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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

12/7/12

Eat at Nobu - Sleep at Nobu..!



Renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa grew tired of putting his restaurants into other people’s hotels.  Unfortunately that put a damper on the expansion of arguably the world’s best Japanese restaurant chain, Nobu. 

The solution:   Why not build your own hotel and insert your own restaurant?

Duh..!

Using the hotel-within-a-hotel model, and a little help from the folks at Ceasars Palace, The first Nobu Hotel is now taking reservations for a February 2013 debut.  The 181-room property will have the requisite luxury touches with a Japanese design influence, along with top shelf pampering and service. 

And don’t forget that restaurant!  At 13,000 square feet, it will be the largest Nobu Restaurant and Lounge extant.  As a guest at the hotel you are blessed with priority reservations as well as access to 24-hour Nobu room service. 

Not content with a single location, the Nobu team is already slated to open properties in Riyadh, followed by London and Bahrain.  Soon your Nobu fix will be available, regardless of location.

12/6/12

BMW 4 Series Coupe Concept


The BMW 3-Series Coupe is dead… no more… kaput..!  

There is good news however!  The iconic two-door is still around.  The powers that be at BMW’s Munich headquarters have decided to do a +1 to the name.  It is now the 4-Series, and by the look of this lightly disguised concept, it should be a beauty!

Few details of the upcoming production version have been made official, but here is what I can tell you:              

The new 4-Series Coupe (BMW’s chassis code is F32) is slightly longer, wider and lower than the previous generation (E92) car, and is expected to be a few pounds lighter on the scale.  Power should come in the form of a turbocharged 4-cylindar mill (seen in other BMW models) in the 428 and a turbocharged 6-cylindar in the 435.  However, rumors persist on the net of an updated turbo 6-cylinder engine and a naming change to 440. 

The exterior changes between the concept shown here and the production version will likely be limited to different and simplified front and rear fascias as well as different wheel designs.  Overall the design works well, although I have a gripe with what BMW calls the “Air Breather”.  This refers to the aperture behind the front wheels… or should I call it a wart?  While it is indeed an aerodynamically functional vent, it will take some getting used to.

The interior looks to carry over the design of the new 3-Series sedan, which I like.  Surface detailing is a bit overwrought in the Concept car, but available options in the production car should be quite tasteful.  The ergonomic layout is will done.

Availability is likely to begin late summer of next year as a 2014 model.  Pricing has not been released, but expect an approximate $3,000 increase over a similarly equipped 3-Series sedan.

10/23/12

4th Gen Range Rover Arrives Soon!


 
A true automotive icon, Land Rover’s Range Rover will soon arrive in its 4th generation guise after more than 40 years of production. 
Does it look like a Range Rover?  Does it drive like a Range Rover?  The answer is “yes” on both counts, with some caveats…

Let’s start with the exterior design work.  All basic proportions are correct, with a bit more curve and rake here and there while maintaining the Range Rover presence and style.  Where things go a bit awry is the area of brightwork, or automotive jewelry.  There are three main areas the auto critics are pointing to, the first being the headlights and taillights.  Word has it they are eerily reminiscent of the current Ford Explorer light assemblies.  What the design team at Land Rover was trying to do was create a bit of family resemblance with their run-away hit Evoque, which quite frankly I have no problem with.
Complaint #2 centers around the 3-slat faux vents on the front doors.  Done for a tie-in to the previous generation Range Rover as well as removing some visual heft from the side-view, I am not sure it was the best solution. 

Lastly the front bumper vents just plain stink.  They are too busy and out of place, even though they are a functional vent. 
OK… Now that I have covered the design junk, let’s get to the serious go-bits.  700 pounds lighter in the britches, this new Range-er will outperform the previous in virtually every category, including today’s politically correct fuel efficiency category.  Performance will be guided by Land Rover’s new Terrain Response 2 management system and a 5.0 liter V8 engine paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission.  The speed-freaks out there will want to opt for the supercharged version for even more power!

