Vegetarian Sausage Satay

Wait a bit ? Did you read that right? Absolutely yes ! Vegetarian Sausages are exactly what I have used in this fab recipe sent by my sister who turned vegetarian a few years ago. She doesn’t even consume eggs.  I am far from becoming a vegetarian but love to experiment with lighter options and so was delighted to receive some samples from  Secret Sausages , which I had sampled first  at FBC 2014 a few months ago and  I recollect  really liking  the the flavours.

I was sent 3 different flavours to experiment with:

  • Rosemary & Garlic – Garlic , Green Beans,Mixed Peppers and Rosemary
  • Honey Bee – Sweet Corn , carrots, peas and honey
  • Chilli and Coriander – Chillies , coriander , onion , sweet corn and carrots

 

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This recipe can be used with the sausages chopped and served as a starter or else as a main with sides like potato or sweet potato mash and green peas .

Serves: 2 as a main with a side of mash and peas

Ingredients  – enough for 2 packets with 6 sausages each

  • groundnut powder – 5 heaped tbsp
  • Garlic purée
  • Green Chillies – 3
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander or one large packet from the supermarket
  • Oil 3 tbsp
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Red onions – 2 large
  • Tomato – 1 medium sized

 

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Method 

  • In a dry sauce on a low flame heat 1 tbsp oil and add the chopped green chillies and garlic purée.
  • Then add the  the groundnuts powder and roast this mixture for about 2 minutes , stirring continuously ensuring it does not burn.
  • Turn off the flame and add freshly ,finely chopped coriander leaves, salt , sugar and lemon juice.

 

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  • Allow this mixture to cool down and then coat the sausage with skin with the mixture thoroughly.

 

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  • Refrigerate the marinated sausages for an hour.
  • Before you remove the marinated sausages from the refrigerator make the onion and tomato mixture.
  • Chop the onion into long thinstrips.
  • Heat 2 heaped tbsp oil in the same saucepan and sauté till they caramelise.
  • Add the chopped tomato and sauté for another minute.
  • Then remove the marinated sausages from the refrigerator and saute on a griddle pan with very little oil sprinkled onto it.

 

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  • Mix the sausages  in the onion – tomato mixture.
  • Serve with mashed potatoes and green peas as sides.

 

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Why not try my recipe for a fabulous Meatless Monday meal ?

*With  thanks to Secret Sausages  for the samples. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

London’s Hottest Food Trends with Loyd Grossman

Excited to know that I would be introduced to Londons Hottest food trends at an ”Evening of flavour” I made my way to the Underground Cookery School –  @cookinglesson . I love going to events hosted at this venue and I seem to have developed a great comfort level with the warm staff who always make our evenings special.

 

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The mention of Loyd Grossman sauces – @LoydFood #GetFlavour- brings to mind their telly ad showing  the man himself as a young boy keen savouring food seasoned with sauces made by him and that always comes back to when I see the bottles on supermarket shelves, as it did when I saw a huge table full of various jars and sachets of  their cooking sauces .

Cru Coffee aka Cru Kafe –   @crukafe , helped set the mood for the evening with their rather nice looking coffee based cocktails and many of the bloggers even tried their hand at mixing some of the cocktails , but I was already under the grips of a massive hay fever attack around that time and steered clear of the cocktail counter, although I must admit it took all of me to not steal a sip or two off my friends glass – darned Hayfever …. few months of sunshine with an opportunity to drink cold beer and eat plenty of ice cream and this mad Hayfever keeps me away from all of it …

Predicting food trends is probably as or even more difficult than predicting who stocks will rise or fall in the stock market ,but The Food People  – @thefoodpeople  – seem to have it all figured out and they shared some of their research with us foodies that evening.Their research also takes into consideration what the twitterati and food bloggers talk about,and is an indication of the future of food blogging in a way me thinks..

A staggering 37000 food outlets cater to London’s hungry tummies alone, which is quite a number,one that makes one wonder what tricks one would need to have up their sleeves in order to survive and stand out from the crowd?! So what exactly are the Hottest Food Trends that will dominate  London city ,and rule the cities taste buds?

The folks at The Food People shared  :

  • Burgers ,fries and all things American are here to stay including the rather fantastic cronut! ( Cronuts,Duffins and now Crodough – what WILL people come up with next ?!) (I had a huge craving for sinking my teeth into a juicy burger with smoky crispy bacon yesterday and I did just that by cajoling my colleagues – they didn’t need much coaxing really ,  to go to our fav high street burger haunt – I guess that says a lot about how trends affect our choices huh? )
  • The magic of Mediterranean cuisine is not going to fade anytime soon, so lovers of Greek and Lebanese food – rejoice!
  • Mash – ups ( think ”Ramen burgers” (!!) and ”Nacho lasagne” ) are hot right now too, classic meets new age mantra in a savoury war with gastronomically pleasing results – who can complain?

Top Trending styles are :

  • Small plate or tapas style dining with loads of opportunity to sample various dishes and have sharing platters doing the rounds. I can safely say I like the sound of this trend the most.( I spent yesterday evening at an authentic Spanish tapas bar and I can easily say that it is something I enjoyed thoroughly and my opinion is no way skewed by nature of having consumed over 6 glasses of the most delicious Sangria I’ve ever had!)
  • Meaty, smoky, spicy and moorish – no not the only BBQ  food just plain and simple ”Dude Food” has charmed not just the dudes !

