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

11/25/08

Mötley Crüe Does Vinyl


80s hard rock stalwart Mötley Crüe has decided their fans may be feeling a bit nostalgic. And why not, with their recently released CD Saints of Los Angeles doing well on the charts.

Does anyone remember vinyl..?

Records? Albums? LPs?

In the interest of old school, the band has decided to issue a boxed set of its complete library on vinyl in a leather-bound box with gold leaf lettering. The collection, named Journals of the Damned, will be a limited release with only 500 copies being produced. Each set will be numbered and also includes a lithograph of the band personally signed by each member. Place your order now…before it’s too late..!

In case the 80’s are a bit hazy in the memory banks, here is the complete Crüe discography included in the set…

· Too Fast For Love (1981)
· Shout at the Devil (1983)
· Theatre of Pain (1985)
· Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
· Dr. Feelgood (1989)
· Saints of Los Angeles (2008)

Porsche Panamera Pics and Updates


While we previously reported on the upcoming Porsche 4-door due out next year, the German manufacturer has released the first photos of the sedan.

Eh…

As expected, from seeing the various spy photos scattered about the Internet, the Panamera is not something we will categorize in the drop-dead beauty department. While it does have a strong family resemblance through its design language, will this be enough to give it the street presence required of such a lofty price tag?

The pictures we see certainly don’t flatter, but take a look at this video and see if it changes your perspective. We feel this may indicate a better looking car in person.

In the category of updates, Porsche is trickling down new technology developed for the 997 refresh to its Boxster and Cayman models. The most notable improvements are more powerful and more fuel efficient engines, along with the new PDK dual-clutch transmissions. Some minor exterior updates have been implemented as well. The sum of these changes makes Porsche's entry-level offerings that much more desirable.

11/24/08

Mickey Mouse Goes Racing


Disney has opened their latest attraction in Florida, and this one is for grown-up speed freaks only..!

But don’t call this a “ride” like some new-fangled roller coaster. We would call it more of a…

…drive.

The Indy Racing Experience puts you behind the wheel of an actual Indy car (used in past Indianapolis 500 events). Don your helmet and fire suit and let the pit crew strap you in. Off you go for eight laps of the speed and g-forces that define Indy car racing.

The fun takes place at the Walt Disney World Speedway, located just outside the gates of the Magic Kingdom. One mile in length, the tri-oval features three uniquely banked corners and elevation changes on the back straight.

For the wimpy fans out there, you may opt to be a passenger in a modified two-seater driven by an Indy Racing League driver for a 3-lap tour.

Pricing for the ride along is $109 with the full-tilt drive experience at $399. Certainly an experience you won’t soon forget..!

“…start your engines!”

11/20/08

Let Jack Customize Your Backyard


Have I got the ultimate Christmas gift for the golfers out there..!

And after this, you’ll definitely know Jack (the golf legend, not the actor).

Offered exclusively through that shining beacon of capitalism otherwise known as the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, you can have Jack Nicklaus transform your backyard into a one, two or three-hole golf course with practice area.

Here’s how it works…

The Nicklaus team visits the site and does a survey as well as aerial photography. Jack then studies the various photos, maps and topography and creates a formal design plan for the location. You then hire a construction crew to complete the work, which the Nicklaus team will supervise.

Instant golf course..!

Jack then stops by to play the inaugural round with you and afterward sign a club and golf ball for your collection. Throw in a customized set of Jack Nicklaus golf clubs and a personalized bag, and your golfing nirvana is complete.

Pricing begins at a cool 1 million – some green for the greens.

11/19/08

Blackberry’s Bold Storm




For you fans of the Blackberry brand of smartphone, or as it is referred to by my associates – the “Crack-berry”, you are now faced with some sweet upgrade options.

AT & T has the Blackberry Bold (pictured left), a global 3G smartphone with a sleek aesthetic and a new user interface, but still maintaining a family resemblance to current Blackberry models. This smartphone pretty much covers all the bases with GPS, 3G, Wi-Fi, Camera, QWERTY keyboard, and probably the best screen of its type.

