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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Celebs Savour Mexican Delights

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Diamonds produced from tequila: Scientists in Mexico say they've managed to turn tequila into diamonds

By Greg Morsbach, BBC News

A method of producing synthetic diamonds using tequila - Mexico's favourite alcoholic drink - has been discovered, scientists there say.

The amazing discovery was made by physicists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and could have many industrial uses.

There is one catch however. The synthetic diamond crystals are too small to be turned into jewellery.

Mexico produces hundreds of millions of litres of tequila every year.

Annual sales to the US alone are worth about $500m.

The head of the scientific team, Miguel Apatica explained to the BBC how they came up with their discovery.

"First of all we turn the liquid tequila into vapour by using a lot of heat. The gas molecules are then broken up into tiny particles. Then we increase the heat even further - to around 800 degrees celsius."

"The end result is that we get carbon atoms which are then deposited in the shape of a very thin diamond film," he added.

The synthetic diamond crystals can only be seen under an electron microscope.

Although they cannot be used for jewellery, there are plenty of practical applications for them.

They can be used as an alternative to silicon in computer chips or as ultra fine cutting instruments in medical procedures.

One advantage of making diamond film from tequila is that it is extremely cheap.

The scientists found that even the cheapest of tequila brands, averaging at $3 a bottle, are good enough to make diamonds.



Tom Parker Bowles' adventure to the Tequila Valley

Mexican stand-out: A tequila buzz without the hangover
Tom Parker Bowles for Mail Online 18th November 2008

Five minutes after midnight in the Mexican highland town of Arandas, and the unassuming taco stand was wreathed in smoke and crowds.

Plump links of hand-made chorizo dangled from the awning, spring onions charred over the flames and tortillas were made to order.

My Spanish isn't up to much, so I just pointed at various piles of sizzling beef and pork, emboldened by the tequila coursing through my veins.

I slathered a trio of fresh salsas on top, finished with a twist of lime, and rolled the lot up into a puffy tortilla. The cost was minimal, no more than 20p, yet the pleasure was intense.

What was more remarkable still was my state the following morning. Or rather lack of. The previous night had been spent tasting tequila, and what had started with polite sips and civilised discussion descended into a very merry session.

But the bottles of tequila in question were as far removed from the mass-market head-wreckers as a child's stick-man is from a Titian cherub.

All were made from 100 per cent blue agave, a member of the lily family indigenous to the state of Jalisco. In fact, only agave grown in this state (as well as those grown in specific parts of four other states) can legally be called tequila.

The plant takes about eight years to reach maturity, then it's stripped of its leaves so just the pina, or heart, remains. This is steam-cooked in brick ovens for 24 to 48 hours, crushed and the resulting liquid mixed with local spring water.

Natural yeast is added and it ferments, from 48 hours to four days, before being distilled twice.

Tequila blanco is not aged, while reposados needs a minimum of two months in wooden barrels and anejo needs at least a year.

Terroir is everything, from the climate to the soil. Ultra-premium Partida comes from agave grown near the town of Tequila, sitting about 1,500m above sea level.

The blanco is peppery and sparky, with a strong, vegetal hit of agave. Ocho blanco, hailing from the Arandas area, about 2,000m above sea level, is more smooth and rounded. But both are superior tipples.

The Partida reposados is rich, smooth and full of caramel, the Ocho rather more nutty, with a hint of sweetness. Both anejos are as rich and complex as good brandy, the digestif to blanco's aperitif.

After three days spent in tequila country, quaffing the very best, I was hooked. Even better still, tequila of this quality produces next to no hangover.

This might sound too good to be true, but even after a good few glasses, the next morning brought barely a twitch. Beautifully made and wonderfully varied – with the very finest tequila, there's no such thing as a downside.

Partida tequila from £45, Ocho from £18, thedrinkshop.com and harveynichols.com


Tequila Ocho takes part at the Cafe Iguana's tequila masterclass in Singapure