table of contents This week's tablehopper: snacks on a plane.

the chatterbox
the word on the street

the lush
put it on my tab
the wino
in vino veritas

the bookworm
another place for your nose
the socialite
the starlet
no photos please

the sponsor
this round is on me


Basil Racuk

JULY 1, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Hey, guess who is actually writing a short(-ish) column this week? Shocking, but true. I'm actually on a plane coming back from Kalamazoo (no joke) from a one-day work gig for Kellogg's, and let's just say the five-hour plane ride from Chicago and one charged computer battery pack is about all I've got to write this thing. Sadly, there was no time to check out some Kalamazoo cuisine in the less than 24 hours I was there—we're talking airport and plane eatz, how tragic, but I was in love with all the green trees I saw, what a pretty state. Anyway, no review this week, I'm tired and outta time.

Fortunately, this week I have a few other people who did some writing for me (in the wino and the bookworm). In honor of the upcoming umami symposium mentioned in the socialite (I love this world we live in), we have a special wino topic this week, courtesy of Jessica Boyd, who is sharing her thoughts on umami in sake, and pairing sake with cheese.

So, let's rock. Speaking of rockin', yay, thanks to y'all who voted for me in this year's San Francisco magazine 2008 Best of the Bay Reader's Poll! While I am excited to be a winner, I am not sure what to do about the actual category I won: "Best Blog for Getting the Scoop on Food." Huh. Since many of you know tablehopper is NOT a blog (remember, this thing is emailed to you, it's an e-column, not a blog), does it mean I have to give the award back? Ha ha. Anyway, many thanks for all the votes, yo. Very cool. Congrats to all the winners.

Wishing you a happy Fourth o' July—it's shaping up to be yet another year of colored fog and clouds.

~Marcia  subscribe
the chatterbox

CHOWJULY 1, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Have you noticed some key chefs have not been around lately, or are mysteriously heading off to New York for quick jaunts? Yup, I've heard from various sources that we have quite the local lineup of chefs who have been flying to New York to compete on upcoming episodes of ~IRON CHEF~ on Food Network. Woot. Looks like there will be another chance to watch Chris Cosentino of Incanto, Jonnatan Leiva of Jack Falstaff, and Ravi Kapur of Boulevard. Also heard Nate Appleman of A16/SPQR and Mourad Lahlou of Aziza will be on too. Further rumors have David Kinch (Manresa) and Charles Phan (Slanted Door) also competing. All unconfirmed, but hey, but let's go West Coast! Will let you know when the chefs who are participating are final confirmed, and airdates are set!

The temporary ghost town of Jackson Square is suddenly getting some life back in it. Tumbleweeds, be gone! Not only is the Quince move into the Myth space looking on track, but per my little hint last week about Myth's former executive chef ~SEAN O'BRIEN~ coming back on the local scene, how about this: he's returning to his old neighborhood! At press time he didn't have the keys yet (due to happen today), but it looks like those keys will be opening the door to the Scott Howard space. The restaurant is going to get a little design refresh, and O'Brien said fall looks like a good time to plan on tasting his delicious dinners again (the part about the delicious dinners is all me, mind you). He said he's enjoyed the six-month break, but is really looking forward to getting back in the kitchen. I'll have more in coming weeks. 500 Jackson St. at Montgomery.

I was surprised to learn that ~JOEL HUFF~, one of my favorite local talents, resigned as chef de cuisine at Silks. Huff doesn't have any specific plans to announce, but he is looking for a new position. While the search for a new chef for Silks takes place, Joshua Nudd, the executive chef at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, will be stepping in; he recently came to the position from Chambers Kitchen, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant in Minneapolis. Milan Drager, the previous executive chef at Mandarin Oriental SF, was promoted to the position of food and beverage director in November 2007, but during this interim time both he and Nudd will continue to oversee the dining experience at Silks. 222 Sansome St. at Bush, 415-986-2020.

Also in the downtown area, please note ~RUBICON~ has closed for their annual summer break, and will be back open next Tuesday July 8th. 558 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-434-4100.

Another temporary change in hours: ~MODERN TEA~ in Hayes Valley will be narrowing its offerings for the next few weeks. The staff has a lot of projects to focus on right now, including a tea bar at Cavallo Point's Healing Art Center, their involvement with the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Parks Group, and owner Alice Cravens is also the tea curator for the upcoming Slow Food Nation. And more: they are also working on a tie-in providing lunch and afternoon service at a location south of market to open in September. So what does this all mean? Meal service at Modern Tea will be held back for the next few weeks, but you can still stop in for tea and light nibbles Saturdays and Sundays (2pm–7pm). Cravens can be contacted for wholesale and retail orders through the website, and you can also read more about the Modern Cooks program. 602 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-626-5406.

The A16/SPQR folks have officially decided the placeholder name they used for the liquor license for their Dogpatch project is actually going to stick: ~URBINO~. (I dig it.) The opening date is still inconclusive: think January–March 2009 for now. The rest of the concept remains the same: focused on the cuisine of Le Marche, plus a food to-go component. I like having something like this to look forward to. 800 Minnesota St. at 20th St.

Things are chugging along for Ryan Scott at ~MISSION BEACH CAFÉ~. In case you were curious about his new menu, here you go: lunch includes sweet corn soup with avocado and tomato oil ($4 cup/$7 bowl); there's a salmon burger with asparagus, English peas, pancetta, avocado, aioli ($12.50); and a duck confit patty melt with smoked mozzarella, caramelized onions, and horseradish mustard sauce ($11). Dinner entrées include seared sea scallops with summer succotash, braised shiitake mushrooms, potato pureé ($23); and grilled pork loin with Israeli couscous, summer squash, cipollini onions, spiced plums ($24). Brunch brings dishes like soufflé pancakes with blueberry cream ($10); and the Mission Beach egg sandwich on a house-made English muffin with roasted tomato, caramelized onion, white cheddar, and potatoes ($7.50). Try to save room for some of Alan Carter's famed desserts (mmmm, pie). Open Mon–Fri at 7am for pastries and Blue Bottle coffee; lunch 11am–2:30pm, dinner Tue–Thu and Sun 5:30pm–10pm, Fri–Sat 5:30pm–11pm. Brunch Sat–Sun 9am–2pm. The restaurant closes at 6pm on Mondays. 198 Guerrero St. at 14th St., 415-861-0198.

A tablehopper reader wrote in to tell me the famed green-glowin' steakhouse in the Mission, yes the historic ~PALACE STEAK HOUSE~, will be closing at the end of July, after 40 years in business. No more steak dinners on plastic trays and garlic bread and booths and free parking. Man. When I get a chance to investigate more I'll report back. 3047 Mission St. at 26th St., 415-647-2011.

Also in the Mission, does anyone have any intel about ~GEORGE'S BBQ~, yet another business opening on 24th Street? The name on the license is Jimmy Panagiotopoulos—anyone know this Greek fella, or have some details about the biz? Efharisto! 3231 24th St. at Capp.

~MISSION PIE~ has made a small move, and is now in a significantly bigger space on the corner of Mission and 25th Street, which means the construction of the on-site bakery is now underway in their old space. Destination Baking Company in Glen Park will continue baking goods for Mission Pie until the new bakery/kitchen is done in the fall (the target is September). Here's more from the folks on Chowhound, and you can read the Mission Pie website too. 2901 Mission St. at 25th St., 415-282-4743.

And now, some more Mission news: it looks like the ~SNACK BAR~ concept from the NOPA folks is in flux. No word on whether it will be Spanish tapas bar, or perhaps now a wine retail place. Stand by for more in coming weeks. 2495 Harrison St. at 21st.

Oh, and fellow Western Addition denizens: ~NOPALITO~, Nopa's upcoming fast-casual Mexican joint, is now looking like an October opening in the Falletti Foods/Broderick Place shopping center. We must wait a bit longer for the carnitas by the pound. (My waistline says thank God.) 306 Broderick St. at Oak.

Yes, even one more piece of Mission news (hey, sorry folks in the Richmond!): this weekend was ~LITTLE STAR PIZZA'S~ last time serving weekend lunch. Didn't seem to get enough traction to keep it going. 400 Valencia St. at 15th St., 415-551-7827.

