Ah, passion. Conjures up so many wonderful, stirring say the least. From first loves, to marriages that still seem to keep that smoldering wonder, who doesn't love passion?

Perhaps this spark is what this particular vintner was trying to capture when they named this wine, well, "Passion." The graphics on the label certainly do lend towards this, with the cutesy little heart, and the (you can't see it here) elongggggated bottle neck suggesting some neck you just want to kiss up and down perhaps a la Gomez Addams as he did to Morticia. For my part, I had to add the faux red rose...just for you, dear reader.

What a shame however, that this wine lead to not so much passion, if even mild flirtations. Such is love!!

And such is wine.

Coming with a screw top cap ("screw top"...hynahahah...*ahem*), it poured a deep violet-red colour, and looked rich and voluptuous swirling about the glass, as it slowwwly lingered on the walls. Tres seductive! Unfortunately that's about all the good I have to say. Well, not really, but read on anyway!

Its nose was full and deep, of dark cherry, and a little spice...this untrained schnoz couldn't pick up much else of anything really. Woe!

Upon tasting, one gets a slightly spicy hint, with some wild dark fruit in its flavour. It is light to medium bodied, not too dry, perhaps a little sweet - it was frankly, a little limp. Limp? Passion? This ain't no Viagra ad.

And, if you're looking for some dramatic, sweeping, happy romantic ending...keep looking. The aftertaste didn't stand up any way spectacular either: it was a little mild, faded a little slowly, and lingers a little bit.

I suppose you could say that drinking Passion was a little like a blind date: you anticipate it, try it out, but in the end, leaves you regretting it, even just slightly.

This wasn't a bad wine, it was Don't stop loving!!

**1/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$7.50 (US$7.34).


LCBO #146449
Wine, Still Table Wine, Red Still Table Wine
13% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 1
Made in: Portugal
By: Casa Santos Lima-Comp. Das Vinhas Sa
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Take a look at this plate... looks irresistible doesn't it? I see so many people only have cranberry sauce during the holidays and never anytime else. I say make use of this underused berry and make a terrific sauce to go along side delicious pork chops. I purchased pork chops with the bone still in it to help keep the juices in the meat, and it looks pretty good on the plate too! Serve it along side lemony couscous and roasted asparagus and you have a meal fit for a king. You'll be savouring every bite.

Serves 2


  • 2 pork chops with bone in
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Cranberry sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg of fresh cranberries
  • 1-1/4 cup of water (use more if you want a loose sauce)
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • juice of half a lemon

1. Cranberry sauce: In a medium sized pot, add in the fresh cranberries, water, granulated sugar and the juice of half a lemon. Give the mixture a stir to combine, then turn the heat onto medium high. Once the pot comes up to a boil lower the heat down to just medium. Cook the sauce until it becomes a bit thick in consistency and the cranberries have broken down. Make sure to stir occassionally. Let the sauce cool slightly before serving.

2. Preheat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Take the pork chops and generously season both sides with salt and pepper. Take the fresh thyme leaves and sprinkle them on both sides of each pork chop, making sure to press them onto the pork chop using your finger tips.

3. Drizzle olive oil onto the skillet and melt 1 tbsp of butter. The butter is really for flavour but if you prefer to omit this then please do. Sear the pork chops for about 8-10 minutes per side. Once you flip the pork chops over take a foil and cover the skillet to keep the steam in. This will help keep the pork tender and juicy on the inside. In the last minute of cooking, squeeze the lemon juice right on top of the chops. Once the pork has finished cooking, take it off the heat and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Serve warm with the fresh cranberry sauce and a generous helping of lemony couscous and roasted asparagus.

Lemony Couscous - here is the link if you would like to try my version.

Roasted Asparagus - a perfect vegetable side dish with this meal.

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Here is an easy weeknight meal that I feel is elegant enough to serve to guests. I went to the grocery store after work one night and wanted to be inspired by something! Anything! I wanted to make a nice meal for my husband and I. This turned out to be a huge winner! My husband even asked for seconds. I took the rest to lunch the next day and I had my co-workers asking what I eating. My tummy wasn't complaining that day that's for sure!

