Courtesy of Wolf Ceramics

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  – October 15, 2019

Handmade Mugs with a National Park Twist

Courtesy of Wolf Ceramics

I’m an avid mug collector, and at the top of my wishlist are these new mugs by Portland-based Wolf Ceramics in partnership with Parks Project. The limited-edition stoneware mugs have four beautifully geometric designs of Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Zion, and Rocky Mountain National Parks. They’re handmade by Wolf Ceramics’ Sarah Wolf, and are being sold in limited quantities on the Parks Project website. —Nena Farrell, associate home editor

National Park Mugs
   

Fall into These Footsteps 

Brian Flaherty, Courtesy of Bryr

Bryr, the women-owned and -operated San Francisco maker of cult-status women’s clogs, is known for its excellent craftsmanship, dyeing its leather and creating each pair by hand; and for its shoes’ wonderfully comfortable fit (I can walk a mile in my low-heeled clogs and not experience one ounce of discomfort). The clogs come in a number of styles, too, so you can opt for a more classic look or skew more peep-toed or high-heeled, among others. The beloved brand has launched its new fall line and it’s a goldmine of seasonal colors and perfect neutrals. I’m crushing particularly hard on the mustardy “Fennel” and terracotta-like “Clay” among Bryr’s autumn palette, while the not-black “Ink,” “Pacific Gray,” and “Natural Leather” are the versatile winners for any wardrobe. —Jessica Mordo, associate digital director

Bryr Fall Collection
   

Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy

Creative Commons photo by Lucas/Harry is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I’m not the only one who daydreams about the shopping spree I’d go on if I won the lottery, right? Well, if it happens to me in the next week or so, I already know one place I’m hitting up: Julien’s Auctions. On October 25, a large lot of music memorabilia will go on the block, and me and my imaginary deep pockets are all over it. The auction house is based in Southern California, and I was pleased to see how many Western rock gods and goddesses from a range of eras are represented. I could plunk down my fantasy fortune on original album art signed by the Beach Boys, photographs of Janis Joplin by photographer Jim Marshall, or a Pearl Jam setlist hand-written by Eddie Vedder. But my made-up money will probably go toward the holy grail of grunge artifacts: the actual (and unwashed!) fuzzy green sweater worn by Kurt Cobain on MTV’s “Unplugged” in 1993. You can view the auction catalog, and join in online starting at 10am Pacific Time on the morning of the 25th. —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Everyone Likes These Apples

Natalia Ganelin/Getty Images

The leaves are finally turning up here in Portland, and while everyone else is getting into pumpkin spice everything, I’m stockpiling apples like a fiend! That’s why I can’t wait to hit Portland Nursery’s annual Apple Tasting (October 18-20, 10am-5pm). Dozens of apple and pear varieties—mainly heirlooms—are out for the tasting and to buy by the pound. Every year I tell myself to take it easy but I end coming home with 20 pounds of apples nonetheless. (How do I like them apples? A lot, it turns out.) That’s okay, though—the event benefits one of my very favorite causes: the Oregon Food Bank. There’s also a scarecrow contest, a cider tasting, BBQ, and pizza, so there’s something for everyone. —Heather Arndt Anderson, garden editor

Cut out the Middleman with Knife Company FN Sharp

Courtesy of FN Sharp

A sharp knife is the most important part of a home chef’s arsenal, and I’m obsessed with pricey Damascus steel blades that can retail for as much as $1,000. Thanks to a new direct-to-consumer company, they’re finally within reach of my wallet. With 67 layers of folded metal, the blades retain an edge longer than conventional alloy structures and add the benefit of the classic variegated surface. Testing revealed elegant balance and heft through a variety of fine and coarse chopping; a variety of packages are available ranging from $375 for a three-knife set. Best of all, the company offers sharpening services via mail. Dull knives are no friend to the cook’s digits, I can woefully confirm. —Matt Bean, editor in chief

Damascus Steel Knives
   

Fall Color

Adria Photography/Getty Images

I grew up on the East Coast, where driving through Upstate New York to gawk at fall foliage and leaping into piles of fallen leaves were seasonal rites of passage. While I do miss that crisp fall feeling (it’s 80 degrees in L.A. today)—and while no California donut will ever rival the apple cider versions from Connecticut’s country farms—I have learned to appreciate the autumnal offerings of the West. Namely, the jaw dropping phenomenon of aspen trees in October. Their softly-serrated, heart-shaped leaves go from deep green to golden seemingly simultaneously, smearing the hills of the Sierras and Rockies with yellowed hues rivaling any East Coast amber. The added bonus of the leaves’ gentle quaking in the fall breeze makes for a vision that solidifies the season in my mind—donuts be damned. —Kate Wertheimer, travel editor