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

Heirloom Tomato Basket

Tomato Time

Iain Bagwell

I’ve worked at Sunset for nearly a decade, but it wasn’t until last year that I started growing my own vegetables (scandalous, I know). Once my husband and I got over the excuse of lack of backyard space and planted seedlings in pots, we were able to hit the ground running. And no crop has been as successful for us as tomatoes. Due to a great amount of light (we live in San Francisco’s sunniest neighborhood, after all), our cherry tomatoes were prolific last year and this year’s crop of Brandywines is shaping up to be abundant as well. And so tomato time is upon us! As always, I turn to Sunset for recipe inspo, and while I’m crushing on this fresh gazpacho and this dinner party-worthy savory tart, what I keep coming back to again and again is this simple bruschetta recipe (to which I might sometimes add fresh mozz or burrata, but only sometimes) because as actual summer dwindles and SF’s true summer weather begins, I’m going to want all the no-cook garden-to-table simplicity I can get. —Jessica Mordo, associate digital director

Still Enchanting After All These Years

I love the Enchanted Forest, in Salem, Oregon. Built in the 1960s and opened in 1971, the thing that’s so great about the Enchanted Forest isn’t just my own personal nostalgia for the place; it’s how spectacularly it shines a light on the abject terror of children’s stories and nursery rhymes (Peter totally imprisoned his wife in a giant gourd!), while blatantly knocking off vintage Disneyland themes, and all within a real forest in Marion County, Oregon. The haunted house is an actual creepy old house that you have to walk through. There’s a “Wild West” town with real wooden sidewalks. There isn’t a single sophisticated thing about the place, and believe it or not, kids still love it. —Heather Arndt Anderson, garden contributor

A Factory Tour to Remember (Groggily)

View this post on Instagram

Sippin #laidback

A post shared by @ meganmbander on

Factory tours are good. Factory tours with free samples are even better. And when the factory is also a distillery—well, now it’s a party where you happen to learn something. I was reminded of this on a visit this past weekend to St. George Spirits’ production facility and tasting room. Because the distillery is small, the tour doesn’t take long, but you’ll get a thorough explanation of how distillation works. Then it’s on to the fun part. 15 different kinds of booze are on offer, from fairly straight-ahead rye to a chile-infused vodka and even a gin-whiskey hybrid. Each visitor can have 6 tastes, so, pro tip: Go with a friend and between the two of you, you can sample almost everything. Can’t make a tour? St. George spirits are available all over the west both in bars and stores; pick up a bottle of raspberry brandy or absinthe (yes, it’s legal now) and introduce yourself to creative distilling. —Nicole Clausing, producer

Rumpl Stash Mat

We’ve been fans of Rumpl’s stylish, packable comforters for years. This stash mat takes a similar approach and upgrades the picnic blanket using waterproofing underneath and a soft-touch material on top. Triangular pockets and tie-down loops help you anchor the corners by tucking in a rock or driving a stake and the best part: It packs down into its own envelope-sized satchel. —Matt Bean, editor in chief

Vantasy Stash Mat

An A-Plus A-Frame 

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

Dream-Worthy Sushi

While there are even bigger foodies on staff (hello, our awesome food editors!) I’m especially a sucker for great sushi. Fun fact about me: I actually went to a Japanese immersion school as a kid, and have been to Japan a couple times in the last few years. I recently visited Sushi Note up in Sherman Oaks (for a westwise L.A. gal, it was a quick drive even in rush hour). The cozy neighborhood sushi bar is pretty unassuming from the outside, with a gorgeous wood sign tucked between other businesses. But on the inside, I found the small bar had nearly every seat booked for the weeknight evening. You can find Chef Kiminobu Saito, famed from Encino’s 4 On 6 sushi bar, behind the first counter working on omakase dishes, while the second bar in the back pours wine. Sushi Note’s partners come from Augustine Wine Bar, so the spot is known for its focus on great sushi and great wine to pair it with. All and all, if you’re looking for your next sushi place, this is the one. —Nena Farrell, Associate Home Editor

A Hot Sauce to Funk up the End of Summer

View this post on Instagram

Direct hit 🎯🌽🌶

A post shared by T R U F F (@sauce) on

I’m not one of those food snobs who turn their noses up at truffle oil. Anything that instantly adds an earthy note to a savory dish is fine by me (yes, I’m a fan of the stinky, the barnyard, and the funky in cheese and wine). Combine truffle oil with hot sauce and I’m sold. Which is why I’m now stalking Truff Hot Sauce on Instagram. Made with chile peppers, agave, and, yes, truffle oil, Truff has been around for about a year but crossed my radar when I was rolling through Huntington Beach recently and came across their little factory. Apparently folks like chef Ludo Lefebvre dig. Grilled corn, get ready for your new funky, spicy friend. —Hugh Garvey, executive editor

Truff Hot Sauce

Keep Reading: