All posts by Globe Runner

World history is a giant piece of puzzle. Every city or country you visit you find a piece or two of that puzzle. Solving that puzzle can be very addictive. And the most fun and effective way to solve it is through traveling.

Duck House Chinese Restaurant

If you are looking for one of the best Szechuan style Chinese restaurants in PDX downtown, then look no more. Dinner at Duck House was a delectable treat from a friend and her husband last Friday night. We didn’t make any reservation and waited about 45 minutes to get a table. This place was packed and people were constantly coming in small groups. Little tip: try putting your in name in Yelp, so you don’t have to wait in the line.

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Outside of Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland, OR downtown

This hot Chinese spot is located on 5th Ave near PSU campus, surrounded by many other small food-carts on the opposite street. Only street parking is available. Once you are inside, it’s a modern and buzzing eatery with a bar on one-side.

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Our appetizers: green onion pancakes (left) and vegetable dumplings (right)

The only disappointing dish we got that evening for appetizer was the green onion pancakes…it was nothing extraordinary and lacked flavors. We also ordered a plate of vegetable dumplings…they were big and green and good. They have lots of other options for dumplings (like with shrimp, egg, pork, beef, and even lamb) and pot stickers on their menu. Another mouth-watering teaser to order (if you like the texture) is their Wood Ear Fungus with pickled chili..spicy, crunchy, and perfectly cooked.

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Wood Ear Fungus with pickled chili and Squid with Pickled Chili in Duck House in Portland, OR

But for the main dinner entrees, everything that we ordered…scored a big time. To begin with, we were all amazed how the shrimp fried rice tasted OHHH…SOOO good, which was simple and traditional. We also ordered this not-so-usual beef dish, called Beef Hot & Spicy Dried Pot (under Szechuan Hot and Spicy Dried Pot)…this is a unique beef dish that has absolutely no gravy and was sauted/cooked with vegetables. The only comment we had on this, that it could have used a bit more salt…but then again, it’s a people’s preference. For the dried pot, there were also few options of lamb, intestines, chicken wings, prawns, tofu, and mixed mushrooms. Now, for two of my most favorites from that night in Duck House were the Mongolian Chicken and Squid with Pickled Chili, which was, by the way, recommended by our waiter. Mongolian Chicken was perfectly seasoned with right amount of heat for us (we actually told our waiter to make it extra spicy) with little bit of gravy. Finally the Squid with Pickled Chili was something I’ve never had before and something any seafood lover would love.

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Beef Hot & Spicy Dried Pot in Duck House in Portland, OR

Duck House is a both fancy and casual place to hang out with your friends or family or co-workers. This is a great place to even celebrate an occasion. But the quality of food they serve, I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes extra kick and spiciness in their food. And by the way, although it’s called Duck House, but you won’t find any duck in the menu.

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Mongolian Chicken in Duck House in Portland, OR

La Moule – Belgian Style Dinner in SE Portland

La Moule was in my bucket list for a while, especially since I started blogging on Portland restaurants. We lived in Belgium for 3 years and unfortunately never went to a brasserie. We tried French, Dutch, German food…but never really a true Belgian dish or even the national dish, mussels. In case you didn’t know, Belgium shares its border with France, The Netherlands, and Germany. Therefore, its culture is a great combination of all those 3 countries, especially when it comes to cuisine.

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La Moule in SE Portland, OR

My daughters and I were in La Moule on a Saturday night and made a reservation beforehand on that day. If you are taking someone below 21 years of age, like me, it’s better to go there way before 10pm. They don’t allow minors after 10pm. We weren’t told that when made the reservation for 8:45pm and had to rush to finish it before 10pm. Also, keep in mind, street parking is the only option when you are coming this part of the town.

