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eG Foodblog: johnder - Bouncing Around Brooklyn

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#1 johnder

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 09:01 PM

Early morning greetings everyone!

I guess my hint photos for this blog were somewhat of a giveaway, especially to Megan. Oh well. For those that don't know, the bridge picture is a shot from my walk from the subway to work -- it is the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan bridge and if you look closely, you can see the Empire State building framed within the arch of the bridge.
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It was an overcast day when I took the photo; I will try to get a better picture this week.

For those that don't know much about me, I will give a quick background. My name is John Deragon, a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. My father’s heritage is Quebecois and my mother’s heritage is Norwegian. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a lobster fisherman in Coney Island, so I spent quite a bit of time on a boat as a child, and still love being around the water to this day.

Growing up as a child in Brooklyn was a pretty awesome experience. Not only was I exposed to the great foods Brooklyn had to offer (Knishes, Bagels, Nathan's franks, etc.) we had tons of ways to entertain ourselves with various games we learned (stickball, stoopball, ball & crack, skulls…). I will get into more detail on the food and games as the week progresses. :smile:

I currently live in Park Slope, which is a neighborhood in Southern Brooklyn that is framed by Prospect Park along with my wife Jeannie and our dog Dune. (Which is whom you see in my avatar photo)

Prospect Park is the sister park of Central park and was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux who also designed Central Park. The rumor is by designing Prospect Park after Central Park, they fixed all the mistakes they made in CP.

More info about our great park can be found at the Prospect Park website.

We purchased a small wood frame house about 2 years ago with the purpose of doing a lot of the renovations ourselves. The house was priced right mainly due to the dysfunctional layout of the first floor, mainly the pathetic kitchen and bathroom layout.

From what we could tell, the house was built sometime between 1915 and 1920, and for the most part is pretty sound. The kitchen was built in the back of the house and was roughly 5’ by 6’ with a small window going out to our relatively (by NY comparison) backyard. To the right of the kitchen was a small bathroom with another very small window.

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Those two photos are as the kitchen right before we moved in, as the previous owners were packing up. We made a decision to start the construction (or more precisely the demolition) on the kitchen immediately as you can see from these photos:

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Needless to say we found a lot of surprises along the way. (more details on that later this week, including that chimney you see, along with some nasty termite damage)

All the work was done while I was working a full time job at an interactive advertising agency, so all the work was done at nights and weekends, which lead to us living with a fridge, laundry sink and microwave for almost 10 months.

Fast forward to today and our kitchen is done and is awesome, if I say so myself. :biggrin:

During the day I am now the Chief Technology Officer for Waterfront Media which is a company that provides online versions of many popular diets, as well as a health related reference site EverydayHealth. The offices are located in Dumbo, which stands for Down Under [the] Manhattan Bridge Overpass, hence the teaser photo!

Ok -- given it is getting late and I have a early meeting tomorrow morning I am going to wrap it up for now. As far as what to expect this week here is the schedule as it stands now:

Monday:
Dinner at home, or possibly out at a friends Birthday dinner. Still up in the air.

Tuesday:
Dinner at Applewood Restaurant one of our favorite local restaurants here in Park Slope.
Wednesday:
Dinner at Annisa, Anita Lo’s restaurant.

Thursday:
Pegu Club

Friday:
Still up in the air.

Saturday:
Dinner party for 8 at home.

All during the week I will be preparing for the dinner party on Saturday, so there will be bits and pieces of Saturdays dinner spread throughout the week, from tracking down ingredients, to prep work, to figuring out the wine pairings.

With that, I will see everyone back here in a few hours!
John Deragon

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#2 KatieLoeb

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 09:10 PM

**Happy Dance**

YAY! A blog with lots of great food and lots of fine cocktails. Looking forward to this immensely.

Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
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#3 Sneakeater

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 09:31 PM

I was going to ask whether Thursday is the night Jeannie is going to Idomeneo (since I just got tickets for then), but I guess not.

Edited by Sneakeater, 24 September 2006 - 09:35 PM.


#4 donbert

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 10:18 PM

I can't belive that's what your kitchen used to look like. Perhaps we can sling some drinks at my place friday night for other eG folks in the city if you don't have any plans yet.

#5 Kerry Beal

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 05:28 AM

I am so looking forward to this blog. It promises to be very interesting. I can't wait to see the kitchen finsihed and what you are able to produce in it.

I've heard so much about this Pegu Club on eG, will be great to see it on your blog.

#6 Megan Blocker

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 06:10 AM

Yay, John's blogging! Can't wait to see the pictures of the finished kitchen, which is no doubt your pride and joy for a very good reason.

The rumor is by designing Prospect Park after Central Park, they fixed all the mistakes they made in CP.

I feel like you're calling the Manhattanites out, John, but I'm too sleepy to come up with a decent response. Check back with me later. :wink:

Edited by Megan Blocker, 25 September 2006 - 06:11 AM.

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#7 racheld

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 06:26 AM

I had not a clue, but the picture was certainly a tease---I first viewed it without my glasses, on a quick sign-on to see if the new blogger could be seen. The bridge rose imposing in its graceful symmetry, and the line of little modern compacts distance-morphed into what seemed to be small roadsters and Model-T's of the early era. I squinted, hoping to see a telltale small black speck climbing the Empire State Building in the distance.

Alas, no Fay Wray, no angst-ridden apes, but a bright, happy prospect of good times, friendly gatherings, and some good cooking in a kitchen brought from dowdy to dashing, from its century-ago beginnings to a shining future full of lovely aromas and delicious dishes.

We haven't met yet, but I thank you for the invitation into your kitchen and your week.
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#8 srhcb

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 07:03 AM

.... the line of little modern compacts distance-morphed into what seemed to be small roadsters and Model-T's of the early era.

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I wondered about that too? :huh:

SB (whose neither eyes nor moniter are that great any more :sad: )

#9 Kerry Beal

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 07:20 AM

.... the line of little modern compacts distance-morphed into what seemed to be small roadsters and Model-T's of the early era.

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I wondered about that too? :huh:

SB (whose neither eyes nor moniter are that great any more :sad: )

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I saw them too. Thought maybe it was organized to be a movie set.

#10 Megan Blocker

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 07:47 AM

.... the line of little modern compacts distance-morphed into what seemed to be small roadsters and Model-T's of the early era.

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I wondered about that too? :huh:

SB (whose neither eyes nor moniter are that great any more :sad: )

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I saw them too. Thought maybe it was organized to be a movie set.

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Ummmm...aren't those construction vehicles? A bulldozer and a backhoe? Or am I crazy?
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#11 Sneakeater

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 07:54 AM

That's what they look like to me.

PS -- That thing about Olmstead and Vaux's preference for Prospect Park over Central Park is historical fact. Take that, Megan!

#12 Megan Blocker

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 07:58 AM

That's what they look like to me.

PS -- That thing about Olmstead and Vaux's preference for Prospect Park over Central Park is historical fact.  Take that, Megan!

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Damn! Taken, taken! :wink:

I could make some crack about stroller volume in Park Slope, but, then, I used to live on the UWS.
"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

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#13 Megan Blocker

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:00 AM

Ooooh, just had a thought - do we get to pick what John tries at Pegu? Like an interactive thing? That could be good times...
"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

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#14 donbert

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:13 AM

Ooooh, just had a thought - do we get to pick what John tries at Pegu?  Like an interactive thing?  That could be good times...

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I vote that he starts with a Sea Fizz. :raz:

#15 johnder

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:20 AM

Ok, phew. Done with my first round of meetings for this morning. I overslept this morning, so as a result didn't really have any breakfast. I am not a huge breakfast person normally, mostly it just involves copious amounts of coffee -- if I am lucky some wasa bread with butter and cheese.

Alas this morning I only had time for coffee. Depending on how late I am on a given day I will either make a latte at home, or stop by my favorite cafe, Cafe Regular.

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They serve coffee by La Colombe Torrefaction, pretty awesome stuff.

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Sorry for the blurred photo, I was walking pretty fast trying to take the photo so I wouldn't be late for my meeting.

Once I got out of the subway, I decided to take the shortcut underneath the Manhattan bridge. Looks pretty ominous, but it is pretty safe. I am mostly concerned with crap falling from the bridge, but recently they put up the protective undercover you see in the photo.

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John Deragon

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#16 johnder

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:21 AM

**Happy Dance**

YAY!  A blog with lots of great food and lots of fine cocktails.  Looking forward to this immensely.

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Oh, there will be quite a few cocktails this week I expect. Both at home, at Pegu and now it seems at Donbert's place!
John Deragon

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

#17 johnder

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:23 AM

I was going to ask whether Thursday is the night Jeannie is going to Idomeneo (since I just got tickets for then), but I guess not.

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She actually is going to the opera, but I am not. I will be seeing my own show at Pegu, mainly in the form of them making many, many cocktails for me.

I can't belive that's what your kitchen used to look like. Perhaps we can sling some drinks at my place friday night for other eG folks in the city if you don't have any plans yet.


Donbert and Sneakeater actually saw the kitchen last week, so they are privy to the after construction look. Friday looks good for drinks to me!
John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2
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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

#18 srhcb

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:25 AM

.... the line of little modern compacts distance-morphed into what seemed to be small roadsters and Model-T's of the early era.

View Post


I wondered about that too? :huh:

SB (whose neither eyes nor moniter are that great any more :sad: )

View Post

I saw them too. Thought maybe it was organized to be a movie set.

View Post

Ummmm...aren't those construction vehicles? A bulldozer and a backhoe?



It turns out the picture is clearer but smaller on my Apple G4, and yes, you're probably right. But it's nowhere near as much fun as having a picture morph backwards in time as it receeds into the distance?

I was thinking maybe the food would start with the latest fads and morph back to traditional dishes as the week transpired?

Or am I crazy?


:wacko: ?

SB (no comment)

#19 johnder

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:29 AM

.... the line of little modern compacts distance-morphed into what seemed to be small roadsters and Model-T's of the early era.

View Post


I wondered about that too? :huh:

SB (whose neither eyes nor moniter are that great any more :sad: )

View Post

I saw them too. Thought maybe it was organized to be a movie set.

View Post

Ummmm...aren't those construction vehicles? A bulldozer and a backhoe? Or am I crazy?

View Post


To answer all your questions, those are just plain old construction workers tearing up the street. There is a crazy amount of construction going on down here. They are building 4 or 5 huge condos within 3 blocks of our office. As a result there are numerous public utilities digging up the street everywhere.

On the topic of movie sets, that is another normal thing down here. Just last week Adam Sandler was filming a movie directly outside our front door. A slight verbal altercation occurred between myself and the stagehand when he tried to prevent me from getting my coffee the other day.

This week they are supposedly filming an episode of Law and Order. Hopefully I can grab some pictures.
John Deragon

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

#20 johnder

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:30 AM

Ooooh, just had a thought - do we get to pick what John tries at Pegu?  Like an interactive thing?  That could be good times...

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That could be dangerous. Even more dangerous than my normal experience at Pegu where Brian/Phil/Jim/Chad just pick the cocktails I am drinking on a given night!
John Deragon

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

#21 Sneakeater

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:40 AM

Ooooh, just had a thought - do we get to pick what John tries at Pegu?  Like an interactive thing?  That could be good times...

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You mean like instead of "See Alyssa Date" we could have "See John Drink"?

#22 Sneakeater

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:42 AM

Donbert and Sneakeater actually saw the kitchen last week, so they are privy to the after construction look.

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I can't speak for Donbert, but I for one was concentrating more on what was in my glass than what was in the kitchen.

#23 docsconz

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:44 AM

This could either be a major walk down Nostalgia Lane for me as I grew up in Park Slope, Brooklyn or just a reminder of how old I am getting and how long ago I lived there. unfortunately, I fear the latter is more likely.

