Author Archives: gina

I asked the question to food photographers on a recent insta post – where you do you start when you’re putting together a shoot for yourself, after you have the recipe/theme/story in place?
I almost always start with deciding on the the mood and the light I want to work with, and then I move on to color, which naturally leads me to the props and surfaces.

This first triptych is where I started, even after knowing that the recipe I would be using was full of color. The rainbow, in fact.
I wanted to celebrate the color, but not in a bright, white, summer day feel. I wanted to go dark and contrasted while letting the ingredients take center stage. I’m pretty happy with the outcome, even though my starting place was almost void of color.

This shoot is from another recipe prompt from my Grey Salt Collective Facebook Group. We have a year long theme of ‘How Do You Rainbow’ and when I came across The Green Life’s recipe of Rainbow Macro Bowls with Gomasio & Spicy Tahini Sauce, I knew it would be a perfect fit.
Along with the recipe, the push was to use at least two different lighting angles.

I was lucky enough to have full on sun for 2 hours, and though I was chasing it across my kitchen table, it was worth it. I was anticipating having to break out a strobe, but I went with what was already happening.

As for the Buddha Bowl itself, follow The Green Life’s link above to get the full on recipe. I substituted black pearl barley for the rice, and chose both raw and roasted veg that I love, you should feel free to do the same with all recipes.

The Tahini Dressing has a lot of flavor and was a nice change from my go to. I omitted the sriracha and used honey in place of maple syrup. The Gomasio is really great. I made extra, added sumac to it, and now it sits on my counter ready to sprinkle on anything and everything. Lastly, I made a beet hummus that went really well with these bowls.

Basically, this is the kind of recipe that you can prep all of the ingredients ahead of time, place them in your fridge so that when meal time comes around, you’re just roasting and assembling. Easy, convenient, full of flavor and textures, and healthy.

Who says being on a cleanse needs to be uninspiring & flavorless, says this anything but boring turmeric fried egg over roasted turmeric, ginger, cardamon, herb, tahini sweet potato fries, and a hot, frothy cup of golden milk brunch!
Sweet thanks to both Bon Appetit for the turmeric egg inspiration from your February print issue, and to Ashley of Edible Perspective for the Tahini Honey Sweet Potato Fries recipe.
Click the respective links for recipes.
Read below about the ‘Cleanse.’

So, a cleanse. There’s just as many variations of this as probably anything else. The cleanse that I have worked out more resembles an elimination diet (I greatly dislike using the word ‘diet’) than perhaps the straight up liquid kind that you may be thinking of. Personally, I believe in eating real food. We all know, or should know by now, that real food heals, real food is what our bodies need and crave. Real food is what we should strive for daily, cleanse or not. For anyone who may be interested in what my cleanse looks like, here is it:

No meat
No processed anything
No dairy (that means cheese, and I know this is a tough one)
No sugar – other than naturally occurring in fruits and honey
No caffeine
No gluten
No pasta or starchy look alikes
No bread (the hardest for me with the necessary pound of butter to go along with it)

Yes to whole, natural, as organic as you can go, real foods
Yes to the rainbow of veggies (sautéed, roasted, steamed, raw)
Yes to fruits, though don’t go crazy, they’re still sugar packed to your body’s language
Yes to proteins like eggs, avo, wild caught salmon and canned sardines and tuna
Yes to evoo & coconut oil
Yes to whole, in the husk black pearl barely – my choice of grain
Yes to Ezekiel bread (for your natural nut butters, for garlicky lemony herb croutons for your soups)
Yes to all the herbs & spices
Yes to all kinds of soups (add your creamy fix with coconut milk)
Yes to nut milks, natural and unsweetened of course.
Yes to home made trail mixes and energy balls
Yes to herbal teas, matcha teas, and golden milks
Yes to juicing greens
Yes to green smoothies
Yes to daily vitamins & supplements, pro & pre-biotics
Yes to moving your body everyday – preferably outside, in nature
Yes to a little quiet time everyday

The KEY TO SUCCESS is to be organized and prepared before beginning.
That means, even if only for one week or six weeks, clear out your fridge, your pantry, and any hiding places of ANYTHING that’s not on your CLEAN EATING LIST.
Do some research prior to beginning and find recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and snacks that you LOVE and that you know you can and will prepare…aka Pinterest.
Keep it SIMPLE.
Make yourself a helpful little meal schedule, so you know what you’re eating, and when.
Shop and stock up on all your ingredients to have on hand.
I do mine a week at a time.

