A FLAP OVER FOIE GRAS

It was a delicacy among the Romans, and later the Jews, a substitute for the pig that helped their Christian neighbors survive the Middle Ages. To French food writer Charles Gerard, foie gras--the swollen liver of a deliberately overfed goose or duck--was "the supreme fruit of gastronomy." Seared and doused with a port-wine reduction, or baked with truffles into a terrine, it is the key to the restaurant industry's holy grail: the $20 appetizer.

ROAD TEST: 2006 RANGE ROVER

Few SUVs make me feel as smart and as fashionable (as in, "I'm too sexy for my car") as the new supercharged Range Rover. Boxy and bold, this tweaked version retains many stylish design cues implemented by BMW, which owned the marque until Ford recently purchased it.

SHE'S GOT CLASS

When I tugged the door handle of the new M35, it responded with a substantial click--and I knew Infiniti had finally come of age. Think I'm nuts to harp on such a small point?

ROAD TEST: MASERATI QUATTROPORTE

I spent the weekend with a seductive Italian--masculine but not macho, and as chic as a GQ model in an Armani suit. I'm talking, of course, about the Maserati Quattroporte.

ROAD TEST: HONDA RIDGELINE RTS

Honda's new Ridgeline five-seat pickup is so big and bold-looking you'd think it was made in America. This truck wears an Erector-set-like boxy frame and a menacing, aggressive front end.

ROAD TEST| MERCEDES SLK350

If the SUV says utility, the sporty roadster with a convertible top is all about a carefree day on the road. Mercedes gets this right in the redesigned SLK350.

FOOD: ITALIAN FOR SUSHI

Sushi lovers on the left and right coasts are angling for a new kind of raw fish. Forget about wasabi-spiced slivers of yellowtail and soy-drenched toro; the buzz now is on crudo.

FIRST-CLASS RIDE

If it's luxury you're looking for, you don't have to spring for a Bentley. You can slip into the new $16,000 Chevy Cobalt and get many of the same interior goodies found on that regal $158,000 tourer.

ROAD TEST | LAND ROVER LR3 SE

Land Rover describes its new LR3 as "architectural." It's also fun, with a tailgate that closes like a clamshell. Inside, the cabin is so vertically spacious, even those over six feet will have room to spare, and its signature stadium-style second row allows back-seat passengers two extra inches of headroom.

ROAD TEST | JAGUAR X-TYPE

If it's true that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, then what does it mean when Jaguar puts its logo on a less-than-sumptuous car? Yes, I'm talking about the X-Type.

THE TASTE OF THE EARTH

Along the lanes of Burgundy, A. J. Liebling once wrote, the very road signs read like wine labels. The place names speak of the flinty or chalky earth, of soils that have for centuries sacrificed themselves to yield up tantalizing notes of apple or leather.

HOME: SHARP AS A... TILE?

For foodies, stainless-steel knives have lost their edge. Today's urbane cutlery is made of industrial-strength ceramics. The advantage: the material is stronger than steel, stays sharp up to 10 times longer and won't turn fruits and vegetables brown.

ROAD TEST | LEXUS GS 430

Mother Nature laid it on thick: rain, wind, even a little ice for my test drive of the redesigned GS 430. Would this debutant handle the big stuff and still keep its luxe cool?

AN X-CELLENT RIDE

I'm not the X Games type, and yet I feel pretty gonzo in the redesigned Pathfinder. Everything about this SUV is athletic: its angular physique and robust flared fenders; the beefy, cut, rubber side runners and tailgate pad, and the macho, tough-looking chrome grille.

BREAKING THE ICE

Beat winter blues by taking a spin around an outdoor skating rink. These are open at least through late February: New York Be one of the quarter-million skaters to slice the ice under the Manhattan skyline at Rockefeller Plaza (adults from $9, kids from $7; 212-332-7654).

ROAD TEST | CORVETTE C6

I'm cruising in a totally bitchin' Corvette when I spy the speedometer and it reads 50. Fine, except that I'm in a 35mph zone. Oops, 50 feels like 20 in this car.

HAVE KALE, WILL TRAVEL

They are on their way now, by overnight express, nestled in tissue paper and custom-designed boxes, to any place where restaurant menus take more than a dozen words to describe a $14 salad.

FOOD | FEELIN' CLAMMY

Looking to defrost with a bowl of soul-warming clam chowder? Red or white, here are our picks: Grand Central Oyster Bar (New York): Some of the best red in town, with chunks of surf clams, tomatoes, green peppers and potatoes.

ROAD TEST | AUDI A6

One of the best perks of reviewing cars is that, occasionally, I get to hang with the folks who design and build them. So it was recently, on a trip through the hilly roads of Sonoma, Calif., that I tested the redesigned A6 seated next to its designer, Achim Badstubner, who had flown in from Germany.

TRAVEL: AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

Most family reunions mean cheek pinches from Aunt Ethel, feuds with your siblings and stale stories about how awkward you looked as a teen. But today's elaborate gatherings make it all worthwhile.

ROAD TEST: GMC SIERRA HYBRID

I came to a stop at the light and watched the tachometer drop to zero as my GMC Sierra stalled. Yikes. I'm in thick traffic. Now what? Then I remembered, I'm in a hybrid and that's what hybrids do.

BLOCK OUT THE RAYS

Sunglasses aren't just for the beach. They're also needed on the ski slopes--because of high-altitude exposure to ultraviolet light. This winter, see if these new offerings are easy on your eyes (pictured, from top).Ray-Ban Junior RJ9019 ($63; www.rayban.com) Eye doctors warn you to protect your kids' eyes from the cumulative effect of UV rays.

HEAD FOR THE GREEN

Palm Springs has been L.A.'s swingin' playground since the Rat Pack made it their weekend home in the 1950s. But there's a new reason to visit now: Smoke Tree Ranch (smoketreeranch.net), a private desert enclave for wealthy southern California vacationers, including the late Walt Disney, recently opened its guest cottages to the public.

ROAD TEST| LOTUS ELISE

Though I've never driven a go-cart through city streets, I now feel as if I'm an expert at it. With my tush just inches from the pavement, I darted around Los Angeles in the Lotus Elise.

MAGIC FLUTES

Anyone who's traveled through the vineyards of Burgundy and Bordeaux can tell you they're lovely. But French wine drinkers there take the local grape so seriously, it can nearly spoil the romance.

FOOD: THE OLIVE GARDEN

You can buy kalamata olives from Greece, Arbequinas from Spain and Picholines from France. But we grow table olives in America, too--about 14 million cases a year in California.

ROAD TEST | T&C LIMITED

Five years ago in the preschool carpool line, a father bragged to me about his Town & Country. "This is the Mercedes of minivans," he boasted. I didn't agree with him at the time, but the 2005 comes a bit closer to the claim.

ROAD TEST | ACURA RL

For years the RL has struggled to compete in the midsize luxury-import category. When it came to snob appeal, performance and style, it lost out to BMW and Mercedes.

FOOD: STUFFED WITH THE STARS

Hollywood celebrities have long moonlighted as restaurateurs. In the 1960s, Los Angeles diners tied on a bib at Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel, wondering who could know seafood better than the Skipper.

ROAD TEST | MINI CONVERTIBLE

You just can't be in a bad mood when you're in the cheerful Mini Cooper. And now that it comes in a ragtop, there's even more reason to smile. The convertible's top is brilliantly designed.

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