Food: Edmonton

Food: Asia and Food: Edmonton07 May 2012 12:51 pm

I think I heard about this event via Twitter, and I was immediately intrigued. I haven’t had ramen (outside of prepackaged broth bought in Fukuoka) since leaving Japan in January…and I’ve been craving it.

The idea was for a one night only affair with two kinds of ramen. (That’s the “pop up” part.) The noodles would be handmade and the space would be in the where the old Duchess once stood. Chael MacDonald and Clayton Kozak did a great job conceiving and running the event.

We arrived just before 6pm, and there was quite a line of people waiting for one of the 32 seats. After about an hour, we finally made it in. Time passed surprisingly quickly. After that point, there was no real line to speak of. The plan for the pop up was to go until they sold out or it became 8pm, whatever came first.

It was simply, but nicely, decorated with paper streamers. We received steaming cups of genmaicha, and ordered a few bowls of the chicken and pork ramen and one bowl of the miso dashi with tuna. Beer was available, too.

The menu is pretty tiny in this picture, but the two offerings were:

Choice 1: dashi miso broth with albacore tuna, egg, mushroom, wakame and nori seaweed $10

Choice 2: chicken broth, pork belly and shoulder, egg, pickled shiitake, napa cabbage, nori $10

The pork belly chicken ramen. The noodles were perfection. Absolute perfection. The broth was deep in flavour but not overly salty, and the additions of pickled mushrooms and negi (green onions) were great. While I enjoyed the chicken, the pork belly itself was a little dry and tough. But that was the only misstep – I was, quite honestly, blown away. Even the egg rivaled those I’ve had in Japan. Boiled in broth, it had a gentle brown exterior and a creamy, just underdone center. Well underdone to some.

I considered it perfect.

The miso dashi broth with tuna was savoury and delicious as well. I was never really a fan of miso ramen, but this might convince me otherwise. (I loved shio, or salt, and tonkotsu, or pork, ramen best) The wakame and nori seaweed were also nice touches. The tuna was all right as well. But I think the group favourite was the chicken pork ramen.

All in all, a fun event and worth the wait and a great way to satisfy a craving. I’m hoping this means there might be a great ramen restaurant in the future for Edmonton… but that might also mean Duchess loses its full time croissant pâtissier and Elm Cafe would lose Mr MacDonald. Sacrifices!

Food: Edmonton28 Apr 2012 07:19 am

Since I got home, I have eaten out about 10 times, if that. I of course missed some staples in the Edmonton food scene – King Noodle Pho, Tony’s Pizza etc – but I’ve just been too in love with being able to COOK again. Not to say that we never did that in Japan, it’s just way less hassle to meal plan here, and I’ve been loving it.

Mike and I went to a movie at the Garneau last weekend, and I proposed a stop in at the new Three Boars Eatery nearby just to break the eating in cycle. It’s been open about two or three weeks now, and I wanted to see if was any good. “Plates and Pints” never sounds wrong!

When we arrived, the place was jammed. And SO hot. I cannot imagine what the kitchen will be like come August. And it remained hot and jammed throughout our time there. We cuddled into a tiny corner along the window bar and ordered a few pints. I’d love to see the staff install hooks under their bar – then there is no need for a coat and purse mountain taking up precious bar space.

Mike got the black and tan (Mudshark Porter with Anderson Valley IPA) and I got the Anderson Valley IPA. The kegs change frequently, so be sure to check in on their Twitter page to see what’s on offer that day/week. There are six taps in total, I believe, so there is always a good mix of local and more unusual beer. At $8, my pint was not cheap, but it was great for what we wanted, a pre going out drink.

My IPA was great – hoppy and fresh, just like a spring rabbit. Mike’s black and tan was unfortunately pretty “black” and the porter the IPA was mixed with really overpowered it. Not the best combination, sadly.

In addition to the decent beer selection (there is also a hefty list of bottled brews, divided by style) there is a wall of whiskey and many different and unusual cocktails, like highballs made with Fentiman’s soda and a few kinds of shandies.

We ordered two plates of food, and it turned out to be a little less than a meal even though one of the items was from the “main” menu of entrees.

