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The Family Sweet Marie Bar recipe (you will love me so much)

Pic 1 Final

When I say “family” I don’t mean this is some sort of East European treat– this I claim as my own though it is truly a Seaborn classic.  I feel that I have eaten enough of them over 17 years to have some ownership.

We are going camping this weekend and I made a batch of these.  The step-by-step is posted her at the foodnetwork.ca blog but here’s the basic recipe.   Takes no time.  You must make it.  Trust me on this one.  (and also– just go with the corn syrup and margarine, don’t screw with perfection.)

SWEET MARIE BARS

makes about 20-25
Ingredients:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup salted peanuts
1 package real chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Heat peanut butter, sugar, corn syrup and butter over low heat until mixture starts to boil.
  2. Remove from heat and add Rice Krispies and peanuts. Mix well.
  3. Press into a greased 8- or 9-inch square pan.
  4. Cover with chocolate chips while hot. As chips melt (give it a couple minutes) spread over the top.
  5. Let cool until chocolate solidifies and cut into squares.  If the chocolate is a little soft it’s ok, but if cut when still melted you will have quite a mess on your hands! (my mother-in law pops the pan into the freezer for 10-15 minutes to speed up the process)

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Fried Chicken for the Masses: It’s the Fried Chicken Battle Royale at the Drake

Fried Chicken Battle

Well, the above just about says it all.  But, Ivy Knight, organizer-Royale has more to say about this lip smacking event where I get to be a judge.  A judge of fried chicken… I picture myself with a drumstick gavel and greasy paperwork.  Can Monday night come fast enough?

Here is what Ivy has to say about how and why she pulled together this first (annual) fried fiasco.

I have been wanting to do a fried chicken battle ever since watching David Chang go head to head against Questlove on Jimmy Fallon. I just really wanted to fill a room with people eating lots and lots of free fried chicken. Unfortunately I don’t have a budget to buy a bunch of chickens so I got in touch with my old friend Peter Sanagan and asked if he’d be willing to donate the birds. I barely got my request out before he said of course. So then I talked to some of my chef friends, Matty at Parts & Labour, Fan at Happy Child, Teddy at the Drake, the girls who run SNACKS (famous for their food at the Junction Flea) and Brandon at Bar Isabel, we picked a date and I started thinking about judges.

I didn’t want to have  chefs come in to compete and be judged by their peers, I wanted the judges to come from outside of the peer group – so I often look to cookbook authors and media. The guys at Munchies were an obvious choice, they suggested Bad Day Magazine and since I know and love you I figured we’d bring you in to add a little class to the panel (Ivy knows how easily I fall for sweet talk–don’t worry, I’ll never bring a lot of class, perhaps just a cufflinks’ worth SR)And of course, Peter is a judge since he’s the reason we’re able to pull this off.

This is the first of what I hope will become a yearly tradition where I give away five hundred pieces of fried chicken to the masses.
So… friends, foes and people who accidentally got to this page and are thinking WHAT?  THANK GOD I FOUND IT, don’t wait til next year.  Come on down next week!
And no, I’m not sharing my chicken.  Get your own damn chicken.  8pm, Monday night.  It’s FREE y’all.

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Momofuko Bo Ssam and Au Revoir Andy Hoffman

Bo Ssam 1

This is the story of pork butt.  It is also the story of friends (Jenn and Andy) who are moving to place of “the fountain”,  Geneva actually.  Certainly known for things other than “the fountain” but Google Geneva and the Jet d’Eau is all over the Image pages (followed closely by the flower clock).  Don’t ever try to say the words “Jet d’Eau” out loud if you do not speak French, it’s just embarrassing, trust me…

The pork butt portion of the story is sweet and savoury, the friends moving part is more bitter and sweet— though we want to have pals to visit in Geneva (and to tour the fountain with) we also are very sad to have them so far away (they eased us in un-gently by moving to Vancouver first).  We like to get together to eat with Andy and Jenn, a lot of meat, a lot of cheese and a lot of wine.  (Andy could throw around wine terms like “flabby” and “grippy tannins” before Sideways had people hating Merlot.)  Jenn makes mean guacamole.  And cocktails.  (Jenn’s cocktails are so good she should be an anesthesiologist.)

All I have left...and btw..the cayenne one is now gone.

All I have left…and btw..the cayenne one is now gone after the photoshoot.

