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Lexington

Blogger Dinner Party

Hey, y’all!

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a Blogger Dinner Party hosted by my friend Marie of Backroad Bluegrass Blog.

Blogging is fantastic — it allows us to connect with like-minded individuals. People that share our same interests, passions, and concerns. People that are equally as quirky, eccentric, and adventurous. While that is great, it’s even better when we get to get together IRL (am I right, y’all?). The Internet is fun, but it never parallels real, face-to-face experiences.

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The other attendees were Nicole of Share Lex KY, Reagan of Food Is My Thang , Karrie of Muse Marketing, and Brooks!

Marie was a gracious host – however, knowing her, I expected no less. She is a true Kentucky Woman!

The theme of the evening was locality in Kentucky — we dined using all local ingredients and dished about life in true blogger fashion! Everyone at the table, in their own way, uses their platform to better local business in Kentucky. It was a very powerful feeling to all come together — the symbiosis was palpable, y’all.

Though this was a March dinner party, it still snowed. If you know anything about Kentucky weather, you know that it is wildly unpredictable. One moment it is 60 degrees and sunny, the next it is sleeting. You get used to it – and a little bit of winter weather wasn’t keeping me from this event (I was the only Louisvillian).

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The ambiance of the evening was set by the aroma of Wixology candles, which are local to the Commonwealth; inspired by Kentucky bourbon-based cocktails, the scents are sure to please. From there, the pre-party included cheeses from Boone Creek Creamery, wine from Harkness Edwards Vineyards (out of customized, etched glasses via Forever Lasered Memories, no less!), and dipping oils from Stuarto’s.

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The main course? Fabulous pasta from Lexington Pasta, of course! As a group, we prepared the Caprese Gnocchi + the Four-Cheese Ravioli. They were both Write Your MeeMaw good!

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The pasta was finished by Triple J Farm; their pasta sauce + Italian sausage were both finger-lickin’ good.

Last, but in no shape, form, or fashion, least — dessert from Martine’s Pastries! Five words: Pistachio Cake, French Buttercream Icing. Need I say more?

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A special thank you Karrie of Muse Marketing for the photography. Also, shoutout to all of our sponsors for the fabulous goodies + to Marie and Brooks for being fabulous, gracious hosts.

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I am better because I know these people!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is not a commissioned post; all opinions are my own.

 

The Southland Neighborhood, Lexington, KY Experience

Hey, y’all!

I recently visited my friends at Visit Lex to check out all that the Southland Neighborhood has to offer. This was a region of Lexington that I was not very familiar with; thus, it was truly an honor and a privilege to dive head-first into the culture.

About Southland:

Largely a residential section of the city, Southland boasts a charm and a devotion that is unique to areas of its nature. The restaurants were full of locals. That, to me, says it all; when in Southland, you are having a truly authentic Lexington experience.

Now, the best part — the food!

Winchell’s

348 Southland Dr., Lexington, KY 40503

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Winchell’s is, without question, an icon of the neighborhood. Having been a part of the Southland community for over 25 years, they have proven to be a casual go-to for Lexingtonians. From grabbing a drink, to boasting well-rounded breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, you should not – if seeking an authentic experience in Fayette County – miss Winchell’s.

Also, biscuits and gravy.

Enough said.

Those are the three words to this country boy’s heart. Winchell’s gravy is smack-your-MeeMaw good – savory, heavy, and beyond flavorful. It’s that old-fashioned gravy that you grew up on – and it doesn’t get much better than that.

Also, might I add: the jalapeño cheese grits are everything that I’ve ever wanted and more.

The Ketch Seafood Grill

2012 Regency Rd., Lexington, KY 40503

Much like Winchell’s, I very much noticed the local devotion to the Ketch when dining. Many of the diners were regulars – that was clear. Conversations were shared between the staff and the patrons; they seemed as if they were friends. In fact, I have no doubt that they were. That is an accolade that cannot and will not, in my book, be overvalued.

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Plus, anywhere that puts Old Bay on their fries is a place for me.

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Willie’s Locally Known

286 Southland Dr., Lexington, KY 40503

*Edited (November 25th, 2018): Willie’s has, unfortunately, closed. I am proud to have dined there!

Willie’s served up some of my favorite food of the day. I have three words for you: pork belly tacos. Enough said, am I right?

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Apart from the trio of tacos that I tasted, The Original Willy’s Pork Burger was a standout. Featuring a pork and beef blend, it boasts a house seasoning, smoked cheddar, pickled onions, house-made pickles, and a Carolina Mustard Sauce. Sound familiar? You’ve likely seen it on the Food Network’s Burgers, Brew, & ‘Que!

