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Ling

The most spectacular "Chocolate Soiree" ever!

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I had the terribly good fortune of being invited to a chocolate event hosted by Egulleter Lord Balthazar and his lovely wife, Fondy, last night. Needless to say, the sheer volume and extravagance of what was proffered to the lucky, lucky guests exceeded my wildest fantasies.

Here are the photos and some brief comments. I apologize for being able to tell you little more than what I liked and what I didn't like about the chocolates I remembered tasting--there were just way too many to keep track of, and I didn't want to be the freak with the pen and paper, scribbling tasting notes. :laugh:

The pictures aren't the best either. (I took one quick shot of almost everything although now I realize I'm missing the Michel Cluizel table with the sampler box, the chocolate nibs, and the chocolate cocoa beans!) I wanted to be quick with the pictures so everyone could start tasting. :smile:

I'll offer my opinion of the Michel Cluizel first, since I neglected to take a picture. I was really surprised with the 45% milk, which I enjoyed much more than the Valrhona Jivara. I'm not a fan of milk chocolate to begin with, but the Cluizel milk was extremely smooth and had more depth than the Jivara. (I've had the rest of the chocolates before--my favourite is the Hacienda 'Los Anconès'. I don't believe this was in the sampler box, but there was the 85% and another 72%, and some white chocolate as well.

Domori

I sampled three types--none of them really stood out for me.

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Green & Blacks

Pretty good, and if I recall correctly, quite reasonably priced!

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Vosges

I sampled every single bar on this plate. My favourite was the "Black Pearl" bar with ginger, wasabi, and sesame. The ginger came through quite nicely. Also noteworthy is the curry spice one...but at something like 40ish%, it was too sweet for me.

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Christopher Norman bars

Here are a variety of nut/spice chocolate bars...the pistachio one was particularly good. (Yes, I sampled them all...my friend and I spent the whole four hours eating non-stop! This guy who snacked on breadsticks and water crackers all night kept laughing at how much chocolate we were putting away... :laugh: I just told him we take our work very seriously! :wink: )

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Christopher Norman brownies

These brownies were amazing--they have two distinct layers. The bottom layer seems to be a very dense, almost flourless chocolate brownie and the top layer is a lighter truffle. It tasted like hazelnut (if I remember correctly.)

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Christopher Norman tea sampler

We chose the blue one (lapsuong?) I often see this flavour paired with duck, so it was hard not to think about duck when I was eating this... :unsure: The tea flavour was quite strong. I think I would've preferred to taste more of the chocolate.

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Chocolate Table #1

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Pierre Marcolini

This was my first time tasting Pierre Marcolini's chocolates and I was blown away. These definitely made my Top 3 of the evening, especially the Venezuela 75%. Nice, long finish.

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Here are Pierre's truffles. I forget which one of these I sampled...I think I had two, and I believe one of them was a salted caramel. My friend said that the salted caramel ones from Fran's surpasses the one we ate last night, though.

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Vosges truffles

I had a dulce de leche truffle, which was delicious, and the "Red Fire" truffle. I liked the flavour in the truffle moreso than in the "Red Fire" brownie. The brownie was too sweet and not chocolatey enough.

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Wild Sweets from the Duby husband/wife team here in Vancouver!

These were beautiful to look at. I had one that was apricot and mango (I think? Or perhaps passionfruit?) and one that was walnut cinnamon. Both were great.

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Also Wild Sweets...I had a black truffle chocolate from this box. The truffle flavour was quite pronounced, though not overwhelmingly so because of the relatively thick shell.

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These beautiful truffles are from a famous chocolatier in Montreal, Chocolats Genevieve Grandbois! (Apparently, the chocolate transfers are like a puzzle, and if you fit them together correctly, you get an image of a puppy! I kept my grubby fingers away from all the chocolates though... :wink: )

I had two or three selections from this box as well...the black truffle one, and a 25 year old balsamico one. The black truffle flavour in this chocolate was stronger compared to the one put out by Wild Sweets, and the shell was more delicate. I preferred this one.

