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New & Notable Restaurant Openings & Food Events 2013

Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 in Food and Drink Events, Food Styling & Photography, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Lifestyle, NYC, Restaurant Reviews, Things I Love, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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It’s hard to believe that 2013 is coming to an end shortly. There’s been so many fun food festivals, events and restaurant openings this year that it’s been quite the whirlwind! It’s great to be in the food and hospitality industry and connected to some of the Best of the Best to experience new places, meet new people, try delicious food and cocktails and hob knob with some of the Top Chefs and Restaurateurs around the country. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite New and Notable Restaurants, Chefs and Food Events of 2013 that deserve a nod for their outstanding hospitality and efforts in the food world. Check it out and give these guys a go. Happy Holidays and may 2014 be filled with more fun, food and festivities to go around!

Metaphore NYC

I recently attended a fantastic event at Metaphore in NYC where we sampled delectable Gluten-Free dishes by Owner and  Executive Chef Jehangir Mehta. The event was in support of the national Gluten-Free Chef’s Table Tour in an effort to elevate the importance of food safety and promotion of gluten-free items in the restaurant and foodservice sector. Chef Mehta teamed up with GREAT Kitchens, a National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to create the Chef’s Table Tour which features exclusive gluten-free dining experiences from executive chefs in fine dining restaurants, gluten-free cooking demos with local media and interactive educational experiences at partner universities. The 10-city Gluten-Free Chef’s Table Tour debuted this Fall in New York, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles and will culminate in the spring with an open call for spring tour restaurants and institutions through January 2014. Check out some of the delicious gluten-free goodies we sampled in the slideshow below – Fresh Oysters with Cilantro Pesto and Tapioca Crisps, Foie Gras with Berry Jam on Gluten-Free Toast, Crispy Onion Ring, Pesto and Tofu, Seared Duck Breast with Pickled Onions, Mustard and Portabella Mushrooms, and a gorgeous Gluten-Free Ice Cream Sundae. click here to view the full Gluten-Free menu at Metaphore.

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San Diego Restaurant Week Taste 2013

One of my favorite events this year was out in California when I went to visit some friends for some sun, fun and R&R. I got invited to attend the 2nd Annual #SDRWTaste2013an event to kick off the start of San Diego Restaurant Week! The event was a super fun kick-off party and culinary adventure at the Broadway Pier where people from all over San Diego gathered to celebrate San Diego Restaurant Week and indulge in some of the finest foods and beverages! #SDRWTaste2013 showcased some of the top culinary talents of SDRW chefs from throughout the County. At this premiere tasting event, over 40 of San Diego Restaurant Week’s best restaurants served up samples of their house specialties paired with a unique beverage to enhance the flavors of each dish.

A special nod goes out to VinVillage, the online community for wine lovers, who sponsored my attendance to this fabulous event and who showcased a plethora of top notch wines for tasting to the event goers.  Check out their website to join the community and get access to their events, newsletters, forums, online store and wine tastings around the country.

The weather and the view of the ocean was amazing, and so was my company of good friends. I think it may have also convinced me to move to San Diego someday…what’s not to love?

100 Montaditos NYC

Another fun VIP restaurant opening event I attended was for 100 Montaditos, a new multinational franchise bringing unique Spanish cuisine to the West Village of NYC. The West Village shop specializes in tapas-sized sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread (mini-heroes!) with 100 unique filling combinations such as Chorizo and Manchego cheese,  Blue Cheese with Ham and Strawberry Jam and Serrano Ham with Tomato and Olive Oil. They also have “Americanized” versions such as the Philly Cheese Steak, Meatballs with Marinara, Hot Dogs with Bacon, Ketchup and Mustard and Pulled BBQ Pork. They even have some sweet dessert Montaditos such as Dulce de Leche and Chocolate Spread or Heavy Cream and Oreos – all served on CHOCOLATE BREAD. That’s right – CHOCOLATE BREAD. The atmosphere is casual and buzzing and the prices are reasonable at $1 to $2.50 per Montaditos so grab a plateful with some friends and sip a Sangria or two while you’re at it. Check out the goods in the slideshow below!

Relaix & Chateaux VIP Event NYC

I was recently invited to an intimate reception with the CEO of Grace Hotels at the Relais & Chateaux Maison to celebrate the launch of The Mayflower Grace. This summer, Grace Hotels acquired the iconic Mayflower Inn & Spa, the beautiful New England resort located in Washington, CT – which is undergoing exciting updates such as a room renovation and new restaurant.

Chef Jonathan Cartwright and his culinary team of chefs were in the open kitchen showcasing “Taste of Grace” canapés from the Grace Hotel properties around the world with samples of delicious cuisine from Central & South America, Europe & Asia and North America as well as wine and spirits. My favorite was the Wood-Smoked Lobster over Corn Puree with Butter Sauce, served in tiny smoke-infused pots. The most gorgeous, delectable thing I’ve ever tasted! Check out all the other beautiful canapés we sampled that night in the slideshow below.

The James Hotel Winter Art Garden NYC

I recently attended the fascinating unveiling of the new  Winter Art Garden at The James NY hotel. Curated by The James NY’s resident artist Matt Jensen and Recess Art, the installation titled Still Moving will feature the work of five (5) up & coming artists whose outdoor sculptures initiate a chatter of heat and motion in an otherwise still and icy winter landscape. Continuing The James’ commitment to providing a stellar art program and the SoHo neighborhood, the exhibit will be open hotel guests and the public just in time for the holiday season beginning on December 12th, 2013 through March 2014.

Garden Art Sculptures & Artist Biographies

Beth Campbell, “If it is possible it’s possible” 2013
Piece makes sculptural a quirky line drawing or diagram.  There is a sense of instability and indecipherability  in the meandering nature of the line and the movement in the multiple parts.  This is an attempt to get at the veiled instability or slippage of things.

Dave Hardy, Untitled, 2013
Balancing the precarious structures of interiority—from the physiological to the architectonic—with the brazen forces of externalized expression and brute will to form, Hardy’s sculptural works depict an unrelenting tension.  The work captures the paradoxical demands of contemporary artistic life, where each new gesture appears at the brink of collapse.

Marie Lorenz, Flotsam Garland, 2013
The flower garland is often a symbol of celebration but also of impermanence, temporality, the passing from life to death. In India, flower garlands are used in temples, designed with horticultural rules passed down from generations. These Flotsam Garlands are made from things found on the beach, already subject to the ravages of time and tide.

Alina Tenser, Untitled Screen II, 2013
Tenser’s Screen is to be simultaneously, looked at and looked through.  The surface is reflective and translucent, allowing the viewer to experience a polar state of their image being bounced back to them and their vision going past the image, essentially looking past themselves.

Jeff Williams, Supernatant Fossil, 2012
Williams sets up material experiments in which natural and industrial components interact to change or break down existing compositions and structures.  Here, a series of floor sculptures contain Central Texas fossils, resting on weathered plexiglass sheets.  The weight of the fossil produces a concavity in the plexiglass, which is filled with a puddle of calcium sulfate (gypsum).  The fossils slowly wick the chemical solution over time and accumulate gypsum deposits.

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Fogo de Chao NYC

Fogo de Chao is an authentic Brazilian steakhouse, and a new location just opened in Midtown Manhattan. At a VIP press event last week to celebrate the grand opening, I got to experience the Fogo “gaucho” way of preparing and serving meat as they do in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Their gaucho chefs expertly grill 16 cuts of meat served and cut fresh to order with continuous table side service. This is also known as Churrascaria – where the meat is roasted over charcoal or wood embers to give it a rich smoky flavor.

They have a gigantic gourmet salad bar with a plethora of fresh grilled veggies, salads and chartucerie, authentic Brazilian side dishes such as fried bananas and polenta sticks, and we sipped on Brazilian wines and cocktails all night long amongst great conversation and a buzzing atmosphere. The architecture is stunning too with high ceilings and dynamic design. You won’t walk out of this place hungry – I promise. Definitely worth checking out (on an empty stomach!)

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Mix it Up! Non-Traditional Holiday Menu Ideas & Recipes from NYC Top Chefs

Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in Asian Food, Beef, Chef Interviews, Chinese Recipes, Comfort Food, Entrees, Ethnic Recipes, Fall Recipes, Food Reviews, Food Styling & Photography, French Recipes, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Grilled Recipes, Healthy Cooking, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, Latin Food, NYC, One-Pot Dishes, Pork, Potatoes, Restaurant Reviews, Salads, Sauces, Savory Dishes, Seafood, Seafood Recipes, Side Dishes, Spanish Food/Tapas, Special Occasion, Thanksgiving Recipes, Things I Love, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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International Holiday Menus

It’s that time of year again to start planning menus and recipes for the holidays. But instead of just serving traditional turkey or ham,  mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, why not mix it up a little bit and serve your holiday meal with an international flair? I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and interview several Top Chefs and restaurants in NYC to get some creative ideas for non-traditional holiday menus for the holidays. Whether it have a Spanish, French, Asian, Jewish or Italian twist; here are some great international menu ideas and recipes for a fabulous holiday meal with family and friends that break the norm.

Spanish Holiday Menu – Alex Raij, Executive Chef at Txikito NYC     

Executive Chef Alex Raij from the Spanish restaurant Txikito in NYC always makes a classic, festive dish for the holidays. This Canelones de Bakalao Recipe (Salted Cod Fish Canneloni with Crème Fraiche) feeds a crowd and references Basque, Catalan and Argentine family holiday traditions that Chef Raij grew up with in Spain. Serve with other traditional Spanish hot and cold tapas such as: Pikillos: roasted Navarran sweet peppers with ajoarriero; Kroketas: crispy creamy croquettes; Boquerón: marinated white anchovy with eggplant and piquillo; Cogollos: butter lettuce, Basque anchovy, and Bonito del Norte and Tutera: gratin of artichoke, Roncal, Jamón.

Canelones de Bakalao

Canelones de Bakalao

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

Canelones de Bakalao Recipe (Salted Cod Fish Canneloni with Crème Fraiche)

Executive Chef Alex Raij, Txikito

Serves 6

1 9×9 inch baking dish, preferably earthenware
12 – 4 inch square pieces fresh pasta sheets boiled and shocked in ice water (The Chef recommends cooking longer sheets and then cutting them after they are cooled in ice bath so they are more uniform)

Filling and topping

2.5 pounds cod
2 tablespoons Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 cups olive oil
1.5 cup tomato pulp pref. pomi brand
2 cups Creme fraiche
2 tablespoons  finely chopped chives
50 grams hackleback or other high quality caviar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Salt the cod with the 2 T. kosher salt and let stand 10 minutes.
Rinse and pat dry.
Place the cod in a small pot and cover with olive oil.
Place on medium low heat and poach the cod in the oil until it flakes when prodded
Remove the fish to a mixing bowl to cool.
Pour 1/2 cup of the poaching oil over the cooling cod to cool with it.
Heat remaining oil add the tomato fry the tomato until cooked and a little sweet, season with salt.
Pour the tomato oil mix I the bottom of the baking dish.
Break up the cooled cod and flake it with clean hands.
Whip it up with the oil with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Place 6 pasta sheets side by side and place 1/12 of the filling at the end of each sheet.
Roll away from you and place on the tomato.
Repeat with the rest of the filling and next 6 sheets.
Season the crème fraiche with salt and pour over the caneloni.
Bake at 375 until bubbly.
Sprinkle with chives and top with caviar just before serving.

Serve 2 pieces per person.

Printed with permission of Alex Raij. All rights reserved.

—–

French Holiday Menu – Olivier Quignon, Executive Chef at Bar Boulud

Even as Chef Olivier Quignon of Bar Boulud prepares to celebrate his seventh Christmas in NYC, he hasn’t lost touch with the French holiday traditions of his hometown, the Northern French town of Beauvais. Christmas in the Quignon household, and in the restaurant he helms on behalf of renowned French Chef Daniel Boulud, Bar Boulud, is traditional to a tee, lasting up to six hours and spanning just as many courses. What does a typical French holiday meal entail?

Oysters “Always oysters. We shuck them at lunch and the eating begins.”

Cured or Smoked Fish

Foie Gras “This can be hot, seared, or served as a terrine.”

Hot Fish or Pasta

Poultry

Beef or Game

Cheese “ALWAYS cheese. French people eat cheese at practically every meal. We may sometimes skip dessert, but we never skip cheese.”

Pastry “At Christmas this is often a Bûche de Noel. But my wife is a pastry chef, so there are usually many desserts.”

Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras

Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

Traditionally, Tournedos Rossini is a French steak dish, purportedly created for the composer Gioachino Rossini by French master chef Marie-Antoine Carême. The dish comprises a tournedos (beef tenderloin) pan-fried in butter, served on a crouton, and topped with a hot slice of fresh whole foie gras briefly pan-fried at the last minute. A few slices of black truffle and Madeira demi-glace sauce garnish the dish.

At Bar Boulud New York, ‘Rossini’ is a dish that makes an appearance on the menu every holiday season, and on the tables at many French holiday meals. It is rich in ingredients and flavors, hearty, and the perfect celebration dish. There are several way to prepare Rossini, but Bar Boulud sticks to the traditional preparation—seared beef tenderloin atop a brioche toast, topped with seared foie gras and Madeira-beef jus, served with Pommes Macaire dotted with a celery root puree.

Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras and Pommes Macaire

Executive Chef Olivier Quignon, Bar Boulud

Serves 4

Pommes Macaire

Kosher salt, as needed
4 yellow gold potatoes
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Black truffle butter or oil
2 egg yolks
Canola oil for frying
½ cup flour

Celery Root Puree

1 small (about 3/4 pound) celery root, peeled
Salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
Freshly ground white pepper

To Finish

1 ½ lbs angus beef tenderloin, tied with butchers twine
12 ounces fresh grade A foie gras
6 tablespoons beef jus or demi glace
2 ounces Madeira
1 Tablespoon chopped shallot
4 ¼ thin slices of brioche, cut into 3 ½-inch circles, toasted
8 small light green celery leaves
1 small black winter truffle

For the Pomme Macaire

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make a bed of salt on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and place potatoes on top. Bake potatoes for 45 minutes, or until tender.

Remove from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash the potato with a fork, season to taste with salt, pepper, and truffle butter (or oil). Stir in the egg yolk to combine.  Press mixture into a bread loaf pan and chill overnight.

Turn the potatoes onto a cutting board and cut into (at least 8) 3 x ½-inch batons. Lightly coat the batons in the flour and shake off excess.

Fill 1/3 of a saucepan with canola oil and heat to 350°F. When ready to serve, fry the potatoes  in batches until golden brown. Strain onto a paper towel-lined tray, sprinkle with salt.

For the Celery Root Puree

Cut the celery root into medium dice. Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook until browned. Add the celery root, milk, and water to cover; bring to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the celery root to a blender and puree with enough of the cooking liquid to make a smooth puree. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl.

When ready to serve, transfer to a small saucepan and stir over medium heat to heat through.

To Finish

Slice the tenderloin into four portions and season on all sides with salt and pepper.

Cut the foie gras into four slices and season on all sides with salt and pepper.

Place a large sauté pan over high heat. Once very hot, sear the foie gras on both sides to brown, about 2 minutes on each side.  Transfer to a platter, cover with foil and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and return the pan with the foie gras fat to the heat.  Sear the beef on all sides, about 3-4 minutes each, basting the meat constantly with the fat. Brown the beef on all sides while basting the constantly with the fat in the pan, about 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 120°F for medium rare.  Transfer the beef to the platter with the foie gras, cover, and rest in a warm place.

Add the shallots to the same pan over medium low heat, and cook, stirring until translucent. Add the Madeira and simmer to reduce by 2/3. Stir in the beef jus and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

For each serving, place a brioche toast on a plate and top with a portion of beef. Top the beef with a piece of roasted foie gras, and shavings of black truffle. Place two pommes macaire next to the beef and top each with a spoonful of celery puree. Garnish puree with two celery leaves.  Spoon the sauce from the pan around and serve.

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Asian Holiday Menu – Hung Huynh, Executive Chef at Catch Restaurant NYC       

Whole Roasted Branzino is a favorite recipe of Chef Hung Huynh of Catch NYC for the holidays. It’s simple, delicious and easy to make and great for feeding a crowd. Chef Hung also recommends adding some miso, ginger, soy and lemongrass to the seasonings to amp up the Asian flavors in this beautiful seafood holiday dish. His Asian inspired holiday menu includes:

Roasted Whole Branzino

Sautéed Green beans with EVOO and Soy Sauce

White or Brown Steamed Rice

Miso Soup

Fresh fruit

Roasted Whole Branzino

Roasted Whole Branzino

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

Roasted Whole Branzino

Executive Chef Hung Huynh

Serves 2-4 people

Ingredients:

1.5 to 2 pound Branzino
1 tablespoon of Aged Balsamic

Seasoning Rub:

1 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of picked chopped thyme
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one lime

Directions:

Before cooking, the Branzino must be scaled, gutted and scored.
Combine all the seasoning rub ingredients.
Rub entire fish with seasoning including the cavity, distributing evenly.
Make sure that the entire fish is covered in the rub.
Take a half sheet pan and roast at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Reserve the remaining olive oil in the sheet pan.
Place the fish on a platter and drizzle with the reserved olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.

