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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

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.