food · pizza · tampa

eat: Russo’s New York Pizzeria

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Guess what today is?

It’s the day before my 31st birthday! I thought to myself, what better way to spend my last night as a 30 year old than to get a 90 minute massage, drink some wine, watch some Netflix, and update my blog?! Yes, I know, i’m a wild woman #partygirl I’m sorry you guys, I have been so busy eating lately I haven’t had time to write about it! #foodieproblems 

Lately I have been craving some really good Italian food and let me tell you, when I get a craving, I need to satisfy it or I get hangry and no one wants to see that! I put the word out that I was in need of some good ol’ fashioned Italian cooking and my friend came to my rescue and suggested a place near her, in Clearwater, called “Russo’s New York Pizzeria” – I thought to myself “well, I love New York and I love pizza so let’s go check it out!”

Russo’s is a very warm and welcoming place- it has cozy atmosphere with a brick oven, open kitchen, and super friendly staff- they made us feel right at home like a true Italian family. Whenever I go to a restaurant I always ask what they recommend- we were told that the Eggplant Rollatini appetizer was very popular so we decided to try it even though we didn’t even really know was it was- all we knew was that we were starving!

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Eggplant Rollatini

YOU GUYS these were fantastic!! These little mountains of deliciousness were stuffed eggplant with ricotta, mozzarella, fresh basil, lightly breaded & fried- with a tomato cream sauce. If you thought they we’re pretty looking out the outside, just wait and see what they look like on the inside…

EggplantInside

The eggplant and ricotta/mozzarella mixture were a winning combination- the tomato cream sauce took it to the next level. It was crispy on the outside and cheesy and gooey on the inside- magnifico!

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Their bread was really good as well, it wasn’t your typical Italian bread it was actually pizza dough which was light and airy- not too heavy or filling. I’m not gonna lie, writing about this and looking at the pictures is making me hungry! This blogging business is very dangerous 🙂

Russo’s has a large menu with several selections of salads, pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, calzones, etc. I knew I had a taste for pizza, while Chris was feeling like pasta- he couldn’t decide between spaghetti & meatballs (his favorite) or the chicken pesto pasta. What does my Lovechunk do when he can’t decide? He gets both!

Meatballs
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Pasta
Chicken Pesto Pasta

Both dishes were delicious! I’m actually glad he got both so we could try the different dishes. The meatballs were moist, juicy, and full of flavor- while the chicken pesto dish was fresh, balanced, and had the perfect amount of pesto. He actually had to keep swatting my fork away from the pesto dish because I kept going back for more- oops! #sorrynotsorry

Now on to my FAVORITE part….:drumroll please:.….THE PIZZA!!!!

Okay, now let me just say that as a professional eater- and an even more professional PIZZA eater- I know what good pizza tastes like. In my opinion, a great pizza should have a good balance of pizza crust v.s. cheese & toppings- not too much of either one, they shouldn’t be competing. It should also have a crispy-but not TOO crispy- crust but also have some give to it, make sense? If not, just let me know and we can go have pizza together and I can show you 🙂 Well, long story short, the pizza I got from Russo’s was ON POINT. I, like my boo, had a struggle trying to choose which pizza to get- I was torn between the classic Margherita (tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, garlic, olive oil) or the New York Village (crumbled spicy Italian sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, beef, mushrooms, black olives, roasted peppers, mozzarella, pizza sauce)- so what do you think this girl did?? You guessed it- I got both! #2peasinapod

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    THAT PIZZA THO!

    This pizza was probably one of the best pizzas that I’ve had in a really long time- and that’s saying a lot because I eat a lot of pizza! The crust was thin, but not too thin- the toppings were fresh, and the sauce was rich & developed. I’ll be honest, I ate about half of this pizza all by myself- Chris was going back and forth between pizza and pasta- all of our dishes were delectable. It was hard to stop eating! I love me some carbs!

    pizzapizzA

    They have a nice dessert menu as well- I was trying to hold out for a cannoli but we were just so stuffed we basically had to be rolled out of there- the good thing is we had leftovers 🙂

     

    RussosSpecials

    Russo’s has a wide selection of wines and they also feature daily specials. They even do catering as well as delivery to nearby locations. Even though this is a bit of a drive for us, it was definitely worth it.

