Trejo’s kicks off football season with Rams donut taco

Rams Donut

Nothing goes with LA football like a tacos and donuts.  Make those Rams-themed donuts and football-themed tacos and you’ve got a touch down, even if you can’t touch your toes.

To make this combo even more enticing, add some Rams Cheerleaders and Rampage, and you’ve got a party, or at least a pretty cool kick off of the Rams Food Truck featuring the Los Angeles Rams Donut from Trejos Coffee and Donuts.

In Hollywood style, the launch on September 5 will include an appearance by the donut shop’s namesake Danny Trejo, along with Eric Dickerson, between 9-10 am.

The Rams-branded truck will be on the road from September 5-9 giving away Rams-themed donuts from Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts each morning, and football-
themed Tacos during the afternoons and evenings.

Fans who visit the Rams Food Truck will have the opportunity to receive team merchandise and one lucky fan at each location will be randomly selected for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the season opener on September 10.

Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts is located at 6785 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood.  Get there early for street parking or limited parking in the parking lot.

trejosdonutsA badass dozen from Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts

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Fourth of July must-haves for the whole family

Get your July 4 holiday celebration off with a bang

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Independence Day is around the corner, so get ready to celebrate in style and spirit. Be a star at your July 4th party with festive food, drink and Americana accoutrement made for entertaining and enjoying your holiday.

Hole-in-won!

You can’t miss with a flag themed bean bag toss game. This stars-and-stripes Americana Edition of the popular corn hole game comes with two 24″ x 35″ boards and red and blue bean bags for two or four players, with a built-in compartment to store the bean bags and Velcro fasteners to keep the boards together for easy storage and carrying. Available at TJMaxx for $79.99.

Spirit wear

Dress in indie spirit with patriotic themed Trucks Surf & Co. swim suit or a R, W & B Life is Good T-shirt ($7.99 – $14.99), available at TJ Maxx. Dress up or dress down with a versatile and comfortable Discovery skort from Royal Robbins ($55), with a zipper pocket, built-in UPF 50+ sun protection, and a wicking quick-dry fabric perfect for outdoor fun, trekking or travel.

 

Music go-round

Keep up the beat wherever you are, with the Yatra Aquatune 5712 ($34.99), a small but booming weatherproof wireless Bluetooth speaker that can jam up to 12 hours on a charge. It’s so compact it can clip on a belt or beach bag so you can bring along the tunes on the go. www.shopyatra.com.

A-la more

What’s more American than apple pie and ice cream? Scoop on the red, white and blue with Turkey Hill All Natural ice cream in pure vanilla bean and new flavors of raspberry chocolate chip and blueberry.  Like all 20 flavors in the All Natural line-up, all flavors are made with only milk, cream, sugar, and natural flavors, and they include no artificial colors and no stabilizers. Available at select grocers and convenience stores wherever Turkey Hill products are sold.

Not your grandma’s camp chair

Rock out while you view the fireworks in a GCI Outdoor FirePit Rocker ($60) that will make you the envy of everyone sitting stiff in their old-school camp chairs. This low-ride spring-loaded rocking camp chair lets you lean back and look up at the fireworks, and for camping it’s the perfect height for an evening around the campfire, with a mesh backrest and padded armrests for cool comfort, and a beverage holder to keep your drink close-by. Available at national sporting good retailers.

Take out the sting

Keep the skeeters and other pests from biting at your picnic or fireworks party with Nobitech insect-repellent performance wear. Their collection of Skintex-treated T-shirts and long-sleeve pullover sand hoodies ($19-$35) are suitable for the sports-minded athlete but also stylish enough for regular folk and can help ward off Zika-carrying mosquitos and Lyme-disease carrying ticks.

