Our 2014 hot list
The top trends, openings, and exciting developments we're eager to watch around the West this year
Just like food, flowers are an agricultural product with a carbon footprint. Buying flowers grown close to home means you're supporting local farmers, using less gas in transport, and ultimately ending up with a much fresher product. Find local blooms at the farmers' market, flower mart, or requesting that your CSA expand to include a floral component.
Leaps in live fire
At a blaze of new restaurants around the West, live-fire, Argentine-style cooking is heating up. Chefs at TBD (pictured), Coqueta, and Farmshop in California; Ox, Ava Gene's, and Miller's Guild in the Northwest; and Tom Colicchio's Heritage Steak in Vegas are building their menus around grills by Grillworks, which have been called the Ferrari of grill manufacturers. Just one feature of these customizable beauties: the V-shaped grates catch all the drippings while foods cook, so there are no flare-ups and loads of richly flavored basting juices.
Wellness holidays on the rise
Yoga retreats seem almost quaint compared to recent innovations in the world of health-driven travel. From unplugged retreats (like Camp Grounded, a “digital detox” summer camp for adults in Anderson Valley, CA) to tailored wellness programs like Washington’s Inn at Langley’s winter getaways (which provide solitude seekers with journals, detox menus, and massage therapy), resorts and travel outfitters in the West are responding to travelers’ desire to stay—or get—healthy and fit while traveling.
More: Top 11 wellness retreats
Shopping Chairish, our new favorite design site, is like shopping a designer-only Craigslist. Here's how it works: Designers, design bloggers, or anyone with great taste and a lot of stuff list their items for sale. You can filter by item or city (right now it's in LA, San Francisco, and NY, but we predict more major cities will be added soon), then make an offer. The item can be shipped or you can pick it up. Watch the site often—new listings are put up every day, and Chairish and designers work together on curated collections for sale. shop.chairish.com
Ice cream's next scoop
What's even better than a scoop of small-batch, locally sourced salted caramel ice cream? How about the same smooshed between freshly baked double-chocolate cookies. Join the line at ice cream shops and food trucks around the West to request your own favorite combos.
And why not try making your own: Ice Cream Gingersnap Sandwiches (pictured)
Bridging a cultural divide
After 20 years of planning a pedestrian bridge from Tijuana to a customs station in San Diego is expected to open by the end of 2014. The 500-foot bridge will eliminate the 3-hour long border waits for those traveling back into San Diego—making it easier (and more appealing) to scoot across for a quick dip into Tijuana’s thriving food and arts culture.
Love the look of lawn but hate the maintenance and water? Now's the time to find a regionally appropriate no-mow variety and get the look of soft grassy waves with much less water and no mowing required.
Small Space, Big Dreams
We know small space is a big deal. That's why we're holding a contest to see your best ideas for living in tight quarters. Enter in January, vote for your favorite in March, then look for new ideas for getting the most out of your square footage in each issue of Sunset starting with the April issue.
More: Small-space style
Palm Springs is hotter than ever
Once Sinatra’s stomping ground, the desert city has reinvented itself in recent years. New hotel openings and a sizzling restaurant scene—plus the Trina Turk-inspired vibe and Coachella access—make this one of the West’s most up-and-coming cities. Our tip: Go during the summer, when hotel prices drop and pool parties make the desert heat manageable.
Outdoor living in the front yard
With more and more people ditching the expansive lawn for usable space, we're seeing a lot of people move the part to the front yard. Use a hedge or fence for privacy—or don't, and have your outdoor room as a welcome invite to your neighbors.
The flavors of Japan, in full flower
The isakaya, or Japanese pub, arrived in the West some time ago (Vancouver teems with them), and the ramen revolution has brought great noodles to all. We’re about to see another boom in Japanese flavors: Michael Mina is opening a fancy, 10,000-square-foot izakaya in San Francisco. Called PABU, it will shelter a freestanding ramen restaurant, Ramen Market. And Sylvan Brackett—who’s been wowing the San Francisco Bay Area with his bento box catering company, Peko-Peko—will open a brick-and-mortar, called Rintaro, sometime in 2014. We’ll lift our sake cups to that!
In 2013, San Francisco got its first passive home (Seattle built one the year before). This year, we predict the high-efficiency building method will gather steam. Not sure what a passive home is? It's built similarly to a typical home except it's 100 percent airtight. Instead of a furnace, the house has a heat recovery ventilator machine that pulls hot hair out of kitchens and bathrooms, draws in fresh air from outdoors, then uses the hot air to heat the fresh air and pushes it into the living spaces. The best part—the homes work in any climate, not just temperate ones.
A river (finally) runs through it
Sure, it sounds dry, but the destruction of the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam in Washington’s Olympic National Park will complete one of the biggest dam removal projects in our nation’s history. It comes on the heels of the Elwha Dam removal in May 2012, which means that by September 2014, the entire Elwha River—and the native Chinook and steelhead that call it home—will flow from the Olympics to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The far edge of fermentation
With pickling in firm comeback mode, fans of fermentation are venturing ever further in their preservation quests. San Francisco chef Staffan Terje, at Perbacco restaurant, is recreating the ancient Roman fermented fish sauce called garum; Nick Balla and Cortney Burns, at the city’s Bar Tartine, serve up tasty fermented borsch; and Alex Hozven, at Cultured, in Berkeley, crafts fennel kombucha. What with a new book, The Art of Fermentation, from fermentation revivalist Sandor Katz, and fermentation festivals popping up all over the West, you can bet we’ll be seeing a flood of cool new fermented foods this year.