• The 60th annual Emmy Awards were seen by a record low number of television viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, but there were some highlights at the Governor's Ball immediately after telecast. At the dinner prepared by chef Joachim Splichal of Grand Award-winning Patina restaurant in Los Angeles, actor Jeremy Piven, who plays brash talent agent Ari Gold on HBO's Entourage, was seen toasting his third Emmy with executive producer and series inspiration Mark Wahlberg and glasses of 2004 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. (Unfiltered last spotted Piven in New York a few weeks ago, availing himself of a stranger's generosity.) The wine was also a hit with Julia-Louis Dreyfus, Teri Hatcher and Tommy Smothers, himself the owner of Sonoma's Remick Ridge winery.
Golfer Boo Weekley behaving in a restrained fashion, relative to his bull-riding victory dance at the 2008 Ryder Cup.
• U.S.A.! U.S.A.! Unfiltered was very much in the patriotic spirit as the grossly underestimated United States Ryder Cup golf team, even without a surgery-sidelined Tiger Woods, romped over the heavily favored squad from Europe in last weekend's biannual battle for the golden chalice in Valhalla, KY. The folks behind the PGA's official wine, Bonterra Vineyards, had another reason to celebrate, one that Americans and Europeans can all support. In partnership with Audubon International, Bonterra is working to recruit America'a golf courses for the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP), which teaches owners and operators to make courses more environmentally friendly, from reducing pesticide use and water consumption to encouraging wildlife habitat. Naturally, the Valhalla Golf Club signed on to the program during its Ryder Cup preparations, which almost tempts Unfiltered to try out Boo Weekley's Happy Gilmore-inspired bull dance immediately following last weekend's victory. Almost.
• San Francisco's Yield Wine Bar has seen interest in a popular wine take a nosedive after Sen. John McCain named Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate in the upcoming Presidential election. As first reported by Amy Monroe on the website seriouseats.com, Palin Syrah, a certified organic wine from Chile, had been Yield's best-selling wine since appearing on the by-the-glass menu in July, according to bar owner Chris Tavelli. When McCain chose Palin as his vice president at the end of August, however, and the wine's name became inadvertently synonymous with the Republican party, San Francisco's politically liberal wine drinkers stopped ordering it altogether. Since his customers are so politically-minded, Unfiltered suggests that Tavelli take a cue from Washington, D.C.'s Oya Restaurant and Lounge, and start trying to handicap the election results based on his customers' reactions to wines from the presidential candidates' home states.
• In other news from San Francisco, it seems a Las Vegas-based con artist has been trying to make a little money off restaurateurs in that city. A letter has landed in mailboxes at Aqua, Masa's, the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton, Fifth Floor, Fleur de Lys, Foreign Cinema and others, in which the writer purports that his wife's expensive, brand-new Gucci blouse was grazed by a server with a greasy plate while they dined at the recipient's restaurant. The letter includes a phony $50 dry cleaning bill for which the writer politely requests compensation. It was the rather steep price of the bill that made Alan Murray, sommelier at Masa's, suspicious enough of the letter-writer's claim to start comparing notes with his colleagues in the Bay Area. Let this be a lesson to would-be restaurant scammers: If you want to get away with it, don't get greedy.
Handwashing may be tedious, but under the right circumstances, it can win you big money.
• Food safety is hardly the most glamorous part of the hospitality industry, to be sure, but it's as critical as having great wine and food. That's why, for the last 10 years running, Clyde's Restaurant Group has hosted an employee Handwashing Competition Team Rally, comprised of three elements: questions, effective cleansing, and a timed hand-washing practical. Teams of four are assembled from each of the group's 15 Washington, D.C.-area restaurants, with the winning team receiving $1,200 in prize money. (What does the last-place team get, directions to the local unemployment office?) Victoria Griffith, the group's director of quality assurance, told Unfiltered, "Anytime you can make something as dry as hand-washing fun, that's really making a difference." Given the pivotal role that hot water normally plays in handwashing, we'll assume that there was no pun intended in Griffith's statement.
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