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percyn

Percyn in Stockholm and Paris

46 posts in this topic

Wonderful report, Percy. I am curious about the shrimp "pil-pil" that you had. Pil-Pil is generally made with salt cod and olive oil and a fairly involved cooking process. Would you happen to know if this was a real pi-pil to which they substituted shrimp after the sauce was made, or a variation that they called "pil-pil" because of a textural resemblance?

Thanks Doc ! I wish I had more time to give a more complete report, but I am squeezing posts in between meetings, shopping and of-course, eating.

I can't intelligently compare the Gambas "pil-pil" I had to the version you reference, since I have not tried the Bacalao pil-pil. Though there was olive oil, I don't remember any Cod in the version I got and would not be surprised if they took a few short cuts compared to the Bacalao pil-pil from Basque, however, for comparision, the sauce of seemed to have a much more complex flavor than the typical Gambas tapas I have ever tasted.

Hopefully I will get a chance to make a "Tapas trip" to Spain soon and perhaps then I can offer a more informed opinion.

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Maybe I can answer some of the question re: Sweden that have popped up.

Yep - it's a pretty good country to live in. I'm an American that's been living in Sweden for 10 years now. Swedes are always amazed that I've decided to settle down here (my wife is Swedish, we met at college in the States) as opposed to the States but I personally think it's normally due to a good case of "grass-is-greener"...

Onto the food.

Swedish reindeer is from up North and I suppose I'd classify it as "free-range", or so. The Sami (widely known to us Americans by their non-PC name, the Lapps) up North still make much of their living from farming and selling reindeer. There are (at least) 2 subspecies of which the "tame" reindeer is what is found in Sweden as of the beginning of the 1900's. Reindeer meat in Sweden is still inspected for radioactive contamination after the Chernobyl disaster. The reindeer eat a lichen which sucks up large amounts of the radioactive fallout that was blown up to Sweden following the disaster. Obviously, if it's in the store or has been served to you at a restaurant, it's passed the inspection!

We've seen two types of caviar thanks to Percyn. The stuff in the tube is actually cod roe. It's been salted and there's a good amount of sugar in there, too (which is why I don't think I've ever developed a real love of the stuff... Swedes love the "sweet/salty" flavor combination and I've learned to like it to. Throw in "fishy", though...). There are a few fancier brands that have been lightly smoked, too. Swedes spread this on toasted bread and/or eat it on hard-boiled eggs. The caviar that Percyn has been served at the restaurants is considered a delicacy and is normally translated as "bleakfish roe". It's good stuff! Not on the level of Russian or Iranian caviar but quite nice in its own way. It's even been mentioned on the Rosengarten Report. See this Rosengarten Report As mentioned in the article, as "Swedish" as Swedes feel this dish is, a large amount of bleakfish roe is imported from the United States!

Those were definately cloudberries that we've been seeing. They are also a product from northern Sweden - they grow in the vast bogs up there. I think I remember reading that they are actually related to roses which wouldn't suprise me as the flavor, once one gets past the berry's glaring sweetness, reminds me of rosehips.

As far as the strawberry question goes, I agree wholeheartedly that Swedish (and/or Scandinavian) strawberries are outstanding! Now, I can't claim that the ones Percyn was served were especially Swedish (there are patches of snow on the ground up here already!) but believe him when he says that they were tasty. I think the reason why Swedish strawberries are so good is the long, cool growing season and the fact that so many people have been growing them at home for so many generations. This has led to a relatively small market force for commercial strawberry farming and a survival of many of the fragile, delicate and tasty varieties that normally would die out in favor of large, pretty and robust (unfortunatley often tasteless...) varieties.

The gooseblood soup is exactly as someone has described their grandmother's version. It's really only served during this holiday and even then normally only to the older generation and/or people born and bred in southern Sweden. Many other people are perhaps a little too squirmish these days... I've been wanting to purchase a goose myself to recreate the entire dinner but we're in the middle of a major house renovation and a fresh goose goes for well over 100 bucks in Stockholm...

