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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

11/24/15

Holiday Cocktail – Salted Caramel Martini


The holidays are upon us, like it or not…

Of course most folks enjoy the holidays, just not the anxiety that can be involved.  Well, what better way to relieve the dreaded holiday stress than with a holiday cocktail…

The Salted Caramel Martini
Great for holiday parties, or just relaxing with a loved one by the fireplace, this is one of my favorites for the chilly winter months.  Brought to us by the crazy cocktail chemists at RumChata, this is a simple recipe that will turn that frown upside down!

·         Sea Salt
·         Caramel sauce
·         2 parts RumChata
·         1 part caramel vodka

Using water, rim a chilled martini glass with the sea salt.  Next, drizzle a teaspoon of caramel sauce into the bottom of the glass. 
In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine RumChata and vodka and shake.  Pour into glass.

Drink…
Relax…

Give it a try and let me know what you think.  Happy Holidays...!
Cheers!!!


11/17/15

Cobalt Co50 Valkyrie – Sweet Private Flight...!



This plane is cool…!  It might be argued that Bruce Wayne would fly one of these.  Even the name gets points.

Here comes the Co50 Valkyrie!

Cobalt founder and CEO David Loury set out to build “an innovative private aircraft, that is not only technologically sound and safe, but also design-centric and luxurious”.  I would say he has succeeded.
Both the exterior and interior are completely customizable with different colors and finishes, even the seats are hand-stitched leather.  Seating is for the pilot and four guests, and there is plenty of room for the requisite golf clubs or skis, and luggage of course.  The one-piece canopy, claimed to be the largest in the world, provides unsurpassed visibility with a sweeping 320-degree view. 

Powered by a turbocharged 350 hp rear-mounted engine, the Valkyrie will max at 260 knots (299 mph) and has a cruising range of 1050 nautical miles.  It will get you where you need to go faster than any supercar, provided your pilot doesn’t get lost. 
This thing even has a parachute..!
First deliveries are expected in the summer of 2017.  You can pre-order your Valkyrie now with a $15,000 deposit.  Price of ownership is $699,000. 

Up, up and away…!
 
 

11/16/15

Tag Heuer Connected – The Android Watch Answer…




Smartwatches have certainly had their share of press lately and they are likely to be one of the hottest Christmas gifts of the year.  Of course Apple has been leading the trend.  You may recall my recent blog on the Hermès Apple Watch.  But now…

Google fights back..!

In partnership with Intel and revered watch maker Tag Heuer, Google brings us the Tag Heuer Connected. 
Designed after Tag’s Carrera racing style watch, the Connected is everything you would expect from this company, and then some.  Material and production standards such as sapphire crystal, titanium casings and water resistance are present.  Now go Android techie and add in a 240ppi resolution screen, 4 GB of onboard storage, 1 GB of RAM and plenty of battery power.  Three Tag Heuer-styled digital watch faces are present, with more on the way. 

Apps..?
But of course..!  With Android and even iOS compatibility, you have your pick.  Directional wind and weather monitoring, Google Fit, Tag’s RaceChrono Pro capability.  There are literally thousands of apps to choose from. 

Available now online and in stores, the Tag Heuer Connected can be yours for $1,500.00. 
Do you have the time..?


11/14/15

Acoustic Zen Crescendo Mk. II Speakers Invade Sacramento



I love music...!  And as a music lover and audiophile, I was recently afforded the opportunity to attend a demo in central Cali of some special speakers, Acoustic Zen’s recently updated Crescendo Mk. II.

Based out of San Diego, Acoustic Zen is the brainchild of noted design engineer Robert Lee, who happened to be conducting the demo…!  An affable fellow, Robert’s energy and passion for music are reflected in his products.  His audio cables and speakers have been garnering rave reviews for years.  Three floorstanding speaker models are currently available from Acoustic Zen, and in the middle of that lineup, the “sweet spot”, is the Crescendo Mk. II.