Pop star

Break out the Popcornopolis and make your Fourth of July party really pop.  Popcornolpolis chef-designed artisan popcorn one-ups America’s favorite snack food with decadent gluten-free, non-GMO confection varieties like Zebra, drizzled with premium chocolate; Chocolate Stripe carmel corn drizzled with dark and white chocolate; Chocolate Peanut Butter caramel corn; and White Chocolate Macadamia; or try the Popcornolpolis new line of organic popcorn Nearly Naked; Herbed Butter; Three Cheese; Pesto Mozzarella; Avocado Lime; Kettle Corn; Karamel Kiss; and Chocolate Macaroon. Available at Popcornopolis stores, grocery and club stores, sports stadiums, movie theatres and at www.popcornopolis.com.

Mix it up

 

When it’s hot as a firecracker outside, quench your thirst with a sparkling refreshing beverage from Zevia.  The zero-calorie, zero-sugar Zevia drink varieties include flavored bubbly waters, like Cucumber Lemon, Lime and Mandarin Orange. If you want a little punch in your drink, add your favorite spirits to Zevia mixers, perfect for cocktails or mocktails in Dry Lemon Lime

Ginger Beer, and Tonic flavors. If old-school pop is more your style, step up your health game with Zevia’s sodas, naturally sweetened with stevia, exploding with taste in flavors beyond cola including Black Cherry, Grape, Grapefruit Citrus, Lemon Lime Twist, Mountain Zevia, Orange and Strawberry.

 

Come share the wine

Invite friends over and chill out with your Little Black Dress on the table. No, not with a lampshade on your head, but with LBD wines. For a refreshing summer wine, try LBD Pinot Grigio, with aromas of apple, melon and lemongrass before a zesty tangerine finish; or for something a bit more complex, there’s the Pinot Noir, with layers of cherry and clove with soft floral notes, hints of strawberry jam and pomegranate; or everyone’s favorite party wine, the LBD Chardonnay, a crisp and fruit-forward wine with flavors of apple and pear, and creamy accents of vanilla and oak.  Available in wine stores, bars and restaurants and select grocers including Safeway, Wegmans and Harris Teeter.

Sit a little

When America’s poor tired huddled masses come to call on the Fourth, be ready with a little extra seating.  Sit in style with Dar Living Folding Stool, in red, blue and other colors. When your guests leave, the chairs fold up compactly for quick storage, and the built-in handle makes for easy carrying. Get the stools in a four-pack ($35) so all your company has a place to rest their laurels. Available on Amazon and home goods retailers nationwide.

Ice cream, you scream, we all scream for artisan ice cream

When you want to take the family out for ice cream, but not just any ice cream will do, indulge in summer’s favorite frozen dessert at these top LA artisan ice cream shops, where scoops are handcrafted with premium ingredients and available in extraordinary – and bizarre — flavors beyond your imagination.

If the name fits

“Unusually creative and absolutely delicious” is the way Salt & Straw describes their ice cream. The shop’s quirky name (a reference to the rock salt once used to freeze hand-churned ice cream and the straw it was packed in to keep it cold) is as unique as their flavors. Founded by two cousins, Kim and Tyler Malek, one with a flair for the culinary arts and the other a mind for business, and both of a mind to create something amazing, the opened their first shop in Portland in 2011, and now they have three in Portland, five in LA and one in San Francisco.

Their handmade, small-batch scoops are sourced from select local and sustainable farmers and artisans, from Southern California and Oregon (they also have shops in Portland, where they started). The shop features an ice cream sommelier who will take customers through tastings of their classic delights, like, sea salt with caramel ribbons, almond brittle with salted ganache, chocolate gooey brownie and peach vinegar cobbler with toasted nutmeg, olive oil and lemon custard; or their revolving menu of inventive flavors, such as rhubarb crumble with toast anise, wildflower honey with ricotta walnut lace cookies, naked stage “we are love” tea and roses, and lemon grand poppy sherbet. The community-minded shop has frequent fundraisers to give back, such as partnerships with local schools where students get to invent flavors, and proceeds from sales are donated to the schools.