There you have it.
OK. 10 days in and on to 32 more body healing, happy, healthy, energetic, clear headed, sleeping soundly days!

*Be sure to check in with yourself, your health status, and possibly even your health care provider before jumping in to any type of cleanse. #besensible

 

What happened when I opened my newsletter from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks, and saw the cutest little Candy Coated Citrus Pops on my screen?
I dropped everything on my to do list and made them.
Heidi shared the recipe from Dirt Candy’s, Amanda Cohen, featured in Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook.
I’ve not yet seen the cookbook first hand, but I was all in on this recipe share.
So Simple. So Good. So Crazy Cute.
Not that these beauties needed anything else, but yes, I dipped the candy coated oranges in a few fun toppings that I had on hand.

These little sweet & tart bites are addictive. Make a (big) batch and share them with your friends & neighbors, especially the little ones.
Thank you Jill for bringing Miss E over at a moments notice for the shoot;) I’d say she was pretty pleased with these Candy Coated Citrus Pops! ♡

IF you have some syrup leftover after dipping all of the orange segments, just spoon it out and sprinkle your toppings on, fast before the syrup hardens.
Recipe at the end of the post.

orange candy lollipop

Two-ingredient Candied Citrus Pops

Like Heidi, I did the same: Amanda's recipe calls for 3 cups of granulated sugar and 3 cups of water, but I'm not likely going to need that much, it would make more pops than we could typically eat. I use 1 cup instead, just know if you want to make a larger batch, you can scale up 1:1.

Servings: 25
Author: Amanda Cohen
Instructions
  1. Place a piece of heavy styrofoam or floral foam on a platter or counter top to hold the skewers upright.
    *I did not do this. After dipping and rolling in the toppings, the candy was hard enough to rest on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  2. Push a bamboo skewer through each citrus segment.
    Pour the sugar and 1 cup of water into a small-medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. heat the mixture, without stirring, over medium-high heat until it turns light brown and registers at least 275°F on a candy thermometer.
    Let the mixture go a bit darker if you prefer a stronger caramel-molasses flavor. Resist stirring.
  3. Very carefully dip each citrus segment into the hot syrup, coating thoroughly.
    ***The syrup will burn you on contact, so be extra careful and deliberate here.
    Repeat with the remaining skewers, immediately rolling in your toppings before resting on the parchment paper.

Even with temps that dipped well below freezing so far this winter, here in Cincinnati, a happy dose of colorful, sweet, tart, juicy winter citrus, is a quick remedy to my winter blues.
I don’t think I even know anyone who isn’t just a little seduced by mounds of clementines still attached to their green leaved stems, or the deep tones of blood oranges begging to be cut open to show you their gorgeousness, or everyone’s favorite lemons, aka, meyer lemons, finally showing up at the market at this time of the year? Nope.

To celebrate their arrival, there are no shortages of citrus themed recipes online, with the far majority falling into either brightly colored salads or sweet deserts.
A quick winter citrus search on Pinterest landed me on a Grapefruit Curd Tart + Chamomile Whipped Cream recipe (below), via Jacquelyn Clark’s beautiful blog (lark & linen) by food contributor Katie, of butterlust. The fact that I came home with 10 lbs. of ruby pink grapefruits yesterday, pretty much sealed the deal.

