Category Archives: Westfield Food

Food and Restaurants in and around Westfield New Jersey

What Are “Ono Bowls”? They Are DELICIOUS!! And They Are In Westfield!

I don’t know about you, but I’m LOVING all the healthy choices you can find in Cranford and Westfield eateries nowadays. With my busy work schedule, I often grab meals on the run, and it’s a bonus if I can eat healthfully while still enjoying the convenience of quick meals. Ono Bowls recently opened in Downtown Westfield, and it has become a favorite spot for a fast but healthy and yummy meal! 

Tricia Caminos launched Ono Bowls this past November, but she’d been enjoying smoothie bowls for many years beforehand! A Cranford resident who’s been juicing since she was 19, Tricia is married to a native Hawaiian, who introduced her to the juicing trends of Hawaii. Tricia said, “I was eating smoothie bowls for 10 years. They became popular in Hawaii and California, and are only just becoming a thing on the East Coast. ‘Ono’ means ‘delicious’ in Hawaiian!” 

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Ono Bowls is located at 107 Quimby Street, next to the forthcoming Salad House. The menu has raw juices and smoothies typical of a juice bar, but the ono bowls are truly what set it apart. Each ono bowl consists of a thick smoothie base (often made with acai or pitaya for added heath benefits), topped with granola, fresh fruit, honey, and other delightful toppings. I sampled the PB&J ono bowl while I was there, and it was super tasty and filling. Tricia uses organic and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

Something I loved about Ono Bowls besides the great menu is the atmosphere! There’s a large room in the back with plenty of comfy seats for lounging, a table where you can enjoy your ono bowl while getting some work done, and even cute coloring books and such strewn about for kids (and kids-at-heart)! It has a definite “chill” California vibe that is such a welcome addition to Westfield. 

I was thrilled to hear that Ono Bowls has been super busy since day one of opening! Tricia said, “All the kids come in after school throughout the week. We’ve even hosted parties here for Girl Scouts and other groups. We’re looking into offering catering services in the future.” 

You might spot some of Tricia’s family members working in Ono Bowls–two of her three kids work there part time! I love supporting local businesses that are a family affair. 

Ono Bowls is open Monday through Saturday from 9-6, Sunday from 10-5. Look for expanded hours in the spring. You can follow Ono Bowls on Instagram @ono_bowls and visit their website http://www.onobowls.net/index.html to view their full menu.  

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Valentine’s Day Dinner Spots in the Cranford-Westfield Area

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Love is in the air, folks! Have you planned a Valentine gift for your sweetie? Forget flowers or a cheesy card–the best gift is FOOD, baby. Specifically, a delicious dinner out on the town that you can enjoy together. Here’s a list of restaurants in the Cranford-Westfield Area that are offering Valentine’s prix fixe meals and specials that will make for a DELICIOUS and romantic date night. cNote that prices listed do not include taxes and gratuity (be kind to your servers!).

Bar Americana
24 N. Ave E, Cranford, NJ
(908) 276-3664
www.baramericana.com

Three-course dinner of pear salad, filet mignon or snapper, and berry-topped cheesecake (plus a sorbet palate cleanser) includes champagne toast; $45 per person.

 
Chez Catherine
431 North Ave., Westfield
(908) 654-4011
www.chezcatherine.com

Three-course dinner features lobster bisque, filet mignon, and chocolate mousse cheesecake, and coffee; $80 per person. Reservations begin at 5pm and are a must.