Okay, okay, no more Mission. Let's go to SoMa, all right? Right. After the water disaster at ~OUT THE DOOR~ in the Westfield Centre, it looks like they are taking advantage of the closure to make some changes: more seating will be added, and a wine bar is in the works as well. Look for a reopening in mid-July or so. 865 Market St., 415-541-9913.

On the other side of town, ~THE GROVE CAFE~ in the Marina has finished their expansion and are now open. 2250 Chestnut St. at Scott, 415-474-4843.

Not tooooo far away, ~MARCHÉ ON THE SQUARE~, the new two-story food gourmet market and grocer in Ghirardelli Square is slated to open this Thursday (call before you head over there, things change!), and Bar Marche and Bar Marche Wine Bar are due to open next Wednesday July 9th. 900 North Point at Larkin, 415-359-0365.

After much ado, and no more Honeydoo, ~SWIRL CULTURE~ yogurt finally opened in North Beach on Sunday. P.S. Yogurtphreeks: there is a PDF coupon on the website for "buy three, and the fourth is free." 1400 Grant St. at Green, 415-397-9475.

On my way to Le Colonial's ten-year anniversary bash last week, I had a chance to peek at the now finished ~ASUKA RAMEN~, offering primarily ramen and curry dishes on the menu. It's a small and simple space, full of two-tops, plus a counter/bar, and a few other dishes like gyoza and donburi—everything is about $10 and under. They are just getting through their soft opening, expect an expanded menu as the days go on. 883 Bush St. at Taylor, 415-567-3153.

Some special meals and deals around town: ~YOSHI'S SAN FRANCISCO~ just launched Kanpai Time, a menu served in the bar/lounge area each night. The menu includes a number of small plates and sushi, like a soft shell crab "sandwich" of lettuce-wrapped tempura crab with chile lime aioli ($7); Kurobuta pork sausage with grilled baby Yukon potatoes and honey Dijon ($6); grilled baby back ribs with sweet miso glaze ($7); and a Japanese melon "cream soda" float with vanilla gelato ($6). There will also be beer, wine, sake and cocktail specials, a sake trio tasting for $18, and wine specials. 1330 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-655-5600.

~MAGNOLIA GASTROPUB AND BREWERY~ not only has a new look, but a new line-up each week. On Monday nights, executive chef Brandon Jew just started offering a seasonal/locally-sourced three-course dinner, priced under $30, available until it's gone. Every Tuesday through the summer, pints are $3, all day, with the occasional exception for limited release and special beers. (Mmmmm, beer.) On Wednesdays, you can "meet the brewers" (Dave and Ben) through the summer from 6pm–9pm to talk shop, answer questions, and drink more beer. Hic. Chef Brandon may be cooking a whole pig or two throughout the summer on Wednesdays too, stand by. Thursdays, fried chicken night is back! Bwok! $18, starting at 5pm, until it runs out. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-7468.

I had fun hanging out with author and chef ~JOYCE GOLDSTEIN~ last week at Americano celebrating the launch of Tony and Cathy Mantuano's book, Wine Bar Food, and now here's your chance to hang with Joyce: on Saturday July 12th, she will be signing books and talking about her latest book: Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of Salad Meals and Mix and Match Dressings at Bi-Rite Market from 3pm–5pm. Owner/chef Sam Mogannam will be preparing a salad from the book as well. 3639 18th St. at Dolores, 415-241-9760.

East Bay folks, you'll be happy to hear the area around Bakesale Betty's and Pizzaiolo is about to get even tastier. Daniel Olivella of B44 in Belden Place is going to be opening ~BARLATA~, an easygoing Catalan tapas spot, along with his wife, his B44 partners, and his cyclist pal Chechu Rubiera. He's moving into the former Silver Lion Buffet space (AKA Biggums to some), and hopes to be up and running by November. There will be around 65 seats, where you can order small plates plus some of his famous paellas, and while seated at the ten or so seats at the bar, you'll be able to munch on a variety of pintxos (bread and toothpick treats). Beer and wine. Look for dinner to start, with brunch on the weekend. 4901 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St., Oakland.

