Monday, June 7, 2010

Sunset Magazine Celebration

This weekend was the Sunset Magazine Celebration in Menlo Park. Each year Sunset Magazine holds a kind of open house on their campus. The public is invited in to see their test kitchens and gardens and to visit with some of their favorite product vendors and get ideas.

This celebration weekend is one of those things that myself and my carpoolers had wanted to go to before, but had never gotten around to. After all, for us Sacramentans, it is a bit of a trip. You either have to have a burning urge, friends who also want to go, and best to have both. This year there were a couple of other Meetup members who wanted to go and so we set off at 7:30 with the thought of getting there when it opened and hopefully beat the crowds.

We arrived right around the 10 a.m. opening time and were able to find free parking on the street a couple of blocks away. Tammy had joined Sunset's wine club and one of the perks was free admission tickets for two. Niefia and I bought another ticket and split the cost. The wine club membership allowed them to get free glasses and entry to a VIP section which was nice and air conditioned. We needed that later in the day.

The headquarters is located over several acres in few single story buildings. No high rises here, which is comforting considering the Sunset mystique. Throughout the campus were booths, stages, and vendors galore.

I hadn't known what to expect and I will tell you - I had a great day. The place was, of course, packed. We were given reusable shopping bags upon entry and immediately got into a line for free samples. In a 50 foot stretch were about twenty vendors with samples of sorbets, teas, sauces, chocolates, and more. The line crawled and so after getting a chocolate fix we moved on to see the test kitchens.

They have one large kitchen with four cooking sections. Each section has different appliances that are typical to those found in household kitchens. After all, they want us all to be able to replicate the recipes that they provide with the same equipment. That's why one kitchen is gas oriented, another electric, there's one with grills, another with a convection oven, etc. Each recipe gets prepared at least four times and sometimes as much as a year in advance. It's the beginning of June and they had just finished testing Thanksgiving recipes.

Later we walked through their garden area, They had some interesting growing products that I wanted to look into, including Wooly Pocket planters and Plants on Walls, both for growing plans on your walls. I also saw potato towers which I'd like to try next year. In a two foot square area you can grow a mess of potatoes vertically in a cage structure.

There were also a couple of hands-on areas that were good for kids. One area you could paint a ceramic pot and in another area you could string together Hawaiian leis.

We never had to buy anything to eat or drink because there were plenty of items to sample. There were great products to view and every county in California and some places in Oregon and Nevada had booths trying to get you to visit.

I enjoyed myself and think I will go again next year. The lesson we learned for next time, go first thing to sign up for any seminars you want because they sell out right away.
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