Wandering the side streets of San José’s historic Barrio Amón in search of the restaurant Racó, our anticipation was building for the night’s strange meal. There would be no forks, no knives, and no sight.When we finally found Racó, tucked away at the end of a street 100 meters north of the INS building behind a blue garage door, we were surprised to discover a private world. Down the rabbit hole the restaurant opens up to two dining rooms, decorated with elegant eccentricity. Plates fixed to the wall accent the restaurant’s warm colors and three large bird nest lampshades hang from the ceiling. Were we still in San José?Chef and owner Daniel Vargas greeted us as we came down a ramp cluttered with potted plants. Vargas has the sharp features of an El Greco portrait, complete with a tightly trimmed beard. He has a bouncy, youthful energy. Racó’s head chef, Daniel Vargas. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesVargas lived in Spain for four years training and eventually working at a restaurant in Madrid. There, he heard about the blind dinners served at Barcelona’s Dans le Noir, which means “in the dark” in French and was one of the world’s first restaurants to offer the high concept dining experience: a meal served in the dark, by blind waiters.The chef was intrigued by the idea and how it forced the diner to really think about the food. Later, when Vargas moved back to Costa Rica to be closer to family, he decided to offer a similar experience at Racó.“Today, when someone sits down to eat, they do it by inertia and [they] eat, but don’t savor what they’re eating,” he told The Tico Times. Eating without seeing forces the diner to concentrate on the food without the baggage of preconceptions.“I love to play with textures,” he added. “These dinners are my most interesting food, really. I’m praying for Friday and Saturday to come because I have a great time.”Racó, which offers blind dinners with a reservation each Friday and Saturday night, forgoes the blind waitstaff and pitch black setting for chocolate-colored blindfolds that guests tie themselves. Diners are encouraged to eat with their hands but each seat is ready with a full place setting if someone is bold enough to blindly wield a knife and fork. To add a bit of sport to the affair, Vargas asked us to write down what we thought we had eaten after each course and offered a complimentary bottle of wine to the winning table.We tied the blindfolds over our eyes and waited for the first course.Vargas described his food as Mediterranean prepared with French techniques, but that offered few clues to the first plate. After locating the food, I traced a stout tower with smooth sides and what felt like a cap on top. The browned bubbly crust of broiled cheese?Blindfolded, any self-consciousness I might have felt about eating with my hands disappeared, and soon I found myself breaking one of the first table rules children are taught: Don’t play with your food.While considering a small round ingredient I couldn’t guess, I realized that my rights hand had been tracing the plate, finger painting, unconsciously enjoying the creamy feel of the sauce against my digits as I trawled for some vegetable or nut. I was sure there was a walnut there somewhere!The tower proved to be an upturned zucchini roll with broccoli, onion, petit pois (that round ingredient that stumped me), corn and other vegetables served inside, topped with mozzarella cheese and served with a homemade roasted garlic aioli that was so sweet I confused it for a tomato cream sauce.Our waiter topped off our wine glasses (Vargas said he prefers blindfolded guests drink small but frequent servings of wine) and served the next course.Vargas’ flavors really pulled the wool over our eyes when it came to identifying the rest of the meal. Daniel Vargas, the head chef at Racó, walks among the tables during the restaurant’s Cena a Ciegos event. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesI was convinced the plate was Thanksgiving revisited: a succulent, thick slice of turkey served with a cranberry, no, pear sauce. Mushrooms had to be the next ingredient, easily identified by the feel of the gills and their earthy, meaty taste, followed by Brussels sprouts that still had some bite.I was completely off the mark, and so was everyone else.After diners guessed turkey, chicken, and even pork, Vargas revealed the protein as duck, cooked medium rare and served with a balsamic reduction.“Flavor is very connected to memory,” Vargas said. “I build the plate, make sure there’s a harmony to it and wait for each person to bring their own criteria for what they experience.”The chef recommended forgoing our fingers for a spoon when the dessert came, a strawberry “soup” topped with an oatmeal crumble and a dollop of avocado pastry cream. The texture and flavor of the strawberries was easy to identify and one bite alerted me to the oatmeal topping but avocado has such a subtle flavor, it was a challenge to pick out.The waiters collected our cards and the winner of the bottle of wine was announced. Alas, we didn’t win, but when else would we get the chance to sit down to a nice meal and eat with our hands?My only complaint about the meal was, well, not knowing what was on my plate. The adventure decoding the flavors and textures was fun and a unique experience, but certain dishes, especially the first course, would have been stronger if I had known about that wonderfully sweet aioli that would have livened up the otherwise plain zucchini.That said, anyone wary about the experience should know that diners are free to remove the cloth at any time. “I want people to feel comfortable,” Vargas said.The blindfold can help some diners feel more comfortable in their own skin. There tends to be a social atmosphere during and after the meal service, Vargas said, with eaters united by their delightful confusion.“Two men came in together on Saturday. I could tell they were a little uncomfortable, but once everyone covered their eyes, they reached across the table and held hands. They told me afterwards that once the blindfold was on, they felt safe and had a great time. That meant a lot to me,” Vargas said.“There’s no judgement when you can’t see.”Going There: Racó restaurant is located 100 meters north of the INS building in Barrio Amón, San José. It’s open Monday through Saturday, for prix fixe lunch (₡3,900) and dinner. Blind dinners are served Friday and Saturday nights, ₡18,000 per guest. Reservations required. Gluten intolerant diners should know that the chef avoids flour and added starches in his cooking. He also shies away from lactose and is open to customizing the blind meals to diners’ specifications, be they vegetarian or adverse to red meat. Facebook Comments Related posts:Delicious new gastropub El Gaff already becoming a thing VIDEO: Barbecuing with Lucas Withington Christmas cheer, oxcart parades, and other happenings around Costa Rica Friendship Library lends books out of Atenas restaurant
July 29, 2005FLAM CHEN visits Arcosanti for a 3 week period of practice and work on a short art film. FLAM CHEN visits Arcosanti for a 3 week period of practice and work on a short art film. At a Flam Chen show, you may be invited to witness a “Toybox” come to life with 10-foot dolls, battling toy-soldiers and manic puppet-makers. “Rites ov Spring” merges images inspired by bug life in Microcosmos and the bacchanal of Fellini’s Satyricon, all mingled with the choreographic influence of Martha Graham.At dusk, the roof of the Ceramics Apse, becomes the Empresses Court. [Photo: Adam Cooper & text: sa] Flam Chen propels itself above the audience on flying trapeze, ziplines, rappels and bungee, creating dazzling characters that hover, zoom or drop out of the sky. The audience is wrapped in visions ranging from futuristic and cyborg, commedia del arte and vaudevillian, to fantasy and fairy tale-esque. The troupe has, over the years, become a production company that fabricates costumes, props, machines, rigging, lighting, and sound— all in house. Technical Director Paul Weir: We have been fortunate to have a strong connection with the community at Arcosanti to be able to utilize the phenomenal locations and of course use of the famous Arcosanti Crane.In the very early morning hours the sky cooperated magnificently for this shoot of mermaids suspended from the Arcosanti crane. [Photos: Adam Cooper & text: sa] The Vaults are a perfect area for practice. Paul Weir graciously teaches stilt walking to Arcosanti children and residents. This has been an amazing and exciting visit, especially for the children.FLAM CHEN has performed at large raves, such as ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL in Hollywood, CA and NOCTURNAL WONDERLAND in Indio, CA; at arts festivals such as NYC FRINGE in New York, PA FRINGE in Philadelphia, TSUNAMI ARTS FESTIVAL in Prescott, Az, International Arts Festival of MACAU, China, GLITTER AND GLOW festival in Glendale, AZ; at numerous clubs and site-specific installations across the nation and overseas. FLAM CHEN has earned awards such as Tucson Weekly’s Best Performing Artist Award for the past three years, and a NY FRINGE Excellence Award for “Rites Ov Spring.” The troupe also has been raved about in The New York Post, New York Times, Philadelphia Tribune, and Details, among other publications. [Photos & text: sa]
Romanian service provider RCS & RDS is involved in a dispute with commercial broadcaster Antena over retransmission fees.Antena Group has demanded over €7 million a year for the retransmission of its Antena 1 and Antena 3 channels by RCS & RDS, which operates the Digi pay TV service in the country. RCS & RDS said this was the first time in eight years that the broadcaster had asked for money to retransmit its channel and said that, if it paid up it would be forced to raise the price of its subscription service.
