Bare Bones Pizza

Out In Brum - Bare Bones Pizza - LogoOver the past few years the trend for quality street food across the UK has rocketed.  Birmingham has long held its own in the street food steaks with events like Digbeth diner, Brum Yum Yum’s lunch market at The Square, and various farmers markets becoming a weekly feature of the city centre and many of the suburbs (notably Moseley farmer’s market).

Recently we’ve had curries from Canoodle, brilliantly dirty burgers from The Meatshack,Out In Brum - Bare Bones Pizza - Mike burgers on a Krispy Kreme doughnut from Original Patty Man, Mexican from Habanero, toasted sandwiches from Jaberwocky, and for afters waffles from the Bournville waffle company.  The most recent entrant to the Brummy Street Food scene though is a father and son team, Mike and Tim, in their portable pizza wagon – Bare Bones Pizza. The name “Bare Bones” relates to the ingredients being natural and organic.


Out In Brum - Bare Bones Pizza - Tim and OvenAfter Mike sampled the delights of street food on a Thai holiday, and Tim returned from a
year living in Vietnam where he’d often eat on the streets, a chance reading of an article about the UK’s street food scene spawned an idea to set up shop in the midlands.  Mike had already built a career in catering from working aboard the QE2 and then in some more landlocked institutions, so it seemed a natural step to go it solo.

So pizza!  A local company, Dingley Dell Ovens in Kidderminster, provided the wood burning pizza oven, and a Citroen van was converted and fitted out fit for any dough slinger.

On a stormy August day we popped along and tried some of their crispy pizzas.  I tried theOut In Brum - Bare Bones Pizza - Frontage “Fishbones”, which has black olives and anchovies.  In Italy I ate more pizza than I care to remember, and I can say that these guys know what they’re cooking.  A super thin base was served crisp and a tiny bit charred with a light tomato puree, salty anchovies and strong olives.  Delicious.  We also had the “Bonefide” meat pizza with Pepperoni, N’Duja spicy Italian sausage, and Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese.  Again, the base was crisp, and the ingredients tasty.

This Wednesday 20th August ’14, they’ll be at the Birmingham Victoria Square Fine Food market – so if you’re around go and get a super lunch for around £6.

Out In Brum - Bare Bones Pizza - Fishbones PizzaNot only was the food super, unlike so many new businesses we interact with, the guys were really on the ball.  They’re looking to cater small private parties, functions, festivals, corporate days and all food related events, so give them a shout if you fancy a slice at your next birthday bash.

You can see the schedule of events they’re attending here, or go to their website for further information:

Good luck guys, although if you keep churning out that food, so professionally, you won’t need it!

Out In Brum - Bare Bones Pizza -  Van

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Le Monde Fish Bar & Grill

Out In Brum - Le Monde Bar Grill Brindley Place Birmingham - ExteriorBeing one of the UK’s most landlocked cities, Birmingham was never going to be a pescetarian’s playground.  Yes there are restaurants with a few good fish dishes (I’m told San Carlo is the best, and the fish offerings at Côte and Andersons are always good), but no “fish restaurant” per se.  Enter Le Monde Fish Bar & Grill.  A stalwart of the Cardiff dining scene the Birmingham branch has opened, after a delay of a couple of months, above Café Rouge in Brindley Place.  We visited in the opening week to celebrate finally exchanging on our new Harborne home.

The entrances are a little hidden, so do pay attention if you’re trying to find it.  There’s oneOut In Brum - Le Monde Bar Grill Brindley Place Birmingham - Restaurant on just either side of Café Rouge, both having steps to the upstairs restaurant (one with disabled access lift).  Inside it’s a bit of a hodge podge of styles.  Reproduction Victorian furniture jars against modern chandeliers and glass cabinets, à la supermarket butchers and fish mongers, that brim with poultry, steaks, whole fish, lobster, and crevettes – a cornucopia of goodies for any gourmand.