But this blog is sparked by Andy (not that we do not love Jenn-we do–and she brings chocolate from BC–which I am running short of and desperate for…) because when I last saw him he had his arm twisted into giving me the Momofuko cookbook for my birthday.  He came over to visit and had the book in a bag and then I might have said something like “Is that for me?” and then suddenly it was.  Which I feel bad about…but not a lot.

Cook book momofuko

Especially now that I finally made the Bo Ssam that every blogger every has already posted about, the book is on my “featured” bookshelf (also because it is great reading).   The Bo Ssam recipe came to me at the perfect time as we were having a BBQ (planned for a weekend of torrential downpour–so trying to feature meat but not on the grill) and aside from having delicious, easy food, I wanted to do something fun.  I haven’t had a “cooking day” in a while, and hurriedly making dinner for the family does not count ever.  (Almost ever.)   So meat that would be in the oven for hours, making the house smell inviting with it’s with potentially fantastic results seemed like a great idea… Andy said it would be the best.

Andy

And so I called Cumbrae’s and ordered 14 pds of bone-in pork butt (which the woman helping me seemed to think was a lot for 12 people) but I feared would barely be enough (no need to trust the experts Sue!).  To be fair to my own gluttonous judgement, I really was not sure how many people would show up and how can a person have a BBQ and bear the thought of running low on meat???

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Fourteen pounds of pork butt

Essentially you’re just slow cooking the butt, so this recipe is incredibly simple.  The night before you rub the meat with a mixture of salt and sugar and let it cure overnight in the fridge.  Then you drain off any liquid and cook for 6 hours-ish at 300 F til tender and yielding.  I think ours went 7 hours.

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At that point, when you’re drooling and ready to eat you rub the exterior with a bit of salt and a lot of brown sugar, and fire the oven up to 500° F.  Then in goes the meat for about 10 minutes until the exterior is sweet and crusty (David Chang calls it a “pig shoulder encrusted in Pig Candy”  in the book).

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Finally you bring it outside (under the tarp your husband spent 3 hours putting up for a storm that would pass before the guests arrived) and you hesitate…..where to start?  All the guests, expected to eat at least 1 pd of eat each, hovered.  We also had an emergency as the steamed rice I had picked up from the Chinese food place was actually discovered to be fried rice.  Which was not going to work with my lettuce wrap plan.  (luckily the problem, a bike ride away was resolved though I admit I may have panicked and slightly overreacted when I saw the fried rice–possibly freaked out just a little?)

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Finally, crisis managed, I dug in (we had Boston lettuce for wraps, steamed rice, condiments and cucumber and strawberry salad and red cabbage salad to go with–(the  recipe for the slaw is one  I was seduced by in California (red cabbage is very sexy) made by my brother and sister-in-law’s friend Traci.  Recipe at bottom.  AWESOME.).

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Condiment wise I made the ginger-scallion sauce reco’d in the Momofuko book, we had Kimchi, pickled onions and a beet horseradish spread I had made for burgers and was nice and earthy with some bite.

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This is not Andy (Andy who sparked the whole idea was back in BC planning what to wear to his first fountain visit), it is my friend Terry (meat consultant), and yes my face melted when I realized we had the wrong rice.  It was horrifying.  Luckily Terry took it in stride and just kept pulling meat.

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You must all try this.  Here is a link to Sam Sifton’s piece in the New York Times Magazine that provides the recipe.

Andy and Jenn-  wish you were here (but Geneva also good)  xo Sue

Red Cabbage Salad (based on a the slaw recipe from a The Northwoods in southern California.)

  • 1/2 head red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
Shred half of the cabbage finely and the other half coarsely. Place in a large bowl.
Whisk together vegetable oil, red win vinegar , sugar, salt, seasoned salt, black pepper, and onion powder.
Toss the dressing with the cabbage. Scrape the salad with the dressing into a zip-top bag or covered container and refrigerate. Let marinate for a 5  hours until cabbage turns deep red, softens a bit, and flavors meld. It’s even better after a few days.   (IT REALLY REALLY IS!)
AND THE CHEESE BOARD–I almost forgot– we had Albert’s Leap ripened goat cheese (ON), Bleu D’Elizabeth (QC) and Mountain Oak Wild Nettle Gouda (ON)
 

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Easy Pickled Cherries for Your Charcuterie Board

Home made pickled cherries in a jiff!  Photo by tad Seaborn

Home made pickled cherries in a jiff! Photo by Tad Seaborn

Why pickle pickles when you can pickle cherries? I know, I know you pickle cucumbers but it flowed better.  Anyway, this jar of pickled cherries has disappeared fast—with pate, with cheese, on burgers—-and so simple to make.  Pitting the 2 cups of cherries will be a slight pain in the butt, yet still speedy.  Honest.

