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Salmon n’ Bannock on West Broadway with Oak, Vancouver

Full Disclosure
I didn’t do anything! Don’t blame me. The restaurant did not want to give us the bill when we asked for it. The restaurant did not know who we were.

You guys are great, you know that?

I am just awed by all the comments you guys made on chowtimes these days. They are so long winded … and so informative that I am learning so much from it. Thanks a lot for taking the time to write.

I thought it was just a simple post I wrote about the coffee we had in Aoyama.  But boy, I did not count on so many people being so passionate about coffee. Well, this post is a little bit about some exotic coffee just to continue a bit on the topic of coffee.

Rey had been a ardent supporter of chowtimes. I have to acknowledge that. When I mentioned about Kopi Luwak two weeks ago, he got someone in Manila to scour the city to bring over some for me. We met up last weekend so that he could pass me the prized Kopi Luwak.

Rey suggested that we meet at this new place he found the day before when he was in Toy’R'Us with his family. He said that this is a First Nation (Canadian for aboriginal) bistro. I had never had First Nation food before and so it was a no-brainer that we met up in Salmon n’ Bannock on Broadway.

Salmon n’ Bannock is located on the same block where Tomakazu is. They have been opened for less than 2 months and so there is just a banner in place of a proper restaurant signage.

Salmon n’ Bannock is a small cozy bistro with seats for about 25-30 people. It was tastefully decorated with many First Nations paintings adorning the wall. There are dream catchers and even a real canoe hanging from the ceiling!  Dream catcher … I just know that name but I do not know the significance of it in the First Nation culture.

The above is the Kopi Luwak. This coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world which goes for $500 per pound.

But this one is the cheaper version of the Kopi Luwak which also goes by the Filipino name Cafe Alamid. This is truly one exotic coffee. The beans are produced by coffee beans that had been passed through the digestive tract of the civet cat … and properly washed of course. LOL!

Yesterday I was reading your responses to the $9 Blue Mountain #1 siphon coffee in Aoyama. On wikipedia, I found out that a cup of Kopi Luwak went for $33 in Australia. In another instance, a cup of a blend of Blue Mountain and Kopi Luwak costs $99 in London. Interesting, huh?

I am gonna organize a coffee tasting session for this Kopi Luwak after I get the 8GTCC Hunan dinner out of the way. Stay tuned for details.

We had an all Canadian Soda. When I asked for a First Nation type drink, I was told they did not have any but they have Beaver Soda adding that 90% of everything they serve here is Canadian.

I had never heard of Beaver Cola before. This is $3 and is labeled as All Natural. This means that they are micro-brewed and they do not use cheap high fructose corn syrup like they used in other colas.

Suanne and I started off with sharing a soup which has an interesting name … the Three Sisters’ Soup n Bannock ($6). It is a homey kind of soup, light in taste and definitely very healthy.

The “three sisters” refers to butternut squash, potatoes, corn, and green beans. All these three are grown together by the First Nation. The beans climbed on the corn stalks and returned nitrogen to the soil, and the low-growing squash vines shaded all the roots and kept weeds from sprouting. Very interesting.

The above is Bannock and pronounced as Bannick. Bannock is a very common flat bread within the native communities throughout North America, even with the Inuit.

The bannock is crispy on the crust, not hard. Inside, it is soft and not dense. The recipe is simple and includes flour, baking soda and water only. Traditionally, Bannock is pan fried but it can also be oven baked or roasted over fire.

The menu is light and at a glance the prices are set quite reasonably. I think there is a slight premium on some of the items but we also understand that they are uncommon ingredients used. Like for instance …

… the $16 Wild Deer Stew n Bannock which Suanne had. The deer meat is lean and chewy which I kind of like. Suanne did remark though that the soup is quite bland. I think this is coming from the fact that we are used to the more intense Asian tastes and flavours.

First Nation food does not rely on the heavy use of sauces to accentuate the taste of the food. Instead the only spices used are onions, garlic, salt and pepper to bring out the original taste of the food.

The stew has carrots, potatoes and celery. It looked deceptively light but is actually very filling.

Each of the main is accompanied by some Bannocks and a bowl of salad. The salad was good. What we like was that the dressing for salad is made with raspberry and blackberry.