First up was the “rabbit food” menu (Three Boars has a great selection of vegetarian friendly dishes) item of wild mushrooms on toast with an egg. I cautiously broke the yolk and dug into this, nervous. Would it be good? Great? Terrible? The first bite was amazing – yolky creamy goodness over fresh wild mushrooms bursting with flavour. Reconstituted from freeze dried, these mushrooms were not. The fleur de sel on top heightened the golden goodness of the egg and the crunch of the toast under neath worked in harmony with the other softer textures. I wish there had been two toasts since splitting one was a bit awkward and it would have made it more of a meal, but it still worked.

Next is the very unphotogenic lamb’s neck poutine. Fingerling potatoes coated with rich gravy, succulent lamb and squeaky cheese curds. The kitchen often mixes things up and will try new kinds of poutine. I’ve seen liver and onions and oxtail on their Twitter page. (Everything changes at Three Boars – the menu is more of a guide than an absolute, and expect to be surprised by specials when you go in.)

Again – not quite enough to make a meal. I definitely recommend getting atleast three dishes for two people, even if one of you is not that hungry as was our case, because you will want to taste everything more than once. Most dishes run $12-15 so it is not a cheap meal out, but the care in ingredient selection and presentation shine, and it is worth it if you are only going to eat out every so often, and you just want a snack for while you are drinking.

Service was a bit jagged, but probably more pronounced by our need to hot foot it up the street to the Garneau Theatre. If we were here for a longer catch up with friends, I suspect we would not have cared as much. Interestingly, it was the food that was up front and centre and the drinks that were slow to come out. I hope that these kinks get ironed out as they get used to their popularity.

Half way through our drinks, seats opened up upstairs so we went up the steep staircase. Upstairs there are communal style tables, so do not expect an intimate meal. This is family style, more of an upscale pub, and it’s pretty fun.

Overall, I think Three Boars makes an awesome addition to the growing cluster of fantastic restaurants north of Whyte Ave on 109th. It’d be great to do a drink and a dish at each place, then walk across the High Level to burn it all off…

Three Boars Eatery
Excellent cocktail and liquor list, local items used in imaginative dishes and a cozy atmosphere.
8424 -109 Street
4pm til late daily


Food: Edmonton and Food: Home Cookin'09 Nov 2010 08:30 am

I have the great fortune of having a father who is extremely talented at BBQ. He has spent much of the last two decades grilling and smoking and basting, and shows no signs of slowing, regardless of which country he ends up living in. He knows of BBQ suppliers in Bangkok and the best places to get wood chips up and down the west coast of North America. I think his skills are safe, even if he does not have Mike and I to scarf down and pretend to critique his delicious dinners.

He (alongside my mom) was very generous in hosting an informal going away BBQ for me and some family friends one last time before I left in July. My mom did the pies, and my dad did the drinks, meat and other little touches.

It was a bitter sweet way to say good bye to the city. Thanks to the friends who were able to attend at the last minute. The food was excellent, but the company really made it special.

I started the last day at the downtown Farmer’s Market. I planned on making a video of it, but… former colleague, my wedding shooter and friend Ryan Jackson recently did a better version than I could have ever hoped to do.

Pretty awesome vid, huh?

I promised to send this photo to Andreas of Greens, Eggs and Ham… and now I finally can. It kind of looks like he is eating a sandwich from Elm Cafe, non?

Okay enough reminiscing. It’s business time.

My dad, at my request, made one of my favourites… smoked brisket. He does excellent ribs and flank steak, but the 12 hour + smoked brisket is really amazing.

He always makes sure to sketch the lie of the land, or the meat grain, so he knows where to cut and how. Note the fat cap.

In case you are in Edmonton and want to know where he gets his meat, he finally settled on Sunterra on the southside. He complains they still do not leave enough fat on it for him, though. One of the great mysteries of Edmonton is why so-called beef country does not have excellent butchers available all over. They are available, just hard to find.

Also note the margaritas. His are killer. In a good way.

Roz and Dan load up.

Cast iron pan cornbread. Crispy, creamy, soft and buttery. Perfect.

Home made beans, probably his best yet, cole slaw and home made bread AND cornbread.

Key Lime pie. I once offended my dad by telling him I thought the key lime pie from Cactus Club Cafe rivalled or maybe even bettered his. In any case, it is a good substitute for when he is not in Canada, which is quite often these days.

Perfect lawn, perfect food, perfect people, perfect day.