    Bottom Line:  I’m so grateful my friend recommend this place so I am passing along the tip! If you want some great Italian food and even greater pizza- head to Clearwater and go to Russo’s! Tell them Tiffany sent you- and bring me a slice 🙂

    Xoxo,

    Tiffany

    What is your favorite Italian dish? What is your “perfect pizza”? Are you a pizza or a pasta person? I’d love to know! Comment Below! 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    food · tampa · travel

    eat: Loli’s Mexican Cravings

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    The Tampa Food Train is back in action! ALL ABOARD! I wish I could take you all with me to this place- like a foodie field trip- wouldn’t that be fun?  Because this is another place that is near and dear to my heart belly. But first I need to tell you the history of my love for Loli’s..let the “foodie-tale” begin!

    Years ago, in 2011, when my lovechunk was still in the U.S. Navy, he was stationed in San Diego. It was a lovely time, featuring great weather, lots of sunshine, and also lots of tacos. Let me start by saying that San Diego has AMAZING cuisine – especially lots of Mexican cuisine- being that it is so close to Mexico there is an abundance of authentic restaurants and taco shops everywhere.

    During our 2 year stay in San Diego we enjoyed our fair share of tacos- but me personally, I had my fair share- and then some! Chris had to leave me and go on a deployment for 8 months 😦 and well, what else is a girl to do while her man is gone but eat lots and lots of tacos?? #tacotherapy Let’s just say I became quite an expert on good Mexican food and not-so-good Mexican food.

    Anyhow, fast forward to 2014. Since coming back home to Tampa, Chris and I have been on a mission to find some authentic Mexican food #tacosnobs with little to no luck. Some places came close but we just couldn’t seem to find something that was good enough until one fateful night….

    It was December 19, 2014- a night I will never forget. We were at my work’s Christmas party, being merry and such, when it was time to eat. I didn’t know what they were serving- I don’t ask a lot of questions when it comes to eating I just grab a plate 🙂 So we got in line and discovered they had food catered and it was tacos & tamales. We stuffed our plates and sat down at our table. I remember taking a bite of that chicken taco – it was like fireworks went off in my mouth! I’m pretty sure I had tears in my eyes from being so happy- I looked at Chris and said “BABE! TASTE THIS!” and I shoved the taco into his mouth…he chewed and I waited for his head nod of approval…and I got it! This food was legit! I found out the name of the place that provided the delicious food…it was called “Lolis Mexican Craving’s”.

    We were so excited to go there- I don’t think we even waited a full week! Loli’s is a hole in the wall- when I say that I mean it’s very small, with 5 tables, and that’s basically it. No frills. When the food is THAT good you don’t need any frills! When we arrived we discovered they have more than just tacos and tamales. They also have sopes, tortas, and quesadillas. We’ve never head of a sope before but we thought we’d try it and i’m SO glad we did because they are FANTASTIC!

     

    sope
    Sope

    A sope is a traditional Mexican dish that is fried masa- formed into a round shape- topped with refried black beans, meat of your choice, lettuce, avocado, crumbed cheese, and sour cream. I like to get the ribeye sope (pictured above) – it’s my personal favorite. I often ask myself, what is better than 1 sope? The answer is…2 sopes!

