Travel

Stockholm part two: Finding Japan in Sweden

March 9th, 2013

After this trip to Stockholm, I think we’re going to have to come up with an updated guide in Volume 2 of the Mjölk book. We discovered some new places, and met so many great people!

Here is an additional sampling of our most recent trip.

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It has become a bit of a ritual for us to start our first night in any city by trolling the streets in search of a restaurant we have never heard of before. Since we were staying in Södermalm it wasn’t very difficult to walk down the street and peer into the windows of cozy restaurants and find something that looked interesting.

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We walked by Blue light of Yokohama and saw this black circle with three copper pendants in the window.

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In the next window was a brown vase on light blue tiles displaying an Ikebana arrangment.

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Who doesn’t like Izakaya? It’s also a good sign when you see a bench of people talking and enjoying their food. We decided this would be our first meal of the trip!

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The food was exactly what we were needing after a long flight: Classic Japanese comfort!

More to come all week! Stay tuned!

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Stockholm Design Week 2013

March 3rd, 2013

As you may know, we went to Stockholm recently. This was perhaps our best trip to Scandinavia, and we were extremely surprised we would enjoy Stockholm in February as much as we did. There is something about a country that has learned to make the best out of the cold dark winters. It seems there isn’t a restaurant or bar in the city that isn’t lit in the evenings with candlelight, and even the shopkeepers keep large torches on the sidewalks in front of their shop, beckoning you to come inside and warm your bones.

I would like to start this introduction with a big thank you to Monocle’s Hugo Macdonald, the host of radio program Section D, who interviewed us during our visit to the Stockholm Furniture Fair. If you would like to listen to our interview it starts around 40 minutes into the program (around 3/4 of the way), episode 70.

http://monocle.com/radio/shows/section-d/

We have to keep a some fodder for the print version of Mjolk, but we hope you enjoy the few teasers we’ve created for our most recent trip.
There will be a few normal (aka non instagram) posts to follow soon.

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Amazing packaging, is there anything better than exploring a grocery store in a different country? Though I have a feeling the one on the left is maybe from the UK, the brand Saltå (right) has a butik in Söder.

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The best part of this season is having Semla buns and heated milk, they’re filled with whipped cream and meant to fatten you up over the winter. Needless to say, there were a few days where we had double fika.

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The Canadian Embassy is right in the center of the city, near Sergels torg. We met up with Eero Koivisto to help set up the display for the CEREMONY party.

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This was the first time we’ve visited during the winter, and Stockholm didn’t disappoint.

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We headed out to Kastellholmen to check out the Nendo installation, “Illuminated” for Wästberg. We love how they place candles outside to greet guests during the cold night. More on this installation another day.

We were fashionably late for this party, which in Stockholm terms means too late, as the party was over. We decided to pop into Hotel Skeppsholmen for a coffee, and then proceeded to walk back into town. But alas while we were crossing the bridge we ran into Mårten Claesson and Ola Rune! They were on their way to the Glass Elephant opening party in a bunker, so we joined them.

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The next day we attended the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair. Surprisingly it was our first time visiting. Although we saw plenty of nice designs, we already work with the best companies so this was more a casual visit. Nendo was the guest of honour, and this their installation “80 sheets of mountains”. We didn’t bring our camera to the show and I regret not getting a better snap of it! Check it out over on Designboom.

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It was recommended to us to visit Speceriet for lunch, where we ran into Jonas Lindvall and his lovely wife and daughter. He designed some brilliant lighting for Wästberg which was originally used in Speceriet and their larger formal restaurant gastrologik. He generously introduced us to the head chef and took us on a tour next door at gastrologik. Jonas Lindvall designed both restaurants, and although we had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful white and copper space we didn’t get a chance to have dinner there.

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Chairs designed by Jonas Lindvall with Copper pendant lights hanging above (soon to be available at Mjolk).

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This usually sits outside the entrance of the restaurant, we loved the design.

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“To be perfectly Frank”, an exhibition by Michael Anastassiades at Svenskt Tenn.

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Fika time with (more) Semla buns.

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One of our favorite stops in Stockholm is seeing mid century galleries Jacksons and Modernity.

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Our official event listing in the Stockholm design week guide.

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The party at the embassy. It’s hard to tell how many people came in this photograph but we had at least 300 people come to the event. We were blown away with the turn out, and it was so nice to be in such good company alongside Claesson Koivisto Rune and Patty Johnson.

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A late night stroll for a night cap with Eero and his lovely wife Deta.

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We had to stop in to visit one our our favourite people Pia Wallen, a designer we have been working with before our store was even open. This is the view from her studio.

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The amazing staircase we walked up on our first visit to Pia’s studio. We now know better and opt for the elevator.

There’s plenty more to come, stay tuned!

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Nakashima Studio Part 3

October 4th, 2012

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We’re pleased to share our third and final installment of our trip to the Nakashima studio in New Hope. Today we’re taking a look into George Nakashima’s gallery, like previously noted we’re saving some photos for the book so this sneak peak will have to tide you over until next year!