John, what part of Park Slope do you live in? I grew up on 9th St between 8th Ave. and the Park. BTW, Prospect park is all that. It is a beautiful park, that is probably in better shape today than when I lived there. I still remember having my bicycle stolen from me in the park when I was 14 years old. Now the area is restaurantville. Back in my day, we could get a decent slice of pizza or a good meatball hero and not much more.
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#24 johnder

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:46 AM

Donbert and Sneakeater actually saw the kitchen last week, so they are privy to the after construction look.

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I can't speak for Donbert, but I for one was concentrating more on what was in my glass than what was in the kitchen.

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While the drinks I were making were good, they are no match for the kitchen. At least that is what I am told. :huh:
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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

#25 Sneakeater

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:48 AM

Well, you know, we all have different interests.

Give me a good cocktail and I probably wouldn't notice Wylie DuFresne's kitchen at WD-50.

#26 johnder

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:49 AM

So I am about to head off into yet another meeting, but wanted to give you guys a look at what we see outside our main conference room. Our offices are right on the water, and we have an amazing view of the East River along with lower Manhattan. The bridge you see is of course the world famous Brooklyn Bridge.

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and of course a little sustinance for the meeting to come.

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#27 johnder

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:58 AM

This could either be a major walk down Nostalgia Lane for me as I grew up in Park Slope, Brooklyn or just a reminder of how old I am getting and how long ago I lived there. unfortunately, I fear the latter is more likely.

John, what part of Park Slope do you live in? I grew up on 9th St between 8th Ave. and the Park. BTW, Prospect park is all that. It is a beautiful park, that is probably in better shape today than when I lived there. I still remember having my bicycle stolen from me in the park when I was 14 years old. Now the area is restaurantville. Back in my day, we could get a decent slice of pizza or a good meatball hero and not much more.

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I didn't realize you grew up in Park Slope! I don't think things changed much since you were a kid, what was that, 10 years ago? :wink:

I currently live on 16th Street between 5th and 6th avenues. Some people say it is borderline Park Slope and probably is Windsor Terrace/Prospect Heights. If you ask a realtor, they think 75% of Brooklyn qualifies as Park Slope.

Prospect Park has really become even more amazing in the past few years. They finished the Audubon center and 2 years ago reopened the "forest" which was closed to allow nature to regrow itself in a protected fashion.

This coming Saturday I am going to take a bikeride down to the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket and take lots of photos along the way.

In terms of changes to the neighborhood it is pretty extreme. 7th Avenue was the area to first change as it had the most foot traffic. Now almost every store is either an organic market, restaurant or clothing store with a few Starbucks and Barnes and Noble scattered in.

5th avenue is still somewhat Bohemian, it is a mix of hole in the wall restaurants, cool local bars to have a beer and listen to the jukebox, or discount 99 cent stores.
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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

#28 johnder

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 09:11 AM

Ah my box of booze just came. As some of you may know, I have been obsessed with finding some decent form of apricot brandy to use in cocktails. The defacto standard one, Marie Brizzard Apry is almost impossible to find now.

There is a pretty big thread about it going on here.

Well last week I found a store that sells both the Hungarian Zwack Apricot brandy, which is more like an eau de vie, and the Maraska Apricot. I heard good things about the Zwack, but it is a dry brandy, not a sweeter type used in the older cocktails.

I really like the Maraska Maraschino, so I had high hopes for the Maraska Apricot, but alas Audrey broke me the news last week that is isn't so hot. Oh well, it was already ordered at that point, I will just add 2 more bottles to my collection. I will definately report back first hand on the results of the taste testing.

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John Deragon

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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

#29 Sneakeater

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 09:12 AM

5th avenue is still somewhat Bohemian, it is a mix of hole in the wall restaurants, cool local bars to have a beer and listen to the jukebox, or discount 99 cent stores.

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I'll bet to Dr. Sconzo, 5th Ave.'s being bohemian is a pretty big change.

#30 ludja

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 09:20 AM

Looking forward to seeing your neighborhood restaurants, as well as the Park and your farmer's market later in the week--and the vicarious cocktails at Pegu!

That view from your conference rooms is amazing! What a wild contrast in beautiful scenery the last few foodblog's have provided.
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