Why? Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Jill (Lady Lazarus) (comment #6), randomly-selected winner of two tickets the Locavore fundraiser to benefit the MS Society’s Ohio Buckeye Chapter. Please check your email for further details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

Saturday night, we went on a world tour of cuisine without leaving Cleveland at the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration.

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Each participating restaurant created a tasty treat representing a different country or region. Our favorite bites took us all over the globe: Mexico with carne asada from Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse;

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India with crab pakora from University Hospitals and Sodexo; Asia with pork belly from Hodge’s served with edamame, five spice, and Asian pear;

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the Southern United States with chicken cracklins from Peachtree Southern Kitchen; our own backyard with Lake Erie perch with corn pudding from Bacchanalia Cleveland (I can’t wait for them to open!);

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and France with crepes with berries, whipped cream, and candied kumquat from Tri-C Hospitality Management & Culinary Arts.

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Wines from all over the world were available to compliment the dishes. Matthew and I really enjoyed the Vina Bujanda from Spain: a spicy, bold red.

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Craft beer was on tap from Rockmill Brewery and Townhall, too. There were also two different bands providing live entertainment while we ate and drank the night away.

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The evening benefited the Veggie U Classroom Gardens program, a five-week program available to elementary school and special needs classrooms. The program helps children learn about healthy eating and where their food comes from through a science-based curriculum, including growing their own veggies!

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I loved the focus on local restaurants and the downtown Cleveland location of this year’s revamped Food and Wine Celebration. A delicious trip around the world to help kids close to home? What a perfect evening!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Veggie U to help promote the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Told CLE!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win tickets to the MS Society’s Locavore fundraiser? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

One of the great things about blogging is that you often get to discover new and different events happening in town and, by extension, let others in on these gems. Last week, I discovered Told CLE, a live storytelling event founded on the premise that everyone has a story to tell.

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Told was founded by a friend of mine from high school, Dave. When I heard about Told, I was not only intrigued by the concept, but excited to support something cool a friend was doing in the community.

Each Told event is centered around a different theme. The event I attended, held at Market Garden Brewery (because storytelling is easier after a beer or two), was themed “Foreign Territory.” Audience members can submit their names to tell a true, personal story, no longer than six minutes, that touches on the theme. There are also featured storytellers scattered throughout the audience members chosen at random.

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Audience members told stories of studying abroad, switching places with a twin, and running a first 5K (told by the charming blogger behind The Year of the Phoenix), all as examples of feeling on foreign territory. The featured storytellers for the evening were Sarah Wilson-Jones, CEO of Phoenix Coffee Company, and Rory O’Malley, a native Clevelander who is a Tony-nominated actor for his work in Book of Mormon and co-founder of Broadway Impact.

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With Told creator Dave and featured storyteller Rory

Rory is also a high school friend and I’ve been so proud following his career and being able to say, “I knew him when…” It was wonderful not only to get to see him, but to hear him tell a story centered around his upbringing in the Irish pubs in Cleveland and his affection for his hometown. Rory will be starring in a new FX series called “Partners,” which premiers on August 4, so be sure to set your DVRs!

While I didn’t submit my name to tell a story, I found myself thinking about my own “Foreign Territory” experiences and relating to and laughing with the storytellers for the evening. After the formal storytelling is over, attendees are encouraged to stay, mingle, and informally tell their own stories. As Told CLE says, “A story heard is a story told.”

Told is collaborating with Literary Lots this summer for a kid-focused storytelling workshop and showcase, happening July 27 and August 3 respectively. The adult storytelling events will be back in September. Stay tuned to the Told website for more information. You can also hear recordings of past storytelling events online.

Told CLE gives Clevelanders a unqiue opportunity to come together, hear each other stories, and truly connect. I hope to both see and hear you at a Told event soon!

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Why? Locavore Giveaway!

Are you a locavore? I know I am! What is a locavore you ask? A locavore is a person who makes an effort to eat food that is grown, raised, or produced locally, usually within 100 miles from home.

Locavore is also a fundraising event to benefit the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National MS Society. The event celebrates locavores with food, wine, and chocolates from Northeast Ohio.

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Held at Windows on the River on Thursday, August 21 and sponsored by Ulmer & Berne, this is an event that any locavore won’t want to miss. You’ll sample foods from great local restaurants, including Momocho, Lago, and Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse.

