Ready or not, the holiday season is here. Because many of us may still be grumbling about the hustle and bustle this time of year brings, in this issue you’ll find a few stories that may put you in
a more festive frame of mind.

In the Lifestyle section, don’t miss senior editor Richelle Thomson’s feature, Fire + Ice, in which some of the United States’ top chefs offer holiday menu suggestions that pair — of all things — barbecue and bubbly. Though the match may not immediately spring to mind, these chefs will convince you to fire up the grill and pop a cork or two. Richelle, quite the foodie and champagne connoisseur herself, was the perfect person to write this piece. Throughout her research she’d taunt me with ill-timed e-mail updates featuring drool-worthy recipes that I’d inevitably open while eating lunch at my desk. A plastic-wrapped turkey sandwich pales when reading about, say, miso-grilled barbecued drunken lobster. You’ll find that recipe and all others in the story online.

Also in our Lifestyle section, 3 Bottles. welcomes the winter weather with high-dollar brandies — we’re talking quadruple-digit high-dollar. They’re for the gift lists of the rich and famous, but the rest of us can dream, right? And speaking of gift lists, Jim Shahin. agonizes over finding the perfect present.

If the thought of it all sends your stress level soaring, maybe you should just get away. Not enough time? Check out “Round The Clock In New Orleans”, which chronicles a 24-hour getaway to the city that’s always ready to celebrate something. We also offer a quick tour of a newly hip neighborhood in Seattle. and, of course, our signature Celebrated Weekend, this time with supermodel Heidi Klum in Germany.

There’s much more, so read on, and let us know what you think at