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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

10/31/09

MacPhail – A Rising Star in Pinot Noir


After working several years for small wineries in the Russian River and Dry Creek Valley appellations, winemaker James MacPhail set out on his own in 2002. From the start, his hand-crafted Pinot Noirs were world-class.

Originally produced in a custom crush facility along with other small wine producers, James completed his own small winery in Healdsburg in 2008. “This little winery allows me to fine tune my winemaking, crafting small lots with traditional techniques, minimal intervention and hands-on attention,” says James. With a self-imposed production limit of 5000 cases, he feels he can best maintain his personal style in the wines.

The current 2007 release of Macphail wines has seven vineyard designated Pinot Noirs, as well as the Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, of which 738 cases were produced. All of these wines are consistently delicious, but a couple of my favorites are the 2007 Sonoma Coast Sangiacomo Vineyard of which 170 cases were produced and the 2007 Anderson Valley Toulouse Vineyard with just under 500 cases made.

Hard to find..? Yes. Worth the effort..? You bet.

And remember, if you need help tracking down some of these luscious Pinots, give the Connoisseur a call…

10/30/09

Porsche’s Plans


Porsche AG, the venerable automaker from Zufffenhausen, Germany, has big plans!

Despite the global economic downturn, the little car company that could continues to churn out new models and new engineering. Here is a quick rundown of what the next few years will bring…

Panamera - Hitting showrooms now is the Panamera sedan with optional V8 and turbocharged V8 engines as well as 2 and 4-wheel drive. In 2010 the Panamera will receive gas and diesel V6 engine choices as the entry-level offering. In 2011, look for the Panamera Hybrid to debut.

Cayenne – Porsche’s SUV will appear in all-new from the ground up form in 2010. Expect better performance than the current model and power from V6, V8 and turbocharged V8 engines. The hybrid version will debut in 2011.

911 – The summer of 2012 will bring us the next all-new 911. With the factory designation 998 (the current model is the 997), the iconic Porsche two-door will grow slightly in both width and length but retain its styling and improve on the current model’s performance capabilities.

Beyond the new 911 release, I look for both a smaller SUV model below the Cayenne which will be based on the Audi Q5 but with more of a sporting character per the Porsche heritage. I also expect a coupe and convertible version of the Panamera sedan, possible reviving the 928 moniker and using the Panamera’s underpinnings.

Porsche… that little car company that could keeps on rolling!

The Best for Blu-Ray: Oppo BDP-83


So you have a DVD player at home and a nice Hi-def television…a little surround sound for that full movie experience. Of course the next step up from DVD technology is Blu-Ray with its full High-definition movies and lossless audio. Is it worth purchasing the equipment to move up in technology?

Yes..!

I talked about Blu-ray and Hi-def audio a bit here, and also discussed some of the Blu-Ray players that I would recommend in the lower price range, say around $250, give or take… While buying a Blu-ray player in this price range will get the job done to a certain degree, they all have a weakness in some area. Whether it is speed of operation, build quality, limited capability… none of them are immune. Except for one…

Let me get right to the crux of the matter here… If you value quality, this is THE player to purchase…PERIOD!

“Why Marty, why? Shouldn’t I just get one of those Sony or Panasonic players? Those name brands that everybody knows?”

Here’s the deal… Oppo Digital is based in Mountain View, California. Pretty much all they do is engineer and build disc players and they do it well. With the BDP-83 you get excellent build quality and top- notch audio and video performance, equaling or besting players costing several times more. And it is a “universal player”, meaning it essentially will play anything you can throw at it. Nice..! The company even has excellent customer service – the cherry on top!

Enough said... If you are looking to buy a Blu-Ray player, buy this one and you will not regret it. The Oppo is available online directly from Oppo digital or from vendors such as Amazon. The price is $499.00 and well worth every penny. Highly recommended..!

10/27/09

Chicken Bacon Pasta with Gruyere Sauce

So there I was, with about half an unused rotisserie chicken from the night before, and a half pound of bacon in the freezer. What’s the Connoisseur to do..?

Well, let’s see…

I love pasta. I love cheese… that was easy.

I rarely do a cheese sauce, but when I do I try to lighten the load a bit. Instead of a bunch of heavy cream, I will go with a bit of milk and some chicken broth. Don’t they say that every little bit helps? Besides, that will leave more room for dessert..!

