Tara Weingarten

Stories by Tara Weingarten

  • I'm A Dancer, Not A Stripper!

    In Vegas, they don't call it "the Strip" for nothing. On stages and cages all along the megawatt Las Vegas Boulevard, go-go girls are shaking their moneymakers. Literally. But what about that whole family-entertainment push a few years back? "You've got to have the next big thing or you'll sink here," says Matt Gambill, beverage manager at Caesars Palace. "Now, burlesque sells." To be sure, skin in Vegas is nothing new. It's just never been served up like this before. Clubs can't afford to alienate female customers, so they're selling playful, dare we say, tasteful sex. Full nudity is out, taunting is in. (Still, it's hard to imagine Gloria Steinem here, kicking back with a cosmo.) Tip Sheet goes clubbing:Caesars' Shadow bar is dominated by two enormous backlit screens, where phenomenally enhanced (at least on the night Tip Sheet visited) dancers gyrate topless to high-energy house music. (Shadow also features internationally recognized flair bartenders who juggle bottles and do...
  • Road Test: Vw Gti

    It may look like your basic econo-box, but this V-6 drives more like one of its expensive German cousins. It's one of the things I love about VWs--they may look low-key, but they pack a wallop under the hood. The GTI (it's a distant descendant of the wildly popular Rabbit) is a real driver's car, even though the one I tested was equipped with cloth seats--not exactly plush. And it's a small vehicle, which I consider a huge plus when trying to park between SUVs on city streets. All this is to say that if you're looking for luxury and roominess, look elsewhere. This 200hp hatchback is all about performance and fun. And you don't need leather seating for that. Of course, it's not a cheapie--in price or in appointments. It's got optional power windows and sunroof, and a killer Monsoon stereo system. The VW also offers rain-sensor windshield wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. But these goodies are ancillary to why you'd buy this car in the first place: for its excellent low-gear...
  • Travel: Gold In Those Hills

    James Marshall was overseeing the construction of a sawmill on a cold, clear Coloma morning in January 1848 when the glint of something--the shape of a pea and about half the size--caught his eye. "I reached my hand down and picked it up; it made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold," he reportedly said.It was, of course. And so began the great gold rush, during which half a million people--miners, speculators and prostitutes--poured into California. As chapters of national history go, this one was colorful but short: by mid-1849 the easy gold was gone. But many of the rush towns in the Sierra Nevada foothills remain, and a trip to California's mother-lode country can be a cheap, sarsaparilla-swilling good time.We began at the southern end of Highway 49, a twisty two-laner that winds around mountain peaks and through rolling oak-studded hills. But it's an easy drive that, taken over four or five days, brings you through plenty of historical towns. We passed several...
  • Travel: Lounge Acts

    Extra-dry martinis, slinky red cocktail dresses, perhaps even a crooner at the keys: no wonder dark, sexy lounges are so enduring. Grab a corner table for two at one of these Tip Sheet favorites:Top of the Mark: Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco (415-392-3434)--Art deco bar has the best views of the city, plus 100 kinds of martinis. Entertainment nightly.Cafe Carlyle: The Carlyle, New York (212-744-1600)--If you haven't heard Bobby Short sing Gershwin, Porter and Ellington in the 35 years he's performed here, you'll have another chance until June 28.Hoy Como Ayer: Little Havana, Miami (305-541-2631)--Intimate and retro. Go on Thursday nights, when DJ Le Spam & The All Stars mix classic Cuban recordings with a cool live jazz backbeat.Feinstein's at the Cinegrill: Hollywood (323-769-7269)--The 150-seat supper club is featuring Lorna Luft crooning mom Judy Garland's songs.
  • Suburban Chic

    Volvo once ran an ad that showed a supercharged Italian sports car towing a trailer. The idea: Volvo's a racy number with enough room to haul loads of stuff. OK, so it was a stretch. Most people think Volvos are built for safety, not speed, perfect for puttering around the 'burbs. Now come the R cars: a V70 R wagon and an S60 R sedan, both of which haul tush and your groceries. On a test drive through the curvy canyons of Nevada's Valley of Fire, just outside Vegas, I put the wagon through its paces. With 300 horsepower and an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system that gives great stability and handling, I whooped it up through the red desert canyon slaloms. A Dynamic Stability and Traction Control system forces power only to the tires that have grip, meaning that if three of the four tires are spinning in, say, snow, water, sand or oil, all the power will go only to the one wheel with traction. It actually works--I tested it in very slick conditions. I also sampled Volvo...
  • Saab 9-3

