Tabac Taphouse in Queen St. now open

TABAC Taphouse

Head here for a the proper mini-review

If you regularly end up walking down Queen St. you’ll have noticed a new kid on the block. ¬†The Tabac Taphouse has an on-off licence wine bar/craft beer establishment and is part of The Fat Pig family, and I am happy to say that it is now open for business ūüôā (Check opening times on their Facebook page).

Open from 3pm today and open tomorrow, but fully open (with food served) from Monday.

I am really excited to see this go up, it looks so funky and esoteric, and as I regularly pass this spot its been great seeing it go up.

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Cream Tea at The Horn of Plenty Hotel

Guest blogger, Ditch Townsend, tastes the opulence in central Devon

Overlooking the Tamar valley from on high, and west into Cornwall, this small food-focused hotel offers you the use of the lawn for your helicopter (I declined, since I live within driving distance). It has sumptuous gardens, which naturally I took to, to take afternoon tea in the sun. Inside offered a small, purplish and comfortable upstairs library, or a more muted grey, pastel pink and purple downstairs lounge to take tea, should you get too hot, wet, or cold outside.

Two warm scones made their way to my table on a slate. Glazed on top, darkly brown all over, they had a lovely crunchy, but quite thin and slightly crumbly, crust – much like a good pork pie before the grease sets in. Like tree bark, an abrupt transition was encountered, to a yellowing, light, bready-biscuit texture. Neither scone component was sweet, nor could I pick out a strong flavour, but I enjoyed half a scone completely bare.

Three large rolls of Devon clotted cream were also on the slate, though in their own small bowl – probably straight from a hot dishwasher because the lowest parts were melted, but no further melting happened even in full sun. It was the texture and stiffness of cold margarine, quite pale but still a little yellow, and quite mild-tasting.

I asked for an alternative to strawberry jam if it was from the same supplier, and was rewarded with plenty of non-jelloid raspberry; tasty although from a large commercial maker.

Having been offered a choice of tea, I picked Earl Grey. Disappointingly, it arrived in a pot with bags. Furthermore, the bags were not fresh enough to release much flavour without spending ages stewing.

For ¬£9.50, I wouldn’t fly in by helicopter just for this, but if you are nearby and happy to splash out, I think you are very likely to have an okay time.

You can follow Ditch‚Äôs blog about his anonymous, self-funded, ‚Äėmid-range‚Äô cream tea exploits via www.devoncreamteas.info and be kept up-to-date on Twitter @DevonCreamTease. Like this one, he hopes to offer us occasional reviews about his ‚Äėhigh-end‚Äô cream tea peregrinations at Eating Exeter, so keep a look out. (NB: The ones here are complimentary, but neither paid for, nor edited by the venue.)

© Text and pictures by Ditch Townsend (13 July 2015)

4 Slated for enjoyment

Our local producers are awesome…

Just in case you needed reminding. ¬†Found this delightful video from last year’s Exeter Food Festival whilst hunting for something else on YouTube.

The A-Z of Dining from The Trencherman’s Guide

The Trencherman’s Guide has just produced this amazing video in conjunction with Salt Media. Features a whole host of really top South West chefs too, see who you can spot!

That’s The Way To Do It!

This is an exciting looking event! If you’re in the Tiverton area, might be worth a punt ūüôā

Electric Nights Streetfood

We are incredibly excited to announce that we will have a Punch and Judy show at our event on Saturday 1 August.

Our August event has a beach theme and in true seaside style The Puppetree Company will perform a traditional Punch and Judy show at 7:30pm to delight visitors both young and old alike.

Professor Davey with Punch Professor Davey from Puppetree with Punch

The event continues to promote local musical talent with Tiverton bands The Seagulls and Orange Flag performing at 6:30pm and 8:00pm respectively.  Local DJ SoundS Entertainment will play feel-good music throughout the evening.

There will be the usual array of delicious local food and drink from streetfood sellers:

  • Blueberry Brothers
  • Calaca Loca
  • Cockleshell Deli
  • Cracking Nuts
  • Deli Street Caf√©
  • Devon Woodfired Pizzas
  • Exe Valley Brewery
  • Frandie Macaron
  • Go Local
  • Good Game
  • Ivan‚Äôs Coffee
  • Juice2Go
  • La Cantina
  • Little Van Rouge
  • Llemedos Catering
  • Posh Kebab Co
  • The Shack Inn
  • The Swan Inn Pop-Up‚Ķ

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Problems with the Eating Exeter URL

Hi there!