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 2 Baguette plates for appetizers in La Moule in SE Portland, OR

La Moule is a French inspired artsy bar and bistro located in a small SE Portland neighborhood. This European restaurant has both indoor and patio/outdoor sitting with an eclectic and cozy environment. With its Belgian style frites (fries), national dish mussels/moules, and Liege waffles in the menu, this is a true Belgian brasserie you can experience in Portland, OR. The menu is short, but everything we tried tasted elegant and flavorful. You can find few different kinds of mussels bowls here. But if you are not into seafood, they have steak, burgers, and other seafood dishes.

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Basil Spatzle in La Moule in SE Portland, OR

Now, for our dishes, we ordered baguettes with fancy butter and confited garlic and chicken liver mousse with dijon mustard and pickles. Everything was great in these appetizer plates. If you are not a big fan of liver (or chicken liver), I won’t suggest it for you…it does have a slight aftertaste of liver that my kids couldn’t handle. For main dish, we had Basil Spatzle and Puttanesca moules/mussels. Basil spatzle/spaetzle was a German style pasta dish with corns, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried capers, oysters and lobster. The proportion was perfect for one person and it was very good…sans the corns. This was my young daughter’s favorite one here. I loved the Puttanesca mussels in tomato sauce, anchovy, capers with olive, lemon zest, and basil. Dipping my baguette in the tomato sauce brought back some memories from Europe.  To finish off, we had Liege Belgian waffles with cinnamon, sugar, and cream on top.

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 Puttanesca moules/mussels in La Moule in SE Portland, OR

This was a great culinary experience in a buzzy neighborhood which is already loaded with some other great eateries. But I felt I would only bring people here who have pure elegant and adventurous tongue to try these dishes.

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Liege waffle with cinnamon and sugar in La Moule in SE Portland, OR

 

9 Dang – Hillsboro

I’ve been to Dang Nine few times now, mostly for birthdays or to hang out with kids or other families. This is one of the best Thai places in Hillsboro or even in Portland. This place has never disappointed me and believe me I’ve tried many of their dishes from soups, to noodles, fried rices, seafood, meat dishes, and desserts.

Inside Dang Nine in Hillsboro, OR
Inside Dang Nine in Hillsboro, OR

On different occasions, I’ve had their egg rolls, golden calamari, coconut milk soup, spicy and sour soup, Pa-Naeng Curry, Volcano Beef, seafood delight or medley. Each of their dish is better than the other one and can be adjusted to your spice level. I am very fond of all of their cuisines, maybe except for their lamb dish…not a fan of oriental style lamb recipes. One of their best dishes that my kids love is the pad thai with chicken. Dang Nine’s drunken noodles is something you can’t complain about. But one thing I always order here with all my orders is their Spicy Basil Fried Rice. For desserts, Fried Ice Cream and anything to do with mango are perfect after all those spicy food. And finally, Thai Iced Tea is what I usually get and it’s very refreshing.

Few dish in Dang Nine in Hillsboro, OR
Few dishes in Dang Nine in Hillsboro, OR

Dang Nine is fabulously located in the prime location of Orenco Station in Hillsboro with few other restaurants and boutique shops. Parking is a bit tricky but nothing like downtown. This can be a pretty good place to celebrate some special events or come for a company lunch. This is where I would take my loved ones if they are in the mood for good Thai food…because I know for sure, Dang Nine’s cuisine is consistently very good and I know, it won’t let me down in front of my guests.

Some desserts in Dang Nine in Hillsboro, OR
Some desserts in Dang Nine in Hillsboro, OR

Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery

Located few blocks from the water front and the World Trade Center in downtown Portland, Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery is an ideal place to hang out with your friends or coworkers on any night of the week. I was there with few of my girlfriends on a Saturday evening without a reservation. But thankfully, we didn’t have to wait even 5 minutes to get a table. The service here is very fast, friendly, and professional.

The Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Portland Downtown
The Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Portland Downtown

Rock Bottom Restaurant has a wide variety of menu from appetizers, soups, salads, seafood, steak, pasta, burgers, sandwiches, and many Mexican dishes too. And if you are like me who is always looking for spicy food, their menu may fulfill your taste buds.

