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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

5/19/19

Game of Thrones – It Should End Like This





Spoiler alert! If you have not watched the series, but plan to do so, read no further.

Now that I have dispensed with that triviality...

The last several weeks I have managed to binge the series, catching up last week. Having acquired the opportunity to watch the series finale along with the rest of the planet, the question remains:

How will this mess end?

With the Lannister power couple, Cersei and Jaime buried under 72 feet of rubble, the Throne is vacant and ready for its next claimant. The obvious direction being Daenerys and her fire-vomiting Pterodactyl ascending to what she feels is her birthright. Jon Snow will retire northward, and all will live not-so-happily ever after.

Another scenario that seems to be gaining traction has the main characters settling on a new democracy. This would not surprise me, but it is far too sappy IMO after the swath of bloodletting that the series has unleashed upon the viewing public.

Hmmm…

Does the fact that Daenerys’ rage got the best of her as she decided to lay waste to King’s Landing alter her alliances?

Duh…

Here is what I would like to see. Mind you, this is a quick take, but you’ll get the twisted idea. 
Daenerys does in fact convince the remaining power brokers that she will rule in the best interest of the people. The Starks depart for the north, and Tyrion remains as Daenerys’ hand. Little do we know, the remaining Lannister is now a bit upset with his Queen, feeling that she unnecessarily slaughtered the innocent residents of King’s Landing, as well as terminating his kin. Her credibility has evaporated in his eyes and set his anger ablaze (pun intended). In the final scene, picture Tyrion seizing an opportunity to alter the blood flow in Daenerys’ neck while she sits on the hallowed Throne. He then manages to shove the bleeding body to the floor, taking a seat on the Throne.

As the camera pulls away slowly, Tyrion reminds us, as we’ve heard endlessly over the years, that “a Lannister always pays his debts.”  Fade to black as we hear his delightfully evil laughter in the hall.

Just sayin…

4/8/19

Mexican Manhattan – A Tequila Changeup!



Tequila is relatively universal.  At some point in life, we really loved it…


Or maybe we hated it!

Suffice it to say, nearly everyone has a tequila story to share. 

I happen to thoroughly appreciate the spirit, but feel it can be limited in use.  In an effort to broaden the agave horizon, I entered the hot new mixology world of spirit-swapping.  A quick search of the webosphere reveals notes aplenty for a Tequila Manhattan.  I love a good Manhattan, so this piqued the Connoisseur’s Curiosity.

The majority of posted recommendations simply swap out the Bourbon, Brandy or Rye for the tequila.  I decided to take things a bit further and look at the sweet vermouth component.  What might match up a bit better with the Agave spirit?

After some research and experimentation, I settled on Bénédictine. 

“Hey, Feldmann.  Why Bénédictine?”  Its honeyed sweetness along with spice and herbal nuances resonate as a perfect accompaniment to the characteristics of tequila.  Give it a try when you are feeling a bit adventurous, and prepare to be surprised.  My recipe follows, but feel free to tinker to suite your palate.  I also prefer the moniker Mexican Manhattan.   

Mexican Manhattan

·         2 oz Reposado Tequila (good quality, please)

·         ¾ oz Bénédictine

·         1 dash Angostura bitters

·         1 dash orange bitters

·         Twist of lime to garnish
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and strain into a rocks glass.  A single, large ice cube is preferable, but optional.


Cheers!

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

4/7/19

AXPONA 2018 Recap - Sensational Sounds!



As I prepare my travel kit to head back to the Windy City for AXPONA 2019, I thought a quick recap of last year’s edition was in order.  


The weather outside was frightful, the music inside was… nothing short of spectacular! 

In the first year at AXPONA’s new home at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center, the global audio industry came to the realization that this was primed to be the premier American-based audio show going forward.  The spacious and accommodating venue is about as good as a hotel can be for hosting this type of event. 

The rooms in general sounded consistently top shelf, with phenomenal gear and great music at every turn.  All of the audiophile jazz, folk and classical tunes were present, but there was a noticeable increase in out-of-the-norm tunes filling the air.  AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Muse, Perfect Circle and others appeared on playlists, much to the apparent delight of show attendees.  I hope this trend continues!

Now if they could get that weather taken care of. 

As an update, the 2020 show will be in the same timeframe, running April 17-19.

I’ll close with some pictures from the 2018 happening, for your viewing pleasure.  Safe travels and see you at the show. 

Cheers!












