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Nshry cafe restaurant bar Middle Park Pier – Albert Park Melbourne

Nshry. its an odd name, for a cafe that makes dishes that are, well, just a little bit odd, but in a very gooooood way!

Its not often that I can say that I’ve had a truly exceptional meal, but at Nsry, I certainly did!

As the name, and the paper crane logo suggests, this cafe is a wee bit foreign in inspiration, most likely Asian.

Why do I think this? Mexican standards like chilli bean tacos end up deconstructed in a bowl, with rice inserted into the mix,  with the Korean favourite of a random egg cracked on top, Japanese panko crumbles feature prominently, as does wasabi, sesame mayo and all the other delicious things that make asian food truly delicious and great. Theres that, and the fact that the owner, Michael Nham (pictured below) comes from a Vietmanese and Taiwanese cultural background. Next time i go back, ill have to ask what inspiration is truly behind the name.

At first glance, the menu contains all sorts of typical standard cafe fare… but then you look closely, and you realise that its anything but a normal offering. its inspired, its different, and above all, its tasty. Tasty enough to write about with passion, that’s for certain. Nsry lunch menu

We chose the Taco rice bowl, and the “Umami” burger. They were expensive lunch options, at over $20, but hey, we had just gotten engaged, and the location at the foot of the pier looking over the beach, with the Spirit of Tasmania docked in the distance was a nice atmosphere.

A nice touch was that in the outdoor dining area, because it was a cold day, woolen blankets were supplied to wrap oneself in (or snuggle up in).

Anyway, back to the food. The Umami burger, which consisted of a beautiful marriage in a BIG fat intensely satisfying pattie consisted of a unique and well thought out mix of both Wagu and Angus beef, married with slow roasted tomato and onion jam came with a little selection of very, very exceptional sides- a sesame coleslaw with micropickles, and very crispy, very golden fat chips, and three dipping sauces, traditional sweet tomato, garlic aoli, and chilli mayo.

Anyhow, little did I know at the time, but this burger won a prize as burger of the the year, 2011, and little has changed about it ever since. You don’t mess with perfection, clearly.

The Umami Bruger of Nsry, middle park pier, Burger of the year, 2011.

Thanks to the following blog posts that I borrowed photos from:

http://theburgeradventure.com/2012/02/the-burger-of-the-year-2011/

https://www.timeout.com/melbourne/restaurants/nshry

http://www.bambinoweekend.com/nshry/

 

http://nshry.com.au/

129A Beaconsfield Parade

Albert Park, Victoria

03 9682 1077

Tuesday – Sunday

8am to 4pm

Herkimer Diamond Engagement Ring Melbourne Australia Corky Saint Clair

This post is a little thank you to the inspired and insightfulJeweler Chris Bril, of Corky Saint Clair who created the ultimate token of my love (A 1.81ct Herkimer Diamond Solitaire Engagement ring. set in sterling silver) for the lass, to whom I proposed to on Saturday, while on a bike, in a subway, of all places.

Since making my decision to ask the most charming and beautiful friend I have in this world to marry me, I’d spent many months searching and agonising in Melbourne and beyond over exactly what engagement ring I was going to buy for the lass, not to mention a lot of stress over the cost.. and most of the options fit the bill- nice and sparkly and shiny.. but they were a little.. generic, and not quite me, or her, or us somehow.

While wandering Melbourne’s little niche and custom shops, I was in the old, and slightly dank Art Deco section of Flinders street subway, below Degraves street where there is a ratty collection of tiny, artisan shops, ensconced in wood and sensually curved glass… or.. well.. graffiti covered old skool galv B&D roller doors, when something really, really special sparkled alluringly in the depths of one of the shops.

What really caught my eye was a silver set engagement ring with quite a twist on it, that really made me look twice.

A handy book available on amazon on the exciting variations of Herkimer available on the market.

The stone was cut in a wonky, shonky looking way that suggested it was the apprentice jewel cutter’s first attempt at cutting a diamond, and he had royally ballsed it up.

But. it sure was different. I just could not look away. Looking more closely, it had a wild kind of ordered beauty that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but the clarity of the stone was exceptional, and it was impressive, but not obnoxious in size. It was as if the unusual cut had been actually made on purpose, and was not a product of incompetence, or an unfortunate accident… it… worked…

Next to it was a write up about the Diamond that was in the solitaire ring, which described it as a “Herkimer Diamond”.