Serves 3

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Baking time: 15-20 minutes


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • coarse salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • cream-style corn (half a can)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 pkg (500g) of fresh butternut squash ravioli
  • 3/4 cup asiago cheese, shredded

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Heat the butter and oil in a large deep skillet on medium heat. Saute the mushrooms, onion and garlic for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle in 1 tbsp of flour and cook the flour in the fat for a minute, then slowly whisk in the milk. Let the cream sauce come up to a slow bubble and keep stirring until you see the sauce thicken up. Season again with salt and pepper.

2. Lower the heat down to low. Add in the cream style corn (just half a can), and stir in the diced tomato. Then turn the heat off, stir in the butternut squash ravioli. Pour the ravioli and sauce mixture into a casserole dish, and sprinkle the shredded asiago cheese. Place it into the oven and bake it for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and slightly crusted over. Serve immediately with a light salad on the side.

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Oregonian white wine? Immediately I knew I had to grab a bottle, just to see what the Oregonian wine industry was producing...not that I knew they were producing, well, anything really, but sometimes if I see a bottle from a unique or geographical area I have not sampled, I have to try it for the hell of it.

It makes sense that there is a wine industry in this particular part of the Etats-Unis; California is right next door, and the Pacific Northwest is indeed known for its wine industry (British Columbia ain't too far away either). Our good friends at wiki say that they've been making wine commercially in said state for almost 50 years! So! Wine not try it indeed!!

Coming with a screw-top cap, this brother of the Pinot Grigio is a little cloudy, and pours a light yellow hue, perhaps even a little lighter than my lousy photography might otherwise indicate. The slight dripping down the side of the glass displayed that this one was no wimpy weak white wine, and some body would soon follow.

The nose certainly showed quite a lot of body on its own! Full and brimming with fruity overtones, it was fresh and sweet like a new relationship, peachy and melony (that last epithet, "melony," I do admit was corrupted into me by previously reading a product description of the wine before buying it...but have a sniff, you may smell it too!!).

The true experience, of course, is in the taste, and this one will give ya a swift kick in the arse upon trying it. A definite kick and definite sourness strikes one immediately, making one pucker just ever so slightly. The initial sourness yields to a lighter "grapiness" (yup, I'm a pro), with continued notes of peach and citrus, including grapefruit.

Cloudline Pinot Gris does go down the hatch well, and although dry, the crisp sourness takes the edge of the dry-ity...yeah, a real pro! Its aftertaste bears a nice slight sweetness in the background.

This wine was definitely no weak white, as alluded to before. Full of flavour, it trends on the medium to full body, and is an avalanche of flavour and sensations: acidity, crispness, and a sourness that would go well with equally full-flavoured dishes (think spice or something like that). Well worth trying just to see what those Oregonians are up to these days...whether or not Cloudline leaves you on cloud 9 is up to you...!

***1/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$16.95 (US$16.67).


LCBO/Vintages #159988
Wine, White Wine
13.4% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: D
Made in: Oregon, United States
By: Domaine Drouhin
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Happy St. Patrick's Day every one! I decided tonight to make a green themed dinner in honour of this special day. Instead of making the traditional Irish stew tonight (although absolutely delicious) I felt like eating something not as heavy. I happened to have a perfectly ripened avocado and I knew I wanted to make a dressing out of it. To make this dressing more fresh and more GREEN I added a whole bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley. With a few more ingredients I whipped this up in the food processor and presto I had a green sauce perfect for the occasion. The avocado really made the dressing nice and creamy which helped it to coat all around the pasta and veggies. Remember the rule of thumb with pasta salad... It really pays to have it sit altogether in all of it's goodness in the fridge. It'll make this pasta salad even more delish! Give this green pasta salad a try.

Serves 2 generously

Ingredients for dressing:
  • half a ripe avocado, flesh scooped out
  • 1 large bunch of parsley
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • juice of half a lemon (more if needed)
  • a few dashes of tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of chicken stock

Ingredients for pasta salad:

  • 3 cups of cooked penne pasta
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, quartered and diced
  • 1/2 cup of red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets, sliced in half
  • 1 salmon fillet, cooked through and flaked (about 1 cup)

1. In a food processor, add in the half of a avocado, parsley, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and tabasco sauce. Pulse it a few times to break the ingredients down a bit, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil and chicken stock. Add more olive oil or stock if you want a looser sauce. Taste for seasoning.