This winter citrus recipe search began as a search for both recipes & creative inspiration for a food photography shoot prompt (winter citrus) that I shared within my food photography facebook group, Grey Salt Collective, and, because I still hadn’t come up with anything yet myself! My search ended as soon as I spotted this recipe, and thought it might inspire others in the group, as well. As it turns out, there are a few of us working on making, styling and photographing the very same recipe, in our own styles and approaches – which will also serve as a good reminder that no matter how many times something has been done, or how many people may be shooting the very same subject, when we create from a place of authenticity/with our own voice, each version will inherently be different. That’s the simple beauty of it. I am looking forward to not only eating this tart, but collectively seeing everyone’s unique photographic spin of this sweet recipe. *PS. I LOVED the color story of this shoot. So juicy fruit-like. A little brighter and more contrast than my usual take, but refreshing all the same. Special thanks to both Sophia & Tasha for slipping their pretty little hands into my shots, and to Susannah Conway for the sweet little postcard, from years back.

Find the full recipe HERE
A few recipe notes:

In making the tart, I followed the full recipe with the exception of forgetting to add the crushed pistachios (I can’t believe it), but adding crushed, freeze dried raspberries instead, fresh mint leaves, and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. I did not have any small tartlette pans, so I used one large tarlette pan, froze the curd, and cut various sized shapes out of it, instead. To get the whipped cream flowers, after whipping the infusion, place cream in a pastry bag (or plastic baggy) and use your favorite icing piping tip to pipe lots of little flowers onto a small pan lined with parchment paper, and place in the freezer until hard, adding to the tarts right before serving. I have to say that the chamomile infused whipping creme just may have been my very favorite part of this recipe discovery.
Just click on the link above to get Katie’s recipe for this sweet/tart winter citrus desert.

~

Curious to see how some of the other Grey Salt Collective’s interpreted their Grapefruit Curd Tarts?
↓  ↓  ↓
Kelly Neil
Sarah Hone
Andrea Linn
Dani McDonald
#collaborationovercompetition

Mention ‘mulberry season’ to anyone who has, or has had, a mulberry tree in their lives, and you will probably hear two very different takes on it. ‘Yeah, mulberry trees. Their fruit are so sweet, so tasty. They remind me of growing up, and of summer. I remember sitting under the tree eating them for what seems like an eternity.’ OR  ‘Yeah, mulberry trees. They have got to be one of the messiest fruit trees ever. They stain everything, everywhere. Everyone, including the dog, tracks them inside, and then there are purple stains, everywhere!’

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I admit, I reside in both camps, as well. However, as I love food, and have a dedicated sweet tooth, I’m not letting them get away this year without picking them myself, straight from the branches (cause, you know, once they’re on the ground, within moments they will be a host for all of God’s insects just waiting for their seasonal sweetness…too.) Ripened mulberries are easily gathered, though if you do find yourself having to pull, even just a little, that is enough to start an avalanche of ripened mulberries from above, landing on your face, head and shoulders. There are worse things.

Only because I had recently made up a rather large batch of strawberry, rhubarb, tarragon preserves, I chose to not go that obvious route. Instead, I plucked a couple handfuls of my lemon verbena to pair with my haul of mulberries for a sweet and lemony gelato.

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The recipe, which follows, is a standby, aka reliable), vanilla base that I change up by adding fruit or other flavorings. Feel free to add your own flavor spin, and your your own favorite herbs. I normally add my herbs during the steeping process, and then some additionally in the last 10 minutes of the churning process, as I do when adding fresh fruit, nuts, chips, etc.

mlvg_blog_3A couple things to go along with this shoot. I recently purchased a new camera, ‘for my hubs.’ A Fuji xt-2, to be more precise. I asked, nicely, if I could give it a test drive for this shoot, and I must admit, even with the kit lens that came with the camera, I am pretty darn impressed. I am now even more curious how it would perform with a nice piece of glass on the front. (I will let you know.) I had also just returned from my first antiques flea of this season, and brought home a few gems that I, yes, incorporated into this very quickie shoot. The tray, the fabric, the beautiful little amber vase, and the serving dishes (chipped edges and all.) So, for a gelato recipe that I hadn’t really planned on ‘shooting’ on anything but my iphone for a fast insta post, with all these new things to play around with…this happened.
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***One week later, I made up a second batch of this gelato. On this evening, as I was looking through one of my favorite cookbooks, ‘Gone Fishing’ by Mikkel Karstad, for a different recipe, I came across his pancake (crepe) recipe and decided to whip some up, because the crepes are that fast and are that easy. So I did, and tossed a few rose petals on it all, for good luck.