     

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    Chicken sope & Ribeye sope

    Let me explain what an authentic Mexican taco consists of- a corn tortilla, your meat of choice, cilantro, and grilled onions. They also have sauces to choose from like an avocado cilantro (my fav) and some other spicy ones that I’m too afraid to try. Chris says the habanero sauce is “on point but proceed with caution as it’s very spicy”. Loli’s has a lot of options to choose from for your taco, sope, quesadilla and torta needs – ribeye, chicken, pastor, campechano, shrimp, fish, lengua, chicarron, chorizo, carnitas, and vegetarian. If the only tacos you are familiar with are from “Taco Bell”- I beg you to come to Loli’s and experience these bad boys! You will thank me 🙂

    My favorite tacos are the pastor, ribeye, and fish tacos. The pastor tacos come with onions, cilantro, and pineapple- the sweetness just goes impeccably with the saltiness from the meat.

     

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    Pastor Tacos

    The fish taco is fried white fish, cabbage, avocados, cilantro, and pico de gallo- squeeze some lime on that- perfection!

     

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    Fish taco

    Their tamales, tortas, and quesadillas are also delectable. It’s hard not to order half of the menu every time we go.

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    Now, I need to confess something…when we first discovered Loli’s I was very selfish (only child syndrome) and I told Chris that we shouldn’t tell anyone about them because then it will get too popular and busy and we’d have to wait forever to get our food ( #princessproblems) . Well, that didn’t last long- we told everyone we knew how great and authentic this place was. And other people discovered this great place and so on and so on- basically the word got out- because now Loli’s has lines out the door anytime you go there- people even wait outside in the rain for their food- I’ve seen it! And honestly, I’m so happy they have been so successful- they deserve it! And yes, now princess has to wait in line for her tacos and sopes, but it’s definitely worth the wait- I promise you! Don’t believe me? Check out this bulletin board on the wall of the restaurant that people can write notes on. It’s unanimous- Loli’s is the best. Also, they just started opening on Sundays- they are now open 7 days a week! #bestnewsever

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    Sope Princess

    Bottom Line: Go have some authentic Mexican food at Loli’s Mexican Cravings..tell them “Tiffany Eats Tampa” sent you- and then bring me a sope!!! 🙂

    Xoxo,

    Tiffany

    What is your favorite Mexican food dish? How many sopes can you eat in one sitting? Let me know!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    london · travel

    travel: Tiff’s Travel Must Haves

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     Guess what?

    My boo and I are leaving for a 2 week European vacation next week! We are going to Bruges, Amsterdam, Paris, and my beloved London. We’ve never been to the first 3 places so it’ll be a new adventure and I’m OBSESSED with London so I’m beyond thrilled to go back.

    I can’t wait for the trip, however, i’m currently FREAKING out! Freaking out as in I’m SUPER excited and can’t wait to see and eat in these amazing new places BUT I’m also starting to get into a panic mode. This always happens to me before a trip, but this will be the longest vacation- let alone international vacation -we’ve taken. I’m making lists, making itineraries, and trying not to forget anything. Once I’m on the plane I will relax. 🙂

    During my most recent anxiety attack I thought to myself, “why don’t I make a blog post with all of my must have travel items?” so here I am! LET’S BEGIN!

    1. Comfortable Shoes

    First on my list is kind of an obvious one but I’ve learned this the hard way- COMFORT IS KEY! When we were in London & Savannah last year, I averaged about 15,000 to 20,000 steps a day. That is a HUGE difference from my astounding six to seven thousand step-a-day average (I have an office job, don’t judge!).  When we first arrived in London, I thought, “we’re in London, I need to be adorable at all times!” Chris said “babe, you need to wear comfy shoes, you’re going to complain later” …I hate when he’s right -which is very rare 🙂 but he was! Below is my “cute” booties.

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    After about 2 hours of wearing those bad boys and walking around the city (I wish you could see the heel, it’s about 2.5 inches)- I was CRANKY & WHINEY! 2 things husbands just LOVE.

    The next day I decided to wear my Skechers Memory Foam Shoes I think the smile on my face speaks for itself…

    Londoncomfyshoes
    SO COMFY!

    This day is one were I got about 20,000 steps in and my feet STILL felt great! So definitely bring your comfiest shoes, leave those adorable boots behind! You won’t be sorry, I promise.

