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The Week In Yum Nov23-28


Oh my god, what a week of eating! I didn't cook much, apart from this delicious Korean Pulled Pork which I have happily eaten for three days running,  but I certainly feel like I ate out often and well. As things go the way they often do around here, the kitchen is still without cupboard doors and all of the contents of my cupboards are in bags and boxes in my dining room so, frankly, I am impressed that I even managed the pork.

It all started off with lunch with my friend, Kate, at Jatujak again. Loving this place. Nothing new to report here since I had the green curry chicken again except to say that it was just as good as the other few times so I am happy to report that it appears to be very consistent. We followed a late lunch/early dinner which I like to call Linner or Dunch (take your pick) with a trip next door to the Dollarama and on to Pier 1 where we blew our brains out on glitter xmas decorations. It was out of control people.

this terrifying xmas hedgehog is what is passing for a festive decoration at Pier 1 these days

wine - part of a nutritious breakfast!

 On Monday, I attended my very first tasting for kwäf so that we could try the five wines that would comprise the two gift offerings that went on sale this week. I am not accustomed to drinking wine at 11am and I do not spit so, needless to say, I left the tasting a little merrier than when I arrived. I really enjoyed all of the wine but my personal favourite was the Meritage I think and I will most definitely be purchasing the "Three Brilliant Reds" package as an xmas gift to myself. I paired my Portuguese Corn Bread Stuffing with the other package, The Quintessential Christmas Dinner package since both the Pinot and especially the Riesling, are perfect wines to serve with a traditional turkey dinner.
How can you not like a gig that encourages you to have wine for breakfast?



Parlour


 By Tuesday, I was excited to finally check out Parlour at 270 Adelaide West. They have been a popular cocktail lounge for some time now and have just launched a light food menu serving tasty tapas to share with your friends. In this case, the friend I was sharing with was, Robyn of Planet Byn who also happens to be a frequent flyer here on The Week in Yum. We shared the chicken empanadas, albondigas and quinoa canoes and it was all very delicious but the thing that we almost arm wrestled over was the flatbread. They had me at fior de latte but it was the kobassa, a Croation sausage that was almost chorizo like, that really floated my boat. It was salty and smoky and such an amazing foil to the creamy cheese and then that hit of truffle oil - oh my.



quinoa canoe with delicious  honey dijon vinaigrette to drizzle on top

kobassa, mushrooms, fior de latte and truffle oil YES




We had a lovely time enjoying a couple of drinks, fashioning a soft box for our iphone cameras out of napkins (it is perfectly acceptable to take pictures using a napkin soft box when you have been invited to check a place out and share the love so stop looking at me like that).  Robyn had an Old Fashioned and swooned a bit over it and I had some lovely red wine of some sort. It's really cosy with nice, low, twinkly lighting and a speak easy kind of vibe. I will return.

Click to add a blog post for Parlour on Zomato

Patria


On Wednesday, I was back with Robyn at Patria where we joined fellow Gastropost OG, Libby Roach and three other lovely ladies. There was a tasty gardener , Olive and Ruby's granddaughter and Liora Ipsum - I will let you guess what she does for a living. My only gripe is that this restaurant is basically down an alley in behind the Patagonia store on King St W and I would have really liked to have known that. It was freezing cold and I wandered up and down King St for a time before realizing that this place was either down the alley beside Patagonia OR I was going to have run as fast as I could straight at the wall with the hope that I would end up on Diagon Alley instead of in the hospital with a concussion and a broken nose.

Anyway, all was forgotten once I stepped inside this warm, toasty restaurant, with soaring ceilings and lots of tables full of happy looking people.