The interior meets the Range Rover luxury standards with yards of stitched hides and an available 29-speaker stereo system to drown out all superfluous noise. 
Available this winter in U.S. showrooms starting at $83,500, the new Range Rover is sure to be a hit to the well-heeled SUV aficionado…

9/12/12

More Magico Excellence: The New S1

 
California-based speaker manufacturer Magico has been knocking the ball out of the park the last few years with their Q-Series line of speakers.  Everything from the stand-mounted Q1 at $26,500 to the top-of-the-line Q7 flagship at a cool $165,000 has been getting rave reviews from audio journalists the world over. 

Alon Wolf and the folks at Magico are now entering more accessible territory with the new S1 floor-standing, two-way loudspeaker.  Standing 43” tall and weighing a not so svelte 95 pounds, each speaker features one of Magico’s wonderful beryllium tweeters along with a newly designed 7” Nano-Tec® Midbass driver.  The cabinet is a 3/8” extruded aluminum enclosure, which Magico says minimizes “diffraction effects, internal resonance, and damping requirements”.  Frequency response is rated at an impressive 32 Hz – 50 kHz. 

The spouse acceptance factor should also be high as the S1 will blend in with virtually any environment, as it is available in a wide array of paint finishes.

The Magico S1 will retail at $12,600/pair and be available in Q4 this year. 

8/2/12

New and Improved? 2013 Lexus LS Arrives


After days or weeks (some might claim months or even years) of internet photo leaks, the new Lexus flagship has been officially revealed. 

Hmmm…
Four flavors of the Lexus LS will be available:  the standard LS 460, stretched LS 460 L, hybrid LS 600h and the more aggressive LS 460 Sport – the latter a nod to Euro-style driving dynamics.

A quick glance shows the LS exterior following the new Lexus design themes used on the recent GS and upcoming ES sedans.  Unfortunately for Lexus, this means the sides and rear of their cars are lightly edited from previous versions and the front is plastered with the new spindle-grill, an overwrought attempt at brand design identity.  Did I mention I am not impressed?
The interior however, has been redone much more successfully with a fine blend of luxury, technology and good ergonomics with a bit more of a driver-centric focus than in Lexus cabins of yore.  All the latest pampering and technical amenities are present and accounted for.  The dominating feature being an available 12.3 inch monitor with split-screen capability that is sure to impress..!

If you were a previous Lexus fan, the new car should hit the right buttons.  Those of you that have not been a fan might want to give the Sport version a try.  It really is a more buttoned-down drive than what Lexus has previously provided. 
It should be good enough to keep the current Lexus crowd in the fold, but will it increase market share with other large luxo-barge owners – the S-class and 7-series crowd.  I don’t think they have done enough here… 

Certainly not the grill of my dreams…

6/22/12

Big Bucks Pizza at Steveston Pizza Co.

There seems to be a humorous game of one-upmanship in the world of fine dining with over the top menu items.  I will give it the category of E3:  Entertaining Expensive Eats…

Now let’s talk pizza…
 The documenters over at The Guinness Book of World Records have bestowed a pie from England’s high-flying media chef Gordon Ramsay at his Maze restaurant with top dollar honors.  Gordon’s pizza creation is topped with fairly standard ingredients such as pancetta, fontina and mozzarella.  The gourmet tip comes in with some onion puree, cepe mushrooms and mizuna lettuce.  Finally for the big bucks splash, Gordon piles on some white truffle paste and shaved white truffles.  A bit of pizza goodness that will lighten the wallet by a reported $178.

Of course all records are meant to be broken…
Let’s take a trip up to British Columbia and visit the Steveston Pizza Co.  A cursory glance at the menu reveals some creative topping combinations, most in the $20 range. 

If you blink, you’ll miss it…
Tucked down at the bottom of the menu is a little gem called the C6 pie.  Topped with black Alaskan cod and a thermidor of lobster and accompanied with a side of Russian Osetra caviar, the C6 will set you back $450..!  I say bring along a bottle of Kongsgaard’s The Judge Chardonnay and call it good… 

Entertaining, expensive eats…   Your taste buds will never be the same!