2. In a large bowl, combine all of the pasta salad ingredients together, leaving the salmon chunks for last. Pour the green sauce over on top and toss gently to combine. Flake in the salmon and gently fold it to ensure that the salmon doesn't break further. Taste for seasoning. Place plastic wrap over top of the bowl and put it into the fridge for a good 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Cook's tip: I recommend that this pasta salad be eaten the same day. The avocado in the dressing, even with the addition of the lemon juice, will turn colour if left out for too long. Also, if you cannot cook fresh salmon for this than feel free to use canned salmon.

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This was a dinner that took really no time at all and was super satisfying. There are nights where I don't feel like chopping up the chicken into little pieces, or marinading the chicken or really fussing around with it too much. I simply seared the chicken breast and kept it moist and tender but what added that special touch to the dish was this creamy cucumber sauce. The secret to the sauce is ready-made baba ganouj. I added just a little bit into the sauce and it really created that nice zing that it needed. The meal paired with seasonal veggies and garlic flavoured naan bread made this meal a real weeknight winner! I will definitely be making this again.

Serves 2


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • coarse salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 pkg of pre-sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup of frozen green beans
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 2 garlic flavoured naan bread, warmed through
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Ingredients for creamy cucumber sauce:

  • 1/2 cup light mayo
  • 2 tbsp baba ganouj
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • half a cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the mayo, baba ganouj, grated garlic, salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice - stir to combine. Fold in the diced cucumber and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Stir slowly to combine all of the ingredients and then place it into the fridge until ready to serve.

2. Heat oil in a medium non-stick skillet on medium heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Once it comes up to temperature start to cook the chicken. You should hear a loud sizzle. Cook the chicken for a good 7-8 minutes per side until done and still moist. At the final two minutes of cooking, deglaze the pan with the white wine and chicken stock. Make sure to scrap up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the chicken is done and the sauce has reduced by half.

3. Transfer the cooked chicken onto a plate and place a piece of foil over it. Let the meat rest for a few minutes while you saute the veggies. Turn the heat up to medium high. In the leftover wine chicken sauce add 1 tbsp of butter, add in all of the veggies and saute for 5 minutes or until the veggies are crisp-tender. Slice the chicken diagonally, pour a little sauce over on top and serve it along side the sauteed veggies, and warmed naan bread.

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Let's face it dear reader, when it comes to "value added wines," those from la belle France don't instantly spring to mind. Many French wines carry some very steep price tags, and I'm sure Monsieur Expert-Wine-Connoisseur could go in depth to explain why this is.

Well, I'm sure as hell not M. E-W-C, more like Mr. Write-Whatever-the-Hell-I-Think, but this delight from France will pleasantly surprise any drinker, erm, wine enthusiast, with not only its taste, but it's under $10 price tag! Quelle surprise!

This wine is a Syrah, otherwise known as Shiraz (well I'll be damned I didn't know that, maybe you didn't either! If you did, maybe you should be writing this!), and is named after the many types of winds that blow in the South of France (I kid you not), so much so that it could be called "the land of winds" (to quote the bottle), or "Rafales." All right then!

Rafale comes with a screw-top cap and gives a nice ruby cherry red hue. Slooshing it around the glass gives a little lingering on the sides, again showing via my half-arsed theory that this wine has some nice body.

The nose produces a medium-strength smell of dark fruits and berries, although the aforementioned bottle notes blackcurrants (that's a dark fruit!) and liquorice. I always defer to the label, but you'll taste what you want to taste!

Taste time reflects much of what one sniffed prior, so marks for consistency! This dry red does indeed have a good, medium body, with tastes of aforementioned dark fruits, such as dark cherry, as well as some berries; standard French fare is what I noted. Its aftertaste was non-offensive, with the usual little seediness/grapiness one would expect in the background.

Smooth, and with a good degree of alcohol which does not interfere with the taste, and with nice flavours in both the nose and taste, Rafales Syrah was a great buy and easily tastes as good as ones twice its price. A definite buy! And hey, they even slashed 15% of CO2 emissions from producing their wine. Now you can enjoy a glass (or three) with an environmentally clear conscience too!

***1/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$8.90 (US$8.78) (look at that Canadian dollar fly again!).


RAFALES SYRAH, 750 mL bottle

LCBO #157891


13% Alcohol/Vol.