Matt and Mike have a post dinner snooze.

On the way to Banff (and onwards to Japan) the next day, Mike and I had brisket sandwiches. Effing perfect.

Food: Edmonton08 Nov 2010 09:20 am

Again into the time machine as we travel back to July in Edmonton. MRKT, a new option for lunch, had just opened in Edmonton. Since my dad happened to be in town and he is a man that truly loves the traditional lunch of soup and sandwich, we checked it out. At the time I told him “I will not have time to blog about this for atleast a few days…” he said “Just bank it.”

So, here we are, more than three months later…


I will be straight with you. This was eons ago in my memory and I do not remember details. I did not take notes, but I only remember that it was decent and exactly what Edmonton needed for many years downtown; a solid sandwich and soup place. Although I found SoulSoup’s soups a bit unbalanced (ie., salty) and sometimes even odd, I enjoyed that there was a place doing unusual, new every day soups. (SoulSoup’s creators are the brains behind MRKT)

The cool interior of MRKT, which is perched above Red Star and Halo on Jasper Avenue.

Braised beef sandwich and Mexican Black Bean soup

The sandwiches we got were good, but the soup was better. I found the sandwiches a bit plain considering the number of ingredients, but the soup was pretty delicious and not as salty as what I remembered at SoulSoup.

My dad was pleased, as was I. A delicious sandwich and hot soup on a cold rainy day in Edmonton…what more can you ask for? I am only sad we did not have time to visit Elm Cafe together before I left town.

10542 Jasper Ave NW

Food and Food: Edmonton04 Nov 2010 07:50 am

So we are taking a little time machine trip back to July when I still lived in Edmonton. I had been spending a lot of my days packing at that time, and was visiting the Starbucks nearest my house…a lot. One night I went to the nearby Mac’s instead for a change and saw they had a new milkshake machine.

The concept was so simple, I could not believe no one had thought of it before. It is a freezer with frozen drinks in it, and an automated machine that blends your chosen drink to a desired consistency and turns it out to you after a few seconds of blending. I was so hooked I was kind of glad to be leaving the country to get away from the calorie packed drinks.

The flavours were pretty decent; vanilla, chocolate and something fruity. The chocolate shake totally reminded me of an old school malted drink, which is awesome because they also offer a genuine malted drink. It must be pretty good if just the chocolate was malty. Additionally, there are frozen cappuccinos and smoothies available as well. The cappuccino did not really do it for me – it was too much like, well, frozen coffee. I thought it would be more of an ice creamy treat, so it was my mistake to buy one.

All the drinks are $2.99.

Pick out a drink from the freezer, peel back the foil lid, load it in the machine and pick the consistency you want the shake to be: extra thick, regular and less thick. I went for thick initially because I love thick shakes, but it was a bit too thick for my tastes. Regular is actually pretty good for sucking up through a straw. Go for extra thick if you want to give it time to melt and soften before drinking it.

The machine popping out the drink.

After disappearing into the machine for a bit and a scale to show you how close your drink is to being done, it pops out all blended. You put a lid and straw in it, pay, then drink.

The shakes are not bad, pretty rich and creamy. They are a bit icey and crystally, but convenient and a lot cheaper than Cold Stone, and a bit cheaper and easier to get to  than what was my favourite shake place at that time: Wendy’s. I was concerned I might get someone else’s flavour in my drink, but that was not a concern it turned out. The machine rinses itself out so you just get your drinks flavour and no one elses. I also loved the robot aspect to the drink being made. Fun!

So while I am no longer able to indulge in this fun treat, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t…even if I hear winter is fast approaching in Edmonton.

Food: Edmonton18 Jul 2010 10:51 pm

It is not often I dedicate a post to a single food item, but due to time constraints and overall fabulousity of this item, it must be done.

On Friday night I buzzed down to Elm Cafe to get a latte at a late hour. Nate mentioned he was whipping up 20 (and only 20) chicken and waffle sandwiches the next day – Saturday morning. The waffles were from Eva Sweet, the food truck darling here in Edmonton and the chicken from Four Whistle farm, lovingly braised and tenderized by Nate. I knew I had to get one. (or two!)