6/21/12

Donelan Wines – A Sense of Place


As a wine connoisseur, over time one becomes highly aware of the origin of wines... the vineyard site that gave it life… the terroir.
All winemakers are stewards of this fact, working with the land and microclimates of their vineyards in the creation of their wines.  A select few winemakers seem to connect further with an almost ethereal attachment to their terroir.  Tasting through the Donelan portfolio with winemaker Tyler Thomas quickly revealed that he and owner Joe Donelan belong in this elevated group and it is reflected in their wines.

Specializing in Syrah while also producing a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a Roussanne/Viognier blend, the Donelan team has been able to find vineyards that impart unique character and depth of structure to their wines.  The preferred vineyard profile falls in the cool-climate category with what one might refer to as highly stressful growing conditions.  (Trust me on this – check out the videos on the Donelan blog.)  Sustainable growing practices are also part of the equation. 
The results of this careful selectivity and crafting show up in the bottle with their four single vineyard releases:

·         Kobler Family Vineyard Syrah

·         Richards Vineyard Syrah

·         Walker Vine Hill Syrah

·         Obsidian Vineyard Syrah

And their three blends:

·         Cuvee Christine - Syrah

·         Cuvee Keltie - Syrah

·         Cuvee Moriah – Grenache/Syrah

All of these wines are world-class in quality, and if you thought you weren’t a Syrah fan, you will be assimilated!  I highly recommend you give them a try.
A true sense of place…

6/12/12

Siri Gets Wheels

Siri, the girl we all know, is going for a drive.

Thanks to a rather large iPhone user base and a massive advertising campaign, the entire world has been made aware of Apple’s voice control iPhone app with the feminine countenance.  Even those non-Apple types among us are aware…
At the 2012 Apple WWDC, the new iOS6 has been unveiled.  One of the new features for this operating system for i-devices is something being referred to as “Eyes Free”, an integration capability for automobile systems.  Within the next year several automakers including Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Toyota and GM will be integrating Eyes Free into their products.

Exact specifications will surely be determined by each manufacturer, but expect to see the capability to use Siri’s voice command features over the voice command system in the car.  More details will surely be forthcoming.
Ah… technology…

5/11/12

La Cornue – Kitchen Ranges for the Connoisseur


As with many tasks in life, cooking works better when the right tools are at hand.
An excellent set of knives and some quality cookware are the perfect starting point, but let’s not overlook the large appliances, more specifically the kitchen range.  There are myriad options out there, but if you desire bespoke hand-built quality with a highly customizable configuration, I have one place to send you…

The year was 1908 in Paris, France when an artisan and old world foodie by the name of Albert Dupuy fashioned the first La Cornue gas circulation Roast & Pastry stove.  Three generations later, the family’s company continues to build hand-crafted custom ranges with their Château Series and a jaw dropping 8,000 possible configurations.  Surely enough choices to please the most discriminating of gastronomes. 

Several different lengths are offered with the largest at nearly 6 feet.  The range can be finished in nearly any color you can dream up and then trimmed with various brass, stainless steel or copper hardware options.  Several cooktop configurations are available utilizing gas burners, electric burners, plaque “French top”, reversible griddles, lava-rock grills and the power burner.
Of course this level of quality and customization doesn’t come cheap.  After all, a La Cornue range is thought of as the Rolls-Royce of the kitchen!  If you love to cook, and you demand nothing but the best in quality and style, a La Cornue range is for you…

5/9/12

Antigua Luxury at Hermitage Bay


Sun… Sand… Surf… Solitude…
Nestled into 16 lush acres on Antigua is the 5-star Hermitage Bay resort.

Ahhhh….
Relaxation is easy here.  Surrounded by undisturbed tropical habitat, this secluded eco-chic resort provides an excellent escape from those dreaded words:  hustle and bustle.

There are 25 cottages on the grounds from which to choose.  8 are beachfront, with a split-level lounge and patio area facing the ocean.  The remaining 17 cottages are hillside, each with its own plunge pool and sunning deck.  All cottages have the expected luxury appointments such as King beds with Italian linens, freestanding bathtubs, outdoor showers and every electronic convenience one might require.
Resort amenities are highlighted by the secluded beach, as well as a gourmet beachfront restaurant, a fitness center, resort pool and the Garden Spa. 