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Lemon Verbena Gelato
(makes about 3 1/2 cups)

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping creme
1 vanilla bean cut open lengthwise, seeds intact
1/4 cup lemon verbena leaves (I have used lemon balm leaves, though it produces a sharper lemon flavor) stripped off stem, and rinsed
5 large eggs yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup, or so, of fresh, thoroughly rinsed mulberries

Method

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat milk, cream, lemon verbena leaves, and vanilla bean until small bubbles appear along the edges.
Turn the heat to low and simmer for an hour. Do not let mixture boil.
Remove the leaves.
Remove the vanilla bean and scrape out all of the seeds, adding them back into the mixture. Gently reheat the mixture, again, do not boil.

In a heat proof bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow and thick.
Add about 1/4 cup of the warm milk mixture slowly to the sugar mixture while whisking. Repeat this with another 1/4 or so of the warm milk mixture.
Then add the entire sugar/milk mixture back to the warm milk mixture that is in the pan.
Stir with a wooden spoon on medium heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. DO NOT LET BOIL.

Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover and let cool to room temperature before placing it in the fridge until thoroughly chilled – a few hours to overnight – and ready for your ice cream machine. Follow the manufacturers instructions of your ice cream maker, adding mulberries in the last 10 minutes of the churning process.

Scrape the gelato from your ice cream machine into a container and place in the coldest spot of your freezer, for several hours to overnight, until frozen to your desired consistency.

Hello Summer.

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Somewhere along the way, I have fallen far (extremely far) behind in posting new work, both commissioned and personal, on this blog, and, on my proper website. I partially blame the ease of using my instagram account for this, which is, admittedly, an incredibly easy and fast (and sometimes lazy) way to chronicle my work. That being said, it doesn’t do a great job at telling a deeper story, so I’ll begin the updating process with this posting, a 2 month long color study that I conceptualized, art directed and photographed beginning in early spring of this year.

spring 2017 blog post image

The backbone of these shoots had one, very important (to me) goal in common, which was, the use of artificial light.
I have, to date, built my entire business around (beautiful, perfect) natural/existing light. As my client base has shifted to more commercial/advertising work, I was forced (kicking and pouting) to revisit (and relearn) alternative/consistent lighting options. This was a very difficult transition for me, and for my eye. I pushed and stumbled at the beginning of this project, and somewhere along the way, I saw glimpses of hope, and eventually fell in love with a new way of seeing/using/playing with light. This, in turn, has opened up an entirely new creative direction for me both professionally and personally, which, in turn, has sparked a whole new level of excitement for my craft. For me, it always go back to my mantra of  ‘Work Your Craft.’

I am excited to share this first of a series look book of color studies. Just click on the full screen icon at the bottom right of the image below for the full Look Book.

Credits
Concepts, Creative Direction, Photography, Food Styling, Prop Styling . Gina Weathersby 
Sabine Story Prop and Set Styling . Stephanie Bohn-Philpott
Sabine Story Portrait . Rebecca Weller
Sabine Story Table . Queen City Vignette
Edibles + Vessels Pink Pottery . cg ceramics
Edibles + Vessels Microgreens . Waterfields LLC
Donuts . Holtmans
Hand Model . Gabriella Weathersby
Juicy Fruit Story Model . Mia
Juicy Fruit Story Stylist . Lindsay DeWald

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Into the studio I went yesterday for a creative play date where I wore all the hats – photographer, set/prop stylist, and food stylist.
Holiday music turned way up, globe lights twinkling, hot chocolate, and early winter window light. I was in my happy place.

