The Dish: Diner's Update

The latest Rhode Island food, drink, restaurant and dining news.

By Orrin Hanratty, Dillon Stambaugh and Jamie Coelho

 

March–May 2017

3/20–3/25

The Second Annual Quahog Week begins March 20, showcasing Rhode Island’s rich shellfish industry and history. Restaurants across the state will feature special seafood menu items that include quahogs to celebrate. Quahog Week partners, which include  Dave’s Marketplace, Discover Newport, Eat Drink RI, Go Providence, Isle Brewers Guild, Johnson and Wales University, Narragansett Beer, RI Commerce, RI Department of Environmental Management, RI Shellfishermen’s Association, Save The Bay, and the University of Rhode Island, will hold special events. Read more about Quahog Week.

3/22

The Ocean House culinary team and Weekapaug Inn’s new executive chef Devin Bozkaya collaborate to bring you March’s Farm and Vine Dinner. This four-course meal inside Seasons features distinguished wine pairings and locally-sourced ingredients from Upper Pond Farm. Guests attending the dinner will be offered a special rate of twenty percent off their room at Ocean House. The dinner is $95 and runs from 7–10 p.m. Children under the age of eight are not permitted to dine.

3/22

Blackstone Culinaria Food Tours, sponsored by Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, returns. In the first tour of the season, Glocester's Harmony Lodge owner Michael Fournier will provide a special dish created just for tour-goers to celebrate Rhode Island’s Second Annual Quahog Week. The dish will be littlenecks in red clam sauce over angel hair pasta. Michael will talk with guests about the meal and more about how this new restaurant creates their specialties. The event begins at 6 p.m. and costs $22 per person, plus gratuity and a ticket fee. Purchase your ticket at blackstoneculinaria.com or call 401-724-2200.

3/23

Linden Place Mansion in Bristol is hosting the “Fireside Bourbon Dinner” at 6 p.m. This one-of-a-kind five-course dinner will feature premier bourbons and cuisine from some of the most popular chefs in the East Bay. Starting in the carriage house, guests will enjoy appetizers and then be seated for a fireside dinner where each course has been designed and paired by chefs Nikki Holden, Chris Kleyla, Catie Zamow and Richard Allaire. Enjoy a different bourbon craft cocktail perfectly paired with each dinner course, along with tasting notes and comments by the chefs. The bourbons will be from such producers as Jefferson’s Reserve, Eagle Rare and Hudson Whiskey. Tickets are $80 and can be purchased through the Linden Place website at lindenplace.org or by calling 401-253-0390.

3/23

Massimo in Providence is hosting its March Local Farm Wine Dinner at 6:30 p.m. for $49 per person. Enjoy local wines from Newport, Maine and Long Island, New York, at the Local Farm Dinner featuring fresh organic meats and produce from Stonehenge Farm in Burrillville. The dinner is hosted by wine director Cristiano Labia. Courses include carbonara pizzette with fresh farm eggs; rabbit ragu tossed with pappardelle; braised goat with sweet potato puree; and raspberry and rhubarb bread pudding. Click here for reservations or call 401-273-0650.

3/25

Grapes and Grains in Barrington is already celebrating its fifth birthday on March 25 from 3 to 5 p.m.! The shop wants to celebrate these five great years with all of the customers who have supported them from the beginning.​ Grapes and Grains plans to bring in friends from around the state to help say a big thank you to everyone with some good food, great drinks and fantastic company.

3/24

Sons of Liberty in South Kingstown is releasing its very-first canned beer – Love Handles Double IPA (DIPA) – on Friday from 5–9 p.m. at the If You Can It, They Will Come launch party complete with live music and food from Open Season. Love Handles Double IPA is a New England Style IPA (NEIPA) with distinct mango on the nose and a body deserving of its name. Country outlaw, Mickey Lamantia, will be playing live in the distillery’s tasting room, and Warwick’s Open Season food truck will provide eats including pretzels with Uprising Stout beer cheese, buffalo chicken mac and cheese and wild boar bratwurst with bacon and beer braised onions. No cover charge; just pay for drinks and food.