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Part II - Paris

Sorry for the delay in posting, the traffic from CDG to the hotel has terrible and barely left me time to take a quick shower, get dressed and head to Alain Passard's L'Arpege a 3 star restaurant in 7e. Also appologize for the quality of the pictures in advance, as this is not a place you want to use the flash.

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I was quickly seated at my table and presented with the menu, which included a 20th anniversary tasting menu. It took me a minute to figure out that the years next to the dishes where years in which the dish was introduced and not the vintage of the suggested wine pairing. Mind you, at 340Euro, I would expect wine to be included (that's twice the price of a fixed menu at Per Se). The wine list was extensive, but did not include wines by the galss or any bottleunder 100 Euros. I was told that the 20th anniversay menu was suited for white wine and I inquired whether they have half bottles to which the sommelier first said no, but then said he would check the cellar and came up with a 2005 Sancere (I did not get a chance to note the name) and it was quite good (for the 60Euros I later found it had cost me).

So on to the menu...

Amuse Bouche - Alain Passard's garden vegetables on kitchen-made potato chip. (For those not aware, Alain Passard is fanatical about vegetables and it shows in his cooking. The essence of whatever vegetable is presented jump right at you. I was further amazed in how the vegetables paired on the plate "influence" each other. Not a harsh clash in any of the dishes, nor a forceful compliment, but rather a gentle kiss of essence. He treats vegetables the same way a master sushi chef would treat a prized fish).

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Egg w/Maple Foam - Extremely light foam with a hint of maple and a yolk that was so sublime, I could not have duplicated the texture via sous vide techniques (and I will try). This first dish set the bar pretty high. A simple yet perfectly executed dish.

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Sweet & Sour Lobster topped with Black Raddish - Once again, the sauce was sweet with a gentle touch of vinegat to cut the sweetness. The lobster was perfectly cooked and must have been poached at an ultra low temp.

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Vegetable Puree Soup w/Japanese Bacon (spek) Foam - The soup seemed to be a puree of root vegetables of high quality. You could not pick our too much of one vegetable over the other. Like a good wine, when I thought of a particular vegetable like parsnip, I got a faint taste of it, turnip the same, etc

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Salt Roasted Red Beet w/12 yr Balsamic Vinegar - I was instructed that I would eat the skin if I preferred. The beet had a gentle sweet flavor, which the balsamico could over-power. However, the skin was soft, yet dense with flavor and stood up well to the vinegar. The texture of the beet was just past crisp. So it was not hard and not muchy...just right.

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Scallops with Spinach and Parsley Puree w/Cepe Sauce - The scallops were not pan seared, but must have been slow poached just to the point that they were not raw, but preserved all their natural flavors and sweetness. A few moments later a waiter arrived at the table with a sizzling copper pan to place a baby leek which was sauteed in butter on my plate

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Saithe w/ Yellow Wine Sauce and Roasted Potatoes - Succulent piece of fish, which had a firm texture. I wish we could get Saithe in the US, it has such a great flavor

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Fish Consumme w/Vegetable Ravioli - The delicate flavor of the comsumme was given a boost by the crunchy and extremely flavorful vegetables wrapped in extremely thin ravioli skins.

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Pigeon w/Caramelized Almonds - The only dish that needed a red wine. The whole pigeon was roasted and presented at your table before it was taken back to be carved and plated. The sauce was just increadibly....I can still taste it. It must have tons of reduced pigeon jus, crushed bones and I think it might have some liver in it too. I soaked it up with bread and could have had another plate of sauce as a substiture for another dish.

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Formage - The cheese "tray" was this huge block of redwood which needed 2 people to lift and carry from one side of the room to the other. For most of the night this was placed next to me and I could sometimes smell the cheese aroma. There was a big wheel of 4yr Comte, which they claim there are only 5 of in the world and it was being served to everyone. I can't remember to names of the cheese but when I told him I liked soft cheese, he gave me a sheeps milk, a runny mild cheese and an runny and extremley strong one. Over the next few days I will try to find the names and post it.

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Chocolat Napolean - This was extremely flaky and cracked like thin sheets of plaster or a very old canvas. Not too sweet

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Petit Four

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Green pepper and Chilie Gelee - This was a first. It was 2 of each, sweet to start but a finish with a pronounced green pepper or chilie flavor.