Just to let you know that I’ve noticed our www.eatingexeter.co.uk URL isn’t redirecting to the blog. ¬†I am not sure how long this has been like this, so I’m opening a support ticket with my provider to see if I can’t get this fixed asap.

Cheers,
Chris

Eating Exeter Update (August-ish)

I actually wrote this last night, but in its dying breathe my main PC froze completely and I lost theIMG_7574¬†text.¬† So I am having another go at telling you chaps what’s happening in the world of Eating Exeter over the next few weeks.

I’ve been having a bit of a holiday recently from all things food blog. I’m heavily involved in coordinating Instagramers Exeter (http://igersexeter.tumblr.com) and had the pleasure of giving a talk at the July meetup of Digital Exeter at The City Gate last night, so working on¬†and rehearsing the presentation has taken a bit of time as well as formulating some plans for the future of the group.

But back to all things Eating Exeter briefly.¬† Facebook told me that I haven’t posted anything for six days, so I thought I better do an Update¬†to allay any fears that¬†I’ve dropped off the end of the Earth.

1. I have the pleasure of working with Will and John, founders of The Complete Diner’s Club, who are currently building interest and tweaking their website.¬† I know many readers to Eating Exeter will be interested in knowing about this project as it supports and promotes independent restaurants & producers¬†in Exeter and Devon.¬† You’ll see more about these chaps as I am currently writing a promotional post on them that’ll publish next week on this blog. Follow them on Twitter

2. We’re visiting Circa 1924, located behind Boots (where Harry’s Bar and Grill¬†was located).¬† I’m looking forward to reviewing and doing and Q&A with their head chef too in the near future!

3. Our roving cream tea expert has been at it again! Some more delicious reviews from Mr Ditch Townsend!

Cheers,
Chris

Q&A with John Magill, Owner-Brewer at The Powderkeg Brewery


You say Craft Beer is the future of beer in Britain and the fastest growing sector in the UK alcohol market.
Why?

You can compare craft beer‚Äôs potential with developments in the food industry. In many ways, Britain‚Äôs ‚Äėreal ale‚Äô is still bedded in the 1970s, when food was still largely traditional English fare: pie and mash, roast beef and the like ‚Äď tasty, comforting but unsophisticated. Access to authentic recipes and exciting ingredients from around the world has lead to a foodie revolution – the industry is booming, standards have skyrocketed, everyone‚Äôs interested, and we are all happier for it. This is the effect that Craft Beer has the potential to achieve for beer in the UK.

So how will Powderkeg be part of that?

Our brewery is built from brand new equipment, custom-designed to enable us to apply all the latest techniques. At Powderkeg we brew internationally-inspired beer styles. We will be launching with a German Pilsner called Cut Loose and an American Pale Ale named Speak Easy, but each will have a twist. For example, ‚ÄėCut Loose‚Äô is brewed using entirely traditional methods and ingredients sourced from Germany, but it will be brought bang up to date with a gentle ‚Äėdry-hopping‚Äô with a hop from New Zealand that will infuse a hint of lemon and lime.

What’s different about the hops?

New World hops from America, New Zealand, Australia, even Japan, are at the heart of our beers. We liken the difference to the terroir of wines. The climate and soil in which these hops are grown promote entirely different flavours in the hop flowers. With a skilled hand, we can draw out subtle hints of tropical fruits, citrus fruits, even white wine notes. This might sound a bit out-there for beer, but the results are stunning.

Aside from the brewing process, how is the company doing things differently?

We are making important progressions in the way we package our beer. For a start we are beginning the rehabilitation of the keg. Keg beers got bad press from CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) in the 1970s, but why hold a 40-year grudge against an inanimate object?  It was only ever the beer the breweries were putting in the kegs that was at fault.

Our beer is a local artisan product Рhand-crafted in small batches, naturally carbonated during fermentation, matured to its best at the brewery, then quality tested with friends.  There is nothing artificial or industrial about the process. Packaging in kegs is then the perfect way to make sure that the beer at the bar is the beer we meant it to be, because the beer will not change once kegged.