Out In Brum - Le Monde Bar Grill Brindley Place Birmingham - Meat CounterIt was rather loud when we were there, a crooner with guitarist giving us Nat King Cole and Andy Williams, but in the low ceilinged restaurant it was just a bit too loud for comfort, and we found ourselves shouting over the background music.  We chose a seat at the back, away from the entertainment.  Then comes the lesson.  We were shown the menus, and told that we could order from the menu at the table but we should definitely go and look at the contents of the fresh meat and fish counters and order from the waiter there by pointing at what we wanted.  It’s unusual in UK restaurants that one is confronted with the flesh that Out In Brum - Le Monde Bar Grill Brindley Place Birmingham - Fish Counterwill soon become dinner, and it’s not for the faint of heart.  After perusing the aisle, I decided I’d choose from the menu.  I went to a steak house in San Francisco once where the waiter took great delight in producing great slabs of steaks on plates to explain what we could order, and promptly to his disgust I ordered the fish.

We ordered a bottle of Gavi to be getting on with which arrived a little warm, so we asked for an ice bucket to chill it down a little more, which was duly provided.  One hopes the wine waiter doesn’t have a penchant for serving whites at the temperature they like them rather than at the temperature I like them (which is probably a bit warmer than most anyway, due to having Phil at Loki frequently telling me that “people drink whites too cold”).

For starters I had the scallop (with roe, which is unusual) and prawn skewers, it was nice Out In Brum - Le Monde Bar Grill Brindley Place Birmingham - Scallop Prawnsand had a good char-grilled flavour.  Could’ve done with more than the dribble of sauce it was served with, and the lemon should have been de-pipped or served in a muslin square.  We also had the calamari which was a little on the chewier side of cooked than it could have been, we did mention that and it was taken off the bill.

For mains I tried the tuna steak with new potatoes.  Again this was well char-grilled and
served perfectly rare, but again the promised béarnaise sauce was rather meagre in quantity.  We also had the fillet steak which was juicy (although maybe a touch over the Out In Brum - Le Monde Bar Grill Brindley Place Birmingham - Fillet Steakmedium-rare we’d ordered), served on softened onions, with a pot of red wine and mushroom sauce, and excellent (really!) chips. We also had a side of brocolli with toasted sliced almonds.  Note that most of the dishes are just portions of fish or meat, so you’ll generally need to order veg, spuds, and sauces separately.  To finish we tried the ginger and lemon cheesecake for desert and it was very good indeed, light but fiery ginger working with the tangy lemon.

Service was reasonably swift and very polite, although we did have six different waiting staff attend our table throughout, and invariably that meant there were a couple of mix-ups which then had to be sorted out.Out In Brum - Le Monde Bar Grill Brindley Place Birmingham - Cheesecake

After dinner we retired to the separate lounge bar to have cocktails.  I was going to have a
Negroni but they had no Campari, not to worry though because the skilled cocktail waiter made me an Aperol variant of it which was delicious.

With starters, mains, sauces, sides, an average bottle of wine, and dessert, the bill was about £55 a head.  Plus £10 each cocktail.  It is upper end but if I’m honest we had a bit of a mediocre experience when we went.  Bear in mind it had only been open 5 days so it hadn’t had time to bed in really.  We will no doubt be back in a couple of months when everyone’s had a chance to learn their role and understand how the restaurant is going to work.  Good luck to the team there, they obviously have lofty ambitions and with a few tweaks and some time, I’m sure they’ll make it into a fine addition to Birmingham’s ever growing dining scene.

Out In Brum - Le Monde Bar Grill Brindley Place Birmingham - Bar

Posted in Area: Brindley Place, Cuisine: Fish, Price: Get your dad to pay - above average, Price: My eyes are watering - expensive, Venue type: Cocktail Bar, Venue type: Restaurant, Venue type: Wine Bar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Old Joint Stock

Out In Brum - The Old Joint Stock - FrontageOpposite St. Phillips cathedral The Old Joint Stock pub takes prime position in an imposing Grade II listed building built in 1862.  Originally designed as a library, it was used as a bank until converted to a pub and hundred seat theatre (yes, theatre, bet you didn’t know that) in 1997.  The interior is grand: a balcony overlooks the triple height drinking space with beautiful bar floodlit by an impressive glass dome above, that lights crimson and gold wall coverings, carpets, artwork, dark wooden furniture, and period features.

