Friday, August 31, 2007


To: Olivier Giacomotto
Subject: Je vous adore!

From: Olivier Giacomotto
Message: Merci beaucoup pour ces quelques mots, a tres bientot peut-etre, Oli


Sausage Rolls Are Ugly

Bourke St Bakery
I don't like hype. I don't like queues. It's a bakery. Don't line up for baked goods. There's plenty more where that came from.
Except there isn't plenty more where that came from. Good bakeries here are a destination. And I'd just about had enough of hearing all the raves and had enough of two years driving past and seeing a congo line of trendies snaking around it's famous little corner and never a parking spot in sight.
But there comes a point where curiosity starts driving you mad and you happen to give it one last go and it's an hour before quittin' time and there are no queues and a park right outside.
They were out of their infamous harissa lamb sausage rolls so it was pork and fennel. Oh and a strawberry and vanilla bean brulee tart. "Anything else?" Well I'd like to have ordered one of everything, it all looked so rustic delicious. But no, I needed to test them first. Hype means nothin'.

But it's more than good. It's incredible. The scent of fennel hits me as I break through the flakey shell and stays with me with each bite. The pork is chunky, it's real. Its pork and a little carrot and whole fennel seeds. Pastry is the real test though, and it soars, buttery and flakey and golden. Oh. Oh yea.

Fratelli Fresh
Next it's on to my favourite food stop in this town, Fratelli Fresh. Boxes of love bite tomatoes all cute and red welcome me, and I scoop them up. Blood oranges. I'll think of something to do with them. Russet potatoes for gnocchi or more rosti. Perfect bananas, which give me such satisfaction to never buy from the supermarkets. Italian spaghetti and flour. A wedge of pecorino and bags of herbs.

It's open till 6 and is so close, so why don't I do all my grocery shopping there. OK, I will, and maybe stop for a sausage roll on the way...

Hudson Meats
One more local stop. Hudson Meats has just opened and when I first saw the logo I got a bit excited. A good logo with a good font goes a long way. I thought it would be bigger, and the deli section is limited, but there is goodness there. Mainly in the meat. Most of the meat is free range, what I have been looking for for a long time. And it looks good. I can't wait to buy myself a big fat ruby red steak and tuck into it like a caveman. There are also cookbooks for the serious foodie and a small providore section arranged extremely stylishly - bravo. I bought Australian-grown French puy lentiles and Spanish dulce de leche wafers. The staff are friendly and the hours are good. They have my support.

After my dinner I turned to my brulee tart. My expectations weren't high, just a sugar hit. But again I was beyond impressed. The pastry was thin and crispy like the brulee top. It would be too easy to lump it with a thick, hard brulee; the thin shell is delicate and perfect. Inside, a creamy vanilla bean custard spread with strawberry jam. It's as innocent a delight as a neenish tart, but it has all the markings of a serious patissier, and that's why Bourke St Bakery deserves it's hype, and sadly for me now, it's queues.

When I win Lotto I will move to the beach, but until that happens, I will always stay in Surry Hills.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Had A Dream

Just like Martin Luther King Jr. His was about equality. Mine was about a spaghetti with bacon, garlic and chili. Had to make it come true, with a twist.

Halve 250g love bite tomatoes/punnet of cherry tomatoes and mix in a bowl with a good lug of olive oil, one chopped clove of garlic, a handful of chunky, fresh breadcrumbs, a shaving of pecorino or parmesan. Sprinkle in some dried chili flakes, and if you like, fresh chopped herbs, like marjoram or basil. Season well. Bake in a moderate oven for around 30 minutes.

Meanwhile cook spaghetti, and grill strips of bacon until nice and crispy - always grill more than you need because who can resist munching on grilled bacon along the way.

Stir the bacon and the roast tomatoes with all the juices and oil into the spaghetti, and enjoy.

Have not-watched-in-ages Seinfeld on the background while cooking, and laugh yourself silly.