Sugar Content: 1

Made in: Roussillon, France

By: Vignerons Catalans

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Here is a pasta recipe that I came up with one night when there was really nothing but these left in the fridge to cook with. I was really running out of ideas and groceries for the week; so I took the pepperoni out and decided to use it in the pasta dish (as funny as it may sound). The smokey, spicy and salty flavour of the pepperoni turned out to bring out a bacon-like flavour in the pasta dish. I absolutely loved it especially paired with the shredded gouda cheese at the end. This is a delicious quick pasta meal that you can serve to kids. If you say there's pepperoni in it I think that they just may forget the broccoli is there. It's almost like having pizza and pasta together.

Serves 3


  • 1/2 lb rigatoni pasta
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of pepperoni, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced finely
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 head of broccoli florets
  • 1 cup of shredded carrots
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Gouda cheese, shredded (when serving)
1. Put on a large pot of boiling water, salt the water, then drop in the pasta. Follow the package instructions and cook until al dente. In a large shallow skillet, on medium high heat, drizzle in olive oil and cook the chopped pepperoni for 2 minutes to render the fat and flavour.

2. Turn the heat down to medium. Add in the chopped onion and garlic and saute for 2 minutes, then pour in the chicken stock and scrap up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add in the diced bell peppers, broccoli florets and shredded carrots. Saute for no more than 2 minutes making sure the veggies are cooked but not over cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Quickly add in the cooked pasta and toss with the sauteed pepperoni and veggies. If you find the pasta a bit dry then pour another 1/4 cup of chicken stock or reserved pasta water. Turn the heat off and serve immediately. Sprinkle generously with shredded gouda cheese right afterwards so it can melt over the pasta. Eat it right away.
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Hello Food Tastes Yummy fans! I know you haven't seen me write any recipes in the last couple of weeks but I am back again... To be honest with me being pregnant I haven't been too inspired lately to cook. The baby seems to want a whole lot of chef boyardee and other quick meals. Lazy and tired are the words here, but on this particular night I wanted to make something a little special for my husband who has been missing out on a lot of home cooked meals lately. I wanted to keep the meal simple but elegant enough to serve to guests. This French technique is baking fish in en papillote (in parchment paper). You seal up whatever you want to steam in the oven and you let the natural juices of whatever you're cooking infuse to make your sauce. A very healthy and delicious way of cooking. Here is my recipe for baked tilapia. Enjoy!

Serves 2

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Baking time: 30 minutes


  • 2 fresh tilapia fillets
  • 2 cups of cooked white rice
  • 1 can of condensed creamed soup (i.e. cream of mushroom)
  • 1/2 can of water or milk
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • zest of one lemon
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 small handfuls of frozen or fresh green beans
  • 3/4 cup of baby carrots
  • 8 pieces of asparagus
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of dried basil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 4 slices of lemon

You will need 2 large pieces of parchment paper - large enough to wrap the fish, rice and veggies.

1. In a large bowl, add in the cooked rice, creamed soup, 1/2 can of water, grated garlic and zest of one lemon. Mix it around and sprinkle in a little salt and pepper to taste.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a large baking sheet with foil to catch any possible spillage. Take a large sheet of parchment paper, spoon about 1 cup of creamy rice in the middle, and top it with a fish fillet. Do the same with the other. Take the veggies and place them on each side of the fish and rice. Place one tbsp of butter on top of each fish and drizzle olive oil on top.

3. Season the fish and veggies with a little salt, pepper and dried basil. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top of the fish, and then place 2 slices of lemon on each. Carefully fold the parchment paper over and seal the sides to ensure that the juices stay in while cooking. Place it on top of the lined baking sheet and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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So dear reader, admit it: when one thinks of wine, Dan Aykroyd isn't the first thing, let alone person, that would come to mind. Perhaps Ghostbusters or Blues Brothers, and of course, Saturday Night Live would all be far more appropriate things. But wine? Really?

Oh really. Believe me. Now I'm no expert (well DUH) but this was simply an absolute surprise in a bottle. Of course we're taught not to judge a wine bottle by it's label, but celebrity branded wines leave me a little...skeptical. Not anymore.