Ferraro’s
14 Elm St, Westfield
Three-course dinner with so many choices, including shrimp cocktail, grilled octopus salad, lobster risotto, chilean sea bass, and chocolate-covered strawberries, plus complimentary champagne toast and soft drinks/coffee; $65.95
per person.
Le Petit Temptation
19 Eastman St., Cranford
Five courses include cauliflower velvet, la homard mousse, monkfish or chicken, grapefruit and champagne, and dessert; $75 per person. BYO
Mulberry House
415 Westfield Ave., Westfield
(908) 233-3562
www.mulberryhouserestaurant.com

Five-course dinner includes truffled potato soup, root vegetable salad, roasted salmon, seared filet mignon, and a Valentine’s dessert plate; $75 per person. Seatings are available at 7pm or 7:30pm. BYO

Pairings: Palette + Plate
10 Walnut Ave, Cranford
(908) 276-4026
http://pairingscranford.com
Four-course dinner with such choices as viking village scallops, duck risotto, beef tenderloin, and navel orange mousse; $98 per person. BYO

Tablespoon Cafe
21 N. Union Ave, Cranford
(908) 276-1900
www.tablespooncafeonline.com
Four-course dinner featuring such choices as lobster bisque, escargots, and braised lamb shank; $65 per person. Reservations begin at 5pm. BYO

 
Xocolatz
235 Elmer St., Westfield
(908) 232-3962
www.xocolatznj.com

Four-course dinner plus complimentary nonalcoholic mimosas; $40 per person.
No, I didn’t forget A Toute Huere, but they are completely booked! Their sister restaurant 100 Steps has limited seating left, although no Valentine’s specials. For more information visit: www.localrootscranford.com. Many other restaurants in our area will be offering a la carte specials that night as well, so you almost can’t go wrong wherever you go! If you hear of any great specials, please SHARE!! 

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The Westfield Farmers Market Offers Much More Than Local Produce!

farmer's marketIf you’re anything like me, you try to SHOP LOCAL and EAT LOCAL whenever possible. Well, you can kill two birds with one stone by visiting the fabulous WESTFIELD FARMERS MARKET, open every Saturday from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm from now until October 29th! You’ll find everything from Jersey Fresh produce, baked goods, dog treats, fair trade coffee, cooking spices, and take-home Italian meals–what’s not to love??

The Westfield Farmers Market sets up on the south side of the Westfield train station, where there is still plenty of free parking spots available on Sundays. Here’s a list of the terrific vendors:

Chickadee Creek Farm – certified organic vegetable, flower and herb farm

Donaldson Farms – fresh produce

Skeba Family Farm – fresh produce

A & M Naturals – natural soaps, body butters, lip balm, and candles

Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruits

High Mountain Foods – frozen pastas such as ravioli; focaccia; pickles; fresh mozzarella

Lithuanian Bakery – breads, pies, and donuts

Little Bear’s Biscuit Barkery – gourmet organic dog treats

Mo’Pweeze Bakery – delectable and divine allergy-free cupcakes and baked goods

Neil’s Sharpening Services – bring your kitchen knives, scissors, and tools (3rd Saturday of each month only)

Nicola’s Pasta Fresca – artisinal homemade pasta

Paolo’s Kitchen – frozen prepared Italian-style entrees

Patricia and Paul – artisans of fine oils and balsamics

Reign Coffee – specializes in Organic Fair Trade coffee from Central America

Top of the Mountain Honey Bee Farms – 100% pure and natural local honey

Wildtree Organic Spice Blends with Fran – rubs, seasonings, dressing, and marinades

WildtreeI caught up with Fran Prybylski, who runs the “Wildree with Fran” booth. After sampling her yummy offerings, I could see why people rave aboutWildtree products, even non-cooks like myself! Fran sells Wildtree certified organic spice blends, marinades, sauces, and salad dressings, as well as an array of flavored grapeseed oils (all products are peanut-free!). They’re designed to make cooking easier, as they are all matched up with simple recipes.

According to Fran: “The Wildtree products help families prepare and serve healthy meals on the table quickly. Since they’re made with certified organic ingredients,  the flavors are bright and delicious. Even in my own home, Wildtree always provides an answer to the mealtime dilemma of ‘What’s for dinner?'” A Westfield resident, Fran is no stranger when it comes to cooking, and said, “I love to mentor and inspire people to cook delicious food in their kitchens or outdoor grills.” Fran frequently hosts cooking workshops where participants make 10 hearty take-home freezer meals using Wildtree seasonings and oils.