The narrow and exclusive region in new york state, USA, that Herkimer diamonds are mined from

Pffttt. I thought. so, it’s a fake diamond, just a lousy cubic zirconia, or CZ.  I kept reading though, and discovered that it was anything but fake, it was the genuine article, alright, and genuine and unique in many more ways than the average carbon based diamond ever could be.

Herkimer diamonds come from upstate New York. They display unusually high brightness, clarity and hardness, and are formed over 400 million years in bubble pockets, or “vugs” in dolostone. The most authentic feature of them is that their shape, which looks like man made “cut” facets, but, amazingly, they are actually formed naturally, by the miracle of the mechanics of the earth and nature.

Every Herkimer has 18 individual and unique facets, and are actually are a naturally occurring, highly rare double terminated crystal. No two are exactly alike, or, for that matter, vaguely the same. That’s the way I feel about the lass, and our relationship- nothing compares, and I don’t doubt for a moment that I’ll ever in my lifetime meet another girl quite like her.

In the cabinet next to the display of the ring, was an excised cross section of a piece of dolomite stone, exposing a little cavity or bubble in the rock mass. Inside, was a the crystalline shining diamond of a Herkimer, nestled in the little pocket, as perfect and untouched as could be.

Video of a herkimer ring on facebook

 

In the Subway, which can be entered off Flinders and Degraves street, many of the little establishments

Subway Entrance off Degraves Street

eking out an existence seem to sell something just a little bit different, hand crafted, or rare second hand items of style, and at pretty reasonable prices.

Technically, the 1950’s pink tiled subway is called the “Campbell Arcade”, though few Melbourne residents might refer to it as such, and 2/3 of residents surveyed at one point had no idea the place even exists, despite being a very distinctive, and major part of the Flinders street station complex. The shopping strip has an interesting history, which is brought to life by a post by the blogger “danno”, which is worth a read if you are intrigued by history like me.

One of these quirky little shops is the esteemed Jeweler named “Corky Saint Clair“, whose unlikely insignia is denoted by a funny little power monster thingy. Apparently, it’s called the “Carrymonster”, though I have no darn idea why.

Corky’s after one of the regular subway floods

The owner and head jeweler is the aforementioned Chris Bril, who is a pleasant guy who quietly beavers away in the workshop part of the shop, while customers explore the surreal layout of his wares.

Broadsheet did an interview with Chris a while ago, which gives one some insight into the smiling man behind the soldering iron, pliers and files.

If you want your own ring,  for that special person in your ife you want to commit to, take a look at Herkimer solitaire rings at corky st clair melbourne

Artisan Home baked Fruit banana bread of Ballarat

This bread is a bit special because it uses a special yeast starter culture derived from brewing- the sediment and liquids from a ginger beer plant, and a long, slow fermentation process, and its super easy to make, even for novice bread maker like myself.

I like eating this for breakfast, and it makes a great start to your day.

artisan_fruit_bread_ballarat

Ingredients:

400gm Flour

250 brewed ginger beer plant and sediment slurry

Handful of dried raisins or Sultanas

Dates (optional)

4 overripe bananas, mashed

Tablespoon Cinnamon.

50 grams whole-seed and ancient grain protein breakfast topper mix (i.e. 24/7 brand)

4 Tablespoons sugar

100ml + milk

Method:

  1. Combine flour, sugar and ginger beer plant slurry in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix in sultanas, cinnamon and other fruit including bananas.
  3. Mix in seeds and protein breakfast topper mix sparingly- clumps, and surface seeds are great in this bread.
  4. Add milk if necessary to fully combine into a sticky dough consistency that is not too dry.
  5. Let stand, covered with a tea-towel for at least 2 hours, but preferably 12-24 hours for the yeast to consume the sugars and ferment.
  6. Shape mixture into a cobb loaf form (round) on a flat baking tray.
  7. Bake for 35-45 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius in a fan forced oven.

This bread is quite heavy and rich, slice thinly, and toast in the toaster, server with a glass of milk or hot earl grey tea, and is great for breakfast.

The bread will keep at room temprature and refrigerated for a number of days, but is nicest on the first day of course.

 

 

 

Little Creatures Canteen and Brewery- Geelong

Located in a warehousy and light commercial part of Geelong, the little creatures brewery was bought inlittle_creatures_brewery_geelong_indoor_seating_canteen 2011, and opened in 2013, pumping out fresh, light tasting and bright flavored beers.

Attached to the working factory, is the little creatures canteen, and the White Rabbit Barrel Hall.

The brewery and canteen is situated in an old woolen mill complex, tastefully restored, that the company won little_creatures_brewery_geelong_heritage_awardheritage awards for.

The food is excellent, and despite the canteen being in a big, open warehouse, the atmosphere is warm, bright and inviting, topped off with good service from cheery and enthusiastic staff.

 

I ordered the burger special, a nice big pizza, coffee and a Chai tea with honey for the lass.

little_creatures_brewery_geelong_canteen_chai_teaThe Chai tea was unusually well presented, and of great quality, being loose leaf, and freshly brewed- there was no powdered or tea bag option nonsense being pandered around here on the surf coast, unlike in Melbourne.

 

little_creatures_brewery_geelong_canteen_burgerThe burger was tasty, reasonably priced, and the chips were nice and crispy. In fact, the chips came WITH the burger, and I didn’t have to pay extra for once, despite this being a “hip” and “cool” establishment.

 

little_creatures_brewery_geelong_canteen_pizzaPizza was a stone and wood baked affair, with fresh and good quality ingredients sprinkled on top. more than satisfying.

 

There were a lot of cool little spaces and things go look at, and go ahh, and ooh!, at the brewery, and it was a pleasure to wander around and have a good stickybeak.

The beer tours are only $12, so next time I’m going to book into one and check it out- wandering around industrial facilities are always fascinating, even if you are not in the industry, and just a hack home brewer like myself.

little_creatures_brewery_geelong_outdoor_seating_canteen little_creatures_brewery_geelong_piano

For some reason, there’s a badly tuned honky-tonk piano outside in a container you can have a bash on in any state of tipsyness, and because it a pretty big property, you can borrow a bike to ride about on if you feel inclined, just ask the bar staff, though don’t get crabby if they say NO because of the jug of beer they know you just drank by yourself with lunch.

All in all, its a fine place to go for a lunch date with a pretty lass, and that’s exactly what I did that day.

little_creatures_brewery_geelong_bike_hire

The brewing process in diagrams- click to enlarge

little_creatures_brewery_geelong_heritage_storyboard1little_creatures_brewery_geelong_heritage_storyboard2

Images of the current menu as of winter 2016 as are below, or check out the links to the current menu on the following links:

Food menu- little creatures canteen Geelong

Drinks Menu- little creatures canteen geelong

little_creatures_brewery_geelong_canteen_menu2 little_creatures_brewery_geelong_canteen_menu1

221 Swanston St, Geelong VIC 3220

Monday – Tuesday: 10am – 5pm

Wednesday – Friday: 10am – 10pm

Saturday: 8am – 10pm (Brunch available)

Sunday: 8am – 10pm (Brunch available)

Phone: (03) 5202 4009

 

https://littlecreatures.com.au/locations/geelong/the-canteen

Coffee Snobs- Geelong

Internet based Australian supplier of green coffee beans for home and artisan roasters.

http://beanbay.coffeesnobs.com.au/ViewCategory.aspx/GreenCoffee

A friend put me onto this place- it’s his hobby and passion, and he makes the best coffee I have ever had in my entire life. I’m not exaggerating at all on that. He makes it from green coffee beans sourced from yemen, which are expensive as hell, and rare as hens teeth at the moment, once upon a time, he sold it in various stores in Daylesford under the brand “Conscious coffee”

If you ever had the pleasure of trying it, feel very fortunate and grateful, as its not around anymore, other than if you know the man himself, and drop in for a cup of his artful roast.

One day we are going to go into the back shed and cook up a roast together, spilling acrid roasted coffee bean fumes all over the neighbourhood… then test the roast, which is the best part.

http://fb.theweeklyreview.com.au/geelong/release/1833049-coffee-snobs/?nav=Y2F0X2lkLzI0Mw==#.V7lSfzVKVPI

Coffee snob’s origins are unusual- described as the product of a “hobby out of control”- it is run by Andrew Freeman and his wife, Paula who originally come from IT and management backgrounds.