Goat​ Cheese + Orange Blossom Honey + Walnut + Fig


cheese selection

We ordered lots of tapas to share as well as a couple of pitchers of very tasty Sangria. Back in the day, I lived and worked in Madrid and have fond, if fuzzy, memories of Spain so I was very pleased to feel a little bit like I had been transported back in time. Okay, minus the copious amounts of alcohol that would have accompanied that trip back in time but you know what I mean.

pulpo

Ibérico Lomo + Ibérico Chorizo + Jamón Serrano + Morcón Salami


these stuffed dates made my life a better thing
Highlights, for me, were the things that I was the least exited about on paper and the things that didn't totally blow me away were the things that I was the most excited about. The D.O. Valdeón which they describe as a rich, creamy, intensely-flavored cow and goats milk blue cheese wrapped in sycamore leaves blew my socks off. I was only sad that the little slab that came on our cheese plate had to be shared amongst the six of us so I only managed to get one little taste with a tiny smidge of quince jelly but I can still taste it if I close my eyes. I was not overly enthusiastic about the dates stuffed with manchego and wrapped in Ibérico Bacon and probably would have skipped them if I were on my own but these little things were absolutely perfect. Each bite was salty, sweet, cheesey and wonderful and If I had to pick one tapa to eat every day for the rest of my life, this one would be it. The patatas bravas with fried egg let me down a touch - they were not bad, by any means, but they were not done in the style that I am accustomed and they just didn't rock my world but, luckily, they were followed by the melt in your mouth Iberico pork flank with piquillio jam so it all ended on a wonderful note. This is the perfect place to go with a group, to celebrate and share. Loved this place and can't wait to take Shack.


Robyn trying octopus for the first time and living to tell
Click to add a blog post for Patria on Zomato



Thursday I finished the aforementioned  Korean pulled pork that I cooked on Wednesday and we at that for dinner over rice with a crumbled sheet of The Galleria's in house nori with sea salt. Heaven.




Pin of the week:  one of my favourite cookies ever

Facebook share of the week: its xmas baking time yo!

Instagram of the week: God I want to eat this fried chicken so much

food find of the week:  I am so exited for this knife block to get here!

tweet of the week: this has nothing to do with food but it is my favourite thing of the week







Korean Pulled Pork Take Two


There is a small grocery store near my house that marks meat down every day so that they can make room for the day's new shipment. Most of the time the meat is still a good day or three from it's best by date and there is ALWAYS a pork shoulder or pork butt marked down. Every time I go in there it's like they crawled into my brain to see what kind of meat I want to find on sale that day. Last week I got some lamb stew meat for half price and chicken thighs for a song.  This particular pork butt was marked $5 off so how could I not buy it? I am unable to walk past a discounted chunk of pig. It is what it is.

It's also gotten really cold and stupid out there so suddenly I find that my crock pot is calling to me. It also helps that my kitchen is STILL not all put back together so I can't get really exited about making anything that involves too many appliances or surface prep area. I feel like we are living in a dorm and relying on nothing but a rice cooker, a crockpot, one cutting board and kettle lately so it was either an instant ramen bowl or pulled pork. Pretty simple decision.

I have been tinkering a little bit with my go to korean pulled pork and I am liking it with a bit less hoisin, a bit more gochujang and five spice powder instead of the star anise. It's good the other way too but this way it seems to taste a bit more of gochujang and not so much of hoisin. I also found the star anise just a bit overpowering so I have stopped using it altogether. I am not telling YOU to stop using the stuff because you might love it the way it was but I think I am going to keep paring down the sweet and upping the spice over the next little while and will continue to check in with the results.


Korean Pulled Pork Take 2


Pork and Marinade

1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tbls gochujang (taste it when it's all mixed up and add more if you want it spicier)
3 tbls hoisin sauce
2 tbls ketchup
3 tbls rice vinegar
2 tbls rice syrup
2 tbls sesame oil
2 tsp chinese five spice powder
2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
approx 4 lb pork butt

Korean BBQ Sauce

4 tbl gochujang

5 tbls korean rice syrup (if you can't find that sugar or honey)

4 tbls light soy sauce

2 tbls rice vinegar

4 tsp sesame oil

Whisk everything together really well and set aside


Mix all of the ingredients together, except for the pork butt. Cut the pork into 4 or 5 large chunks and toss the pork into the sauce. I like to leave this in the fridge overnight if at all possible but you want to leave it for at least a few hours to marinate. When it's time to cook it, throw the whole thing into the crockpot and cook on low for about 8 hours. When it's done, remove the pork and set aside to cool a bit. Discard the liquid left in the crockpot. When the meat has cooled down enough to handle, shred the meat up and toss it with the Korean BBQ Sauce.