At her Farmers Market Booth, Fran’s customers love sampling the different marinades, salad dressings, and sauces. “My top-selling products consistently are: Asian Ginger Plum Dressing & Marinade, Wicked Good Slow Cooker Sauce, Rancher Steak Rub, and the Scampi Blend seasoning. However, the Outrageous Orange Sauce, Spicy Thai Chili Sauce, and Happenin Hot Pepper Jelly have become super popular this season at the Market.” Ummm, I’m pretty sure I’d eat my own hand if it were cooked in that Wicked Good sauce!

I asked Fran about the vibe among the vendors at the Farmers Market. “There is such a nice camaraderie here. I make an effort to greet all the vendors at some point throughout the day. My first friends at the Farmers Market were the members of the Greater Area of Westfield Chamber of Commerce. The Market’s Director, Chris Devine, has been supportive and so much fun to work with. I always appreciate Tim York, Mary, and Gene’s weekly visit to check in on me. My favorite neighbors are the A&M Naturals ladies that sell handmade soaps. Sam from Chickadee Creek Farms is an inspiration to watch as she soley sets up and breaks down her gorgeous organic produce stand. I’ve enjoyed watching Mo’Pweeze bakery’s success as a true allergen-free bakery in NJ. And Nicola’s fresh pasta creations are so delicious and my weekly lunch.”

See! Even the vendors themselves shop at and enjoy the Market! So if you’re in town this Saturday, make a point of heading to the Westfield Farmer’s Market, where you’ll not only find great food but meet some great people too.

You can reach Wildtree with Fran at (917) 226-1958 or visit her Facebook page: Meal Plan with Fran.

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Fine Dining at Westfield’s Acclaimed Chez Catherine

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I recently revisited one of the most highly regarded restaurants in New Jersey and enjoyed an absolutely incredible meal. Chez Catherine in Downtown Westfield is a classic in every sense of the word, and I’m already fantasizing about my next phenomenal meal there. 

For more than 30 years, owners Didier Jouvenet and his wife, Edith, have wowed every critic from the New York Times to the Star Ledger and everyone in between. Prior to opening Chez Catherine, Didier worked at the venerable La Grenouille and the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan. Edith is responsible for the timeless decor of Chez Catherine, right down to the stunning flower arrangements in the restaurant that were plucked from their very own garden. 

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When I dined at Chez Catherine for a recent lunch, I was delighted to discover that they offer a prix fixe lunch menu. Authentic, impeccably prepared French cuisine can make a considerable dent in one’s wallet, but Chez Catherine’s prix fixe lunch and dinner menus offer the same delicious food (and several courses of it!) for a very reasonable price. A two-course lunch is just $25, and three courses is $35. 

I was immediately charmed by Maitre d’ Stéphane Bocket, who has been with Chez Catherine for 11 years, and who will soon be taking over the helm as owner of the restaurant. Stéphane’s thick French accent did not prove hindersome, and he had both me and my lunch date cracking up with laughter at his wry sense of humor. 

I asked Stéphane why Chez Catherine continues to be one of the most lauded restaurants in New Jersey–or anywhere!–year after year. Stephane said, “We have always kept the same high standards here. We make sure the customer is happy, and there is a nice balance between delicious food and personalized service.” 

You can see from my photos that the food is plated as beautifully as it tastes. And the portions are anything but small, (some restaurants skimp on the portions of prix fixe menus–not Chez Catherine!). We enjoyed salad appetizers, crispy duck and perfectly cooked steak, fluffy profiteroles with warm chocolate sauce, and one of the most interesting desserts I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating: “Ile Flottante de ‘Catherine'” (a whisper-light, marshmallow-like meringue topped with vanilla sauce, caramel, toasted hazelnuts, and almonds … truly to-die-for. 

We gorged ourselves on the scrumptious food, and at the meal’s end, Stéphane jokingly warned us never to say “Je suis finis” at the end of a French meal. “It does not mean ‘I am finished,” he said. “It translates to ‘I am dead.'” Duly noted, Stéphane!

