Top 100 cultural trends shaping the West

The ideas, people, places, and things that are making life out here better right now

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Dinner at the bar
Photo by Andrea Gómez Romero

#66-70: Bar dining and cheesemaking

66 | Dinner at the bar: At fancy restaurants, we’re starting to think the hottest seat is at the bar—the menu is often less pricey, the wines by the glass tantalizing and unusual, and, thanks to the bartender banter (and eaves-dropping), it’s entertaining to boot. Plus, a pile of Monterey sardines or a tall craft beer just tastes better at the bar, where food tends to come out faster. Dig in at hotspots such as Redd in Napa Valley (pictured; reddnapavalley.com). 

Everyone can be a cheesemaker here: The DIY food obsession has led to classes in everything from canning to kombucha fermenting (really). For our money, the biggest payoff comes from learning to make cheese—totally doable, yet utterly impressive.

67 | The Cheese School of San Francisco: Learn the ABCs of making fresh cheeses (think fromage blanc), and leave with a chèvre you’ve flavored yourself. $65; cheeseschoolsf.com

68 | Kookoolan Farms, Yamhill, OR: First, watch the brie, gouda, or cheddar demo. Then buy the supplies here to make your own. From $65; kookoolanfarms.com  

69 | Old Windmill Dairy, Estancia, NM: Hands-on intros walk you through the mozzarella process. A springtime bonus: bottle-feeding the farm’s baby goats. From $38; theoldwindmilldairy.com

70 | River Valley Cheese, Fall City, WA: Tackle a different cheese every month, from blue to havarti to manchego, and age it yourself. From $125; rivervalleycheese.com

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