Middle East and North African streaming service, Icflix, has struck a partnership with Saudi Telecom Company Group-owned VIVA Bahrain.Through the deal, VIVA customers will be able to access Icflix’s catalogue of movies, TV shows, cartoons and documentaries for BHD3 (€6.98) per month.VIVA subscribers will be able to access the content on up to five devices including smartphones, smart TVs, computers and tablets.Customers that opt to activate their Icflix subscription will get charged for the service on their VIVA bill, or have it taken out of their pre-paid phone credit.“Audiences in the Kingdom of Bahrain will enjoy an exciting, everywhere viewing experience through a simple subscription process straight from their mobile phone. This is great news for those who especially enjoy watching movies and TV series on the go on their smart phones or tablets” said Icflix founder and CEO, Carlos Tibi.Andrew Hanna, Viva Bahrain’s chief commercial officer, said: “With this value-added service our customers can enjoy streaming their favourite content having the freedom to choose when, where and how they watch their favourite movies and TV series.”
Taken together, our findings show that gut bacteria help to keep non-immune cells elsewhere in the body prepared for attack. They are better protected from flu because antiviral genes are already switched on when the virus arrives. So when the virus infects a prepared organism, it has almost lost before the battle starts. By contrast, without gut bacteria, the antiviral genes won’t come on until the immune response kicks in. This is sometimes too late as the virus has already multiplied many times, so a massive, damaging immune response is inevitable.”Dr Andreas Wack Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jul 2 2019Antibiotics can leave the lung vulnerable to flu viruses, leading to significantly worse infections and symptoms, finds a new study in mice led by the Francis Crick Institute. Source:The Francis Crick InstituteJournal reference:Wack, A. et al. (2019) Microbiota-Driven Tonic Interferon Signals in Lung Stromal Cells Protect from Influenza Virus Infection. Cell Reports. doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2019.05.105. We found that antibiotics can wipe out early flu resistance, adding further evidence that they should not be taken or prescribed lightly. Inappropriate use not only promotes antibiotic resistance and kills helpful gut bacteria, but may also leave us more vulnerable to viruses. This could be relevant not only in humans but also livestock animals, as many farms around the world use antibiotics prophylactically. Further research in these environments is urgently needed to see whether this makes them more susceptible to viral infections.”Dr Andreas Wack, lead researcher, Francis Crick Institute The research, published in Cell Reports, discovered that signals from gut bacteria help to maintain a first line of defense in the lining of the lung. When mice with healthy gut bacteria were infected with the flu, around 80% of them survived. However, only a third survived if they were given antibiotics before being infected. The study found that type I interferon signaling, which is known to regulate immune responses, was key to early defense. Among the genes switched on by interferon is a mouse gene, Mx1, which is the equivalent of the human MxA gene. This antiviral gene produces proteins that can interfere with influenza virus replication. Although often studied in immune cells, the researchers found that microbiota-driven interferon signals also keep antiviral genes in the lung lining active, preventing the virus from gaining a foothold.Related StoriesWorld-class scientific leaders join Crick boardsNovel 3D imaging method reveals how pancreatic cancers originateExploring the connection between science and music”We were surprised to discover that the cells lining the lung, rather than immune cells, were responsible for early flu resistance induced by microbiota,” says Andreas. “Previous studies have focused on immune cells, but we found that the lining cells are more important for the crucial early stages of infection. They are the only place that the virus can multiply, so they are the key battleground in the fight against flu. Gut bacteria send a signal that keeps the cells lining the lung prepared, preventing the virus from multiplying so quickly.”It takes around two days for immune cells to mount a response, in which time the virus is multiplying in the lung lining. Two days after infection, antibiotic-treated mice had five times more virus in their lungs. To face this bigger threat, the immune response is much stronger and more damaging, leading to more severe symptoms and worse outcomes.”To test whether the protective effect was related to gut bacteria rather than local processes in the lung, the researchers treated mice with antibiotics and then repopulated their gut bacteria through fecal transplant. This restored interferon signaling and associated flu resistance, suggesting that gut bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining defenses. Scanning electron micrograph of epithelial cells lining the inside of a mouse lung. Different cell types with different shapes and different functions compose this inner lining, and the right balance between these cell types is important for a healthy lung.