—–

Jewish Holiday Menu – Zach Kutsher, Proprietor, Kutsher’s Tribeca

Zach Kutsher, Chef and Owner of Kutsher’s Tribeca, always serves Latkes for the Hanukkah holiday. These crispy potato latkes are a traditional Jewish dish made of grated potatoes, onion, eggs and matzo meal, shaped into round potato pancakes and fried to a crispy golden brown. The traditional way to serve them is with a spoonful of sour cream, but Zach likes to also add ½ ounce of caviar (salmon roe, paddlefish caviar and wasabi flying fish roe) to the latkes to give them a special holiday touch. Some other fun ideas that Chef Zach does to dress up the latkes are to use some non-traditional savory toppings such as:

Peking Duck with Cucumber, Scallions and Sesame Hoisin

Wild Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and Herbed Ricotta

Gravlax and Dilled Creme Fraiche

Pastrami Reuben (pastrami, sauerkraut, emmentaler and thousand island dressing)

VLT – Veal Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato

To make it a complete Jewish holiday menu, serve the latkes with: Chopped Duck and Chicken Liver, Seasonal Pickles, Golden and Red Beet Salad with Lemon Ricotta, Arugula and Pecans, Turkey or Brisket with Challah Chestnut Stuffing, Cheesy Spaetzle Kugel, Brussels Sprouts and Pumpkin Shlishkas with Amaretto Matzo and Sage Brown Butter and Babka Sticky Buns for dessert.

Crispy Potato Latkes

Crispy Potato Latkes

Photo Credit: Kutsher’s Tribeca

Potato Latkes Recipe

Zach Kutsher, Kutsher’s Tribeca

Ingredients:

1 pound potatoes
1 egg
1 egg yolk
6 ounces onion
3/4 ounces matzo meal
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preparation:

Grate onion on the fine side of a cheese grater and then line a strainer with some paper towels and let drain in sink as dry as possible.

Mix egg, yolk, matzo meal, salt, lemon juice, and drained onion together, set aside.

Julienne the potatoes (cut into thin small matchsticks) or grate on the large side of cheese grater, and periodically put the potato in the egg mix to prevent browning. Do not wash potato after it is cut.

Mix all together, fry in schmaltz (rendered/clarified chicken or goose fat – or you can substitute canola oil)

Take one handful of mix, twisted in the palm of your hand like you would spaghetti on a fork, till golden brown and crispy, then flip.

Finish in oven if necessary.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

—–

Italian Holiday Menu – Gabe Thompson, Executive Chef of Epicurean Group (dell’anima, L’Artusi, L’Apicio, and Anfora)

Grilled Pork Chop

Grilled Pork Chop

Photo Credit: Epicurean Group

Chef Thompson, Executive Chef of the Epicurean Group in NYC loves creating special menus for the holidays. It is all about the food, flavors and family. His menu below puts his crave-able Italian twist on some fall favorites to make for a classic holiday menu!

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad- radicchio, agrodolce raisins, pecans, fiore sardo (aged Sheeps milk cheese)

Orecchiette — turkey sausage, sage, sweet potato

Grilled Pork Chop — roasted vegetable and chestnut panzanella, pork sugo

Warm Cranberry-pumpkin Budino – served with apple cider sauce

—–

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad Recipe

Executive Chef Gabe Thompson, Epicurean Group

Serves 4-6

2 acorn squash (1 ½ pounds)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
8 sage leaves
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each squash into 8-9 wedges, each wedge about 1 inch thick. Remove and discard seeds. In a large bowl, toss the squash wedges together with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season generously with salt.

Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of butter. As soon as the butter melts, add half of the squash to the pan, arranging the pieces so that they are cut-side down. Sprinkle half of the sage over the squash. Cook undisturbed until it is golden brown on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Turn each squash piece over and cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown on the other side. Remove squash from the pan and place on a half sheet tray or cookie sheet. Repeat this process with remaining olive oil, butter, squash and sage leaves.

Drizzle maple syrup over the squash segments. Place in the oven and bake until each piece of squash is easily pierced with a fork, about 25-30 minutes. Remove and set aside.

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Quirky: making really cool things by really cool people – just like you and me

Posted by on Nov 8, 2013 in Eggs, Food and Drink Events, Holiday, Kitchen and Home, Lifestyle, NYC, Product Reviews, Things I Love, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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“Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability to form new images and sensations that are not perceived through sight, hearing, or other senses. Imagination helps make knowledge applicable in solving problems and is fundamental to integrating experience and the learning process.”

sketches

Ever since I was a little kid, I have kept a sketchbook full of ideas and dreams, stories and drawings, songs and poems – things that inspired me or of places, people and things I wanted to go, be or do. Being a creative person, this has been an outlet for the million ideas I have running around in my head – some private, some shared, and some that I conjured up in a crazy dream and had to journal because I thought it was brilliant, but maybe never shared with anyone.

11178287-the-creation-of-adam

I’ve always admired and have been inspired by creative people and their work – whether it’s a soulful painting, a heartfelt song, a beautiful photograph, an inspiring story, or a culinary masterpiece for dinner.

food sketches

I’ve always been a creator, an adventurer and dreamer,  and have admired the people who make their ideas come to life.

steve jobs

People like Steve Jobs. Einstein. Henry Ford. Benjamin Franklin. Michelangelo. Julia Child. George Eastman. Giorgio Armani. Any many more creative geniuses that have made a mark on this world.

george eastman kodak camera

Just simply creative and talented people who had a passion to create, design, invent or change the world somehow and dared to dream and take the steps necessary to bring it to life.