Red Velvet Cake with Crushed Candycane & Sugared Cranberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

hc4blI try my best to carve out regular time to work on my craft, push boundaries, or, to just create for myself. This was nothing short of a creative play date for one.
No elaborate anything this go round, just an opportunity to get into a creative zone with no agenda or need. A few hours to be free of constraints, should do’s, shot lists, or story boards.
Simply starting with cupcakes, a few foraged greens, a clean surface, then the slow but sure compositions forming from adding each element, playing with color, texture, light, shadow, and layers.
This, like quiet time for an introvert (me), is energizing. It’s necessary, and never a chore. Bonus when images I create turn into marketing pieces.

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I would love to tell you that I baked these babies up myself, as I have THE BEST cheesecake recipe ever, but instead, they came from my neighborhood Fresh Market’s bakery, with only the toppings coming from me.
Simple, festive, colorful and delectable.

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hc5Cheers and Merry Holiday Friends!

 

The Transfiguration Dish

t1I had another wonderful session with Chef Nathan Day in the studio a few weeks ago, this time exploring food, and life.

In his own words – ‘The basic idea behind this dish was to feature the 3 forms that all life in the universe will go through.
We have the freshly born, living, elements such as radish & alfalfa sprouts, ripe black plum & avocado; death comes in the form of coconut oil deep-fried agedashi tofu & Japanese pumpkin; and lastly, rebirth, via fermentation, by way of the miso dressing & 4 different types of pickles – cucumber, beet, lotus root & eggplant.
An interesting, tasty, and healthy, meditation on the transformations of life.’ ~Chef Nate

I’ll share images, with little nutritional nuggets, on my own blog; while Chef will speak more in depth on the health benefits, on his own blog, Personalchefcincinnati.com – here.
Below are his loose recipes, as this is more of an assembly style dish with only a few preparation steps/components.
This is also the kind of recipe that one could swap in, say, sweet potato instead of Japanese pumpkin, or use any sprout you may have on hand, likewise, use peach or apple, in place of plum.

Thank you, once again, to ceramist Bethany Rose Kramer for making the gorgeous, moody, textured dinner plate for our finished recipe.
You may remember this post or this post on her.

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Miso Citrus Dressing 

1 tablespoon Red miso paste
6 Tablespoons of fresh citrus juice.  We used half grapefruit and half orange.
Whisk into a small bowl and taste.
Adjust with a little more juice or miso if need be to fine tune for personal taste.
‘This simplistic dressing is oil free and will do your body good.  Miso is a fermented food with many health benefits and amazing nutritional value. It contains minerals such as zinc, manganese, copper, protein & omega 3 fatty acids, as well as, phytonutrient antioxidants that are produced during the fermentation process. These components are anti cancerous, and free radical scavengers.’ ~Chef Nate

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‘Fermented foods such as kimchi, pickles, yogurts, miso & more are beneficial as they produce friendly bacteria known as probiotics, which are good for aiding digestion and supporting an overall healthy gut. We live in a very anti-biotic (against life) world.  Yes, we should eliminate bad bacteria and sterilize things, but we should strive to simultaneously include good bacteria in order to function optimally.’ ~Chef Nate

Chef Nathaniel’s Pickling Method

Start with a large glass jar, or ceramic crock, at least 4 or 5 inches in length.
Pour boiling water in to sterilize your container.  Don’t use chlorinated water, or anti bacterial  soap, as this will kill many of the good bacteria that you want alive.
Rinse off your veggies (cucumbers, eggplant, lotus root, whatever you want to pickle) and place them in the jar, leaving some space on the top.
Add spices (I love using garlic cloves, peppercorns, dill, coriander, and/or fennel seeds.)
Pour brine over your pickles – made by combining 8 tablespoons of kosher salt to 8 cups of clean water – next, add a quarter cup of vinegar.
Do NOT cover with a lid. You may tie a cloth over it. Keep the pickles submerged in the brine, undisturbed and in a cool place for 25 days.
Put them in the refrigerator when finished to stop the fermentation process.