    2. Scarf

    Number 2 on my list is something everyone probably already has- a scarf! If you don’t have one you can get one that’s inexpensive. I love scarves, especially, for traveling because you can bring it on the plane and if you are cold you can use it as a blanket or a little pillow. It’s also a great fashion accessory! You can even do a “who wore it best” contest with statues in museums!

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    Nailed it.

    3. Cross Body Purse/Anti-Theft Backpack

    When I’m traveling I love to wear cross body purses for 2 reasons 1) they are much comfier than having to carry one in your hand and 2) safety- it’s much harder to steal a purse from someone if it is worn around their body vs. their hands.

    In addition to my cross-body purse, we are traveling to Paris for the first time and I’ve been reading A LOT about pickpockets. At first I was like “eh we will be fine, no big deal” but I’ve talked to some different people who have traveled to Paris, and other big cities, I want to say the majority of them have told me stories about someone having their purse or backpack cut or someone they know- so we’re taking extra precautions this trip. We both ordered a Pacsafe Metrosafe Anti-Theft Backpack It is made specifically to protect your items from theft – such as a metal mesh that prevents slicers from cutting your bag, RFID blockers, etc. I will let you know how well this one works when we get back from our trip! But definitely wear a cross body purse in the meantime, it’s my go to!

    4. Neckwrap Thing

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    My 4th item is my new favorite thing! I’ve always brought a neck pillow on a plane but I still could never seem to get it in a comfortable position. Last time we flew to London we had a 7.5 hour plane ride and neither one of us got any sleep (surprisingly enough, I wasn’t cranky OR whiney once we landed-I was too excited!). I ordered this Neckwrap thing I saw in a blog somewhere- I figured worse case scenario I’ll just return it if it doesn’t work, no biggie. What’s unique about it is that it has a built in inner skeletol frame that actually helps to support your neck. I tried this out on a quick 2 hour flight and slept like a BABY! No joke. I snored, drooled- everything (#judgementfreezone)! So this is my new go-to travel item. I’m making Chris order his own before the trip because I won’t be sharing- sorry babe 🙂 Even if you don’t want to get the neckwrap, still bring a something for neck support that you know you will be able to get some sleep with. Those long haul flights can be exhausting and trust me- counting sheep doesn’t work(I stopped counting at around 50,000 last time).

    5. CARRY ON SUITCASE- NO checked bags!

    One of the best choices I’ve ever made when traveling is to ditch the big suitcase and just bring a carry on! This is not an easy task for me as I am a notorious over-packer. I’m the one who brings a suitcase on a 3 day weekend getaway- i’m that person. But I recently had a revelation- I don’t want to lug around a big jumbo suitcase, period. Last time we were in London trying to navigate the tube stations and carry our huge suitcases over the stairs it was a nightmare! Chris ended up having to carry mine too after I dropped it several times and accidentally dropped it onto a child’s foot (oops!). I will admit I was a bit skeptical on whether or not I can actually fit all the stuff I want to bring in a tiny little itty bitty carry on but after much struggle and deciding between clothes I DID IT! I FIT ALL MY STUFF!(is it weird that I feel like I deserve a medal or trophy for this? Because i do) Now, that being said, when you’re going on a long trip and only bringing a carry on you can only bring SO many clothes- plan on bringing 2 to 3 pairs of pants, 3 or 4 tops and just keep rotating until their smelly and then wash them 🙂 This is my favorite little carry on suitcase and ever since making the switch to just bringing a carry on, life has been SO much easier! No waiting in lines to drop off your bags, no waiting to pick up your bags, just go! You’re welcome! 🙂 DSCN1231

    6. Hooded Windbreaker Jacket

    I know what you’re thinking. What’s so great about a windbreaker? Well, number 6 is definitely a must if you are going to be traveling anywhere that may be windy or cold. A simple windbreaker jacket can help keep you warm while combating the rain and wind. The hood will also help shield you from the rain. This was definitely useful in London. It’s lightweight, easy to roll up and keep in your purse or backpack and keeps you dry!