Saturday morning I waited until he tweeted that the sandwiches were ready and nearly ran down. It had really only been about 2 minutes since he tweeted, but already people were filling up Elm Cafe to get a bite of the action. It proved to be a very popular item – Elm sold out of the sandwich in just over an hour.

It was pretty fantastic, I have to say. The outside was crispy and carmelized with syrup, butter and chicken renderings. Inside, the savoury chicken offset the sweetness. I kind of wished the sandwich was a bit juicier – perhaps the addition of some more syrup at home would have remedied this. Nate also forgot to put the argula in our ‘wichs, but I don’t think it was a great loss.

It was a fantastic decadent treat, and I felt very privileged to be able to eat one. Limited edition food is the future!

Food: Edmonton and Food: Home Cookin'13 Jul 2010 07:34 pm

Friend and former chef Connor graced Mike and I with his presence for a few days in Edmonton before continuing onto his new home, Berlin. We decided to indulge our love of great burgers and make some from scratch.

It was my first weekend off of work where I did not have anything else to do: no packing, no wedding crap, no appointments of any kind, so I spent some time at the City Center farmer’s market that Saturday. There, I picked up some peahen, goose and duck eggs from Greens, Eggs and Ham, asparagus from Edgar Farms, tomatoes from Gull Valley and morels from Mo-Na foods. To round out the menu, buns from Cobs, strip loin from Save On and beer from Sherbrooke Liquor store.

I may bitch about this city, but I am going to miss Edmonton and the local suppliers I’ve grown to take for granted.

Sauteeing the Mo-Na morels

Greens, Eggs and Ham goose and peahen eggs. Duck and turkey eggs are also quite good.

Edgar Farms asparagus ready for grilling

I am not really a Rubbermaid fan, but I do use two items from their catalogue frequently: bowls with snap down lids and the burger press. They’re great at shaping perfect burgers. We ground up the strip loin and it made the most exquisitely rich and meaty patties.

All meat, no fillers, save for some onion and seasonings.

Connor can simply touch a piece of meat and know when it’s done, so we put him in charge of the grilling, which was done at my parent’s place.

Loading up the burgers with fixings; home made mayo, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, Fallot mustard … perfect burgers, if you ask me.

Hopefully we’ll get to do this one more time before hitting Okinawa.

Food and Food: Edmonton14 Jun 2010 12:48 pm

One of the most difficult things for me to get over about moving away is that our neighbourhood is full of great food that surrounds us in a one block radius. With 45 seconds of walking I can have anything I want for dinner, ranging from Middle Eastern delights at La Shish, gelato and med bread on the sunny patio at Famoso, wings and beer at On the Rocks and deep dish pizza at Rosebowl.

There’s a new kid on the block though, and they are ready to play. Elm Cafe had a soft open today, offering up coffees, some sandwiches and muffins (breakfast, cold and hot.)

How lucky for me I had to visit the post office today, and “had” to stop in at Elm Cafe on the way back. It’s a place you may not immediately notice on your first drive by unless you live in the neighbourhood and notice things like these, but I predict the clean store front with vinyl decals will become a lunch landmark soon.

It’s a small place, but that shouldn’t put you or anyone off, despite the obvious problem I can see with people eventually lining up out the door and down the street for a fresh healthy sandwich. It’s a well oiled machine, even on their first day of operation at high noon – a giveaway that chef and proprietor Nate Box knows what he’s doing, so you won’t wait long.

Nate pulls an espresso

Nate looked for a space suitable for his endeavour for some time, and decided that the size of the space would not put him off. He’s doing a great thing; adding to the community and making great product out of a tiny spot. I can relate as a five foot tall woman – great things come in small packages!

There are beautiful photos depicting lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) on the walls, and a small bar to drink your coffee at. Things did get a bit hectic with people coming in to share their well wishes and order food, but groups came and went quite quickly. I did spy Giselle Beggs from Duchess Bakeshop and Shelly Solarz of Parlour Magazine checking out the place.

Menu for Elm Cafe, featuring light fare meant to take away.

The space is this: a long serving bar on the west side of the room and …

… a seating bar on the east side of the room. It was pretty busy as you can see.

Elm Cafe’s sandwiches were on a slightly chewy roll, wrapped up in paper for easy transport back to the office, or park or home…wherever you want to eat them.