To remove even more stress, Hermitage Bay is all inclusive.  This covers all meals and snacks, premium cocktails, private luxury airport transfers, morning yoga, meditation and Pilates classes, non-motorized water sports… the list goes on…
The excellent and well-trained staff also gets high marks for being unobtrusive, yet available and efficient when needed.

If peace and tranquility are your vacation goals, Hermitage Bay provides these in spades.  Highly recommended!

4/12/12

Oceanco Y707 joins the SuperYacht Club


Due for final delivery this month to an anonymous owner is Dutch shipbuilder Oceanco’s Y707.  This floating extravaganza apparently comes in at number 41 on the SuperYacht list for overall size.  A length of 88.5m and a beam just over 14m might categorize this vessel as a small village.  One could likely get lost onboard..!
Exterior and interior design was penned by the Australian firm Sam Sorgiovanni Designs.  There is no shortage of luxury here with eucalyptus and teak woods and white onyx adorning interior surfaces along with other natural materials and fabrics.  The amenities list is quite extensive with a pair of limousine tenders, a boatload of watersports equipment (pun intended), an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi as well as a 3D cinema.

Accommodations begin with the owner’s suite.  Start with the necessary bedroom and add the study, lounge, lobby and a private exterior deck with a whirlpool.  Next we have the VIP suite along with 4 double-VIP cabins.  Plenty of room for all the guests that will be clamoring for time aboard.
Shiver me timbers, this is one beautiful yacht..!

4/11/12

Krups EA82 – the new Coffee Robot


It slices, dices and julienne fries!
Not really…and it doesn’t talk to you either.  But in the world of coffee and espresso machines, the latest from Germany-based Krups is a powerhouse!

Engineered to cover all the coffee drinkers from simple morning cup sippers to adventurous connoisseurs, the EA82 is impressive.  Coffee, tea, espresso and cappuccino are all accounted for. 
There is a bean hopper to store and then grind your beans to the desired coarseness.  The water reservoir has a filtration system to aid purity of flavor and reduce scaling.  The slick interactive display provides a wealth of information and the multi-directional steamer handles all milk-frothing duties. This little gem even has built in rinsing, cleaning and descaling programs to minimize maintenance.

Now top it all off with Krups’ Elite Service.  Owners of the EA82 will have exclusive access to luxury coffees and teas from high-end vendors.
Your custom cup of Joe is waiting..!

The EA82 is available for $799 online with Amazon.com or at Macys and Bed, Bath and Beyond. 

4/10/12

Maestro Dobel Diamond Tequila

A quick glance at this bottle of tequila would suggest that a nice silver or blanco tequila resides within.

Not so much..!

In truth what we have here is a beguiling blend of reposado, añejo and extra-añejo tequilas.  The clarity is due to a proprietary fermentation process which removes the color and congeners from the spirit.  The process is the brainchild of one Juan-Domingo “Dobel” Beckmann, a sixth-generation tequila producer.
The end result is sheer tequila bliss!  The complexity of the finest aged spirits combined with a luxurious crispness.  Carefully balanced notes of smoked wood and earth are present along with hints of dried fruits, spice and a touch of honey to round out the palate. 

If you are in the market for a luxurious sipping tequila, this one deserves a try.
Highly recommended!

4/9/12

SRT Viper is the Star of the NY Auto Show


If you are a geek for hybrids, look away…
If you are all about high mileage fuel-sippers, cover your eyes…

If stealth transportation is your thing… fuhgedaboudit..!
Chrysler’s high-performance think tank, otherwise known as SRT, released their updated take on the slayer of all autos subtle and slow…            

The Viper!
Not a vehicle for the meek and timid, the hyper-aggressive icon was given a thorough redo, as the SRT folks took criticisms of the previous vehicle and made significant improvements.  Worry not, aficionados.  The Viper’s overall character has been maintained.

The 8.4 liter V-10 still lurks beneath the long hood, providing 640 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque in its current guise.  The transmission will be a 6-speed manual, with no automatic variants available.  Performance will be “hold on for dear life” fantastic!
The exterior look maintains the Viper esthetic from previous generations, in updated form.  The interior follows suit with improved materials, better fit-and-finish as well as an updated infotainment system and performance monitors.  It makes for a more livable and modern environment worthy of SRT’s top of the line vehicle.