Me, I had the Chili Bannock with Wild Buffalo ($12). This is like any chili bowl you are familiar with except that it has … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Island Pearl on Kingsway and Sussex, Burnaby

Updated: 4th July 2012; This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

I don’t normally take lunch at work but instead snack throughout the day. I do once in a while. For the last few weeks, I had been going out with more frequency.

I wanted to inject some variety to what I had been eating. You know, I gravitate towards Asian food more than anything else. So this time, I went to the only Jamaican restaurant I know for lunch.

Island Pearl is located on Kingsway, just across the road from Metrotown. I had a feeling that this used to be another eatery once before … am not completely sure.

Jamaica is one of those countries that really fascinates me. It’s a small country. Jamaica has a land mass of only 1/3 of our Vancouver Island. It also has a total population of only 2.5 million which is slightly more than Metro Vancouver’s population of 2.2 million.

And yet for this small island, it had tremendous impact on music and sports. Home of Bob Marley, Jamaica is where reggae originates from. In sports, they are known as the nation that produces world record holders of the sprint. Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell are both Jamaicans. Pretty amazing isn’t it?

Island Pearl is a small eatery. There does not seems to be a lot of people who eat here each time I walk past. When I was there, I was the only customer.

Service was polite but slow. There is a certain laid back-ness to the people who work here.

Island Pearl doubles up as a store for all things Jamaican. You could get all kinds of Jamaican ingredients and food stuff in the store. They even carry Jamaican DVDs. Oh … you could even get Bubble Tea here too. I find that kind of odd having a Jamaican restaurant selling Bubble Tea.

I went ahead and try their Lunch Special. It was cheap — only $6.

I chose Goat Curry, the dish that is very Jamaican. Goat Curry is introduced by the small but influential Indian community in Jamaica but today is know more as a Jamaican cuisine than it is Indian.

The serving was small. The rice was not like what you get elsewhere (like Chinese or Greek) that is a massive mound of rice. Instead it was just like a scoop. But the rice is grainy and was flavourful. I have no idea what it is flavoured with but it was good.

The goat pieces were quite disappointingly few and small. The “curry” is more like gravy. Although flavorful, it is quite salty and not at all spicy.

Frankly, I was kind of disappointed with the food but then I understand that this is just a $6 Lunch Special.

I saw on the board that there are other (more expensive) dishes. Perhaps, yeah? Maybe those were better. So a week later, I went back to Pearl Island … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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The Naam on West 4th and MacDonald, Vancouver

From being a family who usually have light breakfasts at home, we find ourselves going out for breakfasts quite a number of times lately. All this started since we first went to Bon’s Off Broadway which serves one of the best $2.95 breakfast in town.

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Frankly, Suanne and I are not big fans of breakfasts but we got to make it up to Nanzaro who was still mentioning about him missing the breakfast in Bon’s. So we woke up bright and early last weekend and went to The Naam. What we did not tell Nanzaro though is that Naam is a vegetarian restaurant.

Naam starts serving breakfast at 6AM. You might think, wow, it’s early but actually they are opened 24 hours. The Naam is located on West 4th Avenue near the intersection with Macdonald St.

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The beauty of going there early at 7AM is the quietness. The place exudes that kind of morning calmness with people enjoying a big breakfast, hot cup of coffee with a book in hand. The wooden varnished tables and casual decor adds to the charm of this place.

It was not like that for long. By 8AM, this place was absolutely buzzing with customers and getting service from the waiters is a true test of patience.

You know, you can’t just build a restaurant with these kind of ambiance these days. The total mood, character and experience we see here is built over the 40 years that The Naam had been in existence in the core of the Kitsilano neighborhood.

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The Naam has a big breakfast menu. You could probably imagine that it took us a while before we finally settle on our selection. Anyway, if you can’t read the menu above properly, click on it for a larger image.

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Hot Coffee and Hot Chocolate was $2.50 with free refills of coffee. The hot chocolate cup had a paper napkin tied to it. We were wondering why they did that because this is the first time we had seen anyone doing it. Does anyone know if there is a practical reason for this?

The hot chocolate was pretty good. It tastes like it is made with cocoa powder and is unsweetened. We like it this way but knowing Nanzaro, he hates it. To him, hot chocolate is not supposed to taste this way and it has to be sweetened like those you find in Denny’s and IHOP.