And they’re ready to serve once chilled.  So you can enjoy them the same day–the same afternoon even.  After your workout that you didn’t want to do,  or once you’ve finished reading the last chapter in your book club novel (that being a reminder that I need to read some novels).

Ingredients  (recipe from my Quick Fix piece in the Globe)

2 cups (about 350g) pitted cherries

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cups water

1/8 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

pinch of chili flakes

sprig of rosemary

Method

Prepare 2 cups (about 350g) pitted cherries. In a small pot combine 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cups water, 1/8 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds and 1 teaspoon black peppercorns. Add a pinch of chili flakes if desired. Bring to a boil. Add in the cherries and a sprig of rosemary and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Scoop the cherries into a sealable container (they will fit a 500 ml mason jar) and top up with the pickling liquid. Allow to cool slightly and refrigerate. They’re ready to serve once cold and will last in the fridge for a few weeks.

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Mango Salsa- so simple so awesome

Mango Salsa

Hello on Friday!  A sunny Friday even.  Just a quick post if you needed some inspiration for the weekend or for a Father’s Day menu item.

Here’s my easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy recipe- (as Felix would say).

Mango Salsa

Makes about 1 cup.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup finely diced mango (about 1 large mango)

½ cup finely chopped red onion

2-3 tbsp lime juice

2 tsp rice vinegar

Pinch salt

1 tsp sugar

3 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro.

½ teaspoon chopped chili

 Method

1. In a small bowl, combine mango, red onion and cilantro.  Now add the lime, rice vinegar, salt and mix together. Taste and add 1 tsp sugar if needed.

2. Add some chopped chili if you want to add zing.

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Go East for Cheese! Meet Adam Blanchard, Newfoundland’s one-man cheese stop

Adam Blanchard with his smoke Cheddar

Adam Blanchard with his smoked Cheddar- photo by Tad Seaborn

In 2011 Adam Blanchard bought a two-pound cheese press online and taught himself cheese making, initially for friends and family but he eventually set up a stall at the St. John’s Farmers Market in 2011. He sold out in two weeks.

Five Brothers Smoked Cheddar

Five Brothers Smoked Cheddar

The response from customers was enthusiasm mixed with a bit of shock.  “The look on some people’s faces, I’ll never forget. ‘Cheese?’ they would say. And I would say, ‘Absolutely.’ ”   No one had ever come across hand-made cheese in Newfoundland before- until Five Brother’s Cheese came along.

I was lucky enough to meet Adam and catch up with my friend Julia Bannister (Five Brother’s retail manager) at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton.  He was sampling his smoked cheddar, queso fresco and fresh mozzarella but he also makes a Monterey Jack and looking to make some chevre in the future (maybe in his new space??).

You can read more about Adam in my Globe piece (get that thing tweeting for the East Coast!)  and also get Kelsie Parson’s perspective on cheese and the food scene from his visit to Newfoundland last year.

Canadian Cheese Festival Wide

A packed house Saturday AM–can you find Felix and I?

I’d also like to share some pics from the amazing Great Canadian Cheese Festival this year, 4000 people and 3 dozen cheese makers from across Canada.  It was so much fun, there was so much great food–cheese, sausages, condiments, wine, cider and beer that I just kept running out of sampling tickets!  This is such an amazing event–there are  tutored tastings run through the weekend and I always learn so much while eating amazing cheese (thanks Julia Rogers and Cheese Culture).

I also got out to do some wine tasting at Clossen Chase (love their chardonnay) and Hinterland (love all their sparkling wine-amazing).  But sounds like Norman Hardie’s was the place to party that weekend.  He was hosting a bunch of people including the whole Five Brothers crew.

Albert Borgo of Quality Cheese Holds his Grand Prix Winning Ricotta

Albert Borgo of Quality Cheese Holds his Grand Prix Winning Ricotta

One of the amazing things about the festival is that it is a place you can meet all the people who make the amazing products we all salivate over during the year.  For instance, here I am with Albert of Quality cheese and below…

Felix riding Yvette

…  is Felix riding Yvette, the water buffalo who lives on one of the two water buffalo farms in Ontario.  She supplies milk for our fabulous, local buffalo mozzarella.

Sampling wine and cheese

And this could be you next year, sipping wine, eating cheese, wandering around the county….( hopefully not aimlessly wandering, its good to have a destination–even if it’s just bed).