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There were beautiful illustrations of George Nakashimas buildings earlier in his career used for his portfolio and competitions. Note the signature at the bottom “I am a citizen of the U.S.” With a Japanese last name there was a lot of discrimination even though the architect was born in America and achieved a Masters in Architecture.

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A sound sculpture by Harry Bertoia.

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Floating stair case embedded into the stone wall.

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Elodie on the Tatami mat.

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One of my favorite pieces – The Conoid bench complete with antique indigo cushions.

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Many aspects of the Nakashima compound were man made by George Nakashima, the plot of land was originally plowed farm land so elevations in the land, stone work, and most of the trees were planted by Nakashima himself. Although you would not expect that any of it was man made as it looks so natural in its setting.

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The bridge separating Pennsyvania from New Jersey. We were staying at a hotel on the Jersey side in Lambertville.

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The local diner – Sneddon’s

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Copper lamps and sad clowns.

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The area is unbelievably picturesque and lush.

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We asked a local jogger where the best place to get lunch in the city was and they told us about a cute spot called “City Market”.

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New Hope Apple juice – so delicious.

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The deli acts as a hub for many of the locals. Lots of fresh food and good coffee on hand. I ended up getting a super American meal – ribs and corn bread!

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A collection of iconic American condiments all on one shelf.

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A beautiful cedar paneled facade with tall grasses. So tastefully done.

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I didn’t even make this connection, but RADO auction house was actually in Lamberville. Lot’s of amazing things by Nakashima, Bertoia, and other big names on hand. We were lucky enough that they had a preview that day, it’s nice to see all of the work in person but it’s also overwhelming seeing that many beautiful things in one place.

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Elodie loves getting into inappropriate drinks, mainly beer and coffee.

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An apple is more her speed, she’s just starting to eat solids.

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Om nom nom.

 

 

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George Nakashima Studio – Part 2

September 27th, 2012

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Onto Part 2 of our 3 part series on the Nakashima Studio. Today we visit the Reception house, the refinishing shop, and the lumber storage building.

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The Reception house.

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A vintage indigo dyed tapestry separates the showroom from the office area.

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There’s a real sense of working in nature throughout the workshops.

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The finishing building where coats of tung oil are hand applied to each piece.

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Nakashima wall hanger.

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Wind chime.

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The beautiful guest house, which we will be featuring in the 3rd volume of Mjolk. The ottomans have the original antique indigo cushions used for the Rockefeller’s Japanese home.

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The traditional tea room complete with a cantilever to the garden to closer connect with nature.

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The bathroom was tiled by Mira and her brother Kevin.

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Hinoki and copper bath buckets.

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The lumber storage building.

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This is one of the most valuable collections of wood in the world, many lengths of old growth trees in the Nakashima collection do not even exist anymore.

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The famous bow-tie inlay.

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A specifically beautiful piece of 7′ American walnut destined to become a Conoid bench, you can see the curved line which will eventually be where the slated back will be constructed.

 

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George Nakashima studio – Part 1

September 25th, 2012

The other week we made a pilgrimage to George Nakashima’s studio in New Hope Pennsylvania. This is a trip I’ve been wanting to make ever since seeing George Nakashima’s work in person at Gallery Toukyo when we were in Japan last summer. (and subsequently seeing more in New York later in the year).

It sounds strange that the first piece I saw by this American born Japanese architect/craftsman was in Japan, but maybe the setting was the perfect place to experience Nakashima’s work. A gallery specializing in hand crafted / Mingei work being meticulously displayed on original Nakashima pieces from an exhibition in the 1980s. The owner had purchased the entire collection, a large investment at the time that has turned into a priceless collection.

I remember specifically the long 7′ bench sitting in the window with Windsor style spoke-back being held together by a Torri like arch, running along only around 5′ of the length thus leaving a substantial 2′ cantilever for displaying pottery. I think it’s been embedded in my mind in the same way Nakashima’s signature is embedded in the display pieces at Gallery Toukyo.

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It’s not a road trip until you’re stopped by the State Police for speeding! Oops! But really, our car only has Km on the speedometer.

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Onto the epic road trip… We wanted to visit the Nakashima workshop before the arrival of Elodie, but just couldn’t find the time. This would be our first road trip with the baby, and also for us as a couple. I don’t know how we managed to not ever take a road trip, but we discovered we haven’t traveled much in our own country or through the US, and if we did travel it was by plane or train.

It took around 12 hours to drive to New Hope from Toronto after you include a stop for lunch and stops for changing diapers and the inevitable search for a Starbucks pick me up. We were originally considering making the trip all in one day, but I’m so happy that we decided to stay over the first night so we were refreshed for our studio visit the next day.

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Of course we took a staggering amount of photographs, we’re saving the best for the 3rd volume of Mjölk, so in the meantime I hope you enjoy the first part of this blog post: a tour of the Conoid studio.

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A cast iron knocker from Japan, on a wide plank walnut door.

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Antique Japanese indigo mats on a Nakashima R bench.

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The top of a Minguren end table.

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“Please remove shoes”

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Conoid rocking chair, and a slatted cabinet.

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The Conoid showroom.

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There are beautiful ceramic and iron pieces neatly displayed on cabinets and coffee tables around the studio.

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A Japanese fish hanging.