Having done a ton of research prior to writing this ("ton of research" meaning reading the back of the bottle), I discovered that Mr. Aykroyd grew a taste for the vineyard tipple while working on SNL and Blues Brothers, and the people responsible for this wine have sourced the grapes from vineyards in Canada's Niagara region. Being a good loyal Canadian, Monsieur Aykroyd feels that we make some of the best damn wines out there. Here here ya hoser. Wyne tyme!

First off, the wine label has a tres cool feature: tint it in some light, and they actually bothered to spend money on making the classic 50's microphone flash colours in the light almost a la a hologram...very jazzy indeed! The mic montage continues on the printed synthetic cork as well.

It has a nice medium red crimson colour, and after performing my swish test in zee glass, one gets a sense of some juiciness in terms of residue and dripping, showing to me at least, that this wine has some body to it!

Mr. Aykroyd's beverage has a medium to full dark nose of dark fruits, dark cherries and berries (wow I'm a poet and I didn't even know it), dark blueberries, and I picked up the ever slightest hint of licorice. That licorice bit is probably wrong, but who cares! Thus far, this one looks and smells much like a Cabernet.

The body contrasts however with the nose, as it has a nice medium body with some nice lightness! Mmm indeed! Tisn't too dry (although it is), and isn't overbearing or heavy in the least, and has a nice fruity taste, once more of dark fruits.

In other taste news, this one did have a slight alcohol zing, and a pleasingly well behaved bitterness/sourness, and tamed tannins. Poetry and alliteration! The aftertaste sported some slight bitterness/tannins.

Well again, who would've guessed. This Cab-Merlot blend was a very nice balance of tastes and flavours, with a great body and easiness of drinking...ness. Yeah.

In short, if you're looking for a great wine, don't sing the blues...or maybe you should! Try it, you'll love it. This one ranks easily amongst one of the best I've tried thus far in 2010.

***1/2 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$14.95 (US$14.60).


LCBO #53827
Wine, Red Wine
13% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 1
Made in: Ontario, Canada
By: Lakeview Cellars Estate Winery
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Hello dear reader! Once again it's been a while. First, as you may have read, I was struck by food poisoning. Great. Nothing beats being intimately acquainted with a toilet for hours on end. A week later: flu. Wonderful. Nothing beats being even more intimately acquainted with a toilet. That being said, my drinking days were limited, to oh, zero. Hence my break (but not an enjoyable one).

Prior to being struck with the aforementioned ailments, I had the pleasure of trying this fine Ontario red wine from Henry of Pelham (how noble sounding), whose vineyard is located in the Niagara region of Ontario, near the US border (whose arse we recently whipped in hockey...oops!).

Now, I've only had one style of Gamay once, from Malivoire, and it was ranked the finest wine I tried in all of 2009. Not setting the bar too high, am I? This one didn't rank as highly as that, but it was still a satisfying red, showing that Ontario can hang with the best of wine makers across the world.

Naturally corked with a nice emblazoned image on said cork (which I neglected to take a picture of, you'll have to take my word for it!), it poured a deep cherry red, yet not overly so, as it had a slight hint of transparency; I noted it reminded me of a port. As it lingered on the side of the glass after I sloshed it about slightly with tender loving care, it was a little less "syrupy" than the first Gamay, but still had this characteristic (i.e. some syrupy thickness).

Stick your schnoz in it (not literally), it gives a smell of some darker fruits, blueberries, and other dark berries...a definite typical dark red.

Upon taste, there was dryness, and sourness and bitterness, but accompanying it was a fullness of flavour, of wild berries as per the schmell (yes, schmell), and a hint of spice. The flavours brought forth were not overbearing or too heavy, but were tamed with a noticeable alcohol kick in the arse, which was a little sharp. Body wise (and who doesn't love a good body!), the wine was light to medium bodied, surprisingly, given the depth it has.

The aftertaste sported some fruitiness, and continued the wildsy/woodsy flavours, with continued dryness.

So! Was it the knock out punch a la Mike Tyson!!! that the Malivoire Gamay was? No. Was it enjoyable nonetheless and a fine example of Ontario wine making? Yes. And I bet damn well it'd go great with a nice steak...mmm. Steak.

Stay healthy out there!

***1/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$14.95 (US$14.46).


HENRY OF PELHAM GAMAY 2007, 750 mL bottle
LCBO/Vintages #291112
Wine, Red Wine
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: D
Made in: Ontario, Canada
By: Henry of Pelham Family Est. Winery
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