A full range speaker (no subwoofer needed), the Crescendo Mk. II is a 3-way transmission line design, with a 2” horn loaded ribbon tweeter for the highs, a pair of 5” midrange drivers in a MTM configuration, and two 8” woofers for the low stuff.  The Mk. II update brings improvements to the drivers and their magnet assemblies, as well as a reinforced cabinet design, all resulting in lower resonance and distortion.  For a detailed rundown of Robert’s engineering on the Crescendo, see his technical notes here.  Truly fascinating stuff...!  The speakers themselves weigh in at 125 lbs/per, and stand 50” H x 11” W x 17” D, and are available in four stunningly finished wood veneers:  maple, walnut, ebony and rosewood.
“Hey Feldmann, how do they sound...?”

Powered by top-shelf electronics from Pass Labs (more on Pass Labs coming soon), Meitner and Oppo, the speakers sounded scary good!  Excellent dynamics and imaging caught my attention, along with coherence from high notes to low.  I was especially enamored with the tight, tuneful and properly proportioned bass notes, resultant of Robert’s successful transmission line engineering.  These speakers sounded good on all types of music, from small ensemble jazz to large scale orchestra, rock and roll, and everything in between. 
If you are looking at speakers under $30,000, the Crescendo Mk. II at $18,000 is a must audition.  You might not let them get away…!

I would also be remiss without sending a thank you to the good people at the Sierra Nevada Audiophile Society for providing a wonderful day of music.
Cheers…!


Wine Time – Robert Keenan Winery


Let’s venture to the Spring Mountain District, just west of St. Helena in the Napa Valley.  Here, on the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains we find the home of Robert Keenan Winery. 

In 1974 Robert Keenan decided that Spring Mountain was the place to be, and promptly purchased 180 acres 1700 feet up the mountain.  Three years of hard labor produced the first grape harvest in 1977, and the Robert Keenan Winery was off and running.  In 1998 son Michael took over as owner and president of Keenan, after learning the winemaking craft from his father Robert and accomplished winemaker Joe Cafaro.  The years that followed saw vineyard replanting, sustainable farming, and even solar power.

Today we have a somewhat under-the-radar winery with consistently high-quality wines.  Of particular note are the estate wines:  a fine Chardonnay, the excellent Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, an exceptional Cab Franc and possibly my favorite, the Reserve Merlot from their Mailbox Vineyard. 
Hey, it really is OK to drink Merlot..!

Speaking of Merlot, these guys make a top shelf blend of 50% Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc cleverly named Mernet.  A delicious wine, the Mernet is another one of my favorites and highly recommended.
If you make the trek up Spring Mountain Road you will experience a decidedly unpretentious tasting.  Manager Laura March and her staff are friendly and informative, the new tasting room is warm and cozy, and the wines are sure to please.  Visits are by appointment only, so be sure to plan ahead.  They are open 7 days a week.

Cheers..!
 
 

11/11/15

The Gin Diaries pt3: OOLA



For the third in my gin reports, let’s head to the northwest corner of the states to the OOLA distillery, home of today’s topic, OOLA gin. 

(See part 1 and part 2 here)

Artist turned distiller Kirby Kallas-Lewis Has been crafting this small batch gin from his OOLA vodka since 2011.  His artistic sensibilities seem to carry over nicely to the craft gin realm.  This is what I would call a new world style of gin, with some creative use of botanicals producing this spirit.
The nose hits with floral rose notes, along with citrus and somewhat subdued juniper berry and hints of sweetness/caramel.  Almost “pretty” in its essence. 

In tasting, the floral and citrus notes continue, but firmer hints of coriander and other spices follow up.  The finish brings a mention of vanilla and more hints of caramel.  All notes were wrapped up in a cohesive structure with an excellent mouthfeel. 

While not my favorite for gin and tonics, it was excellent in a martini and would work splendidly in all manner of craft-style cocktail recipes.  This is one finely crafted small batch gin.  Seek it out and you are sure to enjoy. 
OOLA-la indeed..!


11/7/15

Fall and Soup – Potato Cheddar Soup with Bacon



Here is an equation for all of the Math Wiz types out there…

Fall = Soup

When cold weather sets in and the chill hits the bones, I set about making soups, soups and more soups.  Comfort food.  They just work at this time of year. 
I have a go-to list of 2 or 30 soup recipes that I like to revisit from time to time.  One of those comes from the estimable Mr. Puck.  Open his Live, Love, Eat cookbook and turn to page 24 and you will find Hearty Potato-and-Cheddar Soup with Bacon. 