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Pietana

210 Rosemont Garden, Lexington, KY 40503

Proudly claiming themselves as Southland’s hole-in-the-wall pizza joint, Pietana is just that. I found the space to be aesthetically pleasing, modern, yet cozy – a balance that is not the easiest to obtain. They use fresh, local ingredients: West 6th’s Amber Ale goes in the dough, the brisket is from the Blue Door, the sausage is from Marksbury Farm (one of my favorites), several meats are from Critchfield, and Winchell’s sausage gravy makes an appearance on the breakfast pizza pies.

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I chose to special order a pizza with prosciutto and arugula. Two thumbs up — a solid choice. The pairing of the two + Pietana’s great base ingredients = magic.

Marikka’s Bier Stube

411 Southland Dr, Lexington, KY 40503

If you ask a Lexingtonian about the institutions that they have great memories connected to, chances are you will commonly hear “Marikkas”.

Marikkas first opened in 1991; given the popularity and size of the original location, the owners knew that they had to expand. The new location is here and it is quite the sight for the eyes! Approximately 22,000 sq. ft., Marikkas has six volleyball courts, a 10,000 sq. ft beer hall, Kentucky’s largest beer selection, a restaurant, and a private party space.

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As one of the region’s only German eateries, Marikkas proudly serves native delicacies such as homemade sausages, wursts, wienerschnitzel, and more. Whether you are venturing into Marikkas to socialize with friends over drinks, spike on your opponent, or to satiate your appetite, take it from me – you won’t regret your visit!

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I cannot thank my friends at Visit Lex enough for this fabulous day. If you haven’t explored the culinary scene in Lexington’s Southland Neighborhood, what are you waiting for? Adventure awaits!

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As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; all opinions, however, are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

A Day At The Races: Keeneland x JCP Eats

Hey, y’all!

Yesterday was a dream come true for me – I got to collaborate with my friends at Keeneland! Founded in 1936, Keeneland’s mission is to continually invest in the industry and to preserve the tradition of Thoroughbred racing. To merely say that they have accomplished this would be gross understatement; they are a world-renowned racecourse – a fact that we, as Kentuckians, should be immensely proud of.

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In all honesty, I cannot remember a time that Keeneland has not been a part of my life. From the sale, to the spring and fall meets, it has always been my biggest pull to the City of Lexington – the Horse Capital of the World.

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If you know anything about Kentucky culture, you know that we are a little obsessed with horse racing. I think it’s a gene and I’d happily be involved in that science experiment. However, Keeneland is not just about horse racing. It’s a celebration of our state. It’s a time where we come together, as a group, to celebrate what we hold dear: our traditions, our food, and our relationships. The only added bonus is if you win a little money while you’re at it!

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This trip to the track was extra special because I got to share a box with my cousin Dana, my best friend. She had never experienced Keeneland before and I am so thankful that I got to be with her during for her first experience. The first time you go, in my opinion, is a memory that will not be forgotten. However, there is fun to be had if you go every day of a meet!

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If you know anything about me, you know that I love the classics. While I love the culinary arts, there are times when simplicity trumps all. What does that have to do with Keeneland? My favorite thing to get at the track is one (or two!) of their hotdogs. I’ve done it for years and will continue to do so!

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One of my favorite things about the grounds at the track are the Rolex clocks. No joke, y’all – how fabulous are these?

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While all of the meets at Keeneland are special, my favorite is the fall meet. The temps are cooler and the colors are just stunning. There’s something about fall – I can’t put my finger on it, but I adore it.

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Last but not least, one of my favorite adult traditions at the track is to have a Peach Bellini at the Moët & Chandon stand. So, so good – always!

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Thank you to my friends at Keeneland for having me; the horses ran hard, the laughs were boisterous, the food was delicious, the drinks were strong, and a good time was had by all.

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Be sure to head to the track today (Friday, Oct 26) or tomorrow (Sat, Oct 27) for the last two days of the fall meet! Tell ’em that I sent ya!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a sponsored post; all opinions, however, are my own.

A&W: Burgers, Chicken, & Floats

Hey, y’all!

I am so excited to be bringing you the second part of my series with A&W — the food!

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If you know me, you know that I love comfort food. To me, that largely involves burgers. There’s nothing better, if the craving hits, in my book. A&W Burgers, Chicken, & Floats delivered on that end… and so much more.

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Their burgers feature diner-style patties, which are my favorite! Thin, crispy, and simply divine!

While there are the classic A&W restaurant locations, if you are in the Lexington, KY area you have another concept to choose from: A&W Burgers, Chicken, Floats. Conveniently located in three area locations (Main Street, Hamburg, and Leestown Road), this is the quick spot for a delicious meal, a family outing, or to fulfill that unwavering craving.

I was lucky enough to sample a large portion of the menu. To understate: I had my fill, y’all!