The business imports, roasts and distributes quality coffee beans in little white calico bags to all corners of Australia out of a small industrial warehouse at 59 Morgan St, North Geelong VIC 3215.

Note though, the business is ONLINE ONLY- rocking up and expecting to buy a bag of beans on the spot just NOT going to happen. you need to ORDER ONLINE FIRST a day or three in advance, depending on what you are buying, if you wish to save on postage and pick up the little sack of beans personally.

Coffee_snobs_geelong_warehouse

Tin Roof Cafe & pizza + Greek Souvlaki soldiers Hill Ballarat

Some time ago I wrote about our visit to the tin roof cafe on macarthur street on its opening day, and my opinion was that the pizza and coffee we ordered was pretty average at the time, though the fit out and atmosphere was quite nice, airy and pleasant, as was the very professional and attentive service.

What I did rave on about through, was how keen I was to try out the souvlaki that I saw being served up there, which both the staff and other customers seemed to be tucking into with quite some relish, if not wild eyed fevour! (Yes, I feel quite some regret at not going with my instincts immediately and getting a big, tasty greek meal at the time)

The other day, I finally became one of those ecstatic customers who can proudly say they have enjoyed a souvlaki from Tin Roof cafe in Soldiers Hill.

After scanning the menu, and seeing mostly reasonable prices of $11-$13, my eyes zeroed in on the best looking deal. “Double meat” Yes. DOUBLE meat, and it was only a few dollars extra… and, I knew, since the lass was a guest at my house that day, she would expect me to share if I brought back food to my place.. extra food was necessary.

There were options for mixed meats, but I’ve always found those options to be a bit disappointing in other decent greek restaurants because of the confusing mix of strong flavours, with no real dominant focus, so i avided mixing it up.

Anyway, back to the DOUBLE meat lamb souvlaki- As a take away, it was nicely presented in a hip looking box that was as practical, sturdy, insulating and greaseproof as it was aesthetically professional looking.

Inside, was a BIG souvlaki. So big, and stuffed with glorious, roasted lamb and some salad, that it didn’t even roll shut properly. That was a good thing though.More is good. I think we can all agree on that one. Worst case scanario, the lass would have to finish it, and spend the rest of the afternoon whinging about how i “made” her consume unhealthy food.

Anyway, more to the point, it was delicious.

So delicious that a decent amount of it mysteriously vanished when I went to make us a cold drink to go with out lazy evening meal in front of the television, watching Bojack Horseman.

Internet TV- Bojack Horseman

Bojack Horseman is an original NETFLIX series that I was introduced to by by esteemed friend and landlord one evening when I invited him to share a meal with I and the lass.

https://www.netflix.com/title/70300800

It’s an unlikely and zaney show, which is an adult animated comedy/drama, set in a world where ANIMALS and humans coexist in some kind of society of equality.. and communication in.. English.

I can only guess that it’s some kind of deep metaphor for acceptance and tolerance. Or, more likely, it’s an excuse to enable amusing animal stereotype jokes to be knitted into the scenes.

Most importantly, its FUNNY. Not in the usual bland American humour way, but more in the dry and satirical, dark style of good British comedy TV of the 80’s to naughties.

The show is set in the airy sycophant filled atmosphere of Hollywood, and protagonist is Bojack Horseman. And, yes, he’s a horse. of course!

Bojack is a slightly sad and pathetic millionaire bachelor, the former star of a very corny, not very good, but neverless highly successful sitcom of the 90’s- “Horsing Around”.. a show which has suspiciously close plotline ties to another famous, but terrible show of the era, “Full House”

Set in present day timing, Bojack has spent the last 20 years… well, not doing much, apart from wallowing in his own lost fame and drinking a lot of Whiskey while watching reruns of his old show, which went for 9 seasons, a fact that is emphasised by Bojack often to whomever will listen.

Things start to look like they could finally turn around for his fortunes, when the publishing house, “Penguin Publishing” (which is run by a very anxious and stressed penguin, of course) which contracted him to write his memoirs, hired Bojack a ghost writer desperation with its last few pennies before it filed for bankruptcy. That Ghost writer is a young, hipster Vietnamese woman who just happens to be dating Bojack’s worst frenemy in his prefessional and admittedly stunted soical life, an adorable golden retriever called Mr Peanut Butter. The two hit it off, and Bojack finally starts to open up a little… and that’s where things start becoming interesting.

