To fly or not to fly….

Usually when I travel it is by car but due to unexpected events I now find myself a frequent flyer. I have flown back and forth between S.C. and N.Y. at least 4 times in the last 2 months and each time I fly I get better at it or more prepared at least. On one of my flights, the turbulence was so bad I found myself sweating perfusely and praying to the big guy to please not let the plane go down. The plane was shaking so bad that the drink on the tray table beside me went flying. Good thing my neighbor had sharp reflexes. One time when I was flying a long time ago, I had to exit a plane and jump down an inflatable slide while it was still on the tarmac. Good times.

I do understand flying is a necessary evil, especially for this trip. It’s just about impossible to drive when you only have 2 days and you are 13 hours away from your destination. But believe me, if flying was absolutely not an option I would’ve driven and made it work. Some people are worth making the effort. For my Donna June I would travel to the ends of the earth, barefoot, over hot coals and broken glass if that’s what it took to get to her.

For you see, Donna’s mom has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. Donna is staying with her temporarily until her new home is ready for her in Pennsylvania. Donna’s sister Suzanne and her husband Pete are building an apartment in their home so that mom can go live with them being she is unable to stay alone any more. I can’t even begin to express the admiration and love I have for Suzanne & Pete, along with their daughters Amber & Alyssa, for opening their home and hearts to allow mom a safe place to live and being willing to make the necessary changes to make that possible. They are pretty amazing people and I am very lucky to call them my family.

Until the apartment is ready and mom’s house in NY is sold Donna is staying with her and has been there since the end of January. Hence, me flying so much. I probably should’ve gotten one of those credit cards that you get travel miles for but I dont anticipate flying much after mom moves to Pennsylvania.

The drive there is a lot nicer than the one to NY. I like to take I 81 being it is very scenic and takes you through the mountains. Also there is no going through NYC. Even though I was born, raised and learned to drive on Long Island I get little pangs of anxiety when I go back and have to drive. Southern State Pkwy, LIE, even Sunrise Hwy all make me yearn to go back home to SC. Regardless, I prefer to drive.

So that’s it. If I had my choice I’d drive everytime. For all of you out there in cyberspace that fly, I wish you safe travels with clear skies.

In the mood for a steak…

As I sit in my recliner watching the Nancy Silverton episode of “Chef’s Table” on Netflix my stomach begins to growl. Why do I torture myself watching these food shows when I know that there is not a damn thing to eat in my house and I always get hungry when I watch them? I can’t answer that question for you…

So I texted my friend Jennifer to see if she would be my date and accompany me to dinner. When she asked me what I was in the mood for I replied “steak”. We don’t eat much steak at our house being Donna isn’t particularly crazy about red meat. Maybe a hamburger every once in a while but no steak. Me, I like me a big ole ribeye. Yes ma’am! And that is what I was in the mood for. As I asked Google what steakhouses were located in the Harbison area Texas Roadhouse came up. I have never been there so off we went.

Texas state flag atop the restaurant.

Jennifer did the “call ahead seating” thing but even with that there was a 40 min wait. Go figure. I guess it is Saturday night in Harbison after all. Well, it was worth the wait. For starters I got us an order of fried pickles. Jennifer said she didn’t want any but I still got them. I ran a 5k today damn it so I’m gonna eat whatever I want and as much I want.

Fried pickles. Yum!

Then of course I got a salad. I always get a salad if it is an option on the menu. It was very good with lots of toppings. I especially like the croutons. They almost melted in your mouth, not hard at all.

House salad with thousand island dressing.

Now for the main course. Jennifer ordered bbq chicken with a baked potato and applesauce. She enjoyed it very much.

Bbq chicken, baked potato and applesauce.

I went all out. I ordered a 10 oz. Ribeye with grilled shrimp and a loaded baked potato. I tried a little of the house steak sauce, which was delicious, but the steak was seasoned so well it didn’t even need it. It cut like butter and was cooked perfectly. The potato put me right over the edge because it was so good that I couldn’t stop eating even though I felt as if the button was going to pop off of my pants. Oh yeah, I wore sweatpants so that very incident wouldn’t occur.

Ribeye, loaded baked potato, grilled shrimp and garlic roll.

The whole night was wonderful. There is nothing like being in the mood for something and then actually scratching that itch with that exact food you were craving. Thanks for helping me with my itch Jennifer. Life is good.

Me and my dear friend Jennifer.

Happy St. Patty’s Day to ya…

So as you can tell from my featured image I am not indulging in the Irish spirits this holiday. As I have not done so in the past 26 Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations being I am a recovering alcoholic. This works out well, because if I would’ve been drinking I wouldn’t remember a damn thing and would have nothing to write about. So let’s get on with it then…

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my big sis Kelly made corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and my favorite, Irish soda bread from scratch.

This year was no different. Although she wasn’t exactly jazzed about how the corned beef and cabbage turned out, I still enjoyed it immensely.

There just is something about food and traditions. How the smell and taste can bring back a flurry of memories and bring you back in time. To a time when loved ones that have since past were still with you and you shared that food. Created that memory.

Cherish each day for you never know when it might be your last. Tell the ones you hold dear that you love them. Tell them today, don’t wait until tomorrow to say it.

Sisters at Soda City…

I set my alarm last night for 8:00 a.m. so I could get in an early run/workout prior to our food crawl extravaganza down at Soda City today. I was surprised that I actually woke up prior to the alarm being that I was up until 1:00 a.m. binge watching “The Killing” on Netflix. If you’ve never seen it I recommend you do.

I got in my 3 miles, pumped some iron, relaxed in the massage chair for 10 minutes (one of the perks of being a Black Card Member at Planet Fitness) and then headed home to wait for Kelly to pick me up so we could head downtown.

The view as I walked home from the gym.

Now, I’ve been to Soda City many times but I’ve never eaten my way through it like today. Some of you are probably thinking “What is Soda City?” It is an open air market in downtown Columbia on Saturday’s that stretches about 4 blocks down main street. There are a ton of food vendors as well as artisans selling their wares. It is a must if you are in the downtown area on a Saturday between 9 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.. And if you are a dog owner feel free to bring them along. There were 1/2 as many dogs as there were people.

As you can see, Soda City is the place to be!

Of course being a Kirby, the first priority was to find coffee! I went with the tried and true, one of my favorites, a cup from Curiosity Coffee Bar.

Their brick & mortar shop is located at 2327 Main Street, Columbia

Now being Kelly wanted coffee with a flavor profile we walked over to Drip on Main. She was kinda disappointed being the coffee was lukewarm before she even added any cream to it. I was suprised being I have had their coffee before and it was very good. Their baked goods, even though we didn’t eat any this time are delicious, especially the scones.

This joint is jumpin’!

With coffee in hand we began to crawl but before any food caught my eye a jewelry vendor called The Indigo Bee Co. did. I have been looking for a bracelet for a while now but nothing has excited me. I really like to support local artisans whenever I can, especially because my Donna is a local artist herself. Be sure to check out her page on instagram, it’s listed under her business name Evergreen Mosaic. Plug…plug… ūüėČ Back to the bracelet. I tried it on but it was a little too big, so the artist, Emily Brereton, told me if I’d be around for a bit she could make me another one a little smaller. Talk about good customer service! She sized my wrist and I told her I’d be back. 3 food trucks and 2 coffee shops later we returned. The new bracelet fit perfect and at only $15 it was at great buy!

Now for the food! Soda City is like a mecca for food trucks. A one stop shop if you will. From Tex-Mex to Venezuelan, there is a food truck for you.

Now we didn’t actually eat here but I wanted to shout it out due to it being just so damn cool. The Grand just opened December of last year and I can’t wait to eat & play there. The reason why I say play is because they have a 7 lane bowling alley, lounge area for playing board games, indoor shuffleboard as well as an outdoor space with a bocce court. Is is referred to as a “boutique” bowling alley, bar and restaurant. We’d like to bring Yuri being she loves to bowl.

Yes, that’s a bowling alley.
Outdoor dining and bocce
The restaurant seating has a 1960’s “rat pack” era feel to it.