    See how happy being warm and dry can be?

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    Rocking our windbreakers!

    7. A GOOD Camera

    This is another time where I learned my lesson. When we went to- you guessed it- London I purchased a small digital camera, a little over $100. I figured it would take better pictures than my cell phone so I should be happy. I was wrong. When I reviewed the pictures after our trip I was really disappointed in the quality. Shots were blurry, not in focus- just overall crappy. After that I decided to spend more money and invest in a nice camera that I can get great shots out of. I got the Nikon Coolpix B700. I really love it, it takes wonderful pictures, has lots of features and isn’t too bulky. That’s the only downside, for me, about having a nice camera-is the size but the results are worth it- in my opinion. Here’s a photo I took with my new camera. The squirrel was such a great subject, he smiled for me and everything 🙂

    squirrel

    8. Cucumber Facial Wipes

    Being on a plane after several hours makes me feel GROSS. I love to bring Cucumber Hypoallergenic Facial Wipes they are FABULOUS! These make me feel clean and fresh. I keep them in my purse and clean my face before landing and i’m ready to hit the runway!(fashion runway or plane runway- either one). Chris also approves 🙂

    cucumberwipes

    9. Portable Charger

    THIS IS A MUST!

    I don’t know about your phones or devices but my batteries do not last long at all. I’m lucky if my phone is still at 30% by the end of my work day. We purchased 2 of these High Density Power Bank bad boys and are so glad we did- we carry them in my purse & backpacks so when we’re running low we don’t need to worry about running out of juice.charger

    10. YOUR APPETITE!

    Did you think I was going to write a blog about traveling and not talk about eating???

    Seriously though! There is an art to traveling and eating- you have to PACE yourself. When you go to eat at places, don’t fill up on everything in sight (it’s hard, i know) have small portions so you can sample more places! I know i won’t be able to eat at every cafe’ in Paris ( a girl can try!) but if I only eat a little here and there then we can go to more delicious spots! There is a method to my eating madness:)

    tiffanyeatsdonut

    Happy Traveling!

    xoxo,

    Tiffany

    What are your must have travel items? I’d love to know! Leave a comment!

    arepas · food · tampa · travel

    eat: Nico’s Arepas Grill

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    • Nico’s Arepas Grill – 8303 N Armenia Ave Tampa, FL 33604
    • Cuisine: Latin American, Venezuelan 
    • Price Range: $

    CHOOT CHOOT! The “Tiffany Eats Tampa” train is taking us to a very special place in my belly heart this week- Nico’s Arepas Grill.

    sidenote: if you would like to play a game while reading this, you can take a shot every time I say the word “arepa”- spoiler alert: you will get drunk. Don’t drink & drive! 🙂 #tiffstips #PSA

    Let me start my foodietale (get it, like “fairytale?” ha- okay, moving on) in London, September of last year. Bae and I went to Camden Market (which is fabulous by the way, I will need to make a separate blog about my love affair with London –stay tuned) which was basically a foodie & shopping paradise. There were tons of different food trucks & restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines to choose from. We stumbled upon a truck that said “AREPA”- it smelled heavenly. We looked at each other and said “what’s an arepa”? I’m SO glad we asked because we soon discovered it’s amazingness. Below is our first ever arepa….

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    First ever arepa in London!

    It was love at first bite!

    For those of you who aren’t familiar, an arepa is a Venezuelan and Columbian dish, it’s  almost like a corn pita/pancake. It is opened up and served with your choice of toppings inside. It’s a bit doughy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

    Once we came home from London we went on a quest to find the best arepa in town. We found 3 places in the Tampa Bay area (if there are more, let me know!)- I felt like “Goldie Locks & the 3 Bears Arepas” – one place the arepa was too hard, one the arepa was too soft- but Nico’s…Nico’s was just right! We had a winner!

