Master of the Pit: Nick Reppond

Lamar Lounge pig danny toma

Nick Reppond monitors the pit at Lamar Lounge.

By Danny Toma, staff writer

In the beginning man discovered hogs. The hogs were cooked over a slow fire. Man discovered that they were good.

Years later, man began cooking only select pieces of the hog, and the memory of whole hog barbecue faded away, left to be carried on by latter day keepers of the flame.

nick reppond lamar lounge danny toma

Barbecue runs through Reppond’s veins.

One of these flame keepers is Nick Reppond, pitmaster for Lamar Lounge, the only commercial whole hog barbecue operation in the state of Mississippi. While smoking the entire pig is the oldest, most traditional way of making barbecue, and is still the norm in much of eastern North Carolina, it had all but died out in Mississippi until Lamar Lounge brought it back in the summer of 2013. Now, barbecue aficionados can make the pilgrimage to 1309 North Lamar and taste the difference for themselves.

Lamar Lounge smokes three to four hogs per week, on average. The process starts between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 pm. Reppond fires up the blend of oak and hickory (with some pecan) and gets the hog fest underway. He starts with a relatively high temperature of around 300 degrees to sear the pig, but then drops it to around 200 degrees for the rest of the cooking time. It’s not a scientific process, as the heat is usually measured by placing a hand on the cooker, but the product comes out consistently well–the result of years of barbecue experience. He leaves the smoker in the hands of his associate for the rest of the night and returns early in the morning to finish it up. By 10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m., the meat is ready to be served in the restaurant for lunch and supper.

Reppond has spent his entire life around pork. Growing up in Memphis, barbecue runs through his veins like smoky sauce, and he even spent a few years on the Memphis in May competition circuit. In addition, he worked many summers on his family’s hog farm in north Louisiana, so making barbecue as a living seemed foreordained. Perfecting his skills with such luminaries as Rodney Scott of Hemingway, South Carolina (Scott’s Barbecue) and Sam Jones of Ayden, North Carolina (The Skylight Inn), he returned to Mississippi to take on the role of pitmaster at Lamar Lounge.

All of Lamar Lounge’s hogs are sourced through Homeplace Pastures of Como, which breed pasture-raised, heritage hogs (Red Wattle-Duroc mix) that are well-taken care of and humanely slaughtered in a special facility in Summerville, Tennessee. These hogs forage well on their own and are never housed on concrete. In addition, the Red Wattle breed goes back to the very origins of the American colonies, so, in tasting Lamar Lounge’s barbecue, one gets a chance to sample pork as it used to taste before factory farms and mass production.

Lamar Lounge exterior danny toma

Find customer reviews for Lamar Lounge on EatingOxford.com by clicking the photo above.

Reppond says that the restaurant’s focus is to continue concentrating on making consistently good barbecue. Because of the long absence of whole hog barbecue from the Magnolia State, it doesn’t have the strong following it does in other parts of the South, but Reppond is confident that as more people come to know it, they won’t settle for anything less.

About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and contributes to EatingOxford.com on a regular basis.

New Class: Exploring Sparkling Wines

wine bar class flyerJoin EatingOxford.com and The Wine Bar for a Tuesday, Dec. 30 class at The Wine Bar!

Event: Exploring Sparkling Wines
Date: Tuesday, December 30
Time: 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Place: The Wine Bar, 401 S. Lamar
Price: $35 per person; includes four sparkling wines, freshly baked bread and a pairing of small appetizers.

Purchase Tickets Here

The Wine Bar is teaming up with EatingOxford.com to present Exploring Sparkling Wines, just in time for New Year’s Eve festivities.

In this class, you will taste and learn about four (4) sparkling wines, including an American (Domain Michelle extra-dry), Italian (Ecco Domani Prosecco), Spanish (Jaume Serra Crystalino Cava), and French (Dumangin et Fils Champagne Cuvee’ 17).