The bars around the Colmore Business District seem to go one way or the other: there are a few boozers such as Edmunds Lounge and The Old Contemptibles, and there are upmarket dining and drinking establishments like Out In Brum - The Old Joint Stock - BarBureau, Pure, Metro, and Opus.  I can personally vouch for all of those listed.  The Old Joint Stock may be grand, but it isn’t fancy, this one is definitely on the “boozer” end of the scale.  You won’t be coming here after Fumo or Gingers for another cocktail served in a hipster jam jar – it’s pint and pie territory, in fact they sell more London Pride than any other venue in the UK.  We went to check out their Sunday lunch a couple of weeks’ ago.

We tried the Roast Chicken which was served with all of the normal accoutrements: roast spuds, green beans, Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower, broccoli, gravy.  I thought the chicken was a touch on the dry side, and the spuds were a little over done.  Nevertheless it was tasty.  The roast Sunday lunches start at about £11 for one course or £14 for two courses.  We had the Eton Mess as dessert which was plentiful and well prepared, although it would’ve been better served in a glass rather than slopped on a plate.

Out In Brum - The Old Joint Stock - PieI had the chicken and chorizo pie (£13), and think it was much more successful than the Sunday lunch.  It was served with peas, cabbage, a jug of gravy, and lovely mashed potato that was well seasoned with white pepper.  The pastry was a little overworked so perhaps harder than it might’ve been, but I suspect it needs to be as they’re served as attractive slender pies, and it was very full of lovely chicken in a chorizo gravy.  There wasn’t much Chorizo in evidence but the flavour was good.  The food isn’t outstanding but it’s good enough for a feed while you’re out drinking or pottering around town.  Sometimes I want a good pie and a pint, and that’s when I’d come back here.

I mentioned earlier that there is a small theatre upstairs.  It shows some random acts – Out In Brum - The Old Joint Stock - Eton Messfrom comedy stand-up (including fabulously funny Brummy Aaron Twitchen) to straight plays.  Tickets are rarely more than about £12.  We’ve seen the fantastic Barbara Nice there (she got us all Bollywood dancing), and in October there’s a show called “Einstein: Relatively Speaking” which sounds hilarious, and apparently it “features the wurst sausage joke ever”.  Tickets for that are just £10.

A lacklustre performance on the food front but overall a nice venue.

Posted in Area: Colmore Business District, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Average, Price: Cheap as Chips - Inexpensive, Venue type: Pub, Venue type: Restaurant, Venue type: Theatre | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bluebell at Henley-in-Arden

Out In Brum - The Bluebell - ExteriorBetwixt Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon lies the sleepy town of Henley-in-Arden. It’s 30 minutes by train from the city centre through glorious postcard perfect English countryside, and on a summery Saturday we headed there to try out a Michelin recommended pub – The Bluebell. They’ve been around a while, in fact the Tudor hostelry has been feeding and watering the public for half a millennium, so they’ve had plenty of practise.

For the last decade owners Leigh and Duncan Taylor, and their head chef James Devonshire, have been offering food that has won plaudits including two AA rosettes, and Out In Brum - The Bluebell Belinithe Good Food Guide Midlands Restaurant of the Year 2013. They offer coffee and cake from 10am, lunch from noon, and dinner from 6pm. Obviously there’s an à la carte menu and they’ve also just launched a two course for £10 lunch club, available Tuesday to Saturday, noon till 2.30, and that’s what we went to sample.

The restaurant and bar are intimate spaces with low Tudor beamed ceilings, flagstone and wooden floors, and heavy velvet drapes. The furnishings are eclectic and owner Leigh’s eye for design is obvious with shabby chic furniture, artistic lighting, and quality stemware adding to the overall feeling of lusciousness. The private dining room looked particularly inviting.

The lunch club menu (two courses for £10, or three courses for £15) is changed daily, soOut In Brum - The Bluebell - Interior
you get what you’re given i.e. there are no options. If however you don’t like that day’s offering (I think that’s unlikely) you can of course eat from the normal menu. On the day we went, the lunch club menu comprised Sweet Corn and Basil Velouté followed by Cottage Pie with pickled red cabbage, and dessert of Pavlova with English Strawberries and Chantilly Cream.

