“Closed” was the theme of our first two days in Marfa. We hit the road for West Texas Thursday morning in anticipation of a long-awaited culinary weekend of camp cooking, hosted by Chef Lou Lambert. It’s also decidedly convenient timing. A year ago this weekend, I met Mister Wonderful.
We learned pretty quickly that this sleepy little town only rises to the occasion on weekends, so this foodie’s search for our first dinner and breakfast here was thwarted by one too many “Sorry, we’re closed” signs. The local pubs? Same story.
Moral: Don’t come to Marfa before Saturday and make sure you leave before Monday if you have any aspirations for culinary or cocktail greatness.
The road out west
Thursday, we made a quick lunch stop in Fredericksberg at the Peach Tree to procure a couple sandwiches: A fried green tomato BLT for yours truly. And a lovely jalapeno pimento cheese sandwich for Mr. W.
A few hours of hilly driving terrain later, we stopped in Balmorhea (right) to cool off with a dip in the San Solomon Springs, a sweet spring-fed pool that hovers around 72 degrees year-round.
Slippery algae coats the sides and bottom of the pool, so I took full advantage of the opportunity to regale Mr. W with a half-submerged ode to the Ice Capades.
Afterward, we drove through the Davis Mountains (below), also known as the “Texas Alps.”
The second highest range in the state was apparently formed 35 million years ago after a couple of volcanos erupted and the magma solidified into the vertical strata that’s makes up the existing crags.
Once in Marfa, we checked into our safari tent at El Cosmico, a trailer park-campground-hotel space just down the road from the main drag. El Cosmico is playing host to our cooking camp, too, so it made sense to make the site our digs for the weekend. Mister W called it an extension of Austin in the middle of the desert.
We grabbed dinner at Jett’s inside El Paisano Hotel, made famous by its role in the movie “Giant,” starring Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Rock Hudson. (The three-hour epic is worth the time commitment.) For the beau, a pistachio-crusted fried steak smothered in jalapeno gravy and accompanied by mashers and broccoli. I had the roasted veggie plate, comprised of Brussels sprouts, red peppers, spinach and zucchini. Not too shabby.
Thoughts on our first night in the safari tent: Bugs. Everywhere. Huge ones. Moths, ants, spiders, beetles. Flying things. And I can handle those. But roaches? Oh hell no. Let’s just say I slept with one eye open. I think that after this trip, I will have become a little more desensitized to the crawlies. Mr. W thinks otherwise.