The first stop on our crawl was The Belgian Waffle Truck.

Kelly got a sweet waffle with a strawberry compote and whip cream. Unfortunately, the whip cream tasted like it came from a can. The compote was good though.

Take note of the manicure…compliments of Blush Nails & Spa in Lexington
Get it girl!

I went with the breakfast sandwich, which is an egg, sausage patty, and gravy on waffles. The sausage tasted like it was a store bought frozen patty but the gravy was quite good. Overall it was tasty sandwich.

Breakfast sandwich on steroids!
Now that’s how you eat a sandwich.
Does anyone have a napkin?

Next stop The Wurst Wagon. Now Donna would have appreciated this food cart. If you closed your eyes and inhaled, you would swear you were in NY standing in front of a Sabrett dirty water dog stand. We actually closed them down being we took their last 2 sausages. There was a snap when you bit through the sausage casing, so we knew they were home made. It came with a side of potato salad and sauerkraut. We loved the potato salad! It was vinegar based and had dill in it, which Kelly was particularly impressed with. It kind of reminded me of a german potato salad. The sauerkraut was delish too. We both gave The Wurst Wagon 2 big thumbs up!

I vote to have one of these on every corner!
Good bang for your buck for only $7.00.

Now for something sweet. What to pick, so many choices. You can never go wrong with donuts right? Next stop, The Donut Guy”. Kelly picked the maple bacon mini donuts and got herself an iced coffee. The donuts were light and airy, kind of reminded me of a zeppoli but I just wish the bacon was more incorporated into the donut instead of just being sprinkled on the top. Being the glaze was very thin the bacon couldn’t really adhere to the Donut and just collected at the bottom of the tray. All in all it was good but I felt the flavors didn’t really explode in my mouth when I took a bite.

A generous portion but I wish the bacon stuck to the donuts better.
My sis is a good sport being I made her pose for a bazillion pics today ūüôā

Even though our dad wasn’t with us today Kelly made sure he could reap the rewards of our crawl. Being our dad is a good ole’ southern boy we got him some yellow stone ground grits compliments of The Congaree Milling Co. Kelly said dad likes yellow grits better than white so yellow it was.

Now dad has a huge sweet tooth so we knew we had to get him a dessert too. Dad’s rule of thumb is if it’s heavy (weighs alot) the dessert is good. Kelly picked out a blackberry pie compliments of Divine Pies Bakery. I picked it up first to make sure it lived up to dad’s standards, it did, so we got it. I will have to get back to you on the taste because I didn’t try it but it sure did look divine!

Are those not the most beautiful pies you have ever seen…

One last thing that was a must to add to the list bring home to dad were boiled peanuts. I happen to like them and Donna can’t seem to understand why. She’ll say to me “Do you really like those or are you just trying to impress your dad?” Yes Donna, I really like those, along with collards, pork rinds and hash.

Last stop on the crawl.

This has been the most interesting crawl so far being we got to sample food from several different vendors. Beautiful weather, day off from work, yummy foods and spending the morning with my big sis….life is good my friends ūüôā

On our way back to the car. Last picture Kelly, I promise.

Food crawl Friday!

As luck would have it, I was gifted with getting to work a 1/2 day today! So of course I called my sis to see if she wanted to check out someplace new for lunch. She suggested that we go get a pedicure first. My second gift today was my big sis picking up the tab for making my toes pretty. How lucky am I!

While relaxing in a massage chair, having someone rub our legs and feet with a sea salt scrub we thought about where we should go to eat. Being we were in Lexington we decided upon The Root Cellar. Kelly had heard good things about this restaurant so we decided to give it a try.

I liked the place from the moment we walked in. We were greeted and seated by our server Janice. She was friendly, funny and quick on the water refills (which is such a pet peeve of mine). The menu had a wide variety of choices which made it hard to pick but we managed to narrow it down.

We began our meal with the Southern Egg Roll as an appetizer. This was house made pimento cheese & pulled pork rolled in a spring roll & lightly fried. It was served with a side of Root Cellar BBQ sauce. A little on the greasy side but nontheless very tasty.