Now, you can eat it over rice, sprinkled with chopped scallion, sesame seeds and a bit of fresh cilantro or you can throw it into a sandwhich, a taco or just grab a fork.

The Week in Yum Nov 15-22



Last Friday, we couldn't agree on a place to eat dinner and found ourselves driving around aimlessly when it hit me - Aprile Bambina Cucina ! Shack will never say no their grilled caesar salad so when we can't figure out what we want to eat, this is one of those places that always solves our dilemma. It was almost full when we got there so it was lively enough to give it a nice, festive atmosphere but not so packed that we couldn't get in without a wait. Shack had the grilled caesar salad, as always, and it was just as delicious as ever. I think I have talked about it before but it really is so tasty. I love the smokiness that you get from the slight char on the wedge of romaine, then comes the saltiness of the crisp disc of pancetta, follwed by the creaminess tartness of the salad dressing and finished off with the crunch of the toasted slice of bread. LOVE
I almost didn't order the tomato basil soup because it sounded kind of boring but I really wanted soup so I went for it and I was very happy that I did. The soup comes in a really big bowl, which is refreshing, and it was rich and creamy and very satisfying, indeed. It wasn't my choice to share the spicy sausage pizza, to be honest. Their pizza is good enough but I am forever spoiled by Libretto and since I am not a huge pizza person to begin with, it's not something I would ever order anywhere else. Shack really liked it because he just loves pizza and, like I said, it's a good pizza, just not my thing. Service was great, the place was warm and toasty and we had a really nice dinner. I keep hearing that this place gets some bad reviews but I don't get it. To me, it's THE perfect neighbourhood spot that you can go back to again and again. Sure, if I want really great Italian, I am going to go elsewhere for consistently tasty food, nice, well priced wine, adorable decor, homey atmosphere and friendly service that isn't going to break the bank, this is what you are looking for. Like The Wren, if this place was a km from my house, I would eat here every week.











Saturday, we forced The Kid to get out of bed, get dressed and come out for lunch with us. He grumbled about it right up until we walked into Porchetta and Co and he was overcome with the aroma of toasty pig. We all got our porchetta sandwich dressed to our own liking- mine was Porchetta, mustard, truffle sauce, hot sauce but next time I am going to try adding shaved parmesan to turn it into absolute pork perfection. Happy people eating delicious pork on the incredible portuguese buns from Caldense Bakery, across the street. Happy.





Speaking of Caldense Bakery , we popped over there after we inhaled our porchetta "sangwitches" for a coffee and some dessert. I do not possess the ability to turn my back on a portuguese egg tart and I do love the egg tarts at Caldense. Shack tried the bolo de arroz, a lovely little rice cake. These things are always shaped kind of like a tall, thin muffin (no muffin top here sister) with a little wax paper wrapper and it is as charming to look at as it delicious to eat. Don't let the whole rice cake thing fool you because these little cakes are the bomb. They are tender and moist and sweet and sit somewhere between a sweet muffin and a cake with nothing but a sugar dusted lid. So good. The Kid chose some sort of vaguely black forest cake like thing and was not as happy as the two of us were with his dessert. I tried to warn him to choose more wisely and to listen to his mother and stick to a more traditional Portuguese confection but, like all teen agers, he did not. Oh well, sucks to be him.


all that was left of our dessert feast when we were done


filed under WTF,  The Kid announced "this would be a great place for a casual date"

something that looked like black forest cake

Portuguese egg tart or heart of my heart




Sunday meant the start of a mild kitchen reno and we took down all of the cupboard doors, primed half of them and generally made a huge mess of the kitchen. This required a run to The Sultan. For under $20 we all eat till we have to undo the top button of our pants and usually have enough leftover to send in The Kid's lunchbag. As always, I get the vegetarian plate with some of the crispiest, freshest falafel that you are ever going to see in the east end, lots of crispy pickled things, salad, roasted veg, addictive garlic sauce, hummus and hot sauce. It's all just incredibly fresh and I can't get enough of it. The boys had sandwiches, a falafel and a chicken shwarma. I asked them if they were enjoying them but they both had a mouth full of food and were too busy eating to talk to me. I will take that as a yes.




