tool Chest


For those of you with that stunning house and that stunning car parked in that stunning garage, it’s time to throw out that little red toolbox and get something that echoes the surroundings. Some garage furnishings that are up to standard.

The Kobalt 53” stainless steel tool chest.

Can a tool chest be “stunning”? Well, probably not. But this baby is pretty darn sweet!

Let me run down the list of features…

· Sturdy stainless steel construction with heavy-duty casters that have...get this…shock absorbers! This baby is rated at 4000 lbs.
· 16 storage drawers for your tools, gadgets and gonkulators.
· A built-in four plug power strip.
· Two LED lights.
· A 1.6 cubic foot refrigerator. (Can you say “beer”?)
· A Pioneer AM/FM CD player and speakers, all built right in.

Without question this is a “gotta have” tool chest. As the Kobalt web site so elegantly states, this baby is “worthy of enshrinement in your Garage Mahal.”

8/12/08

Lotus Evora: The Eagle Flies


May I introduce Evora..?

British manufacturer Lotus Cars was founded in 1952 by an engineer named Colin Chapman. A proponent of light weight cars with agile handling abilities, Mr. Chapman and his company have produced many fine sports and racing vehicles over the years.

The latest offering from Lotus, codenamed “Project Eagle” at the factory, made its debut recently at the London Auto Show as the Evora. This model, in a 2+2 configuration is aimed at a more practical crowd than their current Elise and Exige models, which have a heavy track bias. Performance will still be up to Lotus’ standards though, as the target was thought to be Porsche’s Cayman.

The Evora will weigh less than 3,000 lbs (that’s light, folks) and will be powered by a Toyota sourced 3.5-liter V6 with 276 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque, propelling it to 60 mph in under 5 seconds. The handling will be up to snuff as well, with the necessary go-fast bits. Bilstein shocks, Eibach springs and vented and cross-drilled brakes are all present and accounted for.

We expect the Evora to turn up in showrooms in the summer of 2009. With its stunning looks, superb handling and a reliable Toyota engine on board, it should do well if Lotus keeps the price at expected levels.

We think this latest Lotus is a winner..!

8/11/08

Bowers and Wilkins: Speaker Excellence



Another one for the ears…

John Bowers and Roy Wilkins met during WWII while in the British military. Realizing they had a common interest in electronics and radio, they opened a shop after the war which is still open to this day.

Music, sweet music...

In the mid-60’s, John Bowers decided to take another hobby, building speakers, into a separate business venture – B&W Loudspeakers Ltd. In the 70’s, the company took off with the release of the 801 loudspeaker (current model 801D pictured). Subsequent models of this design have been used at Abbey Road Studios, Sony Music Studios NYC and Skywalker Sound.

One trademark of the B&W speaker line is the yellow woven Kevlar speaker cones used for their light weight and strength. The other visual feature of note: the curiously shaped speaker enclosures - a technology which originated from their flagship Nautilus speaker project. The current speaker product line has expanded from the high end stereo systems to home theater systems, mini speakers, iPod docks and even now car audio, with a custom setup in the new Jaguar XF.

As for the sound, you’ll find excellent dynamics and a relaxed sort of detail to what you hear. B&W speakers also represent the space of the recording very well – the sound of the recording venue, as well as the location of instruments within that space.

Let your ears have a listen and see what you think. We recommend staying with anything in the 800 Series lineup, as it represents the undiluted best of the B&W sound and technology.

8/8/08

Emirates Palace Million Dollar Getaway


You know that million dollars burning a hole in your wallet..? And that week on your calendar sitting empty, waiting to be filled..?

I’ve got just the ticket…!

The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi has put together what is to our knowledge, the first ultra-lux Million Dollar Package.

The hotel is the logical place to create such a getaway. It is, after all, located in the richest city in the world and the property itself is purported to be the most expensive hotel ever built at a cost of over 3 billion US dollars. 302 rooms, 92 suites, 11 restaurants and bars, pools, a spa and an interior resplendent in gold and marble are just some of the amenities.

And now for the million dollar question…

What exactly do you get for your…meeel-euhn dollerz?

A bunch..!

Let’s start with first class round trip airfare on Etihad Airlines. Throw in 7 nights stay in a 680 sq meter (that’s over 7,000 sq ft) Palace Suite – all inclusive. Your own chauffeur driven Maybach is ready as needed.

Other indulgences include daily spa treatments at the hotel spa, a deep sea fishing trip, a visit to the perfume experts at YAS perfume to create your own fragrance, and a gift package including pearls from Robert Wan and sport rifles from Holland and Holland.

Let’s top it all off with three private jet day trips to:

· Iran to create your own Persian rug from the world’s most exclusive maker.
· Jordan’s Dead Sea to experience the sea and an afternoon day spa.
· Bahrain for a deep-sea pearl expedition. Your pearl is then set in custom designed jewelry.

How’s that for an unforgettable week..? A deluxe visit to be sure…

8/4/08

Bentley Plus: the Mulliner Shop

Headquartered in Crewe, England, Bentley Motors was founded in 1919, delivering their first cars in the early 20’s. Nearly 90 years later, the company is still going strong…

Arnage, Azure, Continental GT, Flying Spur, Brooklands – all highly desirable automobiles. These Bentleys are refined cars with sumptuous handcrafted luxury and a classic grand touring driving experience.

But what if you want something more? Something to make that Bentley stand out from the crowd… to make it uniquely your own…

Mulliner

Want a Sony Playstation installed in the back seat? Done…

How ‘bout a wine fridge? Or maybe colors to match your Alma mater?

Known for handcrafting coachwork for “horseless carriages” since the late 19th century, Mulliner is now Bentley’s customization shop and has been involved with the parent company since 1991. Currently over 100 craftsmen are employed, everything from cabinet makers to electronic specialists and metal fabricators. Highly skilled individuals that take particular pride in their work.

Nearly half of the cars delivered to Bentley customers are touched in some way by the Mulliner unit. Custom limousines and armored cars are on the menu, along with more sedate offerings for that slightly personalized touch.

Just know that, if you can dream it and pay for it, Mulliner will make it happen. For that Bentley “plus”…