Each of the dishes we selected came with a salad. I picked a balsamic dressing which also tasted house made as well as delicious.

We picked 2 different dishes so we could share. My pick was the Grilled Chicken, Swiss & Avacado Sandwich served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, red onion & pesto ranch sauce. We decided on the sautéed Brussel sprouts as the side for this. That was one of the best chicken sandwiches I have ever had! The brioche bun was extremely fresh, like it was made in house. You could decipher all the different flavors that built this sandwich. So very, very good.

Kelly’s pick was the Shrimp and Grits. Talk about depth of flavor. The Tasso cream sauce was rich and smooth, the jumbo shrimp were firm and crisp to the bite and the consistency of the grits were spot on.

To complete our meal we ordered the special of the day…The Canegie Deli Cheesecake. As a former New Yorker I’d put that up against any NY cheesecake.

From the hospitality of the staff, cleanliness of the restaurant and the delicious food, we definitely give The Root Cellar 2 thumbs up!

Southern food at it’s finest

I don’t do buffets much since I’ve lost weight but I am so glad I went to this one.

What a pleasant suprise to find out that my family was taking me to Jackson’s Southern Kitchen for dinner! I have never been there but every time I pass it there are always people waiting outside to get in.

The first impression after we got inside and stepped up to the hostess station was not too good. Kelly walked up and said hi but didn’t receive a hello back. Then after we told the hostess how many we were she didn’t tell us how long the wait would be and walked away. While we were waiting, the hostess began arguing with a potential patron who had not been seated yet. After those folks got seated the hostess, along with another waitress, rehashed the argument again and again, loud enough for all of us waiting to hear. If I wasn’t with all of my family I would’ve left but we stayed and waited. I am glad we did…

The food was absolutely delicious! I consider myself an amateur fried chicken connoisseur. My favorite by far is the fried chicken at Doc’s BBQ but this was a close second. The skin was crispy but light, and the chicken itself was extremely moist. There were 3 different buffet tables with endless choices. Every single item I ate was fresh, hot and delicious. In entirety I had ribs, pulled pork, mac ‘n cheese, fried okra, collard greens, rice and hash, hush puppies, hoe cakes and sweet potatoes. For dessert I sampled red velvet cake, banana pudding, peach cobbler (I didn’t particularly care for the cobbler) and strawberry cake. Oh brother, I feel sick all over again just writing this because I ate soooo much. That’s what happens when the food is that good, you just keep eating because you want to try EVERYTHING!

I highly recommend Jackson’s Southern Kitchen but they might want to rethink who they have representing the front of the house.

Sisters and swamp tacos…

Today is my sister’s birthday and my gift to her was taking her out to lunch. We went to Private Property in Lexington on Main Street. At first sight you wouldn’t recognize it as a restaurant being it’s in an old house and the side is facing Main Street. The only way I could tell it was a business was the neon “open” sign in the front window. Kelly found out it was a restaurant from a friend. The architecture is absolutely charming. From the original hardwood floors, thick mouldings and brick fireplaces throughout, the atmosphere is wonderful.

That’s all well and good you’re probably saying but what about the food!

One of the reasons why I wanted to go there were the “swamp tacos”. What are swamp tacos you ask? They are tacos made with alligator, smoked sausage, grilled shrimp and cajun coleslaw. Yes, I said alligator. We decided to expand our palettes to a experience a new ingredient so we ordered them as an appetizer.

We also ordered the She-Crab soup, which had a great depth of flavor and packed quite a punch as far as heat goes. The waitress informed us that most of the dishes served at Private Property were spicy, this is why we know we need to bring Yuri back with us next time.

Now for the main dishes. Kelly picked the Big Easy Burger, which is topped with creamy Havarti cheese smothered with caramelized onions served with house made fries.

I went for the Palmetto Po’ Boy which is made with fried shrimp, homemade pimento cheese and crispy, peppered bacon served with a house salad. I must say that I was very impressed with the salad. The lettuce was crisp and the tomatoes burst with flavor in my mouth when I bit into them. I sure do love me a good salad!