    News flash: the new Saab 9-3 doesn't have a hatchback. That's right, no hatchback. If you're thinking "so what," you're definitely not a die-hard Saab fan. Saab is one of those brands that inspires a cultlike following, and loyalists are passionate about every little change. Groupies swear by this midsizer's utility, with a huge trunk, its quirky front-wheel-drive handling and, most of all, its eccentric design features, like a center-console-mounted ignition switch and its supremely utilitarian cupholders. I'll be honest: I've always loved the idea of Saab, that it wasn't a cookie-cutter design. But I always hated it for something called torque steer--when there's so much turbocharged power in the low gears that the steering has trouble keeping up. I'm thrilled to report that I'm a convert. There's still a lot of power (turbocharged, of course) in the low gears but the car seems better able to handle it. The 9-3 may have lost the hatchback, but it got a new, stiffer chassis that...
  • Drinks: Keeping It Cool

    If you're a wine lover, you've probably got a few bottles stashed in a closet or under the bed. And you probably know that fluctuations in temperature can quickly turn a lovely 1999 California Cab into vinegar. So do you really need one of those pricey wine-storage units? Need, no. But if you store wine for longer than six months, you might want one. The cellars regulate humidity as well as temperature, keeping corks moist so they don't shrink. Tip Sheet tested a few units in all price ranges. These two are our favorites. The KitchenAid ($1,499) looks great and has three temperature zones for reds, whites and champagnes (kitchenaid.com). But if you plan to lay in bottles for more than a year, think about the Dometic CE 48 by Electrolux ($1,295 plus shipping at wineappreciation.com). It's a little less fashionable, but silent and vibration-free. It kept our bottles at 55 degrees, perfect for all types of wine.
  • Mercedes Clk320

    When Mercedes-Benz makes a little coupe, it's always one of the sexiest cars around. The newest CLK320 is no exception. It has a lower profile than the previous-generation CLKs, and it's more swooped and sporty. It's also got an admirable 215-horsepower, V-6 engine. But the most striking new feature is that its B pillar (the steel support beam that runs between the front and rear windows) is missing, just like it would be on a convertible. I rolled down all four windows for that ragtop feel. More air, more freedom, more wheeee!Inside, the dash has a new polyurethane skin that feels like really soft rubber. I also liked the optional automatic rear-window sunshade. But while the back seat got an extra two inches over last year's model, it's still not what you'd call roomy. And my 6-foot-1 husband repeatedly hit the door-mounted window button with his knee, causing the window to roll up or down without his consent. But I've got an answer for that. Just go solo. Crank down the windows,...
  • Travel, All-American Vacations

    The very idea of visiting our nation's historical sites can conjure up unpleasant memories of school trips past--even if you weren't the kid who always got sick on the bus. But there's probably no better way to spark your kids' interest in our heritage. After all, it's easy to make the ideals of liberty and self-government seem interesting when you're standing on the Lexington Green, where the first shots of the American Revolution rang out. And it's almost impossible not to ponder the vast human toll of the Civil War when walking among the gravestones at Antietam National Cemetery. Reminders of our heritage are everywhere, and many of our coolest historical sites are very inexpensive to visit. Here's a list that should make any American proud.MONTICELLO: (monticello.org) Thomas Jefferson's 5,000-acre plantation in Charlottesville, Va., is a monument to one of America's greatest thinkers. Among his extraordinary accomplishments: penning the Declaration of Independence, serving two...
  • Road Test: Saab 9-3