The flavour trending  in 2014 is CHILLI – whether fiery or  sweet, Chilli that is the STAR of the trend wagon! Now that one made me smile! ( I love using chillies in my cooking, think it has to do with how we prepare and relish our food back in India ,where chilli powder has a place of prominence in our beautiful round spice boxes which are a must in every Indian kitchen. So enamoured am I that even though I have very less space in my kicthen the size of a postage stamp , I still went ahead and  purchased 2 small potted chilli plants one with bright yellow chillies and one with with deep aubergine coloured ones to keep on my kitchen window sill. They taste so good, promise to have them feature in my recipe posts soon! )

Future Trending cuisines are going to be Persian ( fresh,light and plenty of choice for vegetarians! ) , Israeli ( Lucky me I have an autographed copy of Ottolenghi’s book ,thanks to FBC this year!) and Greek ( Not the heavy ,oily stuff that been churned out but the beautiful,authentic flavours that feel like summer on your plate!)

 

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John Quilter also known as the ‘Food Busker’ – @JohnQuilter – then went on to cook some brilliant fusion food for us using Loyd Grossman cooking sauces , all the while entertaining us and telling us how he has added his own imaginative touch to all the dishes based on the food trends.This fusion of food and format came onto our plates as :

Lobster Thermidor with juicy ,buttery lobster in a cheesy pot with a small amount of samphire for that salty taste of the sea.

Korean Fried Chicken topped in a thin ,drippy batter infused with vodka which lends a fabulously crisp quality to the coating ,so unlike thick bulky batters that we see otherwise.These were topped with ribbons of crunchy spring onion which were dipped in ice cold water to give it a sharp crispy edge.These vanished off the plates as they were passed around , I lost count of how many wings I gobbled that evening ;)

 

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We also had Sashimi, Iberico Schnitzel and oxtail sliders. All finished by a show stopping Panacotta with just the right wobble beautiful vanilla specks all over with a side of peaches smothered in amaretto and a crumbly sprinkling of buttery crushed biscuits.

 

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So Londoners , those food trends should keep up in the know of how the food scene in our vibrant ,multi-cultural melting pot will be tickling our taste buds. Thanks to the ‘Food Busker’ we relished food that has yet to hit city restaurant menus created using the well researched and flavourful sauces from Loyd Grossman. So next time you are in a mood for a culinary adventure and shudder at the thought of cooking from scratch ,confidently reach out for a jar of one of these sauces knowing that it can create something as brilliant as the Korean Fried Chicken! ( Need an easy recipe to make some yourself this long weekend? Give me a shout in the comments below and will send you the recipe that was shared with us ,in a flash !)

Check out what Helen had to say about the event go here.

Disclaimer: With Thanks to Loyd Grossman Sauces for a fabulous ‘ evening of flavour’ with the Food Busker – John Quilter. Many thanks to Cru Coffee and the efficient team at Underground Cookery School.

 

Creamy Oatly Oat Cream Pasta with crunchy green Salad

I remember tasting Oatly for the first time at FBC earlier this year  ,it was a very pleasant taste,the chocolate one even better. All of us at Food Blogger connect this year got a generous bag of Oatly products to take home. The ‘milk’ went used up pretty quickly so I went and got us some more but the Organic Creamy Oat,basically a single cream, I was waiting to experiment with. Since the product is bursting with the goodness of all things organic and is dairy free I thought why not keep everything about this pasta gluten and dairy free . So I got some Lactofree mature cheddar cheese and also some pasta which is made from Italian rice and corn therefore making it dairy and gluten free. Oatly cream uses organic rapeseed oil so my cooking medium is …you guessed that right organic rapeseed oil! And since the cream also contains sea salt as one of the ingredients I have used my trusty smoked Maldon sea salt in here too :)

This pasta dish can’t get any better can it? Ok wait till you hear what OatLy Creamy Oat is all about…It’s made in Sweden using entirely organic ingredients. The fat content is absurdly low 3% over 9.6% in regular cream.Besides it tastes like cream made from cow’s milk and is packed with fibers.

Ingredients – For the pasta

  • Dairy and Gluten free fusilli Pasta 150 gm
  • Smoked Bacon 200gm
  • 1/2 of a 250 ml tetra pack OatLy cream
  • a bunch of spring onions
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic with their skins on
  • Fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs 1 each
  • a pinch red chilli flakes
  • Maldon sea salt to taste

 

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Method –  For the pasta

  • Boil the pasta in a saucepan with some rapeseed oil and allow it to cook completely.Sprinkle some sea salt into the water while it is boiling.
  • While the pasta is boiling get started with preparing the sauce. Chop the spring onion into bite size pieces.
  • In another saucepan add 1 tbsp olive oil and place on a medium heat ,when the oil is hot ,crush the garlic with the skin on and add into the hot oil.
  • Allow the garlic to brown and then add the spring onion, when the onion begins to change colour add the bacon pieces and reduce the flame.

 

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  • Let the bacon cook for about 5 minutes  till it turns crisp and yummy while stirring occasionally till ensuring it doesn’t get burnt.

 

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  •  Reduce the flame and then pour the Oatly oat cream into the bacon mixture and add a sprig each of thyme and rosemary.
  • Cover the sauce pan and allow to cook for about 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add freshly crushed black pepper and sea salt to taste and some chilli flakes.
  • In a plate add the cooked pasta after draining excess water and pour the bacon and cream mixture over the top.

The oat cream will give you a  thick creamy sauce and the smoked bacon adds deep,rich flavours to this pasta dish.Its great for those who are lactose intolerant or those simply looking for a switch .Add some grated lacto free cheese for a truly cheesy and deliciously satisfying pasta carbonara.I know this dish isn’t vegan because of the bacon so if you want to make a vegan version using smoked paprika breadcrumbs for the texture and smoky taste ,also to replace eggs and go vegan use  soft tofu puree . I have skipped using eggs and honestly I didn’t miss them at all in the sauce. So its not really a carbonara but yes it’s just as silky and creamy and smoky and yummalicious ! :)

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Ingredients – For the salad

  • 1 medium sized white onion
  • 8 juicy cherry tomatoes
  • 8 chestnut mushrooms
  • 1/2 a bag of crunchy mixed salad leaves
  • 8 stems of tender purple asparagus
  • 8 stems of tender purple broccoli
  • Cranberry flavoured vinegar
  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Maldon smoked sea salt to taste

Method –  For the salad

  • Chop the tender stem purple asparagus roughly into bite size pieces keeping the spear head intact , do the same with tender stem purple broccoli. I loved the colour so I picked purple, its absolutely fine to go with the regular green stuff but the colours in this finished salad are so vibrant! Set aside and move onto the mushrooms and onion now.
  • Chop the mushrooms into bite sized pieces ,then chop the onion in half and then slice it fine lengthwise
  • In a saucepan heat the olive oil.
  • Saute the garlic with skin on in the hot oil and when it turns brown add the mushrooms in .Let them cook for about 1/2 a  minute.
  •  Add the onion,asparagus and broccoli  into the saucepan and stir for about 1  minute on a low flame we don’t want the greens and the onion to cook and loose the crunch and bite , just give them a bit of flavour so they sit well with the leaves.
  • Take the saucepan off the bowl and allow to cool.

 

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  • In a salad bowl was and add the salad leaves , give them a good slosh of cranberry vinegar,sea salt and cracked black pepper and give them a good ol’ shake so that the vinegar coats the leaves well.
  • Place the green and onion over the salad leaves and throw in some juicy red cherry tomatoes on a vine or salad tomatoes into the salad. Give another sprinkling of Maldon sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • If you want to bulk up this salad add 2 boiled eggs halved on top and serve with a cheesy bread or focaccia as a side with a creamy mushroom or chicken soup for a wholesome but light and healthy meal option! Keep the bukled up version of this salad vegan , again by replacing boiled eggs with fresh large chunks of tofu.
  • This salad is bursting with goodness and packs in a great punch of flavour with the cranberry flavoured vinegar and the meaty mushrooms and crunchy tender stem asparagus  and broccoli feel so lush together when you bite into them ummmmm

 

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I am quite happy with the end result of this pasta and have another 250 ml tetra pack of Otaly CReamy Oat to experiment …wonder what will come out of that lovely little pack , now where is my thinking cap ?!

 

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Dead Easy Desserts – 30 minutes or less – August’2014

Hello Everyone! I know I have been MIA for a while but just been attacked by a terrible tummy bug amongst other things…

But am over that now and can’t wait to get back to sharing some great recipes .But before that I have some exciting news! I will be hosting Dead Easy Desserts for Sarah of Maison Cupcake for August .AND there is a theme this time around , yes a theme, ! Last month the theme was Raspberries .

To me nothing screams summer like Strawberries do right?So the theme for August 2014 is STRAWBERRY

So put on your thinking caps and get creative in the kitchen!

Errrm… just need to rattle off a few rules , don’t worry nothing scary just a few steps to bear in mind which will make life easier for all of us.

Dead Easy Desserts – 30 minutes or less – August 2014  – Theme Strawberries

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How to enter your blog post into Dead Easy Desserts:

  • Blog any dead easy dessert, pudding BASICALLY anything sweet , all you need to do is ensure it can be whisked up in well 30 minutes!
  • Dead Easy Desserts runs from 1st Aug  to 29th Aug with full round ups of all entrants who have mentioned the challenge in their published post.
  • Short cuts and cook ahead elements are actively encouraged i.e. using sauces, frozen fruit, left over bits and pieces as a component. So long as assembling/the bit where you actually cook it takes under 30 minutes that’s fine. Chilling/setting time need not be included within the 30 minutes.
  • Add the URL of your post to the linky below. This a blog hop so feel free to add the code to your own post so your readers can admire the entries received so far.
  • Please be mindful of copyright, we don’t mind if you’ve adapted something from elsewhere or you made it from scratch. But if you submit something found online or in a book, just tell us where you found it rather than tapping it all out in your post.
  • I don’t mind you submitting your entry elsewhere to other challenges but please be mindful of other events’ rules.
  • We will try to retweet any posts using #deadeasydesserts that @ mention @maisoncupcake and @manjirichitnis BOTH.

Thats all! There is a linky at the bottom of this post but if there is a gremlin in the system and you are not able to link ,please drop me an email with your entry at fruitsnveg@yahoo.com

Now that we have the nitty-gritty out of the way how about some inspiration ? Have a look at the yummy entries in last month Dead Easy Desserts on Sarah’s blog Maison Cupcake with the theme Raspberries ummmm don’t you just love the pop pink- red colour of those delicate summer berries just waiting to be eaten !

Dead Easy Desserts – 30 minutes or less – July 2014 Round Up – Theme Raspberries

Wonderful quick & easy French Summer Dessert :le vacherin glace’ by Croque Maman blog

 

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No Bake Raspberry Cheesecake mousse by Family Friends Food Blog

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Sweet Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Quickie Raspberry Chia Jam by TasteSpace blog

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Triple Berry Parfait with Cashew Cream by Style Nectar blog

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Lemon Bavarois with Raspberry Syrup by Style Nectar blog

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And last but not the least this No Churn dairy free vegan raspberry ice cream by Sarah of Maison Cupcakes who created the #deadeasydesserts challenge.

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Uni brings Nikkei Cuisine to Victoria

The largest Japanese settlement outside of Japan is in Peru and the unique fusion cuisine that is Japanese Peruvian is called Nikkei.Fiona invited me to accompany this time to discover Nikkei , she is an award-winning freelance writer and marketing consultant who currently writes about travel and London lifestyle for a number of publications and runs her own London lifestyle blog called London Unattached.

So it was a bright summer Monday afternoon that I trooped in Uni (the Japanese word for the sea urchin, a Japanese delicacy) restaurant and sushi bar designed by Andrew Martin, in Belgravia minutes away from the travel hub that is Victoria station.

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I was shown to a cosy table downstairs.

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For starters I got some steamed edamame with a spicy chilli and garlic sauce (£4.50) and some refreshing green tea served in a typical cast iron heavy pot which I would love to have as part of my growing food prop collection which now occupies every corner or of our tiny rental flat much to the chagrin of my hubby – I guess the last straw was trying to pass off a very heavy cast iron pot as a ‘place to keep his usb drives and wire hehehee

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I had happily managed to forget my phone at home and therefore Fiona tried in vain to inform me of her delayed train. Blissfully unaware of this I sipped my tea and munched my edamame all the time trying to ignore some stuffy banker type folks on the table next to me talking shop – how boring…

So when Fiona arrived she managed to move us to a bigger table away from the ‘big boy talk’ as she aptly called it and onto a table where I could dump my bags and lay my camera lens and other paraphernalia – I do not travel light …

To make life easier we chose to have bento boxes for our mains and mine came with the udon noodle and fish cake soup while Fiona had a light Miso soup. I was feeling ravenous by the time the soup arrived and devoured it in a flash! (£24.5 per bento box – comes with soups, salad, sushi, & maki, main dish, side, rice and dessert)

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Nabe Udon  – Noodle and Fishcake Soup with Prawn Tempura.

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Beautifully light Miso Soup

My Bento box had Kaiso Wakame  – seaweed salad ,prawn and carrot tempura, main of duck tataki – seared duck breast finely sliced and dressed with mirin and soy, fried rice and sashimi selection. The duck tataki was deliciously morish, I also loved the seaweed salad and the sticky fried rice with the sashimi was very filling.

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Fionas bento box came with steamed rice and anticucho sauce  black cod and was very appetising , to read in her own words read her review of our lunch at Uni here.

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We washed down our Bento lunch boxes with some chilled sake.

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The very polite manager came and urged us to experiment with some of the Nikkei range from the menu and we were served two stunning dishes.

Tiraditos of Yellowtail with kizami wasabi,Yuzu and fresh mint presented in a creative and stunning display, it was delightfully fresh, sharp in taste with a delicate balance of colour and flavour. (£15.5)

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Wildly beautiful looking salmon tartare tacos with cucumber,tomato,masago and creamy miso were crunchy and melt in your mouth creamy all at one once exploding with a light flavour in every bite – delicious! (£6)

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Stuffed to the gills now I had to walk around click a few pictures and allow for some space to be created in my tummy to fit in some dessert ;)

To my amusement the very attentive young lady on the staff showed us how the colourful lamp shade were made from bottle of campari that could be detached and well glugged , given it was a hot summer afternoon I think it was a great idea that Fiona ordered us some Pisco Sour shots instead ;).Never having tasted these before I downed them in one go much to my own peril, the sake already in my system the shot gave me quite the buzz!

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Thankfully my cooling Matcha Gelato worked wonders and cooled me down several degrees -phew!

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Fiona managed to stay light with desserts too with a selection of fresh fruit.

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The creation of former Nobu chef Rolando Ongcoy, the menu at UNI offers a good selection of grilled meats ,fish, sushi,sashimi, selection of tempura and maki. The Peruvian influence is prevalent throughout UNI’s menu, ceviche and tiraditos peruano included.

The bar area upstairs also has plenty of seating on high stools and around the bar, perfect for knocking down Peruvian fav’s like the pisco sours or coconut-based Chilli Mojito.

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Victoria being a very office space kind of area is lucky to have Uni in its midst now, with bite sized healthier meal options ,seven- dish bento boxes for short lunch hours are on offer at a price of course. So the big banker boys and girls can have their financial pow-wow meets in the fancy cubicles or basement vaults if you please which can seat about 10 – 12 people, and if the huge ice buckets with bottles of chilled Moet and the power talk we overheard from the table next to us are anything to go by then Uni is already a haunt for these suited and well heeled office folks!