I highly recommend Private Property. The service was good, the staff friendly and the food was delicious but diner beware, it is spicy.

All in all I think it’s safe to say Kelly enjoyed her birthday lunch. Let the 2018 Crawl begin!!!

Finally I get my calamari!

Nobody in my immediate circle likes calamari.¬† I love it but it has to be cooked just right, if not it is too chewy.¬† I had to drive over 800 miles from my home in Cayce, S.C. but I found the ultimate calamari at Gregorio’s in Massapequa, N.Y..¬† Gregorio’s is owned by Greg Cellucci. Gregoriospizzeria.com If I still lived on Long Island I’d be eating at his restaurant at least twice a week.¬† Donna’s step sister Donna and her husband Ritchie (Greg’s father) treated us to the most delicious lunch at Gregorio’s on Wednesday.

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We were started out with a basket of fresh bread on the table which consisted of garlic knots and sesame rolls.  The sesame rolls were crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, served hot so the butter melted as soon as it hit the bread.

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For appetizers we chose baked clams and of course, calamari.  The baked clams were served whole in their shell with minimal breading so you could really experience the flavor of the clam.  Drizzled over the baked clam was what tasted like a garlic and white wine reduction.  A squeeze of fresh lemon was the final touch prior to devouring these clams.  My mouth is watering while writing this because they were really JUST THAT GOOD!

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I was so tickled that Donna, Ritchie and even mom shared an order or calamari with me.¬† The batter used was not a heavy breading it was light, almost reminiscent of a tempura consistency.¬† The marinara sauce served with the calamari was the perfect accompaniment.¬† It wasn’t too heavy and didn’t mask the flavor of the calamari.

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For the main dish I asked Greg’s recommendation, in which he suggested the Fusilli Florentina and so that is what I ordered.¬† I am so glad I did.¬† The Fusilli Florentina consisted of corkscrew pasta with chicken, baby spinach in a pink cream sauce topped w/ fresh mozzarella.¬†¬†Yes, fresh mozzarella!¬† It is made fresh on the premises and boy does it make a difference in every dish served at Gregorio’s.

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Mom chose the chicken francese off the menu.  There was no need for a knife to be part of the place setting being the chicken was so tender she cut through it with her fork.  The wine and lemon sauce was fragrant, smooth and unforgettable.

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Donna’s all time favorite pasta dish is linguini with clam sauce.¬† White clam sauce that is.¬† As soon as I saw that on the menu I knew that’s what she’d pick.¬† She absolutely loved it!

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I have yet to find an restaurant in South Carolina that serves italian food like this.¬† Actually, not many in N.Y. have lived up to Gregorio’s food.¬† I highly recommend you going if you haven’t already been.

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Mustard base or tomato base? That is the question…

Tonight I went to Murray’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar in Cayce for the first time with Kelly and a bunch of her friends, now also my friends ūüôā .¬† This is odd that I have never been there being that I lived right around the corner from them for about 3 1/2 years.¬† I didn’t know what to expect but what I got was good food for a reasonable price with a laid back atmosphere.¬† I was also thrilled that the waitress refilled my water several times without me having to ask and she brought plenty of napkins to the table.¬† I don’t know what it is, but it pisses me off to no end if the waitress/waiter doesn’t refill my water.¬† I drink a lot of water and that’s all I drink when I go out to eat.¬† And if my glass never gets refilled that tip is going to suffer.¬† I guess I am just weird like that.¬† Regardless, our waitress was on top of the water situation all night.

Kelly ordered the¬†“Murray‚Äôs Signature Sub” which¬†consisted of¬†steak, saut√©ed onions, melted swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, oil & vinegar, parmesan cheese and Murray’s special sauce.