Another further innovation is our use of ‚Äėone-way kegs‚Äô. These containers keep the beer in perfect condition but are light weight and can be simply recycled at the point of use. They offer an 80% reduction in packaging weight resulting in huge improvements in our fuel emissions when transporting the beer. They also eliminate the need for all of the energy and chemicals that might otherwise be used to wash dirty kegs. So despite being disposable, they are actually a more environmentally-friendly option than traditional steel containers.

Sounds good. Any other green credentials?

Based at Greendale, we are able to utilise green energy from the new anaerobic digestion plant: electricity is generated at the plant, so that the spent grain from each brew is used to power the next.

Catch them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/powderkegbeer

The Powderkeg Brewery: A Craft Beer Brewery for Exeter

This month sees the launch of Powderkeg, a custom-designed brewery based just outside Exeter, which produces remarkable craft beer.

Craft beer is the fastest growing sector in the UK alcohol market. This reflects the fact that thinkers and drinkers alike are appreciating the efforts of a growing band of passionate and rebellious artisan brewers who mix classic styles and exciting new ingredients to create contemporary, flavoursome beers.

Powderkeg Brewery is set to be Devon’s ringleader in this beer revolution, and will launch with a German Pilsner (Cut Loose) and an American Pale Ale (Speak Easy). Each has been lovingly infused with interesting hops which, combined with innovative brewing techniques, create a completely new beer experience. It’s what craft beer lovers have been waiting for, and a chance for everyone else to discover what the buzz is all about.

Powderkeg are also taking leaps forward in the way they package their beer, so venues will serve the beer from a new generation of kegs.¬† Once packaged in these kegs, the beer will remain the same until it is in your glass ‚Äď there is no risk of it going off, no chance of over-conditioning and no possibility of yeast or other hazes. Put great beer in a keg and you are guaranteed great beer will come out. That is why Powderkeg say the ‚Äėkeg is king‚Äô. It also means there‚Äôs a new place to look for great local beer and that‚Äôs at the fonts, in amongst the commercial lagers (like a diamond in the rough!).

Powderkeg is a family-owned business based in Devon, whose emphasis is on quality ‚Äď whether that be quality of beer or quality of life.

After years of working for other breweries, owner and head brewer John Magill wanted to push the art of brewing forward while running a business that works with family life.

He also, along with wife and co-conspirator Jessica Magill, wanted a business that would reflect his maverick streak and encourage people to ‚Äėthink while they drink‚Äô.

“Beer can elicit such happiness. It brings people together to cut loose, have a good time and put the world to rights. It has inspired countless artists and great thinkers, fuelled rebellions and shaped English culture.  This great tradition Рof beer as a source of courage and inspiration Рis a major influence on what we do. 

‚ÄúIn turn, we try to sow a few seeds of rebellion among our friends and customers, a gentle reminder that life is not all about working and achieving – there is beer to be drunk, pleasure to be had and dreams to follow.‚Ä̬†¬† This is the Powderkeg Plot.

Our core products, available very soon in keg and bottle …

 powderkeg5

Speak Easy ‚Äď Transatlantic Pale,¬† 4.3% ABV. A remarkable pale ale, dry-hopped to infuse big tropical fruit aromas while keeping the bitterness in check and the finish clean. A beer that stimulates the mind and loosens the tongue. In Cervisia Veritas.

powderkeg6

Cut Loose ‚Äď Happy Pils, ¬†4.6% ABV. A classic German pilsner with a rounded malt base and noble hop character, invigorated by a touch of citric fruitiness from the New Zealand¬†‚ÄėMotueka‚Äô hop. Made for livening up and feeling free.

www.powderkegbeer.co.uk

‘Eating Exeter Recommends’ – a new rating system for Eating Exeter

Generally speaking most ‘reviews’ you read will have some sort of rating system, and since starting this blog I have been keen to look beyond the ‘out-of-five’ rating syem that I started off with.¬† I have tried not rating anything, but I feel this then negates the fact its a blog that reviews restaurants and products.