3/26

The Museum of Work and Culture’s eighteenth annual Salute to Spring/Bonjour Printemps event will take place on Sun, March 26 at 1:30 p.m., and will celebrate French-Canadian culture. The day will include the MoWC’s eagerly anticipated Rhode Island poutine competition. Restaurants and food trucks from across the state will compete to find out who makes the best version of the traditional Québecois dish of French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds. Participants include: Ciro’s Tavern on Cherry, Clean Plate, Federal Taphouse and Kitchen, Soulfull and Friskie Fries. In addition, Woonsocket-based Ravenous Brewery will be on hand to offer beer tastings, while Wright’s Dairy Farm and Bakery will provide samples of their curd cheese and pastries. Additional entertainment will include performances by Franco-American singer and songwriter, Josée Vachon, who will offer concerts at 1:30 and 3 p.m. There will also be a screening of Le gout d'un pays, a documentary film on maple sugaring. The day will conclude with the MoWC’s annual raffle, with a grand prize of a trip for two to Montreal. Early registration tickets are available until March 17 for $15 for adults and $8 for children twelve and younger. After March 17, tickets will be $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased by visiting shopmowc.com or by calling 401-769-9675.

3/27-4/7

Newport Restaurant Week returns March 27 through April 7, with approximately fifty restaurants expected to participate throughout Newport and Bristol counties. This spring, diners can savor three-course, prix fixe lunch menus for $16 and three-course, prix fixe dinner offerings for $35 throughout the expanded twelve-day event. Diners, chefs and restaurateurs can continue the conversation about the event by using the hashtag #NPTRestaurantWeek on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and for an ongoing, real-time index of user observations and images, including dining, throughout our destination, users can include #NPTrightnow.

3/27

Chef Joe Simone of Simone’s in Warren is hosting Mediterranean cooking classes. On March 27, go seafood crazy and learn to craft a pasta dish with mussels and clams. The event will be held on a Monday night at 6:30 p.m. Each class is $60 per person; to reserve a seat, call 401-247-1200 or email hello@simonesri.com.

3/27

Chez Pascal goes to Italy! Or rather, Italy comes to Chez Pascal for the next event in its Monthly Dinner Series. On March 27, from 5:30–9 p.m. this Hope Street favorite will be serving a traditional Italian four-course meal. This adventure embarks with an antipasto of housemade mortadella, salt and oil packed sardines and cheese. Housemade pastas and a choice of meat, fish or vegetarian entrée will make up the Primo and Secondo courses. The night will finish with one of the many delicious Italian sweets. Reservations for this dinner are $49 per person can be made here or call 401-421-4422.

3/29

Join Persimmon in Providence for an evening with sommelier Steffen Rasch at 6:30 p.m., as he shares a few of his favorite wines from the Piedmont region of Italy. You'll explore one of the top food and wine regions in the world. While Piedmont is best known for its headline-grabbling wines such as barolo, barbaresco and moscato d'asti, the area is also home to some amazing lesser-known wines from small-scale, family-owned producers. Guests will sample five wines, and chef Champe Speidel will pair Steffen's selections with a special four-course menu inspired by the region. The price is $90 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Call 401-432-7422 or email lisa@persimmonri.com to reserve.

3/30

Mount Hope Farm in Bristol is hosting the Sea to Table Tasting, an event highlighting the fruits of our local waters on March 30 from 6-8 p.m.. Join this celebration of eating local in the historic Barn at Mount Hope Farm for a night of locally-sourced seafood, craft beer and wine, in partnership with Eating with the Ecosystem. Local restaurants serving bites include the Aviary, Simone's, Bristol Oyster Bar, Quito's, Judge Roy Bean Saloon, Russell Morin Catering and more, plus beer from Bucket Brewery. Tickets are limited and the event has historically sold-out fast. Tickets are $50 to $100. Click here to order tickets.

4/1

Illusion is an unforgettable April Fool's experience at Rosmarin in the Hotel Providence. Start your evening with pop-up magic and performances by fire dancers, hula hoop artists and seductive contortionists, while indulging in savory bites from Rosmarin's executive chef, Maximillano Marriotta. As you sip on cocktails, capture the night in the photo booth before being bewildered with a one-hour magic show, featuring Chris Herrick. Then enjoy Rosmarin's desserts and dance the night away at the after party with DJ Elle Cee spinning top 40, pop, hip hop, reggae, soca, bachata, merengue, soul and much more. Varied ticket options are available from $25 to $155, including the VIP experience, general admission and the after party. Learn more information and purchase tickets here.