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  • Website:Uni
  • Opening Times: is open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday inclusive

*With  thanks to Uni for the invitation. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Uni on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Dinner at The Brasserie , Tower Guoman – a review

On the day of the Mens Singles Final when Djokovic won  the match against Roger Federer ,I had an invite to go dine with a few fellow bloggers at The Brasserie at the Tower Guoman. I must admit the match was so engaging that I was glued to the tv and only in the game that I was just to nervous to watch so I dragged myself out and kept pestering a dear friend of mine in whatsapp till she gave me updates of almost every move on the court …. I was hoping that Djokovic would win and also hoping that the match would end before I hopped onto the tube and lost network… Lets just say that all invisible divine forces were with Djokovic ( and me )that day coupled with his awesome performance, just as I was about to get into the tube… there it was..,… message I was hoping to see on whatsapp…. ‘He won’… which led to a very comical impromptu gig on the staircase by me watched by bemused passers by…heck a good win deserves a dance ..at least ! Bonus points to all those who also watched this match to oogle at Boris Becker …teehee

After that I needed a refreshing drink and just as I was settling in the beautiful area  just outside the Guoman, an open air bar  and siping my cocktail gazing up the Tower Bridge was perfect. Chilled Prosecco, Cocktails and Mocktails flowed while we chatted up with the manager who also had dinner with us later .Meeting my friends after Food Blogger Connect was fun and camera lens choices, food photography ,the Wimbledon final results and the stunning view dominated our conversation. Before long the rain decided to play spoil sport and we were ushered inside to our huge table at The Brasserie.

I took the seat the far end of the end but the view from any where inside is just as brilliant , it’s the first time I was so close to the Tower Bridge and you can be guaranteed you will have the best seats in town at The Brasserie with superb views of Butlers wharf thrown in.

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The table was neatly laid out with our special menu for the evening there and fresh bread , warm and just out of the oven with 3 different dips arrived.

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Our rustic bread selection with truffle oil and olive oil.

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To go with our Rustic Bread selection we had the smoked paprika dip – the bright orange one and my fav of the 3, one with chives in the middle and a plain one which I found a tad too salty.

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I choose to have the Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart to start off my meal with – it sounded very appetising – Tomato olive salsa,balsamic reduction,pine nut,sekura cress – hummm yes please.

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The thin crisp  pastry base was not one bit soggy or eggy, the grilled Manchego cheese ( a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the manchega breed) tasted great in combination with summery veggies like asparagus and grilled peppers and the salsa was very good ,I loved the taste of the olives and hints of fennel, the cress made the whole dish so fresh not just to look at but to taste too.

The Head chef Kamaldeep Singh (left) and his colleague decided to take us through the process of how the new menu was created , the origin of ingredients and basically make us hungry for more!

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Madeleine seated next to me choose the other option as her first course :Peppercorn Cured Beef Carpaccio – Manchego cheese , home cured tomatoes,charred artichokes,mizuna and micro cress. I was avoiding red meat that so was very happy to photograph her dish and ask how it tasted but equally satisfied with my light tart.

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The carpaccio was hammered thin and artichokes placed over – it looked great, to find out in her Madeleine’s own words what she thought of her dish go check out  her review here.Very happy with my first course, I expected the second course to deliver and impress me a bit more. Must say my Pan-Fried Fillet of Sea Bass served with diver scallop,caper crushed potatoes,mixed bean salsa and ‘sauce vierge’  did not fail to do so. It looked amazing and I had to photograph it from various angles – we food bloggers!

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But  this was simply delicious and worthy of praise for more reasons than one – made using farmed sea bass responsibly sourced scallops, a lighter than most sauces that usually accompany a fish main the scallop sat one a delicious pea puree and cream base.

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The mixed bean salsa tasted great with the morish caper crushed potato, the cress balancing off the dish in a subtle way.Nayna my vegetarian food blogger friend chose to have the Spinach and Ricotta Raviolli made with heirloom tomato salsa and served with freshly made basil cream sauce , to read her views go onto her blog here.Our first wine of the evening accompanied the first course , Vidal sauvignon blanc from New Zealand , aromas of gooseberry, passionfruit and guava lead into a palate that exudes tropical and passion fruit flavours.

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After that very satisfying sea food dish ,we moved onto the next course , I stayed away from red meat again and the Garden pea,mint and pecorino cheese risotto was fabulous for me , I love my rice and many a times I really need some to complete my meal and make it me feel full, maybe a psychological thing but coming from the coastal side of western India ,fish curry and rice is our most staple everyday far.One of the staff members asked me where I was from and when I said Mumbai, pat came the next question which I was sort of expecting – was the sea bass as good as the Pomfret, well no! For me pomfret is the king of  all fishes on this planet – but its a matter of what taste one has grown up with and our method of cooking is also so very different. But yes Sea Bass , Salmon and Basa are my favorite buys,best eaten fresh on the day of purchase ,hate frozen fish,tastes muddy and weird in curries especially.

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The  pecorino cheese added a subtle tangy taste to this very morish and filling risotto, its easy to get this dish so wrong because often the seemingly easier to make dishes are the toughest to produce to perfection . I am a great fan of the risotto that my elder sister hubby makes , he is a trained chef but now a very busy and senior marketing head honcho so it’s very rarely that we meet and even more rarely that I get to eat the risotto he makes. Ah sweet nostalgic family moments, only truly good food can bring on such an attack for me.. :)

By now the light had really faded and my risotto photo and all that follow look terrible!