Cool is the new hot

Coolhaus’ founders Natasha Case’s and Freya Estreller’s venture into ice cream was a departure from their backgrounds in design and real estate, but they paid homage to their professions by naming their ice cream creations “cool houses,” otherwise known as ice cream sandwiches. But instead of ordinary chocolate graham cracker and vanilla, their custom-made “sammies” are filled with ice cream flavors like brown butter and candied bacon, pistachio black truffle, balsamic fig and mascarpone, aunt Glady’s fruit cake, beer and pretzels and dirty mint chip, bookended by gourmet cookies such as snickerdoodles, confetti whoopee pie, gluten-free cocoa pebbles, and of course chocolate chip.

The Coolhaus duo took their creations, dubbed “Farchitecture,” or Food + Architecture, to their hometown streets in Los Angeles in in 2009 in a beat-up old postal van, which became the first of their current national fleet of 10 mobile ice cream trucks and carts in LA, Dallas and NYC, and two storefronts in Culver City and Pasadena. Their line of treats has expanded to decadently dipped ice cream bars on a stick, such as mies vanilla rohe dipped in salted caramel milk chocolate rolled in crushed pretzels, and their scoops served up in their shops included a changing menu of seasonal flavors such as Mo’ Honey, No Problems, a sweet honey ice cream with OG Honeycomb cereal and McFaddy’s chocolate-covered honeycomb, and Hazed and Confused hazelnut ice cream with hemp protein power, Grape-Nuts cereal, hemp seeds and hemp-based CBD oil.

Ice cream by design

Before artisan ice cream was a thing, Jeni Britton Bauer was ahead of the trend. She founded Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream in 2002, using dairy from grass-pastured cows, natural ingredients and from-scratch recipes to create inspired flavor combinations, like Sweet Cream Biscuits and Peach Jam, Savannah Butter Mint, Mango Butter Milk Frozen Yogurt, Cocoa Curry Coco, and Gooey Butter Cake. Jeni’s purist approach and complex processes of building texture and flavor without synthetic flavorings and dyes, stabilizers and emulsifiers not only makes great tasting ice cream but also gives her scoops a uniquely smooth texture and buttercream body.

From art student to baker and then perfumer, Britton transferred her aesthetic eye, culinary artfulness and passion for creating sensational concoctions into an ice cream enterprise that has earned her the distinction of one of Fast Company’s most creative people in business. Her dedication to quality extends beyond her product to extraordinary service and the environment of her sparkling-clean and beautiful storefronts in four SoCal locations and eight cities nationwide, where patrons can enjoy their dessert in a space fitting to serve up sophisticated mixtures like Roxbury Road, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, and Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso.

Sweet science

Sweet Rose Creamery utilizes its ample-size research and development kitchen in Santa Monica, featuring a 1,000-square-foot freezer, to experiment with ice cream flavor combinations, using all organic daily and integrating season produce form neighborhood farmers’ markets, perfecting classics like Old Fashioned Vanilla, Chocolate Caffe Luxxe Coffee, Salted Caramel and Cookies& Cream, and inventing new flavors like their Chef’s Picks of Chef Fox’s White Chocolate with Minty Pea & Macadamia Nuts, Brown Butter with Orange Wafer, Lemon Chiffon and Rose Geranium with Raspberry Ripple.

The masterminds behind the operation, restaurateurs Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan and co-owner/Executive Chef Shiho Yoshikawa, who opened the original ice cream shop in at the Brentwood Country Mart in 2010, have since opened four more shops and continued to grow the company and leverage its talent and resources as a member of the family of celebrated eateries that includes Huckleberry, Milo and Olive, and Rustic Canyon. In addition to ice cream, the shops sell pastries from sister restaurant Milo and Olive and coffee from local roaster Caffe Luxxe.