    News flash: the new Saab 9-3 doesn't have a hatchback. That's right, no hatchback. If you're thinking 'so what,' you're definitely not a diehard Saab fan. Saab is one of those brands that inspires a cultlike following, and loyalists are passionate about every little change. Groupies swear by this midsizer's utility, with a huge trunk, its quirky front-wheel-drive handling and, most of all, its eccentric design features, like a center-console-mounted ignition switch and its supremely utilitarian cupholders. I'll be honest: I've always loved the idea of Saab, that it wasn't a cookie-cutter design. But I always hated it for something called torque steer--when there's so much turbocharged power in the low gears that the steering has trouble keeping up. I'm thrilled to report that I'm a convert. There's still a lot of power (turbocharged, of course) in the low gears but the car seems better able to handle it. The 9-3 may have lost the hatchback, but it got a new, stiffer chassis that...
  • Home: Cooler Cleaners

    Ok, so nobody really needs floor cleaner that smells like bubble bath, but for less than $10, it is kind of cool. We tried these products with sparkling results.For a scent that's more aromatherapy than ammonia, get Caldrea's Green Tea Patchouli Counter Top Cleanser ($8 at surlatable.com). It cuts grease like an industrial powerhouse, without the fumes. Williams-Sonoma's Pink Grapefruit-Ginger Floor Cleaner smells so sweet it might actually make you want to clean the floor ($9.50 at williams-sonoma.com). And Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Lavender-Scented Dish Soap is cruelty-free, bio-degradable and pretty cheap, so you can feel good about sudsing up ($4.99 at Whole Foods and Ace Hardware stores).Doing your laundry is never a day at the beach, but the Beach House Laundry Fragrance from The Good Home Co. can make your clothes smell like one ($18 at goodhomeco.com). The company's coolest innovation: Beach House Vacuum Beads. Toss a dozen of the tiny beads into the vacuum bag and you'll...
  • Money: Shop While Prices Drop

    With all the worrying about the war and the lousy economy, it can be tempting to stuff any spare cash under a mattress and take a meat cleaver to your credit cards. But before you make promises to never, ever spend another penny, consider this: if you have a secure job and a decent financial cushion, it's a great time to buy a car, book a vacation or furnish your home--just about anything but buying a house or gasoline. Dismal-science types call it deflation, but in the mall, on car lots and at Internet shopping sites, it means slashed prices and salespeople willing to cut just about any deal to move the merchandise. Here are some tips on finding the lowest prices:Drive a hard bargain: Carmakers are desperate to move the metal off dealer lots. GM, Ford and Chrysler are still offering zero percent loans for five years or big cash rebates on most models (no harm in pushing for both). Even BMW now offers a low $299-per-month lease on its 325 model. To make your best deal, go to Kelley...
  • Porsche Cayenne S

    If it looks like a Porsche and drives like a Porsche, it must be a Porsche. But the Cayenne S is also an SUV. Sure, purists will bristle that the maker of precision sports cars has sold out to suburbanites. And critics will carp about the bland design. But I understand why Porsche did it. Word is that the manufacturer looked at what was parked in most Porsche owners' garages and frequently found a hulking SUV--often a BMW or a Lexus--beside the sports car. But does this Porsche ride a little less like an SUV and a little more like a roadster? I'm surprised to say that it does. It's obvious that Porsche was aware it would be ridiculed by folks like me if it didn't, first and foremost, build a truck that is also a champion road handler. I'm not crazy about the design, but I love the roomy interior. It's slow for a Porsche--zero to 62 in 7.2 seconds--but zippy for an SUV. And though it's clear the Cayenne could handle it, I can't imagine that many drivers will take this fancy truck off...
  • Beauty: Facial Fixes

    Winter weather, pollution and stress--we all need a brave face. To soothe yours, try one of Tip Sheet's favorite facials:Ole Henriksen Look for Mark Wahlberg and Renee Zellweger at this West Hollywood spot. Great hand-mixed aromatic products. $95/60 minutes; olehenriksen.com.Mamie's Day Spa This Manhattan hidaway specializes in treating black and Asian complexions. Go for the signature facial. $95 to $230; 212-260-9372.Red Mountain Resort Fabulous, not fancy, spa near Utah's towering red bluffs. Try the anti-aging facial with algae extracts. $105/80 minutes; redmountainspa.com.Kiva At this downtown Chicago day spa, go for the deep-cleansing Urban Defense Facial with antioxidant serums. Feels great. $140/80 minutes; kivakiva.com.Doral Miami's muggy weather can make the cleanest skin feel oily. Teens might like the Clarifying Acne Facial. $120/50 minutes; doralspa.com.
  • Parlez-Vous L.A.?