I must admit Madeleine was very kind and allowed me to have a taste of burnt celeriac which I loved with some of the calvados sauce I scooped it off her plate with from her Confit of Gloucestershire Pork Belly. She enjoyed  my cheesy risotto too.

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The 14 hour low heat cooked pork belly looked so very appetising, the burnt celeriac adding to the earthiness of this dish,the cinnamon compliments the pork  and the savoy cabbage and compressed apple give it a tart almost tangy twist on the side. This was washed down with several glasses of a full bodied Chilean Merlot – Errazuriz , almost opulent with notes of berry and cassis fruit.

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It’s at this point that I slipped into blissful food coma and saw this beautiful rainbow emerge right in front of my eyes… the photo does no justice to the what we actually saw…

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That is us at the table – L- R – Bintu who blogs at Recipes from a pantry, Nicki who blogs at Baking Beardy,seated opposite her is Fiona who writes an award-winning blog – London Unattached,Nayna – who blogs at  Simply Sensational Food her other blog is Citrus ,Spice and all things Nice, and the lovely Madeline who blogs at Kitchen Journeys and documents heart healthy recipes at From the Healthy Heart.

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Was too full by now and the dessert platter served with a large shot of margarita in shot glass lined by sugar , managed to cut the sweet taste that was bound to settle on the palate after cheesecake ,a panna cotta that failed to impress because I was expecting the usual wobble and a refreshing pista flavoured ice cream  – my fav from the selection.

As we strolled out for an impromptu photo session and gazed happily at the beautiful Tower Bridge,I couldn’t help but wonder that though the exterior of  the Tower Guoman leaves one wanting the view of two world Heritage Sites – Tower Bridge and the Tower of London certainly makes up for it!A massive refurbishment project is on the cards too.A few more plus points include a convenient location within easy reach of the financial district, Canary Wharf, the Excel Centre, London City Airport, historic Greenwich, the West End and Westfield Shopping Centre. Also the newly launched menu at The Brasserie definitely warrants a visit. The menu is bold and one where the chefs have really gone the extra mile to hope that if they try ambitiously to achieve the Zero Mile Ingredient mark and grow their own herbs fresh on the terrace garden which is to come alive very soon!

The staff was very polite, genuinely attentive and ensured we had a great evening.

*With  thanks to The Tower Guoman for the invitation. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

The Brasserie at the Tower Hotel on Urbanspoon

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Yum Chaa – Fitzrovia – Review

Absolutely bored and craving a afternoon out ,a close friend and me decided to check out Yum chaa sometime early february. As soon as we walked my eyes fell on this beautiful and welcoming armchair – its the kind of chair that you can sink into and loose yourself in!

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Lucky for us it was in a quite little corner where we could pour our hearts out to each other!

The counter had a beautiful  display and she decided to have the Chilli Chilli Hot Chocolate. I was having a very difficult time trying to decide which tea to have from the amazing range available of Black and Red teas.

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I finally settled for a red tea and a little something to bite into….in the quite pauses between our excited chatter I gazed into my tea cup…wishing I could tell what the future has to hold simply by gazing at how the bright red tea sediments lay there… if only …

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Loved their quirky note asking for ‘Valentines Day Funds’ now who can refuse a tip when coaxed like that? (espp when it will be used to buy an Adele album!)

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The quirky christmas tree kept the corner with the shelves a bit festive and the white washed walls seemed to have a sublimia soothing effect. The general atmosphere of the place is the sort where you can settle into a huge armchair , armed with a tea of your choice and spend hours sipping it alone or not. Its the kind of place you would take a good book to and settle in with a warm pot of tea, allow the tea to percolate and loose yourself in the pages of your fav storyteller.

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We lost track of time and almost over two hours later when Yum Chaa got really  busy we decided to let someone else take over our cushy chairs…reluctantly almost, promising ourselves that we would be back soon , very soon…

The shabby chic,relaxed atmosphere , mis-matched furniture, white washed walls and their amazing range of teas on offer will stay with you long after you walk out of the place and of course their catchy crazy name Yum Chaa is something you won’t forget easily!

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Disclaimer: I’ve written this review of my own accord and was this visit was paid for by me. I was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated monetarily for this post.Like all my previous posts about events and reviews, ALL opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

 

21, The Print Room,Covent Garden – a review

On the corner of Covent Garden Piazza , housed in a beautiful Georgian heritage site is a 3 story delightful place -21 – a rustic Italian restaurant, The Print Room – a cocktail bar with 2 balconies overlooking the piazza and all the live entertainment it has to offer and the terrace located on the Piazza – a great way to enjoy the outdoors, drink in the hustle bustle, gaze at St.Pauls – all this under the shelter of huge umbrellas and heating for chilly evenings.

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When I first heard of 21 the Print Room at Covent Garden I imagined it to be this tiny little place with a rustic feel , when we walked into 21 I felt I was walking into a huge cave with tunnels well-lit and the aroma of melted cheese wafting around .The historic cellar vaults converted in a fab Italian restaurant have a cosy warm feel .They also  proudly claims to serve the best pizza and pasta in Covent Garden – We were soon about to find out….