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The Naam describes themselves as a “Vancouver’s Oldest Natural Foods Restaurant”. They pride themselves as saying most of everything they serve are made in premises, using pure and fresh ingredients.

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Nanzaro opted for the Breakfast Quesadilla ($9). It has red organic corn tortillas with scrambled eggs. You can opt for tofu instead of eggs.

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You got to hand it to Naam. Their breakfasts are … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Seattle Spring 2009: Pam’s Kitchen

As much as we had always wanted to make a visit to Pam’s Kitchen, for various reasons we had not. Pam’s Kitchen had always been on our list of to-visit places in Seattle. This time we made it a point to make Pam’s Kitchen our priority.

Pam’s Kitchen is known for their Rotis from Trinidad and Tobago.

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Pam’s Kitchen is located in the intersection of University Way and NE 50 Street in Seattle. Along this row are actually a lot of hole-in-the-wall type of eateries of almost every major cuisine. We counted among others Filipino, Chinese, Greek, Hawaiian, Japanese, East Indian, Pizzas. All of them looked very good from the outside.

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Walking into Pams’ Kitchen, there were an unmistaken (and somewhat overpowering) aroma of spices and curry. Service was very quick and friendly. They gave us two tall glass of water the moment we got settled. The place was not very big and we can see around us that their customers looked like students mainly. Definitely no families here that night.

Strangely, we noticed a rather prominent sign hung from the ceiling that says “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”. We wondered what that sign was all about and if they have rather rowdy customers here before.

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They have rather unique drinks. Suanne had the Peanut Punch (Milk Base) which costs $3.75. This is not like anything we ever drank before. It tastes like watered down peanut drink with milk. It actually tastes like peanut butter. Am thinking that perhaps one could make this by blending a few spoonful of peanut better with milk. We like this.

For me, I had the Sorrel which is described as Caribbean Hibiscus Petals, spiced boiled and sugar sweetened. It has an obvious floral taste and smell to it. It is also kind of like chai tea with herbs and spices. We find the taste quite unique and yet familiar. Although it is described as sweetened, it is also a bit sourish. $3.50.

The drinks were a great start to the main meal.

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When in Pam’s Kitchen, one just have to have Roti. There are two main selections you need to make when ordering Rotis:

  • Decide on the meat: Chicken ($10.50), Beef ($11.50), Lamb ($13.50) or Goat ($13.50)
  • Decide on either Paratha or Dahlpuri.

Suanne chosed the combination of lamb and paratha. The lamb was spicy but not very hot. Meat was tender to the bite. It was very well made and flushed with flavour. The drawback was that it was rather dry’ish and that we wished they had more curry sauce to dunk the roti with. We also liked the mash potato and chick pea server on the side … it looked deceptively mild but was spicy hot. Nice.

I read from the menu saying that they hand wash all the meats thoroughly with lemon juice.

More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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New York: David’s Bagel on 1st Ave

We had wanted to go to Luzzo’s for brunch. Luzzo’s was supposedly considered as one of the best pizza places in New York City. We made it all the way to there only to find out that they won’t be opened for another hour. Not wanting to waste time waiting for an hour, we decided to just pop over a bagel place across the street.

We just randomly went into this place called David’s Bagel. From the outside it looked very promising because they have piles of delicious looking, sweet smelling, freshly made bagels. Also, I wanted Suanne to try real New York bagels.

We decided to just share a bagel between the two of us. The plan was to eat a little here and there but in a few places. The choice was excellent … the bagel we had was as good as it could get.

What we had was the Lox Onion Omelet in Buttered Garlic Bagel. Sounds delicious huh? It was. The bagels were made on the premises and quite a lot of people walked in to buy them to take away. I had never come across bagels like this in Vancouver. This one costs $5. Not bad.

This is kind of weird finding this in a bagel joint but their drink special of the day was the Thai Iced Tea. It looked too orangey but tastes exactly like the HK-Style Milk Tea we find in Vancouver. $3.67 … pretty expensive, I say.

After that meal, we scampered all over the city … like headless chicken. We bounced from one place to another. We visited Chinatown, and Little Italy. We also made our way to the Grand Central Station where we also got ourselves the Fried Oyster Po’Boy that I enjoyed so much the last time I was in NYC. Since I had already blogged about it, I’ll just leave the link here if you so wish to read about it.