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Today Haiku

Want of a garden
To sunbake in the nude in
This summer weather

Lamb shank pie, chowder
Must all now take the back seat
For oysters, sauv blanc

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chips An' Egg

One of my top ten movies is Shirley Valentine. When she starts to work in the cafe an English lobster couple come in and seemed over - and under - whelmed by the Greek menu. She suggests slow-cooked lamb in origano, they groan. So she leans in and conspiratorially offers to whip them up chips and egg, and it's "smashin'". They come in every afternoon for her "chips an' egg".

Chips an' egg. There are many comfort foods, but chips and egg might just top my list. Mum makes the best, frying the chips in the pan till golden, scrambling in the eggs and scraping up the crunchy bits on the bottom. If I'm over, and she makes a batch, not much makes me happier.

So last night when I didn't have much time to make dinner, but still wanted something delicious, I made a posh chips an' egg. Rosti with wilted spinach and poached egg.

Peel and parboil two potatoes. Allow to cool a little, then coarsely grate and season. In a frypan wilt a handful of baby spinach, then set aside. Melt some butter in the same pan, and fry the rosti for a few minutes on each side until crispy and golden. While the rosti is frying poach an egg. When all is ready assemble and enjoy.

Funnily enough after when I went to have a drink at the Paddo Inn this was their special of the day, and it looked good. I'll definitely have to try their version, $15 with a middy of pale ale, how can you beat that?

Sidenote: The Cook And The Chef is such a fantastic cooking show, the rapport between Simon and Maggie is so watchable, and the recipes inspiring and real. Bravo to the ABC for staying with this show amongst abominable TV programming across the board.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007


The temperature was 27.

The sky was blue.

I bought paper-thin bright-as-summer poppies.

I ate little sweet-as-jam figs from Lakemba.

I spoke words of a new language.

There is a lunar eclipse blood moon right now.

Monday, August 27, 2007

It's All Dutch To Me

"This house has been recently renovated and provides with double glass. By means of a simple common kicking house you reach the house on fourth deepening."

"Top floor apartment and a nice balcony in the backside."

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A Weekend And A Masterchef Challenge

On Sunday at lunchtime I was sitting in shorts, tunic top and ropey sandals, looking out the window at the blue sky, and had already had a wonderful weekend...
Saturday I bought fresh bagels and flowers in Bondi, and had a very relaxing lunch for grandma's birthday on Kath's new deck overlooking the water. The seafood was especially amazing - meaty prawns, melting tuna sashimi, clean, luscious oysters - and everyone chatty and happy.
Then it was home to scrub up and head out to Manly, for part one of the Masterchef Challenge. A did an amazing job with his two courses, absolute restaurant quality. The main was perfectly seared duck, with a blueberry jus, potato bake and wilted baby spinach. Make you want to eat duck every day. Dessert was a picture-perfect rhubarb souffle, fluffy and warming, with baked custard (two serves for me please), vanilla icecream and sauteed rhubarb. Wow. The pressure is now on me for part two, in two weeks' time.
It was a lovely evening, great wine and company and I love his new digs. He's done well and I'm happy for him. In the morning we walked down to the aquarium with his neighbour for breakfast, the water sparkling and everyone gaga at this weather. Breakfast was generous and delicious.
So at Sunday lunchtime I was sitting in one of my fave outfits and wishing the weekend would never end. Instead, D came over and we spent the day being outrageous, enjoying divine Turkish, lots of wine, watching Melrose Place season one, late-night snacking on Indian, and calling Jonathon. That phone call was one of the most surreal, brilliant moments that fit in seamlessly with our adventures. Hearing Jonathon say so calmy "I love you too" was a classic instant.
So, now it is time for less eating.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Told Dad

He's numb, although the words "you have to do what you want to do" took the sting out of it a little.

For some reason, having told him makes it feel like it's really happening.

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Best Mail EVA

The best kind of mail...comes with a stamp of Eivissa.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Me Gusta Estudiar Espanol

It's all coming together now, the pieces of the puzzle. A little grammer, a litle vocab, some connecting words, and voila! mi piso tiene un cuarto de bano moderno.