4/2

Ham Jam gets chefs out of the kitchen and onto the stage on April 2 starting at 5:30 p.m. The band Turn for the Wurst was formed after a gathering of culinary dedicated individuals discovered they happened to share the same passion for music as they did for cooking. The fifth annual event stars the kitchen band including chefs from Persimmon, Chez Pascal and Nicks on Broadway. Other bands performing include the DMC's, the Little Compton Band and Mark Taber and Son. Tallulah's Taqueria will sell tacos and New Rivers Restaurant will be shucking and selling oysters. Tickets are $7 plus a service fee.

4/2

Learn the guarded secrets of some of Rhode Island’s best chefs at Gracie’s Cooking Sessions.The first installment is Why We Love Blackbird Farm, and it will teach guests the important skills of curing, cutting and cooking beef and pork, as well as learning how to cure bacon. Not only do you get a lesson from Gracie's talented kitchen staff, but Blackbird Farm’s Ann Marie Bouthillette will also share insight. After executing a three-course dinner, guests will sit down with the chef and cooks to enjoy the fruits of their labor — accompanied by wine pairings. The cost is $195 per person, including tax and gratuity. You can reserve your spot online or call 401-272-7811.

4/6, 4/13, 4/20, 4/27

2017 marks Sardella’s Italian Ristorante’s thirty-seventh anniversary. Originally opened in April of 1980 as a three-room eatery with thirteen items on the menu, Sardella’s has evolved into Newport’s oldest Italian restaurant. As an anniversary celebration, the original menu will be recreated and served on four Thursday nights — April 6, 13, 20 and 27. Try appetizers such as mussels steamed in white wine, onion and garlic, pasta primavera, aglio e olio, pasta mussels, sole Francaise, pollo alla fiorentina and the original New York Sirloin Steak at the original price of $14, as well as other menu offerings. Each item will be offered at the 1980 price – appetizers from $2 to $3 dollars, and entrees from $6.50 to $8.50. Wine pairings for each dish will be suggested. The anniversary celebration will take place during regular dinner hours each Thursday in April. Reservations are recommended. Patrons may call 401-849-6312 or visit sardellas.com.

4/8

In honor of the Titanic, the Steamship Historical Society of America is hosting a multi-course dinner recreated from the century-old ship’s menu. The Ocean Liner Dinner will begin at 6 p.m. at the Casino at Roger Williams Park. There will be a silent auction, open bar and some Titanic trivia. Tickets are $150 or $250 per couple. To reserve a spot, call 401-463-3570.

4/19

The second Blackstone Culinaria Tour will take diners to Godavari, a new South Indian restaurant in Cumberland, where guests will enjoy a buffet of authentic South Indian specialties. Chefs will teach tour-goers the many intricate and subtle ways that South Indian cuisine is different from other Indian cuisines and they will talk all about each of the selected dishes available at the buffet. The event begins at 6 p.m. and costs $22 per person, plus gratuity and a ticket fee. Purchase your ticket at blackstoneculinaria.com or call 401-724-2200.

4/24

At Eating with the Ecosystem’s "School of Fish," Rhode Island chefs will educate participants about different methods for turning a whole fish — straight from the sea — into a dinner to share with family and friends. Learn how to use plentiful local species like scup, herring, whiting, skate, dogfish and sea robin. The April 24 lesson features Jason Timothy of Laughing Gorilla. The lessons and dinner are held from 6–8 p.m. in the demo kitchen (a former school classroom) at Hope and Main, and each workshop is also a dinner, complete with wine and good company. The cost is $50 per person and tickets can be reserved online.

4/27−4/29

The sixth annual Eat Drink RI Festival kicks off on Thurs., April 27 with Dinner by Dames, a multi-course dining event showcasing five of Rhode Island’s top women chefs. The event begins at 6 p.m. and costs $150 for a five-course meal with cocktail pairings. Tax, tip and charitable donation are included in the price. The following day, stop by the Truck Stop to benefit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and experience some of the Ocean State’s most delicious mobile cuisine. Tickets are $75 and include food from every truck and one drink. Lastly, attend Saturday’s Grand Tasting and sample elegant beer, wine, spirits and local artisanal foods. Tickets are $75 and all inclusive. Buy all tickets here.