 

 

Trejo’s for Taco Tuesday, or any day

DSC_1244The badboy of tacos expands into Hollywood and soon Santa Monica serving up edgy eats

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If treking to Trejo’s tacos was too much of a task except for Tuesdays, there’s good news, Taco Tuesday can be today, as Trejo’s now has two locations and a truck.

All alliteration aside, Trejo’s tacos is one of LA’s best taco stops, and with more locations to serve Trejo’s fans, the restaurant is becoming as famous as its namesake, Hollywood bad boy Danny Trejo.

Traditional tacos like the Pulled Beef Brisket Taco remain favorites among patrons, but for those who don’t want their meat in a tortilla, there’s the hearty bowls, such as the Steak Asada Bowl. For variety there’s also tostado’s like the generously portion Shrimp Tostado, or appetizers like the Grilled Jidori Chicken quesadilla.

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Trejo’s has also just introduced big burritos that are several meals for person of average appetite. Not your topical taco joint, Trejo’s has unique offerings like an artichoke with two dipping sauces, and Street Corn, with spicy chipotle cream.

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For desserts, they keep it simple with a cooler of gourmet ice cream sandwiches from Cool Haus.

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Despite Trejo’s being open many months now, still each day after they open for business the lines winds around the restaurant to the street. To accommodate their plentiful patrons, Trejo’s has opened Trejo’s Catina on Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood and soon will open Trejo’s Coffee and Donuts on Santa Monica Blvd in Santa Monica.

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Good thing Trejo runs such a badass operation, and the line moves swiftly, and the place is swarming with servers who constantly cart away done dishes and keep customers coming back, here and also at their new hopping Hollywood hotspot.

 

The sweetest bribe, with sprinkles and icing

img_4708Just like the old punishments are not working anymore – my son scoffs at time-outs these days – the former perks of points and stickers don’t have the same motivating effect either, so our family has a new reward system. Donuts.

For each A grade, chore completed without asking, extra kind gesture to a family member or friend, it’s a donut of his choice at Dunkin Donuts. Considering my son has a weekly spelling and math quiz, along with random pop quizzes, and a list of weekly tasks around the house, his chances are good to bring home a cool half dozen to share with family and friends each week.

I had tried other bribes, even dollar bills, but when my son says things like, “It only cost a thousand dollars, get it!” the value of money is lost on him. Likewise, the dollar bins at Target have lost their appeal, as there’s only so many bags of marbles, sling shots, rubber balls and harmonicas that a boy wants.

Donuts are a special treat around our home, so this reward is something he is excited about, and since he can share his bounty with friends, he can be king among the neighborhood gang.  The other great thing about donuts is they go quickly, so he needs to earn them again.

Like most kids, half the fun of donuts is choosing them, so he relishes going to the shop to see all the varieties; and very sweetly he selects specific ones for me and his grandmother, since he knows our favorites are eclairs and cream filled varieties.

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Since we have a Dunkin Donuts near our house that we pass every time we go grocery shopping, it’s a constant reminder for him to do well in school and play nice. The other great thing is that local Dunkin Donuts shops are always doing something charitable, so it’s a great learning opportunity to see the displays and talk about giving back to the community.

At the recent opening of a new Dunkin’ Donuts in at 7203 Van Nuys Blvd., in Van Nuys, California, the company mascot, Cuppy, along with local dignitaries, presented a $1,000 check to Valley Family Center, a counseling and education services organization that helps local families in need. Now that’s a good deed worth at least a thousand donuts!

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Smoothie ingredients for a power-packed energy fix

smoothies.jpgSmoothies are easy-to-make, quick energy food — and even a quick-fix meal for kids, who think they are getting a milkshake that tastes great, and they don’t even have to know how healthy it is for them. For parents who need a pick-me-up or kids who want a delicious treat that isn’t grilled cheese or chicken nuggets try these great ingredients for keeping it fresh, delicious, healthy and energy-packed.