On Tuesday, we were still in the throws of kitchen fixing and for a change, we order thai from Jatujak, a newish thai restaurant on Kingston Road at Warden in Scarborough. I had lunch there a couple of weeks ago and was looking forward to an excuse to order take out. It came really quickly, probably half an hour after I hung up the phone and the food was hot, the pad thai wasn't all gummy and stuck together the way that take out pad thai can be and their green curry is like crack to me. It is one of those dishes that I just keep eating even after I am clearly too full to be eating more food. I am really exited about this new option for thai home delivery in my 'hood and this is definitely my new go to.



Now,here it is Wednesday already. The floor was being put down and I had to go to work to do makeup on an actress so I left the boys to fend for themselves. Instead, they came to pick me up after work and we went for a late supper at The Wren. Again. I know. It's a problem but I can't help myself, I just like this place so much! This time I tried the wings and I loved them. They serve them dry -lightly breaded and fried and the sauce of your choosing on the side. They will toss them if you ask but I wanted to eat them the way they like to serve them so I got them dry with chimichurri. They were nice and crispy and were actually very big, meaty wings for a change. I love wings but I get sick of ordering wings and feeling like I might as well just order deep fried chicken skin tossed in sauce so I was very happy that this was not the case. Shack had the burger, which he deemed quite good and The Kid had the chimichanga. I assume he loved it because it lasted about 3 minutes on his plate. The chimichanga has been ordered by someone at the table every single time I have eaten there so take that under advisement.


pulled pork croquettes



Not a ton of cooking going on this week due to the kitchen spruce-a-thon but here is my new floor at long last.

A trip to Target for hamburger buns. The buns must have been code for new kitchen mat, door hangy towel rack and new black hand towel. I also bought a couple really nice baskets to go on top of my fridge. I live a very cluttered life and we have a very tiny kitchen and now that I have been forced to remove all of my crap and prune, I don't want to go back to the same degree of clutter and so I am going to try to live more like a grown up and I thought baskets would be a good place to start.

the cupboard doors are just partially primed - they aren't going to look like that when we are done
Now, the most exiting news of the week for me is that I have joined the Kwaf team as their food pairing gal.   Their weekly LCBO Sale Picks are bottles that they recommend that are on special at Ontario liquor stores and I have been buying wines based on these recommendations for months now.
As a pilot project, they have started with this Exclusive Offer deal which is a good wine selected by top wine critics at exclusive prices (hence, Exclusive Offer) , ordered online and delivered to your door. These are all wines that aren't available at the LCBO and the deals are anywhere between $5 and $10 off of their usual sticker price if you were to buy them directly from the winery. 

So, this week's wine deal for those of you who are in Ontario is the 2012 Lailey Canadian Oak Chardonnay for $19.20 a bottle. It sells for $25.20 at the winery so it's a steal to order it from Kwaf. I thought that the perfect thing to serve with this nice, lightly oaked white would be my spicy cheddar shortbread since the holidays are almost upon us and these buttery little savoury shortbread are a staple in my freezer in December and they a perfect complement to the wine.


So, onto the weekly picks:

Pin of the week: because Gnocchi, short ribs and cheese

Facebook share of the week:  I will never stop trying to make brussels sprouts happen

Instagram of the week:  such a nice shot

Food find: scroll down to the pic of the knives stored in what looks like bamboo skewers jammed into a vase...what??

Tweet of the week:



Portuguese Corn Bread Stuffing Does a Turkey Good



I LOVE turkey dinner, I love stuffing and I love stuffing that has been cooked inside the turkey. I know, I know, everyone says it's best to cook it outside of the turkey, call it dressing instead and stuff the turkey with aromatics but I don't care. That's not how I roll.



I have been using Portuguese corn bread for at least 20 years or more now because it's so dense and heavy that it is the only bread that doesn't fall apart and turn to mush. It stays soft, moist and delicious but most of the bread cubes kind of retain their shape. I do tinker with it, sometimes adding nuts or chestnuts, leaving the cranberries out,  changing up the pancetta or crumbled italian sausage or chorizo, leaving meat out but I try to never change up the type of bread I use if I can help it.