4/28-4/29

Save the dates for the Newport Craft Beer Festival, with a special event at Newport Storm Brewery on Fri., April 28 from 8–10 p.m., and the festival on Sat., April 29 from noon–3 p.m. and 4–7 p.m. More details to come soon. This festival is strictly a twenty-one-plus event. Friday VIB tickets are $35, and Saturday tickets are $45. Tickets include admission, unlimited beer samples, live music and a souvenir glass. For tickets and up to date information, visit newportcraftbeer.com.

5/5

Castle Hill Inn is going to be giving customers an inside look at their culinary secrets! May 5-7 will be the first of two cooking weekends this year. This first weekend will focus on sharpening your chef skills to prepare for the local produce coming in the summer. The weekend will feature classes by executive chef Lou Rossi, pastry chef Christina Mercado, as well as wine education from beverage director Anthony Boi.

5/16    

The third and final event in the Blackstone Culinaria Tour will head to Tugas Restaurant in Pawtucket. The evening promises not only a delicious meal but also a learning opportunity as owner and chef Sandy Batista will demonstrate the process for making the meal for the evening: carne de porco alentejana and giardineira (pork medallions, cubed fries and clams topped with pickled vegetables). Sandy will also share some information about the port wines of Portugal and, of course, have a tasting. The event begins at 6 p.m. and costs $22 per person, plus gratuity and a ticket fee. Purchase your ticket at blackstoneculinaria.com or call 401-724-2200.

5/19 and 5/24

Willow Tree, producers of the revered locally produced chicken salad, are deputing a new look for their brand. You are invited to celebrate its sixtieth anniversary with 1954 prices for all chicken pies on Fri., May 19 at the Attleboro retail store. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, check the website or call 508-222-2479.

5/20

As the ongoing excitement of Willow Tree Week continues, Willow Tree Poultry Farm would like you to bring everyone down for a day of fun. “Family Fun Day” is on Sat., May 20 from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. at the retail store in Attleboro. There will be balloon animals, fire trucks and free food from local vendors. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, check the website or call 508-222-2479.

10/28

Gracie’s executive chef Matthew Varga will lead a group of guests on an adventure for the appetite on the third culinary cruise, Adriatic Rhapsody: Athens to Rome MarinaOn this ten-day voyage, there will be stops in the Greek Islands, Croatia and coastal cities in Italy. There is also the option of a three-night stay in Sicily, where chef Varga will craft a culinary history lesson about one of the most gorgeous places on the planet. For more information, click here or contact Lori Seeley of Innovative Travel Concepts at 941-312-2584 or lori@innovativetravelconcepts.com.

 

ONGOING EVENTS

For several months, Besos Kitchen and Cocktails has been aging cocktails in oak barrels and infusion vats, all in preparation for the upcoming aged cocktails menu. The restaurant and bar is now offering eight of these creations to customers. The current barrel aged selections, which include Perfect Gin Manhattan, Negroni and Manhattan Barrel Aged Stout, have all been aged between five and eight weeks. The bottle aged cocktails are the Mesquite Ole Fashion and Acorn Squash Ole Fashion and have been aged for two weeks.

AIDS Care Ocean State is looking for bars, restaurants and clubs to participate in Paint the Town Red, a benefit to raise funds for the organization’s mission to assist people and families affected by HIV/AIDS. By participating, businesses agree to contribute 15, 20 or 30 percent of their total sales on one day, April 27, to help provide housing, case management, medical care and prevention services. When people, organizations and businesses with good intentions work together, there is no such thing as an unreachable goal. Join here.

Statesman Tavern in Bristol is offering a family-style supper menu Tuesday through Thursday evenings, featuring dishes that are designed to be split between two guests. Tuesday features whole roasted chickens with buttermilk biscuits, charred kale and quinoa salad with mustard gravy for $50; Wednesday features a tomahawk ribeye with confit fingerlings, roasted Brussels sprouts, onion rings and chimichurri for $75; Thursday is a whole fried Acadian red fish with frisee lardon salad, saffron littlenecks and mussels and coconut jasmine rice for $40. Call 401-396-5115 for reservations.