Reservations: There are only 20 spots available for this class so reserve your space now by purchasing a ticket through the PayPal link here.
Questions? Call The Wine Bar at 662-238-3500 or email Liz Foster at EatingOxford.com at liz@eatingoxford.com.

 

Oxford’s After Hours Hangout: Square Pizza

square pizza 2By Danny Toma, staff writer

If you find yourself on the Square on any given Friday or Saturday night, especially during a football weekend, you might imagine you were suddenly dropped into the middle of a big metropolis. The sidewalks are full of people shuffling from bar to bar, and there’s an exciting buzz to all the activity taking place. It feels like a smaller version of Bourbon Street or even Times Square.

But then, when the clock strikes 10:00 p.m., and you feel like getting something to eat, the big city illusion fades away. Nearly every kitchen on the Square closes down for the night. Nearly every kitchen, but not all of them. Staying open every night until 30 minutes after the bars shut down is Square Pizza, which offers a simple menu of pizza (either whole or by the slice), sandwiches (roast beef, turkey-bacon, and meatball), salads, and chips.

Square Pizza owner Tate Moore used to play in the rock-and-roll band Kudzu Kings (and still makes occasional appearances) until he decided he needed, in his words, “a real job.” Originally hailing from southeast Ohio, he decided to open a place that served the kind of thin crust pizza topped with provolone cheese that he grew up with, and which is common to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. He confidently believes that his pizza is the best for 1,000 miles.square pizza 1

Whether because of his late hours or because they share his sentiment, Oxford’s nighttime party goers seem to agree, as Moore says that it’s this crowd that “pays the bills.” But Square Pizza is not just a quick stop for the after-hours crowd. Sporting a cool-funky interior that was inspired by the Hoka, Square Pizza can be a quiet refuge from the outside world during times when the bar crowd hasn’t arrived yet. The pizzeria sports a 1980s Ms. Pacman game in the back and even a fully stocked bookshelf with everything from magazines to crime novels to travel books (I was particularly intrigued by the Victor Book of the Opera, a work last published in 1976). The walls are an encyclopedia of Oxford band posters with some advertising gigs in such long-lost locales as Opal’s and Syd and Harry’s. Framed over the kitchen area is a New Orleans Saints jersey once belonging to Ole Miss legend Deuce McAllister.

square pizza 3Square Pizza is open for lunch every day except for Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., while evening hours are a bit more eccentric. On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the restaurant opens at 6:00 p.m., while from Monday to Wednesday, it doesn’t open until 9:00 p.m. In all cases, they are there when the downtown starts to shut down, and if you are one who likes to be at your local watering hole until closing time, you still have a half hour for that late night (or early morning) slice before heading on home. Square Pizza will take a short break between December 24 and 29, but will return to help you ring in the New Year.

About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and contributes to EatingOxford.com on a regular basis.

Lindsey’s Chevron: Gas, Food and Oxford History

lindseys 1By Danny Toma, staff writer

Sitting on the corner of North Lamar and Jefferson, just two blocks from the Lafayette County Courthouse, is Lindsey’s Chevron, a miniature foodie paradise offering up long-lost items from Oxford’s culinary past.

Like a number of gas station convenience stores, Lindsey’s has a food counter. But at Lindsey’s, everything is made fresh, right down to the individually breaded and fried pickles. They have plate lunches, hamburgers, chicken tenders, egg rolls, and burritos, along with plenty of sitting space on the inside for those wishing to linger a while. The biggest sellers are the chicken salad and pimento cheese, sold from a display case alongside individual sleeves of crackers.lindseys 2

The chicken salad is an Oxford tradition, made from Mr. Leonard Levy’s original recipe. Mr. Levy, as long-time Oxford residents know, was the owner of the Jitney-Jungle grocery store that moved in 1960 to what is now the Chancery Courthouse parking lot. By the 1970s, Jitney Jungle sold tubs and tubs of the chicken salad, and Lindsey’s Chevron is one of two places in Oxford that keep the recipe alive.