My best guess for pricing would be just under 100K.  Availability should begin the fourth quarter of this year. 

4/4/12

BMW Announces Pricing for X1, M5, M6 and 6-Series Gran Coupe


In a virtual extravaganza of announcements at the New York International Auto Show, BMW has revealed the MSRP for several upcoming models .
Let’s begin with the ultra-high performance models from BMW’s Motorsport division.  Their wolf in sheep’s clothing version of the 5-Series sedan will start at $90,695.  This is a 2013 model year vehicle and should hit showrooms in September of this year.  This new F10 version of the M5 shows about a 5% increase in price over the previous generation.

The other M-division monster, the two-door M6 will precede the M5 cars to America and should show up in mid-June.  The coupe will retail at $106,995 and the convertible will be a tick up the scale at $113,995. 
Another version of the 6-Series, the luxurious 4-door Gran Coupe (pictured above) goes on sale mid-summer with the 640i starting at $76,895, followed by the more powerful 650i at $87,395 and a four-wheel drive version at $90,395.

In the small sport-ute category or as BMW calls it – SAV – their new X1 arrives on our shores for the first time starting at $31,545 for the rear wheel drive 4-cylinder model and topping at $39,345 for the four-wheel drive 6-cylinder version. 

4/3/12

Boulder 3050 – Worlds Best Amplifier


Well…maybe…
The world of high-end audio amplifiers is a bit like expensive Cabernet Sauvignons…your favorite depends on your singular tastes.  For amplifiers, this includes not only your “ear”, but also the ancillary gear in the stereo as well as style of music you listen to.  Even the room acoustics play a role.

Boulder Amplifiers, Inc. produced their first stereo amplifier in the early 80s.  Founder Jeff Nelson has been at it ever since, pushing the electronics envelope and advancing his state-of-the-art.  The 3050 Mono Power Amplifier is the culmination of those years of work. 
These monsters are engineered to the hilt.  Advances in virtually every area of circuitry including their new “99H” gain stage take the performance to new heights.  You want power?  How does 1,500 watts continuous output with a peak of 6,000 sound?  Staggering..! 

Even the aesthetics of these amplifiers are impressive.  Custom machined from aerospace-grade aluminum, the 3050s are definite audiophile eye candy.  They also happen to weigh 380 lbs. apiece and are shipped with a specially designed granite and stainless steel platform.
So here is my bottom line:  In the world of cost-no-object amplifiers, there are several brands that make contenders – Vitus, Tenor, Gryphon and MBL come to mind.  These new Boulder 3050 Mono Amplifiers definitely deserve to be placed in the same category.  If you are in the market for the ultimate sound, give these an audition.

By the way, a pair will set you back a cool $195,000.

3/29/12

Panasonic’s Smart Viera HDTVs

First shown at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the Panasonic Smart VIERA line of Plasma and LED LCD HDTVs is now rolling into stores.

The top of the line plasma sets are the VT Series, which Panasonic claims to be “a reference model in both functions and picture quality”.  Available in 55” and 65” sizes, the VT models feature Panny’s latest display technologies (including 3D) as well as full networking capabilities such as Wi-Fi and Web Browsing.  The picture quality is truly stunning!

The best mix of price and performance for plasma would be the ST Series, which is available in 50”, 55”, 60” and 65” sizes and start at an MSRP of $1399.95.
The LED LCD models are topped by the WT Series, available in 47” and 55” sizes. 

With the demise of Pioneer’s KURO televisions a while back, the Panasonic VIERA lineup has been my consistent recommendation for their blend of performance, technology, features and price.  These new Smart VIERA models are excellent sets and highly recommended!

3/13/12

Ferrari’s Mighty F12 Berlinetta



Ferrari cognoscenti are all aglow with the Geneva Motor Show debut of the fastest production Ferrari ever built:  the F12 Berlinetta.
As a replacement for the aging 599, the F12 retains the mid-front engine configuration of the previous car – the engine is in front of the driver, but behind the front wheels for better weight distribution.  And oh what an engine it is..!  The folks at Maranello developed an all new 6262cc V-12 for this stallion which produces a reported 740 horsepower and redlines at 8700 rpm, yet manages to drink 30% less fuel than the previous car.

