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All About Cabernet Sauvignon On National Cabernet Sauvignon Day

August 30th is National Cabernet Sauvignon Day, celebrating a wine that’s one of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. “Cab,” for short, is grown in nearly every major wine producing country. It is the principal grape in most Bordeaux wines, where it is typically blended.

Every year on National Cabernet Sauvignon Day, we try a new vineyard about which we’ve heard good things. This year it’s Ehlers Estate in Napa Valley. Its two 100% Cabernet wines do not disappoint (photos #3 and #4).

Despite its prominence as the most cultivate wine grape in the world, Cabernet Sauvignon is a relatively new variety (more about in the history of the grape, below).

One reason for its popularity—beyond its deliciousness—is its ease of cultivation. Cab is grown and produced along a diverse spectrum of climates from Australia and British Columbia, from Texas to Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley.

The grapes have thick skins. The vines are hardy and naturally low yielding, which means fewer grapes per cluster and more concentrated juice.

The grapes bud late, which avoids remnant frost from the winter; and are resistant to viticultural hazards such as rot and insects that plague other grape varietals.

Regardless of where it is grown, the wines have a consistent presentation of structure and flavors that immediately signal the typicity of Cabernet Sauvignon (i.e., you know it’s a Cab).

There is one major negative: Cab’s widespread popularity and expansion across the world’s wine regions has made it a “colonizer.” It can take over wine regions at the expense of indigenous grape varieties, which are pulled up to plant Cabernet Sauvignon.

Classic Cabernet Sauvignons are full-bodied wines with high tannins and good acidity, both of which contribute to the wine’s aging potential.

In cooler climates, Cab tends to produce wines with blackcurrant notes that can be accompanied by notes of cedar, green bell pepper and mint. The nuances become more pronounced as the wine ages.

In moderate climates, the black currant notes are often combined with flavors of black cherry and black olive.

In hot climates, the currant flavors can become over-ripe and “jammy.” In the Coonawarra wine region of South Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon, the wines tend to have characteristic eucalyptus or menthol notes.

Before we focus on the history of Cabernet Sauvignon, let’s start with the other grapes from area that made Cab famous: the Bordeaux region of southwestern France.

There’s great variation in any type of wine, based on the terror in which the grapes are grown. But for Bordeaux, by law, five other grapes can be blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to create the famous “Bordeaux Blend.”

What will be blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, and in what percentage, depends on the grapes in any particular year, as well as the winery’s classic style.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon has a robust body, an herbal character, and great mid-palate texture (tannin), typically with a long finish.
  • Merlot has a softer body and cherry fruit flavors. Its milder tannins offset the herbal nature of the Cabernet.
  • Cabernet Franc is leaner in body, with more savory (peppery) and red fruit flavors than Cabernet. It has an equally long finish.
  • Malbec has black fruit flavors and a smooth body. It’s used to add creamy, plummy, fruit flavors.
  • Petit Verdot adds both floral notes and tannin, as well as opaque purple-red color.
  • Carménère, sometimes called the “lost grape of Bordeaux,” is the naturally occurring cross of Cabernet Franc and Gros Cabernet. It fell out of favor in the mid- to late 1800s, since the late-ripening grape needs warmth, which Bordeaux’s climate doesn’t provide consistently. Here’s more about it.


    Until very recently, the origin of Cabernet Sauvignon was not understood.

  • Wild? The word “Sauvignon” was believed to be derived from the French sauvage, wild. It was thought by some to be a wild Vitis vinifera vine, native to France. But was it?
  • Ancient? Others thought it might be the Biturica wine grape, cultivated by the ancient Romans and referenced by Pliny the Elder.
  • Corrupted? In the 18th century, the grape was also known as Petite Vidure or Bidure—apparently a corruption of Biturica.
  • Wood? There was also belief that Vidure was a reference to the wood portion of the vine, known as vigne dure.
  • Carménère? Some theorized a possible relationship to the Carménère grape, which was once known as Grand Vidure.
  • Spanish? Yet another theory was that the grape originated in the Rioja region of Spain [source].
    Finally: In the 18th century in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, records indicate that the grape previously called Petite Vidure became more popularly known as Cabernet Sauvignon.

    The first estates known to have actively grown grapes they called Cabernet Sauvignon (and likely supplied the vines to other estates) were Château Mouton and Château d’Armailhac, both in Pauillac, a commune (municipality) in the Haut-Médoc.

    But it wasn’t until 1996 that the grape’s real origins were discovered via DNA typing. At the University of California’s U.C. Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, testing determined that Cabernet Sauvignon was the offspring of the red Cabernet Franc and the white Sauvignon Blanc.

    It was most likely a chance natural crossing that occurred in the 17th century.

    In 2016, the scientists at U.C. Davis announced they had sequenced a draft of the whole genome of the grape. Cabernet Sauvignon was the first genome of a commercial wine-producing grape to be sequenced [source].

    Back to the 18th century: From France, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World and Oceania, and today is planted in significant amounts in:

  • Australia’s Margaret River, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra regions.
  • Chile’s Maipo Valley and Colchagua regions.
  • California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley.
  • New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay.
  • South Africa’s Stellenbosch region.
    For most of the 20th century, Cabernet Sauvignon was the world’s most widely planted premium red wine grape; it was surpassed by Merlot in the 1990s.

    However, it regained the crown in 2015: Cabernet Sauvignon had once again become the most widely planted red wine grape worldwide.

    The intense, bold flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon pair best with heartier and richer foods. That’s why steak and lamb are the two foods most often mentioned. But here’s a lengthier lineup.

  • Appetizers: bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese, mini meatballs, mushroom tart.
  • Meats: beef short ribs and other braised beef dishes, brisket, burgers, game, lamb, steak, venison.
  • Poultry: roast duck, pheasant.
  • Salad: sliced steak salad with arugula, radicchio and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
  • Vegetarian: grilled portabellos; wild mushroom sauté; medley of eggplant and bell peppers in tomato sauce; lentil and bean burgers.
  • Cheeses: aged semi-hard and hard Cheddar, Gorgonzola, Roquefort and other blues, Gouda.
  • Dessert: dark chocolate, bittersweet chocolate cake or pie. How about a Cabernet Sauvignon Bundt cake?

    [1] Cabernet Sauvignon grapes growing high atop the cool Santa Cruz Mountains of California (photo © Ridge Vineyards).

    [2] Cabernet Sauvignon grapes ripening on the vine (photo © Jeremy Lwanga | Unsplash).

    [3] Celebrate National Cabernet Sauvignon Day by trying something new. We tried the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from Ehlers Estate in Napa Valley, along with a second Ehlers Cabernet. Enjoyable now, this Cab will age well for 15-20 more years (photos #3 and #4 © Ehlers Estate.

    [4] 2018 Ehlers Estate Jean Leducq Cabernet Sauvignon, has a big, bold character: expressive fruit and firm tannins. The wine is made from a single block of grapes, especially chosen for this signature wine. Only a few hundred cases are made per vintage, as opposed to a few thousand of the Cab above.

    [5] Grilled beef and Cab are a perfect pairing. Most connoisseurs choose ribeye, but we prefer the tenderness of filet mignon (photo © Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse).

    [6] A roast leg of lamb or lamb chops are another match made in Cabernet Sauvignon heaven (photo © DeLallo).

    [7] Enjoy your favorite blue with a glass of Cab. Figs, grapes and walnuts (photo © Alex 9500 | Panther Media)./font>


    *The world’s largest planted wine grapes, including red and white, are: Cabernet Sauvignon, 840,000 acres (340,000 hectares); Merlot, 657,300 acres (266,000 hectares); Tempranillo, 570,800 acres (231,000 hectares); Airén, 538 700 acres (218 000 hectares); Chardonnay, 518,900 acres (211,000 hectares); Syrah, 470 000 acres (190,000 hectares); Grenache Noir, 402,780 acres (163,000 hectares); Sauvignon Blanc, 299 000 acres (121,000 hectares); Pinot Noir, 285,000 acres (115,000 hectares); Trebbiano Toscano / Ugni Blanc, 274,300 acres (111,000 hectares). Airén is a white grape that is very popular in Spain, often for unpretentious wines [source]. Cab is also planted in Italy, and there are nine distinct regions in China, accounting for roughly 70% of China’s wine-producing vines [source].

    †The five principal red grapes of Bordeaux are Cabernet Sauvignon plus Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot; a sixth, Carmenère, is also used. Each grape has a different purpose in the blend. Cabernet Franc and Merlot are the two largest “blenders” in a Cab blend, with smaller amounts of Carmenère, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The Bordeaux red blend is celebrated for producing majestic wines, capable of aging for 20 to 30 years. These wines tend to be full-bodied, with tart black currant and violet notes from the grape, and cedar and cigar box notes from French oak aging. They provide fine examples of how an Old World Cabernet Sauvignon should smell and taste [source].

    ‡ Prior to this discovery, earlier in the 20th century, this relationship had been suspected based on the similarity of the grapes’ names and the fact that Cabernet Sauvignon shares similar aromas with both grapes (the blackcurrant and pencil box aromas of Cabernet Franc and the grassiness of Sauvignon Blanc.


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    Cookies & Cream Skillet Brownies Recipe For Brownies At Brunch Month

    [1] If you don’t have a skillet, you can use a 10″ cake pan (photo © Wisconsin Cheese).

    [2] Oreos are the largest brand of chocolate sandwich cookies (photo © Tijtan Adrndarski | Unsplash).

    [3] Mascarpone originated during the Middle Ages in Lombardy, a region in northern Italy. It has a looser, more velvety texture and a richer mouthfeel than cream cheese. Cream cheese was created in the U.S. in 1872: a happy accident (photo © Vermont Creamery).

    [] King Arthur Fudge Brownie Mix is available in traditional and gluten free (photo © King Arthur Baking).


    August is National Brownies At Brunch Month. As August comes to a close, we made two different recipes this past weekend: for Saturday brunch and Sunday brunch, of course! The Cookies & Cream Skillet Brownies. While they’re called skillet brownies, they’re made in the oven. The reference likely comes from times past: Before all kitchens had cake pans, they still had skillets.

    You can use a box of brownie mix, or make your own recipe from scratch. Two of the boxed mixes we like are:

  • Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix
  • King Arthur Baking Company Brownie Mix
    A combination of cream cheese and mascarpone makes this recipe delightfully rich.

    But to gild the lily, use the brownies as a base for a hot fudge sundae. Top a slice with hot fudge, whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

    Thanks to Wisconsin Cheese for the recipe. Wisconsin is America’s second-largest cheese producing state, after California.

  • 1 box (18.3 ounces) fudge brownie mix (+ egg(s) + milk and melted butter substituted for the water and oil)
  • 1 container (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 package (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg (in addition to the egg used with the box mix)
  • 16 chocolate sandwich cookies, divided
  • Optional toppings: whipped cream, vanilla ice cream

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions; add the egg(s) to the brownie mix and substitute milk for water and melted butter for the oil.

    2. BEAT the mascarpone, cream cheese, sugar and egg in a large bowl until blended. Crush 10 cookies into crumbs; fold into the mascarpone mixture.

    3. POUR two-thirds of the brownie batter into a greased 10-inch ovenproof or cast-iron skillet; dot with the mascarpone mixture. Spread the remaining batter over top.

    4. BAKE for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the remaining cookies into pieces; sprinkle over top. Bake for 10-15 minutes longer or until center is just set. (Take care not to over-bake.) Cool in the skillet or pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with toppings as desired.

  • Almond Top Brownie Flowers
  • Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Brownie Eyeballs For Halloween
  • Brownie Ice Cream Sundae With Whiskey
  • Candy Cane Fudge Brownies
  • Cherry Brownies With Dried Cherries
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
  • Chocolate Waffle “Brownies”
  • Cream Cheese Brownies
  • Double Almond Brownies (substitute chopped almonds for the pecans)
  • Irish Cream Swirl Brownies
  • Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies
  • Pumpkin Spice Brownies
  • Rocky Road Brownies
  • Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies
  • S’mores Brownies
  • Spider Web Brownies For Halloween
  • Turtle Brownies

  • More control. Especially with an apple crisp, you can sauté the apples to your liking before adding the crumbled topping and baking in the oven.
  • Chewier edges. For brownies, cornbread and giant chocolate chip cookies, get the pan hot on the stove top, then pour in the batter and bake. The result: crisper edges.
  • Even heat. Cast iron’s ability to retain heat ensures the upside-down cake you’re baking will be tender and evenly cooked without burning the sugary glaze.


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    Reddi-Wip Whipped Cream: Zero Sugar, Non-Dairy & Barista

    We admit to being a Reddi-Wip fan. The last time we looked, there were four varieties: Original, Fat Free, Extra Creamy and Chocolate. But now, the brand calls these four flavors the Classics. Reddi-Wip is on top of all the food and beverage trends. Now, beyond the Classics, there are:

  • Non-Dairy Reddi-Wip, in two varieties: almond milk and coconut milk (photo #1). They’re vegan and lactose free, but full of indulgent taste, says the brand.
  • Zero Sugar Reddi-Wip for the keto crowd and those of us who try to avoid sugar (photo #2). It has 0 grams of sugar, 0 carbs, 15 calories per serving, and is sweetened with sucralose (Splenda).
    For home baristas, there’s the Barista Line, with two options (both of which are used to top coffee drinks at Dunkin’ Donuts):

  • Nitro Coffee Creamer, infused with nitrogen for swirling layers of velvety texture and an extra creamy finish. One fan called it “the best thing since sliced bread.”
  • Sweet Foam Coffee Topper, lightly sweetened for a smooth layer of frothy, velvety foam. “It’s the best for sweet cream cold foam drinks at home” raves another fan. i
    The line is gluten free, certified kosher (dairy) by OU, and has no artificial flavors. For product details, head to
    Garnish any and all of your favorites: hot and cold beverages, pancakes and waffles, berries and stone fruits, sundaes and other desserts. (Consuming directly from the can is O.K., too.

    The only problem: Finding them! Our supermarket had only the Classics.

  • Amazon Fresh had both Non-Dairy and both Barista varieties.
  • We found Coconut Milk and the two Barista styles at Stop & Shop online.
  • We’re still on the hunt for Zero Sugar.
    Check with your online purveyors; otherwise, beg your store manager to bring them in.

    Then you’ll be ready for January 5th, National Whipped Cream Day.


    In the 1940s, during the food rationing days of World War II, Aaron S. “Bunny”* Lapin, a clothing salesman in St. Louis, invented a product called Sta-Whip, as a cream substitute. It was made from light cream and vegetable oil.

    He turned to selling Sta-Whip, which still had to be whipped in the kitchen.

    In 1946, the Crown Cork and Seal Company introduced the first seamless, lined and lithographed aerosol canister, the Spra-tainer. Mr. Lapin became one of its first customers, and Sta-Whip was packaged in the aerosol cans.

    In 1948 he invented Reddi-Wip, using real cream.

    Initially sold through milkmen in St. Louis. A great convenience food, distribution quickly expanded throughout the United States and Canada.

    A Whipped Cream Millionaire

    Within five years, Mr. Lapin was worth millions. Aerosol Age, a trade publication, wrote, “He bought Cadillacs two at a time and lived in Gloria Swanson’s furnished mansion in Hollywood” [source].

    Next, he developed a new nozzle more suitable for dispensing whipped cream: the fluted valve that creates a pattern and tilts to preserve the propellant (nitrous oxide, which easily infuses into the cream, whipping it as it comes out of the can). He received a patent for the nozzle in 1955.

    The iconic red-and-white label was designed in 1954. In 1998, Lapin received a mention in Time magazine as one of the century’s most influential inventors [source].

    Lapin sold the company in 1963. In the early 1980s, Amaretto and Butterscotch flavors were introduced, but didn’t take off.

    After several corporate owners, the brand is now owned by Conagra. It’s the number-two brand of whipped topping in the U.S., after Cool Whip.


    [1] Vegan and lactose free: Almond Milk Reddi-Wip and Coconut Milk Reddi-Wip.

    [2] Zero Sugar Reddi-Wip, sweetened with sucralose (i.e. Splenda; all photos © Reddi-Wip | Conagra Brands | Facebook).

    [3] The iconic can was designed in 1954. The whipped lemonade recipe is in the footnote† below.

    [4] It looks like scoops of ice cream, but there’s a surprise: thin wafer cookies under each scoop.


    *Lapin is the French word for rabbit, engendering the nickname “Bunny.”

    †Whipped Lemonade Recipe. Ingredients for 4 servings: 3 cups ice, 2 cups Reddi-Wip, 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 4 lemon slices, additional Reddi-Wip to garnish. Pour the ice, Reddi-Wip, sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice into a blender and blend until mixture is slushy. Add up to 1/4-cup water if needed to help it blend. Pour the drink into glasses, garnish with lemon slices and top with Reddi-Wip.


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    Tia Maria Cocktail Recipe For National Coffee Month

    [1] Tia Maria Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur (both photos © Tia Maria).

    [2] Have a refreshing Tia Tonic, and check out these other Tia Maria cocktail recipes.


    August is National Coffee Month; National Coffee Day is September 26th, and International Coffee Day is October 1st. While most coffee drinkers can be convinced to upgrade their cup—to a cappuccino, for example—how about a coffee cocktail?

    It’s easy to add a shot of your favorite spirit or liqueur to hot or iced coffee—and to get a can of Reddi Wip to top it. But how about a Tia Tonic?

    The mixologists at coffee liqueur brand Tia Maria Cold Brew partnered with premium brand Q Tonic to create this refreshing cold brew cocktail.

    Tia Maria is made with 100% Arabica coffee beans and Madagascar vanilla, and Q Mixers Tonic Water is made with extra carbonation, quinine and organic agave. (It’s our favorite for drinking straight quinine water.)
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part Tia Maria Coffee Liqueur
  • 3 parts Q Mixers Tonic Water
  • Garnish: grapefruit or lemon peel
  • Ice

    1. FILL a highball glass with ice. Add the tonic water and the liqueur. Garnish and serve.

    You can find more Tia Maria cocktail recipes here.





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    Banana Split Ice Pops Recipe For National Banana Split Day

    August 25th is National Banana Split Day, celebrating an iconic sundae invented in 1904 by a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist in Pennsylvania.

    In those days, pharmacies contained soda fountains, and it wasn’t unusual for a junior pharmacist to fill in as a soda jerk*.

    He made the sundae in a long dish called a boat (hence the alternate term, banana boat). The banana was cut in half lengthwise (the “split”) and placed on the bottom of the boat. The banana was topped with three scoops of ice cream—vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream.

    Chocolate, pineapple and strawberry sauces were spooned over the ice cream, and the sundae was garnished with whipped cream, crushed nuts and a maraschino cherry.

    And voilà: the banana split we all know and love was born (photo #4).

    Here’s the history of the banana split.

    There have been numerous creative approaches to the original. In addition to today’s Banana Split Ice Pops, we have more fun banana split-inspired recipes below—from banana split waffles to sushi and s’mores.

    Plus, a banana split party bar!

    The ice pops recipe, from American Heritage Chocolate, uses the brand’s Finely Grated Baking Chocolate (photo #3).

    We really like this product, which incorporates the brand’s old-fashioned approach to artisan chocolate.

    While you can use any grated chocolate in the recipe, American Heritage chocolate, which is 57% cacao, has been enhanced with subtle flavors of anise, cinnamon, nutmeg and red pepper. Most chocolate uses only vanilla.

    The American Heritage spices pay tribute to the original chocolate drink of the Olmecs, Mayas and Aztecs, which was flavored with with chili pepper, cinnamon, cornmeal, musk and vanilla. (Here’s more about it.)

    American Heritage Chocolate, made in the style of Colonial-era artisans (that’s the “American heritage”), is sold exclusively by “living history” sites, museums and specialty gift shops like Colonial Williamsburg, Mount Vernon and the Old North Church in Boston; and on Amazon.

    American Heritage products are OU Kosher, Rain Forest Alliance Certified and preservative free.

    This recipe combines the flavors of a banana split that features the flavors of banana with chocolate ice cream, and toppings of crushed pineapple, strawberries and peanuts.

    It has everything but the maraschino cherry and whipped cream. So we got creative:

    We added a maraschino cherry to the top of the pop. When ready to serve them, simply attach the cherry to the top of the pops with some whipped cream, and hand them to the lucky recipients.

    Prep time is 15 minutes; freeze time is 6 hours.

    A note about copyright: Popsicle®, Fudgsicle® and Creamsicle® are trademarks of brands owned by
    For The Pops

  • 2 bananas
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1⅓ cup American Heritage® Finely Grated Baking Chocolate or substitute
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons crushed pineapple in juice, drained
  • 4 large strawberries, finely diced
    For The Garnish

  • ½ cup, melted American Heritage® Finely Grated Baking Chocolate
  • ¾ cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • Optional: maraschino cherries

    1. PURÉE 1 banana until very smooth. Thinly slice the second banana; set aside.

    2. COMBINE in a heatproof bowl the half and half, the grated chocolate, sugar and salt. Set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring frequently until chocolate melts, about 5 minutes.

    3. ADD the cornstarch, banana purée, and pineapple. Stir until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly before stirring in the strawberries.

    4. POUR the mixture into 10 to 12 ice pop molds, filling each to 1-inch below the top. Use an ice pop stick to press the banana slices into each mold cavity. Place the lid on the mold and insert the sticks according to the manufacturer’s directions. Freeze at least 6 hours or overnight.

    5. GARNISH the pops. Briefly dip molds in a bowl of hot water to loosen. Remove the pops and transfer to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Drizzle with the melted chocolate and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts. The pops will keep in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to one month.


  • Banana Split Party Bar
  • Banana Split Sushi
  • Banana Split Waffles
  • Deconstructed Banana Split
  • Grilled Banana Split
  • S’mores Banana Split

    *That’s not an insult: Soda jerk was job title of drugstore assistants who operated the soda fountain. The name was inspired by the “jerking” action of pulling the fountain handle back and forth to dispense the soda.


    [1] Banana Split Ice Pops: all the flavors of a banana split, frozen on a stick (photos #1, #2 and #3 © American Heritage Chocolate).

    [2] What’s missing? The maraschino cherry!

    [3] American Heritage Finely Grated Chocolate.

    [4] The classic banana split (photo © The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook).

    Banana Split Sushi
    [5] Banana Split Sushi. Here’s the recipe (photo © RA Sushi | Orlando).

    Banana Split Waffles
    [6] Banana Split Waffles, for brunch or dessert. Here’s the recipe (photo © Krusteaz).

    Grilled Bananas
    [7] This Deconstructed Banana Split uses grilled bananas. Here’s the recipe (photo © Sushi Samba [alas, now closed]).



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