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Every week we share what shops, restaurants, venues, and happenings we’re excited about. Here’s a look back at our very top picks from the past year

Sunset Staff  – December 30, 2019

Echo in the Canyon

Some people like a crunchy Gibson guitar sound; some like a wailing Fender Stratocaster. Me, I can’t resist the sound of a bright, chimy Rickenbacker 12-string. I trace this back to my parents, who fed me a musical diet well balanced across the decades. The jingle-jangle SoCal tones of the Byrds and Joni Mitchell could often be heard in our house, and the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin” got me through many a winter’s day (and maybe planted a seed for some West Coast dreams of my own). Turns out I’m not the only member of Generation X enthralled with the sound of Laurel Canyon in the mid-1960s. Jakob Dylan (son of that Dylan) has produced a documentary called Echo in the Canyon that pays homage to that time and place. It premiered in L.A. a few weeks ago, and finally gets a wider release starting this coming weekend. Look for the late Tom Petty in what is thought to be his last on-camera interview ever. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer, originally posted June 3

The Coolest Little Pocket Knife a Dad Could Own

I have a drawer full of pocket knives handed down to me by the fathers in my life: my father, grandfathers on both sides, and my father-in-law. These men are no longer with us, but their knives are: Swiss army knives, a wooden-handled French Opinel with a rusted blade, more than one dime-store Case, an army-issued lineman’s knife, a black anodized Kershaw, and a patent-pending Leatherman. The knives were used by these men and I still use them today. So it shouldn’t surprise you that at the top of my Father’s Day wish list is the Elko folding knife from the Portland-based outfitter James Brand. It’s a tiny, little, handsome thing with a sturdy one-inch blade, a pry bar for loosening bottle caps and screws, and a little loop so it can go on your keychain. And it’s only $60, making it just about the most affordable heirloom out there. It’s something I’d hold on to for a while, and use now and again, comforted by the knowledge that it’ll probably end up in a drawer full of knives somewhere down the road and my son and daughter can fight over who gets which one. —Hugh Garvey, executive editor, originally posted June 10

Elko Folding Knife, $85 from James Brand
   

Art and Architecture Festival, Telluride Colorado

Art and Architecture Festival, Telluride Colorado
Courtesy of Visit Telluride

Telluride is one of those idyllic mountain mining towns you almost don’t want to write about, for fear of ruining the vibe with a deluge of visitors. That runs counter to my job, of course, and so the responsible thing to do is to promote activities and events that might fall during a more fallow season, rather than winter or the film festival, for example. Take the Art and Architecture Weekend, which I just attended. The five residences on Saturday’s home tour focused on the town proper; an epic four-bedroom high on a hill at the far edge of the box canyon where the town is situated; an overhauled former bordello across the street from the town jail; a restored late-1800s meeting hall used by Finnish immigrants, complete with an intact stage and hand-painted drop-down backdrops. Day two featured a newer crop of homes over the hill (accessed via free gondola); these were broader in scale and scope and newer—but still respectful of the landscape. Throughout I saw touches of the Sunset aesthetic: Accessible, but aspirational. And a fantastic (and responsible!) introduction to the town. —Matt Bean, editor in chief, originally posted July 22

Candle 03 Is Our New Number One

Fun ceramics are my personal obsession, and I’ve got my eye on Alison Wu’s new Candle 03 that just came out this last week. The final item in her three-part candle series, the Portland-based recipe developer and wellness blogger paired with three artists to create a different cool vessel for each one. Candle 03 caught my eye for the earthy design, with a colorful half-circle punch of blue or orange. The best part? Once you’re done with the candle, you can turn it into a little latte mug. —Nena Farrell, associate home editor, originally posted July 29

Candle 03, $63 from Wu Haus
   

An A-Plus A-Frame

An A-Plus A-Frame (Aug 26)
Courtesy of Adi Goodrich

I love a woodsy escape any time of year, and if I can bed down in an A-frame I’m doubly delighted. I’m currently saving my dollars and vacation days to book Triangle in the Trees, a new arrival on Airbnb courtesy of Adi Goodrich and Sean Peckinold of Sing Sing Studio in Los Angeles. Last year, the set-designing, art-directing duo purchased a dusty mid-century cabin in Fawnskin, CA—the cuter, quieter alternative to Big Bear in Angeles National Forest. Goodrich and Peckinold have spent the last 12 months tearing things out and fixing things up, renovating the two-bedroom A-frame to appeal to fellow artists, writers, and creatives looking for a place in the sticks to relax and recharge. I love the cabin’s simple lines (check out that staircase!), great use of color in accent walls and brightly patterned Dusen Dusen towels, and analog details like a typewriter in the bedroom and record player under the stairs. The personal touch I’m looking forward to most? A waffle maker and freshly stocked waffle mix in the kitchen—a small way for Goodrich and Peckinold to share their own morning tradition with guests. —Kate Wertheimer, travel editor, originally posted Aug 26

