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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


Levante – The Maserati of SUVs

The world is surely going crazy...!  Or maybe the end of said “world” is nigh upon us… 

Why would I make such a proclamation?  Ladies and gentlemen, Italian manufacturer Maserati is going to the dark side.  Yes, that is correct.  They are building an SUV.

With the official debut a few days away at the 2016 Geneva Auto Show, the Maserati Levante is now available for your viewing pleasure…

Why, you ask, is Maserati doing this...?
Simple…  Every other manufacturer in the world (almost) is doing it, and making huge profits while at it.  Case in point, the Bentley Bentayga, which I previewed for you here.  Other competitors are the venerable Porsche Cayenne and another newcomer, the Jaguar F-Pace. 

While details are scarce pending the official unveiling in Geneva, let me tell you what I can.  There should be multiple engine choices.  It looks like the base model will get the 3.0-liter V-6 from the Ghibli S sedan.  This twin-turbo unit should provide something in the area of 404 hp, depending on tune.  Expect a top of the line V-8 good for over 520 hp.  A diesel option looks to be in the works, but this will not be available in the States for some time.  Other details include an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, courtesy of Maserati’s “Q4” system.
The interior of the car will have the usual Italian style and luxury associated with current Maserati vehicles, albeit with some updated touches.  The exterior also carries over themes seen on current Maserati sedans and coupes.  The Levante is instantly recognizable as a “Maser”…

Final judgement will have to wait until a test drive, but there is no doubt Maserati will sell as many of these “utes” as they can make.  I expect pricing to start around $80,000. 
Italian utility, coming soon to a Maserati dealer near you…

Who would have thought…?


Palawan – World’s Most Beautiful Island

Condé Nast and in-the-know world travelers agree.  This place is stunning…!  Enough so to rate it the most beautiful island in the world…!

Never heard of Palawan?  I’m not surprised.  When I ask someone where their idyll tropical getaway would be, I have never heard a response suggesting the Philippines, let alone Palawan.  That may soon change.
Officially an island Province, Palawan lies west of the main Philippine island group and just north of Malaysia, and forms the border between the Sulu Sea and the South China Sea.  (thus ends today’s geography lesson.)

Natural beauty is everywhere, from the craggy limestone cliffs dotted with emerald green plant life in the Coron Reefs area to the crystalline blue waters as far as the eye can see.  Look under the surface and you will find world-class diving, teeming with marine life and even shipwreck sites from WWII and beyond.  Forbes rates the region among the 10 best scuba sites in the world. 
Another claim to fame is one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River.  One of the longest underground rivers in the world, there are over 5 miles of waterways, much of which can be viewed on guided boat tours. 

For accommodations, several worthy resorts are in the area, but selections will vary depending on the goal of your trip.  For quiet luxury I recommend Amanpulo, northwest of Palawan island.  I also like the El Nido Resorts, a group of four eco-friendly properties on different islands in the area. 
I suggest you put Palawan on your short list for vacation destinations if you’re the tropical getaway type.  Natural beauty, off-the-grid relaxation, and a bit of adventure thrown in for good measure.  I think you’ll love this place…!


Aston Martin’s Hand-built Lagonda Taraf

Thank goodness...!  The folks at Aston Martin have given us a reason to spend that extra 1 million we had laying around.  I was worried there for a minute…

What exactly does that money get you?

The Lagonda Taraf.

Aston’s revival of the historic Lagonda marque is a stunning, hand-built super-sedan that guarantees exclusivity.  No more than 200 will be made, with most going to the UK, Middle East and Europe. 
Not only will this ultra-lux transportation device will stand out in a crowded parking lot full of Rollers and Bentleys, but you can further customize it to one-off bespoke specification.  You will, of course, have to drop more cash.  Leathers, woods, metals, carbon fiber, paint color…  Almost any design combination you can think of will be accommodated, within tasteful British reason....  You can savor your singularity as you cruise along at a top speed of 195 mph.

Indeed you can, courtesy of a 6.0 liter, 540 horsepower V-12 and an 8-speed automatic tranny.  Just keep it pointed on the road.  This is certainly an entertaining sedan to drive.  Nothing like the buttoned down Mercedes S-class, the Taraf handles and sounds like a proper Aston, just larger and slightly dialed back.

Forty of these custom coaches have already been spoken for, so I suggest you move quickly.  Stop counting your money and pick up the phone...!
Bravo Aston Martin…!


