Car Review: 2014 Cadillac CTS VSport Premium

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As the luxury car market in North America continues to see new entrants, the all-new Cadillac 2014 CTS sedan ascends into the heart of the midsize luxury market with expanded performance, elevated luxury and sophisticated technology. We had the opportunity to test drive the new CTS VSport to learn first-hand what the folks at Cadillac are offering luxury car buyers who are looking for some excitement.

EXTERIOR

Cadillac’s shield grille and signature vertical lighting elements – including LED front signature lighting detail – evolve on the CTS. The grille is wider, with a more detailed texture, while the headlamps flow up with the hood line, incorporating crystalline LED light guides for a technologically advanced appearance with more uniform illumination.

Active grille shutters are included on some models, improving aerodynamic performance on the highway to enhance fuel efficiency. A longer, lower and more athletic-looking proportion is introduced on Cadillac’s landmark sedan and evolves the brand’s Art & Science design philosophy. While growing five inches (127 mm) in length, including a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase, the roofline and cowl – the base of the windshield – are about an inch lower, dimensions that complement the longer exterior to accentuate the car’s lean aesthetic. The 18-inch, ultra bright machined aluminum wheels were a work of art that really elevated the appearance of the 2014 Cadillac CTS VSport Premium. Our VSport test model also sported dual stainless steel exhaust, intellibeam headlamps, LED vertical accent lighting, illuminating door handles and illuminated front door sill plates. The look of the 2014 CTS clearly resembles the new ATS sedan with an ultra-athletic look that is a positive from all angles!

INTERIOR

Cadillac probably realized that in order to take the 2014 Cadillac CTS VSport Premium to the next level, the cabin space needed a big leap forward, and they delivered in some kind of way! A roomier, driver-centric cockpit interior with integrated technology and hand-crafted appointments complements the exterior and supports the CTS sedan’s driving experience. Eight available interior environments are offered, each trimmed with authentic wood, carbon fiber or aluminum. Leather seating is available, including available full semi-aniline leather with hand-crafted, cut-and-sewn executions. The CTS sedan seamlessly blends comfort, convenience and safety technologies with the interior’s hand-crafted appointments and flowing design. Active safety features provide alerts and intervene when necessary to help avoid crashes.

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Waterproof PowerPak Ultra

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Portable power sources are becoming more and more popular as gadgets keep dominating our lives. Also, some gadgets like smartphones seems to have more trouble holding their charge these days.

We tried the new Trent PowerPak Ultra which can help you keep your USB-based devices juiced while in the most extreme environments. You’ll immediately notice the rugged exterior when you pull it out of the box. It also features an IP-67 rating and it’s built to survive most drops and can be temporarily submerged in water for up to 30 minutes without damage.

The PowerPak Ultra features 14,000 mAh of power, meaning it is powerful enough to store 700% of the average smartphone’s battery life. If you’re spending lots of time outdoors this can be a very handy gadget for the group. It features two USB ports able to simultaneously charge any combination of smartphones, tablets or other USB-based device.

  

Drink of the Week: The Montenegro Sour

The Montenegro Sour. Lately, we’ve been featuring a few cocktails made with really good booze sent to me by the dark forces of the liquor-industrial complex. Today’s post is a bit different as the much appreciated gift of free booze came not from some shadowy Sidney Falco, but from Ron Shishido, a very old junior high/college buddy who’s probably taught me how to appreciate a good booze concoction as much as anyone else on this planet, including Rachel Maddow.

Amaro Montenegro is, on it’s own and served neat, quite a lovely drink. It’s a member of the amaro family of bittersweet liqueurs which occasionally pop up in cocktails. It’s popular enough in Italy to be featured in a series of slick commercials of the kind we use to sell highish-end beer in the States, and that’s for a reason. With a hard-to-pin down but relatively fruity flavor, it’s a kinder, gentler, vastly more drinkable brew than, say Torani Amer or the superior — but still two-fisted — Amaro CioCara. As bitter digestifs go, this one’s pretty sweet.