 

Cheapest and easiest cheesecake with solid biscuit base

Cheesecakes are among the easiest cakes to make at home, and produce very impressive professional Berry_cheesecake_home_madelooking results.

A common recipe is to use crushed shop bought biscuits for a crumbly, loose base at the bottom of the pan.

That looks like too much work to me!

I’m quite a fan of shortbread, and incidentally, it makes an incredibly good base for a cheesecake-

Instead of crushing up packets and packets of  fairly ordinary tasting biscuits, par baking some awesome shortbread tartshells for your cheesecake yourself can produce a much more impressive result.

Adjusting the amount of sugar in the recipe will result in a harder, or softer, more crumbly base effect: more sugar= harder, less = crumbly and buttery.

Makes up to 2 large 30cm tart pan cheesecakes.

Ingredients:

Shortbread:cheesecake_base_cream_butter_sugar

225 gms Butter

110 gms Rice flour

125 gms Raw, or caster sugar (raw is cheaper)WP_20160818_17_10_21_Pro

260 gms sifted plain flour.

Method:

  1. Soften butter in the microwave for 30 seconds or so in a large mixing bowl.shortbread_cheesecake_base_big_flan_tart
  2. Introduce sugar, creaming the butter with the sugar
  3. Tip in rice flour, combining well
  4. Gradually add in flour, mixing well.
  5. The mixture should be slightly dry, crumbly, and certainly  not doughy in appearance; and the crumbles should not have a greasy sheen.
  6. Spread crumbly mixture into tart trays, pressing shortbread_cheesecake_base_small_tartdown firmly to create a smooth surface that is around 5-7mm thick.
  7. Lay extra crumbles around the edges of the pan, pressing firmly against the edge, form a crust of 3-6mm thick.
  8. Bake at 180 degrees for ~25 minutes, till golden brown.shortbread_cheesecake_base_finished_product_big_smallshortbread_cheesecake_base_method_part2

 

 

 

 

Cheesecake:

Ricotta cheese, available at most supermarket deli counters, at $7-$9/Kg is cheaper and produces a better result, but packaged mascarpone or phillidelphia can also be used

Ingredients:

700gms ricotta cheese

100gms sugar

3 large eggs

400gms berries, cherries or chopped fruit

Maple_pear_cheesecakeAlternate fillings can be oranges, pears, apples and cinnamon, drissled with maple syrup

Method:

  1. Crack 3 eggs into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Break egg yolks with a fork, and scramble.
  3. Add in sugar and cheese.chilli_maple_syrup_ricotta_cheesecake
  4. Mix thoroughly, consistency of egg/cheese should be liquidy and sloppy, like thick Greek yoghurt.
  5. pour cheese mix into par baked shortbread tartshells, whose tart pans have not been removed.
  6. Sprinkle fruit over surface of cheese filling liberally, patting down where necessary.
  7. Bake filled shells for 35-45 minutes at 180 degrees, or until exposed fruit looks jammy and sticky.

Let cool on racks, and pop tarts out of the pans when warm, but not hot.berrry_maple_syrup_pear_chilli_cheesecake_ricotta

 

 

 

 

 

Making home brewed ginger beer- how to start a plant.

So, you want to make ginger beer at home?

The good news, is that its easy, cheap and fun.

Sadly, it takes a bit of dedication and patience to start a plant.

There is not much to breeding a ginger beer organism from scratch, though its a lot easier to just get a sample of the yeast culture forma Friend already doing it if you can.

What you need for a ginger beer plant starter culture:

Ingredients:

  • 6 good quality raisins or sultanas.
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 20ml of water
  • One clean 700ml, wide mouthed glass jar with lid. (An italian passata tomato sauce jar is ideal)
  • One spare glass jar (optional)
  • 50 ml Vinegar

Method:

Cleanliness and the integrity of the yeast source is VERY important at this stage.

THe objective of this exercise is too culture a dominant strain of wild champagne yeast, derived from grape skins. There are a lot of wild yeasts in the environment, which wont produce such a pleasant flavour, and good hygiene should minimise the chance of raising the wrong organisms.

  1. Take your glass jar, and either fill it with boiling water, or stick it in the oven
  2. Do the same with the lid.
  3. The jar may crack under temperature, so be careful.
  4. Let stand for at least 5 minutes, then tip out the hot water.
  5. Pour vinegar in the jar, put on the lid, and shake.
  6. Tip out vinegar, and rinse jar with boiling water again.
  7. Put 2 teaspoons of sugar in the jar, dissolve sugar with some boiling water, let stand till like warm.
  8. Drop in 6 raisins or sultanas.
  9. Close the lid loosely
  10. Wait 5 days.

By this stage, the yeast in the grapes should have begun feeding on the sugar in the weakly sweet solution the raisins have been bathed in, and when opening the lid, the mix should smell “yeasty”

Finally, top up the jar 400ml of  cool, sterile water that has been boiled recently.

To give your newly born ginger beer plant its first ever feed, tip in a tablespoon of dry powdered ginger, and a tablespoon of sugar  to start the ginger beer making process.

You will need to feed your new pet this special diet of sugar and ginger for at least 5 days before harvesting to make your brew.

Over time, the amount of sediment and organism in the jar will build up quickly, indicating your new pet is growing up big and strong.

 

 

Home Made Beer Barrel DIY from supermarket materials

So, you want to have a go at brewing beer at home, or ginger beer, home_brewing_logoelderflower wine, apple cider, scumpy or suchlike?

Problem. Most people don’t just have a huge barrel for brewing laying about the house, or the shed.. well. maybe in the shed, but that had weed killer or petrol in it beforehand, so it’s a bad idea.

DON’T! just use a random old barrel that you found in the shed. It’ll end in tears.

What you need is a food grade container, of at least 10 litres capacity to make a small batch of beer or cider with. Ideally, it’ll be easy to clean, and have a bung and tap at the bottom.

Specialised home brewing barrels can be expensive- expect to pay in excess of $100 for one.

You used to be able to get brew kits from the local corner store, or supermarket, but they are harder to find nowadays. not enough profit in it I suppose. I had to do a lot of running around to figure out where to get home brewing supplies from, that was not an expensive specialty store.

Of all places I discovered that Dan Murphys, (a bottle shop??, where they sell pre brewed alcohol??)  you can buy a kit with all you need for $120.

A mass produced commercial home brew kit for $120

https://www.danmurphys.com.au/product/DM_730573/coopers-diy-home-brewing-kit

Big W has a lot of the gear you may need too, including bench cappers and other accessories, though for some products, they aren’t quite as cheap. It pays to shop around.

https://www.bigw.com.au/search/?pageSize=72&q=home+brewing%3Arelevance#

Dan’s also has a set of 15 bottles that are suitable for brewing. When brewing, its important to have suitable bottles to put your beverages in- Thin glass bottles- they have a tendency to explode. That can really spoil your DIY experience, as your brew could make a huge mess, blow holes in plaster walls, and possibly injure somebody, leading to a potential lawsuit.

Luckily, at the local coles or woolies supermarket, there’s something that almost fits the criteria- a 12 litre plastic water goon cask or brick, which will set you back a princely $4

http://shop.coles.com.au/online/national/coles-water-spring-natural

It’s big enough, it has a tap at the bottom, and with a little work, you can make a nice laHome_made_beer_brewing_barrelrge opening with a sharp knife or scissors

Empty it out, and cut a hole in the top of the water brick with a decent knife.

Use a stabbing and cutting motion, working from the corners to make a hole large enough to enable you to put your hand in to clean the barrel after use.

how_to_make_Home_made_beer_brewing_barrel

You may want to set up the lid with a closable flap so you can keep the dust out of the barrel during storage, but this was a Mark one version, so i just cut a hole. It works. water and ingredients go in, get mixed, and you can set it up off the edge of your bench to fill the bottles with ease.

For your first brew, you may like to take advantage of the sterile, pure and contaminant free water the spring water brick contains, especially if you live in a country area where the tap water doesn’t taste the best.

When you are ready to get serious about your brewing, it;ll be time to buy the proper equipment and get the right advice- if you live in ballarat, try http://ballarathomebrew.com.au

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