    If there's one thing Hollywood diners love, it's the next new thing. So it was that artist Laurie Garrick found herself lusting for a reservation at the new restaurant Bastide after reading the four-star review in the Los Angeles Times last month proclaiming, "L.A. has never seen anything like it." After a several-week wait, Garrick snagged a table under the mature olive trees on Bastide's front patio and sipped on creamy cauliflower soup garnished with shaved Tete de Moine cheese. For her entree, Garrick chose the slowly roasted arctic char. Her review? While she was taken with the "perfectly formed carrots," Garrick was underwhelmed by the meticulously French meal. "I like more robust flavors," she says. "I hate to think I'm not a sophisticated diner, but maybe it's just too French."She's right. Bastide is so authentically French some Angelenos don't know what to do with it. L.A. food is hardly about sophistication. The city's body-obsessed residents consider designer water and...
  • Lexus Rx 330

    Five years ago Lexus introduced the first luxury SUV, the RX 300. It was stylish and rode like a car, and quickly became the manufacturer's best-selling model. I understand not wanting to mess with perfection, but after spending a few days in Lexus's redesign of the RX 300, now called the RX 330, a little fiddling would have been good. The vehicle's exterior is largely unchanged and looks tired. The taillights have a higher profile, and the nose is more slanted toward the driver. But that's about it. Inside, a futuristic-looking metallic-trimmed control panel is a nice change, along with the audio paddles on the steering wheel. But it's the technology that's a big wow. For improved visibility, the headlights turn with the car, like spooky eyes. Laser-guided cruise control helps you keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. But my favorite new option is the rear-mounted camera that shows what's behind you when you're in reverse. Although the RX 330 gets 10 more horsepower...
  • Road Test: Suzuki Aerio

    It was the ultimate test for a subcompact--a torrential southern California rainstorm was pounding Los Angeles, flooding nearly all the streets. And I was ready to bet a week's salary that Suzuki's elfin new Aerio SX would stall out in the first 30 minutes. Thank God no one took me up on it. With elegant finesse (if you can use such language for a $15,000 automobile), this comfy five-seater navigated our soaked streets like the sturdiest of SUVs. Not once did it cough after plunging into a deep puddle, and it never lost its footing at highway speeds. And another thing: how did the Suzuki folks put so much room inside--including a surprisingly sizable hatchback trunk--while keeping the outside minuscule? You can park this baby anywhere. It's also easy on the pocketbook, getting 26mpg in the city and 32 on the highway! Your insurance bill will look prettier, too. It never rains in southern California? Please. Bring it on.Tip: Possibly the best bargain on the (slippery) road.
  • Technology: What's The Service Fee, Kenneth?

    You're creeping along in L.A. traffic, zapping from one dopey radio ad to another. Would a little music be too much to ask for? Not anymore. For a hookup fee of $14.99 and $9.99 a month, you can get 101 commercial-free digital channels from XM Satellite radio (xmradio.com). The system works pretty well, though reception is about like free radio, dropping out when you're in a tunnel. But at least there's always something to listen to. You get well-programmed progressive rock, classical, Latin, jazz and kids' pop stations, plus golden-age dramas like "The Shadow" and comedians from Jerry Seinfeld to Jonathan Winters. Rival Sirius satellite radio (siriusradio.com) costs $12.95 a month and also offers tons of programming choices. But XM has more buzz, mostly because it's half owned by GMC. Nearly all GMC cars and trucks will offer XM as an option this year. Tip Sheet does have one beef: many of the rock-oriented channels have disc jockeys who are every bit as annoying as their FM...
  • Drinks: Keeping It Cool