The Scaglietti designed chassis and bodyshell introduces myriad new materials and assembly techniques in the name of weight reduction and structural stiffness.  Pininfarina collaborated with Ferrari on the body design, incorporating aerodynamic improvements and Ferrari’s current design cues.
The performance envelope for the F12 Berlinetta is simply off the hook!  Ferrari reports a 0-62 mph time of 3.1 seconds and a lap around their test track 1.2 seconds faster than anything they have built in the past.  This thing even has room for luggage..!

I say bravo!  Ferrari does it again…

3/6/12

The Ovid Experiment – Fun with Wine


Located 1,400 feet above the Napa Valley floor are 15 acres on Pritchard Hill that are home to Ovid Winery, one of my favorite in the category of boutique wineries. 
In 2000 under the guidance of David Abreau, the land was planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  The flagship Ovid Napa Valley wine released each year is a Bordeaux blend of the utmost quality, courtesy of the wonderful terroir and the work of winemakers Andy Erickson and Austin Peterson.  I highly recommend it if you can track it down…

Now here is where a little mad scientist ethos comes in… the Experiment.
Each year the team at Ovid releases a small batch of wines they make to celebrate “experimentation in grape growing and winemaking”, to further explore the character of their vineyard.  No two vintages are alike.  The D7.86 from 2006 is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, where the J5.8 from 2008 is pure Cabernet Sauvignon from a single block in the vineyard.

Great land, great grapes, a great winemaking team and a dose of adventure… how can you go wrong!  Not only will these wines light up your taste buds, but for those collectors out there, they are a home run for their combination of quality, rarity and novelty.
Here’s to Ovid, both the Roman Poet and the wines.  Great stuff..!

3/3/12

Porsche Boxster Redux


The entry-level convertible from the fine folks at Porsche has been re-engineered from the ground up for the 2013 model year.  The resulting next generation Boxster has a longer wheelbase and wider track, yet manages to weigh less than the outgoing model.  This, of course, aids performance as well as fuel-efficiency. 
The new base Boxster is powered by a 2.7 liter flat-six delivering 265 hp – ten more than the previous model.  The Boxster S model ups the ante with a 3.4 liter engine with 315 ponies.  The improved fuel efficiency should come in around 15 percent when final figures are released.

To my eye the new bodywork is a subtle step up in design language.  A more aggressive, muscular aesthetic manages improved aerodynamics as well as fitting better with the car’s personality.  The interior rework follows along with the cabins of the new 911, Panamera and Cayenne in style and layout, and looks like a great place to spend time behind the wheel.
Overall I am very pleased with the work of the folks at Porsche AG.  This new Boxster will no doubt be a huge success.  Due in showrooms in early summer, the Boxster will start at $49,500 and the S-model rings in at $60,900. 

Fingerling Potato Pasta


Potatoes and pasta?  Really..?
Yes!

In fact, if you try this recipe, you may just shout “yes” from the rooftops.  OK, maybe that is a little dramatic, but trust me on this, your taste buds will be happy!
The story behind this is quite simple.  I love fingerling potatoes and I love to cook pasta.  Why not find a way to combine the two.  This recipe will show you how.  I have to give a shout to Chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame for the inspiration on this one.  Of course I made a few minor changes and added a protein!  I like it with orecchiette (“small ear”) pasta, which is common in southern Italy.

·         1 lb. Orecchiette pasta
·         1 lb. fingerling potatoes
·         ½ lb pancetta, diced
·         1 large red onion, thinly sliced
·         4 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped
·         1 Tbsp thyme, chopped
·         2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
·         1 bunch arugula
·         ¼ cup parmesan, freshly grated
·         Lemon
·         Olive oil
·         Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Clean  and slice the potatoes 1/3 inch thick and toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Layer on a roasting pan and roast in oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and tender.
Bring large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.  Meanwhile, cook the pancetta in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Remove the pancetta when golden and set aside - drain off fat from the pan. 

Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to the pan and add the onions and cook 10 minutes.  Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook per directions.  Add garlic and herbs to the onion and sauté for 2 minutes.  Next add the potatoes and pancetta and incorporate with a bit more olive oil as needed. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the pan with the potato mixture.  (I like to reserve a bit of the pasta water to add as well.)  Add a couple generous handfuls of the arugula and then the parmesan.  Next add fresh squeezed lemon juice (1 or 2 lemons) and salt and pepper to taste.  Plate and serve.

2/14/12

BMW’s Molten Hot M6 Arrives!



Those mad engineers at BMW’s Motorsport Division have unveiled their latest creation.

Meet the M6..!

BMW’s 6-series is the automaker’s largest two-door coupe and convertible, done in a Grand Touring style with sporting overtones.  After a bake in the Motorsport oven it has become a hi-performance rocket ship masquerading as a buttoned-down GT. 

The heart of the M6 is a 4.4 liter turbocharged V8 rated at a volcanic 560hp and just over 500 lb-ft of torque.  A 7-speed DCT transmission sends power to the rear wheels.  BMW claims a 0-62 mph time of 4.2 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Stop is provided by the standard M Compound brakes or the newly available M carbon-ceramic brakes.  The carbon-ceramic option reduces unsprung weight by nearly 43 lbs., improving overall performance and stopping capability.

Several visual cues including front and rear treatments as well as M-specific 19” or 20” wheels and a carbon-fiber roof on the coupe set the car apart from the standard 6-series.  A few interior touches also remind that you are in an M vehicle as well…as if you would forget.
In sum, what we have here is a striking GT-sized coupe or convertible that can be driven sedately on an everyday basis, yet has the ability to blast into hyperspace at a moment’s notice.  If that is your ticket, then the new BMW M6 is your car..!

1/25/12

Laguiole Knives are Awesome…Sometimes!


Many of you are likely familiar with the name Laguiole, having seen it on cutlery at a fine restaurant, store or a residence. It has become synonymous with high quality handmade craftsmanship.

What many folks don’t realize is that the name Laguiole is NOT a brand or a company.

When these knives were first created in the early 1800s with their slim design and tapered blade, nobody thought to patent the name. The result is that cutlery with the Laguiole name and style can be manufactured anywhere in the world and unfortunately the quality varies greatly.

Should you want to procure the real deal, let me give you a few pointers…

There are several cutler makers in France, most located near Laguiole or Thiers, that follow the traditional Laguiole style and hand crafting techniques.

This is the good stuff!

Along with the Laguiole name you will find a name and/or logo of the maker on the knives. The product will also be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, listing the name and address of the producer. This is old-school artisan work. Some of these knives require over 200 steps in production to complete!

The real Laguiole cutlery is indeed…awesome!

1/11/12

TV Fun at CES 2012


The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas every January might be referred to as Mecca for geeks.

Yes… I am a geek! (I bet a lot of you are too!)

With that said, new television technology is always one of the highlights from the show. This year’s CES did not disappoint, and there were two TVs that caught my eye. It also happens that both were from the same company, LG.

Let me start with OLED technology and LG’s 55-inch OLED TV. Organic light-emitting diode is a different take on the LED technology that you are familiar with. I won’t get into those geeky details, other than to say OLED has better black levels and contrast ratios than LED while at the same time being thinner and lighter. The LG OLED television is only 4mm thick, which is thinner than most smartphones. On top of that, the picture is breathtaking.

For the next TV, we are going into the jumbo category and talking about LG’s 84-inch UD (ultra-definition) 4K TV. This monster LED set has what LG refers to as 4K resolution, a major step up from our current 1080p HiDef standard. The current HD sets run a resolution of 1920 x 1080. This set resolves at 3840 x 2160, allowing for finer detail on the screen and therefore a better picture.

This is just a quick take of the toys at CES, but for you videophiles out there, it should whet your appetite for new technology coming down the road…

1/10/12

Acura NSX Concept at Detroit Auto Show


Acura’s original NSX sent shock waves through the sportscar world when it hit the market in 1990. Combining Acura’s reliability with Ferrari-esque performance at about half the price, the NSX sent the Italians scrambling.

