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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


Comfort Food – Latest Dine Out Trend

It is a certainty that the restaurant business is susceptible to trends. Especially in this economy as many establishments struggle to keep patrons coming in their doors. One movement that has been established for a while that I can appreciate is the use of “local” ingredients on a menu. I feel it adds a sense of place to a restaurant, as well as being a good business practice.

Recently anther buzz has come to the fore, fueled by the weak economy…comfort food.

After all, public morale is rather low. Why not offer some solace in a familiar plate of gourmet mac ‘n cheese or a fancified meat loaf. The effect here is two-fold… the familiarity of the food provides comfort and the food itself can oftentimes be cheaper to prepare, allowing establishments to offer more enticing price points to customers in penny-pinching mode.

Many eateries simply appear to supplement their menu with an item or four that meet this criteria. Others go full bore and fill an entire menu and make it a selling point. One recently visited establishment really seemed to get the blend “just right”, as Goldilocks would say…

Nobhill Tavern

Another in the growing empire of celebrity chef Michael Mina’s restaurants, Nobhill Tavern hits all the marks. A warm and inviting atmosphere, engaging and efficient staff and a menu with the right mix of comfort and gourmet. You can steer your evening meal in whichever direction suits your fancy. No doubt you will end up completely satisfied.

So the next time you are in the Mecca of Las Vegas, give Nobhill Tavern a try for a touch of comfort… Highly recommended!


Detroit Auto Show Upcoming Models

With the NAIAS (North American International Auto Show) from Detroit now firmly in the rearview mirror, I wanted to reflect back on a few of the production car debuts from the event. After all, I like to make sure you are informed and up to date.

Let’s start with the new 2011 Audi A8 that I wrote about here. This car brims with the latest technology and should be an excellent drive. Of course the interior shows up to Audi’s standards as well and overall the car appears to be a winner. The question remains, how will this big sedan from the four rings do against rivals from BMW and Mercedes..?

For BMW the letter “s” was important…as in the new Z4 sDrive 3.5is. Think of this variant of BMWs diminutive roadster as an unofficial M (Motorsport) version of the car. Tweaks to the engine for more power, along with suspension upgrades and a sporty exterior package set this car apart from the run of the mill Z4. This should be one exhilarating drive.

Of course Mercedes-Benz wasn’t going to let everybody else steal the limelight and bowed with the E-class convertible. Based on the new E-class coupe, the convertible looks appropriately restrained in that Mercedes kind of way. This is a very nice car, but missing a dollop of passion.

Cadillac’s debut of the “concept” in name only XTS will replace both the STS and DTS models as the large offering in the automakers lineup. A striking interior, hybrid powertrain technology and the usual Cadillac design cues make this a car that could do very well upon arrival. It will take dead aim at the Mercedes S400 Hybrid and anything else out there in the full-size category.

Lastly, let’s climb the ladder a few rungs so that I can mention Bentley’s newest flagship, the Mulsanne. I will keep it simple and say that it is everything the top-of-the-line Bentley should be. Simply fantastic..!


Live Lobster? Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co.

If you have a hankering for some great Maine lobster and don’t have the time to fly to Maine, I have a solution for you…

Let the good folks at Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company bring that lobster to you!

Cundy’s Harbor, Maine’s oldest commercial lobstering community, is the source of the lobster for Hancocks. The lobster is harvested from Casco Bay and shipped to you the same day, via overnight delivery. Each lobster is sized at 1 ¼ pounds and the package includes all the handling and cooking instructions you might need.

If you don’t need a full live lobster, look to the 6 oz tails or maybe meat from the claw and knuckle.

With a family restaurant history dating back to 1946, the folks at Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company also offer several entrees, appetizers and soups to fulfill any noshing whims you may have. Lobster cakes, lobster rolls, bacon-wrapped scallops and lobster bisque can start your meal, followed by lobster pot pie, Lobster Newburg or a full Maine clambake. An impressive array of lobster dishes to choose from, and all of high quality.

Take a look at their site and see what you like… but you’d better not do it when you’re hungry or you will have one large shipment on its way..!


Who is Maurice Lacroix..?

In actuality the question should be “what is Maurice Lacroix?”

I can answer that in two words…

Swiss watch

With a history dating back to the 1961 opening of an assembly shop producing watches for third party brands, the company introduced the first Maurice Lacroix watch in 1975. International distribution ensued in the 80’s and growth has been steady ever since.

Maurice Lacroix (there is no individual with this name) has become known for their high quality movements, and deservedly so. These are first rate timepieces.

In terms of style, ML watches lean towards a somewhat retro look in their displays. There is also a lunar influence in many of the designs, as well as watches with moon phase indications. Some even bordering on a bit quirky…but if it fits your style…

Try the Starside collection for that celestial feel, or the Les Classique collection for understated elegance. Take a look and see what you like. It may be time for a Maurice Lacroix on your wrist..!