We started our lunch with a “Bluebell-ini” (£7) that’s Prosecco and strawberry juice, with a ripe strawberry on the rim. Our first course was the Velouté of Sweet Corn and Basil. Out In Brum - The Bluebell - Corn VelouteServed in a vintage tea cup and saucer the smooth and creamy velouté was well seasoned, piping hot, with light sweet corn and basil flavours. It was served with sourdough bread made onsite from a “mother” dough that Chef James has lovingly nurtured for three years. The sourness of the bread worked well with the sweetness of the corn. As you’d expect The Bluebell are big on using the best suppliers, and the quality of produce shone through, worthy of mention was the creamy butter from Netherend farm, and that they use Aubrey Allen butchers for their meats.

The main was a Cottage Pie, which initially I thought might not be summery enough, but Out In Brum - The Bluebell - Cottage Piethe side of pickled cabbage with star anise lifted it so that it was not at all heavy. The pie itself had great beefy flavours with a good texture, and the mash was fluffy and buttery and attractively piped with crispy grilled edges.

The wine list is impressive and there are 15 by the glass. I went for the delightful Veramonte Chardonnay (£6.25 a glass, or £25 for the bottle). We also had a glass of the Luigi Bosca La Linda Malbec (£7.15 a glass, or £28 for the bottle). Those wine lovers amongst you will know from just those two name-drops that there are plenty of good wines to choose. Not a wine drinker? Worry not, there’s a good selection of other drinks including Purity ales (a local independent brewery).

Out In Brum - The Bluebell - PavlovaIn the interests of fully reviewing it, obviously we had to have desert. A large pink quenelle of crispy sweet meringue was topped with Chantilly cream, roasted pistachios, and English strawberries. A super finale to a summer luncheon.

Monthly event nights are run at the venue for about £40 which includes a three course dinner and entertainment. Coming up in July is a Calypso night with singers and dancers, and then in August there’s a Ratpack night.

I like venues that are run by a small and dedicated team because their passion translates in to the food and the service. That’s exactly what The Bluebell will offer you. Quality produce, well prepared, and served with care and enthusiasm for what they offer. The £10 lunch offer really is extra-ordinary for this quality, so get there when you can. We will inevitably be back, which given that we get a nosebleed when we cross Brum’s middle ring-road, is testament to how much we liked it.  Simply delightful.

Posted in Area: Out of Birmingham, Cuisine: English, Cuisine: Fine Dining, Cuisine: Modern Mixed, Price: Average, Price: Cheap as Chips - Inexpensive, Price: Get your dad to pay - above average, Venue type: Bar, Venue type: Pub, Venue type: Restaurant, Venue type: Wine Bar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Birmingham Wine Festival 2014

Out In Brum - Wine Fest 2014 - MontageAmy Seton has brought you lucky people of Brum not only The Whisky Festival for the last two years, but this year also Birmingham’s first large scale two-day Wine Festival.  Held in the upmarket Hyatt Hotel on Broad Street the event bought you stalwarts of the Birmingham wine scene and also producers and importers from far afield.  Tickets were £25 and for that you can troll around all of the exhibitors trying their wines while they happily extol their virtues.  It’s a good event if you don’t know what you like wine wise – give them all a go, make some notes, work out which countries and grapes you do and don’t like, find some interesting distributors who’ll help you build your cellar.  There were also masterclasses available (tickets around £10 at the event) where you can learn all you’ll need to know about the various topics on offer from passionate tutors.  Masterclasses this year included Italian Wines, French Wines, and Cheese and Wine matching.

One of our very favourite venues, Loki Wine, was at the event with a selection of their finest wares.  You should definitely pop in to their shop in The Great Western arcade where you can buy a tasting card and enjoy self-serve samples of their interesting offerings from the innovative Out In Brum - Wine Fest 2014 - Indian Wineenomatic machines.  Connolly’s were also on hand and you can visit them either just by Snow Hill or in Solihull.  We were forced in to trying a Harvey Nichols Beaujolais, a snip at £13, by the lovely Kusum who’s always around the store if you need a hand picking a bottle.  We also had a few samples from the good folks at Laithwaite’s who have a branch in Solihull.

