Sunset Celebration Weekend

For the past few years, the Sunset Headquarters has been putting on a celebration weekend celebrating the best of the west.   If you aren’t familiar with Sunset, it’s a magazine first issued in 1898 and focuses on homes, cooking, gardening, and travel with a strong focus on the Western United States.

Last year I had attended the event, taking the Cal Train and biking through the rain, but enjoying every minute of it.  This year, I wrangled my sister, mom, and grandma into the event, knowing full well they would get just as much of a kick out of it as I did.

I purchased tickets ahead of time online, but it came with a slight credit card charge.  There is also the option to purchase tickets at the venue, cash or credit card.  (General Admission = $16, Seniors = $14, Children under 12 = Free)

This was also a perfect way to celebrate Meghan’s 18th birthday, but don’t worry, I made sure to extend the celebration.  Stay tuned for later in the in post.  🙂

All the people inside the venue wandering around.

We arrived around 10:20 and there were already bushels of people surrounding the place and walking to and from the venue.  Event goers had the option to park at the Facebook headquarters and take a bus over, get a discount by biking to Sunset, or fending for your own parking.  We chose the later and enjoyed our walk.

When we walked through the Sunset arches, each person received a reusable bag filled with goodies (discounts, programs, etc).  Most of the events such as cooking, gardening, and decorating demonstrations took place on the grounds of the headquarters.  In addition, there was a lane of food trucks, travel vendors, and countless other companies marketing their products.

Asian Peanut Noodle Salad w/ Chicken & Sopressata-Manchego-Dried Apricot w/ Homemade Roasted Almonds

If you browse carefully enough, you might be able to find a couple tents to take part in the crafting activities (painting pots, constructing floral leis, and more).  We did our best, along with seemingly everyone else in the world, to pick up each free sample possible.  The first one of the day was right inside the office space – California avocado and honey ice cream and just after a few hours, the line was wrapping right around the building.  I stole a bite from my sister’s cone and was surprised by the creamy and irresistibly tasty flavor.  I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years there was any avocado in it at all.

This was one of my favorite samples – different flavored jelly with a kick of habenjero. Just perfect to clear the senses 🙂

Bloody Mary Bar (virgin and alcoholic) provided by Lea & Perrins

Who doesn’t love a nice beef jerky? Definitely a snack on the chewy side 😉

Other samples came from sponsors such as Safeway (who also sponsored a test kitchen demonstration), Snapple, Orowheat, and Heintz.  We were all so stuffed from the samples, but managed to pick out a couple of dishes to try from food-truck lane.  My mom and I split a mixed grilled veggie quesadilla, blueberry lemonade, and Meghan’s conquered the grilled corn.  Notice the Lawry’s season salt as a topping addition.  My grandfather worked for Lawry’s for a long time as a sales executive and later president, so we are always promoting the product wherever we go.

Range of toppings for one’s corn. Note the Lawry’s prominently displayed on the shelf.

A showcase of specialty beverages (we sampled out the blueberry lemonade and were quite pleased with our choice)

Fun Northern California Sandwich Ideas

SoMa Sandwich: Garlic hummus, roasted red pepper, and arugula on Health-full 10 Grain
The Nob Hill: Herbed cream cheese and cucumber turkey on Country Buttermilk

It is a thrill to read each month’s edition to see which recipes, travel hot spots, and decorations are featured.  Even better, is experiencing the company’s creativity in real-life.

The two cooking demonstrations we attended included a demonstration on smoking ribs, and another by Joy Wilson, Baking Blogger and Cookbook Author. The only bummer is one my favorites – Guy Fieri – is presenting at tomorrow’s kitchen demonstrations.  Joy Wilson was quite cute.  She is a self-taught baker that lives in Los Angeles, and has a number of intriguing recipes that we will have to sample this summer.  She demonstrated her coffee bacon and cheddar/jalapeño biscuits, both perfect for brunch, that is of course if you like brunch.  If not, I’d say they’d be perfect for a snack or any other meal.  Who says you can’t have breakfast for dinner?