I love it so much! And after thinking Spanish and me weren't meant to be. Stupid ex-teacher Louisa.

Sidenote finally watched Napoleon Dynamite ("I caught you a delicious bass"; Uncle Rico; Pedro, ha!) and Irreversible (a new kind of violence; love the way it looked at relationships; love Vincent and Monica).

And congratulations to Kath and co. on their beautiful new home!

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Moving Misc

I am racked with guilt over telling dad: it will shatter him. He is being so nice today. There is never a right moment.

Received our first scam email about a fabulous apartment available at ridiculously low rent. Haha! Then found another place that sounded great and when we went to secure it realised the amount was the discount and not the actual rent. Luckily we caught that one in time!

Mum had a cry about me leaving yesterday. It will be so hard for her but she knows I have to do it. I really hope she does come and visit next year with the possibility of going to Russia after that. At least talking about it will make it a bit easier.

I worry every now and then of finding work and housing. Even though I'm sure we will be fine.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Did It!

Tonight I made my own pasta!

Taking advantage of my second last night housesitting chez maman, with her lovely biggish kitchen, I got all excited. Literally, I was thinking about it before I went to sleep. Because you see, it has to be perfect. It is one of my three cooking challenges. I can't love pasta this much, study recipes, drone on wax lyrical about the food of Italy, and then when I finally make it, make slop. That would hurt.

And...for the First Pasta, which sauce? I thought about it, and thought about it, and remembered my beloved parpadelle with chicken liver and sage, a Stefano di Piero recipe that I picked up years ago and hold dear.

So off I went. 100g flour, 1 egg. What a fabulous equation. Hmm, too sticky, there's not much here. I added more flour, still not much. I should say that I didn't really measure the flour, I just used rough tablespoons. I'm arrogant like that. At this point I realised this was not a portion going to make, so I doubled the proper amount of flour and another egg. Voila. A nice elastic dough.

I stumbled upon this clip of Gennaro Contaldo with Jamie Oliver on Youtube the other day, showing how to make pasta without a pasta maker. A pasta maker to me looks like a two-person job, at least for a newbie, so I was besotted with Gennaro's "romantic" method, rolling and slicing with a knife.

Except mum didn't have a rolling pin, but she must because she makes rugaliki, so it means I couldn't find it (I am a man after all). So I improvised with a long pasta container. Who the hell knows, but I got it as thin and as light as I could. It even passed Genaro's 'blowing' test. Wide slices, floured. My parpadelle are ready!

The chicken livers are my own recipe now, so I prepared them and got the water ready. In went the pasta ribbons - ooh the excitement, what would they do, stick together, float? no they were just as described - and after a couple of minutes they were done. Mixed into the sauce, into a bowl, and the verdict?

Delicious! Real pasta! A little rustic, which was good, and I'm sure it's because the dough couldn't get a proper rolling. Better rolling would make a silkier pasta. And the whole thing, with sauce, took less than an hour.

So I'll keep perfecting it, and bask in the excitement of having made my own pasta!

Parpadelle With Chicken Livers And Sage, serves 2
Adapted from a recipe from Stefano di Piero

Handful of chicken livers, trimmed if needed
1 Spanish/red onion, thinly sliced
6 sage leaves
Lug of cream

Cook the parpadelle while you make the sauce. Heat some oil in a frypan and add the livers. When browned, add the onion and sage leaves and stir to coat. Lower the heat so as not to overcook the liver, and saute until the onions have softened. Add the cream, season* and cook for another minute. You can add a nob of butter to enrich the flavour and loosen the delicious browned bits.
Drain the pasta reserving a little pasta water and add to the pan with the sauce. Stir through and serve.
* Don't season before as the salt will toughen the livers while they are cooking.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Great Cooking Challenge

A and I are having a cooking challenge thanks to his new obsession with a show on Foxtel called Masterchef Challenge or something.