The balsamico truffle was not my favourite--the taste was kind of muddled at the beginning (I hadn't looked at the sheet and couldn't really tell what flavour it was until the sweet/tanginess kicked in at the end.)

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Now here is ONE of the pastry tables! The host flattered me by placing my chocolate tarts on a pedestal in the center, amidst the beautiful creations by Ganache Patisserie.

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There's a close-up shot of the tarts I made that I took earlier in the day.

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Tray one...mousse cakes with a chocolate cake bottom. These were good, but not terribly special. The macaroons were very sweet compared to the ones you find at Thomas Haas.

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Cream puffs

These were dry...not my favourite. (I prefer a moist interior.)

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raspberry and white chocolate mousse

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I believe this was the chocolate and banana mousse cake.

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another chocolate mousse cake

(And yes, I tasted each and every single pastry so far... :shock: )

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The Concorde

(meringue rods very sweet, but I love the crunchy contrast)

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Pastry Table #2

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A selection from Sen5es. Sen5es is, of course, run by the legendary Thomas Haas. My favourite pastries there are the lemon tarts, the stilton cheesecakes, and the twice-baked almond croissant.

My favourite pastry from last night was the milk chocolate and passionfruit cake (the dome in the back).

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I am not sure which bakery provided the madelaines...

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from La Petite France, another one of the best Vancouver has to offer. As you can see, their pastries look very traditional compared to the more modern look that Sen5es prefers. There were a variety of mousse cakes on this platter. What stood out for me was a coffee/chocolate cream layer cake.

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Not one...

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...but TWO Valrhona fountains!

These were thinned out by cocoa butter instead of your usual oil. There were lots of different fruits. I had a slice of banana....that was pretty fun.

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Chocoatl in Yaletown (Vancouver)

Themis, one of the owners, was there last night making us hot chocolate too! He was so affable; everyone loved him. My favourite hot chocolate of the evening was a Peruvian hot chocolate with cabernet sauvignon!

He made the hot chocolates with these...(btw, the pistachio cake was quite good too!)

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I tried the dark chocolate matcha truffle. It was filled with a runny white chocolate filling that was subtly flavoured with the matcha.

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Callebaut chocolates

I skipped over these...

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El Rey truffles, and more Callebaut...

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Sparkle cookies and E. Guittard

The Sparkle cookies I had a few years ago almost made me double over in ecstasy. The ones I had at Haas two months ago were OK...not nearly as chocolatey as the ones you can make at home using their published recipe (providing you use the Guanaja as specified.) The ones last night were more like a chocolate-flavoured almond cookie...way too much almond meal. I think their recipe must've changed once they started packaging some of them as take-and-bake cookies.

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Haas' beautiful chocolates. These are my favourite in Vancouver!

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Valrhona Jivara and a chocolate flower

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Amedei Chuao and Porcelana!

These are both incredible 70% chocolates. I give the edge to the Porcelana though...amazingly smooth melt. The Porcelana was my favourite chocolate of the evening.

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Guido Gobbino

I believe these were single-origin chocolates...they were good, but my palate was spoiled from the Amedei.

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The host also makes incredible ice-creams! The lightest one is Callebaut with Scharffen Berger nibs, one Valrhona dark with El Rey Ioca white chocolate chips, and one was Michel Cluizel (and I believe it had apricot liqueur?) All fantastic. I had two helpings. :smile:

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And look what the generous, very handsome and dashing (not to mention impeccably-dressed!! :raz: ) host gave me when I left!! He's making me say that in exchange for the freebies...j/k! :wink:

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:wub:

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What a night to remember! Thanks for allowing me to re-live it by posting it all here.