I got a hot sandwich, the chick pea veggie one with olives, a host of herbs and lots of olive oil. I also got a cold chicken salad with creamy mayo, grapes, crunchy radish and apples nestled up against chunks of tender chicken. The bread was really incredible; I want to know the source!

Mike insisted we split and I’m glad we did because even after eating both, I still can’t decide what my favourite was. You could taste the care in these ‘wiches. They’re called “craft sandwiches” on the website, and the name is suitable.

Mediterranean sandwich

At $8 a pop, the sandwiches are well priced considering the work that goes into them. If you want to spend less, Subway is just around the corner so you’re welcome to go eat some trash for lunch. I’m sticking to Elm Cafe. I can’t wait to try the soups.

Welcome to the neighbourhood, guys!

Elm Cafe
#100, 10140 – 117 Street
(kitty corner from Rosebowl, below Stratica Pharmacy)
Edmonton, Alberta

Mon, Tues, Wed 7-5
Thurs, Fri 7-7
Sat 8-4
Sunday closed

Food: Edmonton30 Apr 2010 06:07 pm

In recent years, the area around the University has exploded with dining options. I remember when it seemed there was just crappy chinese at Ho Ho’s in HUB, Earl’s (too rich for my student blood), Great Canadian Bagel, Gaya Korean, Sugarbowl (a bit too far) and Wendy’s to pick from. I used to do all night study sessions during spring exam season and would walk over to Wendy’s at midnight to grab some chili, lamenting there weren’t better selections in the area.

Well, there are now a multitude of choices including, but not limited to: Hudson’s, Sobey’s, Good Earth Cafe, Burrito Libre, and one of the newest members of the team – Rodeo Burgers. I stopped in on a weeknight to grab some burgers, and was pleasantly surprised with my burger.

It’s the mama burger joint, with the daddy burger being Hudson’s (prices at $11-20 a burger) and the baby being Wendy’s ($1.29-5 burgers), which are nearby. Prices at Rodeo Burgers run the $5-9 range, and they are also licensed, so they are a good midway between the two other joints.

It’s a nice place, renovated from the Chinese restaurant that used to be there and next to a Burrito Libre location. It was a bit reminiscent of a Chipotle restaurant, with wood floors and steel tables as the main features. The tables looked a lot like the ones from Grandma D’s BBQ (R.I.P) in the west end, actually.

They primarily offer lunch and dinner, but did have a large “coming soon” sticker over a breakfast section on their menu.

Rodeo Burgers makes a lot of claims. I’m happy to say they came through on many of these.

The restaurant offers a plethora of toppings including a few kinds of ketchup, raw and caramelized onions, bacon, fresh relish and even some odder things like jalapenos in cream cheese and guacamole. It’s hard to tell if their housemade claims are true on items like ketchup and sauces, but the fresh relish was definitely legit, so one would assume they have no reason to cover up.

I found the fries a bit pricey (in the New York Fries price territory at $4-5) but they looked substantial and fresh cut, as they say. I’ll have to try them next visit.

I got Mike the namesake Rodeo burger, and I got a modified Lonestar burger with spicy jalapenos in cream cheese. The ingredients were indeed fresh and delicious. The lettuce crunched instead of being limp in your mouth, and there were a lot of other toppings going on as well.

The bun was fresh, which makes a huge difference.

I suppose my only complaint would be that the patty itself wasn’t that substantial. It’s not necessary a problem, as you can upgrade to two patties easily, but it’s just something to be aware of. Hudson’s Burgers are meaty and big;  it is where I go when I need a BURGER. Wendy’s on the other hand is more of a light snack, for I often get the junior burgers. Again, Rodeo Burgers falls in the middle, with a thin style patty, but a lot of toppings. I feel that the toppings really shine, but almost overpower the meatiness.

I would return, especially for a quick casual bite for when I don’t want to spend an hour eating at Hudson’s.

Also, here’s a bonus. Mike does pottery at a studio just off Whyte Avenue. Next door, a space has been renovated to become this, what appears to be an Indian restaurant (possibly banquet hall?) called Narayanni’s. It is a block south of Whyte Avenue at 101 Street and 81 Avenue.


Rodeo Burgers
8525B 112 Street (across from the University Hospital)

website not working yet:

(coming soon)
101 Street and 81 Avenue

Food: Edmonton16 Mar 2010 11:02 am

You can tell it’s been a while since I have had enough free time just to tool around the city, since I’ve been so oblivious to openings and closings!

