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    Post #1 - August 4th, 2005, 4:27 pm
    Post #1 - August 4th, 2005, 4:27 pm Post #1 - August 4th, 2005, 4:27 pm
    My Maine vacation has begun. So far, I only have two words to say

    Lobster Roll
    Image

    From Bob's Clam Hut
    Image
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #2 - August 4th, 2005, 9:00 pm
    Post #2 - August 4th, 2005, 9:00 pm Post #2 - August 4th, 2005, 9:00 pm
    Mr. Z,

    In the immortal words of the South Park gang, "You Bastard"

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #3 - August 8th, 2005, 5:54 pm
    Post #3 - August 8th, 2005, 5:54 pm Post #3 - August 8th, 2005, 5:54 pm
    I was in Maine about the same time as stevez (although didn't run into him). A few notes:

    Brewpubs - Seems like they're all over the Maine Coast. In three days, we only tried three.

    First up was Federal Jacks/Kennebunkport Brewing (8 Western Avenue (Just before the bridge into Kennebunkport)
    Kennebunk, Maine). A definite must-miss. All their beers - even the stout - were strangely lacking in body. And the ones they described as "balanced" were particularly lacking in balance. Food was rather over-priced (lobster roll was over $16 - compare that with prices mentioned below), and the entire town of Kennebunkport was overly touristy - precious gift shoppes and restaurants make up most of downtown. But it was crowded, so it certainly appeals to a certain segment of the populace. Not me.

    On to Portland, our primary destination, and to Gritty McDuff's (396 Fore Street). Overall, the best of the three. They specialize in British-style ales, and those are their strongest beers. Their Vacationland wheat beer was a little disappointing, though, but their raspberry wheat beer was far better than Kennebunkport's (Kennebunport's shouted RASPBERRY, Gritty's spoke of raspberry in a civil tone).

    Sebago Brewing (164 Middle St. - just a few blocks from Gritty's) was the most inconsistent of the three. Their version of a hefeweizen was the best beer we tasted on the entire trip (although the locally brewed Allagash White is also an excellent domestic version of the German classic summer beer). But their blueberry beer was a mushy-flavored mess, and I couldn't tell if their light beer had more or less flavor than the water we were also served. Solid pale ale and IPA, but not quite up to Gritty's, IMHO.

    Food - First lunch was at Federal Jack's as referenced above, 'nuff said.

    Asking around for dinner choices, we were directed to J's Oyster (5 Portland Pier) as a place where the locals go, even though it's in the Old Port district right on the water. Very crowded with locals, the local oysters were great (though not as cheap as in, say, Apalachicola or New Orleans). Nicely prepared lobster salad (sorry, no pic), overall not too expensive for a touristy area (down a wharf, easily overlooked by tourists, I guess).

    Next day was a bike ride Portland -> Bath. They said it was only about 40 miles (which would be about the same as our typical route Evanston -> Lake Forest & back - except Maine's hills probably added another 40 miles in vertical up & down distance). But it was worth it for our lunch destination, about halfway:

    Image

    Here's the little lady (and I know she was a lady, because I ate her roe) that I ate (in the spirit of brutal honesty, she was the one I ate the next day for lunch on the return trip - the one pictured next was a male). Forgive the lack of sharpness - she was very jittery, perhaps knowing the boiling pot was just moments way.

    Image

    And the "Lobster Delight" meal - a 1# lobster (fantasically sweet, really didn't need the melted butter, and easy to crack, since it's "new shell" season), a dozen local steamer clams, and steamed corn for $16.95:

    Image

    That night was dinner at the Kennebec Tavern in Bath, overlooking the Kennebec River (where, according to legend, the British created the first settlement in the New World. But the settlers hated it, built a huge ship, and sailed back to England, so it wasn't a sustained settlement, like Jamestown, but it did give Bath the title of the place where shipbuilding began in the New World. It's still a major shipbuilding city.) In a nutshell, better than pub food, great views, and amazingly underpriced wine list (KWV Steen @$15).