 

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Murray’s Signature Sub with a baked potato

 

I was torn between the French dip and the North Carolina BBQ platter.¬† Eeenie, meenie, miney, mo…..¬†¬†I¬†chose BBQ.¬† Now I like a mustard base sauce myself.¬† Tomato base is a little too sweet for my liking.¬† I actually once made some pulled pork at home in a crock pot.¬† Yes, this Yankee transplant whipped up some BBQ herself and let me tell you something, it was good.¬† I didn’t know the first thing about making BBQ.¬† Yuri told me that I needed a pork butt to make it.¬†¬†I put that butt in the crock pot and cooked it all day long (I don’t remember exactly how long, I just followed the recipe).¬† With the use of 2 forks, I shredded that boston butt into oblivion and then¬†added Bi Lo store brand mustard base BBQ sauce to the mix.¬† Voila!¬† BBQ!¬† Now, back to Murray’s and my sandwich.

 

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North Carolina BBQ platter with grilled vegetables

The grilled vegetables that I chose as a side were delicious.¬† The char on them brought out such flavor in the zucchini, squash and broccoli.¬† The garden salad I substituted my coleslaw for was¬†filled with yummy extras like a hardboiled egg and the thousand island dressing was definitely house made.¬† Now as¬†for the pulled pork sandwich,¬† I though¬†that was a little bland.¬† Even after I added the BBQ sauce to it, which was served on the side I didn’t find myself devouring it.¬† Actually, I got so full eating the amazing beer battered onion rings that we had as an appetizer I didn’t have enough room to finish my dinner.¬† I would definitely go back but I am going to¬†try the French dip instead.

 

Garlic cheese bread with a side of pot roast please…

So let me tell you about my day.¬† As I walked into work today, I was met by my assistant manager who handed me an egg &¬†sausage¬†McMuffin, out of appreciate for all of my hard work.¬† How can you not have a good day when it starts out like that.¬†Right?¬† Then while I was working at my desk, one of my co-workers Gordon (the guy that gave me the venison¬†that was featured in¬†a previous blog) drops me off a doughnut.¬†¬†What the heck is going on?¬†¬†It’s like¬†I am wearing a sign that says “Feed Me”.¬†¬†Then while I am sitting at Jiffy Lube¬†waiting for my car¬†after work my dad calls.¬†¬†He asks me¬†if I want to come over for diner, being that Yuri made¬†pot roast and scratch made cheesy garlic bread.¬† Can Barbra Streisand sing?¬† Heck yeah I’ll come over!¬† I though to myself that I should go buy a¬†lottery ticket because how lucky can a girl get.¬† Needless to say I didn’t go buy a ticket for the¬†mega millions but I did accept that invite for dinner!

potroast
Home made pot roast with potatoes, carrots, onions & celery

The pot roast was so tender you could cut it with a fork.¬† Yuri made it in the crock pot.¬† I’m not sure for how long or if it was on high or low, but it was delish.¬† Now, for the star of the show….the bread.

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Scratch made cheesy garlic bread.  OMG!!!

Have you ever had the cheddar bay biscuits at Red Lobster?¬† This tastes like those but A MILLION times better!¬† The bread itself is very light, it isn’t incredibly dense.¬† The garlic permeates every inch of the bread but is not too overpowering, it’s just right.¬† And the cheese.¬† The glorious cheese.¬† It is¬†melted throughout the loaf and on the bottom where it is slightly burnt but not charred is where the best flavor is.¬† While I was eating I used the bread to soak up the juice from the pot roast and¬†it made it taste that much better.¬† I think I just made myself hungry all over again.¬† Yuri, I have to give you props.¬† You are an amazing cook and I appreciate every meal that you serve.¬† Most¬†of the time after Yuri makes something she always says “This could have been better” or “The crust should have been firmer” or “This turned out to watery”.¬† Yuri,¬†just¬†stop it.¬†¬†You are awesome.¬† Everything you cook is delicious.¬† The proof¬†of that¬†is that me, Kelly and dad are not skinny.¬† We eat all that you make because it tastes very good.¬† Thank you for feeding us, we love you for it.

 

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Here’s the bread recipe if you would like to give it a whirl

 

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You can see how the cheese is strewn throughout and the bubbles from the butter and garlic surfacing.  Also you can see the airiness of the bread.
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This is the delicious surprise at the bottom of the bread!