Our Grill Master explaining his expertise – supposedly removing the layer of fat right next to the bone allows the ribs to absorb more of the rub’s flavors

Revealing the Southern technique of the “foil crunch” – wrapping ribs in foil with extra sauce and placing them on the grill for an extra 30 minutes

Waiting to watch out second cooking demonstration of the day

Meghan, Joy, and Kaitlin after the demonstration & book signing (we plan to test out some of her recipes this summer!)

I can’t believe how many bloggers there are today, sharing their cooking expertise, travel knowledge or just plain ‘ol thoughts.  I’m probably doing all of the above here and for a long time to come, but still neat to know.  The real question is to browse each blog and understand what makes each one different.

The “hands-on” activities for the weekend included: painting a terra cotta pot to take home or cooking in the Weber’s grilling school to prepare your own grilled pear and gorgonzola cheese flat bread.  How tasty! Definitely something to make at home!  Grilled fruit seems to be on the rage, so I’ll have to test it out.  Each of the recipes and authors or chefs that were featured in this weekend’s celebration was included in a little program or booklet that was sent home with each guest, so you could follow along or make the dishes later on.

There certainly was an eclectic mix of food occurring along what I called “Food-Truck Lane.”  Some of the various food vendors included:

Look at the size of that paella pan! Brings me back to my days in Barcelona 🙂

Other Places to Explore at the Celebration:
Ikea’s Cooking Stage
Safeway Outdoor Kitchen
Wine Seminars (registration required and costs extra)
Local Brew/Wine Tasting (extra cost but chic take-home glass!)

Fun looking brewery labels

Travel Stage

Now, wouldn’t that be a nice camping setup? I’m sure John Muir had something just like that, we just didn’t know about it.

Home Stage

Garden & Outdoor Living Stage

It was also neat to explore the headquarters themselves.  I’m sure we were shuttled away from some of the very important offices, but everyone was able to wander through the test-kitchen and peek into the office spaces.  My favorites were the bungalows outside the test kitchen and various employees had decorated their walls with pictures of the Hawaiian Islands or wallpapered the walls with previous Sunset covers.  The entire headquarters is built in more of a ‘60s bungalow style that was once popular, went unnoticed for a while, and is now back to being popular.

A look at some of the Sunset offices (you can sort of catch a glimpse as the design…sort of)

Inside the test kitchen. They have to plan very far in advanced which types of recipes to sample for the upcoming magazines. Sometimes up to a year in advanced in order to secure the correct ingredients!

Anyways, the day was a hit and as my mom said, it was a check off the bucket (“life” to be more positive) list.  We continued Meghan’s birthday celebration at the Palo Alto Creamery in downtown Palo Alto with a delicious diner dinner, and topped off with the perfect mint cookie shake, one of our favorites. (Ok, we did also try a bite of the coconut layer cake, which I think has to also be the best in the west or the best in the world. It’s something about that middle layer of cream and coconut that makes one swoon)

Inside the Palo Alto Creamery. I absolutely adore these old fashioned set-ups. While I may not have grown up in the time period, it sure feels like the “good-‘ol days”

Happy Birthday MEGNAN! And here’s to more adventures!

“Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life — learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”

– Robert Fulghum


3 thoughts on “Sunset Celebration Weekend

  1. It was fun reading your visit to a familiar “haunt”…Jamma and I were invited to many Christmas parties at this beautiful headquarters……it was somewhat of a model for Lawrys Calif. Center Sunset used to call our grounds Sunset South…xoxoxPapa

    • I’m so glad you were able to comment on this! This will be a perfect way to stay updated. Yes, I do recall some of your stories but would love to hear more. It truly is a beautiful venue and I hope to travel there a few more times. It would be a lovely place to have a Christmas party.

      I am planning to stop by there sometime this week to see if I could help out next year on my days off from school.

  2. Pingback: Cookout at the Cabin | California Endless Summer

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