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A collection of Burls for Lamp bases.

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The iconic butterfly joint.

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Sitting outside of the studio was this amazing sculpture by Harry Bertoia, who was a good friend of George Nakashima.

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The work shop flooded with natural light on looking the lush property.

 

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The concrete pillars holding up the shell ceiling of the Conoid Studio.

I hope you enjoyed part 1! We have plenty more photos to share with you.

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Getaway to NYC

January 9th, 2012

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We decided to close between Christmas and New Years to take a rest before the baby arrives (apparently we won’t get a rest until…forever) so we decided to visit NYC, a trip we’ve been putting off for a very long time. We arrived at around 11am, dropped our bags at the Ace Hotel and headed over to Momofuku noodle bar for lunch. Here’s a shot of the delicious pork buns.

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We hadn’t eaten anything that morning so we were starving and inhaled the ramen. Never leave it up to the pregnant lady to photograph food (hence photos of partially eaten food).

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After lunch we needed a pick me up so we took a short walk over to Abraco, a small coffee shop with an amazing reputation for good coffee.

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For the rest of the day we just wandered around Soho visiting a bunch of places that were recommended to us by friends and customers. Some really notable retail shops that left an impression on us were:

Matter: where design meets art, a beautiful and inspiring shop. Reminds us of the now closed Ministry of the Interior, and how much of a loss it is to our city.
Wyeth: an amazing collection of mid century Scandinavian design, as well as a collection of rare George Nakashima pieces.
Atelier New York: A menswear clothing shop with a collection of very edgy pieces, basically art that you wear.
Creatures of Comfort: A great collection of clothing and accessories.
KIOSK: Forgot to mention that we went here, but it was a really cool concept and space. Much better than we had thought it was going to be based on their website. Kudos!

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That night we had dinner at a dimly lit restaurant called Freemans, with a spectacular atmosphere and a hunting lodge type of feel.

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The entrance of Freemans is at the end of a long alleyway.

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The next day we met our friends Andi and Hamish at a Smørrebrød restaurant called Vandaag. This was the second of two great recommendations by our friend Nils, who owns Parlour Coffee in Winnipeg (shout out to the Peg! Go visit if you live there and haven’t already!).

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It was such a nice place to stop in for lunch, so full of light, and way more quiet than the place we were originally going to try (Ippudo – 2 hour wait in the freezing cold for ramen? No thank you!).

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To get rid of our chill Andi and I ordered some Glögg, Juli of course stuck with hot apple cider.

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We started off with a bowl of mixed homemade bread and some delicious butter.

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Salmon with roe and dill.

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Rabbit with barley (our fave of three that we split).

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Wildboar with radish and carrots.

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Perch with mushroom and beet (another delicious choice).

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After lunch Hamish and Andi acted as our local tour guides, taking us to see some shops in the neighborhood, including Dashwood Books, a Japanese art book and photography store and the Vitsoe showroom above.

In the photograph is Hamish, and me with the Hoi Bo travel bag (yes, we do have them in stock, just have to figure out why the website is not updating!).

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One of the best experience shops we saw was this Japanese denim shop 45rpm (thanks everyone for the name). This is the entryway complete with an aromatic hinoki cedar water bucket, and a purposely watered stone walkway. It was such a cool space, and left an impression on us.

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The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is something else…

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We had to get out of the craziness of Soho so on day 3 we escaped to Brooklyn. We had a great list of things to see thanks to Andi and Hamish, starting at the top end of Williamsburg with brunch at Five Leaves. The day was so beautiful we got a table outside in the warm sunshine. The ricotta pancakes were delicious but they missed the mark when it came to maple syrup. I know it sounds CRAZY but there is no syrup better than Canadian maple syrup, this syrup tasted like water in comparison. Again, apologies for the half eaten breakfast…baby’s got to eat.

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A lot of people had the same idea (thankfully we didn’t have to wait long)!

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We liked bird, and bought something from there that we’ll share in another post.

Another notable Williamsburg shop that Juli forgot to photograph is Mast Brothers Chocolate. Andi and Hamish sent us some for Christmas, but we couldn’t help but stock up on some new flavors:  black truffle and vanilla smoke.

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America – love it or leave it.

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Some trees doing their thing.

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Juli hasn’t been to Brooklyn for over 5 years, so it was interesting to note all the new condo developments being built.

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Time for a late lunch at DuMont Burger.

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They felt like they took too long to take our order so they gave us some homemade donuts with chocolate sauce.

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Mini cheeseburger and fries. Even though we went mini, it still ruined our appetites for dinner!

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Old timey shop Darr has a nice classic storefront.

And this is about when we ditched the camera. We attempted to visit Brook Farm General Store but like us, they took a holiday (thank you helpful neighbor). We were going to go to nearby Marlow & Sons for an early dinner, but of course we had just eaten those burgers so we were totally out for the count. Back to the hotel for a rest and then out with Hamish and Andi to Sake Bar Decibel for some Man Mountain and snacks, then off to find a classic slice of NY pizza, then to Momofuku milk bar for a dessert, and then John picked up a Kimchi and Pork Taco from a food truck. Basically a night of junk food :)

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