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Ballet West’s ‘Nutcracker’

‘Tis the season for Nutcrackers. And in the nation’s capital, that means Washington Ballet is installed for an extended run at the Warner Theater. In cities large and small across America, however, there’s at least anecdotal evidence that the local ballet company pays for the rest of its season with ticket revenues from the Tchaikovsky…

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Edible Holiday Gifting

Just try doing what we did. Try gathering internet advice on making homemade food gifts this holiday season. Everybody and his Aunt Lucy has recipes – oh yes, plenty of recipes. And online these almost always take the form of a “slideshow” you have to click through, invariably with some silly number that somebody decided…

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Budapest Flavors

For all who visit the Hungarian capital of Budapest on the Danube, there is intense romance written into the city’s very existence. For centuries, Buda and Pest faced each other from opposite sides of the river – the first regal, a bit haughty and filled with castles and cathedrals, the other scrappier and more commercial…

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Review: ‘Beautiful’

It’s as though the creators of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, the touring production that opened last night at Washington’s National Theatre, didn’t exactly set out to celebrate one gifted songwriter along with two decades of American pop culture, the civil rights movement and women’s quest for meaning and equality. It just sort of worked…

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Beet Generation

There were beets hanging in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, as well as being cultivated for both love and money in ancient Greece and Rome. The difference was: those cultures were growing beets to eat the greens sprouting from the top of the root. It was a very long time and far away, the 1500s…

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Tragedy & Transcendance

If you go to the cinema over Thanksgiving weekend and watch two current-release movies, the “compares” are as numerous as you choose to recognize. Both films cover the late careers of two gifted yet troubled artists who died far too young – describing their efforts to find fame with artistic integrity, their risings and fallings…

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Cajun Country Corn

The new settlers foundered initially, failing to recognize or locate enough of anything good to eat. Finally, as much out of desperation as brotherly love, they asked the native Americans who’d lived off this land a lot longer. And they, known as ”Indians” since the geographically challenged Columbus called them such, pointed them to the…

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Sicilian Swordfish

It was the most memorable lunch on a cruise ship in my three decades of lecturing on cruise ships. It was especially so because quite a few passengers took one look at what was being grilled in the open air and ran not-quite-screaming to the familiar indoor lunch buffet. Somehow, while the ship had been…

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Impromptu Holiday Apps

It’s that time of year when cooking, be it plain or fancy, is at its most meaningful, thanks to those you know are coming for a visit. Unless, of course, you don’t know their coming. With all our communication technology, it seems implausible that friends of family would turn up at your doorstep without so…

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Review: ‘Silent Night’

One hundred years ago today – at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – what we know as World War I came to an end, with tens of millions of soldiers and civilians dead and the Old World of Europe in tatters. In his opera Silent Night, composer Kevin Puts…

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