The rules as in the show are two courses with the judges looking for wow value. I am thinking an entree and main because I'm not in a dessert mood (although I really should do a dessert). My idea is: creamy white gazpacho with seared scallop, and fresh spaghettini with poached lobster in a Champagne cream sauce dotted with crunchy caviar pearls.

Alternatively I'm thinking of something clever, like trompe l'oeil or maybe a classic dish deconstructed. Baked donuts with coffee creme anglaise (with a vanilla bean 'crema').

Either way as with any great competition the sledging has started - bring it on!


Monday, August 13, 2007


I hop in the car after Spanish with beautiful verbs buzzing in my head and dance all the way home to the sounds of the DJ's track 8 and 9.

Fucking hell life is a natural high.

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Wrong Time To Start Decorating My Walls

After two years they are still bare, but I had to have this when I spotted it on ThisNext.

It will be coming to Amsterdam with us...


Above The Rooftops, The Blue Sky


Friday, August 10, 2007

A Good Friday

+ It's 24 degrees today.
+ We just registered for Spice Girls tickets in Madrid!
+ Bought the cutest Topshop playsuit on sale (Kath you will love/hate it: it's the Kate Moss Guatemalan playsuit!)
+ I love coincidences: have not been in touch with S for a while, texted him a hello and turned on the computer to find an email from him. What's 'jinx' in Italian?
+ It's set to be a super weekend!


Thursday, August 09, 2007


I just poached my first egg.

Some people are scared of souffles, baffled by baking. I have three cooking 'challenges' (fairly basic ones) that I've always been daunted to try.

One is preparing an artichoke.
One is making pasta.
One is poaching an egg.

The artichoke I tried a few months ago according to Mark Bittman's instructions but they didn't quite work. It was a breadcrumby mess. I've yet to make my own pasta, which is crazy since pasta is my favourite thing in the world.

But tonight, I poached my first egg.

I adore poached eggs and probably order them more than any other menu item at weekend breakfasts. A good poached egg is a delight, but often ruined by too much vinegar.

But it looked complicated, delicate. I just knew the raw egg would go everywhere, boiling to a mess. Why try and fail when fried, scrambled, boiled are guaranteed delicious?

My beloved Gordo whipped up a watercress soup with poached egg on The F Word and it looked gorgeous. He makes everything look so easy on that show, and between the cookbooks, and that kiss, I realised I'd never even tried any of his recipes! I love the peppery sharpness of watercress, and picked up a huge bunch at the markets on Saturday, so it was now, or never.

Turns out - incredibly easy! I'm a bit excited because I've turned down so many recipes with poached eggs and now they'll definitely be a regular.

How to poach an egg:
Leave the egg/s to get to room temperature. Crack each egg into it's own ramekin.
Fill a saucepan 3/4 full with water, and add one teaspoon of white vinegar. Do not salt.
When the water starts to boil grab a whisk and create a whirpool. Carefully slide the egg into the whirlpool. The egg will wrap around itself and form a nice little ball. Some of the egg white might ribbon away or the egg might be a funny shape; you can trim the egg white afterwards.
Poach for 1.5-2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon.
If not using immediately carefully wash it with a little cold water to stop it cooking (don't bung it under the tap or it will break the yolk).
That's it!

Gordon Ramsay's Watercress Soup With Poached Egg (serves 1 for an easy, luxurious dinner, what, you don't deserve it?)

1 big bunch of watercress
1 potato, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 Ts butter
1 cup boiling water
1 poached egg

Heat a little olive oil in a frypan and add the watercress. When it starts to wilt, add the potatoes and butter and cook for a few minutes until the potatoes are soft (the thinner the potato slices the quicker this will take). Pour in the boiling water (you may not need all of it, depending on how thick you like the soup. It's best to add about half and then add more at the next step if it's too thick). Puree with a stick blender until completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Place a poached egg in the centre of a flat-ish bowl and carefully pour the soup around the egg. Drizzle a little olive oil over the soup, or dress with chopped chives like I did.
So easy, healthy even, and very delicious!