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

2/12/19

992 = The New Porsche 911


Full disclosure:  With its combination of daily usability, iconic looks and near-supercar performance, the Porsche 911 may well be my go-to for all things automotive.  While my eye occasionally wanders to the miscellaneous McLaren, Aston, Ferrari or Lamborghini, the 911 has always felt like home.


Home is getting a remodel…

The 2020 Porsche 911, chasis code 992, has been revealed, and I like what I see.  
A cursory glance might produce a “same old” reflex, but slow your roll and look a bit closer.  The Devil is, after all, hiding in the details.  While wheelbase remains the same as the previous gen 991.2 car, rear wheel width is an inch and a half wider, and the front track nearly two inches greater.  For the first time in forever, there is also a staggered wheel diameter, with the rears being an inch larger.  The sum is greater bite on initial corner entry, and what feels to be even more insane grip throughout the corner.

Other exterior visual cues of newness include updates to the front and rear fascia and light treatments.  The most striking is the wraparound taillight assembly, which looks good in pictures, but stunning in person.  Another detail of note: the flush door handles.  A fine bit of Germanic techno-geekery these are, but it truly contributes to the overall cleanliness of the 992 design concept. 

My favorite design takeaway?  On previous gen 911s, if you spec’d a model with all-wheel drive, you inherited a wider rear track.  The extra fender width made for a sexier stance.  All models in the 992 range will receive this treatment, so even the standard rear-wheel versions get that extra something!  A smidge more junk in the trunk, visually.

Alright, now I shall dive into more of the tech.  The PDK transmission is now an 8-speed, up from 7 in the previous car.  This allows for closer ratios and a taller overdrive, aiding both performance and economy.  The 3.0-liter flat-six engines have been worked over with changes in turbocharging, intercooling and other wonderfulness, upping their horsepower rating to 443 in the S trim level, along with 390 lb-ft of torque.  This should get you to 60 mph from a standstill in the 3.3 second range.  All manner of suspension, braking and safety tweaks are included as well, and don’t be surprised when some hybrid tech arrives on the scene in a couple of years. 

The interior has been nicely updated to fall in line with the Panamera and Cayenne, sharing the large 10.9” touchscreen on the center dash.  In fact, the only analog dial remaining is the center mounted tachometer.  Overall the cabin has the usual fit-and-finish and ergonomic excellence that one comes to expect from a Porsche. 

Price of entry for the Carrera S starts at $114,550, and if you configure one online, you can quickly escalate from there by adding doodads and thingamajigs. 

This car is Porsche’s cornerstone, their icon.  Despite overwhelming pressure to make an age-old design (remember that engine in the trunk?) mo’ better, the wizards at Zuffenhausen manage to live up to expectations.  This car is a winner, pure and simple.

Cheers!

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

1/1/19

Thyme-infused Meyer Lemon Rye Whiskey Sour




The Whiskey Sour is a cocktail as old as thyme  er…  time.  In truth, the first printed mention of this beverage appears to be from the late 1800s. 

The International Bartender’s Association lists the recipe as:

·         3 parts bourbon whiskey

·         2 parts fresh lemon juice

·         1 part simple syrup

·         Dash egg white (optional)

Fast forward to the craft cocktail movement, and let’s look at a twist on this old favorite.

We’ll start with the lemon and go Meyer.  Meyer lemons tone down the tartness and acidity of regular lemons, but still maintain plenty of lemony sweetness.  Next, we’ll follow one of the major cocktail trends and add an herb, in this case, thyme.  Lastly, I’ll recommend using a rye whiskey here, for the dry spiciness, and more restrained sweetness compared to a bourbon.

The first step is to construct the thyme-infused simple syrup.  1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, generous bunch of thyme sprigs, bring to a heavy simmer to dissolve the sugar, simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat and let the thyme steep for 20 minutes.  Strain and you are good to go.  You can stash this in the fridge for a couple weeks.

Now let’s build this thing…

·         1 ½ oz. Rye Whiskey

·         1 oz. Meyer lemon juice

·         ¾ oz. thyme simple syrup

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and do that shaky-shake thing.  Pour over ice in a cocktail glass and garnish with Meyer lemon twist and sprig of thyme. 

If you prefer more sweetness, simply up the syrup to a full ounce or more, but start with this ratio and adjust as your palete prefers.

Cheers!

12/29/18

Rolls-Royce Cullinan – Three Tons of Waft



Waft    verb      pass or cause to pass easily or gently through or as if through the air.

More on this linguistic tidbit in a moment. 