There will be wines from Ferrante Winery, Valley Vineyards, and M Cellars. Lilly Handmade Chocolates will provide sweet treats. And you can try your luck at raffles and blind wine pulls, which also benefit the MS Society, which provides support, advocacy, education, and research for those living with MS.

Event tickets are $60, which includes unlimited food and wine. Patron tickets are $80 and include an exclusive wine tasting, in addition to the unlimited food and wine. Tickets can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two Event tickets right here!

Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Leave a comment telling me what you do to be a locavore (e.g., shopping at local farmers’ markets).

2. Leave a comment if you like the MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @nmssohiobuckeye and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you’re following both.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to celebrate being a #Locavore thanks to @nmssohiobuckeye and @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-21A

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 20 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter to help promote Locavore. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary Event tickets for myself and two Event tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to David Fearn (Comment #93), randomly-selected winner of 2 tickets to the sold-out Date Night at the ZOOvies put on by the Cleveland Zoological Society. Please check your email for further details. Thanks to all who entered!***

It was a lovely summer weekend in Cleveland! Friday kicked off the weekend right, with everyone in a great mood celebrating LeBron James’ return to the Cavs. Seriously, the excitement and general good vibes that came out of that announcement will keep Clevelanders smiling for awhile!

My Friday afternoon was spent with Mom and Jeffrey at Crocker Park. I started with a pedicure at Charles Scott Salon, while Mom strolled around with the kiddo. What a nice way to relax!

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After that, it was time for lunch at 87 West. I had the Devils on Horseback (chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon with sticky soy glaze), the vegetarian tacos, and the deconstructed s’more dessert.

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While I’m not a vegetarian (see, chorizo and bacon), the tacos were a really great choice, packed with flavorful fajita veggies, slaw, corn salsa, and edamame. They were surprisingly filling, too.

That evening, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I met up with Matthew’s dad for the St. John Vianney church festival.

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From games to funnel cakes to the Euclid Beach rocket car to live entertainment, the festival was the perfect family evening out.

On Saturday, Matthew and I had a date night planned so that we could enjoy the Luau on the Lake, to benefit Shoes and Clothes for Kids.

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Luau on the Lake is held at Wendy Park at Whiskey Island. Saturday was the perfect night to be there, with nice breezes off the lake and a beautiful sunny sky. We met up with some friends, including Kimberly and my giveaway winner Rachel, who was also enjoying a nice child-free date night.

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We sipped on island cocktails like pina coladas and margaritas (Matthew enjoyed the Kona Brewing Big Wave beer from Hawaii) and noshed on a tasty Caribbean-themed dinner courtesy of Aramark, with chicken, pulled pork, and rice. There was a cornhole tournament, sand volleyball, and a limbo contest. And I happened to recognize one of the limbo participants

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It was a fun night for a great cause! For every dollar donated to Shoes and Clothes for Kids, the organization can purchase $20 worth of new clothes and shoes for low-income children in Northeast Ohio. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!

As we were leaving and taking in the skyline view, I thought that not only does Cleveland have it pretty good right now, but so do I!

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How was your weekend? Did you celebrate LeBron’s return?

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Shoes and Clothes for Kids’ Luau on the Lake. In exchange, I received two complimentary Big Kahuna VIP tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win two tickets to the sold-out Date Night at the ZOOvies? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

You know there’s nothing I like more than a good party with great food for a fabulous cause. Those three things will definitely combine at the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration.

InvitationThe event will be in a new location this year (it used to be held at the Culinary Vegetable Institute) and focus solely on local chefs. This year, the Hospitality Management Center of Tri-C and Pura Vida will host the event, putting the celebration in downtown Cleveland.

The theme of the event is “Tastes of the World” and the guest chefs will create dishes that will transport you to different regions without leaving Cleveland. Chefs for the evening include Matt Mytro of Flour, Jeff Jarrett of AMP 150, Anna Harouvis of Anna in the Raw, and Matthew Mathlage of Light Bistro.

The dishes will be paired with wines from around the world. The evening will also include live music from Don Disantis, a wine pull, and a silent auction.

The event benefits Veggie U, which has a Classroom Gardens program allowing children to learn about healthy food by actually growing it.

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Tickets are $150 and are available online. You ticket gets you unlimited food, wine, and entertainment, plus valet parking and the knowledge that you’re helping kids eat and live healthier! You can also enter to win 2 tickets from Veggie U via their Facebook contest, which closes on Monday, July 14.