Out In Brum - Wine Fest 2014 - Canapes Kitchen School Jane BradleyAs a mid-festival nibble we tried delicious canapés from an up and coming Birmingham business, Kitchen School by Jane Bradley.  You’ll be hearing more from her over the coming months as she’s expanding her cookery school.  You can follow her on Twitter too.

Out In Brum - Wine Fest 2014 - Portuguese WineThen back on the wine, we tried dozens – our livers would’ve been better served had we have used the spittoons, but I can’t bear to waste good wine.  My favourite of the evening was a white Portuguese wine by Quinta do Piloto, made from a not much used grape variety – Moscatel Roxo.  The producer, a 4th generation vintner, was on hand to talk us through its complex characteristics.  If you’re interested take a look at the importer Bela Wines Ltd.  Winety Boutique Wines also provided a snifter or two, they specialise in importing wines not previously available in the UK.  We had a gulp of each of the Indian Wines on offer from Soul Tree.  I do think that Soul Tree’s offering was better than some of the other Indian wines I’ve tried, but I still can’t square drinking wine with Indian food, it’s lager all the way for Out In Brum - Wine Fest 2014 - Home of Cape Wine - Danielme!  Our next stop was to Home of Cape Wine – a producer and importer of South African table wines.  Its front man may be familiar to any of you that know Brummy dining, as it’s the affable and charming Daniel of MPW.

Without further sustenance I would have found the walk home rather too wobbly, so we joined Nicholas from Curds & Whey in Moseley for a wine and cheese matching.  Nicholas is an artisan cheesemonger and “afineur”.  The latter is a profession well understood on the other side of La Mancha but little known here, affinage is the art of aging cheese which can dramatically change the flavour of a cheese, as proven to us by Nicholas.  First up was an aged Wensleydale with a Slovenian Sauvignon Blanc (possibly a touch too acidic given the cheese was aged andOut In Brum - Wine Fest 2014 - Cheese Wheel had lost its Wensleydale sharpness).  Then a Camembert de Normande with an SA Chenin Blanc, then a Morbier with an awesome Trimbach Pinot Gris.  Finally we tried a strong but mellowed Bleu d’Auvergne with a sweet Moscatel.  This man knows his cheese, and we’ll be seeing him in Moseley or at the Mac food market on the last Sunday of the month.

So thanks to Amy (whom you can follow on twitter for all the super Brummy things she gets up to), for a drunken fun event.  See you same time next year, by which point my liver should have recovered, and my cellar should be better stocked.


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Birmingham Beer Bash 2014

Birmingham Beer Bash Logo

From Thursday 24th to Saturday 26th July 2014 Birmingham Beer Cubed will be serving up a selection of beers from the hottest breweries in the UK and around the world, from keg and cask. There will also be a return of their world bottle bar, and some fantastic food options to keep hunger at bay.

The Birmingham Beer Bash was conceived and organised by a group of enthusiasts, bloggers and tweeters who met through a shared love of all things beery via social media in 2012. The group quickly decided to bring about an event with one overriding goal – to deliver to the Midlands the very best of the UK’s burgeoning craft beer scene and the best of the international beer offering. A year or so later and the inaugural Birmingham Beer Bash, in July 2013, opened its doors at the canal-side venue of The Bond Co, in Digbeth, which is where they’ll return to this year. The results exceeded all expectations, and well and truly cemented Birmingham Beer Bash’s place in the local and national beer calendar.

As well as five caterers per session, including some of Birmingham’s best street food vendors, you’ll have the option to sign up for some of the gourmet food options which include:

  • Gourmet beer and food matched dining event.
    Experience a five course tasting menu by chef Nathan Eades of Epi Restaurant. Nathan cut his teeth at a number of venues including Lainston House Hotel and Wedgewood Hotel in Vancouver and more recently has been seen at Pop-Ups in Bromsgrove, Kings Heath and Birmingham before opening his own restaurant in Bromsgrove.
    Each of the 5 courses promise to be expertly matched to beers brewed by Wild Beer Co.
    You can read a review of one of our previous visits to a Restaurant Epi pop-up here
  • Siren Sliders
    Siren Craft Brew teaming up with the Original Patty Men to bring you “Siren Sliders”, a beer and burger-matching extravaganza! These guys have worked together to find the perfect pairings of burgers to match with the range of Siren beers. They’ll be serving these up in miniature form – known as sliders – along with the beers at the Beer Bash. Not only is it a great example of how different flavours complement particular beers, but it also provides the chance to taste several different Patty Men burgers avoiding the need to choose just one, which we know from experience is a difficult choice to make.