Trattoria Zooma in Providence is offering affordable lunch and dinner specials during the week. For lunch, enjoy three “fresh and fast” courses for $15.95 from 11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Later in the evening, enjoy dinner for two and a bottle of wine for $35.  The dinner special is available Monday through Thursday between 4–7 p.m. Call 401-383-2002 for reservations.

Narragansett Cafe in Jamestown hosts Italian Night every Wednesday from 5-9 p.m. when you can enjoy dinner for two with a bottle of wine for only $24.95. Don't miss the Blues, Bloodies and Brunch series every Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

Tio Mateo's in East Greenwich is offering several weekday dining deals, including three tacos and a craft beer for $13 on Taco Tuesdays, and a bottle of wine and fajitas for two for $30 on Wine and Dine Wednesdays.

22 Bowen’s Wine Bar and Grille in Newport is offering a three-course prix fixe Tavern Tasting Menu for $35 per person, available Sun.–Fri. Options include a field greens salad, Caesar salad or clam chowder for a starter; redfish, tagliatelle Bolognese, pork tenderloin or New York sirloin ($15 extra) for an entree; and apple spice cake or German chocolate cake for dessert. Add a bottle of wine for $25. For more information or reservations, call 401-841-8884 or visit 22bowens.com.

The Mooring Seafood Kitchen and Bar in Newport is offering two off-season specials including a Half-Price Raw Bar and Paella for Two. Wednesdays from Nov. 16 through March 29, enjoy oysters, littlenecks, shrimp, lobster and more for half price. On Thursdays from Nov. 17 through March 30, enjoy old-world style paella with a whole lobster, clams, mussels, chicken, shrimp, calamari, rice, sausage and saffron-garlic sofrito all day for $49 or for $65 with a pitcher of house-made sangria.

The Boat House, 227 Schooner Dr., Tiverton, is offering half-price appetizers, Sun.–Thurs. from 4–6 p.m., now through May 24. With appetizers in the $6–$8 range, you can enjoy a number of healthy, light choices. Some of the dishes include: Bolognese, octopus and potato salad, truffle linguini, littleneck clams and more.

Join Ella’s Fine Food and Drink for Whimsical Weekdays. Tues.–Fri. from 4–6 p.m. in the lounge and 5–6 p.m. in the dining room, guests can enjoy Ella’s entire menu for half off. Head over to Ella’s, located at 2 Tower St., Westerly, for this special deal.

Matunuck Oyster Bar is now taking reservations online here. The waterfront oyster bar, located at 629 Succotash Rd., South Kingstown, is open to online reservations, but also has a dedicated area of the restaurant for walk-in guests. Monday through Thursday from 4–6 p.m. guests can purchase Matunuck’s own oysters for $1 each.

Greenvale Vineyards is open seven days a week in winter for wine tastings and tours. January through March, the hours are Mon. through Sat. 11 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sun. noon–4 p.m. with vineyard tours at 2 p.m. (weather permitting).

 

OPENINGS AND LAUNCHES

After a brief closing for renovations, Trio Restaurant in Narragansett has now reopened. There is a larger bar area and an enhanced menu with a new array of shareable appetizers and cocktails.

What Cheer Tavern in Providence has reopened under new ownership.

Stop in for lunch at Mad Dog Cafe, located on the first floor of 65 Blackstone Ave. in Pawtucket's Armory Arts District. Mad Dog Artist Studios and Gallery is located upstairs, while the cafe includes local bakery products and sandwiches featuring local ingredients.

Avvio Ristorante in Garden City has unveiled a new brunch menu. It’s available Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes items like the Day Break Panini, a stirred egg sandwich with double thick smoked bacon and black pepper aioli served with home fries, or if you prefer something sweet and savory, try the melon and prosciutto salad. The steak Benedict with poached eggs, tomatoes and flat iron steak served with focaccia, hollandaise and a side of home fries is another fine option. Call 401-942-2900 for reservations.