QuirkySpeaking of creative geniuses, there’s a really cool new company called Quirky, here in NYC, that I was recently enlightened and inspired by. Quirky is a simply brilliant idea in itself – it’s an incubator for cool, new product innovations and ideas that are designed by real people – just like you and me. Anyone can come up with and submit an amazing idea online and have it brought to life and out into the market within 30-90 days. For real.

lens cap holder sketch

It’s really a simple, genius, yet speedy process – you sign up on the website and create a profile. You submit an idea. Other Quirky community members get to view your sketches and ideas and vote on them – which helps your idea bubble up to the top. Then Quirky will vote internally with their team each week along with the help of the community online to select the products that will be chosen to come to life and then the design process begins.

egg cracker

The community and the inventors design the products along with the help of Quirky’s team of designers, engineers, business and marketing strategists and producers.

Clean_Room_Purple01

You get to brainstorm together to create a name, a tagline, select the materials, refine the design and create a prototype for testing, which then is finalized, becomes manufactured, packaged and distributed to the shelves of retail stores such as The Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond.

Brainstorm

Shop

The coolest part of it all – is yes, the inventors make money and royalties on the product and even get their name and photo branded on the packaging, which is all designed and printed and produced in the NYC Quirky office.

Voting

But everyone who also voted, contributed, and helped roll out the product to completion online also get a slice of the pie, and make royalties off the product too. Crowdsourced invention, if you will. How cool is that?

The_Pit

I had the opportunity to visit the Quirky offices to see what all the buzz was about and check out some of their cool new ideas and products they’re whipping up in their genius labs. The office has areas full of designers and engineers buzzing about brainstorming and creating cool things with passion. They are smart and tech savvy and work around the clock to get these ideas to the market as quickly as possible so the inventors can start reaping rewards as soon as possible.

Showroom_Store

The products we saw and sampled were simple, smart, technologically inclined, and cool as hell. And designed by people like you and me, all over the world.

EggMinder

Smart kitchen gadgets that tell you how old your eggs are (the EGG MINDER) and synched to your iPhone to tell you how many you have left.

Nibble

Or the Nibble, a cake pan and cupcake pan all in one cool design.

Piggy Bank

A smart piggy bank called Porkfolio that is hooked up to a mobile app and keeps track of all the pennies you’ve saved and notifies you on your phone if someone stole it.

Mocubo Cutting Board

Or the Mocubo bamboo modular cutting board that has storage containers built right in. (Love this!)

Nimbus Alarm Clock

The Nimbus alarm clock that pulls real time information from your smart phone. It’s a customizable, personalized dashboard for your digital life – how many new Facebook likes you have, the weather, the traffic ahead and new emails, all on interchangeable and programmable screens.

Spotter

These are creations on shelves, in stores, that were birthed by a small seed of inspiration by your next door neighbor or the little kid running down the street. The inventors are the new Steve Jobs, Michaelangelos, Henry Fords and Julia Childs – backed by a company that believes in creativity and genius and that everyone can be an inventor and change the world just a little bit, with one really cool idea.

Quirky process

All you have to do is Submit Your Big Idea on online. Or, get your creative juices flowing and sign up to be an influencer to help design the next cool whirligig from your laptop at home. And who knows? Maybe your face and name will be on the next package on the shelf at The Home Depot too. I know I’m scribbling away in that journal of mine right now.

dare to dream

All you really need is to dare to dream, have a little confidence and get a little help from your friends to be the next big inventor and meet some really cool creative people – just like you and me. 

Check out and vote on some of the cool kitchen ideas that are incubating online and Quirky’s online shop for more cool stuff – you’re gonna love it.

Quirky Facebook page

Quirky Twitter page

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Blue Hill New York – a well deserved James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant

Posted by on Jun 4, 2013 in Chef Interviews, Food and Drink Events, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Guest Feature, Lifestyle, Markets, NYC, Restaurant Reviews, Things I Love, Travel, Uncategorized, Veggies | 0 comments

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Blue Hill NY

Blue Hill NY

I had the recent opportunity to have an intimate conversation with Trevor Kunk, Chef de Cuisine of Blue Hill New York about their history, philosophy, cuisine and thoughts on their recent James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant 2013.

Trevor Kunk, Chef de Cuisine

Trevor Kunk, Chef de Cuisine

We sat in the charming back patio garden room as he told me the story of the Barber Family, Blue Hill Farm, his Southern Florida upbringing and Culinary Institute of America training, and how he found his culinary calling at of one of New York’s most premiere farm-to-table restaurants. When I asked him what he thought made Blue Hill win this most distinguished and notable award, he simply stated, “we consistently produce delicious, fresh food.” After our conversation, it’s clear to see why.

Blue Hill NY

Blue Hill NY

Blue Hill New York is B-owned and managed by award-winning Executive Chef Dan Barber, and Co-Owners David and Laureen Barber. Dan is a long time supporter of local farmers, agricultural policy and artisanal food producers, and has created a consciousness around everyday food choices and bringing the principles of good farming directly to the table. He has preserved this philosophy and brought it to life through his restaurants, the Blue Hill Farm and the Blue Hill Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.

Blue Hill Farm Barn

Blue Hill Farm Barn

BLUE HILL FARM

With over 138 acres in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Blue Hill Farm has been in the Barber family for three generations and served as the inspiration behind both Blue Hill restaurants. Blue Hill Farm was originally a dairy, and was converted into a cattle farm by the Barber’s grandmother Ann Marlowe Straus, in the 1960s. She believed strongly in preserving land and connecting great farming and delicious food, which she passed on to them. Dan began farming and cooking for family and friends at the farm, and it is there that grew passionate about locally grown and seasonal produce.

Blue Hill Farm

Blue Hill Farm

In 2006 the brothers decided to redesign Blue Hill Farm back to its original form, and brought in local farmer Sean Stanton to manage the land. The farm is home to chickens, pigs, dairy cows, and laying hens, supplies the restaurants with vegetables and grass-fed meats.

Blue Hill New York Outside Menu

Blue Hill New York Outside Menu

BLUE HILL NEW YORK

In 2000, Blue Hill New York opened in Greenwich Village, New York City. A small intimate space, the restaurant occupies a historical “speakeasy” near Washington Square Park. It is both elegant and casual, serving seasonal American cuisine that celebrates the delicious offerings from the Hudson Valley.

Blue Hill’s menu highlights local food, cocktails, beer and wines from regional Tri-State artisanal producers. The majority of the ingredients come from nearby farms, as well as Blue Hill Farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, located in Pocantico Hills, NY.

Blue Hill Fresh Organic Food

Blue Hill Fresh Organic Food

In addition to Blue Hill’s a la carte menu, they also offer a 5-course Farmer’s Feast and a 7-course extended Farmer’s Feast, both inspired by the week’s harvest, and have a regular seasonal menu that changes depending on what produce, poultry, meats and seafood are in season to offer the freshest foods possible. Asparagus, Rhubarb, Radishes and Fiddlehead Ferns are abundant on the current Spring menu, which will change as soon as the weather warms up to Summer months, bringing in a flux of new seasonal fruits and vegetables to feature.

They offer a variety of fresh and locally sourced Farm Snacks such as Blue Hill Farm Yogurt, Parsnips, Beets and Oats or the “Farm Bar” served with Goat Cheese and Strawberries. There are plenty of gorgeous, creative appetizers to start the meal too: Chilled Asparagus Soup with Pickled Green Garlic, Walnut Bread and Sorrel; Emu Egg Pasta; or Stone Barns Butterhead Lettuce Salad with Fiddlehead Ferns, Pickled Cauliflower and Hazelnuts.

They serve Raven and Boar’s Pig year around, but their Hudson Valley Chickens are only served from May through November when their pasture raised chickens are in their prime and able to run around and feed outside. They serve local shellfish such as Shrimp and Squid with Spring Vegetables and fresh Tarragon; Grass-Fed Lamb with Asparagus, Knotweed and Alliums; and Rotation Risotto with 12 local grains and seeds made with Brassica Puree and Chocolate Wheat. Desserts are also made with fresh fruits and ingredients from surrounding farms –Olive Oil Cake with fresh pears, brown butter and toasted almond ice cream and a Chocolate Bread Pudding made with salted caramel, pine nuts and cocoa nib ice cream are a few house specialties.

Their cocktails and bar menu mimic the culinary program and support local farms by using NY State and domestic distilleries, wineries and ingredients from Blue Hill Farm and local Hudson Valley farms. They make their own bitters and sweet vermouth in-house, and have a ‘bartender garden’ where they grow their own herbs and plants, including wormwood used to infuse vodka, which is then muddled with fennel and chartreuse to create their own absinthe.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS CENTER AND BLUE HILL CAFE

Blue Hill at Stone Barns opened in Spring 2004, within the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York. The Barbers created the Stone Barns Center, a farm and educational center, to help carry through their mission for local and sustainable food.

Sourcing from the surrounding fields and pasture, as well as other local farms in New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is an elegant restaurant that highlights the abundant resources of the Hudson Valley. There are no menus there, instead guests choose from a variety of fresh daily ingredients from the field and market.

Blue Hill Stone Barns Dining

Blue Hill Stone Barns Dining

Blue Hill Café offers light snacks, farm-fresh lattes and other locally grown and baked goodies, available to eat in the courtyard or take on a walk around the farm.

Blue Hill Cafe

Blue Hill Cafe

Shop for seasonal jams and pickles, rhubarb jam and pickled sunchokes in the Spring or apple butter and pickled cucumbers in the Fall. You can also shop for Blue Hill Farm Market items online.

Blue Hill Sheep

Blue Hill Sheep

The non-profit Stone Barns Center offers plenty of cooking classes and demos using local seasonal ingredients taught by well-known chefs and food artisans.  You can also try your hand at some of their fun farm activities such as hands-on egg collecting, ice cream making, foraging for wild plants, making natural herbal remedies or maple tapping on the farm.

Stone Barns Center

Stone Barns Center

Visitors can also get a behind-the-scenes insider’s tour of Stone Barns, or attend one of their special events centered on farming and agriculture, such as the Sheep Shearing Festival in April or the Young Farmers Conference held in 2012. Check out this great video about Stone Barns Center’s mission to support a healthy and sustainable food system.

Blue Hill New York

Blue Hill New York

Blue Hill New York is open for dinner 7 days a week, and also hosts elegant events and private parties at its two restaurant locations and off-site venues. Whether it’s a trip to the farm or an elegant dinner in the city, Blue Hill certainly has earned its James Beard title for Outstanding Restaurant without a shadow of a doubt.

Blue Hill is a longstanding member of the NYS Restaurant Association (since joining in 2000), and is grateful for all the positive work NYSRA does to support their restaurants and businesses.

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Blue Hill New York

75 Washington Place
New York, New York 10011
T 212 539 1776 (reservations and general information)
F 212 539 0959

http://bluehillfarm.com/food/blue-hill-new-york

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

630 Bedford Road
Pocantico Hills, New York 10591
T 914 366 9600 (reservations and general information)
F 914 366 7920

http://bluehillfarm.com/food/blue-hill-stone-barns

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

http://www.stonebarnscenter.org/

Blue Hill Farm Online Market

http://bluehillfarm.com/catalog

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Photo Credits: Kristen Hess, Jen Mulkvold, Thomas Schauer, Blue Hill. Please do not share, use or distribute any photographs without expressed permission. Feel free to share this post, but please include a link back to my original post on my website with credit to © 2013 Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet.