Andra Day – A Star on the Rise

Adele, Mary J. Blige, Diana Krall   all household names in the music business.  After tonight’s 58th Annual Grammy Awards, I am guessing you will be familiar with another…

Andra Day

Her debut album Cheers to the Fall, released in August of this year has been nominated for Best R&B Album and the powerful single “Rise Up” is vying for Best R&B Performance. 
I will even lay odds that you have already seen and heard her and not known it.  Do you recall the Stevie Wonder holiday TV commercial this past year, singing a duet with a female artist…?  That was Andra Day.

Born in Spokane, Washington in 1985 as Cassandra Monique Batie, Andra headed south, attending a performing arts school in San Diego.  In 2012 she released a cover of Jessie J’sMamma Knows Best”, which skyrocketed on the web music video charts.  She was subsequently signed to Warner Brothers records and here she is at the Grammys.
Andra’s music shows a diverse range of influences all the way from Billie Holiday to Amy Winehouse.  With a rare combination of excellent jazz chops and pop sensibilities, her songs are well crafted, stylish and memorable.  Throw in an Eartha Kitt-esque persona, and you have the full package – the makings of a star! 

If you’re a fan of jazz, R&B or pop with female vocals, give this album a listen.  I think you will be impressed. 


Piquillo-Smoked Pimento Cheese

Today it is time for a new take on something old school:  pimento cheese
Most of you probably have memories of pimento cheese from your childhood.  On crackers, celery, with chips or even as a sandwich, pimento cheese can seemingly go anywhere. 

Now we’re going to take it a bit upscale with a gourmet twist.  This recipe comes from chef Sarah Scott courtesy of the good folks at Silver Trident Winery.  Yes, you can pair this with wine.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  I enjoy it with good quality pita chips.  I am guessing your taste buds will be pleased…

·         8 oz gouda cheese, grated
·         8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
·         1/3 cup mayonnaise
·         4 oz piquillo peppers, diced
·         1 ½ tsp garlic powder
·         1 ½ tsp onion powder
·         ¼ tsp smoked paprika
·         2 tbsp plus 2 tsp lemon juice
·         1 ½ tsp salt
·         ¼ tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a mixer and mix on high, until well blended.
Notes:  Be sure to use smoked paprika and not regular.  Chef Scott recommends L’Amuse Gouda from Cowgirl Creamery.  Feel free to add a touch more paprika or lemon juice to your taste.  I also prefer using roasted piquillo peppers in this dish, as shown in the picture.


Porsche 718 – The Boxster and Cayman Update

Those pesky Porsche engineers aren’t ones to rest on their laurels.  They are restless souls, and their vehicles must always be improved.  With that in mind it was time for a mid-cycle update for the entry-level Boxster and Cayman. 

Welcome the 718 Boxster and Cayman...!

As with the recently updated 911, this refresh is comprehensive in nature.  The main addition is by subtraction… two cylinders, to be precise.  Now running on smaller 4-cylinder powerplants, the Boxster and soon to be revealed Cayman are quite frankly… better.  I’m talking lighter, faster, more drivable with greater torque available lower in the rpm range, and of course, more miserly with the petrol. 
The motor-head geek details are as follows:  the entry Boxster will have a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with variable-vane turbocharging (high tech stuff) for an output of 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque.  The Boxster S gets a 2.5-liter motor rated at 350 horsepower and 309 lb-ft.  Advancements in tech in the name of driving pleasure...!  Nice…

All the other Porsche tech has been massaged as well, with suspension tuning updates to improve handling and comfort, depending on your mood.  For transmissions, you can row your own gears with a 6-speed manual or opt for the brilliant PKD. 
Updates to the interior and exterior are more of the nip and tuck variety.  Improved electronics and navigation are present and accounted for in the cabin.  Externally Porsche claims every panel is new except for the hood and decklid behind the driver.  You will be able to spot the new Boxster by the aero strip between the taillights on the rear, as well as the "718" badging.

So, you are probably wondering…  “why 718...?”   As Porsche is wont to do, this is a historical reference.  In the late 50s and early 60s, the Porsche 718 race car prowled tracks the world over.  This happened to be a 4-cylinder car, thus the reference. 
There you have it, the latest beauty from Porsche.  The Boxster will start at $57,050 and the high-zoot S model rings the till at $69,450.  The hard-topped Cayman prices are not released yet, but in a change of pricing structure, they are reported to be lower than the convertible Boxster.  Stay tuned…

Sure to be a hit, I like what I see.  Well done…!