For appetizers, we had Rockin’ Guac and Firecracker shrimps to be shared with 5 of us. Rockin’ Guac came with nachos and freshly made delicious guacamole. But I loved the firecracker shrimps more…they were really crunchy outside and perfectly tender inside. It wasn’t spicy hot as I thought it would be, but were very addicting.

Guacamole & nachos and firecracker shrimps at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Portland Downtown
Guacamole & nachos and firecracker shrimps at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Portland Downtown

For the main course, I had Cajun pasta with shrimp without the sausage. My friends ordered chicken tortilla soup, mango habanero chicken, cajun fish taco, and jambalaya. Out of all 4 dishes, the mango habanero chicken was the best (although I didn’t try the soup or the taco). It came with pico de gallo and avocado and the chicken was cooked/grilled to the most perfect way. Jambalaya was very good and was very spicy too. The sauce hits your tongue and burns your mouth after few bites. I loved my Cajun pasta that had perfect spiciness but was a bit too saucy for me. Next time, I know for sure that I’ll go with that habanero chicken.

Mango habanero chicken (left) and cajun fish taco in Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Downtown Portland
Mango habanero chicken (left) and cajun fish taco in Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Downtown Portland

All the dishes were very proportionate, at least for me. I usually can’t finish my plate most of time I go out to eat. I couldn’t finish here either, but did better this time.

My cajun pasta (top) and jambalaya (bottom) in Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Downtown Portland

I wouldn’t really bring my kids here for a meal but I thought it was a hip place to hang out and have good food with my adult peeps. Parking can be tricky in downtown…use paid garages or street parking if available.

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This restaurant closed down its downtown location.

Portland Mongolian Grill & Hot Pot

Just couple blocks from my work in downtown, Portland Mongolian Grill & Hot Pot is my go to place for spicy oriental noodles exactly that way I want. It’s a oriental buffet place near the water park which is great for any meal for any casual occasions.

Portland Mongolian Grill and Hot Pot
Portland Mongolian Grill and Hot Pot

From wide variety of fresh vegetables and proteins, the customers will fill up their bowls with items of their choices, pour all sorts of different flavors (like hot oil, garlic/ginger water, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and etc) on the ingredients and take it to the grilling area. The very friendly attendees will dump the whole bowl on the hot grill and cook it to perfection within few minutes. You can come back as many times as you want and fill your bowl and take it to the grilling station.

Fresh items to choose from in Portland Mongolian Grill & Hot Pot
Fresh items to choose from in Portland Mongolian Grill & Hot Pot

If you are there for the first time, my suggestion is that don’t fill up your bowls with too much noodles or other stuff. Try and see which sauce or flavored liquid you like and how much of it you like on top of your food. Since the cook won’t add anything to your food, it kind of depends on you how you are flavoring your dish. It may taste very bland for the first time if you don’t add enough herbs and sauces.

My bowl of raw ingredients ready to be cooked in Portland Mongolian Grill & Hot Pot
My bowl of raw ingredients ready to be cooked in Portland Mongolian Grill & Hot Pot

There are also soup and plain rice that comes with the buffet price. I have never tried it but Portland Mongolian Grill & Hot Pot also has hot pot items where you can cook your own items on your table in hot broth.

And it's cooked
And it’s cooked

I love this place for any quick lunch while I am at work (or get a take out box) or bring my kids for an informal dinner. If you have never tried a Mongolian grill place, this will be a very nice to start with.

Urban Fondue on Glisan St. Portland

My eight-grader finished this year with more than 3.5 GPA (yes, I’m a proud mama) and we were delighted to attend her “Honor Student and Family Breakfast” this week where she also received an award for outstanding community service. What better way to acknowledge her achievement other than taking her to her favorite restaurant?