So I will be introducing a new system, that might work amazingly or might just fall flat on its face.¬† The new system¬†is called ‘Eating Exeter Recommends’ and I will be changing the Read Reviews page to reflect this.¬† I might even create a little graphic that reviewed places or producers can put up on their websites or paraphanalia, but I’ll see how much time I have.

The basis of the system will be whether I would recommend a reviewed eating place to a friend.¬† If I would then it gets on the Eating Exeter Recommended list.¬† If not, then it doesnt…simple.

Keep your eye out for some changes over the coming weeks, if it is all horribly confusing then please feedback.  Without feedback its harder!

The Cosy Club, Southernhay (New Summer Menu)

EE RecommendsWhen it opened two years ago, The Cosy Club really changed the playing field for chain restaurants in Exeter.  It was a new, quirky and it did some amazing cocktails.  You can read the original review here, its a little old so it is in need of an update.

Entering through what had been the chapel entrance of the old hospital, you are presented with one of more unique bar designs in Exeter.  Lofty ceilings with walls adorned with large pictures, the bar area is filled with natural light during the day and fends off any feeling of claustrophobia during the busiest evenings.

Through to the dining area, the clusters of lampshades and the reclaimed lights from the hangar that housed Concorde, cast a yellowy glow across the tables. Two painting that stuck in my mind was the full length portrait of Lenin and another called Lenin’s Plans for Electrification by L. Shmatko, which dominate the walls they sit on. There is also a bookable room called The Snug which I wasn’t able to visit, but I will save this for another day. The interior is a fantastic cavalcade of stuff, it is interesting without being cluttered.  Varied, yet sticking to distinct style and variety.

Fun fact – The bits of furniture that are emblazoned on the front of the cocktail bar were original pieces of furniture from the original hospital, of which The Cosy Club occupies of the ground floor of one wing.

When we visited last year, the food was safe yet imaginative – classic British cuisine with a bit of a spin, some friendly service and the sort of thing you expect from what I class ‘mid-casual dining’.¬† You won’t get chucked out for wearing trainers, but the prices and standard/quality of food surpass your average ‘pay-at-the-bar’ kind of establishment.

I didn’t give it a rating at the time as I was part of a large party and this isn’t really fair given the fact that I tend to rate places on there being two people. ¬†But had I rated it, it would have been a solid 4/5 and under out new rating system I would recommend this restaurant as a place for a meal out in Exeter. ¬†They coped with our large party really well last time.

I like the atmosphere and everyone is friendly, the staff are always eager to please and the food has always been very good.  Last week, we were invited over to have a look at their new summer menu.

We were served by Dan, who had this amazing Death Head Moth tatoo on his arm.  He was friendly and attentive, he chatted to us about the food and the interior decor (which has to be one of the best interiors for a restaurant in Exeter!), everyone made us feel quite at home throughout our visit.  We latched on to the English Garden cocktails that had been recommended to us by multiple friends and relatives, and I could genuinely see why!

Given we had already had a lot of food over the course of the day, we were not massively hungry, so we shared a starter.  We kicked off with Asparagus wrapped in Serrano Ham with a poached egg (£6.50) a beautifully cooked bed of asparagus with a strong ham and egg combination was lovely.  This is a new addition to their menu, so I was keen to try this given I love ham & egg as a combination.

In comms before out visit with Ed, one of the managers at The Cosy Club, he recommended the Seared Yellowfin Tuna Steak (¬£14.95). ¬†I’m always up for taking recommendations, so I was quite determined to go for this. Tori went for the Buttermilk Fried¬†Chicken with Triple Fried Chips.

The Tuna was very nice, seared and bedded on a bed of aloo gobi, onion bhaji and mint & cucumber raita¬†on top.¬† It was seared well (its easy to overdo a seared fish steak) and the aloo gobi had a good spice to the flavour which went really well with the tuna. ¬†It wasn’t spicy, but had a gentle heat which was complimented by the raita.

Tori’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken¬†(¬£9.95)¬†was a damn good dish, the triple fried fries were of an epic size but the coating of the chicken was very spicy.

OK OK, this is a Deep South traditional fried chicken recipe and scooting around the internet, if you want to make it yourself then it does have cayenne and paprika in varying quantities.


