Creative Commons photo by Amanda Veatch is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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  – August 9, 2019

Next Year, Pick the Pickathon

Last week in Happy Valley, Oregon was the outdoor musical event Pickathon—its 21st year!—and even though I didn’t go (crowds + hot weather aren’t my bag), I saw all my friends’ posts and have to admit I was a little bit jealous. I’m especially bummed to have missed out on seeing one of my favorite psych-rock groups, Khruangbin. If you want to hear a sampler of the artists who played out at Pendarvis Farm, Spotify made a playlist. But please, spare a thought for the two crew members lost in an accident breaking down the festival this year. —Heather Arndt Anderson, garden contributor

This Umbrella Has Got You Covered

One of the best things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is the lack of extreme summer weather. Sure, we get copious fog, but no sweltering temps, no thick-as-molasses humidity, no rainstorms to put a damper on an outdoor outing. However, a July trip to New York City meant I had to pack my sundresses (yay), changes of clothes in case of heat-induced perspiration (ugh), and an umbrella in case of showers (boo). The showers, they came, but I was well prepared with my Certain Standard Small Hackney Umbrella. Lightweight and durable, it’s the right size to keep me dry and also carry around folded up in my daytime tote bag, while the cork handle makes for a comfy grip. But perhaps the umbrella’s best feature is its hardly-ordinary color palette of bright poppy fabric with a white accent and a lapis-blue shaft. I won’t be grabbing someone else’s basic black umbrella from a bucket at a coffee-shop entrance ever again. —Jessica Mordo, associate digital director

Small Hackney Umbrella
   

Bigsby’s Folly Becomes a Favorite

I first fell in love with Bigsby’s Folly when I visited their Denver tasting room soon after moving to Colorado a few years ago. The winery has always been creative in their efforts to make wine more approachable: bringing imbibers behind the scenes with their “Winemaker for a Day Program,” hosting fun events like VineYasa yoga, and running the Monthly Growler Club. Plus, they have the sweetest golden retriever as a mascot. Now, they’ve upped the game with these awesome totable wines. Answering all the concerns of canned-wine haters, Bigsby’s created a bottle-can hybrid that’s ideal for hiking and wining. The wines—Rosé of Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon—are made with top-notch grapes by Bigsby’s Napa-based winemaker; and the aluminum, resealable bottles are almost the same size as regular wine bottles. Honoring the company’s commitment to philanthropy, part of the proceeds benefit the Morris Animal Foundation, too. We’ll drink to that. —Stephanie Granada, contributing travel writer

This Organic California Olive Oil Is a Chile-Spiked Revelation

The indie olive oil renaissance has got me blasting through quarts of the amber elixir this summer. And frankly I’m a little worried about the sheer volume of calories I’m consuming with every tin and bottle I empty as I generously glug it on heirloom tomatoes, fresh goat cheese, sautéed fish, and grilled eggplant. I mean it’s a healthy fat and full of antioxidants and all that, but still. Just when I thought I could wean myself of this exquisite habit, indie olive-oil darling Brightland releases a chile-spiked version of its single-estate California olive oil blends. It’s called Ardor and comes in that signature white powder-coated bottle (the better to prevent harmful UV rays from damaging the oil). The organic Frantoio olive juice is blended with jalapeños, chipotle peppers, and paprika, and it will be my go-to glug for the rest of the summer. Brightland recommends it as a pizza finisher, a grilled shrimp ennobler, and a chocolate gelato topper. Done, done, and done. —Hugh Garvey, executive editor

Ardor Chile Olive Oil
   

Filson x Pendleton x US Forest Service Smokey the Bear Blanket

As mascots go, Smokey the Bear is hard to beat. He’s been the flag-bearer for wildfire prevention since 1944, and serves as a constant and friendly reminder of fire safety regulations. This two-tone blanket sports Smokey’s mug amidst a Filson-designed pattern, all printed on a wool-cotton blend with whipstitched edges. There’s no better way to stay warm—and safe—at home or around the fire. —Matt Bean, editor-in-chief

Smokey the Bear Blanket
   

A Taste of Western Australia in San Francisco

One of my favorite international travel memories is of a semi-magical day spent in Fremantle, Western Australia, at the end of a 4-day train journey from Sydney. In Fremantle, my wife and I had the kind of travel day where you throw your pre-planned itinerary out the window and go where the wind takes you. We lounged under Moreton Bay fig trees while wild parrots flew above. We watched dolphins frolic at the mouth of the Swan River. We ate chocolate when the spirit moved us (like me, Australians have a wicked sweet tooth and Fremantle has chocolate shops like most cities have 7-11s.) And—not gonna lie—I did some day-drinking. A tasty highlight of the day was fish and chips and refreshingly lemony pale ale on a deck overlooking the Indian Ocean at Fremantle’s Little Creatures Brewing. I remember feeling like I had to savor that experience because there was little chance I’d be back that way soon—and I was right. But amazingly, Little Creatures has come to me. An outpost opened at the end of July in San Francisco, just a kangaroo hop, skip, and jump across the bay from my home in Oakland. Now I can get a little taste of that vacation whenever I want. The Mission Bay location doesn’t have Fremantle’s dolphins—but it doesn’t take me 4 days to get there, either. —Nicole Clausing, content producer