Perhaps because it’s so readily drinkable all on its own, I had a hard time finding a cocktail made with this particular amaro. However, Food and Wine bloggers Carey Jones and John McCarthy came to the rescue with a few recipes. I chose one featuring my all-time favorite non-alcoholic cocktail ingredient, egg white.

I’m not sure the drink is so accurately named, however. Whatever alleged citrus flavor there is comes from the mysterious herbal blend from which Amaro Montenegro is made, so it’s really more bitter, in a good way, than sour.

On the plus side, that means no potentially messy juice squeezing is required this time around and that definitely speeds up the cocktailing process. That’s good because I’m breaking my usual rule against recipes requiring home-made syrups. Yes, there’s a tiny bit of extra work involved, but be bold and read on.

The Montenegro Sour

1 ounce Montenegro Amaro
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1 fresh egg white or equivalent (see below)
1/2 ounce honey syrup (see below)
1 dash aromatic bitters, Angostura or similar

Combine the Amaro Montenegro, bourbon, syrup, and bitters in cocktail shaker. First, as always with egg or egg white cocktails, we do a “dry” shake without ice to emulsify it. Then, we shake again, very vigorously and with plenty of ice, and strain it into a chilled cocktail glass or smallish rocks glass. We then enjoy this delightfully refreshing beverage and toast our amaro’s namesake, Princess Elena of Montenegro, the World War II-era queen consort of Italy known, for the most part anyway, for her good works.

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Despite the fact that I often tell publicists with recipes that make-it-yourself syrups are off the table, I decided to make an exception this week for a couple of reasons.

First. the honey syrup for this recipe is ridiculously easy to make. Just mix equal parts honey and hot water, then stir. I put 1/4 cup of honey and that much water in the microwave for 30 seconds, stirred the stuff, and then put it in the freezer for a few minutes so it wouldn’t be too hot. Low on both muss and fuss.

The second reason we’re using the honey syrup is that I actually tried this drink more than once with my usual Master of Mixes Simple Syrup and it just didn’t do the trick. Too simple. Apparently, you need that little bit of honey flavor to complement the bourbon and amaro.

I used three different brands of bourbon. The always outstanding 80 proof Basel Hayden’s yielded a nectary result that went down very easy indeed. 94 proof Wathen’s, a brand that’s I recently bought out of curiosity and which I’m quite liking, produced a boozier, but also more full bodied, result.

Finally, there was the version using an old DOTW favorite that’s been returning to my local stores of late, “bottled in bond” 100 proof Old Fitzgerald, which remains the best bourbon bargain I’ve found at, in my case, less than $15.00 for a bottle. It produced a sweet, tangy, and very punchy attitude adjuster that, at that particular moment, was very much what the doctor ordered. Admittedly, however, that doctor would not be a liver specialist.

Finally, I have to add a few more words on the enormous power of egg whites to really transform a drink. Contrary to the common assumption, whites in drinks are not even slightly slimy but add a smooth, almost milky, froth to a drink. The froth smooths over the rough edges of the other flavors and unites them as well as anything I’ve ever experienced.

Still, many folks resist, and not all of their reasons are bad. I’ve been talking to an expert or two lately about what I still believe are the very low risks of using raw egg white. However, I’ve been told that, for people who are concerned, caution may still be in order especially right now for a number of reasons, cost-related reductions in government inspection among them, no doubt. (God forbid big government should stand in the way of a microbe’s ability to grow and prosper in a free-market environment.)

I just crack open a large egg and maybe wash the shell first. However, people with real health concerns of any kind  about this should very definitely consider using about 1-1.5 ounces of one of the many brands of pasteurized egg white on the market.