Bring on the protein

When you want to add in some protein to your smoothie, but you don’t want a load of sugar, cholesterol and artificial ingredients like those found in a lot of protein supplements, scoop in in heaping helping of Protein Plus Energy Powder. Made from protein in peanuts, this plant-based protein is great tasting, contains 17 grams of protein per serving, is high in fiber, low in sodium, and cholesterol free. It contains no GMOs or artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. Protein Energy Power comes in four flavors including original, chocolate, honey and banana, and is available online and at select retail locations including Publix stores and at http://www.proteinplusflour.com. $28.99 for 20 ounces  (including shipping).

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Feeling Juicy

High pressure processing is the best way to preserve the nutrients and flavor of fruits and vegetables when juicing, making cold pressed juices excellent bases for smoothies. Pressed Juicery makes approximately 30 varieties in the categories of greens, roots, citrus, fruits, coffee, refreshers and classics, and with their subscription service you can have fresh bottles delivered to your doorstep, so you can be stocked up anytime you want to blend up a nourishing smoothie chock full of antioxidants, phenolic compounds and loaded with health benefits. Bottles around $6.50 each.  Delivery subscriptions being as low as $160 for 12 juices a month, with free shipping.

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Smoothie in a box

Keep your smoothie recipies and ingredients fresh with a subscription to Green Blender, a Southern California based home delivery service that delivers a box of just-picked fruits, veggies and other ingredients to your door along with recipies.  Each week, you’ll get five new smoothie recipes and all the pre-portioned ingredients you’ll need to make 10 smoothies.  The hand-crafted recipes are designed to provide a balanced menu, packed with flavor and nutrients; and all the produce and superfoods in the kits are sourced from organic and local farms. Subscriptions begin at $3.90 per smoothie, with free shipping.

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Daily dairy

Yogurt gives smoothies their creamy consistency and bulk, but not all yogurts are created equal.  Clover Yogurt uses premium organic fruit and lots of it.  Their yogurt was the first to be American Humane Certified, and contains no synthetic growth hormone rSBT and is USDA Organic Certified and Non-GMO Project Verified. Their Clover Organic Greek Yogurt gives just the right tartness to smoothies and comes in a six flavors – blueberry, strawberry, peach, black cherry, vanilla, and plain, available in a 32-ounce family size ($8.29) great to stock up with to blend up daily smoothies.  Sold in local independent grocers, Whole Foods Market,  and Safeway Inc.

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A dollop of peanut butter is the gold standard ingredient for a protein-packed smoothie, but for extra deliciousness, try a cocoa or hazelnut spread instead. Escape the ordinary with Rigoni di Asiago Nocciolata chocolate hazelnut spread, made with healthy and environmentally responsible cold-pressed sunflower oil. Nocciolata dairy-free, organic hazelnut and cocoa spread does not contain palm oil contained in other popular hazelnut spreads, which is potentially carcinogenic when heated above 200 degrees Celsius. This low-sugar, vegan spread is completely free of GMO’s, preservatives, artificial colors, additives, or artificial sweeteners – just hazelnut, cocoa and cocoa butter, natural vanilla extract, raw sugarcane, and skimmed milk.  Available at grocery stores nationwide, or on Amazon, $6.49 for 9.52-ounce jar.

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Sometimes you feel like a coconut

Coconut water has become the elixir du jour for health aficionados, and now ZICO brand has done coconut water one better, with the infusion of juices, perfect for mixing in smoothies. For a lighter smoothie, blend in ZICO Chilled Orange Juice Blend, Chilled Pineapple Mango Orange Juice Blend, and ZICO Natural Chilled Coconut Water Zico.  These juice blends have nearly half the calories of regular fruit drinks and all the hydration benefits of coconut water, including five naturally occurring electrolytes and is much potassium as a banana. Available in the refrigerator aisle at major grocery stores in select cities. 1.5L carton, $7.99.