So here we go. If you are hungry for a good fall or winter pasta, give this a try and let me know your results…

Gruyere sauce

· 2 Tsp butter
· 2 Tsp flour
· 1 cup milk
· 2 cups chicken broth
· 1 cup grated Gruyere
· ¼ cup grated parmesan
· Salt and white pepper
· Pinch of nutmeg

Warm the milk. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warm milk. Cook to thicken. Slowly add broth and whisk, cook to desired consistency. Add cheeses and whisk to incorporate. Add a pinch of nutmeg and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Reduce heat and keep warm, whisking occasionally.

Pasta

· ½ pound bacon – chopped
· ½ rotisserie chicken – chopped (use more if you are hungry!)
· ½ cup sundried tomatoes in oil – drained and diced
· 2 Tsp olive oil
· 1 ½ cup chopped leeks – white part only
· Fettuccine

Heat and salt the pasta water in a large pot. In large frying pan over medium heat, cook the bacon. Remove from pan and set aside - pour off grease. Add olive oil and leeks – season with salt and pepper. Cook for 6 – 8 minutes. Add the pasta to the water and cook until done. Add sundrieds and chicken to the frying pan and cook to warm. Return bacon to the pan. Drain the cooked pasta and add to the pan. Add the cheese sauce and stir to combine all ingredients. Plate the pasta and enjoy..!

Note: If you want to kick up the cheese sauce a bit, add a half-cup of white wine just before the milk. Then after the broth is added toss in a sprig of sage and a couple sprigs of thyme to scent the sauce. Remove before adding the sauce to the pasta. After plating, top with some chopped parsley.

10/22/09

Blavod – The Vodka for Halloween





Tricks and Treats and… well, some pretty crazy drinks.


Following that line of brain-think, I have come up with what may well be the ultimate in libations for All Hallows’ Eve. Indeed, a vodka that ghouls, ghosts, goblins and various other dwellers of darkness would surely consume…


Blavod Vodka


The eyes are not fooling you, folks. This is a black colored vodka. And no, it does not taste of licorice. It falls in the category of a crisp, clean premium vodka with a bit of a spicy bite on the aftertaste. Close your eyes and you would never know the difference.

Halloween = scary black drinks!


OK, now that your wheels are starting to turn, you can get creative here. All manner of vodka based cocktails can be made for that spooky Halloween party. Start with a black martini and go from there. One of my favorites from the Blavod website: the Black Widow. In a rocks glass with ice, fill half-way with cranberry juice then layer the top with Blavod vodka.


Boo..!

10/21/09

LF-A: Lexus Does Exotic


Lexus, the premium division of the Toyota Motor Corporation, has long been known for their cosseting and reliable luxury automobiles. They have never been considered vehicles to give substantial rise to the adrenalin levels.

Until now…

Long in development, the Lexus LF-A is finally being officially unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show. Designed as a high-performance halo car for the brand, this beast of an automobile looks to meet or exceed expectations of even the most jaded of automotive enthusiasts.

To reach the targeted performance goals, Lexus engineers used thoroughly modern technologies to attack weight as well as power. Approximately two-thirds of the body is made of carbon fiber, helping hold total weight down to a tick over 3,200 pounds. The 4.8 liter V10 engine is a marvel, producing 560 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque with a stratospheric redline of 9,000 rpm.

So, is this car fast..?

The manufacturer claims a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 3.7 seconds! Other cars that will keep pace are few and far between. Top speed will be over 200 mph.

Production will be limited to 500 units. It’s time to get in line if you want a copy of this ultimate Lexus. And be sure to have a cool $375,000 handy..!

10/15/09

Chocolate Chip Heaven


It’s sweet tooth time here at the Connoisseur Corner..!

I must confess to having a definite love of the chocolate chip cookie – along with pretty much the rest of humanity. In that vein, I feel it is time for me to share with you some of my favorite cookies. Take a look and see what you think. Then place an order and let your taste buds (and sweet tooth) smile!

· Rosie’s Bakery – Located in the Boston area, these cookies are average in size and have a moist center with some crunch on the outside.

· Stony Brook Cookie Co. – Quality ingredients make a quality chocolate chip cookie.

· Tate’s Bake Shop – Thin and crispy is the theme here. If that is your style, these cookies will send you through the roof.

· Levain’s Bakery – This is jumbo cookie land. Located in Manhattan, Levain’s chocolate chip cookies weigh in at 6 ounces each and are gooey, rich and sinfully delicious.

· Tom’s Mom’s Cookies – For that down home cookie style, these cookies are irresistible. Available in a standard 3 ounce size as well as 1 ounce minis.

Neiman Marcus Christmas Book


A sure sign that the holidays draw ever closer, the folks at Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus have unveiled the 83rd edition of their Christmas Book catalog.