Sound good?
It sure does to me.  Head to the store, get your ingredients and fire up the stove.  Don’t forget a nice bottle of wine and some crusty bread.  Recipe as follows…

·         ¼ lb bacon, chopped
·         4 Tbsp unsalted butter
·         2 small leeks, chopped
·         1 large onion, chopped
·         1 carrot, chopped
·         1 garlic glove, minced
·         ½ cup flour
·         6 cups Chicken Stock
·         3 lbs baking potatoes, 1/2” cubes
·         1 lb sharp cheddar, shredded
·         1 cup heavy cream
·         Salt and pepper
·         Chopped scallions or chives for garnish

Sauté the bacon in the soup pot over medium-high heat.  Remove and set aside.  Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of the drippings. 
Add the butter and melt.  Add the leeks, onions, carrot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent.  Sprinkle in the flour until the bacon fat is absorbed, stirring continuously.
Add chicken stock, stirring to dissolve the flour.

Add potatoes to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender.

Put the shredded cheese into a large mixing bowl.  Ladle in about a quarter of the hot soup liquid and stir until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth.  Add the mixture to the soup pot.
Gradually stir in the heavy cream.  Season to taste with the salt and pepper.  Heat the soup to desired thickness.  Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with scallions or chives.

Enjoy..!






Ultimate Maldives Diving Getaway – Four Seasons Explorer


If you are up for a little underwater exploration in the Indian Ocean, specifically the Maldives, you might as well add a little extravagance to the equation.  Does a 129-foot, three deck luxury catamaran from the Four Seasons sound good?  If so, the Four Seasons Explorer is your ticket.

This 22-passenger “luxury liveaboard” travels between the spectacular Four Seasons resorts of Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru.  Along the way you’ll visit isolated reefs and world class dive-sites for the divers, uninhabited beaches for the sun worshipers, and even secluded village communities for the explorers.  Time it right on the calendar, and manta rays and whale sharks will be your underwater guests..!  On board the Explorer you have the PADI 5-Star Dive Centre, hosting up to 3 dives per day. 

Other cruise amenities include all-inclusive cuisine, beach barbecues, a lounge and library, both indoor and outdoor bars, and an on-board massage therapist to make absolutely certain you are relaxed.  Of course the renowned Four Seasons levels of service are along for the ride.

3, 4 and 7-night itineraries are available.  You can further customize your Maldives vacation by adding nights at either of the above listed resorts.  The Explorer is also available for private charters for you and 21 of your closest friends. 

Tropical paradise awaits..!
 
 

11/4/15

Jet Hopping, Four Seasons Style..!


What exactly is “jet hopping”..?

If the term conjures up images of a bouncy house inside of a 747, you’re way off base.  I will give you an “A” for creativity though.
Jet hopping is merely traveling by jet to a series of destinations on one trip.  The term has been around since the late 60s, give or take. 
Our friends at Four Seasons have decided to kick it up a notch with their take on jet hopping.  Let me introduce you to the Four Season Private Jet Experience
It starts with the bespoke Four Seasons Boeing 757 jet outfitted with 52 seats and a spacious and upgraded interior.  Each state-of-the-art flatbed seat is crafted in Italy with the requisite high-quality materials.  Any flight anxieties you may have will be quickly tended to by a glass of Dom Pérignon. Are you relaxed yet?  This is truly flying in comfort, style and class. 
Four itineraries are available.  Cultural Escape, Extraordinary Adventures, International Intrigue, and the following Timeless Discoveries…
Your journey will take you to nine destinations as you go around the world in 24 days.  You start in the City of Angels at the Beverly Wilshire for two nights.  Then the 757 flying limo takes you to Kona, followed by Bora Bora, Sydney, Bali, Chiang Mai, Mumbai, Prague and finally London.  Each stop provides an exclusive itinerary for the jet hoppers.  This is truly a unique adventure – possibly the ultimate way to circle the globe!
Choose your itinerary and book your flight now, as the next available trip is slated for January 26th, 2016, with more to follow.
Oh, I almost forgot.  Your ticket for the Timeless Discovery will set you back USD 132,000.  Bon Voyage!