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The service was good, but it seemed a bit rushed and it seemed like the wait staff was rushing and occassionally dumping into each other in the relatively small restaurant. Not something I expect from a 3 Michelen star restaurant.

So that was dinner at L'Arpege last night, I will post about today's lunch at Le Cinq and othe food things when I return to the US in the next day or so.

Cheers

Percy

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On to day 2 in Paris.

The day started with a walk to Notre Dame and a stop for a café and croissant at the counter of Café Notre Dame (you can people watch and get a good view of Notre Dame.

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My lunch reservations at Le Cinq were at 1pm, so I strolled around a bit and headed back to the hotel to get changed before heading to Le Cinq. When I saw these ducks, I thought of I_Call_the_Duck, an eG member and frequent dining companion.

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Was tempted to try some oysters and homard, but had to restrain myself knowning that a big lunch was to follow in a few hours.

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Now on to my dining experience at Le Cinq.

If you have not had an opportunity to stay at the Four Seasons, George V in Paris, I highly recommend going there for a meal or afternoon tea. The hotel is one of the most beautiful Four Seasons properties and they call it the hotel of flowers for a reason. In every corner or nook you will find fresh roses and other flowers in amazing decorations….and this coming from someone who perhaps shares the macho view that flowers and bouquet are overrated.

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The room, décor and ambience at Le Cinq is truly amazing. Zagat says “..this is what royalty must have felt like” and they are not kidding. There are 20 ft windows draped in heavy silk. Frescos on the ceiling and flowers everywhere. The furniture seems to be in a Louis XVI(?) style and the chairs are very comfortable.

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To start, I was offered a selection of Champaign and I choose a Rose, which was excellent and worth the 30 Euro/glass. But I guess you have to forget the price if you want to enjoy yourself. It did come with excellent buttery, cheese twists.

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Based on the correspondence with the hotel and the fact that they have my profile in their system (the four seasons is very good about keeping track of their guests likes and dislikes across their properties worldwide), they inquired whether I would be interested in their “light” tasting menu. Mind you, “light” is very subjective and you will soon see why. I was also glad to see that they had some good wines by the glass, so I ordered a 2002 Puligny-Montrachet

The bread I was initially offered was a slice of salt-free white bread. One might think that is very odd for a classic French restaurant, until the waiter pours some Tuscan olive oil from a carafe and invites you to dip the bread in it, which I willingly comply with. I have never tasted such an olive oil so full of flavor and complexity. The fluffy white bread was a perfect carrier for this amazing oil as it slowly dissolved in your mouth, releasing the oil’s aroma and leaving a slightly grassy, pungent, peppery flavor on your tongue.

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Next were 2 amuse bouches – the first was goat’s milk cheese wrapped in a thin slice of zucchini and topped with a pimento pepper (pictured next to champagne above) . Amuse Bouche # 2 was a thin Canoli like shell, filled with a puree of chestnut, cepes and truffle. I was also presented with other bread such as baguette, bread with lardon and country bread, with unsalted and salted butter. I wish I could get such great mini baggets locally. The crust was not too thick and had a nice crunch, while the inside was filled with air pockets and chewy.

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The first course was “Risotto” of eggplant with Cepes (porcini) and a few olives. The eggplant was fantastic, not only in taste, but especially in texture. It really did have the texture of a slightly soft arborio or bomba rice.

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Next, was Pan Seared Scallops Root Vegetables and Cream Sauce – The sweetness of the scallops complemented the excellent cream sauce.

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Wider shot of plate

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For the next course I had a choice between Veal in Lobster Sauce with Carrots and Artichoke or Pigeon in truffle sauce. Since I already had pigeon the night before, I chose the veal and requested that it be prepared the way Chef prefers to which the head waiter quickly responded – pink ! and gave a smiled. This was a good choice for the sauce alone. The veal was well cooked (a tad bit stringy), but I loved the lobster sauce, which the waiter came over with some extra and poured over the meat. The bread stick like thing resting on the "lobster sausage" was a piece of what I will call "french toast".

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By this time I was convinced that someone was playing a joke by calling it a “light” tasting menu.