Triangle in the Trees
   

The Sichuan Chili Crisp All the Cool Kids Are Buying

The Sichuan Chili Crisp All the Cool Kids Are Buying
Courtesy of Fly by Jing

Right now my favorite way to finish off any meal I’m cooking is with a spoonful of Sichuan Chili Crisp by Fly by Jing. The woman-owned brand of chili sauce is made with all-natural ingredients and hits that sweet spot of hot and crispy without being off-the-charts spicy. I like to drizzle the garlicky, nutty chili crisp over fried eggs, tartines, and dumplings. I can also confirm that it even goes well on top of Neapolitan pizza, so I guess the options are pretty limitless. —Maya Wong, assistant editor, originally posted Sep 16

Sichuan Chili Crisp, $30 from Fly by Jing
   

Splish, Splash, Sloshed

Splish, Splash, Sloshed
Creative Commons photo by Janet Eastman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I spent a few days this week soaking up some rays, restorative mineral springs, and more than a little wine at Lithia Springs Resort and Wine Garden, in Ashland, Oregon. Surrounded by hilly oak savannah and sitting atop a natural mineral spring, the water is plumbed right into the rooms so you can soak in privacy (and while watching TV, if that’s more your speed). Best of all, I got to take a personal tour of the gorgeous Edwardian-style gardens onsite, thanks to head gardener/actual flower fairy Jan Cunningham. While I sat in the wine garden one afternoon, I saw an acorn woodpecker splashing around in a fountain, which was pretty much the most magical thing ever. —Heather Arndt Anderson, garden editor, originally posted Sep 30

Lithia Springs Resort
   

This Is About Humanity

I  first learned about TIAH’s mission to provide humanitarian support to families on both sides of the border last year and have been inspired to support the organization in any way that I can ever since. Their work to raise awareness about overwhelmingly heartbreaking family separations at the border is incredible. Through their sponsorship fund at the International Community Foundation, they’ve been able to support individuals with aid like legal services, mental health programs, and immediate critical needs like medicine, food, and clothing. If you have the means to donate, it can make a big impact for those families. —Jasmin Perez, digital strategy director, originally posted Dec 2

This Is About Humanity
   

Getting Crafty

Getting Crafty
Dakota Kim

My holiday is way too crazy with a new baby and lots of family reunions, so I’m starting a new tradition this year with my friends to help us slow down and savor the season: crafting a holiday wreath together. I just want my closest friends to forget their to-do lists, to sit down together and get lost in chatting and laughing over a fun crafty activity. Lots of us have pretty evergreens and vines in our yards in L.A. that make for beautiful ornamental fodder, or we can forage easily in the mountains. The process is simple: Use a grapevine, tough firs, and flexible branches or strong wire to create the wreath base (or you can purchase a wreath frame). Use green floral wire (or whatever you’ve got—twist ties will work in a pinch if you can hide them or spray-paint them green) to attach leaves and branches first, then lovely-smelling herbs (white sage from our backyard), fruit (unripe mandarins, oranges, and persimmons from our trees), and flowers (the bougainvillea that climbs the side of our house). Twist and tie with the wire, getting creative and fanciful. Check out our guide or this vid if you need help—you can even make a wreath with succulents if you don’t have any branches. —Dakota Kim, staff writer, originally posted Dec 10

Hogwarts by the Bay

Hogwarts by the Bay
Matthew Murphy

ICYMI, J.K. Rowling penned a six-hour play that continues Harry Potter’s saga into adulthood—and it’s now being performed on stage in San Francisco, one of only two locations in the U.S. (the other is, natch, NYC). SF’s Curran Theater is hosting the West Coast premiere of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which has already received rave reviews on Broadway and other cities around the world. I took my eight-year-old (who’s in peak Hogwarts mode, devouring the original book series faster than I can type this) on opening day and we were 110% captivated by the drama, humor, poignant themes, and impressive production value. I won’t spoil any details except to say, diehard Potter fans will want to see it. The SF run goes through July 2020, but best to book your tickets ASAP. —Jessica Mordo, associate digital director, originally posted Dec 16

Tickets, Starting at $59
   
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