Lindsey’s can also take care of your sweet tooth with some familiar Oxford treats. In addition to homemade pies and other desserts, they have fresh banana pudding and another Levy dish–Mrs. Levy’s original strudel recipe. And don’t pass up the soft-serve ice cream if you find yourself longing for the days of the Kreme Kup on University Avenue. Lindsey’s soft-serve ice cream mix is the same one used at the original Kreme Kup!

A more recent addition to Lilindseys 4ndsey’s is a full line of homemade salad dressings–Ranch, Bleu Cheese, Honey Mustard, Greek Feta, and “Hotty Toddy” (their version of comeback sauce). They’ve been making the dressings for about six years now, and they’re quite popular. Lindsey’s is also your source for Robertson Farms items (free range eggs and hot sauce) as well as butter from Brown’s Dairy Farm (they plan to start carrying the milk soon).

The cooler has a nice selection of craft beers, including a number of regional microbrewery options, such as Southern Prohibition, Yazoo, Lazy Magnolia, and Ghost River, and the number is ever-growing due to customer demand. Customer demand has also driven Lindsey’s to order unusual items not readily available in Oxford–or even in the South for that matter. These include items such as Shasta Ginger Ale out of Hayward, California, and Uncle Ray’s Chips from Detroit, Michigan.

lindseys 3Probably the only service station in Oxford that still has an air machine that’s completely free of charge–yet another blast from the past. So go inflate those tires, and while you are at it, have yourself a bit of chicken salad, take home some dressing and some banana pudding, and show your support for a store that remembers how things used to be.

 

About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and contributes to EatingOxford.com on a regular basis.

Now Open: Frog’s Pearl Station

FullSizeRender(6)You undoubtedly already know and love the award-winning TriBecca Allie Cafe in Sardis, Mississippi, owned by Dutch and Becca Vanoostendorp.

The pair recently opened Frog’s Pearl Station, an adorable dessert and coffee shop housed inside a historic building conveniently located right next door to TriBecca Allie Cafe at 218 S. Main Street.

Frog’s Pearl Station serves locally made ice cream ranging from vanilla to pistachio; imported gelatos including chocolate and sea salt caramel; cakes from the northeast such as lemon mascarpone; and appetizers from the TriBecca Allie menu such as bread and oil; house-marinated mushrooms; pita and homemade hummus; and shrimp dip.FullSizeRender(7)

While there, check out the shop, which features homemade soaps, wreaths and other handmade items from artists in the area.

Until the new year, hours at Frog’s Pearl Station are currently the same as TriBecca: Wed. through Fri. 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; Friday nights 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Sat. night 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

–Liz

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New York-Style Bagels Coming to 6 ‘N Tubbs

6 n tubbs logoBy Danny Toma, staff writer

For the last three years, Oxonians who crave New York-style pizza have been enjoying it at 6 ‘N Tubbs at 2625 W. Oxford Loop. And soon, you’ll be able to find authentic New York-style bagels there, too.

Serving everything from the traditional, impossibly cheesy round pies that one associates with the Big Apple to thick, rectangular Sicilian pizzas that are tough to find even in New York, this little, unassuming pizzeria feels like a neighborhood joint in Brooklyn rather than a business located in a non-descript strip mall at the edge of a north Mississippi town.

6 ‘N Tubbs owner, Dennis Vanoostendorp, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a native of Orange County, New York, worked in the food business for many years in New York and New Jersey while learning the fine art of pizza-making, New York-style, nearly a quarter century ago.

6 n tubbs pizza

6 ‘N Tubbs New York-Style pepperoni pizza

Following in the footsteps of his brother Dutch, who moved to Mississippi working with the golf industry and later became the proprietor (along with wife Becca) of the famous Tribecca Allie Cafe in Sardis, Dennis came to Mississippi and opened up the kind of place where a true New Yorker (or anyone who has ever visited or wanted to visit the city) would feel at home. Starting in Batesville, Dennis soon moved 6 ‘N Tubbs to Oxford, and is now looking at a major expansion in the near future.

Vanoostendorp says that he began making his style of pizza because it’s the pizza he grew up with. “Pizza to a New Yorker is like barbecue to a southerner,” he says. “Everyone has his favorite place that makes it just right.” Now that he has begun to spread the New York pizza gospel to southern climes, he wants to share yet another northern delicacy with his adopted home–the New York bagel. “Most people around here have never really had a bagel,” explains Vanoostendorp, “The difference being that authentic New York-style bagels are boiled before they are baked, and the entire process is quite labor intensive.”

But Vanoostendorp is a man with a mission. He plans to use the former site of his pizzeria in Batesville as his bagel factory and then sell the bagels–both plain and as sandwiches–out of 6 ‘N Tubbs. While he’s currently missing one crucial piece of equipment needed to be able to start, he believes that he can be in production as soon as the first of the year. When that happens, expect a veritable pilgrimage of homesick northeasterners making their way to West Oxford Loop to pick up yet another reminder of their culinary heritage.

About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and contributes to EatingOxford.com on a regular basis.

Surprising New Pizza Menu

pizza hutBy Danny Toma, staff writer

Toasted Asiago, Salted Pretzel, Peruvian Cherry Peppers, and Honey Sriracha—these these are not the latest offerings at Oxford’s newest gourmet deli, but rather part of a radically new menu being offered at Pizza Hut.

The new menu, which features six new sauces, five new ingredients, and items such as customized pizza crusts and extra sauce drizzles to finish off the toppings, has been available in Oxford for about a week, but, according to local Pizza Hut employees, it’s still relatively unknown to local diners, most of whom are sticking to the menu items they know. This could soon change as more people become aware of the additional choices Pizza Hut has to offer.

For those of an adventurous nature, the combinations possible are almost endless, as one can choose from sauces as diverse as creamy garlic Parmesan, premium crushed tomato, or a medium spiced Buffalo sauce, and add on to these either the new or the traditional Pizza Hut ingredients. There are also new combination pizzas available, such as the “Pretzel Piggy” (garlic Parmesan sauce with bacon, mushrooms, and spinach with a salted pretzel crust and a balsamic sauce drizzle), the “Giddy Up BBQ Chicken” (barbecue sauce topped with grilled chicken, bacon, red onions and flavored with toasted cheddar crust and a barbecue sauce drizzle) and many more.

Will Pizza Hut’s bold move into more exotic ingredients appeal to the local gourmet market?  That’s for you to decide.

 

About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and will be contributing to EatingOxford.com on a regular basis.

 

England Dan’s Not Closing

england dansYou may have noticed the lights out at England Dan’s over the last week or so, but co-owner Mike Salts assured EatingOxford.com yesterday that the restaurant will not be closing.

Due to an undisclosed medical emergency, Salts says he has been in the hospital since November 9.

A sign on the door yesterday indicated that the restaurant would be reopening under new management today with updated hours Wednesday through Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

We all wish Mike a speedy recovery.

–Liz

 

 

Oxford Thanksgiving: Eaten Out or Catered In

thanksgiving postEvery year around this time I receive several emails from folks looking for a place to dine out on Thanksgiving.

More and more people either don’t want to deal with the mess of cooking at home, or they’re coming to visit their children who live in the dorms at Ole Miss and they want to be able to take them out to eat for the holiday.

This year, we also have the Egg Bowl on the same weekend as Thanksgiving, meaning many people will be traveling and not wanting to shop for all of the Thanksgiving fixings.

Since most restaurants in Oxford close for the holidays, I usually end up recommending that visitors try places such as IHOP, Huddle House, Applebee’s and Cracker Barrel (Batesville), which are usually open on holidays.

However, there are a couple of restaurants on the Square open this year….

Lenora’s will also be open on Thanksgiving, offering a small buffet-style dinner. Call 662-236-1144 for more info.

Locals will be open on Thanksgiving with a turkey and dressing brunch. Call 662-234-9594 for more info.

For those who have a space in town to hold Thanksgiving, but would rather have someone else cook, Oxford offers many catering options if you’d like food prepared ahead of time and ready for the big day.

A few options include:

Rib Cage: smoked turkey, smoked ham, pork loin – p/u by Nov. 26, (662) 238-2929

Honey Bee Bakery: hams, pies, breads – order by Nov. 24, (662) 234-2490

My Michelle’s: ham, turkey, dressing, casseroles, etc. – order by Nov. 24, (662) 236-1512

Queenissippi Catering: roasted Cajun turkey, casseroles, desserts, etc. – order by Nov. 23, (662) 609-5475

Little Easy Catering: variety of of holiday casseroles. (662) 236-5737

Lamar Lounge: smoked turkeys – order by Nov. 24, (662) 513-6197

Rebel Barn: smoked turkeys and hams – order by Nov. 22, (662) 469-6227

Mark Davis: variety of turkeys, brisket, pork loin, dressing, etc. – order by Nov. 21, (662) 801-3939

Lenora’s: A variety of Thanksgiving items; order by Nov. 25, (662) 236-1144

Have I missed a restaurant or catering option? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

–Liz

 

Sno Biz Disappearance

credit: oxford citizen

credit: oxford citizen

Did you notice Sno Biz disappear this week?

Eating Oxford reader Shannon Lewis Kellenberger thought it was torn down, so I did a bit of investigating and found a story about it in the Oxford Citizen.

According to the Oxford Citizen, Sno Biz will be moving from the spot it has inhabited for more than two decades in order to make room for an Auto Zone. Sno Biz owner John Sherman told the paper that he’ll be relocating the Sno Biz hut to the shopping center across the street from Beacon in the spring after a few renovations. (See the full story here.)

It will certainly be strange to drive down University Avenue and not see the Sno Biz, but the new location should provide ample parking and lots of room for outdoor seating.

Let me know in the comments what you think about the move and some of your favorite memories from Sno Biz over the years.

–Liz

(PHOTO CREDIT: Oxford Citizen)

Central BBQ Now Serving Oxford

central-BBQ-food-truckCentral BBQ, a staple in the Memphis barbecue scene for 13 years, is now serving its famous barbecue to Oxford via its food truck on Ole Miss football game weekends, according to truck manager Mark Goldsmith.

“Our slow-smoked Memphis-style BBQ, house made seasonings and sauces have been a huge success in Memphis and we hope Oxford will enjoy it just as much as Memphis does,” says Goldsmith.

On Ole Miss game day weekends, the Truck parks at 400 S. Lamar, in the parking lot near Holli’s Sweet Tooth, and opens Friday nights from 9:00 p.m. until around 2:00 a.m. Saturdays it opens for tailgate pick-up orders and lunch straight through until the bars close or they sell out. Contact Goldsmith directly for tailgate orders at truck@cbqmemphis.com or 901-240-8954.

 

Oxford’s Favorite Server: Judy Chrestman Pettit

A couple of week’s ago EatingOxford.com asked readers who they thought was the best server in town, and we received an overwhelming response.

judy at beaconOne of the names that stood out was Judy Chrestman Pettit, who has been a server at Beacon for 18 years!

When asked how she makes customers feel welcome and appreciated, Pettit told EatingOxford.com, “I get to know my customers by name. They feel like part of my family,” she says. “The customers feel at home because they can feel the love in the cooking and in the air!”

Pettit says she enjoys being a server in Oxford because she gets to provide a good experience for her customers, and says she’s never thought of working anywhere else but the Beacon. “I love the customers and my coworkers so I’ve never wanted to be a server anywhere else,” she says.

Her advice for server’s just starting out? “Enjoy what you’re doing!”

Be sure to congratulate Judy the next time you visit her at Oxford’s Beacon!

–Liz

 

 

 

Winner List – Oxford’s Best Eats 2014

SAMSUNG

A few months ago, we asked EatingOxford.com readers to participate in a 40-question survey to help choose the best in Oxford’s restaurant scene (best burger, catfish, sandwich, shrimp & grits, chef, customer service and more).

The votes have been tallied and the winners are listed below. In addition to finding the list here, you can locate it easily at any time via the “Oxford’s Best Eats” page on EatingOxford.com.

We hope this will inspire you to explore some new restaurants in Oxford; let us know your thoughts about the winner selection in the comments section below.

–Liz

 

Newk’s Eatery

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  • Best Sandwich
  • Best Soup
  • Best Salad
  • Best for Healthy Eating

My Michelle’s

my michelle

  • Best Catering/Tailgating

Ajax Diner

  • Best Plate Lunch
  • Best Vegetarian Selection
  • Best Country Cooking

Snackbar

  • Best Restaurant
  • Best Restaurant for a Date

Boure

  • Best Customer Service
  • Best Restaurant for Hanging with Friends
  • Best Restaurant for a Business Meeting

Handy Andy

  • Best Burger
  • Best Barbecue

Oxford Grillehouse

  • Best Steaks

Ember’s

  • Best Biscuits

Tre Amici

  • Best Italian

Soulshine Pizza Factory

  • Best Pizza

Tequila’s

  • Best Mexican

Jinsei

  • Best Sushi

Rice & Spice

  • Best Asian

Bottletree Bakery

  • Best Bakery

Big Bad Breakfast

  • Best Breakfast
  • Best Brunch

Popeye’s

  • Best Fried Chicken

John Currence

  • Best Chef
  • Best Restaurateur

Buffalo Wild Wings

  • Best Wings

High Point Coffee

  • Best Coffee

Ya Ya’s

  • Best Frozen Yogurt

City Grocery

  • Best Shrimp & Grits
  • Best Bartender (Chip Moore)
  • Best Bar

Oxford City Farmer’s Market (loop)

  • Best Farmer’s Market

Chick-fil-A

  • Best Fast Food

Lamar Lounge

  • Best Fries

McAlister’s

  • Best Sweet/Unsweet Tea

Chevron 4-Corners chicken on a stick

  • Best Late-Night Snack

Taylor Grocery

  • Best Catfish

 

Be the first to know Oxford food news. Click here.

Attention restaurant winners: If any of you still need winner certificates, please contact Liz@EatingOxford.com.

 

 

 

All is New Again at Rooster’s Blues House

roosters signIf you haven’t been to Rooster’s Blues House lately, you haven’t been.

A new kitchen, new menu, new chef (Jeff Robertson), and new specials are all beckoning new and seasoned customers up those familiar wooden steps and onto the balcony of Rooster’s Blues House at 114 Courthouse Square.

Owner Scott Michael says that the newly condensed menu focuses on three amazing burgers, wings, smoked barbecue nachos and Rotel house fries. “Our Coldwater River burger is a hefty 16 ounces of meat topped with bacon, jalapenos, Rotel, and homemade barbecue sauce,” says Michael. “We want people to know they can come here for burgers, fries and wings and find the best prices on The Square.”roosters menu

And speaking of great prices, every Tuesday night, Rooster’s Blues House offers every item on its menu for only $5, and Monday nights have become famous for 25 cent wings and $3 pitchers of beer.

Rooster’s regularly hosts live music on the weekends and tunes into the Ole Miss game on the televisions, but did you also know that you can  grab dinner there any night of the week and enjoy lunch on the weekends? The kitchen is open 7 days a week, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday to Sunday the doors open at 11:30 a.m. for the lunch crowd.

Don’t miss happy hour and late-night drink specials, and keep up with the latest food specials and band appearances via the Rooster’s Blues House Facebook and Twitter pages.

–Liz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Soon: Chef Kelly English Opening Restaurant in Oxford

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