I attended the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration in its previous location and can’t wait to see the reinvented, locally-focused event! Hope to see you there!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Veggie U to help promote the Food and Wine Celebration. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets to the event. Images courtesy of Veggie U. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Date Night at the ZOOvies Giveaway!

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is not just for kids and there are a host of events that prove just that! On Friday, August 22, Date Night at the ZOOvies is an adults-only evening of food, drinks, zoo critters, and an outdoor movie, which also raises money for the Cleveland Zoological Society.

From 7-8:30pm, you can enjoy the Australian Adventure and African Safari areas of the Zoo, along with beer, wine, and light appetizers.

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Then, at 8:30pm, head over to the Zoo Amphitheater to watch “Ghostbusters” under the stars and munch on movie snacks like hot pretzels and popcorn.

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Date Night at the ZOOvies is a very popular night out and is sold out for this year! But, no fear if you missed out because you can enter to win 2 tickets right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite line or scene from “Ghostbusters.”

2. Leave a comment if you are fan of both the Cleveland Zoological Society and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you are.

3. Follow both @CleveZooSociety and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you’re following.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

Who you gonna call? I want to win tickets to see Ghostbusters at @CleveZooSociety’s #DateNightattheZoovies from @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-210

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close at 11:59pm on Sunday, July 13 and the winner will be announced the following day. The winner and guest must be 21 or over to attend. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Date Night at the Zoovies. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away. All images courtesy of the Cleveland Zoological Society. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

I hope you all had a great holiday weekend! Wasn’t the weather just perfect?! Our weekend was busy with lots of cookouts and friends and family time, as holiday weekends tend to be.

On Thursday evening, our friends Jeff and Erin, who are married AND share a birthday, had a dual birthday cookout. This was Jeffrey’s first cookout and, seeing as he slept through most of it, I’m not sure how impressed he was.

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Matthew and I were very impressed with Erin’s cooking, however. From ribs and chicken on the grill to an orzo salad to a variation on The Greenhouse Tavern‘s “devils on horseback,” the food was quite tasty!

On Friday, we celebrated the Fourth with my family, which always involves plenty of good food, good margaritas, and good times.

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Saturday brought the third annual Poise in Parma cookout/birthday celebration. Any excuse to spend the day with these fine folks is alright with me!

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There was the usual grilling, eating, chatting, Honey Hut Ice Cream devouring, and Cards Against Humanity playing. I was so excited because Hans saved me a Great Lakes Brewing Christmas Ale to enjoy as my adult beverage of the day.

photo4 (4)This was one of the drinks I particularly missed this past holiday season and Hans was kind enough to remember and save me one! And it was as good as I hoped it would be!

So, all in all, a fabulous Fourth of July weekend! How did you celebrate the Fourth?

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Why? Happy 4th of July!

Whether it’s a cookout, fireworks, or just a chance to relax, here’s hoping you have a fun, safe, and happy 4th of July!

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“Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.” – Albert Camus

“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.” – George Washington

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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Why? Tri-C Jazz Fest!

This past Saturday was a picture-perfect Cleveland date night for Matthew and me. As I told you earlier in the week, we dined at the fabulous new Restaurant Trentina. But our date night kicked off on a swingin’ note at one of the many Tri-C Jazz Fest concerts.

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Ernie Krivda and the Fat Tuesday Big Band put on a high-energy show, focusing on the music of Oliver Nelson and Jimmy Smith, filled with lots of brass and some great improvisation.

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The Fat Tuesday Big Band is aptly-named, as the music made me feel like I was walking around New Orleans!

Ernie Krivda is a born-and-raised Clevelander who attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and is a legend in the Cleveland music scene. It was great to attend a show helmed by a local talent who was so enthusiastic about playing for a hometown crowd.

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This year’s Jazz Fest was held entirely at Playhouse Square, allowing festival-goers to easily make their way between shows, as well as taking in free concerts on Star Plaza. Personally, I think consolidating the festival into one weekend and one location was a smart move!

Another advantage to the Playhouse Square location? After the show, Matthew and I were able to grab a glass of wine at Bin 216, the newest restaurant from Driftwood Restaurant Group.

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Located in what used to be Sammy’s, Bin 216 has a great selection of wines, beers, and mixed drinks. The menu is divided into snacks, small plates, and desserts, all of which I want to try (we had the sweet and spicy nuts with rosemary, which were delicious).