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Beyond Sushi NYC: An Artful Approach to Vegan Sushi

Posted by on Jan 13, 2013 in Asian Food, Chef Interviews, Food Reviews, NYC, Restaurant Reviews, Things I Love, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies | 2 comments

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Chef Guy Vaknin

Chef Guy Vaknin

On a recent visit to BeyondSushi,  a Japanese Vegan Sushi restaurant in the East Village in NYC, I had the opportunity to meet the Founder and Chef (and Hell’s Kitchen Finalist!) Guy Vaknin, to discuss his innovative and artful approach to traditional Sushi. Chef Guy came up with the idea for his vegan Sushi concept while he was the Executive Chef of Esprit Events, a Catering company in New York. Focusing on Kosher, healthy vegan and vegetarian food, they opened a Vegan Sushi station, and the idea grew from there when Chef Guy saw the potential and demand for healthy vegan food in the New York market. Two years later, BeyondSushi (The Green Roll) was born.

Sushi Artwork

Sushi Artwork

The Sushi is not only artfully crafted and colorful, but super healthy, fresh and totally vegan, while keeping the Asian flavors true to traditional Sushi by using natural ingredients such as sliced nori, red, black and six-grain rice, toasted sesame, chili flakes, and gourmet imported sea salts to punch up and balance the flavors and textures of their Sushi.

Rice Bed Salad

Rice Bed Salad

They have a variety of delicious and creative sushi rolls, sushi pieces, as well as Vegan wraps and salads, and they make all of their own custom sauces such as Carrot Ginger, Sweet Soy Mirin, Shiitake Teriyaki, White Miso, and more, using grapeseed oil and all natural, dairy free ingredients.

Chefs at Work

Chefs at Work

They take a variety of colorful, seasonal ingredients and combine them into gorgeous works of art – and the best part is, they really do taste like traditional sushi, but are pure Vegan. Crunch ‘n Munch, Pickle Me, La Fiesta, Green Machine and Mighty Mushroom are just a few of their catchy roll names – all made with tasty, healthy vegetables, rice and seasonings. They also do a custom roll of the month, which Chef Guy creates based on whatever he feels like dreaming up that day, using  local produce from vendors at the Union Square Farmers Market.

Vegan Baked Goods

Vegan Baked Goods

Their Pastry Chef, Tiffany Louie, has created a new line of Vegan pastries and baked goods available in the store – Parsnip Cakes with Orange Almond Creme, Seed and Dried Fruit Almond Bars, and Carrot Bars are a few of their sweet healthy treats. Their juices are squeezed fresh each day and made in house.

Nutty Buddy Vegan Wrap

Nutty Buddy Vegan Wrap

I sampled the Nutty Buddy wrap, made with Buckwheat noodles, crushed peanuts, cilantro, jalapeno, peanut butter, avocado, sesame oil, carrots, baked tofu and romaine – a delicious combination and explosion of Asian flavors!

Vegan Sushi Rolls

Vegan Sushi Rolls

For a sushi sampling, I devoured the Spicy Mang Roll, made with Black Rice, Avocado, Mango, Cucumber and spicy veggies with a delicious Toasted Cayenne sauce. I also had the Pickle Me, made with Six Grain rice, Gobo, Carrot, Pickled Daikon and Avocado with a Carrot Ginger Sauce. YUM!

Dining Area

Dining Area

Their space is casual, cozy and inviting, and in a great location on 14th Street near Union Square. Their prices are reasonable too, ranging from $5.00 to $8.50 for Rice Paper Wraps and Salads to $6.50 for an 8-piece roll, or $7.50 to $13 for a combination plate of rolls. They also do custom catering for private events, weddings and parties with a variety of sushi rolls, salads and wrap platters.

Beyond Sushi Sign

Beyond Sushi Sign

They’ve been written up by Oprah and the NY Times and have plans to open up a second location in the near future, so stay tuned for more. There definitely isn’t any other restaurant around like it, so kudos to Chef Guy for pioneering this healthy, delicious concept. With Vegan Sushi this good – who needs the fish?!

BeyondSushi
229 E 14th St
New York NY 10003
646.861.2889
www.BeyondSushiNYC.com

Check out their online video and Facebook Page for more info

Check out their menu online

Beyond Sushi NYC

Beyond Sushi NYC

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Top 10 {Things I Love} :: Holiday 2012

Posted by on Dec 1, 2012 in Food Reviews, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Holiday, Product Reviews, Special Occasion, Things I Love, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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I have to admit, I have been a bit slack about keeping up with my Top 10 lists the past few months. Mainly due to lack of time from external projects and cookbook photo shoots (which isn’t a bad thing), but I felt it’s time to get this monthly feature back up and running – especially around the holidays with so many fun and cool things I’ve discovered that would make great holiday gifts for the home and foodie in your family! So here’s my Top 10 Things I Love for Holiday 2012…these should keep you and your loved ones happy all year ’round.

SpiceLab

1. The Spice Lab Gourmet Salts

One of my good friends bought me a set of these amazing gourmet salts for my birthday and I have to say they not only taste great but come in these cool little lab tubes that fit perfectly on my crowded countertops in my tiny NYC apartment. These are some of the best, rare and unique gourmet sea salts in the world; and they even come with reference cards with detailed descriptions and suggestions on which salts go with which dishes, making it easy to create the perfect combination of flavors. Some of the salts you’ll find in their sets include: Chili Pepper Cyprus Flake Finishing Sea Salt from the Island of Cyprus, Pink Himalayan Crystal Sea Salt from Pakistan, Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt, and Viking Oak Smoked Mountain Salt from Denmark.

http://shop.thespicelab.com/

Corkcicle

2. Corkcicle Wine Chiller

I discovered this fun little gadget at the NY Wine and Food Festival this year. It’s a sleek icicle/cork topped wine chiller that you freeze in the fridge and then place inside your wine bottles to keep your wine chilled. They come in classic cork, a variety of colors and they even have festive topped designs to celebrate the season. Talk about a cool holiday gift!

http://corkcicle.com/

Jan Burtz Pottery

3. Jan Burtz Pottery, ABC Home

This beautiful handmade pottery and ceramic line is something I found at ABC Home in New York City a few weeks ago and all I can say is it’s gorgeous. Organic shapes with a simple design, her ultra-thin tableware is artistic and elegant all at once, making your holiday table one to remember or a unique gift for a friend.