    After another lunch at Haraseeket, we dragged our ache-y thighs to Fore Street in Portland. An outstanding meal, at about 2/3 the cost of a comparable meal here. Started with sauteed foie gras in a light balsamic, went on to Muscovy duck breast with wild mushroom risotto and marinated rabbit in a huckleberry sauce, and ended with a very good cheese plate. Foie gras and rabbit were amazingly good, the rest were just very excellent.

    And that was my trip (with the lovely Susan).
  • Post #4 - August 11th, 2005, 7:22 am
    Post #4 - August 11th, 2005, 7:22 am Post #4 - August 11th, 2005, 7:22 am
    We decided to go to Maine with no particular plan in place other than to eat a bunch of lobster and explore an area of the country that neither the Chow Poodle nor I had ever been. We didn’t know anything much about Maine, so we decided to begin our trip in a place that we had at least heard of, Kennebunkport, home of George Bush the First.

    The Bush Estate on Walker’s Point
    Image

    As nr706 pointed out, Kennebunkport is pretty touristy, but we had pre-booked our room at the lovely Kennebunkport Inn for three nights, so we used the town as our base and made daily trips to other destinations.

    The Kennebunkport Inn
    Image

    That is not to say that Kennebunkport is without its charms. For one thing, there is an extensive trolley museum in town…not unlike the Antique Train Museum in Union, IL; in fact the people at the Trolley Museum spoke of the Union Museum in reverent tones.

    Seashore Trolley Museum
    Image

    I had heard (I think someone posted this here, or maybe it was on another list) that there might have been an old CTA trolley car on display and that was what made me want to go check out the museum. There was no CTA car but, as luck would have it, when we got there was an old North Shore Line car parked right in front that was in the final stages of being restored; ready to go on a shakedown cruise just as we arrived.

    Anyone Going to Mundelein?
    Image

    Unfortunately, we were not allowed to ride along because the train had not yet been certified (whatever that entails) for riders except for the fully liveried crew.

    All Aboard!
    Image

    Food? Food you ask? So, what about the food in Kennebunkport? Well, we didn’t eat there much except for the breakfasts and one dinner that were included in our bed and breakfast package. We did have some excellent fried clams at a place called The Clam Shackalong with the meals at the Inn. For our dinner, the Chow Poodle ordered something called Lazy Lobster (this dish was listed on several menus we saw throughout the trip) which was a lobster completely de-shelled; then reconstructed over a bed of mashed potatoes to resemble its former shelly self.

    Lazy Lobster
    Image

    I had duck with cranberry/balsamic gastrique, served with a bleu cheese potato gratin and duck liver pate on toast.

    Duck, Maine Style
    Image

    Both dishes were good, but nothing special. The lobster was pretty pedestrian...even for the CP and I found the pate to be too much and would have preferred only one toast’s worth of the very rich pate. Deserts were not memorable. Breakfast, on the other hand, was spectacular. There was a wide selection of omelets, eggs any style, fresh blueberry walnut pancakes and waffles as well as some of the best home made corned beef hash I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

    Corned Beef Hash
    Image

    We also drove out to Cape Porpoise to watch the lobstermen load up their boats with traps and head out to catch our future dinner.

    The Anita J.
    Image

    Cape Porpoise is home to the Cape Porpoise Lobster Company, which Holly Eats claims to be very good for lobster rolls. Having just come from the breakfast pictured above, I wasn’t ready for a lobster roll just yet, so I did not try any food there.

    I’ve got much more to report, including a visit to the Maine Lobster Festival. I’ll post more later.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #5 - August 12th, 2005, 7:40 am
    Post #5 - August 12th, 2005, 7:40 am Post #5 - August 12th, 2005, 7:40 am
    nr706 wrote:On to Portland, our primary destination, and to Gritty McDuff's (396 Fore Street). Overall, the best of the three. They specialize in British-style ales, and those are their strongest beers. Their Vacationland wheat beer was a little disappointing, though, but their raspberry wheat beer was far better than Kennebunkport's (Kennebunport's shouted RASPBERRY, Gritty's spoke of raspberry in a civil tone).