We also got ourselves some Italian Ice (or at least I think it’s what it’s called) from a street vendor. It was nice for a hot day but it was expensive if you ask me. The lady charged us $2 for this. I am not sure if she over charged us because Suanne and I looked every bit a tourist!

David's Bagels on Urbanspoon

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Atlanta Trip Report: The World of Coca-Cola

Rob and I had at least three hours to kill before heading to the airport. Rather than hanging around the office, we decided that we should just go to downtown Atlanta to do some sightseeing and lunch. It was a toss up between CNN, the Georgia Aquarium or the World of Coca-Cola. For me, I was sure where I would want to go … the World of Coca-Cola.

Atlanta is the headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company. Did you know that Coca-Cola and Coke is the most recognizable brand in the world. Go to anywhere in the world and you will find that people will know what a Coke is.

The World of Coca-Cola is located in downtown Atlanta and just next to the Atlanta Underground. This place exhibits the history of Coca-Cola. I understand that this place will be moved to a new location sometime in 2007 next to the Georgia Aquarium. The entrance sports a huge rotating Coke logo.

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There was not many people when we got there. Entrance is $9 — expensive. I had expected that they at best charge a token entrance fee.

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The displays were displayed in a chronological order starting from the year when Coca-Cola first started operating in 1886. The Coca-Cola name is made up from the two basic ingredients: a stimulant of Coca Leaves and caffeine from Kola Nuts.

In those days, Coca-Cola was served from Soda Fountain like those below.

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Coca-Cola bottles underwent many generation of changes over the years …

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In 1915, the “contour bottle” also known as the “hobble skirt” was created. Story has it this design is supposed to have been based on kola nut or coca leaf but the researcher mistakenly came up with a sketch of cocoa pod. That error stuck and total we have this very distinctive bottle recognizable anywhere in the world.

The mold below is the actual prototype and production bottle. Over years, the bottle became slimmer but the fundamental shape remained.

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Here is the estimated number of soft drinks served by Coca-Cola the past 125 years … what is that? 8 billion? 8 trillion? 8 quadrillion?

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Coca-cola is served everywhere in the world … and also in outer space! This is the Coke dispenser designed for NASA’s space missions.

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My favourite section is the Club Coca-Cola. There are a total of 35 type of soft drinks that Coca-Cola has available for everyone to try. There are two sections: The Tastes of the States and The Tastes of the World. Recognize these American brands?

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I tried every single of the 35 in display. That is a lot of drinks, trust me. They have even located washrooms nearby in case any one want to take a quick pee.

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The Tastes of the World had weirder tastes — some of them tastes horrible.

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The best? It’s the Peach Nestea. Too bad we don’t have Peach Nestea in Canada.

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I wish I had more time here and take in all the exhibits more closely. Well, at least I have been here and see for myself what the World of Coca-Cola is like..j

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Nibbles and Bites of Richmond 2006

We have just stuffed ourselves silly today. I had gained 1 kg the past few weeks and it was really hard shaking it off even having biked to work almost everyday to work. I just managed to keep it down below my target weight and now here I am eating so much today at the Nibbles and Bites. Oh well, I will have to work doubly hard next week to burn off these extra calories.

The Nibbles and Bites of Richmond is a two day event in late summer (09Sep-10Sep). You can still make it for today. If you have really nothing to do this weekend, I suggest you make your way there and try out all the delicious food from some of the top restaurants in Richmond.

We went early at 11am. Already there were a lot of people milling around the stalls even before they are ready. We bought a few strips of coupons. Each coupon costs 75 cents and comes in strips of 10.

Kudos to the organizers, made up mainly of volunteers. They did a great job in making the entire event so comfortable. Although they have always setup a tent, we noticed that this year is much better — nicer looking tent and table cloth too.

Nanzaro wanted KFC. I tried talking him out of this. I mean, we should be trying more exotic food than just plain old KFC. Anyway, he can spend his tickets anyhow he wants. He spent 3 tickets on some KFC Popcorn Chicken and Fries. Does not look appetizing, it looking so dry and all.

Arkensen wanted burgers and in BC we swear there are no better burger than the good old White Spot Triple ‘O’ Cheeseburger. What makes this so special is hamburger sauce — a savory mix of mayonanaise and red relish.

The Triple ‘O’ Cheeseburger always have a strip of pickle garnishing the bun. The sauce on a juicy patty really makes this burger great. Arkensen complained that the patty was not thick enough.