Portuguese Corn Bread Stuffing

1 loaf portuguese corn bread
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 leek, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
150 g chopped pancetta with a bit of the fat
1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of chicken stock
fresh parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, savoury
s and p

Cut up your corn bread into 1/2" cubes. Because this bread is so dense, i use a bread knife to do this instead of using my fingers to just rip it up. Either set aside overnight to dry out a bit or put it into a 300F oven in a single layer on a baking sheet until its a bit dried out - I don't like to toast it like you do with other bread, again, because it's already so dense. Leaving it out overnight is the best method.

Melt your butter in a big frying pan and saute the celery, fennel, leek and garlic until soft. Pour the contents of the pan over the bread cubes in a large bowl. In the same pan, fry the chopped pancetta until crispy and using a slotted spoon, add that to the bowl (I also slop in some of the fat - probably a tbls or two in total). Now, how much herbs you use is up to you. I use a small fistful of thyme, about five big stalks of savoury, the same amount of sage, just a couple stalks of rosemary and a big fistful of fresh, italian parsley. Maybe you don't like thyme as much as I do and prefer rosemary. Just keep tasting and adjusting, adding herbs and tossing, tasting and adjusting. Start adding the stock, tossing and adding until the bread is pretty damp but not soggy - You will most likely use between 1 1/2 cups and 2 cups. Finally, salt and pepper to taste and set aside while you prep the turkey.

I stuff my turkey and then put whatever is left in a buttered casserole dish that I heat in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes after I pull my turkey out (I let the turkey rest for about 35 or 40 minutes and then carve it and by that time, the stuffing in the oven is ready)

The Week in Yum Nov 8-14 Crack Smoking Mayors, BBQ Ribs and The Wren, Oh My!

Korean sweet red bean cake

Okay, lets talk about the drunken, crack smoking, sexual bearcat in the room for all of us here in Toronto. Mayor McCracken, Rob Ford,  has dominated every second of news coverage all around the world, every late night comedy show and every inch of newspaper coverage. It is on everyone's minds and although I understand that there are still people who stand behind this inarticulate bully for reasons unknown to anyone I know, I vacillate between gleeful amusement and embarrassment and pity for this sad sack of a man and the family who are enabling him instead of forcing him to get help for his glaringly obvious trainwreck of a life. His most recent remarks about his sexual diet were almost enough to put me off sex AND eating for the rest of my days and it is nothing short of a miracle that can manage to do either of those things again. Thank god I am approaching 50 and can barely remember where I left my purse, never mind the fact that Mr Ford is getting enough to eat at home.

Moving on.

Pickled Rhubarb



This past summer, a friend brought me over a bag of rhubarb. I made a couple of batches of rhubarb simple syrup but I still had a few cups of chopped rhubarb left and wasn't sure what to do with it. I really didn't want to bake with it because we had just polished off the rhubarb pie ice cream and the last thing I needed was more dessert lying around the house.

Pickles
Why couldn't they be pickled?

The Week In Yum Nov 1-7

The Wren - look at that little surprise at the bottom of your beer glass


This week, we went back to Ajisen on Saturday with friends who were ramen virgins and I had the tom yum beef. It was just as good as last time which is encouraging because it means it is pretty consistent. I hate it when I eat somewhere and it's really good and then I go back a few times and it's never that good again. The ramen seemed to be a hit with the friends so everyone left full and happy.

Three Cheese Lasagna with Marcella's Marinara...Kind Of.



So, recently, I finally made Marcella Hazan's buttery tomato sauce and, unlike the other 98% of the food world, I didn't totally fall in love with it. I found it a bit too rich and buttery (if that can even happen) and missed the olive oil taste in my marinara. I didn't dislike it, I just didn't love it beyond all other sauces. What I did like was the silky texture the butter gave it and the ease of preparation and I wanted to try it again with less butter and some olive oil replacing the lost butter, finally settling on a ratio of 2 tbls butter/3 tbls of olive oil. This mix gave me the rich, silky texture but the olive oil flavour I was missing so much.