Got a hot tip? You know I'd love it (and you). Just reply to this email!

the sponsor


CHOW: Tips, Table Manners, and Nose Grease

How should restaurants handle misbehaving children? Is saving tables wrong? Can you knock out kitchen fruit flies? How do you exclude certain coworkers from your party invitation? And most importantly, why does nose grease tame beer foam?

The answers (along with some lively debates) to all these questions and more can be found at CHOW. From tips, etiquette advice, and stories to recipes, videos, and gift guides, you'll quickly find yourself coming back for seconds.

the lush

Basil RacukJULY 1, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Another thing I noticed while gallivanting (read: barhopping) around Union Square last week: the bar formerly known as the ~RED ROOM~ in the Hotel Commodore (now a dormitory in the Academy of Art empire) has changed hands and has reopened. New look, new owners, and new name that I was asked to not mention juuuuuust yet. Gone is the redrum motif and twirling martini glass behind the bar: taking its place is more of a taupe color scheme, with taxidermy on the wall, vintage furnishings (including an animal print chaise), and some nice ladies behind the bar. I'll release the name of the bar and the players shortly. Open nightly 5pm–2am. 827 Sutter St. at Jones.

Buddy Camper English of has confirmation on the rumor circling about New York's ~EMPLOYEES ONLY~ opening an SF location; owner Dushan Zaric has this to say, "We are currently not working on a SF Employees Only although it is in our plans to eventually open up an EO there...a lot of people have been asking but I have no idea how they got this information." Thanks for sleuthing, Camper!

Fans of suds, here's your chance to celebrate the 20th anniversary of ~GORDON BIERSCH~ beer, and for a week, no joke. There are all kinds of events (a few of the events are in Palo Alto and San Jose for you 650 and 408 folks), so for additional information and to purchase VIP tickets, visit Here's a recap of a couple of the events:

July 6th: Anniversary Brewer's Dinner hosted by Dan Gordon, 6pm–8pm, San Francisco Brewery Restaurant, 2 Harrison St., $60 per person. Cocktail reception and special anniversary toast, special beer and food tastings.

July 12th: Brewery Benefit Bash, 12pm–7pm, an all-you-can-eat and drink party for thousands of Bay Area residents at the original brewery and bottling facility in San Jose. Guests at the daylong celebration will munch on food, sip beer, and enjoy live music from Gregg Rolie. Tickets are $40, with proceeds benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

the wino





JULY 1, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Jessica Boyd on Sake and Cheese Pairings

Jessica Boyd has been working in Japanese restaurants and studying sake for 10 years. She studies Japanese and looks forward to moving to Japan in a few years to live the good life in the countryside. After realizing her passion for sake, she sought out a job at Ozumo. Through many incarnations in her four years there, including server and sushi chef, she now finds herself the in-house sake expert and buyer. She also pours sake (and wine) every Tuesday at Corkage Sake & Wine Bar (next door to Café Abir and Tsunami Sushi Bar in the Western Addition).

Sake and Cheese: A New Frontier

Sake has always been somewhat of an approachable, friendly drink to me. It lends a comfortable (sometimes wild) hand to almost any situation. So when Kenzo Mabuchi of Tamanohikari Brewery in Kyoto, Japan asked me to get some blue cheese to pair with his Yamahai Ginjo, I have to admit the synapses were not firing. My life would never be the same.

Under careful consideration, some sake and cheeses have what is known as umami, the Fifth Flavor. In the West, we taste four states: salty, sour, sweet, and bitter. In the East, there are five tastes: dryness, sweetness, acidity, bitterness, and astringency. And crossing the borders we have the ever-elusive concept known as umami. A Japanese word combining umai (delicious) and mi (essence). So it's the essence of deliciousness? Uh huh.

Well, umami was actually "discovered" in 1908 by a researcher at Tokyo Imperial University named Kikunae Ikeda. After making a highly concentrated batch of dashi (broth) with konbu (seaweed) and katsuo bushi (dried fish flakes), Ikeda singled out the culprit: glutamates. A type of amino acid, these glutamates (when present) in a dish or single ingredient provide a delicious, savory, fullness of flavor or richness.