    I also made it to Gritty McDuff's. I'm not really much of a beer aficionado, but I had to go simply because of the name, which is worthy of a brewpub in a Simpsons episode.

    Image

    This is me hoisting a pint of the above mentioned Vacationland Wheat beer. I found it very refreshing on an unseasonably hot and humid Portland, ME day. As I said, I don't know from beer. I asked the bartendress for something that is local, light and refreshing. This beer filled the bill for me. I bow to nr706's expetise whether or not there are better beers to be had.

    I also took the walk over to Fore Street. Finding out where this place is turned out to be somewhat of an Abbott and Costello-esque excercise.

    Me: Can you tell me where Fore Street is?
    Portlander: You're on Fore Street
    Me: No, I mean the restaurant Fore Street
    Portlander: Oh, that place...just walk down Fore Street.

    I went around 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, which was during prep time for the evening's dinner service. The place looked very interesting, with several cooks prepping veggies and other miez en place in the open kitchen behind the hostess stand. The smell of the wood burning oven permeated the room. My mouth was watering. We were told that there were no reservations to be had the for the next night (Saturday), but people began lining up for the coveted first-come-first-served bar seats at 5:00 P.M. when the restaurant opened. We planned on showing up the next night to wait for seating, but never made it back because we encountered the Maine Lobster Festival instead. (post to come).
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #6 - August 12th, 2005, 10:00 am
    Post #6 - August 12th, 2005, 10:00 am Post #6 - August 12th, 2005, 10:00 am
    A couple more Maiine notes:

    Whenever I visit a brewpub for the first time, I always ask for the "sampler" - it's a great way to find out how good the beers are across the board, and, at least for me, I find I can learn a lot more about beers in general by comparing and contrasting. You'll usually get 3 - 5 oz. portions of 4 - 7 different beers - frequently one sampler is enogh to share with a significant other. Anbyway, that was the modus operandi at Federal Jack's, Gritty's and Sebago.

    And, I highly recommend the lobster at Harraseeket in South Portland. I was actually surprised at the number of Asian and Europeans that had sought out the place. It's off the beaten track, and away from all the L. L. Bean and other factory outlet mania in Freeport, but it's not tough to find - just make a right at the giant Indian (and note that I'm not trying to be politically incorrect by not calliing a Native American with a glandular condition - "The Giant Indian" is the way the Maine Department of Transportation describes it.) Here's me at the site where you make the turn:
    Image

    All in all, the Maine coast is a highly recommended summer vacation destination (although not as highly recommended as Vilas County, WI - see my previous crayfish post).
  • Post #7 - August 21st, 2005, 4:56 pm
    Post #7 - August 21st, 2005, 4:56 pm Post #7 - August 21st, 2005, 4:56 pm
    Serendipity showed her beautiful face during our trip to Maine. My mission was to explore the countryside and eat as much lobster as humanly possible. Imagine my glee when I found out that the Maine Lobster Festival just happened to be taking place on the very weekend we were there. As soon as I heard about it on a local TV broadcast, we bee-lined to Rockland to see what it was all about.

    Image

    The festival had a midway that could have been at any State Fair/carnival, complete with freshly made corn dogs, deep fried candy bars, freshly made lemonade, cotton candy and every other kitschy carnival item you could imagine.

    King Neptune, The Sea Goddess, The Royal Court & Blackbeard the Pirate
    Image

    Just as I was about to be disappointed, we turned the corner to another midway that was devoted to local specialties. There was excellent chowder, lobster rolls, fried clams, home made pies and even Ameri-Thai food being sold at pretty reasonable prices. Then…there it was…the world’s largest lobster steamer…and it was going full blast.

    World’s Largest Lobster Steamer
    Image

    This is a gas fired brick unit that has enough BTU’s and capacity to steam 650 lbs. of lobsters at a time.

    Lobsters are taken from a semi-truck by several women who put them into baskets approximately 3 times the size of a typical French fry basket.

