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Unfiltered: Next Year's Subway Series Could Be About the Food

Plus, a vineyard grows in London, New York legalizes wine-based ice cream, Carrabba's restaurants want you to name their new wine, and making wine in virtual reality

Posted: July 16, 2008

Forget the peanuts and Cracker Jack, we want a Shack Burger.

• In case you weren't beaten over the head with it enough times during last night's marathon MLB All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, this is the last season the House That Ruth Built will be open, to be replaced by … (drumroll, please) New Yankee Stadium! Not to be outdone, the New York Mets are building their own new stadium, Citi Field, in the borough next door, Queens. Even before opening day 2009, the crosstown rivalries have already started heating up. Yankee officials announced in June that their new home will feature a Hard Rock Café, as well as a Hard Rock-collaboration steak house named NYY Steak. The Mets, in turn, are partnering with renowned New York restaurateur Danny Meyer to open an upscale venue, called the Sterling Club, behind home plate at Citi Field, as well as a food court containing outposts of his barbecue restaurant, BlueSmoke, and his beloved Shake Shack stand, along with a taqueria and a new Belgian fry stand called Pop Fries. So how much is one of the famous Shack-Dogs going to cost you at Citi Field next year? "We know it has to be more [than the simple but classic stadium hot dog], but we want to temper those prices to make them affordable," said David Swinghamer, president of Union Square Hospitality Group's growth business division. Unfiltered salutes both teams for raising the bar for stadium fare. Next season it'll be "Play ball … and allez cuisine!"

Londoners can now catch a ride on the Tube to the vineyard in the city.

• Workers in the heart of London got a pleasant surprise last week when six rows of Sémillon vines popped up near Liverpool station. And to the delight of the commuters, the mini-vineyard, set up by Australian wine producer McGuigan, also sported a wine-tasting area next to the sprouts. "In the middle of the concrete jungle, it's important to remind people of the background of wine—where it comes from," said the winery's founder, Brian McGuigan, as he sat among the rows watching suits sip Shiraz. "Many people's lives here are customized, streamlined, mechanized so they may not realize the importance of the land, and the people who work it," McGuigan said. London was picked as the top spot for the city vineyard, after a trial run last year in Sydney, as England doesn't produce a great deal of its own wines. The winery now plans to tour the vines around a few more European cities and is considering a tour in the United States. "I could see a few rows of vines along the South Street Seaport in Manhattan," McGuigan said. Unfiltered is sure some brokers near Wall Street could probably use a glass right about now.

We suggest serving these wine-based ice creams much colder than 55° F.

• No wine tasting in wine class! At least, that was the state of New York's law until recently, when New York's Gov. David Patterson signed a bill legalizing serving wine during educational wine courses. Previously, wine was not permitted to be served at a wine class unless it took place at a winery (Unfiltered can verify first-hand that this law was most certainly not being enforced), which left some institutions stuck unless they partnered with a winery. The New York Wine Center in the Finger Lakes even got a farm wine license to work their courses around previous bans. Patterson approved several bills within the week that support New York's wine industry. Under new liquor law expansions, wineries can now have tastings beginning at 10 a.m. Previously, they could only begin at noon, which prevented them from starting wine tours earlier, particularly for tourists. Also signed into law: Ice cream (well, not your basic Häagen-Dazs) that contains up to 5 percent alcohol is now legal to sell throughout New York. Up until now, Mercer's Dairy of Boonville, N.Y., could not sell their Ala Port, Red Raspberry Chardonnay, Peachy White Zinfandel or other wine-infused ice cream flavors in their home state (though business has been booming overseas). Unfiltered is excited New York's new governor has been signing wine-friendly legislation. We look forward to trying some wine-based ice creams soon, but don't recommend storing them in your wine cellar.

• Have you ever thought that you could come up with a better name for a wine than the winery that produced it? Carrabba's Italian Grill, a nationwide chain of restaurants, is hoping its customers can. Italian wine giant Ruffino is producing a "baby" super Tuscan wine exclusively for Carrabba's restaurants, and the chain is offering a prize package worth about $1,500—a case of the wine, an in-home dinner for 12 and gift certificates for Carrabba's dinners—to whoever comes up with the best name for the wine. Information and entries for the Uncorking Creativity contest, which runs through July 31, can be found at www.carrabbas.com. Oddly, one of the criteria for the contest is choosing a name appropriate for the blend, but we couldn't find any information on what grapes make up the wine. Unfiltered is thinking about calling in the Italian officials handling the Brunello di Montalcino investigation to uncover the mystery and give us a competitive edge.

• The world of wine is growing day by day. Winemakers are experimenting with terroirs around the globe, and now, within the "virtual" world, as well. Second Life, created by Phillip Rosedale, is an online virtual society where people can "meet, greet and connect." This virtual reality (purportedly now inhabited by millions) has been built by its residents themselves, and has since been utilized by many "first life" enophiles to promote wine consumption. Now, in addition to going to visit Italian winemaker Arnaldo Caprai in Umbria, you can visit his winery in Second Life too. Real-life Russian River Valley winemaker Josh Hermsmeyer of Cappozzi winery has also built a virtual winery and vineyards. He envisioned an interactive winemaking facility where avatars (your 3-D Second Life alter ego) can pick and crush grapes, bottle the wine, then cellar and store the creation. This looks and sounds like educationally hedonistic fun, but Unfiltered wants to know when Second Life plans to upgrade its sense of taste and smell.

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