I¬†fed this back to the manager (lovely lady called Sarah) that this wasn’t evident from the menu.¬† This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as we are both spice lovers, but had we been averse to spicy food, it would have been an issue (the title Buttermilk Fried Chicken led us to believe it wasn’t going to be spicy, although it was served chipotle sauce which could denote that it might be hot one…??)

Regardless I would have this dish the next time we go, as despite the heat, was a really well fried piece of chicken, and for a tenner¬†it was excellent value. ¬†It was moist and had a good flavour to it, which suprised me as so often chicken is normally dry when eating out –¬†Too many bad experiences at Wetherspoons methinks…

The desserts looked appealing enough to ignore the fact we were already full. ¬†Out came a¬†Salted Caramel Cheesecake (¬£5.50) with sweet and salty popcorn and for Tori a Sorbet made up of¬†orange, mango and blackcurrant (¬£3.95). ¬†The cheesecake was more creamy and mousse-like, this was nice a light and it didn’t feel like I was stuffing myself silly. ¬†Tori’s sorbet was fruity and refreshing. ¬†It was a perfect end to a really enjoyable meal.

The Cosy Club has cemented itself in the dining scene in Exeter.  It has a vegan and gluten free menu as well, and commendation to those behind the menus as this is such a rarity.

I would recommend The Cosy Club as a place to eat in Exeter.  Its a great place for romantic meals, family celebrations, cocktails and definitely somewhere a bit special.

www.cosyclub.co.uk

The Cosy Club
Halford Wing, Dean Clarke House
1 Southernhay Gardens
Exeter
Devon, EX1 1SG

01392 848744
exeter@cosyclub.co.uk

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Harry’s Restaurant, Exeter

86 Longbrook St, Exeter EX4 6AP  Tel: 01392 202234  Twitter:@HarrysExeter

EE RecommendsIts not often that I get to review a restaurant that has such a legacy.  Whilst at work on the day of the review a couple of conversations I had with colleagues went along the lines of

“What are you doing tonight?”
“Going to Harry’s for something to eat…”
“Oh I love Harry’s, its really nice, you’ll like it”

The number of times I’ve had this sort of conversation is uncountable, pretty much because I don’t count the number of times I’ve talked about a restaurant as I am not that particular about reoccurring topics of conversation.¬† But also because I have never once heard a bad thing about this place.¬† They have a new summer menu which we were invited along to have a look at, and experience the legend that is Harry’s Restaurant.


Harry’s Restaurant has been in the same family for the last 21 years, it is in my mind, one of the longest serving independent family-run restaurants in Exeter, I might be wrong (correct me in the comments) and has been housed in the iconic red brick building which is number 86 Longbrook Street¬†for that time.¬† Having been many things in its past, its history is a blog post in itself, but here is a digested version.

86 Longbrook Street¬†was purpose built¬†for a successful businessman named Harry Hems, who ran a church fitting business from the premises.¬† Hems had made a name for himself with his carvings and ornamentation which¬†had gained international reputation for its quality.¬† The workshop was built in the 1880s and designed by R Medley Fulford. It remained¬†a workshop until 1938 when his son Wilfred¬†and business partner retired.¬† It subsequently became a leather workshop, wine-sellers and later Harry’s Restaurant in the nineties.¬† For a full history head to Exeter Memories.

A few peeps who read this blog will remember Harry’s Grill¬†& Bar behind Boots.¬† Not long ago Harry’s moved out (it has now been turned in to Circa 1924) and brought the grill menu down the road to 86 Longbrook Street.¬† Some of the grill items that were served are now available on the menu at Harry’s.

As the restaurant isn’t a purpose-built establishment, the layout is quite interesting.¬† There are two sides to the restaurant floor, with the kitchen open to diners with only partition separating the action of the kitchen from the seating area. The door at the back leads to the toilets and the back room which the restaurant hires out to parties and larger gatherings, the walls adorned with collages of photos which make up the background of the menu.

Stepping through the door, we were greeted by Amy who looked after us with a smile and a lovely demeanour throughout the whole meal. ¬†We were lucky enough to have a window seat which¬†gave us lots of light as we chomped away.¬† The atmosphere was friendly and busy, it wasn’t overly loud but for a Wednesday evening it was still very bustling, it felt comfortably busy.