Inside Urban Fondue on Glisan St. in Portland, OR
Inside Urban Fondue on Glisan St. in Portland, OR

My daughter has been mentioning about  Urban Fondue for more than a year now. When I asked her to pick a restaurant to celebrate finishing up her middle school successfully…her first choice was Urban Fondue.

Located very close to the downtown area on Glisan St, this is a nice neighborhood to explore few other restaurants and stores. Bad part is that you have to find a street parking but good part is that once you do, it’s all worth the headache.

Cheese fondue with bread in Urban Fondue in Portland, OR
Cheese fondue with bread in Urban Fondue in Portland, OR

We made a reservation for four people on a week-night. Although they have option of sitting outside, we sat inside which was simple with vibrant red walls and furniture. Before you try out this place, keep in mind that this is a fondue place…with cheese, chocolate, and different kinds of broth to cook your meat/seafood/veges. Basically, a dip and dine place.

Raw meat/fish/vegetable platters in Urban Fondue in Portland, OR
Raw meat/fish/vegetable platters in Urban Fondue in Portland, OR

While you can order single entrees from the menu, we ordered a combo for 3 people ($37 per person) where we were able to choose 2 different kinds of cheese fondue, 1 side, 3 main entrees with beef, chicken, seafood, and vegetables, and 1 dessert.

All the dipping sauce with dinner in Urban Fondue in Portland, OR
All the dipping sauce with dinner in Urban Fondue in Portland, OR

Our 2 choices of cheese fondue came with small pieces of gourmet bread and a side of vege-roasted cauliflower. Then the main dishes with raw meat/seafood and vegetables came with 2 different kinds of broths that we chose – roasted beef and urban Yosenabe broth. We were given a cooking time card and few timers. Most of these ingredients take about 3 minutes to cook properly in the broth. The dinner platters also came with more than 10 dipping sauces…each being completely different from the others. After the dinner items, we moved onto the dessert part…chocolate fondue with raspberry puree (called Raspberry Swirl). And it came with combo platter with strawberries, banana slices, delicious cheesecake squares, and few other yum bites.

Cooking our dinner items in Urban Fondue in Portland, OR
Cooking our dinner items in Urban Fondue in Portland, OR

Not to exaggerate, but from the appetizer cheese and bread to dinner items in broth to sweet morsels dipped in chocolate/raspberry fondue…everything tasted just PERFECT…exactly the way you would imagine and how you know you would feel when you dip your food in scrumptious cheese fondue or cook in the broth or having fresh fruit in melted chocolate. Everything here tasted fresh and sizes of the plates were very proportionate too.

Raspberry Swirls with combo platter for dessert in Urban Fondue in Portland, OR
Raspberry Swirls with combo platter for dessert in Urban Fondue in Portland, OR

Urban Fondue is a perfect place to celebrate any occasion for any ages or just to hang out and try a different kind of dining with your loved ones. My kids were thrilled to be there and we all absolutely loved their food. The customer service is very professional and speedy also. Overall, all of us had a very nice experience here. And now that I’m hooked to fondues, I will have to come back here again to try their other kinds of cheese and chocolate recipes.

Dar Salam Lazurdi – Iraqi Kitchen in Portland Downtown

Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown

Located in the heart of Portland downtown and very close to the waterfront park, Dar Salam Lazurdi is an authentic Iraqi restaurant that serves 100% halal dishes to all their customers. There is another Dar Salam location somewhere in Portland but I have dined in this downtown location couple times now and I loved it all the way. Just come prepared, you may have to park in the hourly garage or by the street

Inside Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown
Inside Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown

I have come here during weekday lunch time with my colleagues and weekend dinner with my family. Both of the times, the place was somewhat packed. It’s a beautiful restaurant with elegant decors and exquisite interior war mural and paintings that depicts Iraqi culture and landscape. And that’s why I think this is a perfect place to celebrate an occasion or bring someone special for a fine dining. Dar Salam also has a small sitting arrangement outside but most of the time that doesn’t help much with our rainy weather.

