• Last week, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station got a nice break from their usual all-Tang-all-the-time diet. Emeril Lagasse worked with NASA for several months on New Orleans-style dishes that could be freeze-dried and sent into orbit for a dinner under the stars. On Aug. 10, the ISS astronauts finally enjoyed the foods of his labors: Mardi Gras jambalaya, mashed potatoes with bacon, green beans with garlic, rice pudding and mixed fruit, which they enjoyed with the celebrity chef via closed-circuit TV. This October, Food Network will air a special edition of Emeril Live showing how the food was tested, freeze-dried, packed and carried into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery in July. How the astronauts held off from eating the food for three weeks we'll never know, but we're sure it was finally a nice change of pace from normal orbit cuisine.
|We were afraid to ask about Naked Chardonnay, and it turns out we were right to be.|
• Part worm. Part machine. All critic. The future of wine reviews? Unfiltered hopes not (we'd be out of a job). Some Aussie scientists, however, are attempting to build a better wine critic-with bugs. A collaborative project between Australian National University, Monash University and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization aims to, according to the project's Web site, "co-opt the olfactory receptors of insects and worms to engineer a robust cybernose." That cybernose could be put to use making rapid, on-site assessments of complex odors, helping viticulturists determine the best time to harvest. The electronic nose, which researchers hope to prototype in around five years at a cost of about $4 million, would also be useful in the cellar. Stephen Trowell, the head researcher for the project, said that a worm's simple genetic structure makes it easier for scientists to understand its acute sense of smell and electronically mimic the process. "We aim to have, in wineries around Australia, a cybernose that will enable the wine industry to objectively measure aroma and flavor--a more reliable measure than chewing some grapes," he told Australia's The Age. Unfiltered applauds the effort, but remains skeptical of this worm … we never thought much of the one at the bottom of the tequila bottle either.
|Relive the glory days.|
• They could call the movie Mr. Zinfandel goes to Sacramento. Unfiltered has followed with interest the Zinfandel grape's trek through the corridors of California government. In February, state senator Carole Migden, a Democrat representing the San Francisco Bay area, introduced a bill to make Zinfandel the official state grape. Understandably, proponents of other varieties weren't so keen, so after some back-and-forth, Migden crafted another proposal designating Zinfandel the official historic wine of California. That was relatively solid ground, since Zinfandel has been in California since the Gold Rush era, and it seemed not to upset those more proud of California's accomplishments with Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The bill passed the Senate in June on a 21-to-13 vote and the Assembly on Aug. 10, with 46 Ayes and 20 Nays. So now it's up to Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the bill into law, which would be a nice ending to this legislative saga yet at the same time sadly typical of government in general: Happy to cheer past accomplishments, but forgetting that this year there aren't enough people to pick all the grapes!
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