  

Movie Review: “Noah”

Starring
Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Anthony Hopkins
Director
Darren Aronofsky

Just as the Bible speaks in many ways to many people, so does Darren Aronofsky’s epic “Noah,” a story about a man, his giant ark and the lengths a family will go to when facing the world’s first apocalypse.

Tackling a story of pre-apocalyptic earth in the before and after stages is nothing new, but Aronofsky knew that he had to pull out all the stops in dealing with the planet’s first biblical disaster. Luckily, he had Russell Crowe to work with. After a brief but eye-catching history lesson (via fast motion) from the time of creation through the questionable dietary choices in the Garden of Eden, to the slaying of Abel by Cain, we arrive at the tenth generation of man, where a young Noah (Dakota Goyo) witnesses his father being killed just as he is about to bestow his birthright, a glowing snakeskin sleeve, upon him.

Years later, an adult Noah (Crowe) is living a happy but isolated life with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and three sons, Ham (Logan Lerman), Shem (Douglas Booth) and Japheth (Leo Carroll). But if life (and Twitter 3:16) has taught us anything, it’s that you can avoid people, but not their mistakes. Noah receives a vision, one of great death by flooding. The Creator (The “G-word” is never said in the film) has decided that his experiment with mankind has gone completely off the rails, as everyone is a poster child for the worse sins imaginable against the planet and themselves.

Unfortunately, visions aren’t the same as having a phone call, Skype or even text messages, so Noah seeks out clarification from his granddad Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins). Thanks to his guidance, and getting slipped a mickey, Noah gets a clearer vision: the planet is about to be destroyed by a flood. He is to construct a giant ark with a sample of the planet’s animals and witness the first-ever heavenly version of a reboot. Aiding him in his quest is Ila (Emma Watson), an injured orphan girl who becomes his adopted daughter and love interest of Shem. He’s also greatly assisted by fallen angels turned giant stone creatures called the Watchers, who also sinned against the Creator and seek redemption.

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Kobalt 40V Max Outdoor Power Equipment introduces Bullz-Eye to manhood!

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When I was a kid, I used to think the old guys who took care of their yards were losers. While I was zooming around the neighborhood smoking bowls in my car listening to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, I thought it was pathetic how homeowners genuinely took pride in their lawns. Surely there was more to life than a new mower, hedge trimmer or edger, I surmised.

But now that I’m in my 30s and have become one of those losers, I’m here to tell you that there isn’t more to life than that.

In fact, it feels awesome to manicure your lawn, tend your garden, and then blow the clippings off of your driveway with a leaf blower upon completion. It makes the iced tea I enjoy in my folding lawn chair post-yardwork taste that much more crisp, the AM talk radio that bellows out of my open garage that much more insightful, and the episodes of “Wheel of Fortune” that I have on DVR for post-lawn enjoyment that much more stirring.

But do you know what does suck about lawn maintenance? Inadequate, cumbersome tools.

I’m not a scientist and the ever-tender 40:1 gas to oil ratio on certain power tools intimidates me. Refilling the fly wheel on a trimmer or edger? Uh, how about I just not use it instead? Mower won’t start after 50-some pulls? I’ll do it tomorrow. As a result, my lawn looked like my bathroom in college; a loose “conflaguration” of unfulfilled good intentions, drowning in questionable, unnamed chunks and fluids.

What if outdoor power equipment (OPE) tools were easy to use? What if they were actually enjoyable? What if when you were done, you felt good about yourself and your yard?

The engineers at Kobalt have not only delivered a ground-breaking collection of OPEs, but they’ve done it with empathy in mind.

At their super-secret space bunker facility in North Carolina, Kobalt engineers have tirelessly simulated the plight of the average homeowner in an isolated, controlled environment straight out of the Hunger Games. Unless the design and function of these tools was done to the Kobalt standard, they weren’t allowed to see their families, or use the bathroom. Some were simply killed with the same tools they had a hand in creating.

The entire 40-volt OPE collection was made with the user in mind.

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