Last Friday, we did something we very seldom do… we went out to dinner on a double-date. We seem to mostly go out for lunch and occasional dinners just the two of us, and were excited to be going out with our friends Tammy and James King.
About a year ago, my husband and I decided to sneak away from the Davis Mountains when the forecast threatened snow. We drove down to sunny Port Aransas without telling anyone. As we were walking along the beach, I squatted down to take pictures of walking seagulls at their eye-level, and heard a female voice calling my name. I looked up, and it was Tammy and James, who had also decided to run down to Port A to escape the cold. We had a great laugh about secretly driving nine hours from home, only to run into neighbors.
Texas is a small world.
Friday night with the Kings, our first stop was Stellina in Marfa. I hadn’t been there since it was Maiya’s, several years ago. I was really excited to be finally getting a chance to check it out.
Stellina was packed, and we lucked out with a table for four as soon as we got there. We were seated quickly and given menus. The menu changes every night, and is a lovely expression of Mediterranean homestyle food – think Middle Eastern and Italian cuisine.
Seating is community-style (we shared a table with another couple) and the four of us decided to order and eat family-style, all sharing some of each plate.
We thoroughly enjoyed Burrata (a lovely piece of soft cheese with serrano ham and fig olive tapenade); Chips and Dips (toasted pita with avocado hummus and sunflower sikil pak – a creamy seed dip); the Squash Blossom Tart (with green chile, mushroom and ricotta topped with a squash blossom); Broccoli Salad (with kale, scallions, peanuts and shishitos); Baked Polenta (with mozzarella, portabellas, spinach and a delicious red sauce); Paillard (pounded pork loin with potato cress salad, and horseradish cream); Pork Belly Carbonara (with peas, parmesan cheese and fresh taglierini pasta), and Stuffed Eggplant (with red rice, chickpeas, cauliflower and feta cheese). Our table was filled with beautiful, creative food that was absolutely delightful. Pasta was homemade and perfect. It was all delicious.
For dessert, we decided to head over to Al Campo to see what was on the menu (Yes, the sign says La Playa, but Al Campo is inside the walls. Marfa).
On our way in to the outdoor restaurant, we ran into another neighbor, Fort Davis’ Joe Williams (owner of Big Bend Coffee Roasters in Marfa), who was leaving after having dinner with his childhood-through-adulthood friend, Alpine’s Rod Ponton.
The owner, Tatanka Guerrero, welcomed us and visited with us at our cozy patio table under the twinkling string lights.
He told us that some of his favorite customers are from Fort Davis, and called them by name (you know who you are, Janet, Lynne and Sara).
The dinner menu looked outstanding, with local ribeye steaks and half or whole chickens as a couple of the offerings… you could smell the meat smoking nearby.
Having already eaten dinner at Stellina, we opted for the Deconstructed Rustic Apple Pie. It was fabulous. I can’t wait to go back and try the dinner menu.
No evening in Marfa would be complete without a visit to Se Vende, a shop with only a vending machine inside, filled with items from other local shops. Tammy might or might not have a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses from RABA Marfa and other items from the Marfa machine.
Outside of Se Vende, there’s a free video “photo booth” (Smilebooth) that prompts you to “go crazy” and then emails a short video clip of your shenanigans in front of the camera, should you choose to document it.
NOTE: I cropped the husbands out of the photo to “protect the innocent”, and the looks on the wives’ faces were enough of a representation. No way am I posting the video 😜
We laughed and laughed all evening, and I still chuckle out loud watching our four-second video clip.
Thank you, Tammy and James, for getting us out for a fun Friday night filled with food, laughter and friendship. Friday night doesn’t get much better than that.
(Tammy and I loved the Avocado Hummus at Stellina and were trying to decipher all of the flavors. While this isn’t their recipe, this is inspired by Stellina)
2 c. canned chickpeas
2 ripe avocados, cored and peeled
1/3 c. tahini
1/4 c. lime juice
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for serving
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro, for garnish
Red pepper flakes, for garnish
Combine chickpeas, avocados, tahini, lime juice, garlic, olive oil and cumin in the bowl of a food processor and season with salt. Blend until smooth.
Pour mixture into serving bowl and garnish with cilantro and red pepper flakes. Drizzle with more olive oil if desired and serve with pita chips.