Everything about this phone is enhanced compared with previous BBs, from that sweet screen and new UI to the much improved browsing, the speed, the keyboard – the list goes on. Definitely recommended for the Blackberry aficionado.

And then there’s the Storm. With this phone, you could say that Blackberry and Verizon (the sole carrier) are jumping into the eye of the iPhone storm…

The Blackberry Storm (pictured right) is aimed squarely at the competition, but manages to have its own uniqueness. Some items that set it apart from the iPhone – expandable memory, removable battery, stereo Bluetooth capability, tactile screen feedback (this is really slick once you get used to it) and more…

We are impressed with the Storm’s feature set and usability and feel it is the best alternative to the iPhone currently available.

Overall, both units are well executed and won’t disappoint. The final choice is up to you – give them both a try and see which Blackberry fits the bill…

11/18/08

One-77…Ultimate Aston Martin


Renowned British car builder Aston Martin has a new number for you.

And it’s not 007…

Long associated in movies with a fellow by the name of James Bond, Aston Martin wants the world to know that it builds the ultimate sports cars. The next step in spreading this gospel is to build what Aston chief Ulrich Bez refers to as the “ultimate expression of what an Aston Martin should be.”

Just what is this ultimate automotive expression? Let’s start with a hand-molded aluminum body over a carbon-fiber tub with race inspired suspension bits. Don’t forget to add in a 7.3-liter V12 with approximately 700 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque and a top speed well over 200 mph. The interior will be a tour de force of the latest electronics, instrumentation and switchgear, to go along with the completely customizable palette of wood, leather and metal accents. Each owner will essentially create their own bespoke car.

Rare, you ask? Yes. The “77” in the name implies exactly that – just 77 of these beauties will be produced. Only 5 or 6 cars will be allocated to the United States.

Expensive? Of course. Early estimates look to be in the 1.75 million range. “If you have to ask…”

Production of the One-77 will commence in August of ’09 and will complete a year later. Place your order now..!

11/15/08

The Empire (Hotel) Strikes Back



The historic Empire Hotel on New York’s upper west side originally opened its doors over a century ago in the mid 1890’s. In 1923, the hotel was completely rebuilt including the raising of the iconic red neon “Hotel Empire” sign and was a New York hotspot from the 20’s through the 60’s. Through it all the 12-story hotel has remained virtually unchanged…

Until now…

This summer the doors were opened on a complete redesign of the property. 413 rooms and suites, an elegant lobby bar and a rooftop pool are the highlights of this rebirth.

The well appointed and stylish guest rooms are described in the press release as “mod-chic” and boast views of Lincoln Center, Central Park and Broadway. The rooftop pool, exclusive to the hotel’s guests, includes cabanas with daybeds, ceiling fans, LCD TVs, mini refrigerators and more. A great way to evade a baking sun or relax for an evening cocktail.

To handle your fine food cravings, Jeffrey Chodorow’s Center Cut restaurant will fit the bill, supplying “modern classics” and other tasty fare.

Next time you’re in New York, why not stay at the Empire. And fear not, the neon sign is still there..!

11/14/08

Wilson Audio’s Alexandria…World’s Best Speaker?


In the early 80s after a lifelong passion for all things audiophile, Dave Wilson constructed a state-of-the-art modular loudspeaker out of his home. Shortly afterward he sold several pairs of these speakers (named WAMM) and Wilson Audio has been non-stop ever since.

After years of new speaker models and improvements to existing designs, Dave put his entire breadth of knowledge into a flagship design, the Alexandria X-2, which hit the market in 2003 and garnered the highest of praise from the audiophile community.

Here we are five years later, and Mr. Wilson has figured out how to kick it up a notch – to make his ultimate speaker even more so. Say hello to the Alexandria X-2 series 2..! Improvements to the midrange speakers, tweeter and crossover yield even more realism to the sonic picture.

Standing nearly 6’ tall and with a twelve step paint and finish process comparable to only the finest automobile manufacturers, the Alexandrias are truly something to behold. Fortunately, as are all Wilson Audio products, these speakers are delivered, installed and adjusted by your retailer.