    Nico’s Arepas Grill is an authentic Venezuelan restaurant that has a wide variety of items but their speciality is the almighty arepa. For first timers I would reccomend trying the sampler (below) as it gives you a bit of everything.

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    All of these items are fantastic. It comes with tequenos- cheese wrapped in dough (think mozzarella stick meets Pillsbury dough boy- but better!), mini arepas, empanadas, and last but not least CACHAPAS- eating them is even more fun than saying “cachapa!”  (whenever I say it my shoulders do a little dance from left to right to left 🙂 They are sweet corn cakes with salty cheese- SO MUCH YES! The combination of the sweetness from the corn cakes and the saltiness of the cheese is a match made in heaven.

     

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    Cachapa!
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    Mini Arepa

    If you thought the mini arepa looked incredible, wait until you see a full sized one. I, myself, love sweet & salty so I decided to get an arepa with shredded beef, plantains, avocado, cheese, and black beans. I then add some of Nico’s garlic & cilantro relish sauces and BAM…magic happens…IMG_20170422_174013_998

    The arepa is almost as big as the size of my head and i’m not gonna lie, I have a big head (#bornthisway)! The taste is exquisite! Each ingredient compliments another. It’s one of those foods that’s so scrumptious but huge so i’m having an internal (and external) struggle while eating it because my bodies like “slow your roll woman! There’s no more room!” but my taste buds are like “KEEP EATING! YOU CAN DO IT” and Bae’s all like “boo, you’re going to get sick, get a box!” SO MANY EMOTIONS but ultimately my body won- I got a to-go box. If you can eat a whole arepa, you should win a t-shirt or something because that’s impressive!

    Nico’s is truly one of a kind- so far everything I’ve had on the menu has been incredible and there is also a lot more I want to try. We go at least once a month. They also have a food truck & do catering. If only we would have known about Nico’s when we got married 😦 :sigh: It’s also great too because I can try my Spanish out 🙂 “muy delicioso!”

    Bottom Line: Hands down, one of my FAVORITE places in Tampa, like top 5, no joke. If you like food- you will LOVE Nico’s Arepas Grill! I’ll see you there! 🙂

    xoxo,

    Tiffany

    Do you love arepas? Did you play the drinking game? Are you okay? What is your favorite arepa toppings? Let me know!

    donuts · food · tampa · travel

    eat: Jupiter Donut Company

    jupitersign

    • Jupiter Donut Company 32130 US Highway 19 N Palm Harbor, FL 34684
    • Cuisine: Sweets, Donuts
    • Price Range: $

    Who has 2 thumbs and is OBSESSED with donuts??? THIS GIRL! I’m serious, they are my weakness- my kryptonite. If I were a character on “Sesame Street” I would be the “Donut Monster”. Still don’t believe me? Okay, here’s an example: I was sick in January with the super flu and my boo tried  everything to get me out of bed.

    Chris: “Babe, want to go for a walk”? Me: “No, I can’t, i’m dying”. (#dramaqueen) / Chris: “Want to go to the movies?” Me: “I simply can’t move, my body huurts”/ Chris: “Want to get some ice cream?” Me: “Nooooo, I just cannn’t”. / Chris: “Want to get some donuts?” Me: :gets dressed at Superman speed, runs downstairs and gets into passengers seat of car all within a 3 minute timespan: “LETS GO NOW! I’M READY!”

    So yeah, I have #donutproblems. That all being said, I consider myself to be a donut connoisseur. Not all donuts are created equal! I’ve had my share of stale, frozen-pretending-to-be-fresh donuts- I know what made from scratch quality taste like and this place is legit! (warning: the images you are about to see will cause drooling, donut cravings, and salivating.)

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    Salted Caramel
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    Tooti Fruiti
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    Oreo

    Continue reading “eat: Jupiter Donut Company”