Ending production in 2005, we have since been teased by the folks at Acura with several concepts and hints of a new NSX. Introduced this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the latest NSX Concept appears to finally be approaching production form!

And now for some details…

The new NSX will continue the history of a mid-mounted V6 engine, but it will be augmented by three electric motors. Yes, this is going to be a hybrid supercar! Acura’s SH-AWD will be used in its latest incarnation along with the gasoline V6 to provide what Acura describes as “supercar acceleration” along with the efficiency of a hybrid. Handling should be stellar as Acura engineers are keeping overall weight to a minimum.

Look for the new NSX to get to market in the 2015 timeframe. I can’t wait..!

1/9/12

Sweet Sounds! Rockport Technologies’ new Avior


Those of you audiophile music geeks such as me have likely heard of Rockport Technologies, the renowned speaker manufacturer based in Rockport, Maine. For the non-geeks out there, let me make an introduction…

Andrew Payor, Founder and Designer for the company, burst onto the audiophile scene in the early 90s with highly acclaimed phonograph products. His next step was a move into speaker design, which he has done with tremendous results. Several speaker models over the years have garnered widespread acclaim from the audio press.

Payor’s latest speaker creation is the Avior, described as a three-way, four driver design. The single midrange and dual bass drivers have a new carbon-fiber fabric cone for high performance and ultra-low distortion levels. The speaker compliment is rounded out by an impressive beryllium-dome tweeter for the high frequencies. Frequency response is rated by Rockport at 25 Hz to 30 kHz, +/- 3dB.

Each speaker is 46.5” in height, 15” wide and 24.5” deep and weighs in at 220 pounds. Fit and finish is of heirloom quality.

As for the sound..? Paired with the proper electronics, you will be blown away by what you hear… simply amazing!

Pricing for the Avior is set at $29,500.00 per pair.

1/5/12

Ridley Scott Returns with Prometheus


I have a vivid recollection of the little critter bursting forth from this poor fellow’s chest..!


(More on this in a moment)

Ridley Scott, one of the better film directors around, is returning this June with his latest work…

Prometheus

You may know of Mr. Scott from some of his previous films. Science fiction classics Alien (the above reference) and Blade Runner, along with other genres such as Gladiator, Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down and American Gangster have all garnered acclaim from critics and the public alike. You may get the idea that this guy is pretty talented.

This latest movie tells of a team of explorers looking for clues to the origins of man. Thus the name, as in Greek mythology Prometheus played a pivotal role in the early days of mankind.

While there are some tie-ins with the Alien movie, this story apparently takes its own direction with a timeline prior to that film. With Ridley Scott at the helm, this has the makings of the next great Sci-fi epic!

Prometheus is due in theaters on June 8th. My calendar is already marked!

1/3/12

Sweet in Saint Lucia – Hotel Chocolat


I’m going to practice some chemistry today and combine two of my favorite things. The first ingredient is that wonderful tidbit of edible decadence otherwise known as chocolate. The second item is a location – a wonderful isle in the Caribbean called Saint Lucia.

Let me introduce you to The Hotel Chocolat.

This newly opened boutique resort is located on the Rabot Estate near Soufriere on the southwest side of the island. This chocolate producing estate has roots back to the mid-1700s and has been renovated by the new owners.

Accommodations on the estate consist of stand-alone cottages, my favorite being the larger Cocoa Pod Luxe with King-size beds, open sky forest showers and verandahs with spectacular views of the twin Pitons. All of the expected top-shelf amenities are present as well.

On the activity front, water-based fun such as sailing, diving, kayaking and swimming are all available. For those with an affinity for the land you can try hiking, island exploration or maybe a zip-line ride. If you are in the mood for relaxation, visit the nearby beach or hang at the resort for a spa treatment or a day of lounging at the infinity edge pool.

The highly rated Boucan Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner highlighting local ingredients. Don’t be surprised if you see some cacao on the ingredient list!

Relaxing and intimate with first-class service and amenities, the Hotel Chocolat adds up to one sweet vacation destination!