In April, the husband and I visited Marfa, Texas for the second time. During our stay, we were lucky enough to eat at Cochineal. We went twice, actually. The first time we went for dinner and both had the vegetarian plate (not on the menu) consisting of ratatouille, lemon mashed potatoes, bok choy, and asparagus. The second time we went for brunch and had the vegan breakfast plate (also not on the menu). Amazing and fantastic on all counts. When you go to Marfa, which you should, do not miss this place. And Marfa is a small town, so it is totally ok to go twice.
But what is truly remarkable about Cochineal is that the food stuck with me. This specific restaurant inspired two meals in my home that we now eat at least twice a month. I use the ratatouille recipe from the Kitchn, and it is hands down one of the most delicious things I have made or will ever make. My only alteration is that I don’t pre-salt the eggplant. It cooks for long enough as is, so the bitter taste isn’t a problem. Still a lengthy cooking process for this recipe, but so worth it. I usually serve with fresh bread and olive oil with a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Although the last time I made it with baked cheesy polenta. Mmmmmm….
The second meal that sticks is something we’ve termed Marfa dinner. It is a combination of completely satisfying things you wouldn’t necessarily think belong together. But man oh man, is it great. Slow cooked black beans, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach (kale or swiss chard is even better), and bread with a little salsa on the side. I use the 101cookbooks smashed potatoes recipe. Oh, and her recipe for garlicky greens minus the parmesan. And maybe the one for roasted tomatoes, too. (P.S. In total Julie & Julia style: “I love you, Heidi.” Every little thing you do is magic, and it is very likely that one day my blog will just be a direct link to your blog.)
So yesterday's brunch got me thinking about food that sticks. What I bring home from the best vacations is something I get to make mine and incorporate into my home, which I guess it is the same concept as any souvenir. Each time I cook that meal, the smells and tastes of that other place comes back to me. Often, it leads to a conversation with the people I’m sharing the meal with about the inspiration behind it. Souvenir food is a way to ensure that special moments from your vacation become a part of your home and a part of you. Our awesome realtor said it best right after we bought our house in November 2007:
"...matter absorbs energy...the more you plant around your new space, and the more art you bring in and music you play and laughter and good cooking- it will suck all that up and be ALL YOURS!"