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

One of my all-time favourites.  The Avonlea clothbound cheddar, gorgeous as always.

Samples at the Cheese Fest

Or perhaps you prefer a bloomy rind?

Tania

Or tasting the “new aged”- like the latest cheese from Finica (makers of the Lindsay Clothbound Cheddar) called Tania.

Days end at the Picton harbour Inn

And finally back to kick back on a patio chair outside the Picton Harbour Inn–where are the cool people stayed.  Unless you were staying at Norman Hardie’s–then that was cooler.

But best breakfast in town right here, or so they say…..

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Sparkling Lavender Lemonade

Lemonade

Partially I am posting this because the picture itself makes me think of sun and patio and holidays.  Which makes me immediately thirsty.

Tad and I pulled this one together for another one of the Globe Quick fix recipes, but it really is tasty and I wanted to share the simple recipe.

Ingredients

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup dried lavender buds

Juice of 1 fresh lemon (50 ml)

3 cups sparkling water (such as San Pellegrino)

1/4 cup agave syrup

Method

In a small pot, add water and dried lavender buds (you can buy them online or at most specialty food stores). Bring to a simmer for 7-8 minutes until reduced. Strain the infused liquid – you should have about 1/4 cup. Place in the fridge to cool.

Juice the lemon and add to a pitcher with sparkling water. Mix in agave syrup and lavender infusion and serve immediately.

Tip: This ratio works for me, but you may want to add the lavender infusion and agave gradually to adjust the desired sweetness and floral intensity.

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Fifth Town is back (and Cape Vessey with it!)

Fifth Town a platinum Leed facility is set to reopen its store in June

Fifth Town, a Platinum Leed, facility is set to reopen its store end of May

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Patricia Secord, one of the new owners of Fifth Town Cheese.  They are set to reopen the store on May 31, in time for the Great Canadian Cheese Festival.  As the fate of Fifth Town remained unknown after going into receivership last summer, I don’t think anyone in the cheese community wanted to believe this award-winning cheese company with so much heart (and so much delicious fromage) could be kept down .

For my full piece and more details see The Wedge- Fifth Town article in Globe Food today.

CAPE VESSEY (image from dobbernationloves.com)

CAPE VESSEY (image from dobbernationloves.com)

Due complicated regulatory paperwork to re-register the dairy to it new owners, cheese making will not begin until earliest September (for fresh cheeses).  There are also renovations to be done ranging from general maintenance to expanding the existing waste water, solar, geothermal functionality and ageing areas to be more efficient.

In the meanwhile, Ms. Secord who has access to amazing artisanal farmstead cheese through her import business (Bertozzi Importing) will be selling those at the store just to get momentum and begin to bring the business back to life.  (cool fact: Ms. Secord’s grandfather had been a Parmesan Reggiano producer in the Parma region before WWII broke out and her father came to Canada and bought his first Parm wheels to sell here with gold he had saved and brought from Italy).  The business has offices in Montreal and Toronto.

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The upcoming Italian cheese line-up sounds pretty mouth-watering and ranges from fresh cheeses, washed rinds and cave-aged varieties–all artisanal, goat, sheep and cow’s milk products-some raw and some organic. Ms. Secord was a little hesitant in the beginning about bringing in international products knowing Fifth’s Towns reputation had been built on its support for local product but says the community has been very supportive, “everyone wants to get the place up and running and this is going to help us get through the period of reconstruction.”

YES WE DO!   (And btw–they are hiring!  Check the website.)

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Asparagus Season–make pesto with your spring veggies

photo by Tad Seaborn

photo by Tad Seaborn/ click to enlarge  (not to enrage)

Here’s a recent favourite for the Globe “Quick Fix” column.  The recipe is with the article HERE.

It’s so hard not eat a whole lot of pine nuts when making pesto–almost mindlessly–and then I keep reminding myself that they’re a kazillion dollars for a handful–probably worth more than Jack’s beanstalk seeds.  But so yummy.

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And a little reminder if anyone is thinking about attending the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton June 1-2, you can get a discount through the blog.  Hope to see you there!

SR

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Nickel City Chef = I’m sold on fine dining in Buffalo (yep, time to forgo those wings)

The Coin Toss

The Coin Toss between Chef Forster and Chef Goetz

If you get sweaty palms watching  the cooking intensity of Iron Chef you’ll know how excited I was to be part of the 5th annual Nickel City Chef cook-off in Buffalo this year.  Taking place over four weekends, I was asked to be a judge for the final competition on April 14th.
Chef Adam Goetz and sous-chef trying to beat the clock.