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Image Courtesy :21 Covent Garden

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Hubby and me walked into the place on a very ,very warm summer evening and were seated at table perfect for a romantic date but we food bloggers need light for clicking away ,so once we were moved to a new table and happily settled into a comparatively well-lit corner of our choice ,we couldn’t wait to order some drinks and cool down a few degrees. Just as I thought I would melt with the heat these beauties came to our rescue – a Mango Bellini (£7.50)for me and a  Verde Flower(£5) Sine Peccato,for the huster – it means a cocktail without sin.

The Mango Bellini – a Prosecco based cocktail was crisp,fresh,fruity ,summery while hubsters Verde Flower – a combo of cucumber,apple juice and elderflower with a dash of bitter lemon was fresh and light with lots of ice – so refreshing!

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Accompanied by Wild Boar Tortelloni (£7.25) – Pancetta ,green beans ,sage cream  and Black pepper Calamari with saffron aioli (£7.25) as starters.The batter for the calamari was a bit bulky making them a bit chewy, the tortellini  was very good, could easily have eaten some more!

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Image Courtesy :21 Covent Garden

I was told that the A la Carte menu is  fresh, Italian-inspired and prepared with the best quality local ingredients – well now, I love the sound of that ! We ordered the Cornish Crab Linguine (£14.25) and the Figaro (£14.95) – a Milano Salami,Parma Ham & Pepperoni Pizza for the main course but honestly if you’re doing starters then this one pizza between two people is more than enough!

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The Figaro is absolutely mind-blowing delicious with the 3 meat sitting there with black olives and cherry tomatoes – begging to be eaten! The goats cheese was nothing like I’d ever tasted before – so soft and creamy and not one bit salty. Abandon your fork and knife for this one folks, eat with your hands…lick the gooey gorgeous roasted garlic olive oil mixed with the melted mozzarella , as it drips off the sides while you devour this magnificent feast. The linguine was ignored by us for the first few minutes while we silently ate our pizza.I felt like Julia Roberts in the movie Eat,Pray ,Love telling her friend to drop the guilt and just eat their cheese laden gorgeous looking pizza when they go to Naples ,errmmm only I was sharing my Pizza with my hubster ;)

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The linguine was good though paling in comparison to this star pizza staring at us. The crab meat was mixed well into the pasta and it was have been fun to eat this pasta slowly after squeezing  lime generously over it , sipping a fine glasses  red which goes with the fresh seafood taste and the chillies in the pasta.I ordered a glass of Red- the Nero D’Avola 2011 (£5.65 a glass , £21 a bottle) with my linguine.Hubster had a glass of Prosecco Brut (£6.80) to go with the mains.

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Needless to say the mere mention of dessert and we would have exploded so we skipped dessert. Eager to walk and help digest the generous dinner now sitting firmly inside our tummies we took a tour of the print room upstairs which is a print shop turned cocktail bar, with a lovely balcony overlooking the piazza.We then walked out into the piazza past the Terrace ,to be greeted by fresh, crisp evening London air.

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Image Courtesy :21 Covent Garden

So lets see, 21 delivered on their promise of serving the best Pizza in Covent Garden , the wine selection and mocktails on offer are impressive and  I loved my Mango Bellini.Food and Wine taken care of .Ambience – the feeling of sitting huddled in a cosy cubby hole dating back to Georgian Times is something else, the view from the Print room is amazing , so I’d say this is a perfect place for romantic dates in the cubby hole of 21 or out on the terrace – better for warm summer evenings, great venue for hen and stag parties and a really cool place to hang out for drinks with your friends, they seem to have got it all covered huh?

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Image Courtesy :21 Covent Garden

The photo below is of the most posh cubby hole in 21 comes with a fish tank for company ;)

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Image Courtesy :21 Covent Garden

It was a beautiful clear night and the piazza was just so beautiful , a spattering of tourists seated in quiet corners near St.Pauls , the bars still overflowing with beer drinkers spilling out onto the piazza and of course the theatregoers walking to their cars or trying to get a cab.

The last time we were at Covent Garden with some friends they showed us this fab walking route to Waterloo station along the Waterloo bridge, it IS  a great walk along the various many theatres ,pubs and brightly lit restaurants of Covent Garden and  onto the bridge with stunning views of the London Eye on one side and the beautiful st.pauls cathedral on the other. And down the subway and you are inside Waterloo station, cool or what?!

It was an exceptionally windy evening as well and all of a sudden I wish I had my jacket on me, we stopped to take a few photos and this ones my fav:

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Rushing to take cover in the warm subway , we made it to the station in under 15 minutes , this walking route now my fav way to get to Covent Garden from Waterloo station and totally avoid the claustrophobic tubes and the slow buses crawling through the omnipresent traffic on  the narrow roads  of Central London…..( there … now that’s a sure shot sign that I have become am a Londoner now….when one begins to crib about the crowded tubes and moan about the traffic …and look of alternate walking routes.. I think the novelty of being a newbie to this city is finally wearing off… in every way… but then the magic has settled in and just like I will always , always love Mumbai no matter what ,similarly London has sunk into my being in a way that can never be reversed… safe to say…am deeply in love… with all that London has to offer – even the tubes … oh yes!)

