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I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS unusual mash-up: Giorgio Gucci (grandson of THE Gucci) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his Giorgio G branded fashion line with the launch of four limited edition premium Cognacs. Emperor Brands, the parent company behind the Cognac, is throwing a party to celebrate in the form of a charity gala called "Night of Italian Glamour." At the event, Gucci will receive an "Entrepreneurship Award" from...Emperor Brands. Meanwhile, the often reticent Mickey Rooney will walk the red carpet with reality stars from Real Housewives of New York City and Bravo's Exposure. Will he recognize these "actors?" I'm not certain.
Guests will have the opportunity to sample (and buy) the Cognacs, or enjoy Champagne and a variety of Emperor's Brand vodkas. If you opt to purchase, the Cognacs run between $1,000 and $3,000 a bottle, depending on vintage, according to the company.
Read More on the event and the cognacs here: The Emperor's New Booze

 
 
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French Chef Thomas Keller and the new BMW ActiveHybrid 7.
THOMAS KELLER--the brains and brawn behind Napa Valley's French Laundry and NYC's Per Se--and I have met a few times, though he wouldn't know me from Adam. Each time, he's been gracious and familiar, a Bill Clinton of the culinary world in terms of making you feel important. At this year's James Beard Media awards, Keller won the General Cooking award for Ad Hoc at Home (Artisan Books 2009). Congratulating him, he thanked you and shook your hand like you gave him the award.

That's how I always feel at his restaurants: Welcome. In on the recipe and the plan for the night. His food is inventive and modern, sure, but always flavorful and approachable with a sense of home. It's comfortable. It's luxurious (the prix fixe dinner at Per Se runs about $300 before wine, taxes and gratuity), but considering the many courses, including multiple amuse bouches. It's actually a pretty good deal.

Thus, it's no surprise that Keller has partnered with BMW North America for an enhanced "guest experience" at The French Laundry. Beginning this month, guests can take advantage of a concierge service featuring the new BMW ActiveHybrid 7

The arrangement is a perfect marriage. The two (Keller and the BMW) announced their engagement, according to a press release, at the BMW Championship at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, where Chef Keller was a guest at the tournament. Both Chef Keller and the ActiveHybrid strive to pair luxury and earth-friendly pragmatism. Keller sources local ingredients (often to the point where area farmers deliver fresh ingredients to The French Laundry's kitchen door), while the ActiveHybrid 7 combines an electric motor with BWM's 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V-8 and a new eight-speed (yes eight) automatic transmission. Zero to 60 in 4.7 seconds? Are those your taste buds when you sample Chef Keller's Herb Roasted Rib-Eye of Snake River Farm's Beef "pain Perdu," or BMW's acceleration rate?

“As a BMW owner for more than 32 years, I’ve always appreciated the brand’s attention to precision and detail because my very first vehicle was a BMW 320i,” said Keller in a press release. 

“The number one hobby and interest of BMW customers is fine dining, which makes a partnership with Thomas Keller and The French Laundry a natural fit,” said Tom Kowaleski, Vice President Corporate Communications, BMW of North America, in that same release.


To celebrate, Keller and his team have introduced a special "BMW-inspired" dish to The French Laundry's menu, featuring Four Story Hill Farm Apple Fed Pork Loin with Bratwurst, Braised Red Cabbage, Apple Dumplings and Grain Mustard Sauce, all reflecting BMW's Bavarian roots. The dish was made available the evening of the BMW-French Laundry pairing.

Frivolous? Not likely. Think about Napa / Sonoma diners who've been sampling the area's wines all day. Think about French Laundry diners, who are enjoying a wine or beer pairing with each course. Unusual pairings are in Kellar's blood. I once dined at Keller's Per Se for a beer pairing with Brooklyn Brewery (where I had the opportunity to savor the extremely limited piece de resistance Reinschwiensgebot or "Bacon Beer." Brewmaster Garrett Oliver crafted this complex concoction specifically for the meal, and Keller's staff paired it specifically with the above-mentioned Rib-Eye. No mere trifle this. Keller knows what he's doing when he pairs Odd Couples. We look forward to the ride. 

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Keller has introduced a special BMW-inspired dish.
Images: TOP: Jim Sully / Newscast via BMW. BOTTOM: Thomas Keller Restaurant Group via BMW
 
 
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Kimatni Rawlins in a sweet ride at the TAG Heuer 150th Anniversary Party.
ON THURSDAY, September 2, luxury sports watch company TAG Heuer completed the U.S. leg of its year-long 150th anniversary celebrations with a private party at an estate in Amagansett, Long Island in the Hamptons. It was the evening before Hurricane Earl was supposed to land on the island, and no one was certain we'd have a drench-free evening. In fact, the weather, which had been so hot and humid for so many days, was instead ideal: Warm and vernal with no hint of an oncoming tropical storm.

Braving the weather, an intimate crowd mingled on the expansive lawn with celebrities like Weeds star Mary-Louise Parker, R&B neosoul artist Maxwell, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Hilary Rhoda and Gossip Girl moody boy Ed Westwick (many fans were surprised to find the young actor speaks with a British accent). The highlight of the evening, for watch fans, was TAG Heuer patriarch Jack Heuer (the great-grandson of founder Edouard Heuer) arriving in a branded, customized all-electric Tesla Roadster to present a new breakthrough watch: The TAG Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum. TAG claims it is the first mechanical watch to use magnetic fields, rather than a crystal, balance wheel and hairspring, to regulate oscillations. 


"Thus, it's not really a quartz watch at all," said Jean-Christophe Babin, global president and CEO of TAG Heuer, who introduced Heuer and the new watch. "Jack has traveled the world with this watch, in the TAG Heuer Tesla, which itself has traveled 33,000 kilometers on this odyssey. Thank you Jack, for returning to the company ten years ago to teach me the watchmaking business. Thank you with all my heart."


The drink of choice was Veuve Clicquot Champagne (a sister company through LVMH), though basic cocktails and beer were also popular. Not everyone loves Veuve, but I think its lemony brightness works well paired with a balmy summer evening wandering out on an estate's lawn across Hamptonian fields and Mansions and ponder the beauty of it all. It's an eminently drinkable Champagne with little or no bite, and it made the three-hour return to Manhattan all the more beable before the storm.


I'm not able to show off my celebrity Red Carpet pictures yet of Mary-Louise Parker and Ed Westwick (there's a possibility Getty Images is buying them). But I am able to show you a shot I took of Automotive Rhythms publisher Kimatni Rawlins looking fine in the TAG Heuer Tesla (above), and another of Westwick checking out the same car (below). Too bad the Teslas weren't in our gift bags. 

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Actor Ed Westwick (Gossip Girl) checks out the TAG Heuer edition Tesla.
Image: Robert Haynes-Peterson copyright 2010
 
 
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    Robert 
    Haynes-Peterson

    Robert Haynes-Peterson is an editor and writer based in New York City. When not exploring the vineyards of Mendoza, the distilleries of Cognac or the resorts of Hawaii, he can be found pursuing the next great meal or cocktail wherever he's landed.

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