Known as “The Book” by the shopping cognoscenti, the Christmas catalog made its first appearance in 1926 as a small booklet. It has since gained cult status as a source for exclusive and occasionally over the top gifts.

While it may be slightly more restrained this year than normal due to the global economy, there are still some goodies to be found….

Jaguar is producing 50 of their new XJL Supercharged sedans in Neiman Marcus Edition trim. This exclusive purchase nets you custom exterior and interior treatments including navy and ivory leather along with Zebrano matte wood trim and the obligatory matching 5-piece luggage set.

Do you like good food and conversation? How about a dinner at New York’s famed Algonquin Hotel along with your friends John Lithgow, Nora Ephron and George Stephanopoulos among others… All yours for $200,000 – the proceeds go to the Christmas Book Charity.

Of course we can always reminisce about extravagant gifts from years past such as 1964’s his and hers hot air balloons, or 1970’s Noah’s Ark.

Pick up your book today and happy shopping..!

10/8/09

Trick or Tweet – Caesar’s Palace Does Halloween


Ghouls, ghosts, goblins… and Twitter!

Let’s call it an au courant take on the Halloween party courtesy of the folks at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. After all, Twitter and Facebook pretty much dominate the social landscape these days. This is a clever marketing move by the folks at Caesar’s in my opinion.

Here are the Trick or Tweet party details from the press release…

“Join us the weekend of October 30-31, 2009 and enjoy a specially priced package exclusively for our friends and followers. Here's how it works: Get ready to head to Las Vegas and grab your cell. All weekend long, Caesars Palace will Tweet locations throughout the property for you to experience. Once you find your destination, the treats await...free food and free drinks, including drink specials from our friends at Bacardi USA, plus special drawings and giveaways. And, don’t forget this is your chance to meet fellow followers.

The package includes 2 nights classic accommodations, 2 Roman Ritual passes to enjoy at Qua Baths & Spa, complimentary in-room Internet access, a complimentary in-room movie* (might we suggest The Hangover?), VIP admission to PURE Nightclub for their big Friday or Saturday night star-studded party, a $50 resort credit and much more.

We’ve got a weekend full of Tricks and Tweets planned. Starting on Friday, we’ll post exclusive offers on our Twitter feed and Facebook page like special upgrade offers and drawings for complimentary rooms. One lucky guest will win an unforgettable prize: a free upgrade in our VIP suite.

Costumes encouraged, but not necessary.”

Could be the makings of a lost weekend! Guaranteed Vegas fun and priced right at $175 a night, this represents a $100 savings according to the hotel. Get that costume ready and prime the thumbs to tweet.

10/6/09

Monster Turbine PRO Audiophile Headphones


Let me make a quick correction here in regards to the title… Monster, the company famous for various cables and power accessories for your stereo and home theater, refers to these little gems as “in-ear speakers” as opposed to the more pedestrian “headphones”.

Uh…

Point being that the folks at Monster are trying to differentiate these in-ear headphones from the plethora of ear-buds out there that everyone is connecting to their iPod. These are serious headphones designed for “serious audiophiles and audio professionals”.

While there are a substantial amount of audiophile headphones available, the greater majority are of the full-size over-the-ear variety. This is fine for sitting at home in your living room, but not conducive to mobility and convenience. Monster seems to be filling a niche here, and rather successfully so. These in-ear speakers do sound nice..!

Available in November, a set of the Turbine PROs will net you five pairs of eartips to ensure a proper fit, along with two carry cases and an unbeatable lifetime warranty, offering a one-time replacement even if you break them!

Give ‘em a listen and see if they make your ears smile…

10/5/09

Chipotle-Glazed Bacon Love

You love bacon…

I love bacon…

We all love bacon..!

But as much as we have love for this fine piece of pork, don’t you ever get the urge to kick it up just a bit? To take it a step above the norm? The urge just so happened to strike me this past weekend…

I had decided to make some nice breakfast sandwiches for my wife and I this past weekend and one of the components of said sandwich happened to be bacon. In the interest of adding a little extra flavor to the sandwich, the chipotle-glazed bacon came into play…

Cook the bacon approximately 4/5ths of the way and then remove from the pan. Also remove the excess bacon grease. Add to the pan 2 Tbsp of brown sugar, 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar and 1 diced chipotle in adobo. Whisk over medium heat for approximately 1 minute. Return the bacon to the pan for one more minute, coating the bacon with the glaze on both sides. Remove from pan and eat..!

This can certainly be used in any recipe requiring bacon, at your own discretion. Anything from a spiced up BLT to glazing the Canadian bacon for Eggs Benedict. Let your taste buds be your guide!