The Moxie Classic Grill stall has about the longest queue of all — year after year. Their specialty is the Baby Back Ribs and Honey Roasted Garlic Sirloin. The Honey Roasted Garlic Sirloin is aged 28 days that makes it so tender. A skewer costs 3 tickets.

The Babk Back Ribs is succulent, sublime and low roasted. The meat just falls off the bones. Very juicy and full of flavour. This one costs 4 tickets.

The Mexican Fries Deluxe costs 4 tickets. Frankly, we are not really a great fan of Mexican food but the sheer color made me want to get one and try it out.

I can’t remember which stall I got this from. This is the Salmon Crab Cake and costs 4 tickets. The sauce went very well with the crabcake which had a very dominant salmon flavour. I really enjoyed this. The sauce made this dish good. I am not sure what the sauce is though — is it just plain tartar?

I also a bowl of chilli. Suanne thought it was a tad too salty but I like it. Unlike many that I’ve tried, this one is a lot more spicy hot. Lots of chunks of minced meat, very rich and yummy. The bowl is larger than I expected. 3 tickets.

Nanzaro wanted Pizza and selected the BBQ Chicken from the Boston Pizza stall. This one costs 4 tickets. Despite the name, Boston Pizza is based in Richmond and does not have any restaurant in Boston. This is described as “Signature pizza sauce, mozzarella, cheddar, fresh mushrooms and tender chicken breast tossed in our sweet smokey BBQ sauce.”

Here is another item that I can’t recall where I got it from — maybe it was the Big River Brewing Company. The Seafood Chowder was good. Lots of chuncky salmon and prawns. Yummy! Only 3 tickets.

By the time I got to this dish, there were quite a fenzy already. Lots of people waiting at the stalls and at the tables. So, I completely lost track of where I got what, save for what it’s called. The one below is called the Stuffed Yorkshire Pudding which costs 2 tickets only. The roast beef and the gravy were awesome.

Sigh, my boys does not understand the whole point of coming to an event like this. I mean, one should come and try all kinds of food but no, they always stick to what they know. They are no where like their mum and dad when it comes to food! Nanzaro ordered the Curry Chowmein from the Bamboo Express for 2 tickets.

The Boathouse took the longest to setup. They did not start BBQ’ing until 45 minutes after all the stalls started. I was waiting patiently in the front of the queue observing what the fuss were. Apparently the food inspector were somehow checking and rechecking their stall and food.

From this stall we got two items. The first was the BBQ Salmon which costs 3 tickets.

We also ordered grilled prawns for 3 tickets. The prawns were large and the flesh very “springy”. Suanne ate the most … grrrrr.

There was also a live band to keep us entertained. I was too busy buying food, eating and taking pictures to have noticed.

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PNE

It has been a ritual for Vancouverites to attend the PNE every summer. The crowds at the PNE is at times unbearable. So, I took a day off work during the week to bring the boys when the crowds are much thinner. During the weekend, it’s quite impossible to get from attraction to another.

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The PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) is normally held the last two weeks just before school reopens. It is because if this timing that Vancouverites had considered the PNE to be the final event of summer.

The exhibition has been held in Hastings Park since it first took place in 1910. The biggest attractions of the two-week fair are its numerous shops, stalls, performances, a nightly fireworks show, and the PNE Prize Home.

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We love the Wiggle Chips at the PNE, having first tried it in Revelstoke. A bag costs $3 or for $5 you get two bags of freshly sliced and fried potatoes. It’s served hot straight out of the fryer — yummy!

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The sign on the stall reads “We slice’em, You spice’em”. There’s a table full of all kinds of seasonings to spice up your potatoes. We tried almost everyone of the spices!

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Family owned & operated since the 1920?s, Jimmy?s Lunch serves the famous hamburgers loaded with fried onions. Hot Dogs, fish & chips and french fries are among other traditional favourites at
the PNE.

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They fry their onions in the front of the stall where they take your orders. Just looking at them and the smell itself will pull you to have a closer look. I like the huge pile of onions.

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We ordered the two-piece fish and chips just because of the size of the fish. Reminded me of the fish and chips I had in London once.

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We cannot remember exactly how much it costs — seems like about $9.

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We had also the funnel cake below for $5.

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For more pictures around the PNE, click the link below.

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