3D All the Buzz at CES

The annual madhouse in Las Vegas known as CES – Consumer Electronics Show – has now come and gone. In its wake it has left the 3D buzz.

Yes folks, coming to a television set, blu-ray player or video game near you is 3D.

Before you take a flying leap onto the 3D bandwagon, I want to give you a few notes on this topic…

As with all emerging consumer technologies, there are competing standards. Remember the Hi-def DVD format war a couple years back..? Eventually it was settled with Blu-ray the victor. The same issues are occurring with 3D, although standards are being ironed out much quicker including 3D format on Blu-ray discs, HDMI signal cable standards and more. However, some issues are still unsettled at the moment.

One such concern is the display itself. Some of them use “active shutter” glasses, which actually receive a signal from the television and work in conjunction with it to produce the 3D image. Then you have “passive glasses”, in which most of the 3D work is done by the television. Lastly there is a technology that requires no glasses whatsoever. Unfortunately this tech presently has the most limitations and lags behind the other two.

As far as 3D content..? Well, there isn’t much available at the moment. However, many of the 3D movies now in theaters will come to blu-ray this year and ESPN, DirecTV, Sony, Discovery Channel and others are throwing their hat into the ring with announcements of content and dedicated 3D channels on the way. Sporting events show great promise here.

The bottom line is that I highly recommend… patience! I know you “early adopters” out there can’t stand it, but the fact remains that 3D has a lot of rivers to cross at the moment. The sweet spot to get into the 3D parade, which will include some equipment upgrades from what you currently own, should be right around Q2 of 2011 and the year following.

After all… patience is a virtue. Right?

Masa – World’s Best Green Tea

Green tea – one of the current “buzz items” if you will, in wellness circles, is becoming quite popular.

Originating in China, but now associated with many Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, green tea is thought to aid heart health and hinder certain forms of cancer. As with all beverages, a following has formed…the green tea connoisseurs walk among us!

On that note, let’s see if we can find what may be the best green tea extant.

Look no further than the Royal Blue Tea Company in Japan. While they also make flower tea and blue tea, their green tea is our focus today. Specifically we are going to talk about their Masa Super Premium. Not only is this tea supposed to be quite good, it is also rare. Royal Blue began taking orders recently for a production run of all of 36 bottles. They will ship in March of this year.

Each 750-ml bottle comes in a wooden box wrapped in a ceremonial cloth. Put your order in now before they are all spoken for. And don’t forget to write that check for ¥210,000..!


Infinity’s All-New M For 2011

Infiniti’s competitor to BMW’s 5-series and Mercedes E-class among others is debuting now in its third generation form.

The 2011 Infiniti M will arrive in showrooms spring of this year in M37 and M56 guise. The M37 will use the same V6 motor that resides in the smaller G37 and should deliver 330 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. If you crave the extra kick in the pants, the M56 comes with a V8 boasting 420 hp and a torque rating of 417 lb-ft. Enough to get you where you are going a bit quicker than anticipated.

You Greenies out there will be covered as well. Infiniti will release a hybrid version of the car with the M35 moniker. Details are sketchy at present, but this fuel sipper looks to be available about a year after the standard models.

Tech? There will be plenty of that to go around with features like intelligent cruise control, lane departure and blind-spot warning systems, brake assist and more.

And now for the design. How does this car look? The eye really notices the deeper sculpting of the fenders as well as the lower hood. Much of the style applied here is done in reference to Infiniti’s recent Essence concept car that I wrote about here. In pictures it has a bit of a minimizing effect to the visual heft of the car itself. Overall I approve.

The new M should indeed be a worthy competitor to the mid-size Bavarian sedans. If you are in the market it will be worth a look. Final thoughts from the Connoisseur pending a drive…


The Perfect Cabernet - Dana 2007 Lotus Vineyard

Let’s aim high and start the year with a little perfection.

At least Robert Parker thinks so…

Arguably the world’s most famous and influential wine critic, Robert Parker has been tasting and rating wines for many years. Occasionally a wine garners that impressive perfect rating…the 100 point bottle.

Which brings us to Korean businessman Hi Sang Lee who purchased 30 acres of the notable Rutherford property from the Livingston family earlier this decade. His plan…produce a blockbuster Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Enlisting the services of star winemaker Philippe Melka and viticulturist Pete Richmond and building a world-class winery designed by renowned architect Howard Backen, the Dana Estates wines are serious stuff!

Three vineyard specific Cabernets are produced, the Helms, Hershey and Lotus bottling. The 2005 Helms was the first release (94 points – Parker) followed by the remaining vineyards in 2006. Now with the 2007 wines, all three have improved steadily with the Lotus vineyard reaching perfection per Parker’s palate.

As with many of the Napa Cult Cabernets, the Dana wines are limited production and priced to reflect their exclusivity and quality. However, if you have the opportunity to sample one of these Napa Valley gems, it will be an occasion to remember. Highly recommended..!