    Loading Lobsters
    Image

    The lobsters themselves were all 1 ¼ pound soft shell beauties.

    Lobsters Waiting to Meet Their Maker
    Image

    Over the course of the three day festival, the guys who steam the lobster (who got special blue shirts (sorry no picture)) told me that they expected to steam nearly 35,000 lbs of lobsters, up from 27,000 the year before.

    Once the lobsters emerge form their steaming, which takes a remarkably short amount of time due to the high volume of steam developed by this steamer (said to be able to steam a lobster 2 – 3 times as fast as you can do it at home over a gas stove), they are placed in large plastic tubs.

    Hot Lobsters Coming Through
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    The tubs are wheeled over to the Jethro Bodine-esque named Main Eating Tent (no fancy dining pavilion here).

    Main Eating Tent
    Image

    Where they are placed on the counter for sale.

    How Many Do you Want?
    Image

    For $14.00 you got a lobster, drawn butter, a dinner roll and an ear of corn if you want it. (The corn was very disappointing everywhere I tried it for the entire trip. Corn is one thing we really can be proud of in the Midwest). Throughout Maine, they served smaller 1 ¼ lb. lobsters exclusively. The way the Mainers look at it, if one isn’t enough for you, simply get another one…or two. For $28.00 you could get the same meal as above with 2 lobsters (“Hey, you look hungry. Better double up on that order.”) or 3 of them for $33.00.

    The Chow Poodle with a Light Lunch
    Image

    If that wasn’t enough to fill you up, then there were $7.00 lobster rolls to be had.

    The Chow Poodle Contemplates Her Lobster Roll
    Image

    After our day at the Maine Lobster Festival, I could have easily come home with my Lobster Jones satisfied, but there were more lobstery wonders waiting to be sampled. I’ve got a couple more posts to go. Stay tuned.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #8 - August 21st, 2005, 7:02 pm
    Post #8 - August 21st, 2005, 7:02 pm Post #8 - August 21st, 2005, 7:02 pm
    stevez,

    Those pix are absolutely amazing. The Wife is a major lobster fan (she even eats the tomalley, which is beyond me): we spent our honeymoon in Jamaica going from lobster stand to lobster stand. My guess is, if we were there with you, she'd have gone for the 3 for $33 deal.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #9 - August 21st, 2005, 8:35 pm
    Post #9 - August 21st, 2005, 8:35 pm Post #9 - August 21st, 2005, 8:35 pm
    David Hammond wrote:stevez,

    Those pix are absolutely amazing. The Wife is a major lobster fan (she even eats the tomalley, which is beyond me): we spent our honeymoon in Jamaica going from lobster stand to lobster stand. My guess is, if we were there with you, she'd have gone for the 3 for $33 deal.

    Hammond


    It was actually a 5 lobster day for me, once the dust settled.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #10 - August 22nd, 2005, 3:58 am
    Post #10 - August 22nd, 2005, 3:58 am Post #10 - August 22nd, 2005, 3:58 am
    Besides lobster, I found Maine to have a wide range of home made ice cream options. Originally, I thought I would have to go to Vermont to check out some of the lesser known mom & pop ice cream operations as well as the behemoth Ben & Jerry's. It turns out that making ice cream is as prevelant in Maine as is lobster fishing. We tried at least 8 - 9 different ice cream places during the week we were there. They ranged from not so good to excellent. The best one we found was Martel's Ice Cream & Fresh Fudge, along route 1 in the town of Saco (across the street from FunTown). This place is a classic ice cream shop with a miniture golf course attached in the back.

    Martel's Ice Cream & Fresh Fudge
    Image

    Martel's makes one or two flavors from their stable of 15 or so fresh every day. John Martel makes all of the ice cream himself and claims to have a 16% butterfat content. This ice cream was astoundingly good. His wife, Donna, makes fudge that is equally good. My hot fudge Sundae was orgasmic. I ended up taking home 5 lbs. of their chocolate fudge. I only wish ice cream travelled better.

    Interior of Martel's
    Image

    All of the ice cream is made in the small ice cream maker you see in the back.

