Dakota Kim

From ceramics and textiles from Latina makers to a pop-up grocery store with all kinds of fab goods, here’s the Best of the West of the Week

Sunset Staff  – February 24, 2020 | Updated April 17, 2020

Designing Women

While visiting the Pacific Design Center (you know, the towering blue, green, and red buildings in West Hollywood designed by Cesar Pelli), I took a coffee break and stumbled upon the comparatively Lilliputian beauty of home shop Atacama. This one-room jewel showcases artisan-made products from Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. I was entranced with the Zen-like balance of these brass and thread hangings by an artist from Mexico City, and by this stunning bamboo, bead, and ceramic teapot from a Lisbon atelier. After chatting with the sales gal, I learned a bit about the owners’ story, and how they often work with creators in Chiapas, particularly women (there are photos of the makers on the wall next to the register). “We know that there is a whole part of the world that is underrepresented in the design community, that’s not very well known and quite misunderstood,” their website says. “Latin America is experiencing a creative boom, from world-class cuisine in Peru to innovative design in Mexico, fine art in Cuba to cutting edge fashion in Argentina and beyond. We are excited to serve as curators and co-creators of luxury home decor from this very special part of the world.” This is the kind of shop that I like to support—one with touchable textiles, a proud message, and a link to the artisans. —Dakota Kim, staff writer

Pop Up Grocer 

Pop Up Grocer
Courtesy of Pop Up Grocer

Courtesy of Pop Up Grocer

Grocery shopping was always my least favorite chore (big-box stores depress me)—until Pop Up Grocer opened its doors in Venice. While one will probably not come here to do a full-blown grocery shop for the week, it’s my new favorite spot to stock up on desk snacks and pantry essentials like Good Mylk Co. Almond Latte Powder and Brightland Olive Oil. And, with over 150+ innovative natural brands, it’s the perfect place to make new discoveries. Pop Up Grocer is located at 62 Windward Ave in Venice Beach every day (until March 1) from 10am–7pm. —Jasmin Perez, digital strategy director

Best. Brunch. Buffet. Ever!

Best. Brunch. Buffet. Ever!
Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

To celebrate my husband’s upcoming birthday, he and I checked a longtime item off our SF Bay Area bucket list: weekend brunch at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. We’d heard people rave about the decadent buffet at onsite restaurant Navio, but those were just generic superlatives—little did we know what treats were in store. The seafood selection was off the charts, which makes sense given the resort’s coastal setting. Oysters, giant shrimp, and crab legs awaited, along with a blini and caviar bar (so many kinds of caviar!), followed by a separate sushi selection. After we digested the maritime delights, we moved on to a small array of dim sum (dumplings and bao always have my heart) and a petite course of charcuterie and cheeses (a spread that includes Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam has my immediate respect). We stopped ourselves from devouring the other savory items on display so that we had space in our bellies to indulge in the amazing array of desserts, which included Nutella bread pudding, assorted truffles and macarons, and a hot chocolate bar that our kids would’ve loved (toppings included mini marshmallows and rainbow sprinkles, for crying out loud)—but they weren’t there, so we didn’t have to share. You don’t need to be a resort guest to book a table, making the brunch a special-occasion splurge within reach. —Jessica Mordo, associate digital director

Sure to Be Pleased at House of Nanking

Sure to Be Pleased at House of Nanking
Courtesy of House of Nanking

Courtesy of House of Nanking

It was my boyfriend’s 22nd birthday last Sunday (turns out you’re not forever 21) and my celebration plans were less than comprehensive. Luckily, a lunch stop at one of our favorite Bay Area establishments, House of Nanking, made up for any lack of planning. This San Francisco restaurant opened in 1988 and is located at 919 Kearny Street—where the Financial District, Chinatown, and Little Italy collide. While the restaurant is always packed, I’ve never had to wait more than a few minutes to get a table as the service—though at times rushed—keeps the crowd flowing. Despite the quick pace of this dining experience, we (and our taste buds) never leave disappointed. Ordering the famous sesame chicken (pictured above) and dry braised green beans is a must and though my strategy is to always order enough for leftovers, ours did not live to see the next dawn. If you happen to be in the area and are lucky enough to find a parking spot, this meal is well worth any hassle and apparently makes for a satisfying birthday outing. —Drake Wilson, editorial intern

Springing Into Action

Springing into Action
Heather Arndt Anderson

Heather Arndt Anderson

It’s been a heckuva week for your garden editor. I spent last Saturday at the Oregon Truffle Fest, chatting moss ecology and soil science with mycology genius Charles Lefevre and freezing my hinder off in the chilly Newberg rain (the sweet truffle hound Lydia scratched me up a couple little truffles, now flavoring a bowl of hazelnut oil that my friend Craig Briscoe pressed). The next day, with a splitting wine headache and still burping truffle essence, I returned to Portland to attend the Culinary Breeding Network’s 8th Annual Variety Showcase to pick up Katie Gourley’s rad zine Baking for Biodiversity and taste the best of what plant breeders and seed growers have been up to all year—fragrant musk melons, sweet and storable winter squashes, purple-black dent corn that makes the best tortillas you’ve ever had. These people, bless them, are creating our future heirlooms. THEN I spent some time at the Portland Spring Home & Garden Show, taking in acres of yard and garden inspo (the giant New Zealand tree ferns in Ifti Ahmed’s jaw-dropping demo garden were definitely giving me some crazy ideas). And this week I’ll be in Seattle for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, exploring floral fashions and absorbing as much as I can to share in the garden section of Sunset. Stay tuned and say hello to a new growing season! —Heather Arndt Anderson, garden editor

Coolest Wedding Venue 

Castle Green
Creative Commons photo by John Sequeira is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Creative Commons photo by John Sequeira is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I essentially eloped. My wife, Pipi, and I got married several years ago at City Hall with just close family present, and had our reception in our living room; the wedding party just about fit around the dining room table. And I don’t regret it. I’m very happy that we saved a lot of money and rescued a year of our lives that most couples lose to event planning. Still, every now and again, I do have a “what if” moment. One happened this past weekend when Pipi and I attended her cousin’s wedding at Castle Green, in Pasadena. Built in 1898 (just like Sunset!), the building started life as a hotel and is now a residential building with a time-capsule first floor often used as an event space. Debbie and Keith got married on a magnificent marble staircase; dinner was served in a chandeliered ballroom; and when the band got too noisy, we could retreat to the roaring fire in a Victorian salon. Photos don’t entirely do the late Downton Abbey/Great Gatsby-adjacent vibe justice. If you’re lucky, though, you can catch a public tour of the building. They happen twice a year, usually in June and December. 2020 dates haven’t been announced yet, but I’m already thinking about committing a few of the bucks I saved getting married on the cheap toward booking a summer trip down to Pasadena to take another look. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer