Day 3 (Wednesday, October 22)
Today was restful. After a good workout in the hotel and a light breakfast, we took off to enjoy Alpine. We especially liked the Kiowa Gallery, where there were some very cool Loteria-inspired paintings and an entire collection of Dia de los Muertos art.
We drove around the Sul Ross University Campus. The campus sits atop a hillside east of town, overlooking Alpine and the surrounding plains leading to the mountains. It is a beautiful campus, with uniformity in architectural style. Driving around the town, we saw examples of well-maintained, desert landscaping and adobe construction.
And then, lunch. There aren't lots of dining options in Alpine, and the best-reviewed casual eatery (Magoo's) was closed for lunch today. We didn't want to eat anything heavy, so we stopped at a clean-looking restaurant called Little Mexico. Without dwelling on the negative, we agreed last night that it was the absolute worst food we had ever eaten in a restaurant. We ordered items from the menu one would think couldn't be ruined, but these were...so, when passing through Alpine, avoid Little Mexico!
After a siesta, we drove the 26-miles to Marfa. To me, the drive is beautiful. The landscape is almost lunar at points. Late-afternoon thunderstorms loomed to the north, and temperatures were cool and comfortable, near 70. I had hoped we could visit the Chinati Foundation and see the Judd works, but we just got away too late. Marfa is pretty much closed down by 6 p.m., so we just took a leisurely stroll around the town, looking in the windows of galleries and noticing a group of folks in what appeared to be a film-shoot at one end of the main street.
Dinner was our food redemption for the day! We had eaten at Maiya a few years ago when in Marfa, and made reservations at Cochineal this time. TripAdvisor and Yelp! reviews were mixed for this upper-end restaurant, so we didn't know what to expect. We were not disappointed! The food was excellent and the service, friendly. We chose small plates rather than full entree courses, and were glad we did. The highlight: pork ribs braised with cherry and jalapeno, providing the perfect balance of sweet and heat. This was the first night this appeared on the menu, and it should become a permanent fixture. We made a rare decision to indulge with a dessert: chocolate souffle with molten center! Yowza! The souffle was made fresh as we watched the young chef whisk the egg whites by hand. When we left, we understood the old Spanish phrase, "Panza llena, corazon contento!"
It was interesting to me that almost everyone at Cochineal was obviously visiting Marfa or a transplant there. It's difficult to not overhear conversations in this very intimate space...so there were visitors from El Paso...a young filmmaker...artists and folks who appeared to be very well-to-do, in a Santa Fe-rancher-creative sort of way. Marfa is a small town of contradictions and interesting juxtapositions: high end restaurant nestled by small town newspaper...Marfa Public Radio in a trendy rehabilitated space down the block from the barber shop, where both the sign by the door that says "We Will Treat You Well" and the friendly Spanish conversation heard through the open door invite you in.
Still trying to learn the ins and outs of operating the new camera, so hopefully there will be photos to accompany the narrative in the next entry. Next stops: Fort Davis, El Paso, and Las Cruces.