Chez Catherine is located at 431 North Avenue West, next to the Westfield Inn. FREE PARKING is located behind the Inn. Reservations are recommended: 908-654-4011.

LUNCH HOURS:

Tuesday – Friday

Noon to 2:30 PM .

DINNER HOURS:

Tuesday – Thursday

5 PM to 9 PM

Friday and Saturday

5 PM to 9:30 PM

Closed on Sunday and Monday (except major holidays)

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Grilled Cheese Shoppe Opening Celebration TODAY in Westfield NJ 5/3/16

IMG_5763People often use the phrase “It’s as American an apple pie.” But I think we should start saying “It’s as American as GRILLED CHEESE!” Because who the heck doesn’t love grilled cheese?! The folks at the soon-to-be-open Grilled Cheese Shoppe in Downtown Westfield know just how much we all looooove grilled cheese, and they have one for every taste under the sun!

Owner Nick Louros hails from North Jersey, where he grew up amid the restaurant business. “I was a typical Greek diner kid, spending countless hours in my uncles’ diners, and working at one through college.” Nick got his degree in accounting, and he worked in that field five years, but eventually he wanted a change.

Nick began scouting locations for a restaurant, and had considered Ridgewood, but Westfield just “checked off everything on our list,” and with the closing of Robert Treat Restaurant, Nick found the perfect location.

When I asked Nick why he chose to start a business around grilled cheese, he said, “What I really wanted was to serve family comfort food, something that was a staple in most people’s childhoods. Something simple but still gourmet at the same time, with different flavor profiles. And something that would bring families together.”

Grilled cheese is the perfect meal to embrace what Nick was searching for–at its core it’s one of the most simple sandwiches, but it can also be embellished and changed into something extraordinary.

IMG_5762Nick himself created most of the recipes for the Grilled Cheese Shoppe. What’s on the menu, you ask? Well, you can always order a basic grilled cheese (aka the “Cheesy Kid”–good for those pick eaters out there), which is American cheese served on thick sourdough bread. But also on the menu are fried chicken and waffles, 6 different bread selections, several different varieties of cheese, and even grilled dessert waffles. Some of the sandwich names include “Buffalo Blue,” “Green Envy,” and “French Onion.” In addition to the savory and sweet grilled cheese sandwiches, there will be soups, salads, gourmet coffee drinks, and of course hand-spun MILK SHAKES, including one called the “Peanut Butter Dream.”

Are you salivating yet??

The interior of the Shoppe is sleek and fresh and totally hip. It was designed by well-known Vanessa De Leon Associates to appeal to the young and young-at-heart, and Nick hopes the place will quickly become “the town hangout.”

Here’s another great thing about the Shoppe–it will be open 7 days a week! There aren’t too many eateries you can say that about. I, for one, am looking forward to their “Cheesy Brunch” on Sundays.

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Follow the Grilled Cheese Shoppe on facebook for updates about their grand opening celebration happening TODAY! The Shoppe is located at 113 Quimby Street.

Hours:

Monday-Thursday 11-8

Friday 11-9

Saturday 9-9

Sunday 9-4:30

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Philly Pretzel Company in Westfield…. Perfect Party Platters!!

I say it all the time–it’s just not a party without PHILLY PRETZEL COMPANY soft pretzels. I mean, honestly, who can resist freshly baked soft pretzels?! The sweet and soft bread dough combined with the coarse salt on top = heaven on earth. They’re always the first thing to go from a party buffet.

Philly Pretzel Factory

Karen and Willy Papke had been working in the corporate sector for years and were looking for a change. When they started to consider opening a Philly Pretzel Factory (PPF) franchise, the most important factor to them was the product itself. They were delighted to find that they LOVED the pretzels and knew they’d be proud to serve them in Westfield. They took over as owners of the Westfield location in July of 2014, and the shop has been flourishing under their leadership.

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f you haven’t tried a Philly pretzel yet, you’re missing out! The pretzels are baked fresh ALL DAY, every day. Besides their signature large soft pretzels, they have party trays with “rivets” (nugget-sized pretzels) or slightly larger ones. Each party tray comes with your choice of dips. I adore the honey mustard, and there’s also spicy brown mustard, yellow mustard, cheese, and sweet icing. The prices are very reasonable as well–you can feed a TON of people with a party tray for less than $30. They offer small-sized boxes of rivets too if you only need a few servings–my assistant sometimes surprised her kids with them as an after-school snack. And for a quick, yummy, and cheap lunch, try a Philly pretzel dog!

Did you know that you can order CUSTOM-shaped pretzels from Westfield’s PPF? “We’ve done everything from Mickey ears to Thanksgiving turkeys to Halloween ghosts. Recently we made pretzels shaped like ‘Oh’ from the movie ‘Home.’ If a customer has an idea for a theme, I’m always willing to give it a try and see if it will work in pretzel form!” The most popular custom pretzels are numbers, used for kids’ birthdays. I love the idea of bringing in soft pretzels to school parties instead of the usual sugary cupcakes.

You can find Philly Pretzel Company at 295 E. South Ave. in Westfield, in the ShopRite Liquors strip. They’re conveniently open every day of the year except Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Easter. For advance orders call 908-232-6232.

If you’re hosting a party anytime soon, don’t forget the Philly pretzels! I guarantee they will be a hit at your party with adults and kids alike.

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Westfield Seafood is an Area Favorite!

Westfield Seafood Honest. Fresh. Seafood. Those three little words are the slogan behind Westfield Seafood, and the truth behind them is what has kept customers returning to the local fish market for decades.

The only way you could get your hands on fresher seafood (aside from chartering a fishing boat) is if you traveled to Fulton Fish Market in New York City at 3 a.m.–which is exactly what Westfield Seafood owner Vince Bruns does. EVERY DAY. Vince has owned Westfield Seafood since 1984, and you’ll find him expertly filleting fish behind the counter at any given point in the day.

Located adjacent to the South Ave Train Station lot in Westfield, there is free parking in front of the shop. Inside, don’t expect a fancy-looking market. Westfield Seafood is simple and no-nonsense, but the beauty is in the seafood itself.

Every day you’ll find about 20 different varieties of fresh fish, such as flounder; lemon sole; snapper; salmon; catfish; swordfish; tuna; tilapia; branzini; as well as a more variable selection of fish that are more seasonal or harder to come by, such as rainbow trout, shad, orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, and more.

We love the house-prepared soups, especially the Manhattan clam chowder and lobster bisque. There is also a great selection of shellfish, including cooked shrimp done a variety of ways; Alaskan king crab legs steamed to order; blue and stone crab claws; and good ol’ lobster. And let’s not forget clams, oysters, and muscles, as the seasons permit.

There are a variety of prepared salads available in-store, from shrimp salad to tuna salad made from FRESH (not canned!) tuna. And if you’re in a pinch for dinner, you can always pick up one of Westsfield Seafood’s prepared entrees, like crab cakes or stuffed flounder, which you can just pop in the oven and then look like a hero.

So the next time you’re craving fresh seafood, or you want an impressive shrimp cocktail for your next party, call or stop by Westfield Seafood. They’re open 7 days a week: Monday through Saturday 10 am to 7 pm; Sunday 12 to 5 pm. 908-233-3042

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Westfield NJ’s Ahrre’s Coffee Roastery

Ahrre's Coffee RoasteryIt’s no big secret — at 7 am every morning, I love coffee more than I love my children. I also happen to know the secret to the best cup o’ joe on the planet: Ahrre’s Coffee Roastery in Westfield. If you too are a coffee lover, you’ll want to bring a beach chair into Ahrre’s shop and bask in the glorious aroma of freshly ground beans. One taste of their coffee, and you’ll never go back to your old stuff.