As for the sound..? Provided the listening environment and associated electronics are up to snuff, we guarantee your jaw will hit the floor. These speakers are THAT good..! If you are truly in the market for a no-holds barred audio system, put the Wilson Audio Alexandria X-2 series 2 on your short list.

Current retail price - $158,000 per pair

11/13/08

Time’s 50 Worst Cars

Today I have one for all you automotive aficionados out there…

I ran across this list of the 50 worst cars of all time from Time Magazine, compiled in entertaining fashion by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Dan Neil, who writes for the LA Times.

The expected offenders are present and accounted for. The Ford Pinto, Cadillac Cimarron and Yugo GV all fit the bill in this “worst of” list. And don’t forget that rolling pile of automotive refuse otherwise known as the AMC Pacer. I think the word “disaster” applies here…

Some of the lesser-known cars are true gems as well. How can you not stare incredulously at the Fuller Dymaxion or the diminutive Crosley Hotshot? Who in their right minds came up with these vehicles?

At the other end of the spectrum, there are a few vehicles present that strike me as a bit underserving to reside on this list. The Ford Explorer was included because it apparently sold Americans on the bigger-is-better idea in personal transportation – I don’t buy it. And the BMW 7-series is here due to its infamous I-Drive navigation system controller. While the initial software was certainly a bit clumsy, one might note that nearly all the high-end manufacturers now have their own interpretation of this controller.

Check out the list and see for yourself. If you have a vehicle that may have been omitted, let us know…

11/6/08

Dreaming of a White Mercedes Christmas


Yes, now you can do all your Christmas shopping at Mercedes-Benz…and I’m not talking cars for Christmas.

The German car manufacturer has unveiled a new line of holiday gifts for the whole family, all in brilliant white.

(Would that be a snow correlation..?)

Whatever the reason, the monochrome collection has something for everyone. Adults can choose from a high-tech mountain bike or various clothing items such as polo shirts, dress shirts, jackets, gloves and more.

What about the young-uns? Mercedes has got you covered in the big toy category with an SLK styled cart and a sleek snow sled for the slopes. Of course all the basics are present as well – the pajamas, hats, jackets, mittens and the obligatory miniature SUVs.

Now you can give that special someone a Mercedes-Benz for Christmas and not have to park it in the garage..!

Happy Holidays..!

11/3/08

Simple Italian Sausage Pasta

Simple isn’t always best, but sometimes it sure feels that way. Even when it comes to pasta…

Here is a recipe that I like to make when time is short, but I want to enjoy some excellent, satisfying flavors. A bit of simple elegance, you might say.

· 3 plus 1 tbsp butter
· 2 medium yellow onions – finely chopped
· 1 lb Italian sausage
· 3 – 4 cloves garlic – chopped
· ½ cup dry white wine
· 4 tbsp double-concentrated tomato paste
· 3 cups chicken stock
· ½ cup milk
· 1 lb pasta – penne, fusilli or farfalle (bowtie)
· ½ cup Parmesan-reggiano – plus extra to sprinkle on top
· Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the 3 tbsp butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn heat to med-high. Add the sausage and cook until browned – crumble with the edge of wooden spoon. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add white wine and reduce until almost evaporated. Mix the tomato paste with a portion of the stock in a cup and stir. Add this mixture along with the remaining stock and milk to the sauce. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce has reduced and thickened somewhat. Taste and season as needed.

Cook pasta per instructions and drain – reserve one cup of the pasta water. Add pasta to the sauce in the sauté pan along with the ½ cup of cheese and remaining tbsp butter. Stir to coat. If the pasta appears dry, add reserved pasta water as needed. Plate the pasta, top with the remaining cheese and serve.

OK folks, a quick note here. Something I can never stress enough - ingredients rule..! For this recipe with very few components, be sure the sausage, pasta, stock, tomato paste and cheese are up to par.

Feel free to improvise with this dish, but remember that the spirit here is in the simplicity. If you do feel a pressing need to kick it up a bit, the two items that come to mind: add ¼ tsp of red pepper flakes when sautéing the onion and /or add some chopped Italian parsley after the sauce has reduced.

Cook and enjoy…