By the end of the night, I had so much sugar and caffeine coursing through my system that I was speaking so incredibly fast...eek! :biggrin:


Edited by Ling (log)

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:shock: Absolutely incredible. :shock:

Those Christopher Norman brownies look scrumptious! And the hot chocolate with cab sounds incredible....could you tell us a bit more about that?

And.... excuse my ignorance but, what was the purpose of this event? (Well, I know the purpose.... EAT) But was this a charity event or fundraiser or something? How did your hosts manage to get ahold of all of this without going broke?!

Thanks for sharing such great pics... :smile:

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Oh my god! I have never seen so much high end chocolate in the same place at the same time. I am green with envy!! You lucky thing.

I WANT TO BE THERE AND TASTE IT ALL!!!

The migraine would be worth it.

Thanks for the great pictures.

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Wow Ling, you look like you had a super time! Everything looked great! Thanks for taking all the pics and time to do this. Seeing as you enjoyed this experience so much, you must make the trek up to NYC for the Chocolate Show in November!! It's 3 whole days worth of chocolate overloading! :biggrin:

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Astounding, Ling! Hey, you do know there's a recipe out there for a Black Pearl Cake, echoing the flavors of the truffle you had, right? I haven't had an excuse to make it yet, but it's high on my list to try if I get the right audience. Did you say you're coming to Seattle soon???

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Speaking on behalf of all chocolate lovers everywhere...wow and thanks!

Speaking on behalf of my stomach...I think I'm feeling queezy :wacko:

Thanks Ling for sharing your night with us.

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I just love to having pictures to back up an event such as this. The pictures are truly worth a thousand words. Words can motivate me to a certain extent, but pictures seal the deal, at least for me.

Thanks for sharing the event with us.

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I'm swooning... thank you for taking us along on your trip to Chocolate Heaven!! :wub:

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It was definitely chocolate overload. Fortunately, I'd been sampling chocolates prior to the party and, thanks to the leftovers, will be sampling them for some time to come.

Plain Chocloates: I agree with you on Amedei. I really like the Porcleana. But my favorite is still their Chuao (nice, subtle burnt-caramel-like finish). By the way, the Valrhona flower was Porcelana as well. Of the Guido Gobbino discs pictured below them, I really enjoyed the Ghana. Also, agree with you on the Michel Cluizel milk. Wow. I'm not usually a milk fan but, after trying it for the first time, I went back to Meinhardt's and bought another five bars. Didn't get to try the Christopher Norman or Vosges bars, but will be rectifying that this week.

Filled Chocolates/Truffles: Agree with you on the Marcolini. The truffles were also excellent - as were the Vosges I sampled. The Genvieve Grandbois assortment also engendered a lot of discussion - some very unique, very accomplished tastes. And of the local offerings, Wild Sweets was the talk of the evening - everything from their beautiful presentation to their complex flavors.

Pastries: Sadly, I did not sample any of the pastries as I was too busy working the room for most of the evening. But everyone seemed to enjoy.

Chocoatl offerings: Dark chocolate fountain over milk chocolate fountain. Loved the little cocoa butter balls used for dipping. The Cabarnet Sauvignon hot chocolate (I don't remember what kind of chocolate used) was stand-out.

I offered a fairly wide variety of drinks for the various pairings but, personally, stuck to an excellent Spanish Pedro Domecq "Very Rare Palo Cortado" Sherry, Sibarita.

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LordBalthazar, how did you manage to organize such an incredible event? And may I ask how many guests were in attendance?

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LordBalthazar, how did you manage to organize such an incredible event? And may I ask how many guests were in attendance?

I have always been a fan of sweets but it wasn't until I read Chocolate Connoisseur by Chloe Doutre-Roussel (several months ago) that I decided to get serious and being educating myself on the fine art of chocolate. I started by ordering several varieties of world-class chocolates from Chocosphere in Portland, taste-testing them, bringin them into the office and having my co-workers taste test and weigh in with their opinions. It was fun to compare and contrast and, most important of all, share the common experience with fellow chocoholics. Which eventually led to the idea for the party.

