Jordan Vineyard and Winery Tasting Room, photo by Jose Manuel Alorda
Jordan Vineyard and Winery Tasting Room, photo by Jose Manuel Alorda

The West is a big, big place, and every week our staff is all over it, digging up the shops and restaurants, beaches and trails, performances and, well, phenomena that make the region so vibrant. Here’s the Best of the West this week

Sunset Staff  – April 29, 2019 | Updated May 17, 2019

Drink to Earth Month

“A few years ago, I stayed at the luxury eco resort Copal Tree Lodge in the south of Belize. It’s run by the crew behind Belcampo Meat Company and when I was there they were developing a boozy parallel to their meat business in the way of a sugarcane farm and rum distillery. Their operation in Punta Gorda is one of those closed loops of sustainability: They exclusively serve food they grow, make their own chocolate, and irrigate the property with rain forest canopy water. And this year they released Copalli Rum in the U.S. and I can finally drink their sustainable spirits, just in time for rum cocktail season. And I’ve got my eye on their white rum negroni. It’s earth month, right?” —Hugh Garvey, food editor

Courtesy of Nancy Neil Photography Studios

Something New for Your Skin-Care Routine

“Rejoice, skincare enthusiasts! The Sausalito-based skincare company Botnia will become the new best part of your skincare ritual. Founder and CEO Justine Kahn grows her botanicals on her Sausalito micro-farm and is truly devoted to offering a complete line of science-driven, handmade and organic products. Build your own skincare routine or connect with one of their spas for professional input. My personal favorite: the Daily Face Cream Light.” —Kelsey Maloney, editorial assistant

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Rick Markovich, courtesy of Beach Blanket Babylon

So Long, Beach Blanket Babylon

“I’ve been to this show many times, and you don’t have to stay away long for it to be a completely different production, as the musical numbers are constantly updated to incorporate references to  current events. It’s a flamboyant and wickedly funny tribute to San Francisco that’s been running for 45 years—but it won’t be around for much longer. The show has just announced that it’s closing in December of this year, so get your tickets soon. I’m going to have to think of a new go-to, quintessentially Bay-Area experience to take my out-of-town guests to.” —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Nature Curios Galore

“I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood filled with highly unique, non-chain stores, and the crowning jewel of local commerce is Paxton Gate. Here you’ll find a dazzling array of curios from the natural world, beautiful and strange enough to gift just the right person with—or to fill out your own personal home collection. Shells, mounted insects, and geodes fall on the eye candy side of the spectrum here (in fact, my kids beg to dip into the store just to peer into the display case housing museum-worthy geode inventory). On the more bizarre end of the shop’s wares, you’ll find small animal skeletons and taxidermy specimens, including (no joke!) a stuffed giraffe head—it retails for over a grand, so who knows which local tech billionaire will snatch it up at some point? For the rest of us, there’s also nature-inspired jewelry, lovely prints, and a small houseplant nursery.” Locations in San Francisco and Portland. —Jessica Mordo, associate digital director

Pasadena City College Flea Market

“Everyone in LA knows the Rose Bowl Flea Market, but the massive Pasadena City College Flea Market also purveys its share of diamonds in the rough—maybe more, since it’s less trafficked by folks. The first Sunday of every month, a long-haired dude in bellbottoms regales you with the history of vintage concert tees and a thoughtful ceramicist with kind eyes shares the painted pots from her wheel with you. You’ll find Moroccan carpets, 80-year-old children’s books, painted ukuleles, three-legged stools, and one of the best collections of record vendors I’ve ever seen … everything but cabbages and kings. Sometimes being there feels like rooting around inside Mary Poppins’ magical bag. Don’t miss all the areas—there are vendors inside the parking garage and on the other side of campus as well. It all starts at 8 a.m., and the early birds are there early, just like the Rose Bowl Flea, so don’t sleep on it.” —Dakota Kim, staff writer

Jose Manuel Alorda

Sonoma’s Most Stylish Tasting Room 

“The ivy-covered chateau at Jordan Vineyard and Winery in Sonoma always transports me to Bordeaux. Now, thanks to a renovation by acclaimed San Francisco designer Geoffrey De Sousa, the dining room feels like a chic Parisian atelier. De Sousa re-imagined the original 18th-century French design (buttercup yellow walls, French toile fabrics, antiques) so that it pays homage to both old-world France and the surrounding landscape. An haute-couture artist in London embroidered patterns that resemble moss and lichen on the high-back chairs and the floor-to-ceiling gold leaf drapes are meant to reflect the golden hills. A new butler’s pantry has French doors that open to a covered alcove so guests can watch the culinary team in action. The stylish new space is the setting for Jordan’s winemaker dinners and it will also host the welcome reception ahead of the winery’s first-ever picnics this summer.” —Jen Murphy, executive editor

Courtesy of Schreiner’s Iris Gardens

Iris Season

“I love bearded iris. The flowers seem magical. For under $15 magnificent flowers bloom every spring without much fuss. Plus, clumps get bigger with age so you get more flowers every year or you can divide them every 3 to 5 years to scatter around your garden. It’s iris season in the West so everywhere I turn I’m greeted with these beauties. That’s why I’m on the Schreiner’s Iris Gardens website planning which iris I want to plant this summer. Typically, the Oregon-based nursery ships plants so they arrive mid-July through mid-September. One iris to think about buying that’s been reliable is the ‘I’m Back’ tall bearded iris. It’s a two-toned iris that grows to 36 inches tall and it’s a fragrant rebloomer.” —Thad Orr, garden editor

Joseph Weaver, Courtesy of DecantSF

The New Wine Bar/Shop Hybrid I Won’t Stop Telling My Friends About

“I am constantly on the hunt for places where my friends and I can enjoy a glass of wine without the stuffiness of a traditional wine bar or tasting room. This growing list has a new addition with the opening of DecantSF on May 1. The space, which sommelier-owners Cara Patricia and Simi Grewal say prides itself on its inclusive attitude (re: not snobby) toward wine novices, sells wine from regions ranging from Sonoma to Spain. Grab a bottle to take home or, with a corkage fee, enjoy it at the shop. (There’s also a rotating selection of eight wines by the glass.) Food-wise, the grab-and-go snack section is like shopping the pantry of your hip friend. Pick up some of that iconic NorCal Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk cheese, locally-made apricot orange jam, and gluten-free wafer crackers, bring it all to the counter, and a staffer will whip up a cheese plate with your selections.” —Maya Wong, assistant editor

Michael Hanson

Go with the Flow

“Have you ever been raft camping? Me neither. I’m super inspired by the footage from Michael Hanson’s trip up the John Day River in Oregon to book a trip in late spring or early summer. A river float contains all the beauty of an adventure to a national park, but without the crowds. And it’s more eco-friendly!” —Zoe Gutterman, associate digital producer

Duer Stretch Denim Jacket

“The variable climate out West means I need a versatile piece that looks good even after it’s been stuffed in a backpack. This denim jacket, which comes in both a men’s and women’s cut, has an otherworldly stretch to it, and gives warmth on windy, damp days without overheating on sunny ones. It’s an essential addition to any coat rack.” ($130, shopduer.com) —Matt Bean, editor in chief

New San Leandro Hot Spot

I live in San Leandro, CA along with several current and former Sunset editors. Never heard of San Leandro? Neither had I, but it’s a wonderful suburb with historic homes. There is a great beer scene—Drake’s Barrel House, 21st Amendment, Cleophus Quealy, The Cooler—but high-quality restaurants are few and far between (Sons of Liberty, Zocalo, Paradiso). So, we were thrilled when Top Hatter’s Kitchen set up shop in San Leandro! Open last week, the restaurant, which began as a food truck, took up residence in a midcentury hat shop, and they kept the name, the architecture, and the stunning bonsai trees. They turned the space into a contemporary hangout with clean lines, bright tile, and an incredible, vegetarian-friendly menu, like ricotta donuts, mushroom pâté served with As Kneaded Bread, and a beautiful cauliflower and hen of the woods entrée. –Kendra Poppy, audience growth editor

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