Elements of the Dish

Small handful of sprouts, we used radish & alfalfa.
5-6 slices of plum.
2 or 3 slices of avocado.
A few thinly slices rounds of shallot
Slice the tofu into blocks, and dry them thoroughly with towels.
Cut the pumpkin into cubes.
Coat each block of tofu and pumpkin with a very fine layer of potato starch, and brush off any excess starch.
Fill a wok with enough coconut oil to cover the tofu and pumpkin, and heat.
Drop the tofu and pumpkin pieces into the wok, turning until cooked through, but without over browning.
Assembly

On a plate, arrange the sprouts, plum, avocado towards the top, following with the browned tofu and pumpkin, followed with the fermented pickles.
Scatter shallots.
Season with maldon salt, to taste, and drizzle with the miso citrus dressing.

Serves 1
Vegetarian, Vegan

It still amazes me where some of the best collaborations can be found.
I came across Chef Nathaniel Day through the magical rabbit hole that is Instagram.
After a month or so of following, likes and comments, I finally met him through a workshop he offered combing the topics of food, herbs and oils, physical movements, and quiet meditation.
He’s passionate about sharing his personal journey and knowledge through cooking and teaching.
From there…a new conversation began.

Our first collaboration was spread over two days of cooking and shooting in my studio. In typical fashion, I plucked out ingredients that I found beautiful and borrowed them for a quick still life.
He creates, I help style for the camera, light and shoot…we are both happy campers. I am just crazy for these colors!
As we create together, I’ll share the imagery & loose recipes, here, and Chef Nate will elaborate much more of the nutritional information and benefits on his site, Plant Based Culture, here, like this:

‘Heirloom varieties of foods will provide your body with more nutritional coverage.  More color, and other subtle differences, rather than just eating the same old thing (always yellow corn, or always white sugar)  for instance, will mean that you are only getting the same ol’ nutrients, or lack-thereof! Color in food is a nutritional / bio – logical SIGNAL. Different pigments contain within them different phytonutrients which will protect your body from serious dis-ease, such as cancer and more. It is important to include all colors in your diet to do the best for your self. I have overcome many adverse health conditions, and I have found that color, is one of the keys. I am now known as a Chef with very colorful dishes.’

First up
Salata of Heirloom Tomato, Avocado, Citrus, Fig and Herbs with a Balsamic Reduction Dressing

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Salad Ingredients
(serves 2)
A selection of heirloom tomatoes, both full sized and cherry sized
One Haas Avocado
3 Black Mission Figs
1 Orange
1 Grapefruit
Pickled Shallots & Ginger
Herbs & Edible Flowers – Bronze Fennel, Purple Basil, Nasturtiums
1 Tsp Bee Pollen
Maldon Sea Salt to taste

Balsamic Dressing
250 ml of Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Juice of one freshly squeezed orange juice, or you may use up to 250 ml , or 8 oz , of fresh citrus juice for a more highly flavored citrus reduction .

Method
Place balsamic vinegar in a saucepan on the stovetop.
Add in orange juice.
Over medium high heat, allow the vinegar and citrus to come to a slow boil until reduced to half the original amount.
Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Plating
Thinly slice larger tomatoes and avocado, fan out (alternating each) into a circle, in the center of your platter
Slice cherry tomatoes in half, or quarters if larger, as well as the figs, leaving some of each whole, and toss around center spread.
Supreme both the orange and grapefruit and add.
Toss in thinly sliced pickled shallots & ginger, to taste.
Sprinkle on the bee pollen, Maldon Sea Salt, and generous amounts of herbs and flowers, all to your preference and taste.
Drizzle with the reduced balsamic dressing.

It’s officially STILL summer, so Lisa’s ‘Sweet Nothings’ cocktail is perfect for these hot late summer nights.
Stop by and watch her serve it up cold and pretty for you at Salazar, or make it up yourself from her recipe below.
salazar-cocktail2-copybl
Sweet Nothings1 ounce Brandy
1 ounce Casoni 1814
.5 ounce lemon juice

Preperation

Shake and stain into snifter
Add ice and Prosecco
Garnish with an orange peel, and a pretty edible flower or herb, if you happen to have one, like we did for our photo shoot.

Thank you Lisa and Salazar Restaurant!

 

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