    If you're a wine lover, you've probably got a few bottles stashed in a closet or under the bed. And you probably know that fluctuations in temperature can quickly turn a lovely 1999 California Cab into vinegar. So do you really need one of those pricey wine-storage units? Need, no. But if you store wine for longer than six months, you might want one. The cellars regulate humidity, as well as temperature, keeping corks moist so they don't shrink. Tip Sheet tested a few units in all price ranges. These two are our favorites. The KitchenAid ($1,499) looks great and has three temperature zones for reds, whites and champagnes (kitchenaid.com). But if you plan to lay in bottles for more than a year, think about the Dometic CE 48 by Electrolux ($1,295 plus shipping at wineappreciation.com). It's a little less fashionable, but silent and vibration-free. It kept our bottles at 55 degrees, perfect for all types of wine.
  • It's No Joke

    Few vehicles are as bland as the SUV, with its jelly-bean styling. Maybe that's why Nissan's new Murano seems like such a rambunctious little truck. Its front grille looks like a robot's toothy grin (think Gigantor), and its tailgate is playfully angular. It's the first SUV I've driven that doesn't take itself too seriously. Just look at the creamy yellow gauges or the sporty, leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Murano confirms Nissan's commitment to be Asia's style-and-performance leader. Plus, its engine is all business. With a V-6, 240-horsepower engine (same as in the Maxima), this five-seater can really move. I liked its carlike ride and handling, along with its good rear visibility. But I adored the open storage tray atop the dashboard, great for tossing tollbooth change and lollipops. I'm not crazy about the fact that it gets only 20 miles per gallon on city streets (25 on the highway)--that's the absolute end of what's acceptable these days. But other than that, the Murano...
  • The Mogul Mobile

    You can tell a lot about a person by the car he drives. Or at least about the person he'd like to be. Mercedes's newly redesigned E500 says power and money. In a discreet whisper, of course. Ultrasleek, with conservative styling, this full-size sedan (but it's not too big, not too small) seems like the perfect salve for the corporate titan who must now cope with hyper directors and pesky shareholders. Mercedes has always attracted the elite, but the new E (the E Class makes up a quarter of its sales) finally looks like an executive car. The old model looked a bit stodgy, but a sharper, angled nose with those unmistakable Mercedes elliptical headlights gives the new E a more powerful, sporty look. Inside, the dash has a new face. Gone are the chunky black buttons that made the old E look cheap. In their place is a smaller, more elegant display of chrome and polished wood. The panorama sunroof is twice the size of a conventional one. The performance is also richer. Airmatic DC air...
  • A Cheap Thrill

    Love sports cars but hate their sticker prices? Check out Mazda's new RX-8, due out this spring. The zippy four-seater (four real seats) goes for about the same price as a bland Japanese midsize. I was skeptical until I rode the six-speed manual through tight turns at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Beautiful! Its perfect front-rear weight distribution gives the RX-8 exact balance through corners, making it a delight to drive. Then again, this is the same carmaker that built a cult following with the RX-7, its previous-generation rotary coupe. The RX-8 is the first real sports car with four doors. (Well, half doors, anyway. They open out from the center.) Mazda played it safe with a predictable design. But the RX-8 has better brakes, more power, improved steering control, a tighter suspension and 20 percent better gas mileage. It looks as if Mazda actually managed to fix something that wasn't broken.Tip: If you loved the RX-7--and even if you didn't--you'll dig the...
  • Not Much On Looks

    It isn't pretty, but the new Honda Element has its charms. For starters, there's the $16,560 base price. And the "suicide doors" (they swing open from the center with no pillar between them) make it easy to load gear like bikes, kayaks and surfboards. The seats and rubber-coated floor are completely waterproof, so just hose it out and you're good to go. The back seats fold flush to the sides, creating a flat floor big enough to sleep a couple of six-foot nomads comfortably.If you haven't yet figured it out, Honda's aiming at a 22-year-old guy who lives for extreme sports. So I was tongue-tied when hoards of soccer moms came rushing over to check out the Element last week as I picked up my son from school. "It's sooo stylish," said one overage hipster. More than one member of Honda's target audience disagreed. "It's ugly," screamed a twentysomething guy as he pulled out of a gas station. I hope he wasn't talking about me. Thing is, the Element is cheap, roomy and doesn't guzzle gas....
  • Road Test | Bmw Z4