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Yes Brainer

Talk about adding a boost, BrainGear memory drink will not just punch up the flavor of your smoothie, but it is formulated to enhance brain performance. The pineapple Mango drink is naturally flavored and contains no GMOs, artificial colors or preservatives and contains only 2 grams of sugar. Add it into your smoothies daily to support memory, mood stability, restful sleep and brain health.  Available at select grocery stores in limited cities, or online at braingear.com, $9.99 for three 4.5 fluid ounce bottles.

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Wandering from the Westside for a special seaside dinner at Las Brisas

lb-gallery-brunchWhen choosing a restaurant for a special occasion, such as an anniversary, birthday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, holiday dinner or even a proposal, the ideal venue should be as memorable as the event, a tall order which Las Brisas in Laguna always aims to fulfill for its guests.  My second to last visit there was about 10 years ago, and after enjoying a Christmas day dinner there recently, I wondered why it has been so long.

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The drive from Los Angeles to Laguna is about an hour, and like many Angelenos I tend to dine within a 20-minute drive radius, but every so often I will venture further outside my culinary comfort zone, such as to Malibu or Laguna, and that is when I realize why the drive is worth it.  As a dining destination, Las Brisas has it all.  A spectacular vista of the Pacific coastline, excellent food, superb service, an elegant yet laid-back atmosphere, and a few bonuses, such as a bird’s eye view of surfers and divers who are drawn to the famous seascape, and a warm, friendly atmosphere that can only be cultivated by decades of being a local establishment beloved by its neighbors.

The legendary restaurant was built in 1938 as the Victor Hugo Inn, a world-class restaurant and celebrity getaway, and it became Las Brisas in 1979, a first-class sea-to-table culinary destination attracting both locals and visitors of discriminating tastes.

The menu features an infusion of the best of Californian cuisine with authentic Mexican recipes of rich, sweet, sour and spicy flavors, such as the Shrimp, Tampiqueños an entree of Spicy wild Mexican prawns sautéed with shiitake mushrooms, Chardonnay and garlic. Traditional Mexican dishes are given a modern twist, such as Caleta, a savory seafood enchilada with skirt steak or the choice of free-range chicken or grilled fish soft taco; or La Asada, a Chipotle-citrus marinated natural skirt steak with a chicken enchilada.

For our holiday dinner, the fare was more continental and limited, with a fixed menu offering including beet salad, butternut squash soup, chops, steaks, scallops, seabass and of course, surf and turf; and for desert a seasonal eggnog crème brulee or apple cinnamon tart.  Despite the fact the restaurant was packed on Christmas night, with diners overflowing onto the patio, where they were warmed comfortably by the glowing flames from glass tower heaters, and guests were brimming out front door on one of winter’s chilliest nights, the maître d seated the waiting guests swiftly and efficiently.

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Likewise, the service was meticulously organized, with hot plates being delivered within a few minutes of ordering, and my medium rare filet was cooked exactly right and the perfect temperature.  We were amazed at how our uber-efficient server juggled the at-capacity crowd with aplomb, answering our questions about the menu, chatting with guests about the holidays, and taking the time to help us select a wine to pair with our entrees.  I half expected him to start spinning plates on a pole.

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One large group that was being seated next to us began to grumble about having a chair placed on the end of the table for an extra guest, so without any discussion the server quickly conferred with the host who obliged the group with a larger table by a window, very much met to their liking.

This is the attitude of “aiming to please” which has made the restaurant a favorite for those occasions when patrons desire impeccable service that makes them feel special.  For the holidays, the restaurant decorated its dining rooms with festive lights, Christmas trees, candles and orchids adorned with holly berries for the season, but the centerpiece for guests of all ages was a giant aquarium that resides in the foyer, which perpetually has small children gathered around, gazing at the brilliant coral and sea life.

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The aquarium is a dependable mainstay, like the restaurant, and no matter the fact it has stood for 38 years in the same place, it is always dynamic and exciting, well worth the trek out of LA to find an experience you can’t have sitting on a city sidewalk.

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