Bin 216 offers happy hour from 4-7pm Tuesday through Friday and all day Sunday. There is also live jazz on Wednesday nights. The vibe is much more that of a lounge than of a restaurant and the interior is done in cream, grey, and gold, with armchairs and couches scattered throughout. This is an elegant spot for a pre- or post-theater cocktail and a nice addition to the restaurants at Playhouse Square.

A swingin’ concert and relaxing with a glass of wine with my favorite date? That’s what perfect Cleveland date nights are made of!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Tri-C Jazz Fest. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the concert of my choice. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Trentina!

Not only do we have an abundance of talented chefs in Cleveland, but our chefs tend to create “restaurant dynasties.” From Michael Symon to Dante Boccuzzi to Zack Bruell to Doug Katz, some of our best chefs have multiple restaurant kitchens in which to explore their culinary creativity.

Chef Jonathon Sawyer is expanding his restaurant dynasty from The Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat to include Restaurant Trentina in University Circle. As Matthew commented as we attended the Friends & Family preview this past weekend, there is no chef we’d rather see expanding his restaurant offerings.

Cheers to Trentina!

Cheers to Trentina!

This intimate restaurant has been redone from the Sergio’s days to sparkle with gold-edged and mirrored tables, a beautiful chandelier, and lots of light.

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Much like the interior design, the Menu Bianco, which is a tasting menu and the exclusive offering at Trentina, is truly something different and beautiful. I know I will not do justice to explaining all the complex and unique ingredients in the courses, but I can share the pictures and tell you what we loved.

Primi Assaggio

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My favorite from this course was the Crusto di Polenta, which was light and crisp, with a hint of lemon.

Caviar & Ciccoli

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This course tasted like a fancy Italian Bugle, with light and crisp puffed pasta filled with fluffy cheese.

Crustaceo Crudo

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This was the first of several courses where Matthew and I received different plates, allowing us to try even more flavors and essentially have a similar, but still unique, dining experience. My course featured two oysters: one with Rittman apples and one with a sauce similar to a Chinese XO sauce. Matthew’s course was a scallop, artfully presented on its shell.

Sable Fish al Cartoccio

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This course was delicate and yet flavorful. The textures were perfect and the broth sublime. One of our favorite courses!

Edible Candle

How did I fail to get a picture? A candle made of beef suet was brought to the table, along with bread to dip in it. Such a unique concept!

Pasta alla Chitarra

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As Chef Sawyer explained (Chef came to each table to explain the courses), this means pasta “of the guitar” in Italy, where the pasta is extruded through guitar strings. My pasta featured abalone and delicious citrus notes. Matthew’s pasta featured pork and was topped with an egg cooked in a spoon over embers. Another favorite course!

Pasta Cuscino

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This pasta course focused on cabbage and cheese. My course had tiny pasta pillows covered by a cabbage leaf and topped with mushroom and cheese. Matthew’s course featured a cabbage “meatball.”

Game Birds

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Tender, delicious, and not gamy at all, these birds were a delicious start to our entree courses.

Beasts Roasted Over Embers

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So, we might have dove right in to eating and then realized we didn’t take pictures. So, imagine these with more food! My course was Ohio aged beef that was melt-in-my-mouth good. Matthew had venison served with pickled eggplant. Perhaps our favorite course of the night!

Primi Dolce

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Any menu with three sweet course is alright by me! The first was strawberry and pistachio sorbet with yogurt. Very refreshing!

Dolce

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Strudel is not a dessert I expect to find at an Italian restaurant, but Trentina takes strudel and makes it their own. These deconstructed desserts featured apricot and fig leaf gelato (left) and apple (right).

Grazia

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No better way to say “thank you” then with housemade milk chocolate with gold dust and cocoa nibs!

Our meal was a truly extraordinary experience. From the surroundings to the pace, size, and explanation of the courses to the delicious and unique food itself, Chef Sawyer and Executive Chef Matt Danko have created something truly special with Restaurant Trentina.

Trentina opens to the public on July 8. The Menu Bianco is the exclusive offering in the dining room, but the patio will feature a more “relaxed” tasting menu. Wine pairing is available with the tasting menu. Matthew had the wine pairing with his meal and it is a must-add! Be sure to check out the latest addition to Chef Sawyer’s restaurant dynasty!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Friends & Family opening of Trentina with a guest. Our meals were complimentary, but the wine tasting, tax, and gratuity were paid for ourselves. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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