    Martel's Ice Cream & Fresh Fudge
    Route 1
    Saco, ME
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #11 - August 22nd, 2005, 4:44 am
    Post #11 - August 22nd, 2005, 4:44 am Post #11 - August 22nd, 2005, 4:44 am
    One final place that I want to post about is the lovely (and very busy) Maine Diner in the town of Wells, which is just south of Kennebunk & Kennebunkport along Route 1.

    The Maine Diner
    Image

    The Maine Diner is a bustling place that has a huge menu with options ranging from breakfast to full seafood dinners. Despite the range of the menu, it's really a diner at heart.

    Counter at the Maine Diner
    Image

    This shot might be a bit deceptive, because the restuaurant is really quite large (and popular). We opted to sit at the counter bacause...well it's a diner and that's where the action is, hon. Also if we wanted a table, it would have been at least a 20 minute wait.

    Several menus I saw during my trip featured a dish called lobster pie, which is, as you might imagine, a chicken pot pie, except using lobster instead. I resisted ordering one all week, opting instead for a fresh steamed lobster in all cases. After attending the Maine Lobster Festival (see post above) I had finally had enough fresh lobster and was ready for something a little different. We had stopped at the Maine Diner for dinner and I was thinking burger until I saw that their lobster pie was featured in books, magazines, several TV shows and endorsed by the Stern's as the best example of this praticular dish. Well, who am I to argue. After hesitating to order lobster at a roadside diner for all of 3 seconds, I caved and ordered yet one more lobster dish.

    Their version of lobster pie, which was served with real mashed potatoes, veggies and the best home made corn muffin I had ever eaten, turned out to be a perfect exection of a gratin rather than a traditional pot pie. Right before my trip, I had watched Jaques Pepin demonstrating gratins on his "Fast Food" show, and this was exactly what Jaques was talking about. There was no creamy sauce or diced veggies, as a pot pie would have. This dish was simply large chunks of lobster (there was probably a whole lobster in there), mixed with tomally, dotted with butter and covered with bread crumbs...or in this case crumbled ritz crackers. Simple and delicious, and costing only $11. Quite the bargain! This was a transcendent dish. The biggest regret that I had on my entire vacaton was that I had left my camera in the car and didn't get a picture.

    We enjoyed the Maine Diner so much, we went back the next day for breakfast and pictures. Since blueberrys are so prevalant in Maine culture (a fact which rankled the Michigan born Chow Poodle), I passed on the lobster benedict and lobster quiche and ordered the special of two eggs, bacon, sausage, toast and blueberry pancakes. (I love the fact that they give you both pancakes and toast. I wish more places did.)

    A Hearty Breakfast
    Image

    I also ordered a side order of their homemade biscuits and gravy, which was a little odd, in that it was very chunky with sausage. I would have preferred a little less sausage in the gravy, a complaint you don't often hear.

    Biscuits & Gravy
    Image

    I could go on and on about the home made pies and cakes, indian pudding (another specialty) and general friendliness of this place. All in all, The Maine Diner is a gem and is worth checking out next time you are traveling up Route 1 in Maine.

    The Maine Diner
    Route 1
    Wells, ME
    207-646-4441
    http://www.mainediner.com
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #12 - August 22nd, 2005, 6:42 am
    Post #12 - August 22nd, 2005, 6:42 am Post #12 - August 22nd, 2005, 6:42 am
    stevez wrote:I also ordered a side order of their homemade biscuits and gravy, which was a little odd, in that it was very chunky with sausage. I would have preferred a little less sausage in the gravy, a complaint you don't often hear.

    Steve,

    Lobster pie, too much sausage in the biscuits and gravy, eating enough fresh steamed lobster to get tired of it, what a trip. Never been to Maine and it seems I've been missing out.

    Nice pics, great trip.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #13 - September 10th, 2008, 7:35 am
    Post #13 - September 10th, 2008, 7:35 am Post #13 - September 10th, 2008, 7:35 am
    In deference to this wonderful thread, I thought I'd resurrect it rather than start a new one.