    BMW's Z4 is the coolest car on the road. There, I said it. On a test run through the winding, rural back roads of South Carolina, I was simply blown away by its outstanding handling. Unlike some foreign jobs, this roadster isn't too much to master; the new Z4 remained firmly planted on the highway--even when I pushed the car well beyond sane speed limits.In fact, the only thing this two-seater shares with its predecessor--the discontinued Z3, considered too girly for the sports-car set--is its dual-passenger configuration. The undulating convex and concave design cues give this ragtop a more athletic, masculine vibe. And the 3.0i model with manual six-speed (optional automatic transmission) has a tighter torque converter than other six-cylinder BMWs. I threw it into gear, slammed down hard on the throttle and felt my head snap back. It even stops smoother than BMW's previous roadster; ventilated front and rear brakes make stopping on a dime absolutely effortless. Inside the cockpit,...
  • Olive Oils

    In the next few months hundreds of premium California olive oils will hit store shelves. Here are our favorites--unfiltered, rich and fruity:Long Meadow Ranch Its Napa Valley Select has a light straw color and mellow, nutty taste. Great with less fussy foods and salads. longmeadowranch.com $18 for 375mlMcEvoy Ranch Certified organic from the Petaluma hills above San Fran. It's darker and tastes of toasted walnuts and fresh grass. A great all-purpose oil. mcevoyranch.com $24 for 375mlWillow Creek Olive Ranch Its Market Blend is buttery soft yet flavorful. An oil that goes with everything. pasolivo.com $10 for 750mlDaVero Sonoma County oil that's bitter and peppery, with hints of artichoke, apple and fennel. Perfect on pasta and risotto. davero.com $20 for 375mlStorm Olive Ranch From the eastern mountains above Napa, where rugged terrain makes the oil pungent and robust. katzandco.com $20 for 375ml
  • Homey For The Holidays

    Can't be home for Christmas? These homey hotels are the next best thing. And try getting pampered like this in your house. After some room-service champagne, visions of sugarplums are virtually guaranteed.THE POINT in Saranac Lake, N.Y. Just a few hours from N.Y.C., this former Rockefeller estate has only 11 guest rooms. There's ice-skating on the lake, cross-country skiing and outdoor bonfires (with s'mores!). Adults only. $1,200 per couple, per night. Call 518-891-5674.THE BREAKERS in Palm Beach, Fla. There's no snow, but this huge, kid-friendly resort is fabulously decorated. Try the snorkeling scavenger hunt and beach camp-outs. Starts at $495. Call 561-655-6611.MORRISON HOUSE in Alexandria, Va. This Colonial-style manor house is decked out with dozens of poinsettias and pine swags. Check out the lobby's elaborate gingerbread house, designed by the resident pastry chef. Rooms start at $200. Call 703-838-8000.MAISON DE VILLE in New Orleans, La. Evening sherry, port and eggnog get...
  • Beware The Hair Soup

    Never mind the Zagat guide. In the town that invented "doing lunch," gourmands can spot a hot restaurant simply by looking at the front door. No, Angelenos don't have more discriminating palates than other foodies--more of them line up for Pink's Famous Chili Dogs on La Brea than wait for a table at Patina. It's just that diners in L.A. have learned their ABCs. Literally. Hanging in the front window of every restaurant in the city is a giant letter in "Sesame Street" colors: a blue A, a green B or a red C. While it may not tell you whether the place has sushi to die for, it will let you know whether the fish is fresh.These days, it isn't enough for Wolfgang Puck to have J. Lo and Ben as customers. He'd also better have an A from the county food inspector in the window. (Don't worry, Spago fans. It's there.) Four years after the L.A. County Department of Health Services initiated a much-publicized grading system for restaurant inspections, consumers are following the program to the...
  • Hotels | Dig In