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Chronicling Thoughts

As we’ve decided to buy our tickets this week we need to work out the date we’re leaving. I’ve had mid-November in the back of my mind while D wants to leave early-mid December. Leaving at that time makes more sense with being able to save a bit more and leave looking for work till after the new year, but I’m just being pulled to leave a month earlier. I think it’s my deep-down penchant for going it out alone, flying, arriving, first steps, on my own. But then it will be different this time.

It’s only a couple of weeks. It doesn’t really matter.

Update: D emailed me as I was writing this and suggested leaving in March, for a number of reasons, all of which made sense but didn’t override the need to go this year. So I spent my lunch time daydreaming about that option, until this subject line hit my Inbox: I’ve just made a decision – fuck being sensible.

What a relief.

So I decided going together would be better. It'll be easier to do things together - look for a place, look for work. Brave the cold.

She called from the agent's that there are hardly any seats available, and I hit the net and managed to find a good fare on a good date. Let's do it.
We booked our tickets. We are leaving 6 December.
Can't really believe it but I can. We'll apply for our visas in October and keep researching, saving and daydreaming until then.

And as S just MSNd me, I'll get a bit of summer before we go. And it doesn't get better than that.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007


It's funny, I spend the weekend with the niggling worries of moving overseas to a cold, grey city under a dome of cloudless blue sky. This weekend gave us perfect winter weather, sunny and warm with a chilly whisper every now and then to remind you of the season.

Friday night reminded me that cooking a delicious two-course dinner doesn't have to be a melodrama. D came over for dinner and a DVD and I got to try the one Jamie Oliver recipe I've been dying to make since I first saw it on tele, what, ten years ago?! His Fantastic Fish Pie, and a trip to the fish markets yielded some beautiful snapper fillets and Yamba prawns (and plump Tasmanian oysters as a personal snack). It was quick and easy to make and to tweak it I finely sliced a potato (oh, for a mandolin) and overlapped them over the top like fish scales instead of his mash. They turned out crispy and delicious. Dessert was Bill "white teeth white pants and now white hair" Granger's recipe for chocolate self-saucing puddings, which I made in my beloved Bodum glasses. Incredibly easy to whip up after dinner and dark chocolate delicious, so if you prefer sweeter add more sugar and/or use milk cooking chocolate.

DVD was It's All Gone, Pete Tong. Obsessed? Muy!

Saturday was up for the Good Living Grower's Markets and the beautiful weather meant all of Sydney was out, clogging up any chance of a parking spot and the many coffee cart queues. Seriously - 20 minutes for a coffee? Keep that. The $40 I had to last me till Monday (note, this is a new concept) meant I showed quite a bit of restraint but still came away with great buys: pure organic lamb sausages, lovely beetroot and cauliflower and watercress, roo treats for Nut.

D and I spent the afternoon annoying travel agents with flight questions, as we want to get our tickets asap. We found someone who actually knew what they were talking about (and quite cute) who gave us the info we needed to buckle down and make a decision re: departure dates. Lots to think about this week so we can get the tickets next weekend.

Curled up with Le Mepris. Incredible, especially after reading the novel last year in Europe (which was not a great idea when you have all that time to think, think, think...).

Sunday caught up with I then took Nut for a big walk. Dinner of lamb sausages and baked polenta, when I usually hate sausages but this post had me hankering. And the first good night's sleep in a week...

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Friday, August 03, 2007


Can you hear that? That's the sound of that cosmic force out there that knows when you need to save is also the same time you have an insatiable desire to shop. It's that cosmic force saying, 'na na!' If a cosmic force could rub it's hand together and giggle at you, it would be, right now.

All I can think of is gharish, fluro, 80s. Lame and lurex. All I want is playsuits and even bodysuits. That's right, everything I've totaly abhored before and probably will again soon. I want it.

Update: American Apparel has just opened an Australian site but the mark-ups are very high esp. with the dollar being so good. Hopefully you can still order off the US site and use their flatrate of $US20 international shipping.

