The Audition at the Met

After watching “The Audition” some years ago on HD, I had the opportunity to attend the delightful National Council Audition last week at the Met. There were nine finalists chosen from over 1500 artists. These sensational young artists got to perform two arias with the Met Orchestra in front of a packed house. It doesn’t get more exciting than this. Spoiler Alert: Angela Meade, one of the finalists in the documentary, introduced the Finalists and performed two lovely arias.

Fortunately, we were able to attend this remarkable and joyous feast of music with our good friends the DeGuzmans and several of their now grown-up kids.

If you haven’t seen The Audition documentary, I suggest you download it now and rejoice in the lovely voices of these gifted and hard-working performers. They are all winners in my book!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Green Toes and HamSt. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite days to the year, but last year I used the occasion to have my right knee replaced.  It was clearly the proper decision to make, but it didn’t seem particularly wise at the time.  Nevertheless, I was smart enough to have the toes on my right foot painted green (see pic on left) as an extra precaution to avoid having the wrong knee replaced.  Mistakes can happen in even the best of hospitals, but I was reassured when the doctor made me initial my right knee with a cheap magic marker just to make sure that we were both on the same page.  People will occasionally do both knees at the same time, but I assume that they must be Irish (Langston, that was a lame attempt at a joke).

My Doctor was not of Irish descent, but with people drinking green beer in New York and doing all sorts of wild things, one can never be too careful.  (Editor’s Note:  For those who are not particularly squeamish and interested in knowing the “Do’s and Dont’s” in preparation of total knee replacement, I refer you to my informative blog post of a year ago.  Lot’s of good information here.)

Yes, we will be having the customary corned beef, cabbage and a delightful carrot recipe from mad Ludo of The Taste. I love it to see people get frustrated when they can’t make themselves understood.

In any event, I have a special treat of Irish jokes making their way around the Internet. The first batch comes from Jokes4Us.

Q: Whats the difference between an Irish wedding, and an Irish funeral?
A: There’s one less drunk.

Q: Whats the difference between a smart Irish man and a unicorn?
A: Nothing, they’re both fictional characters

Q: What’s the difference between Ireland and a tea bag?
A: The tea bag stays in the cup longer.

Q: What do you call an Irishman in the knockout stages of the World Cup?
A: A Referee.

Q: Why did God invent whiskey?
A: So the Irish would never rule the world.

Q: What is Irish diplomacy?
A: It’s the ability to tell a man to go to hell. So that he will look forward to making the trip

The second batch of jokes, comes from the Aussies who are not known for their refined sense of humor.

What’s the difference between God and Bono?
God doesn’t wander around Dublin thinking he’s Bono.

Billy stops Paddy in Dublin and asks for the quickest way to Cork.
Paddy says, “Are you on foot or in the car?”
Billy says, “In the car.”
Paddy says, “That’s the quickest way.”

Paddy and Mick are walking down the road and Paddy’s got a bag of doughnuts in his hand.
Paddy says to Mick, “If you can guess how many doughnuts are in my bag, you can have them both”

An Irish priest is driving down to New York and gets stopped for speeding in Connecticut. The state trooper smells alcohol on the priest’s breath and then sees an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car.

He says, “Sir, have you been drinking?”

“Just water,” says the priest.

The trooper says, “Then why do I smell wine?”

The priest looks at the bottle and says, “Good Lord! He’s done it again!”

So have a good laugh and enjoy St. Paddy’s Day.

Perfect Soft-Cooked Eggs

soft boiled eggThe last time I ate a soft-boiled egg was over 25 years ago when a particularly gooey drop of yolk decided to befriend my $150 Hermes tie.  Thanks to a botched job at the dry-cleaner, they have become inseparable friends and, as such, I decided then to give up both expensive ties and soft-boiled eggs.

Nevertheless, “Drama Queen” Abigail has insisted that I share a recent recipe that appeared on Cook’s Illustrated that explains how you “steam” rather than “cook” an egg to achieve a soft-cooked egg “that delivered a set white and a fluid yolk every time.” Before caving into Abigail’s request, I have decided to share the highlights of Cook’s Illustrated “science” required to achieve the perfect soft-cooked egg.

Science Class: According to America’s Test Kitchen, the traditional way of cooking soft-cooked eggs is to add eggs to boiling water. Sadly, this lowers the temperature of the water and makes for uneven cooking results depending on when eggs are added and how quickly the water reaches the boiling temperature again after each immersion. The folks at America’s test kitchen have found that “steaming” eggs in a small amount of water achieves consistently perfect results.  (Note to Langston: They probably don’t teach this in Texas as evolution is still not part of the school curriculum.  Langston, I too am still trying to figure out which came first:  The chicken or the egg?)

How to Cook Perfect Soft-Cooked Eggs

Note:  This recipe works for any number of eggs.  Use large eggs that have no cracks and are cold from the refrigerator.


  1. Bring 1/2 inch of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Using tongs (or better yet a steamer basket), gently place the refrigerated eggs into the boiling water.  The eggs will not be submerged.  Cover the saucepan and cook the eggs for 6 1/2 minutes.
  2. Remove cover, transfer saucepan to sink and place under cold running water for 30 seconds.  Remove eggs from pan and serve, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.


Note from International Travel Correspondent:    Sadly, I will be writing more frequently for our sister commercial website Gourmet Living which will soon be introducing its own line of balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy to be followed by Mediterranean salts and olive oil.    For those more interested in food than theatrics, you may find something useful on the new site.  Cheers.