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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  – September 9, 2019

Apple AirPods and Nomad AirPod Horween Leather Case

I’ve been vocal about my obsession with the AirPods, which I believe to be on the shortlist for best consumer product of the past three years. I take them everywhere, and while I’d love a noise cancelling version to block out plane and public transportation clatter, the current iteration does just about everything else beautifully—pairing quickly, handling audio for conference calls, playing music, and so on. They’re durable, too—I’ve drop-kicked mine (accidentally), washed them (same), and even left them outside in the snow and ice (ahem, whoops!). But I’d still like to give them a coat of armor, which is why I’m in love with this beautiful leather case from Nomad and Horween. Horween’s been crafting hides since 1906, and this wear-friendly exterior shell slips neatly over the AirPod case without adding too much bulk or pocket profile. It’s the perfect add-on for an AirPod obsessive like myself. —Matt Bean, editor-in-chief

AirPod Case
   

Music to Grow By

Courtesy of Sacred Bones Records

On Saturday, the Getty Museum teamed up with Atlas Obscura and Brooklyn-based Sacred Bones Records in presenting the reissue of Mort Garson’s cult classic prog album, Mother Earth’s Plantasia. The album was recorded in Los Angeles in 1976, as a promo for the extremely popular Mother Earth’s Plant Boutique in West Hollywood. Though the Getty event was just one day, plant lovers can dig the dulcet tunes with their houseplants all year round.  —Heather Arndt Anderson, garden editor

Hotel Joaquin

The petite Hotel Joaquin resort, nestled along the Pacific coastline, feels more like St. Barths than Laguna Beach. The best part is they offer a curated program for adventure-seekers that includes access to surfboards, hiking gear, bicycle rentals, kayaks, and more. And for those looking for a more low-key stay, guests have easy access to Shaw’s Cove and the adult-only pool. A house cocktail upon arrival only sweetens the experience. Plus, did we mention that these “extras” are all on the house? —Jasmin Perez, digital strategy director

Hotel Joaquin
   

Printapalooza

So here’s something that will shock none of my officemates: My fashion choices tend to be on the safer side. Solids, sometimes in bold hues but usually earth tones or neutrals, and denim, denim, denim. However, I recently discovered a local, woman-owned and -designed brand that has me clamoring for prints in all the colors and quirky, bold designs. Nooworks collaborates with artists and designers to create original collections of prints, and then uses the playful textiles in a variety of comfy cotton garments. Now, I’m not gonna lie—these prints are L-O-U-D and were slightly intimidating at first. But upon trying a few things on, I was surprised and delighted to discover that they totally work (or should I say werk) due to the flattering cuts and fantastic fit. Now I’m a total convert to the Nooworks school of prints, and I want one of every jumpsuit, minidress, top, and pants for me—and for my mini-mes (yes, many items are available in kids’ sizes). Nooworks runs a retail shop in SF’s Mission District, distributes to boutiques elsewhere in California, and has online ordering as well. —Jessica Mordo, associate digital director

She Travels to the Beat of a Different Drum

If you associate singer Linda Ronstadt with soft country-rock hits of the 1970s, you’re not wrong, but there’s so much more to her. The heyday of her career straddled three decades, starting in the Summer of Love and persisting well into the Me Decade. Then things really got interesting. Since the ’80s, Ronstadt has applied her magnificent voice to genres ranging from light opera to mariachi. Sadly, Parkinson’s has robbed her of her ability to sing but the Tucson born-and-bred singer, whose ancestry is partly Mexican, still uses her voice to fight for social justice. I’ll never have the chance to see her in concert, but I’m looking forward to the chance to review her career through a documentary just starting to see general release called Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice. Right now it’s in art houses, but if you’re patient, you should get the chance to see it in wider release later this month. (To tide you over, here’s a playlist you can check out to reacquaint yourself with one of the greatest voices in popular music.) —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Dreaming of the Outback