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Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders, Corn Dog Nuggets, fries, onion rings, oh my!

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Cheese curds, y’all. One of the highlights of the menu. The classic variety is delicious – however, if you like a little kick and extra flavor, be sure to try the Sriracha curds!

Trust me — they are iconic.

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Solution to many of life’s issues: put cheese on it. It’ll be better.

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Also, you can’t miss out on the classic root beer float while you’re there! They take them seriously – so much so that they decided to make their own holiday surrounding them. How legendary is that?

On August 6th, A&W celebrates National Root Beer Float Day! The best part? Patrons get a free float and the day supports the DAV (Disabled American Veterans). Donations are gathered all day for the worthy charity, which deserves snaps from all of us. I love companies that have big hearts & a philanthropic reach!

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One of my favorite menu items = the chicken sliders. I often like to order multiple things across a menu; thus, a slider is the perfect size to accompany other items! You can order the sliders with either grilled or fried chicken, which I also appreciated! Naturally I got both…

The next time you are needing a quick meal in Lexington, be sure to check them out – and tell ’em that I sent ya!

As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post; however, all opinions are my own.

 

A&W Headquarters, Test Kitchen, and Product Taste Tasting

Hey, y’all!

Last week I had the immense privilege of working with the marketing team at A&W Headquarters in Lexington, KY.

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This was an iconic collaboration for a lot of reasons. Most that know me are aware of the fact that I am inseparably close with my grandmother. Growing up in the country, storytelling is truly an art form. Many of my favorite memories involve sitting on the back porch, drinking sweet tea, watching hummingbirds, and hearing about simpler times. Jude has often told me about one of the greatest treats of her childhood — traveling from Russell County to Somerset for an A&W Root Beer Float. This was reserved only for special occasions in her youth. How special – and full circle – is it that her grandson got to partner with the company around 60 years later?

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Did you know that A&W is the oldest franchised restaurant in America? Founded in 1919,  it all started with a root beer stand in Lodi, California. The team at A&W is gearing up for their centennial celebration – I can’t wait to see all that they do!

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While they are known for their iconic root beer floats (and rightfully so!), they are just as well-known for their delicious food.

Did you know that Dale Mulder of A&W invented the bacon cheeseburger in 1963? I owe so much to this invention — thank you, Dale & A&W, for changing my life for the better (ha!). In all seriousness, stay tuned for more about their food… you won’t want to miss that post!

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I fell in love with this vintage jukebox! 

After touring the offices, I headed downstairs to the product test kitchen. The morning was focused around desserts — how legendary!

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I won’t say what I specifically tasted for privacy reasons, but let me tell you — you definitely want to try the desserts on the menu and you want to watch out for future releases. I’m drooling at the memory…

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After a morning of tasting, we headed to one of their Lexington restaurant locations.

But, more on that soon…

As always, Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a commissioned post. Thank you to the marketing team at A&W, Spencer and Liz, for having me. However, all opinions are my own.

The Barn at The Summit at Fritz Farm

Hey, y’all!

I was recently invited to spend an afternoon at The Barn in Lexington, KY. What is The Barn? To quote their website, “The Barn is Kentucky’s first and finest artisan food hall—bringing the best of Lexington’s culinary scene to the heart of The Summit at Fritz Farm. An all-local, all-independent lineup of restaurateurs comprise a new food destination for the city, with craft ice cream, pasture-raised fried chicken, Greek street food, Japanese ramen, and more. The Barn is where locals can hang and out-of-towners can experience authentic Lexington.”

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Conveniently located at the Summit at Fritz Farm, the Barn is a one-stop shop (or chow!) for your Kentucky palate. While you’re there, be sure to stop and shop at the Kentucky for Kentucky store, too – it’ll be a good break while you contemplate your next food move of the day!

Now, to what I tried – the best part!

Smithtown Seafood:

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Traditional Fish ‘N Chips Platter (love, love, love the West Sixth beer batter!)

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Singapore Salad

Atomic Ramen:

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Athenian Grill:

9affc40f-2e38-4a23-8394-d8c2cd4a9954Gyro (with amazing tzatziki)

f7aa4342-daed-4317-9b8e-3b607902754cTo be honest, I’m still drooling over this combo plate.

La Petite Crêperie:

e229a65d-96c0-41b2-80b1-d9bc64750f31Breakfast crêpe, topped with an egg.

Pasture by Marksbury Farm:

13f4c289-0e98-4051-ad3c-c8bf016e09ecChorizo burger + fried pickles.

cc85c205-6c1a-4c66-890a-f438573c146aBeer cheese fries + pulled chicken.

Crank and Boom Craft Ice Cream:

a3e08a97-e570-44a1-a54a-f40034a29aefS’mores Sundae – need I say more?

Whiskey Bear:

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Both cocktails were amazing! My favorite was the Bear Necessities (pictured above). I love that there is a beautiful cocktail bar in The Barn — there’s something to pair with each of the other eateries. Iconic.

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The next time you are in Lexington, this is a must-stop! A new concept to Kentucky, I truly feel that it was a needed addition. It’s perfect for group gatherings because there is a dish (or a restaurant) for everyone. Genius, if you ask me.

As always, Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JC

FTC: This is a sponsored post; however, all opinions are my own.

Commonwealth Collaborations | Corto Lima

Happy Monday, y’all!

I am writing today to tell you about the hotspot to dine in Lexington (or Kentucky for that matter): Corto Lima. The name is derived from the location of the restaurant in Spanish – it is on the corner of Short (Corto) and North Limestone (Lima). While it is a small restaurant, it brings unparalleled food to the Kentucky food scene.

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The masterminds behind the project? Chef/Owner Jonathan Lundy (former owner of Jonathan at Gratz Park and a James Beard Award Semi-Finalist for Best Chef in the Southeast) and Owner/Director of Operations TJ Cox. I had the pleasure of tasting ten – yes, ten – menu items with my dear friend Shelby and Brie Lowry, Director of Marketing and Events at Corto Lima.

At its core, Corto Lima is a small plate and tapas restaurant; however, there are larger menu items and I found the offerings to be great for sharing. The Latin American cuisine offerings draw inspiration from all over the Spanish-speaking world, ranging from Mexico to South America. Many courses are served in beautiful wood pieces that were custom-made; furthermore, the decor – from the bohemian and Aztec pillows, to the assortment of cacti, to the beautiful wall mural – was straight out of a magazine.

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Corto Lima is known for their wide-ranging menu, amazing cocktails (most notably their margaritas – be sure to try it with Prickly Pear!), house-made sauces, and friendliness to all diners: meat-eaters, vegetarians, and those requiring gluten-free options.

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Back to the cocktails. They were OUT OF THIS WORLD. If a small restaurant makes 300 margaritas/day… while hand-pressing each and every lime… they are clearly doing something right! I tried three of the offerings. The Margarita de Casa features Sauza Blue Reposado Tequila, Lime, and Agave (again, with the option to add Prickly Pear). The Mezcal Margarita (wow!) boasts Vida Mezcal, Lime, Agave, and Charred Jalapeño. The Hemmingway is composed of Cruzan Light Rum, Lime, Grapefruit, and Luxardo Maraschinos. All three were show-stoppers!

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Let’s get to my favorite part – the food. The glorious, mouthwatering, life-changing food.

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Queso Blanco – warm cheese dip with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and the option to add chorizo.

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Blue Corn empanadas – Chilean rock crab, green chilies, cream cheese, served with a pineapple-banana pepper hot sauce.

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Cauliflower “Al Pastor” – achiote-sour orange marinated cauliflower, pineapple, onions, cilantro, and coconut-cashew crema.

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The best guacamole in Kentucky – avocado, roasted garlic, red onion, tomatoes, and barrel smoked salt.

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Huitlacoche Quesadillas – corn truffles, epazote, onions, jalapeños, Oaxacan cheese.

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My favorite dish: Chicken Chicharron – fried chicken thighs, crispy chicken skins, chili escabeche, cilantro, lime.

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Tamales – freshly-ground masa stuffed with barrel-smoked pork, served with salsa verde.

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Barrel-Smoked Pork Tacos (the best I’ve ever had – pulled pork, honey-jalapeño salsa, queso fresco), Steak Rajas de Poblano Tacos (grilled beef, pico de gallo, fire-roasted poblano chilies), and Quinoa Chaufa (stir fried vegetables with quinoa, eggs, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and the option to add chicken/shrimp).

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Quinoa Croqueta Ensalada – quinoa croquettes with mixed greens, snow peas, green onions, carrots, tomatoes, and a creamy coconut-cashew dressing.

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Steak Rajas de Poblano Tacos (described above).

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Quinoa Chaufa (described above).

The food? Delicious! The company? Top-notch. The atmosphere? Unparalleled in Kentucky. Missing the opportunity to dine here as soon as possible (and as often as possible)? A deep, grave error – one that you will regret.

To the staff of Corto Lima, thank you for hosting me for a fantastic afternoon! Cheers (which reminds me – I need another Mexcal…)!

You can visit Corto Lima at 101 W. Short St in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit their Website, follow them on Instagram, and like them on Facebook. Tell them that I sent ya!

As always, Happy Eating!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

My best,

JCP

FTC: I was compensated for this post. I, at times, am fortunate enough to receive accommodations in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

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