Shack woke up on Sunday morning with a craving for cabbage rolls but, unfortunately, he didn't share that with me until early afternoon. Cabbage rolls are not something you can just whip on on a whim. My mom, who was famous in our family for a couple of dishes, made a mean cabbage roll and I miss them tremendously. We really only made them in huge batches, freezing most of them, because they were so labour intensive and it always felt like a really big deal to me. When we had a big family reunion style gatherings, my mother's cabbage rolls were always requested (much to the chagrin of my aunt who was married to a Ukrainian man and learned to make them from her mother in law) and devoured with gusto. I recall hours of separating the leaves, steaming them and then trimming the thick core down so that they would be pliable, never mind making the filling, stuffing them and rolling them. Instead of attempting to make them last minute, we tried to find a european deli in the east of Toronto where we could buy some and heat them up at home. We did find a couple but neither opens on Sunday. I offered pierogies (sorry, pedaheh is the pronunciation if you are Ukrainian as Shack never fails to remind me) but he then said what he really wanted was a dinner of cabbage rolls, pedaheh and breaded veal cutlet and since that was NEVER going to happen, he settled for lasagna.

I never said his thought process made sense.


Anyway, lasagna it was to be except that The Kid really doesn't love Shack's heavy meat sauce and, therefore, doesn't really love his lasagna. As a compromise we decided to try out Ms Hazan's modified sauce again adding some garlic and basil and I am happy to say that we are thrilled with the results. We could prep the cheeses while the sauce simmered away, almost unattended so that was a bonus and, in the end, there was a delicious, creamy, cheesy lasagna that everyone could enjoy (Shack made a batch of meat sauce and ladled that on his serving). The kid got a clean marinara, Shack got meat sauce and I had the peace of mind that comes when all bellies are full and everyone's tastebuds are happy.

We kept it really simple because I wanted to taste the sauce but next time I will most likely add some greens - My preference would be rapini to give a nice bitter contrast to the richness of the dish but I am always vetoed on that so if you make it with rapini, please let me know how it turns out so I can live vicariously through you.I think some sauteed zucchini or eggplant in there would be great too.

This a double batch of sauce so if you are making a single batch I would do:
1 28oz can tomatoes, 1 onion, 2 tbls butter, 3 tbls olive oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 bunch basil and salt.


Three Cheese Lasagna

2 28oz cans San Marzano tomatoes, puréed
2 onions, peeled and halved
4 tbls or 1/4 cup butter
6 tbls extra virgin olive oil
Big pinch kosher salt
1 big clove garlic, peeled and smashed lightly
2 sprigs fresh basil
1 box oven ready lasagna noodles
1 lb mozzarella, grated
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
500 ml or 2 cups ricotta
1 egg, lightly beaten
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Put the tomatoes, butter, olive oil, onions, garlic, basil and big pinch of kosher salt in a big pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let it simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. After it's done, fish out the onion and basil and discard.

Meanwhile, get your ricotta ready and grate your mozzarella and Parmesan. Mix the ricotta with the egg, nutmeg, about 1/4 cup of your grated mozzarella  and a pinch of salt with a few grinds of black pepper in a bowl and set aside. Put about 1/4 cup mozzarella and about 3 tbls parm in a bowl and set aside to scatter over the very top of the lasagna)

Preheat your oven to 375f

Get a 9"x13" baking pan and put a good cup and bit of tomato sauce in the bottom. Add a layer of noodles, snapping any pieces to fit so that you end up with one single layer. Cover that with 1/3 ricotta, sprinkle 1/3 of your mozzarella and your Parmesan over that. Ladle another couple ladles of sauce and then start again with noodles-ricotta-mozzarella-Parmesan-sauce two more times so you have three layers.  Add a few more ladles of sauce over the top layer of noodles and sprinkle the rest of your reserved cheeses on the very top.  You will have sauce left over and we use that to pour over each serving when it's time to eat because we are a saucy bunch.

Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. After that time, remove the foil and cook, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. You can add more Parmesan on the top at that point if it doesn't look as cheesy as you'd like.

The Week in Yum Oct 25-31


Oh, what a fine week in Yum it has been. It was off to a great start on Friday when I found a box of Nando's Piri Piri sauces on my doorstep just as I was about to make my lunch. My Bubble Chicken Vermicelli Soup quickly became my Piri Piri Bubble with Vermicelli Chicken Soup .


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