Rolls-Royce has been building cars for, what, a million years?  A bit more accurately, Henry Royce and Charles Rolls got things rolling (pun deliberately applied) in 1904.  Through superior engineering and manufacturing, they quickly gained a reputation for building the world’s best car. 

Over time, the RR luxo-barges became synonymous with success.  When you “made it”, you bought a Rolls-Royce.  The vehicles evolved over the years, but managed to maintain the lofty status first garnered back in the early 1900s.  The one missing link, however, was an SUV.

No longer…

The Cullinan, in its imposing 6100+ pounds of glory, was literally brought about by customer demand.  Make that “patrons”, as Rolls-Royce refers to its customers.  After all, these cars (and now SUVs) are often thought of as works of art.   


You can singularly specify your oversized rolling objet d’art with 32 different exterior paint colors, 21 hues of cow hide, eight options in the wood department, and seven varieties of wheels.  Let’s not forget the champagne fridge, whiskey decanter, or the glorious lambswool floor mats.  All manner of goodies can be had for the proper outlay of cheddar! 

The car tech stuff is certainly top notch here, as expected.  A team of nearly 300 engineers labored 3 years developing this beast.  They utilized fun things like air struts, three electronically controlled stabilizer bars, four-wheel steering and specially developed tires.  Combined with the flawless 12-cylinder engine, vault-like build quality and over 200 pounds of sound-deadening material, the Cullinan successfully provides that Rolls-Royce effortless propulsion, the famed “magic carpet ride”. 

Waft.

At a base price of $327,600, you get the full Rolls-Royce experience in a roomy, imposing and, dare I say “utilitarian”, package?  Roller fans certainly won’t be disappointed.  Your luxury tank awaits!

4/7/18

Hola..! Los Cabos’ Newest Resorts!




The tip of the Baja Peninsula continues to draw relaxation seekers from near and far.  The once sleepy towns San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas haven’t been somnolent in years, and the growth continues at an accelerated pace.  So much so, that your choice of resort might be rather difficult.

Two of the newest additions are the beachfront Solaz resort (opening in June), and the sharp Chileno Bay, an Auberge Resort.

Solaz is from the same folks that created the Hacienda del Mar complex.  This latest offering boasts award winning architecture and design, as well as the requisite top shelf amenities including seven restaurants, a gym, a world class spa, several infinity pools and even an interactive museum. 

Chileno Bay brings 92 guestrooms and villas to the Los Cabos vacation inventory.  Designed to highlight an indoor/outdoor aesthetic, the vibe is an excellent blend of casual and luxe, ideal for full relaxation.  Three restaurants, Comal, TnT (Tacos and Tequila) and the Pool Grill, will keep you fed.  The infinity pools, swimmable beach, Auberge Spa and Chileno Bay Club golf course will keep you occupied as needed. 

In the coming months, five more resorts are slated to join the list.  These include Montage Los Cabos, Nobu Hotel, Zadún (Ritz-Carlton), Four Seasons at Costa Palms and 1Hotel & Homes.
If the Cabo vibe is your thing, take your pick from the above and prepare to relax.

Cheers…!


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




3/18/18

ELAC Debut 2.0 – Budget Speakers Mo’ Better!



In the world of bang-for-the-buck speakers, it is hard to beat the products from legendary speaker designer Andrew Jones and his ELAC line of speakers.  Bursting on the scene in 2015, the first-generation ELAC Debut speakers made a notable impression on the audio glitterati, providing unexpectedly refined sound at a fiscally friendly price point. 

Now it’s time for gen-2…! 

Per Mr. Jones, “Based on feedback from dealers and end-users, along with changes in the market, we have completely redesigned the entire line-up with newly developed drivers, waveguides, cabinets and networks resulting in a line that is easier to setup and offers significant performance improvements”.

I’ll start with the cabinets.  The MDF enclosures bring improvements in internal bracing to reduce vibration and coloration of sound.  A decision was also made to move the bass port to the front of the cabinets, allowing more flexibility in speaker placement, whether closer to a wall or in bookshelves. 

Next up you have some newly engineered speaker assemblies.  The silk-dome tweeters have better high and low frequency extension, as well as improvements in diffraction.  The redesigned woofers, constructed of a woven aramid fiber, offer up greater stiffness and damping, for smoother frequency response and control.

Throw in refinements in crossover networks for more agreeable power requirements and better dynamics, and you have a thorough revamp of an already fine product.