*With thanks to 21 and The Print Room for the invite.All views expressed here are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. No monetary compensation was provided for this post.

 

 

21 Covent Garden on Urbanspoon

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Blossom Hills new Sun Kissed Red and White wines – a great way to enjoy fruity wines in the Summer!

Hope all you folks are making the most of the sunny climate! Bbq’s ,picnics and loads of great days out with the family! Am sure most of you have enjoyed drinking Blossom Hills wines , I certainly have and am now a great fan of the fruitier newly launched summer ready wines called the new Blossom Hill Sun Kissed Red and White wines.

When I was invited to a blogger launch party I walked into a pretty room all done up like a fab picnic in the park , a faux green grass carpet included !

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One sip of the chilled fruity red wine and I was sold! It makes drinking red wine for those just starting out especially so much easier because these wines are much lighter ,sweeter and taste great with all the usual summer party essential and will go well with barbecued meats and grilled veggies as well. I also think because the red is so light on the system it makes it way easier if you enjoy say one glass of red every evening while catching up say Midsomer Murders on the telly …my way of unwinding after a long day!Traditional Rose wines enthusiasts in particular will enjoy this new red.

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A mixture of ripe summer fruits and strawberry flavours envelope your palate making the red wine a light and easy drink.

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This table with nibbles was so much fun and I loved the jelly a lot :)

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Moving onto the white which I loved too, I am quite the white wine fan and this light white with luscious juicy fruits and peachy notes was so good ,it almost made me want to plonk onto the fake grass on one of those lovely picnic blankets and grab one of the books and enjoy the rest of the afternoon just sipping chilled wine and reading!

But more hard work lay ahead ;) , a pamper session by Illustrated Nails where I got a complimentary manicure in a dark chocolate nail colour, we even got 2 lovely white and red nail colours in our goody bags :)

These red and white summer wines are best enjoyed chilled , a great way to enjoy the long summer evenings.What I like most about lighter fruitier wines is that they are great to serve and gift to those that drink only occasionally and regular wine enthusiasts alike.Because they are not as heavy as traditional wines they are just perfect for  the hot summer weather , in fact I’d say they are the new summer picnic basket essential!

Blossom Hills Sun-Kissed Red and White wines are available nationwide in ASDA,Morrisons and Sainsburys.

*Many thanks to Blossom Hill wines for the invite .

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Le Bouchon -French Wine Bar,Blackheath – a Review

On a perfectly beautiful sunny summer evening I made by way to Blackheath for a bloggers evening at a French Wine Bar. A first for both going to Blackheath and a French wine bar that claimed to be halfway between a pub and a restaurant.

I think I walked past the bar once before I finally understood my google map. There is something very welcoming about the simple wooden interiors and large paintings that made want to just dump my bag and get started with a chilled glass of wine. First up we were served a Champagne Rose’ and hors d’oeuvre of  regular stuff like sun dried tomatoes – not in oil as I expected  but these were nice and tangy, very dry on their own though, sweet mini peppers stuffed with cheese and served with Tapenade.

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Le Bouchon has ample seating indoors and out on street , it is tastefully done and perfect for a n evening out with friends or with family to have that one glass or carafe of wine ,gaze at the beautiful surroundings and drink in the ambience.Also good to grab a high stool, drink a glass of red with a date.

The sunshine and a comfy table visible outside from the beautiful big windows were too hard to resist so we moved outside to soak up some sun, there was a light breeze …just perfect to get started on wine! Well with the 120 wines on offer with a distinct French touch , I was all set to order my white wine ,I wanted a light and slightly sweet one so on Jean-Philippe’s recommendation I got a German white called Gewürztraminer – an aromatic white which goes well with cheese and fatty gamey meat and tastes like lychees ,floral and with tiny bubbles in the glass. I loved it! I could have done with some bread but thankfully didn’t have any just then as the charcuterie and cheese was yet to arrive. It was fun deciding what cheese to choose with the charcuterie.

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I choose Comte  – a 24 month old mature cheese with a nutty flavour & hard but creamy texture, Secret – a cheese I’ve never had before – its made from unpasteurised cows milk with fruity and nutty notes and last one I gave into a desire for some blue cheese with Forme d’ Ambert – a creamy and very light blue cheese – prefect to slather onto the accompanying bread .Before our beautiful cheese and charcuterie boards reached our table, little did I expect such large portions , it was more than enough and served as very satisfying main course.

I was seated with some very friendly bloggers and conversation flowed as smoothly as the wine.

That is a picture of my delicious cheese and charcuterie served with red grapes,pickles and dried apricots – perfect with the platter.

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L-R Starting Top left clockwise :Comte Saucisson a traditional tasty pork sausage with Comte’ ,Walnut Saucisson – pork sausage nutty and dry but very delicious and a pepper Saucisson 100% pork sausage aged in black pepper.

I finished my cheese off with some Spanish Red – Rioja –  intense on spices and oak ,fruity with a hint of liquorice.

Travelling into Blackheath by train and walking up the high street is like getting out-of-town into a nearby modern village.Le Bouchon is Blackheaths answer to an independent ,one-off wine bar with a good selection of wine and cheese , in contrast to the many chains that otherwise easily take over majority of the high street. It’s the kind of place you could back to many times over and even make your fav haunt if you are a local – easy.

*With  thanks to Jean-Philippe for the invite.No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review .All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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