Now, let’s come to food. First time I was here with my co-workers was during lunch time. You can order from the menu but we went for the buffet. That was a good option for me since I wanted to try different dishes. The buffet gives you option of fish, meat, wide variety of vegetables, rice, dips, and soup. Every single item on that buffet was very tasty and flavorful…no doubt.

Lamb shank in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown
Lamb shank in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown

For the second time, I was there on a Saturday evening with my kids and uncle. This time we ordered from the menu (don’t think they have buffet for dinner) and honestly, we were all satisfied with all of our plates. Our lamb shank, chicken kababs, and beef kababs with rice and salad.

Beef and chicken kababs in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown
Beef and chicken kababs in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown

For desserts…um, I’ve had better tasting baklavas than Dar Salam. Other sweets that we ordered were either too sweet or not what we expected. But I’d love to bring my friends or out of state guests to enjoy their food again. This is a perfect place especially for those who are on strict halal/kosher diet.

Desserts in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown
Desserts in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown

Two Brothers Cafe & Grill – Balkan food in Portland

I have been to Two Brothers Cafe and Grill few times now and this place never disappoints me. It’s a small Balkan restaurant and serves Bosnian cuisine specifically. I do have a soft corner for Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially after visiting that country few years ago. They probably have the best breads, kabobs, and burgers in the whole Balkan region. It kind of became a tradition with my daughters to go there after visiting the historic Peacock Lane of Portland to see the Christmas lights/decoration couple blocks from the restaurant.

Inside Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR
Inside Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR

Two Brothers Cafe and Grill is not that fancy of a place. It is a simple and cozy restaurant where you can get some best cooked meat and freshly baked bread in the neighborhood. I think by now, I’ve almost tried most of the dishes in Two Brothers Cafe and Grill. And some of my favorites are “chevapi” (small beef kabobs/meatballs), beef sausage that comes with bread “Sudzuka” and Greek salad, chicken kababs, and the combo platter. Ask for their Bosnian “Burek” bread which is not on their menu…they will occasionally have it every few months and if you are lucky, you will get to taste this warm and soft homemade bread right out of the oven. I still haven’t tried their Bosnian burger because every time I go there, I always end up ordering their beef kabobs “chevapi”. If you are a fan of bean stew, try the fasuli too.

My favorite dish in Two Brothers Cafe and Grill - combo platter with Chevapi (beef kababs) and beef sausages
My favorite dish in Two Brothers Cafe and Grill – combo platter with Chevapi (beef kababs) and beef sausages

Honestly speaking, I am not a big fan of their dessert menu. I have tried the baklava…it’s too dense and sweeter than other ones I’v tried. But I do like to have their Turkish coffee after my dinner, which is served in beautiful traditional Turkish pots and trays.

Bosnian Burek bread in Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR
Bosnian Burek bread in Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR

I don’t go back to Two Brothers Cafe and Grill couple times a year just because this is the only Balkan restaurant I know in town, but also because they serve some of the best kababs in Portland and their service is great.

Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR
Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR

 

What to Eat In Singapore: The Best Local Dishes and Our Recommended Spots to Try Them

Singapore is a marvelous place thanks to its rich culture, which is a result of people from different nations converging there. The blending of several cultures has brought about amazing architectural designs, heritage buildings, and most important of all, irresistible dishes.

The following are some must-try dishes that you cannot afford not to have on your menu while in the island state:

Nasi lemak

Nasi lemak, meaning “rich rice,” is a versatile dish that you can take for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The main component of this dish is the aromatic coconut rice that goes with different sides as per your preference. You can opt to take your rice with fried prawns, crunchy fried chicken, a fried egg and green beans, or ladyfingers so that you have a well balanced meal, but the choice is all yours when it comes to the sides. So where should you sample this mouth-watering dish? You can have nasi lemak at Hawkers Stall at a significantly low price per plate, or you can pop into the posh Coconut Club, where you will part with more cash, of course for a more luxurious treatment.