Kabuki has opened at what is shaping up to be a very busy food corner near the Garneau Theatre at 109 Street and 87-88 Avenue. In an area already home to a Japanese restaurant (Kyoto), there is also an Italian restaurant (Fiore), Dominos Pizza, Phobulous Vietnamese Soup, Remedy Cafe, DaCapo Caffe, Sugarbowl, High Level Diner and now Kabuki. Soon to come: Transcend Coffee and Whimsical (Cup)Cake Studio. And that’s not even counting even more restaurants not even a block south. Remember the days when Keegan’s 24 hour cafe anchored that strip mall on 109 Street? Yikes!

While at West Edmonton Mall yesterday, I already had a hot cuppa from Starbucks when I saw a new tea studio opened, overlooking the Santa Maria boat. David’s Tea is a Canadian chain with 11 locations that started in Montreal, and is a tea bar. I was intrigued by their “tea martini” but they also offer plain cups of tea, and many retail items, including tea related gifts and loose leaf tea. It kind of reminded me of Teavana in the U.S.

Finally, the tarp seems to be down at Parkallen Restaurant, but renovations continue. Their sign (but not their website) says they are still open limited hours for takeout during their renovations. Good news for my coworker who loves their pizza.

I’ve sent my camera away with Mike who is on a backcountry ski trip, so I apologize for the dearth of photos.

Food: Edmonton15 Mar 2010 10:33 am

I am hoping it has moved but it would seem that vegan restaurant Way of Life/Mode de Vie has closed here in Edmonton.

The house it occupied at the corner of 116 Street and 102 Avenue will soon be filled by an Indian restaurant creatively named Bistro India according to the sign outside. It joins Zaika Bistro & Bar and Karma – The Indian Bistro as Indian restaurants in the city using the “bistro” term.

I hope what it lacks in nomenclature originality it makes up for in quality food, since it is just a few blocks from where I live.

Food: Edmonton15 Feb 2010 12:28 pm

Evan, a friend, has been really hot for Korean food lately. He came back a while ago from a year abroad of working in the Philippines, and ate Korean food there a lot. He’d heard good things about B-Bim-Baab, so we trucked over to check it out.

The eatery has lived in Edmonton for more than 30 years but was rechristened as B-Bim-Baab a few years ago. The decor has not changed, though. Let me tell you, this place is OLD. SCHOOL.

The scent of WD-40 or very strong cleaning products hung in the air when we entered, and it was kind of off-putting. Dark wood encased enclaves servings as booths reminded me of an old school steakhouse. It’s kind of purpose serving though; I’m sure the nearby industrial businesses that supply the lunch crowd don’t care about decor on their quick visits.

We started with some seasonal appetizers; peanuts in soy and pickled radishes alongside traditional sesame dressed bean sprout salad and kimchi. The two spicy pickled dishes had a real kick to them, so I metered small bites of them with the light bean sprout salad and the curiously chewy peanuts I could not get enough of.

We all got a dish and shared. The servings were generous, but we all left just full enough with no leftovers. Mike got spicy beef bul-gol-gi and Evan a spicy tofu and beef soup that I think was called yuk gae jang. I found both of these dishes a bit spicy for my liking, but I cooled my mouth with my dish.

I got the dolsot b-bim-baab, a mixed rice dish also known as bibimbap. The dolsot means “hot pot” which refers to the stone cauldron the dish comes in.

The waitress brought it over and asked if I wanted it mixed for me. I nodded yes, and after a generous squirt of hot sauce, she started mixing. The raw egg sitting on top cooked as it hit the side of the bowl, mixing with rice, bean sprouts, green onion, carrot and beef. As the dish sits, it keeps the contents hot and crisps up the rice so it gets crunchy.

Mike said he was happy to have an alternative spicy food to Indian or Thai when he was craving the hot stuff, and I have to agree.

There aren’t very many options for Korean cuisine in Edmonton, but I’m glad to say that B-Bim-Baab seems to be a good choice…even if I did get a case of MSG dry mouth after. Sigh.

9543 42 Ave
Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm
Sat noon-10pm
Buffet at lunch 11:30-2pm, Mondays through Friday.

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