Perfect example: compare an unripe tomato to that of one vine-ripened, still warm from the sun's lovin' rays (OK, it doesn't have to be still warm). The unripe tomato just doesn't taste complete, whereas the ripe tomato makes you want to eat more, in fact, it makes you want to eat it like you would an apple.

Applying this concept to sake, one would say a very dry, clean sake is lower in umami than say one that is rounder, softer and more complex with a lingering finish. Both of these sakes have been made to taste exactly the way they do—no mistake. Are some of you asking, "How can there be amino acids in sake?" Well, my drink of choice is made from rice (and water, koji and yeast). When the proteins in the rice are breaking down, the amino acids remain. Sometimes, they are entirely eaten up by the hungry yeasts and sometimes they're not (depending on how long fermentation takes). The remaining amino acids then give the sake a robust, gamey, often, succulent flavor profile.

Moving on to cheese, however, generally speaking the more aged the cheese, the more umami. Think two year old Parmigiano Reggiano vs. fresh mozzarella. The parm has more depth of flavor than the mozzarella could ever dream of having. Both of these cheeses are living out their dharma perfectly. Having 1200mg of glutamates per 100g, Parmigiano Reggiano is still only second to Roquefort in technical umami content. This is why you see heaps of freshly grated parm on almost all Italian dishes—it adds that extra "mmmm."

Pairing sake and cheese can be a little tricky. But have fun with it. Taste is all very subjective, if it tastes good to you, go with it. I have provided a few pairings that I thought were great. Kanpai!

Tamanohikari Yamahai Ginjo With Pt. Reyes Original Blue (Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company)
Warming this sake gently allows it to open up and soften on the palate. The gaminess of the sake perfectly combines with the ripeness of the cheese, unfolding into a symphony in your mouth. Unqualified breads need not apply. Serve sake slightly warmed or room temperature.

Kamoizumi Nigori Ginjo With Roquefort and Honey
This sake is quite a treat. It's rich and creamy texture works wonderfully with that of the cheese. The sweetness of the nigori (cloudy) sake complements that of the tanginess in the blue veins. Sweet, smoky and salty, this cheese has it all. Add a touch of honey, and wow. Kamoizumi Nigori's complex structure can stand up to the many sensations of Roquefort. Serve sake well chilled.

Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Sake With Mt. Tam (Cowgirl Creamery)
One of the best sparkling sakes available, a refreshing beverage anytime. Soft, plentiful bubbles envelop the palate, adding just a touch of sweetness. The creaminess of the cheese is offset by the bubbles in a delicate manner. Subtle nuttiness is then welcomed by the sake's exquisite flavor profile including pear, cream, sweet rice, and banana. Serve sake well chilled.

Recommended sakes are available for purchase at Corkage Sake and Wine Shop, 1304 Fulton St. at Divisadero, 415-567-6503.

the sponsor

Basil Racuk

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Basil Racuk, 2556 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley. Call for appointment: 510-409-4452, or visit the website at

the socialite


Meet the Authors Luncheon
Tue., July 15, 2008

Salt House
545 Mission St.
Cross: 1st St.
San Francisco, CA 94105



please RSVP: 415-543-8900

$37 (excluding tax and tip)

JULY 1, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Did you know the delightful food writer and author ~GEORGEANNE BRENNAN~ brought arugula to America? Good one, huh! Well, you can say thanks when she is signing her most recent book, A Pig in Provence, at a luncheon at the Salt House. (Yes, it's on the 15th, the day after Bastille Day.)

For $37 bucks (excluding tax and tip), you can have a glass of Champagne (included), a three-course, prix-fixe, French-inspired lunch by chef Robert Leva, and meet authors and Francophiles Georgeanne and her friend Cara Black (a well-known mystery writer living in Paris, author of Murder in the Rue du Paradis). Both authors will discuss their journeys as Americans living and writing in Paris and Provence. Salud!


Umami Symposium: New Frontiers of Taste
Mon., July 21, 2008

Hyatt Regency
5 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA



$50 for students with valid student I.D.

Registration closes on Monday July 7th. No onsite registration.