As my friends will tell you, when I plan I like to "go big or go home". To that end, I put in an order with Chocosphere, cleaning them out of their entire stock of Amedei Chuao (my personal fave), and planning some individual chocolate tastings (ie. darks and some milks from various top companies). I then did some online research and came up with a list of 10 top chocolatiers in North America. Many did not ship to Canada but some did (Pierre Marcolini, Vosges, Christopher Norman) and I arranged for their chocolates to be shipped the week of the party (filled, truffles, and bars). I made arrangements with Peter Fong of Ganache Patisserie to make petit fours and truffles for the party, then picked up pastries from a few other places (Ie. Petite France, Senses). Also made a point of picking up some local chocolates (Callebaut, Haas, and Wild Sweets - Dominique and Cindy were incredibly sweet and very informative, I ended up speaking to them for half and hour and even extended an invitation to the party but, alas, they had company coming in for the weekend).

Being a big fan of Chocoatl, I asked Themis the owner for a couple of chocolate fountains for the event. Well, that started him thinking and, when all was said and done, he, Brandon, and Dhelia their event-organizer planned a terrific evening of chocolate fountains, chocolates, pastries, hot chocolate, and informative chat.

Finally, re: the invitations. I tried to limit the guest list to 30 (this being my first chocolate soiree) although, in hindsight, I could have invited 50 and they still wouldn't have made it through half the offerings. Banking on some no-shows, I invited 15 people from work, 15 friends, and 12 egulleters (choosing the egulleters pretty much at random based on who I'd conversed with, had shown an interest in chocolates and deserts, etc.). In the end, due to prior commitments, only one egulleter was able to make it - and, fortunately, it was the extremely prolific Ling. Well, actually, there were two more egulleters to make it but, as it turned out, they were actually some old friends (ah, the magic of internet anonymity).

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Wow wow wow-- looks like a heavenly evening--theobroma for sure.

Thank you, Ling and LordBalthazar.

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:blink: Umm. I don't have any words. That looked like a night to remember and one that no one should have ever turned down an invite to... :laugh:

What an amazing night. Although I don't possess the hollow leg that Ling does so perhaps I would have gone home that night in an ambulance.

LB looks like you throw good parties!

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:shock:  Absolutely incredible.  :shock:

Those Christopher Norman brownies look scrumptious! And the hot chocolate with cab sounds incredible....could you tell us a bit more about that?

And.... excuse my ignorance but, what was the purpose of this event? (Well, I know the purpose.... EAT) But was this a charity event or fundraiser or something? How did your hosts manage to get ahold of all of this without going broke?!

Thanks for sharing such great pics...  :smile:

First, it wasn't a fundraiser...just an incredible event put together by the very generous host and hostess! (I know, I know...can you BELIEVE the spread? My head is still reeling....)

The Peruvian chocolate and cabernet sauvignon stood out among the other two hot chocolates I sampled. (One had too much rum so I couldn't really taste the chocolate, and the other was a very smoky Indonesian chocolate, I believe!) The cabernet sauvignon added body and depth without masking the Peruvian chocolate. It was a delicious, very adult treat! :biggrin:

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Astounding, Ling!  Hey, you do know there's a recipe out there for a Black Pearl Cake, echoing the flavors of the truffle you had, right?  I haven't had an excuse to make it yet, but it's high on my list to try if I get the right audience.  Did you say you're coming to Seattle soon???

Yes, I know about the recipe! I haven't made it either but it looks incredible!

I'm coming to Seattle soon to hit up Fran's and to have dinner at Monsoon...Fridays are my day off, so perhaps this Friday or the Friday after that, before I fly to San Fran! :smile:

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This is the most awesome post! Thank you!

Lord Balthazar, I am impressed with your generosity. Bravo to you!

I am speechless...

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is it possible to have a chocolate hangover?! what a great party lord balthazar. and ling, thanks for posting such great pictures.

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First, it wasn't a fundraiser...just an incredible event put together by the very generous host and hostess! (I know, I know...can you BELIEVE the spread? My head is still reeling....)

The Peruvian chocolate and cabernet sauvignon stood out among the other two hot chocolates I sampled. (One had too much rum so I couldn't really taste the chocolate, and the other was a very smoky Indonesian chocolate, I believe!) The cabernet sauvignon added body and depth without masking the Peruvian chocolate. It was a delicious, very adult treat!  :biggrin:

Thanks.... :smile: And thanks to The Lord (hehehe) for the response also. I am still completely IN AWE at what you put together here. Incredible!

You know.... I was up @ 5am today just when you posted this after 2am your time.... I was wondering if you'd go off to bed and wake up wth a tummy ache. Did you? :huh:

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Great pics. I wish I had been there.

Lorna, I have to ask: What did you have for a snack/meal after feasting on chocolate for 4 hours straight? I'm assuming you also had a full meal before the soiree?

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You know.... I was up @ 5am today just when you posted this after 2am your time.... I was wondering if you'd go off to bed and wake up wth a tummy ache. Did you?  :huh:

No, no...I was perfectly fine. :smile: No tummy ache. But I was talking really fast...hahah.

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Great pics. I wish I had been there.

Lorna, I have to ask: What did you have for a snack/meal after feasting on chocolate for 4 hours straight? I'm assuming you also had a full meal before the soiree?

I was hoping no one would ask, but I had fried rice, and then a Yogurt Coffee Crisp (new flavour? It sounded interesting) before the Chocolate Soiree. (It was strange...I don't usually like tanginess with my chocolate.)

When I got home, my mom was making jiao zi (dumplings) from scratch! So how could I not have a bowl (OK fine, I had two.) :blush:

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Great pics....

so much chocolate.....in one night....

thank you for sharing

I will try to do the same with my friends....

thank you :raz:

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just one more reason why I wish I lived in Vancouver!

Very cool party!!!!!!!!!

Dare we talk more about the comparisions......things you all learned?

I was supprised to read a good review of the green & blacks chocolate Ling. I never really noticed their existence until a couple months ago. So when I saw some at the store I had to try it. I really, really don't like what I bought (it was a milk choc bar) it's rotting in my cabinet now. It's horrid.........definately leaves a musty taste in your mouth, like I've eaten mushroom chocolate. My hubby even disliked it.

I've had some of Haas's chocolates........some of them are fantastic, a couple of them tasted old/dull. I do think his chocolates that he layers with jellys are auesome..........huge taste impact! His pastries were the same way for me, some were fantastic and others weren't worth finishing. AND I have a HUGE ditto on his sparkle cookies. They make you weak in the knees when served warm.........but all the recipes I've tried to make from the net, pale in comparision. I get too much almond flour grit in my mouth.

Vosages...........well............I've purchased all their bars at Marshall Fields and liked all of them but the curry one. Then I bought the same sized box of assorted truffles (as shown in your photos) to try all of their product. I really wasn't crazy about their chocolates. For me, it wasn't worth the money, I'd have been happier with a couple hersheys chocolate kisses. I'd never spend my money on them again.

I would have loved to hear how Norman Loves and J. Torres chocolates compare to the others...........not to forget C. Elbows.

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Great pics. I wish I had been there.

Lorna, I have to ask: What did you have for a snack/meal after feasting on chocolate for 4 hours straight? I'm assuming you also had a full meal before the soiree?

I was hoping no one would ask, but I had fried rice, and then a Yogurt Coffee Crisp (new flavour? It sounded interesting) before the Chocolate Soiree. (It was strange...I don't usually like tanginess with my chocolate.)

When I got home, my mom was making jiao zi (dumplings) from scratch! So how could I not have a bowl (OK fine, I had two.) :blush:

You tasted everything at the party and then you went home and had TWO bowls of dumplings?

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