The new summer menu¬†is an eclectic array of Modern British, Grill¬†and Mexican items, all of which sound quite epic.¬† There are a few items that are considered classics which are still there, and the one that considered almost legendary is the Harry’s Heartattack (chocolate brownies, marshmallows, chocolate and vanilla ice cream and peanut M&M‚Äôs, chocolate Ô¨āake, whipped cream and hot chocolate fudge sauce).¬† There are some new items as well (Beef Bon Bons for instance).

We kicked off our meal with a Grapefruit Fizz (light and very nice)¬†for Tori and a bottle of Harry’s Cider (¬£4.00) for myself.¬† Nope, not produced by Harry’s Restaurant but actually by a farmer from Somerset.¬† Currently Harry’s Restaurant is the only Exeter restaurant that is serving this lovely stuff.

It was Nachos for starters (refried beans,¬†cheese, jalape√Īos, salsa & sour cream ¬£5.50) and liking the sound of a new addition to the menu Tori went for Beef Bon Bons (balls of pulled beef, crispy coated and served with a horseradish sauce – ¬£5.00).¬† For someone who forgot that they don’t like horseradish, she did very well.¬† The nachos were a good size, it was a basic starter but it makes me laugh how terribly some restaurants do Nachos,¬†in my experience a¬†good Nachos is often indicative of a good restaurant.¬† And these were great…

The main courses were a lot harder to choose.¬† There were quite a few amazing sounding items on the menu, which is lethal for someone as indecisive as me.¬† Should there be a smaller menu? The balance between new dishes and classic Harry’s dishes has to be kept, and if you are a restaurant that has definitive favourites, what would be the point getting rid of them just for the sake of change? Despite the fact I have moaned about places with larger menus, this isn’t the largest menu I’ve had to read through, and although there is a lot of choice, it is not unwieldy. The menu is constructed to cater for a wide range of tastes, and it does this adequately.

Rather predictably I ended up having a burger, The Mothership sounded good (bacon, cheese, onion, tomato & dill pickle Р£12) and Tori went for the Pulled Pork Burrito (sour cream, Mexican green rice, cheese, shredded lettuce, guacamole, salsa Р£10).  I had considered the Hangar Steak but felt my taste buds needed a grilled burgery thing but next time I go? It will have its moment.

The burger was fully loaded. The fries were fresh and the coleslaw was slaw-ey. I am not sure that is a word, but if it trends enough I am sure ‘slawey’ might get in to the OED.

As with previous burgers that come in the ‘fully loaded’ category, there is a certain amount of debate about how to actually fit in my mouth.¬† I opted for the ‘take it apart’ method, which¬†allowed me to see inside.¬† Large tomato, lots of good ingredients stacked carefully.¬† It was a good burger, and I felt it was good value considering the the fries came with it.

Tori’s burrito was packed full of filling, the sour cream, salsa and guacamole laid on the top was colourful in presentation.¬† There was a lot of it, and as she takes ages to eat anything this was a good indicator that this portion was a generous one when considering portions from similar chain counterparts.

No matter what anyone says, there is ALWAYS space for dessert.¬† The Harry’s Heartattack wasn’t going to be on our list today, as we were both quite full.¬† But the great thing about Harry’s is that there are some really divine sounding desserts on the menu.¬† Tori kicked off the final chapter of her meal off with a Hot Chocolate Fudge Brownie (vanilla ice cream,¬†hot chocolate fudge sauce – ¬£5.00) and for me it was the Affogato (vanilla ice cream, shot of Kahlua, single espresso ¬£6.50)


After working out that I had to tip the Kahlua and the Espresso over the ice-cream, then promptly spilling half of the Espresso over the table, I managed to get it in my mouth without drawing too much attention.  It was a lovely combination and a perfect end to a really good meal.  Tori made satisfied noises from the other side of the table too, the Hot Chocolate Fudge Brownie a success with her, it literally melted.

Harry’s Restaurant is a legend in its own right.¬† A family owned, independent restaurant which adds itself to the exclusive list of really good places to eat that I will return to in the near future.¬† Exeter is blessed with some awesome independents, but they need our support especially with the growing competition from the chain restaurants of this world.¬† In the spirit of independent reporting, my closing thoughts are this.¬† When you have such a great restaurant, using scratch-made, local produce on your doorstep, why would you want to go to Jamie’s Italian?

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