Cooking in Marfa: Welcome, We’ve Been Expecting You

MarfaThat’s quite a title – Cooking in Marfa: Welcome, We’ve Been Expecting You. Marfa sounds like it could be a Mediterranean island with sun-kissed beaches and a whole load of lemons, but it is in fact a rather stylish small town in a desert in Texas, and not far from the Mexican border.

In the past decade Marfa has become a bohemian hub of the international art world. It has a small full-time population of less than 2,000 people but it is now a magnet for food lovers, and that is the reason for the location of the restaurant The Capri. Its reputation, however, is built upon its food.

Cooking in Marfa: Welcome, We’ve Been Expecting You immerses readers in food, geography and charm, and introduces memorable people who have made this town such a draw. But the book mostly has its focus on The Capri. It first opened its doors in 2016. It is owned and run by Rocky Barnette who is the chef and co-owner of The Capri. He comes from North Carolina and has previously worked at the three Michelin-starred The Inn at Little Washington in Washington. Co-owner Virginia Lebermann is from a family of ranchers who have been in Texas for a century.

Iconic restaurant

The book is gift quality with plenty of photographs to create a culinary travelogue. There are sumptuous food shots as well as local scenes of people and places of interest. Cooking in Marfa includes several essays that chronicle the founding of the iconic restaurant, but this is far from a desert-dry tome. It is vibrant and humorous.

This is undoubtedly a book for chefs and serious cooks but even a keen food enthusiast will love this volume, which is filled with inspiration. It includes over 80 recipes, with hints of ancient Mexican foods and techniques as well as contemporary Texas dishes. They have a focus on local ingredients so one might have to bring some items back from one’s next trip to the border lands, or seek out a speciality Mexican food provider. Notes offer helpful tips on flexible substitutions for those less familiar ingredients.

The recipes are divided into 7 chapters: Cocktails, Smaller Dishes, Composed Dishes, Tortillas and Breads, Helados, Bases and Sauces, and Pickles and Ferments. Recipe highlights include the Hibiscus Margarita (which Rocky calls a “good for you” margarita because of all the vitamins in the dried hibiscus flowers). That was a winner chez nous as I just happened to have a bag of those dried flowers.

Cooking in Marfa: Welcome, We’ve Been Expecting You is fascinating. It is unashamedly cheffy but none the worse for that. A great gift for anybody in the hospitality industry or heading to catering college.

Cooking in Marfa: Welcome, We’ve Been Expecting You
Authors: Virginia Lebermann and Rocky Barnette
Published by: Phaidon
Price:  £35.00
ISBN:   978 1 8386 6049 9