Beef Rendang

This wonderful beefy dish is a product of a lot of dedication, since it takes several hours of slow-cooking to end up with the thick, dry gravy. Should you attend any Malay family event, you can hardly miss a pot of beef rendang as the main meal. However, you can eat it any time you wish—not only during Malay celebrations—by checking yourself into Rumah Makan Minang Indonesian Restaurant. If you are not in Singapore, plan to tour the city-state and try out the beef rendang and other great dishes, and maybe even learn how to make them so you can do it back in your home country. As you plan your trip, you should work with a reliable agent to process your visa and for other travel needs, and you can easily find one at https://www.one-visa.com.

Traditional charcoal porridge

Are you wondering since when porridge became a food? Well, unlike the notion that porridge is food for the sick, you will be surprised to discover that it is great food for the soul. Porridge is meticulously cooked over a charcoal stove, resulting in a tasty meal with an unmatched smoothness. You can count on the traditional charcoal porridge on a rainy day and when fighting a hangover to do the magic. For this great meal, just head to Ah Chiang’s Porridge, which is situated in the historic Tiong Bahru district.

Laksa

You cannot miss a good helping of thick rice noodles with a delicious spicy broth and a sizable share of prawns and cockles. This dish has so many versions, but the Singaporean rendition is just amazing, as it takes into account those who cannot use chopsticks by cutting the noddles into small pieces, which can thus be eaten with a spoon. For the best of laksa, head to 363 Katong Laksa, whose location is 29 Lorong Liput, Singapore 277740.

Pandan Cake

Although tea time is not a big affair in Singapore, they have some good treats like pandan cake to accompany your tea. Also, it perfectly blends with a steaming cup of Milo. You can have this awesome cake at any Bengawan Solo outlet.

 

Karima of Morocco – Cooking Classes & Catering

I know Khala Karima (Khala means aunty) for couple of years now. She is one of the sweetest and the most welcoming ladies I know in Portland. She is a very caring and a hardworking woman with tremendous passion for healthy cuisine. Being from Morocco, her specialty is preparing authentic Moroccan style home-cooked meals for small to large group of people.

Couscous with Lamb
Couscous with Lamb

Khala Karima offers cooking classes both at her place or on-site and offers catering services for any size of gatherings or special events (including delivery). She has also done stalls/booths at different community events selling her finger-foods, snacks, or Middle-Eastern desserts. The best part is that she offers evening and weekend classes…just contact her early enough, because she does get booked very quickly.

Preparing food for a large party
Preparing food for a large party

I’ve personally taken one of her cooking classes with few of my friends couple years ago. We picked lamb with rice to prepare and learn. The amount of love and attention go into her dishes are inspiring. All of her ingredients are fresh, high quality and without any artificial flavors or colors. She will show you step by step and plus some secret tips and alternatives for a great meal.  She told us some short cuts and some other ways of cooking a same dish. You can ask her as many questions as you want and she will happily answer you with great details. After the cooking demonstration, we all sat down for the dinner, served in traditional Moroccan dishes. And to finish it off, she served us hot Moroccan mint tea with few different kinds of date cookies and almond biscottis.

Karima's Cooking Class
Karima’s Cooking Class

For catering, she has done it for hundreds of people on many occasions. She has her own professional kitchen to serve any amount of people. The best part is, her dishes does not taste like the ones you get in restaurants. They are all pure Moroccan home-cooked meals, exactly the way you would get in Morocco. I have ordered cookies and biscottis from her before for my kids and friends. They are very reasonably priced and were packed in such a professional way that I could serve them right away.

Desserts by Karima of Morocco, in Portland, Oregon
Desserts by Karima of Morocco, in Portland, Oregon

I can’t say enough about Khala Karima’s food. They are healthy, delicious, simple yet has so much flavors. Above all, the way she will treat you, you will feel like you know her your whole life.

Another dish by Karima - chicken with lentil
Another dish by Karima – chicken with lentil

Follow her on instagram: karimaofmorocco

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