Citation: Salmon delivered by hyperloop and mail by drone? (2018, May 16) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-salmon-hyperloop-mail-drone.html Sweden’s new road powers electric vehicles – what’s the environmental impact? At first, it is unlikely that the method will be used to transport passengers, but to ship goods such as freshly killed salmon, where speed is important. At least, that’s the view of a wide-ranging team of research scientists in many different technical fields at SINTEF.The SINTEF report “Teknologitrender som påvirker transportsektoren” (Technological trends that affect the transport industry) has been written on behalf of the project group behind the Norwegian National Transport Plan. The time frame extends as far as 2060 and according to the research scientists we will experience radical changes.These are some of the SINTEF scientists’ predictions for the next thirty years:Digitalisation will become noticeable “everywhere”More and more vehicles will be fitted with computers which in turn will run advanced software. In addition, sensor technology will be brought into use in more vehicles. According to the researchers this will affect both traffic and our driving habits.At present, cars contain from 60 to 100 sensors, but researchers believe that a new car in 2020 will be fitted with up to 200 sensors. Data from these sensors can be used both in monitoring the vehicle (for example safety equipment such as ABS brakes) and for maintenance purposes.This can potentially make travel on Norwegian roads safer: The trend is that more and more data are distributed directly and in real time to the manufacturer of the vehicle and to the operator of the road network. This information can be used in IT-based safety services such as collision avoidance and monitoring the technical status of the road network.The researchers also predict that more digital systems will mean that we will receive even more data: about everything from energy consumption to driving and movement patterns. As a result, SINTEF is highlighting the need for debate around the future ownership of this mass of data.The future is electronic – also in new waysIn years to come we will see even more electric vehicles – cars, buses and bicycles – particularly in urban areas. This will affect the electricity supply grid and will in some cases cause local electricity supply problems. Research scientists believe that this will result in an increase in local generation of clean energy, for example using solar cells which are integrated into buildings, or small local wind turbine installations. They also foresee that road vehicles will in future be used more efficiently than at present, because people will increasingly opt for car pooling, especially in towns. When it comes to transport over longer distances we will also notice increasing electrification, both on water and in the air. There will be more electric ferries and trains, but researchers also expect electrification of the Norwegian aviation industry to take place by 2040.At present, most people associate the word “induction” with kitchen cookers, but electrical energy transfer by way of contactless induction technology will make its entry on our roads. Inductive charging systems will first appear in stationary charging of electric road vehicles and for charging electric buses at bus stops.Inductive charging of buses at bus stops has already been demonstrated for more than 15 years in Italy, and similar systems are now being tested by Scania in Sweden. Systems providing stationary charging of electric cars are already on sale in the United States, and most major car manufacturers are now preparing for the integration of such technology into their electric vehicles. A concept for battery charging in electric ferries using high power inductive energy transfer has also been developed in Norway, and is currently being demonstrated in the hybrid ferry “MS Folgefonn” at Stord.Technology for inductive energy transfer can also be integrated into roadways to charge batteries in moving vehicles. Here, the receiver unit in the vehicle does not have to be stationary for the battery to charge. Various forms of dynamic inductive charging for moving vehicles have already been demonstrated in buses and trains in South Korea, as well as in trams and goods vehicles in Germany.One of the greatest advantages of inductive energy transmission technology is that there are no parts subject to mechanical wear. It also becomes simpler to automate battery charging when no physical contact is needed. For this reason, researchers believe that inductive battery charging will be used not only in self-driving and autonomous road vehicles, but in time also for charging drones, ships and various types of machinery, among other things.Hydrogen fuel will be commonWhile batteries both store energy and provide power directly, the hydrogen system generates electrical power by oxidising hydrogen to produce electricity and water. The energy is stored as hydrogen in a tank, and fuel cells supply power.High-speed boats and ferries powered by hydrogen are expected to be in use by the end of 2020. The same is expected for trains and goods vehicles for long-distance transport. Hydrogen will also eventually be powering some aircraft.With the introduction of mass-produced hydrogen-powered cars by Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, among others, in coming years, the regulatory framework and the basic infrastructure for the use of hydrogen in land-based transport will be in place by 2020 in many countries.Hydrogen is a particularly appropriate fuel for larger vehicles and means of transport, or when needed for long-range transport. This means large passenger and goods vehicles, long-distance buses, lorries, trains and ships.For maritime use, hydrogen in gaseous form will be less suitable as an energy carrier for the longest journeys and for larger vessels. For such applications, hydrogen will be stored in liquid form. However, for small ships and moderate distances, volume is not a problem, and compressed hydrogen gas can be used. The first tank vessel for transporting liquid hydrogen is already being built in Japan. When completed in 2020 it will transport large amounts of hydrogen from Australia and Brunei to that year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.Internet for goodsGoods transport, for example of consumer products, is at present booked complete, from start to finish. Things will be different in the future. There will be a more flexible form of distribution: Researchers envisage that “all” goods will be sent to a large goods terminal where they will be packed and then distributed. This allows us to have an overview of the entire stock and thus plan the best and most efficient way to ship goods from there.The concept involves fitting the goods with intelligence – which in practice means that a product will carry electronic information about what it is, what transport requirements apply to it and where its destination is. Using this sort of concept, goods can monitor their own shipping and send alarms or notifications in the event of delays. According to the research scientists we can also expect the transport of goods to be more efficient, safer and more environmentally friendly.Hyperloops and drone taxisThe rise of drones – unmanned airborne vehicles – at sea and on land, has already made its mark in fields like film and TV production and inspection assignments. The technology is becoming increasingly safer and cheaper as a result of increased computing power and a sharp fall in the price of sensors. Scientists predict that autonomous drones and robots will in future carry out complex operations such as maintenance work, both alone and in combination with people.Drones in the air and on land will contribute to what is known as “first and last-mile delivery” – the first and last legs of a transport chain which often cannot be achieved using shared transport, such as from the post office to your home.The researchers also foresee that transport in pipelines will in future ease the pressure on roads that are at present overloaded with heavy goods vehicles. Pipeline systems have been used for a long time to transport liquids and gases, but are little used for transporting solid materials. However, St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim uses internal pipe-borne mail and in Bergen and Stockholm pipes are used in automated refuse collection.Because traffic volumes are growing, the need is also growing to divert goods transport away from roads. This in turn increases interest in developing a pipeline infrastructure for transporting goods over moderate to long distances. Such systems are being demonstrated and planned for the transport of, among other things, shipping containers (California and Singapore) and for pallet transport (the UK, Germany, Switzerland and others), and are likely to be part of the Norwegian transport network within a few years.Hyperloop technology based on induction motors and magnetic levitation will probably be commercially available by 2025, most likely for transporting goods that require rapid transport, such as fresh seafood. SINTEF estimates that we can have a Norwegian test circuit ready in 2020, but points out that the Norwegian landscape, with its many mountains and fjords, will present a challenge to large-scale hyperloop development.Hyperloop technology is now being studied in at least 20 locations around the world, for example in India, Sweden, Finland, France, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the US and Singapore. The first full-scale test installation (DevLoop) is already operating in Las Vegas in the US.Autonomisation of vehicles and shipsWe already have self-driving cars, but user acceptance and new legislation will be necessary before this technology can become widespread. Self-driving vehicles will however become more common and will also pave the way for new usage patterns involving car-pooling and car rental. In the short term, researchers believe that we will see self-driving cars in closed areas, and used, for example, for snow-ploughing at airports.Technology originating in self-driving cars will in time lead to the automation of excavators and fork lift trucks, among other things. The same will apply to autonomous trains, which are already operating in some urban areas. At sea, self-driving ships will see the light of day quite soon. Ships lend themselves especially well to the technology, being relatively slow-moving and operating in areas providing a certain flexibility as regards the planning of journeys. Because ships are large, investment in autonomous systems will be a relatively small part of the total cost.Remotely-controlled and autonomous aircraftAs people become more used to and accept unmanned transport, the trend will be towards removing the pilot from the cockpit. Technological development and increased air traffic density will also approach a point at which pilots no longer make a positive contribution to air safety.In future, traffic at an airport will often be controlled by personnel who are not located at the airport. This will reduce the need for manned control towers. Researchers envisage that several airports will be controlled simultaneously from one location, and that this will result in more efficient instruction and training, as well as a more robust professional community. In principle the technology has been based on the transmission of two-dimensional video images from cameras located around the airport to a control centre in another location. So far, one airport in Switzerland has been certified for operational remote control of traffic from a different location, and Norway will implement the technology at 15 airports in the next couple of years.New services linked to travel and goods transportIncreasing online shopping means that small deliveries are being made to more and more addresses. In towns this leads to major traffic-related problems and local pollution. Goods transport must therefore be organised in new ways. Distribution centres for goods must be established in towns and must coordinate and optimise all distribution of goods and ensure full delivery vehicles and optimal routing.This will probably create a need for entirely new services providing support for the travelling public or for goods to be transported. The researchers call this “Mobility as a Service”.The aim is to provide tailor-made systems providing transport in the most efficient and environmentally friendly way possible.Electrification of transport presents challenges in that the electrical grid may become overloaded when many vehicles are being charged simultaneously. Smart management of charging is needed so that a large number of vehicles can be charged with the existing grid capacity. Charging must be adapted to the periods when the vehicles are to be used, and charging must if possible make use of locally generated, renewable energy.Digital services involving co-operation and the sharing economy can lead to better resource use and reduce the negative impacts of transport. Cars and private charging stations can be shared and unused space in vehicles can be shared and used for transporting people and goods. Distribution centres for goods will demand collaboration between operators which currently work independently. New business models are a condition for the success of collaboration and the sharing economy.The transport systems of the future will depend on the collection and exchange of information and data. It is important that personal protection is maintained according to new, strict requirements such as those of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).Goods transport and passenger travel will change as a result of new technology such as self-driving cars and drones. New services will arise and transport will be organised in new ways:New services (which support, for example, Mobility as a Service) will contribute to transport systems which are adapted to the users’ needs, as well as to the traffic situation. Users will also be assisted in choosing environmentally friendly transport and in the event of disruptions en route (e.g. delays) they will be given information about alternative means of transport.Key technologies and the circular economyWhile it is not a direct transport trend, because technology is developing so rapidly researchers are highlighting a number of technologies which in one way or another will become prominent in many different parts of the transport sector, such as the development of light but extremely strong materials, nanotechnology and sensor technology, digitalisation and the use of robotics, automation and 3-D printing. 3-D printing is a computerised process in which a three-dimensional product is built up in layers from a raw material consisting of wire, powder or liquid.3-D printing is primarily a tool used by product designers for rapid design and prototyping, but it is now making an entrance in what are known as distributed manufacturing platforms. This means that manufacture can be moved from large, centralised factories to local workshops and from there to people’s homes. This will change both the flow of goods and the demand for transport. 3-D printing can become very important in what is known as the circular economy, which is based on making the best possible use of all resources, for example by producing spare parts, or by repairing things that otherwise would be thrown away.In a few years’ time we may perhaps be able to order spare parts from an IT specialist instead of an auto repair shop, thereby reducing the impact on both our wallets and the environment. Explore further Provided by SINTEF Developments in technology will leave their mark on Norwegian roads. More advanced IT systems make self-driving cars possible, as well as drones that can deliver parcel post – with built-in intelligence. Hyperloop technology is not just fantasy: this means of transport, based on very low air pressure and induction technology, can become a reality. Test circuits are being planned at several locations. Researcher Jackob Høgenes at SINTEF Digital is working with drones. However, this one only flies indoors. Credit: Werner Juvik / SINTEF This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.