Chef Adam Goetz and sous-chef  Adam Cook trying to beat the clock.

The chefs in the challenge both wield impressive resumes of training and cooking internationally and across the US. Chef Adam Goetz who was days away from opening a new resto called Crave has previously been Executive Chef Saucier at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
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Challenging Chef Edward Forster of Mike A @ Hotel Lafayette has trained under chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Vong’s in London and been sous-chef under Chicago’s Graham Elliott.
The beautiful kitchen turned studio where the Nickle City Chef Competiton was held

The beautiful kitchen turned studio where the Nickle City Chef Competiton is held

The event took place in stunning and  fully restored turn-of-the-century warehouse on Buffalo’s west side.  My fellow judges were fellow Torontonian Chef John Horne of Canoe (@ChefHorne) and Buffalo Spree journalist/food writer Alan Bedenko  (@buffalopundit).

The judges- with John Horne of Canoe and Buffalo Spree journalist/food writer Alan Bedenko

Organized by  Feed Your Soul Productions which was founded by food writer Christa Glennie Seychew, I spoke to Christa about the food scene in Buffalo-and what she hopes to achieve through the competition.
What do you want people to know about the food scene and chefs in Buffalo?
I want visitors to understand that while we may be known for chicken wings, limiting the understanding of our food scene to a common bar snack is not unlike assuming NYC is made of nothing but pizza. We share the same terroir as Ontario, so those restaurants that focus on local, seasonal fare are as adept and capable as a good Toronto restaurant. We also have more independent restaurants per capita, than many other cities our size, with very few chains located within the city limits. An abundance of young, engaged, well-traveled chefs have returned to open their own restaurants here, and while it may not obvious to those who come to Buffalo to see a game or shop at the mall, there is a groundswell of passion here for the excellent dining experiences that can be had.
What frustrates you about people’s perception of the Buffalo culinary scene?
It makes me sad to think that visitors choose to eat at chain restaurants. If I thought that Toronto was only the few blocks surrounding the Air Canada Centre or the inside the Eaton Centre, I’d have missed out on so many amazing, delicious meals! And while it would be wrong of us not to embrace the Buffalo chicken wing as part of our city’s edible history, it is not the summation of our region.

What is your goal with Nickel City Chef?

Nickel City Chef seeks to showcase Buffalo’s culinary talent, giving a proper stage to our hardworking chefs and skilled farmers.

The secret ingredient was fresh cheese: mozzarella and burrata from Nickel City Cheese and Mercantile

Felix picking cheese at Nickle City Cheese

Felix making choices at Nickel City Cheese

 As for the menu, here it is.  Both were outstanding, especially given the limited time but Chef Edward Forster won the competition…this time.

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Nickel City Chef Adam Goetz, Crave
Nickel City Sous Chef DJ Cook

Course 1:

adam 1

Fresh Mozzarella and OrangeAgnolotti
Braised swiss chard, tomato, pecans, brown butter

Crispy Sweetbreads
Pancetta, fine herbes, carrot mousse, peppered buratta medallion
adam 2

Course 2:

Rack of Lamb
Burrata polenta, asparagus, red pearl onion, spicy squash, beech mushroom, fried mozzarella, tomato beurre rouge, herbed burrata quenelle

adam 3

Course 3:
Cheese Course
Buratta, wild mushroom crostini, tomato strawberry chutney, herbed parmesan shortbread, balsamic,  fresh mozzarella, pine nut brittle, compressed watermelon, kalamata powder


Challenging Chef Edward Forster, Mike A @ Hotel Lafayette
Challenging Sous Chef Scott Crombie

Course 1:

Fresh Mozzarella Salad  ( I LOVED THIS)

ed 1

Pine nuts, herbs, hay smoked mozzarella, olive tapenade

ed 2

Course 2:

Mozzarella-stuffed Quail

Braised barley, English peas, black barley burrata, pea-stained whey broth

ed 3

Course 3:

Warm Mozzarella Tart

Rhubarb and strawberry compote, long pepper, almond

Mansion on Delaware

The Mansion (of my dreams) on Delaware

And one last thing–for an amazing weekend getaway, book some dinners in this emerging culinary destination and stay at the Mansion on Delaware.  So beautiful, so comfy, so luxurious….the service impeccable but relaxed.  Amazing buffet breakfast and lovely happy hour in the beautiful sitting rooms.  We will be back as soon as we can.  Leaving is not easy.

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