    Does anyone have any restaurant suggestions for the Bar Harbor area? I'll be heading there in mid-October, so many of the lobster pounds will be closed, but I'd love to get suggestions on any other places members have enjoyed over the years. (any cuisine or price range, with a slight preference toward lobster-based fare, naturally ;)
  • Post #14 - September 10th, 2008, 8:04 am
    Post #14 - September 10th, 2008, 8:04 am Post #14 - September 10th, 2008, 8:04 am
    Where's Bay Harbor? Can't find it on google maps.
  • Post #15 - September 10th, 2008, 8:25 am
    Post #15 - September 10th, 2008, 8:25 am Post #15 - September 10th, 2008, 8:25 am
    Jay K wrote:Where's Bay Harbor? Can't find it on google maps.


    that's Bar Harbor
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #16 - September 10th, 2008, 8:29 am
    Post #16 - September 10th, 2008, 8:29 am Post #16 - September 10th, 2008, 8:29 am
    Although if you really want a Bay Harbor, there's always Booth Bay Harbor.
  • Post #17 - September 10th, 2008, 8:39 am
    Post #17 - September 10th, 2008, 8:39 am Post #17 - September 10th, 2008, 8:39 am
    Jay K wrote:Where's Bay Harbor? Can't find it on google maps.



    Yep, Bar Harbor. It's a somewhat touristy area on Mount Desert Island, located adjacent to Acadia National Park.
    http://www.barharborinfo.com/
  • Post #18 - September 10th, 2008, 9:05 am
    Post #18 - September 10th, 2008, 9:05 am Post #18 - September 10th, 2008, 9:05 am
    Ralph-

    I did a trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park several years ago. I did find a number of good ideas on the Chowhound Northeast site when I was planning my trip. Although my mind is unable to pull up details about the meals, I recall enjoying the Lompoc Cafe & Brewpub and the Mache Bistro. In Acadia National Park, the Jordan Pond House is a nice post-hike destination, especially if the weather cooperates. If you are driving up, the coast, I particularly enjoyed the lobster roll at Red's Eats in Wicasset. I hit it on the way up and on the way back.

    Lompoc Cafe & Brewpub
    36 Rodick Street
    Bar Harbor, ME
    207-288-9392
    http://www.lompoccafe.com/

    Mache Bistro
    135 Cottage Street
    Bar Harbor, ME
    207-288-9723
    http://www.machebistro.com/

    Jordan Pond House
    Park Loop Road, Seal Harbor
    207-276-3244
    http://www.jordanpond.com/

    Red's Eats
    Main St. & Water St.
    Wiscasset, ME
    207-882-6128
    -Mary
  • Post #19 - September 10th, 2008, 1:39 pm
    Post #19 - September 10th, 2008, 1:39 pm Post #19 - September 10th, 2008, 1:39 pm
    I like the Lompoc and Red's a lot. Just two of many places to try along the Maine coast.

    There are others in Maine I haven't gotten to that I want to try, though many are getting ready to close for the season. Some of the places include:

    Cod End (Tenants Harbor)
    Thurston's Lobster Pound (Bernard)
    Dolphin Marina (Harpswell)
    Dip Net (Port Clyde)
    Water's Edge (Phippsburg)
    Chauncey Creek (Kittery)
  • Post #20 - September 10th, 2008, 2:33 pm
    Post #20 - September 10th, 2008, 2:33 pm Post #20 - September 10th, 2008, 2:33 pm
    While a little out of the way for someone staying in Bar Harbor, Tidal Falls Lobster Pond has great atmosphere, value and quality lobster. It is on the other side of Frenchmen's Bay from Bar Harbor, so you'd drive maybe 25 miles? All profits go to a non profit group helping Frenchmen's Bay. It sits on, well...a Tidal Falls, so the water can run in opposite directions based on the tide. Fun place to sit on a picnic table, watch the birds in the stream, talk to the locals, all while wearing a bib. And the staff is local high school kids making some summer money. You can be a lobster glutton while still feeling like you are doing a good thing.

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