On the spectrum of car obsession I lean toward extreme, even for an Angeleno. I happen to be in the market for a new car, which has me watching new vehicle releases with the same vigilance I do seasonal vegetables arriving at the farmers’ market, imagining how each new mid-sized SUV, plug-in hybrid, or hot hatchback might slot into my Southern California life. The car currently at the top of my list is the brand new 2020 Subaru Outback, the cult-favorite of rock climbers, snowboarders, surfers, and other outdoorsy (and wannabe outdoorsy) types. While it’s entirely new bumper to bumper, they’ve thankfully preserved the timeless wagonesque lines so as not to alienate its rabid fan base. The Onyx XT version hits the sweet spot, with its integrated roof rack, waterproof seat surfaces, torque vectoring all-wheel drive, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and beefier turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine that can pull a 3500 trailer (read: the vintage Airstream Bambi of my dreams). —Hugh Garvey, executive editor

The Perfect Festival for Cheese Lovers

This weekend I’ll be hanging with the fellow cheese-obsessed at the SF Cheese Fest. On September 14, the fifth annual event returns with its collection of artisan cheeses, local wines and ciders, live music, and seminars. Every year the California Artisan Cheese Guild invites over 20 California cheesemakers to show off their newest and most popular cheeses, from soft and milky camembert to spreadable chevre and intense aged gouda. This year I’m excited to try old favorites Nicasio Valley Cheese Co., Tomales Farmstead Creamery, and Cypress Grove, as well as newcomers like San Francisco’s Daily Driver. You can still buy tickets here if being surrounded by burrata and triple crème brie sounds like an ideal weekend plan. —Maya Wong, assistant editor

The Color Textbook of 2019

There are so many things I wish I had learned in school, and it feels like it would take another three-unit class and hours of homework to catch up on topics like color theory. Or it did, until designer Rebecca Atwood’s new book, Living With Color, arrived on my doorstep. Just out last week, the home decor manual covers creating and understanding color palettes, guiding readers on how to find colors that resonate with them in their homes. The new book acts as a guidebook to show both attainable examples and tips alongside aspirational design, and it’s guiding me to finally make some decisions about the colors in my currently under-construction bedroom. If you’re feeling overwhelmed in the age of Instagram and Pinterest, or you’re having trouble telling the difference between what really speaks to you versus what’s just been on your feed over and over again, grab a copy to help rediscover what really resonates with you.  —Nena Farrell, associate home editor

Living With Color
   

Room with a Celestial View 

Courtesy of Compass Lodge

Hello, star lovers. How’s this for an out-of-this-world escape? In small-town Huntsville, Utah, the Compass Lodge recently opened as one of only two hotels in the country to be built around a telescope. Housed in a building that looks like a barn with a silo, the 15-room boutique inn is run by a family—with the son manning the ski-themed coffee shop and the daughter running the observatory—so everything feels personal. Simple but stylish rooms pay tribute to the Ogden Valley’s agricultural roots (barn doors, black-and-white photos of cattle), while the telescope shines the spotlight on the incredible starry nights that appear around this area thanks to the neighboring North Fork Park, an International Dark Sky Park. Plan to come in winter, and you’ll be a mere 26 minutes from epic Powder Mountain skiing. —Stephanie Granada, contributing travel writer

Compass Lodge
   

Delicious Ice Cream? That’s Child’s Play

Portland-based Salt & Straw is known for its playful approach to ice cream, and for changing up flavors each month to maintain its seasonality at all of its West Coast locations. September’s new flavors are more playful than ever before: They were created by fourth graders who brought their ice cream dreams to life through the ice cream company’s Inventor Series. Different flavors were created for different regions: Los Angeles has “Avocado Toast Supreme,” featuring avocado ice cream, avocado chunks, and pieces of bread, while San Francisco’s Strawberry Mango Milk Bun flavor features mango ice cream with strawberry-mango compote and candied bread. Students also wrote descriptions for their creations, which were published without edits from grown-ups: “Strawberry Mango Milk bun ice cream flavor is something you have never experienced before. The taste of the Milk bun just melts in your mouth and the straw berry Mango really top it off! Ingredients: Ice cream!!!!!, strawberries (mashed), Mango (bite sized chunks), Mango juice, Milkbuns (bite sized chunks), Secret ingredient: Waffle chunks (shhhh!)” —Ellen Fort, food editor