JULY 1, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Thomas Keller of French Laundry, Hiro Sone of Terra and Ame, and Kunio Tokuoka of Japan's Kyoto Kitcho are joining together to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of ~THE DISCOVERY OF UMAMI~ by Dr. Kikunae Ikeda in Tokyo, Japan. The chefs will unite with leading food scientists and culinary experts to discuss and celebrate the fifth taste, umami.
To begin the symposium, culinary experts and scientists will discuss the impact of umami in a casual panel conversation. The panelists are Kathy Sykes, Ph.D. (professor of sciences and society, University of Bristol); Gary Beauchamp, Ph.D. (director, Monell Chemical Senses Center); John Prescott, Ph.D. (associate professor of psychology, The University of Newcastle); Harold McGee, Ph.D. (food writer and molecular gastronomist); Kunio Tokuoka (executive chef, Kyoto Kitcho); and Tim Hanni (Master of Wine and wine educator). Master of Ceremonies, Kathy Sykes, will mediate by engaging the panel of experts and the audience in a discussion about the importance of umami and its influence on the culinary industry.
Following the discussion, the internationally accredited chefs will serve a multi-course lunch to demonstrate umami (you can check out a PDF of the menu here.) Highlights of the menu will include seared Japanese spiny lobster, ginger-poached Georgia shrimp and watermelon salad, and salle d'agneau: lamb sous vide. Tim Hanni will introduce a number of wines at the luncheon to demonstrate how they can successfully be paired with umami-rich foods. (Umami is particularly prominent in ripe tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, cured ham, mushrooms, chicken soup, meat and fish.)

In honor of the event, and in case you are now really fired up for an umami-rich meal, Ame is also hosting an ~UMAMI CELEBRATION TASTING MENU~ from July 14th–August 3rd, 2008. The menu is $85, and with paired wine is an additional $65. The multi-course menu includes:

Ame Raw Three Ways:
ceviche with garum lime sauce
sea bass sashimi with ume plum vinaigrette
kampachi carpaccio with nuka pickles and ponzu

Corn Bisque with Lobster Tortelloni and Pesto Sauce

Broiled Sake Marinated Black Cod in Shiso Broth

Grilled Berkshire Pork on Carolina Gold Rice and Tomato "Risotto" with Vadouvan Sauce

Caramel Ice Cream with Shoyu Powder

the bookworm


JULY 1, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Recommends

Don't forget: this book is available at 20% off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this mention at Green Apple Books—simply use the code "tablehopper" at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.

The run-up in food and gas prices has spurred many articles about people staying home, cooking more, trying to make their own food instead of eating out, etc. Why not take it one step further and make your own cheese, butter, yogurt, and more?

The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley has you covered. It includes clear instructions and very simple recipes. I've bought (and never used) make-your-own cheese books before, but never gotten around to actually trying it. Partly to blame are my two-year-old twins—they love to "help" me cook, but patience is not their strong suit; they're more into scrambled eggs and banana bread than waiting for buttermilk to separate from cream.

While The Home Creamery includes some recipes requiring rennet or other specialty ingredients, other recipes are as simple as milk, vinegar, and salt (for ricotta), or cream and salt (for butter), so you don't necessarily need to get specialty ingredients or equipment. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

The book, perhaps extraneously, also provides recipes for you to use your newly made creamery products as ingredients in other recipes. Perhaps that's just fluff that fills out the book, but the core of the book is worth the $16.95: clear, simple instructions to make your own creamery items. Enjoy (and feel free to drop off your surplus cheese at the store sometime in case I still don't get around to doing it myself)!

Thank you for reading.

the starlet

JULY 1, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I heard that Macy Gray DJed for half an hour at Levende Lounge a little over a week ago.

Esai Morales (known from NYPD Blue) was spotted having a good time with some friends at Le Colonial's ten-year anniversary bash last week.


All content © 2008 Marcia Gagliardi. I am more than happy if you want to link to my reviews and content elsewhere (thanks, glad you dig it), but republishing any part of them in any way, shape or form is strictly prohibited until we talk first. Please take a look at my Creative Commons license for more detail.

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