The Debut 2.0 line consists of the B5.2 ($249.98 pr) and B6.2 ($299.98 pr) 2-way bookshelf speakers, C5.2 ($199.98) and C6.2 ($279.98) center channel speakers, F5.2 and F6.2 ($299.98 and $399.98 ea) floorstanding 3-way speakers, OW4.2 ($249.98 pr) on-wall speakers, A4.2 ($249.98 pr) Dolby Atmos add-on speakers, and the excellent SUB3010 400-watt powered subwoofer with AutoEQ and app controllability.

The ELAC Debut 2.0 line will be available at retailers March 15th. 

Bang for the sonic buck that is hard to beat…!

Cheers!



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

3/17/18

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door – Fabulous!




Well then…   What were the folks at Affalterbach supposed to do? Did you expect them to sit idly by while the Porsche Panamera Turbo ran off with all the 4-door sports car sales?   

No way, Klaus...!

Mercedes-AMG has been hinting this creation for a while, and now it has officially arrived, and I like what I see.
While it appears to simply be a stretched GT, this 4-door rocket is actually based on the E-class sedan’s architecture.  You would never know, as it retains the GT’s long hood, rakish windshield and windswept silhouette for a lithe, athletic presence. 

A troika of models will be available, familiar to disciples of all things AMG.  The baby of the bunch will be the GT53, powered by a newly introduced turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine with 429 horsepower, paired with a nine-speed automatic and the ubiquitous 4Matic all-wheel drive.  AMG claims 60 mph will arrive in a scant 4.4 seconds. 
To slow…?

Next up the ladder will be the GT63.  This model ups the ante with a 4.0-liter V-8, pounding out 577 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque.  60 mph arrives in 3.3 seconds and this four-door will top out at 193 scorching miles per hour. 
Whew!

The ridiculous among us can opt for the top of the line GT63 S, which adds a slightly tuned version of the V-8 for a total of 630 horses and shaves 0.2 seconds off the sprint to 60 mph. 
Four fast doors…!

All other sporting hardware is appropriate to the performance level, including available carbon-ceramic brakes with bronze-painted calipers.  Don’t forget to check the options box for the air springs of AMG Rid Control +, for the ultimate in precise handling.

Interior appointments are centered around Mercedes’ now familiar dual 12.3-inch display screens, one for the instrument cluster and the other focusing on infotainment.  The remainder of the interior retains much of the 2-door GT’s cocooned jet fighter feel, of which I must approve.  Fit and finish are of the requisite quality.

What will it be?  Panamera or AMG GT 4-Door.  What about the rumored BMW M8 Gran Coupe that may be on the way?
The Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door is certainly a worthy competitor and will get you to your destination ahead of time, and with effortless style.

Well done, AMG…!

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


2/24/18

The Botanist - Gin Diaries pt4



And now for a bit of time travel, back to 1881 in Islay, Scotland.  Three brothers from the whisky-making Harvey family decided to form their own distillery – Bruichladdich (brookh-LAD-dee).  Over the decades, single malt whiskeys were the product choice. 

Did someone say “gin”...?

In 2011 the distillers stepped outside their comfort zone and introduced a gin to their lineup, The Botanist.  The gin is named for two extremely busy and quite possibly overworked botanists that gather 22 locally sourced wild Islay botanicals.  These botanicals are combined with the 9 classic gin aromatics, forming what I find to be a truly world-class spirit…!

These 31 botanicals manage to remain balanced and structured on the palate.  Citrus and floral notes keep things fresh, and spice is well integrated into the long finish.  There is a real harmony here, despite the complexity of ingredients.  The nose is also a thing of beauty, with delicate aromas weaving together and delighting the senses.

Other factors lending unique qualities to this gin, a sense of place if you will, are the use of Islay spring water, and the slow distillation process in a rare and aged Lomond Still, christened Ugly Betty. 

Classic…!

Bottom line?  This is an excellent spirit for the gin aficionados out there.  Well worth a try and highly recommended…!

Oh, and for those 31 botanicals, here they are:  angelica root, apple mint, birch leaves, bog myrtle leaves, cassia bark, chamomile, cinnamon bark, coriander seed, creeping thistle flowers, elder flowers, gorse flowers, heather flowers, hawthorn flowers, juniper berries, lardy's bedstraw flowers, lemon balm, lemon peel, liquorice root, meadow sweet, orange peel, oris root, peppermint leaves, mugwort leaves, red clover flowers, tansy, thyme leaves, water mint leaves, white clover, wood sage leaves.

Cheers…!
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