Owner Ahrre (pronounced like the letter “R”) was born and raised in Summit, NJ. He learned the art of coffee roasting on the West Coast and brought his know-how back to our area in 1990, when he opened his first Roastery in Cranford. By 1992 he had moved the shop to its current location on Elm Street in Westfield, and recently he opened a second location in Summit.

image1There’s good reason why Ahrre’s was named one of the top three coffee shops in NJ. According to Ahrre: “We are a micro-roastery. We roast all of our coffees at our very own roasting facility in Plainfield. The coffee in our jars at the store is under a week old at all times. You just can’t get coffee FRESHER anywhere else in the area. Hence our slogan: ‘Ahrre’s is fresher than theirs!'”

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Ahrre’s sells bulk coffee, coffee drinks by the cup, tea, and they also make gift baskets (coffee, tea, chocolate) for all occasions. Their bestselling coffee varietals and blends are Colombian Supremo, Sumatra Manheling, and Morning Blend; favorite flavored coffees include Hazelnut Creme and Golden Butter Nut. Some local eateries serve only Ahrre’s coffee, including Skolnick’s Bagel Cafe in Springfield.

Customers who buy from Ahrre become lifelong regulars. One older gentleman has been coming into the shop since it first opened, and he continually tricks other customers in the store by asking, “Has the Garlic Flavored Coffee arrived yet?”

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Ahrre’s is located at 104 Elm Street.

HOURS:

Mon-Fri 7:30 am to 6 pm

Sat 9 am to 6 pm

Sun 9 am to 5 pm

Visit their website for more information or to place orders online at www.ahrre.com

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Westfield’s Winter Restaurant Week 2/15-2/26

If you love to dine out in Westfield, then mark your calendar for Winter Restaurant Week–two weeks of specially priced prix fixe meals at your favorite restaurants, from February 15-26.

Participating establishments will offer 2-course lunches and dinners and 3-course dinners with considerable discounts off their normal menu prices. It’s a great way to try a restaurant you’ve never been to before, without dreading a hefty check at the end of the meal.

Did you know that Westfield has more than 50 places to eat? That’s part of what makes its downtown such a popular destination. Roosterspin and Amuse we’re recently named two of the best new restaurants in New Jersey by “NJ Monthly” magazine, and Chez Catherine continues to receive accolades for being one of the finest French restaurants in the state.

How would you like to win $50 just for dining out during Restaurant Week. Simply snap a photo of your meal (must be taken during Restaurant Week!) and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #westfieldrestaurantweek. The person whose photo gets the most likes will receive a $50 gift certificate to the Westfield restaurant of his or her choice!

For a list of restaurants participating in Winter Restaurant Week, visit: http://www.westfieldtoday.com/Restaurantweek. Reservations are highly recommended for many of the restaurants during these two weeks.

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Westfield Area Y offers Healthy Eating/Aging Lunch N’ Learn 2/11/15

Westfield Area YMCA

Westfield Area YMCA

So, how many chicken wings, pizza slices, and other nutritionally un-sound things did you consume on Superbowl Sunday?  And how long did you pay for it afterwards?  Let’s face it, none of us can eat the same way we did when we were younger.  As we get older, our gastro-intestinal systems become more fragile, and our dietary needs realistically change.

On Wednesday, February 11th, from 12:30-1:20 PM, the Westfield Area Y will host a free lecture by registered dietitian Lindsey Roth, of ShopRite of Garwood.  The lecture will take place at the Main Y Facility at 220 Clark Street. Roth will cover the topic “Healthy Eating/Healthy Aging,” focusing on special nutrient needs for older adults, and how to adapt nutritional goals to support physical and mental health as we age.

Best of all, the discussion is absolutely free, and available to everyone. You can register in person at the Welcome Center of the Main Y Facility, or online if you are a Westfield Area Y member. Contact Jean White with any questions at 908-233-2700 x246, or you can email [email protected]

Participants are asked to bring a bag lunch.  Maybe you want to pck something OTHER than buffalo wings and Superbowl leftovers.  Just sayin.’

 

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