This past Saturday, we experienced something quite extraordinary. When my friend Tammy King called earlier in the week and asked if we were available Saturday evening, I said “yes” without even thinking to ask “why?” first.
Some of her friends have started a ranch B&B business and needed human props for photos to market one of their ranches in Marfa. So, all we had to do was hang out at the spectacular 8000 square-foot ranch home and eat dinner while they took a few pictures of us. Easy and fun, and it’s not every day that we get to hang out at a ranch, so “yes” was a good answer.
We arrived at the ranch gate, and waited for photographers Ross Chinni and his wife Ashley to meet us to document our arrival… a slow drive through the grassland up to the house, drone above us.
I was getting a little nervous because it felt more like we were filming a television commercial than having a few pictures taken while we dined. Maybe it was how we had to get back in the car and exit again so they could photograph our entrance to the house. Tammy just giggled when we mentioned that fact to her, because she knew what we were in for when they invited us.
Ranch 2810 was previously owned by Tim Crowley. Tim built this magnificent minimalist mansion that sits on about 2700 acres of Chihuahuan Desert, with enormous picture windows that frame the Davis Mountains about 30 miles away. He’s the owner of the Hotel Saint George and many other properties in Marfa. This ranch home, designed by Houston architect Carlos Jimenez, is simply stunning.
The current owners have it listed on VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner – and it’s about to be featured on their Explore Ranches website. Explore Ranches strives to make available for rent ranches in Texas and other western states. Even Beyoncé (that’s THE Beyoncé) rented this ranch on one of her visits to Marfa.
Co-founders of Explore Ranches are Jay Kleberg, Allison Ryan and Jesse Womack. Allison and Jesse were our hosts for the evening. Allison prepared a gorgeous charcuterie platter for us to enjoy poolside, under watchful camera lenses.
Personally, I can make a meal of the charcuterie platter filled with meats, cheeses, crackers, olives, fruit and other yummy things.
Next, it was time was time for photos on the observation deck that had the most outrageous view of Marfa and the Davis Mountains, then photos strolling through the luxury home, then photos poolside.
We ate dinner under the pool cabana, with the Marfa sunset in the background and candles lighting our artful tablescape as the evening progressed.
Jesse grilled beef tenderloin and strip steaks to perfection, served with a lovely garden salad and beautiful corn salad that I failed to photograph because I didn’t want to mess up the photographer’s photos with a phone in my hand. Everything was delicious and perfect.
Once the sun went down, more photos were taken, us four lounging on couches surrounding the enormous fire pit by the pool, as well as by the fireplace under the pool cabana.
Every detail was so lovely. I never knew such a majestic place existed on that quiet road heading from Marfa to the Pinto Canyon Trail.
Many thanks to our friends Tammy and James King for sharing this experience with us, and to Explore Ranches for including us in a magical evening. It’s a West Texas experience I’ll never forget.
Check out http://www.exploreranches.com to rent a luxury ranch, to dream a little dream, or to see what really exists beyond those ranch gates you pass on the highways in far West Texas and beyond.
All About Charcuterie
“Charcuterie” is a French term, meaning “cooked meat,” but a charcuterie platter can include cheeses, pickles and bread, too. Always include a few sweet and a few sour items in your charcuterie. Jams are ideal to counter sharper flavors, while acidic and salty items such as olives, fresh fruit and raw or pickled vegetables cut through the fat of charcuterie meats and cheeses.
This is not to be confused with the Italian meal-starter “Antipasto,” which is typically an appetizer typically consisting of olives, anchovies, cheeses, and meats.
The best part about a charcuterie board is that you don’t have to be a chef to create it. Choose a large wooden cutting board, 9×13 or 12×15 and get started.
- Meats: Two or more meats from each style – whole-muscle cuts, cured sausage and forcemeats, two ounces per person.
Whole-muscle cuts: prosciutto, bresaola (a type of dry, salted beef from Italy) and jamón (a Spanish ham). Make sure it’s paper-thin.
Cured sausages: salami and Spanish chorizo, and sausage.
Forcemeats: pates offer smoothness.
- Cheeses: One or two soft cheeses and one or two hard cheeses, two to three ounces per person.
Hard cheeses: Parmigiano Reggiano is a natural fit for prosciutto, and is usually the first choice for a platter. Cheddar, Colby, Gouda are other good choices.
Soft and semi-firm cheeses: Goat cheese, Chèvre, brie, Roquefort (bleu cheese), feta, gorgonzola, ricotta are examples.
- Sweet and Sour: Include a few sweet and a few sour ingredients in your charcuterie. Jams, olives, fresh fruit, raw or pickled vegetables.
- Breads: two or three bread varieties and crackers. Baguette, French bread, and toasted crostini.
To Serve: Fold and arrange the meats directly on the wood board. Serve jams, pickles and other sour goods in their jars. Leave the bread whole to keep it fresh. Provide quality cheese knives, a small dish or bowl for olive pits and spoons for jarred items are essential, like a serrated bread knife, but feel free to use your hands – tearing off a piece of delicious bread to pile the goods on is not a “charcuterie faux pas,” so eat up, y’all!