Read the interview with Jan Burtz from Handful of Salt

http://www.abchome.com/giftscollectables/dinnerware/tabid/204/productId/86/Default.aspx

Michel Design Works

4. Michel Design Works

I discovered this lovely collection of glass plates, serving trays, napkins, kitchen towels, soaps, candles, shower gels and creams at Parkleigh Pharmacy in Rochester, NY and fell in love with their beautiful design and luscious holiday scents such as Au Chocolat, Fleur de Noel, Snowman, Christmas, Nutcracker Sweet and Balsam Fir. Love this line! You can find their products at any upscale gift shop (such as Parkleigh Pharmacy) or order online.

http://www.micheldesignworks.com/

Nespresso Lattissma+

5. Nespresso Lattissma+

I already have an obsession with Nespresso coffee and machines, but now there’s a new kid on the block that I’m in love with! The new Lattissma+ is the ultimate coffee brewing machine that’s compact and sleek in design. In addition to its quick start up time and auto-off functions for energy-efficiency, this machine boasts a milk frother as well and can make perfectly portioned espressos, cappuccinos and lattes at the touch of a button. It comes in 4 elegant colors (Silky White, Ice Silver, Passion Red and Midnight Blue) to match every style and personality with a moderate price at $399.You can find them at Nespresso.com, Nespresso Boutiques (New York, Boston, Miami) and in select fine retailers such as Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, Macy’s, Crate & Barrel. Don’t forget to buy some of their colorful Grand Cru coffee capsules that come in a variety of coffee strengths and flavors. Once you have a coffee machine this cool and easy, you’ll be hooked for life – I promise.

http://www.nespresso.com/lattissima/?l=us_en

Tea Forte

6. Winter Spice Collection, Tea Forte

There’s nothing better to warm you up on a chilly Winter night than a cozy mug of hot tea. Tea Forte has several tea collections of aromatic herbal and black teas, but my favorite is the Winter Spice Collection with delicious flavors such as Harvest Apple Spice, Sweet Ginger Plum, Winter Chai, Sweet Orange Spice and Hazelnut Truffle. The tea comes packaged in individual mesh infusers, and you can also get a brewing infuser mug or teapot to go with it. Other than that, all you need is a warm fuzzy blanket, some cozy slippers and a crackling fire to make it a perfect night in from the cold.

http://www.teaforte.com/store/gourmet-tea/tea-collections/winter-spice/

Pottery Barn Jewel Cut Barware

7. Jewel Tone Cut Glass Cocktail Collection, Pottery Barn

Who can resist a little bit of bling around the holidays? Pottery Barn has a lovely bar collection that comes in brilliant jewel tones (red, purple and gold) with etched cut glass in gorgeous designs that will fancify any holiday cocktail party or soiree. The cocktail shakers and set of 4 martini glasses run $39.50 each. GORGEOUS!

http://www.potterybarn.com/products/jewel-cut-glass-cocktail-shaker/

Zingermans

8. Zingerman’s

This is the ultimate go-to destination for hand-curated artisan and gourmet foods: they have gourmet and imported Coffees and Teas, Baked Goods, Candy, Chocolate Figs, Cheese, Chartucerie, Hand Pies, Fruitcakes, Olive Oil, Smoked Ham, Freshly Baked Breads, Pickles, Condiments and a whole boatload of other cool goodies you’ll want to get your hands on. You can join one of their Monthly foodie clubs: Bacon Club, Olive Oil Club, Baker’s Club, Forbidden Foods Club. Lots of fun DIY Kits including a Reuben Sandwich-making Kit. How fun! Order a Christmas gourmet goodie gift box, filled with a Zzang Original Handmade Candy bar, a mini Hot Cocoa Coffeecake, Spanish Chocolate-covered Figs, a half pound of their own Nor’easter Cheddar, a small Zingerman’s StollenSpiced Pecans and a loaf of Chocolate Sourdough Bread. If you want to get really fancy, you can sign up for a Zingerman’s Artisan Food Tour with your sweetie and travel to Italy, Hungary and Spain. Not only is their gourmet food delicious, but quirky and fun and created by a community of small artisan food producers in the Ann Arbor MI area. LOVE.

http://www.zingermans.com/

iomoi

9. Decorative Lacquered Trays, iomoi

Founder Irene Chen worked at Calvin Klein and Donna Karan before teaming up with co-founder Matthew Grenby to create this luxury lifestyle brand with beautifully designed products for the home with a modern twist. Their lacquer trays are sleek and colorful and add some festive fun to your holiday table and cocktail parties. They also carry ice buckets, paper and glass coasters, gift tags, petite matches, stationery, handbags and accessories that reflect their bold geometric designs.

http://iomoi.stores.yahoo.net/section-lacquer-trays.html

Williams Sonoma DIY Kits

10. DIY Kits, Williams-Sonoma

For your ultimate DIY-er/Foodie in the family, Williams-Sonoma has an array of homemade kits including cheesemaking kits, herb gardens, sprouters, vinegar pots, kombucha making kits, butter, mustard, mushrooms, cider and wine presses. With all this fun stuff you’ll never have to leave home to make your own delicious homemade gourmet goodies for family and friends.

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/shop/agrarian-garden/agrarian-garden-homemade-kits/

 

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