    All hotels have spas now, but farms? Along the California coast, hoteliers are taking advantage of the year-round good weather, planting their own fruit, vegetable and herb gardens--all organic, of course. Some of the best:MARK HOPKINS HOTEL: Overlooking the entire San Francisco Bay, the rooftop garden includes wild blackberries, Meyer lemons, chamomile (for the hotel's tea creme brulee) and purple sage, to be used in Thanksgiving stuffing. markhopkins.net; rooms cost $355 to $4,000 a night.MEADOWOOD: The Napa Valley resort's one-acre garden has a flower bed (blooms adorn the guest rooms), old-growth walnut, apple and fig trees, and a newly planted olive grove. meadowood.com; $425 to $3,585 a night.BACARA: The Santa Barbara hotel boasts a 1,000-acre ranch. You'll find 300 acres of Hass avocados and 100 acres of Lisbon and Meyer lemons--used in its signature spa treatment: an avocado-citrus body wrap. bacararesort.com; $395 to $5,000 a night.
  • Food: The Trouble With Truffles

    Shave a few paper-thin slices of white truffle onto a plate of scrambled eggs. Now stand back and admire your handiwork. It may not look like much, but you've just created a dish some chefs list among the most sensual in the world. Few ingredients are as coveted as the Italian white truffle, which just began its brief annual appearance on menus. Disciples of the musky tubers talk about them in mystical terms. "The white truffle is almost indescribable, sublime," says Christophe Eme, chef at Los Angeles's L'Orangerie. "People taste it and then think about it for the rest of the year until they can taste it again."Well, maybe some people do. At $900 per pound, white truffles are extravagant by any standard, though all you really need is a single ounce. Available from late October through early February, they traditionally grow in the woods of northern Italy's Piedmont region, where trained dogs ferret out the knobby bulbs. A wet summer has yielded a bumper crop, driving prices down...
  • Road Test | Porsche Boxster

    There I was, alone in the redesigned 2003 Porsche Boxster, leaning into a few tight turns at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., completely unable to wipe the huge smile from my mug. The steering was tight and responsive. The location of the shifter, on top of the center console, made changing gears effortless. Introduced in 1997, the Boxster is Porsche's entry-level car. Priced in the low $40,000s, it's a real sports car for about the same price as a fancy SUV. If you put the new Boxster next to last year's model, the outward changes are subtle: a glass rear window (with defroster) replaces plastic; new engine technology boosts horsepower slightly to 225, and small design changes on side air-intake holes and front and back bumpers give the car a cool, modern look. What's not different is the Boxster's supreme road performance. -Tara WeingartenTip: A lot of Porsche, a little price.To suggest a Road Test, go to Newsweek.MSNBC.com and click on Tip Sheet.
  • Pumpkin Projects

    Your kids may get to wear the cool costumes and scarf the candy corn, but you can still get in on the fun. Here are some treats for the whole family--and most of these activities are sugar-free.1. Kid's Fright Lights: $3.99 at Target. Easy-to-pound colorful plastic pegs, a mallet and a flashing light. B.Y.O. squash. Age: 4?????2. Paint a Pumpkin: $24 from pottery barnkids.com. Three wooden pumpkins, six paints. Age: 5?????3. Big Bad Wolf Mask: $50 for a pair from dwr.com. Perfect for when you're trick-or-treating with the kids. Age: 3?????4. Ghost Comfort-Grip Cutter: $2.99 at Wal-Mart and Target. This chunky, rubber-edged cookie cutter is good for even the youngest baker's helper.5. Pancake Molds: $16 from Williams-Sonoma. Make flapjacks in the shape of cats, pumpkins and ghosts for a breakfast of phantoms.
  • Newsmakers

    EGGERS GOES IT ALONEDave Eggers's debut memoir, "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," sat on the best-seller list for 14 weeks and made him a celebrity. But something about the experience riled him, because he fired his agent and left his publisher. This time he's doing it his way. "You Shall Know Our Velocity," Eggers's second book and first novel, concerns a Chicago guy trying to fly around the world in a week with a buddy so he can give away $32,000 he lucked into but doesn't feel he deserves. "Y.S.K.O.V." is being published by Eggers's own company, McSweeney's. It will be sold only on the McSweeney's Web site and at independent bookstores. No Amazon. No chain stores. And Eggers won't do interviews or book tours.Agent Chris Calhoun--and others--estimate that Eggers could have gotten an advance "well north of $3 million." "But then, you've got him to deal with," says another agent, referring to the author's often contrary behavior. Others are more sanguine. "As annoying as...