Like I want this American Apparel skirt like nothing else...

And I need this dress to wear with major sparkly underneath:

(Basically I want everything on American Apparel at half the price...and that looks as good as it does online, I have a love/hate relationship with AA).

Hi-waisted dark denim shorts from Diesel:

And these shorts, again AA:


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Memory Lane Food

After getting stupendously pampered (my wallet less so) at the Banyan Tree spa, Phuket, in 2001, I treated myself to lunch at one of their restaurants and had an incredible pasta dish that I still linger over in my memories today. Penne with swordfish, asparagus, tomato and basil. It was creamy and full-flavoured and a complete contrast to the hours of svelte-inducing massages and facials I'd just had.

You never try and replicate favourite meals. They never quite match and there's the fear that the initial taste might be replaced with your substitute. But I was willing to try with this one.

I don't know if it turned out quite the same, but it was delicious and surprisingly quick to make. While the pasta is cooking you make the rest, so you're ready in 15 minutes. Pour yourself a glass of wine and pretend you're in a tropical resort. Or laugh over Thank God You're Here like me.

Penne with swordfish, asparagus, tomato and basil, serves 4

4 serves of penne
1 swordfish steak
1 bunch of asparagus
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
3 Ts thick cream
6 large basil leaves, thinly sliced at the last minute

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the ingredients. In some olive oil and/or butter, cook the swordfish over low-medium heat. About 3 minutes on one side and 2 on the other - leave it nice and rare in the middle. Make sure you do not overcook it, as tough swordfish is rubbish. Take it off the heat and let it rest. Pop whole asparagus stems into the pasta water while the penne is cooking and remove with tongs two minutes later, it should be nice and crisp. Slice on the diagonal into inch-long pieces. Slice the fish with the grain into nice chunks - too small and the fish will flake apart. In the same pan as the fish, add the cream and basil leaves and warm through. Add the vegetables and the cooked penne, season with salt and generously with pepper and carefully mix together, making sure not to break the fish apart.
Remember, we don't serve cheese with fish.
Note: Make sure everything is al dente in this dish for it to taste it's best - the penne, the asparagus - the warmth of the dish will keep the ingredients cooking slightly anyway.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Etiquette Corner

You meet someone and google them* and find out that their birthday is coming up.

Do you a) ignore it or b) text/email them a happy birthday!?

(R, you know who I'm talking about, so tailor your answer to who it is)

* what, like you haven't?


Sydney, Now

It's a hot winter's evening. I've just taken Nut for his usual walk and I'm sweating. 22C. And I just got bitten by a mosquito.

This week, you can feel the days are edging their way longer. There's gold in the sky.

A beautiful time of year.


It's Time

So, it's time to start chronicling a new chapter. I am planning to move to Amsterdam around November.

It hit me on my last birthday that the opportunity to live overseas would soon be limited and suddenly it was all I wanted. The idea was London but I soon delegated it to 'plan B' position. I love the city but just feel I want to try something else first, something more of a challenge.

I used this trip as a bit of a litmus test, sussing out new and visited places, asking myself, "could I live here?" Nothing felt too right (except Spain which came with the disappointment of learning there are no reciprocal WHV rights) but then Amsterdam, not knowing a thing about it, did. And it is central for more Europe-hopping which is what I want to use the time for.

It's also what D wants to do, so hopefully off we go together.

The only thing now is to save money, and to get my life in order here. The business, renting out my flat, and working out what will happen with the family business. Every day I do little bits of research, although everyone tells you something different!

I want to say that the family who I've told, my mum and my sister and brother-in-law, have been amazing. I was agonisingly nervous about telling them, more Kath than mum funnily enough, but both reactions have overwhelmed me with their support. "You have to go," said mum. Yet again I am blessed with so much love and support that I have to pinch myself sometimes. Telling dad though, will be a completely different story and I feel sick just thinking about it...

I'm looking forward to jotting this whole adventure down.

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