Next came the Formage cart. Don’t ask me to name them all, but I did get a selection of cheeses with the help of my very friendly waiter. I forgot to take a picture of the cheese on my plate.

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Now for something that gives this restaurant that little extra (in addition to the personalized china, etc) which probably contributed to the 3 stars. They exchange your napkin used for the meal with a smaller one more appropriate for dessert. To “get you in the right mood”.

Then came the pre-dessert, a “minestrone” of fruit. Hard to describe the texture and taste of the cake, but it was dense outside, soft inside and felt like it had dates. The fruit was mango and pineapple.

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Then came a Passion fruit crème brulee on top of mango, pineapple and passion fruit. Sorry for not having a picture of it, I can’t believe I did not capture it.

Next, I was presented with a drink menu of coffee (Gand Cru Blue Mountain), Chocolat Choid (hot chocolate), Aperitifs, etc to which I selected the Chocolat Choid. A few moments later came the dessert cart. I was full, but couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to taste their rendition of my favorite sweet, marzipan, along with kitchen made marshmallow and some chocolates. They even pour you a special mineral water (poured in the glass with the blue tint in the picture below) to “energize you” after the lunch. For those who don’t believe that water can have different tastes, I challenge you to try this one. If you can taste the different between Fiji and tap water, this is another quantum leap.

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Two hours later, I was glad the meal came to an end and thankful to have such a great experience. I have been to many restaurants, some more expensive, but none came as close to a perfect dining experience as the one I had at Le Cinq. The wait staff were charming, polite, appeared out of nowhere like magicians and moved with a grace of dance professionals. The head waiter noting that I enjoyed food even gave me a complimentary copy of Les Grande Tables du Monde.

I have been thinking about the food, the service, the décor, the ambiance…what would I change? How can they improve? And nearly 24 hrs later, I can’t think of anything but trival, minute things. I have an overwhelming amount of good things that come to mind. A new bar has been set.

In summary, this restaurant has reinstated my trust in the Michelin guide and is truly a bargain when compared to the other 3 star restaurants.

Cheers

Percy


Edited by percyn (log)

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Ummm where was all that seafood?????

tracey


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

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Aww, thanks for thinking of me, Percy.

Those photos are amazing. Everything looked great…well, maybe not those hot dogs. Regarding the Rudolph, er, reindeer comment, I’m beginning to suspect that my sister did have reindeer meat when she was in Sweden, but called it “beef” so as not to freak out her kids.

Man do I miss Paris--especially the pastries and breads.


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Fascinating reading, great pictures. Thank you very much!

Charley


Charles Milton Ling

Vienna, Austria

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MOAN! (drool) :raz:


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Great photos and story. I am so jealous.

Here in Alaska, reindeer is occasionally for sale (though mostly you find reindeer sausage). One source to check is http://www.deltameat.com/. I suspect they will custom butcher a piece for you.

On a funny note, a farmer friend of mine has an entire herd that he keeps for pets believe it or not. I keep eyeing the fat little butterballs thinking.... oh nevermind.

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Percy, I just caught up on this thread. Thank you very much for letting us experience your meals a bit, vicariously! It's clear how much you loved Le Cinq, but would you like to comment more on what you thought of the food you were served at Arpege (how you rate it)?

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Next, was Pan Seared Scallops Root Vegetables and Cream Sauce – The sweetness of the scallops complemented the excellent cream sauce.

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Fascinating pictures, Percy. I am wondering how they can maintain the air bubbles. (I assume they are air bubbles.) Wouldn't air bubbles burst rather quickly?


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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hzrt8w, I don't claim to be an expert or know their secret, but that dish inspired me to make this and the foam in my dish was made with a home cook's immersion blender a little cream and letchin, so I am sure a bit more heavy cream, letchin and a heavy duty immersion blender would work wonders.

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Percy, I just caught up on this thread. Thank you very much for letting us experience your meals a bit, vicariously! It's clear how much you loved Le Cinq, but would you like to comment more on what you thought of the food you were served at Arpege (how you rate it)?

You're welcome Michael.

To comment further on Arpege....I had done my usual research on eGullet and other sites, read reviews from other diners, etc and to be honest, I was expecting to have a meal unlike any other I had before, where vegetables would be front and center, exploding with flavor. In certain ways, it did not disappoint. Where else would you be served roasted beet as an entree? And many of the vegetables such as the ones in the ravioli in fish consommé were especially flavorful and crunchy.

But when I look back, the only dishes that really stood out for me were the pigeon (it's sauce in particular) and some cheeses. The rest of the menu I could get at any good restaurant or perhaps even be inspired to cook it at home :rolleyes: . Granted I do not grow my own vegetables, but who is to say that my local farmer did not pour as much of his soul into it as Passard? And dare I say that some dishes like the delicate Brittany lobster were overpowered by an acidic sauce? :shock:

Combine that with the hustle and bustle of the service, the long wait between certain courses, the relatively high price (even compared to other 3 star restaurants) and my heightened expectations and you may see why I was a bit disappointed. I do not regret trying this restaurant, but it would not be high on my list of recommendations to my friends.

Hope that helps...is there a particular dish you were curious about or wanted me to share my recollection of?

Cheers

Percy

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For those of us who love Paris but whose budget doesn't allow us such splurges, thanks for letting us live vicariously! You do an amazing job of describing these complex courses and meals. I can almost taste them.



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[...]Hope that helps...is there a particular dish you were curious about or wanted me to share my recollection of?

Cheers

Percy

No, Percy, that was sufficient for me.

Based on your experience, as well as some other people's, I definitely feel we did the right thing in cancelling our reservations during our trip to France in 2002. It wouldn't have been worth the money to us.

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Wonderful report, Percy. I am curious about the shrimp "pil-pil" that you had. Pil-Pil is generally made with salt cod and olive oil and a fairly involved cooking process. Would you happen to know if this was a real pi-pil to which they substituted shrimp after the sauce was made, or a variation that they called "pil-pil" because of a textural resemblance?

I can't intelligently compare the Gambas "pil-pil" I had to the version you reference, since I have not tried the Bacalao pil-pil. Though there was olive oil, I don't remember any Cod in the version I got and would not be surprised if they took a few short cuts compared to the Bacalao pil-pil from Basque, however, for comparision, the sauce of seemed to have a much more complex flavor than the typical Gambas tapas I have ever tasted.

A few years ago I posted on the Spain and Portugal board about a small cerveceria in Andalusia where I frequently ate, among other things, a dish the restaurant described as 'gambas al pil-pil' - prawns stewed in a terracotta dish of garlicky, guindilla-y olive oil. My post attracted withering scorn from the local experts who pointed out that this dish was in fact 'gambas al ajillo'. :hmmm: Either way, it was very good.


Edited by Stigand (log)

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Two hours later, I was glad the meal came to an end and thankful to have such a great experience. I have been to many restaurants, some more expensive, but none came as close to a perfect dining experience as the one I had at Le Cinq. The wait staff were charming, polite, appeared out of nowhere like magicians and moved with a grace of dance professionals. The head waiter noting that I enjoyed food even gave me a complimentary copy of Les Grande Tables du Monde.

I have been thinking about the food, the service, the décor, the ambiance…what would I change? How can they improve? And nearly 24 hrs later, I can’t think of anything but trival, minute things. I have an overwhelming amount of good things that come to mind. A new bar has been set.

In summary, this restaurant has reinstated my trust in the Michelin guide and is truly a bargain when compared to the other 3 star restaurants.

Cheers

Percy

Percy, wonderful job on reporting as usual. When I was in the airline industry, I stayed in The Four Seasons regularly all over the world. There is no question in my mind that they are at the top of their game in every category, especially the food. Usually, their dining rooms are the best or one of the best in the cities they have a presence. Philly of course is no exception. I can remember one particularly late night when I called room service well after 1:00 am and got the most perfect cheeseburgers and hand cut fries I've ever had.

I was so impressed with their headquarters facility in Toronto that I felt compelled to write a letter to Izzy Sharp, Chairman of the company. He sent me a personal note back asking if I would mind if he used my letter in their training program..classy guy, classy company.

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