 

COMING SOON

The grand opening of DenDen Korean Fried Chicken on Angell Street in Providence is on March 25. Located in the former Spats Grill and Bar, it is an expansion for DenDen Hospitality, which currently runs DenDen Cafe Asiana, known for its delicious and authentic Korean and Japanese food.

The plant-based, fast-casual brand by Chloe. will open its first Rhode Island location by Summer of 2017 at 223 Thayer St. in Providence. The menu is free of meat, dairy and egg products, as well as of saturated animal fat, added preservatives and artificial flavors. Visit eatbychloe.com or follow @eatbychloe for more information.

A Greek restaurant, KLEOS, from the owners of Rosalina, will open this spring in Providence.

 

 

CLOSINGS

Local 121, Providence’s farm-to-table eatery on Washington Street closed its doors after ten years. Owned and operated by Josh and Nancy Miller, Local 121 was the anchor tenant in AS220's Dreyfus building at 121 Washington Street in downtown Providence, purchased and restored by the nonprofit between 2005 and 2007.

Josh and Nancy Miller have issued the following statement: "As owners of Local 121, we have decided after ten years to close our restaurant. Our last day of business will be on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Our lease with AS220 expires in April, and pursuing another ten year option would have us as restaurant owners and operators into our 70s. We are not interested in doing that through this stage of our lives. We are committed to marketing this beautiful restaurant for sale as a turnkey operation, with the full cooperation and participation of AS220. We want to thank our staff and many patrons. We especially want to thank the many local farmers, fisherman, and other local purveyors for helping us to pioneer the farm-to-table concept in Rhode Island."

 

NOTABLES

Congratulations to chef Benjamin Sukle of birch and Oberlin for his James Beard Foundation 2017 Restaurant and Chef Awards Finalist nomination for Best Chef: Northeast. Chef Derek Wagner of Nicks on Broadway was also a semifinalist nominee. The final Restaurant and Chef Awards will be announced at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Mon, May 1, as well as in real time on Twitter.

Chef Tyler Demora has joined the kitchen at Chair 5 in Narragansett. He is the former executive chef of Local 121 in Providence.

Sons of Liberty Beer and Spirits Co. was recently named American Craft Producer of the Year at Whisky Magazine’s 2017 Icons of Whisky Awards. The South Kingstown distillery took home single product awards for America’s Best Flavored Whiskey for its Gala Apple Seasonal Release and two gold medals in the American Single Malt category for its Uprising and Battle Cry whiskies. These awards contribute to Sons of Liberty’s reputation as New England’s most awarded distillery, having taken home more than seventy-five awards since 2012.

The inaugural Newport Burger Bender took place from February 17−26 in tandem with the Newport Winter Festival. Newport’s top burger slingers brought everything they could to the table. Diners relished the results and voted, and Jo’s American Bistro was crowned the winner. The highlight of Jo’s was the bacon onion jam burger, served with sriracha sauce and cheese.

Avvio Ristorante in Cranston has achieved VPN Certification for its Neapolitan pizzas. It is one of three restaurants in Rhode Island with this certification.

The Weekapaug Inn's sommelier/senior restaurant manager, Ryan Robinson, has been selected to participate in the Food and Wine Pebble Beach event taking place April 20-23, 2017. There are only under 1,200 advanced sommeliers in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand, and Ryan happens to be the only one in Rhode Island who has been chosen.

 

TRANSITIONS

Sin Bakery has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for its move to the West Side of Providence. The new location on Westminster Street will allow for an expansion of Sin’s retail business. In addition to custom cakes, cupcakes and other sweets, Sin will now be offering espresso and coffee drinks and breakfast items in the morning. In the evening it will have wine, beer and cocktail pairings with plated desserts. Help the bakery raise much-needed funds and learn about great pre-sale offers here.

The owners of Stoneacre Pantry, Christopher Bender and David Crowell, have signed a multi-year lease for the former Yesterday's space in Newport. After forty-two years in business, Yesterday's closed in September 2015. The new owners will open a brasserie-style restaurant called Stoneacre in late spring or early summer 2017.

​The owners of Stoneacre Pantry are keeping the Thames Street space and have changed up the dining concept to a Basque-style restaurant featuring pinxtos, or small plates. The revamped La Vasca is now open.

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