The bash will include exclusive beer launches, tasting sessions, talks and workshops, and some of the highlights confirmed so far are:

  • Celt Experience / Cell Rebirth
    Tom Newman, brewer from Celt Experience and the exciting Cell Rebirth project, will be hosting a number of different sessions throughout the Beer Bash.
  • Boak and Bailey
    Hugely acclaimed bloggers, now turned authors, will be visiting the Beer Bash on Saturday afternoon as part of the promotion of their new book.
  • Ron Pattinson
    Beer historian, blogger and author, Ron will be present on Saturday afternoon and evening to coincide with the launch of his book, The Homebrewers’ Guide to Vintage Beer. Ron will be talking about the role of Brettanomyces in British brewing, and will be signing copies of his book. There will also be six historic beers brewed specially to accompany Ron’s visit.
  • Ali Capper – British Hops
    Learn more about one of beer’s key ingredients in this workshop session. There are four sessions in total, one each evening plus a fourth on Saturday afternoon.

Tickets are selling fast and are available from


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The Deli in Boldmere

Out In Brum - The Deli In Boldmere - MontageJust 20 minutes on the train from New Street Station towards Sutton Coldfield lies the leafy suburb of Boldmere, where in 2011 Pippa Goode opened a foodie haven, The Deli in Boldmere.  How she managed to avoid the obvious name of “Goode Food” is beyond me, I can’t help but love a pun.  The frontage is modern, and wouldn’t look out of place in any of the smartest streets.

The deli stocks everything you’d expect it to: jams, chutneys, oils, vinegars, pulses, pasta, coffee, Ortiz tuna, bread, cakes, pastries, honey, and most importantly – marvelous cured meats and cheeses.  We went along for an intimate private tapas night at the deli, and greedily tasted everything we could get our hands on.  It was all cooked by Pippa and co-owner, with serving help from her son – it’s a proper family affair.

Out In Brum - The Deli In Boldmere - ShelvingI’ve had tapas in Spain but few places replicate the experience in a pleasing way back here in Blighty, the deli managed it admirably.  The food was served as we chatted over wine, it was a drawn out affair over several hours.  We started with prosciutto, rocket, and manchego cheese drizzled with local honey (hard cheese and honey – delicious).

Dishes kept on coming including vegetarian offerings of baked goats cheese, mushrooms stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts, bruschetta with ripe tasty tomatoes and basil, and Spanish omelette.  There were plenty of meaty dishes too: meatballs, the most delicious chicken with olives, chorizo topped with fried egg, and garlic king prawns.  To finish we had an epic cheeseboard and a raspberry cheesecake that was perfectly creamy and sweet.

Private tapas nights start from £12 per person, but we went all out for the £25 per person Out In Brum - The Deli In Boldmere - Spanish Omeletteoption which includes several more different tapas dishes and bring your own booze – great for the wine lovers to spend the evening drinking special bottles from their own cellar with excellent food.

Pippa is keen to increase the deli’s standing as a centre for Boldmere social life.  As well as the private hire for tapas and parties she has instituted a monthly knitting night, and Summer Tapas Fridays consisting of a set menu of 8 tapas dishes plus a sweet for £15pp available from 6.30 till 9, with Mediterranean wines and beers available.

The deli is open seven days a week and you can pop in for breakfast between 9 and 12 (£6 for a full English).  Obviously you can go just to buy groceries like artisan bread, but you’ll doubtless stay for a sandwich (from £4), sharing platters (from £9.50), a glass of wine, coffee, tea, and cake.  Or treat yourself and go the whole hog with high tea for £12 per head.

The deli and its staff are charming and competent, and I can’t see how it can’t go on to get busier and busier over the next few years.

Thanks to Pippa and her team for a super night.

Posted in Area: Boldmere, Cuisine: Spanish, Price: Average, Venue type: Cafe, Venue type: Gourmet Shop, Venue type: Restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment