ATX Good Eats 2012
West Texas Vacay

Marfa getaway: Camp and cook with chef Lou Lambert at trailer-chic El Cosmico

Marfa getaway: Camp and cook with chef Lou Lambert at trailer-chic El Cosmico

El Cosmico in Marfa
El Cosmico comes from Liz Lambert, of Austin’s Hotel San Jose and Hotel Saint Cecilia. Trailers are just one type of accommodation. Photo courtesy of El Cosmico
Chef Lou Lambert of Fort Worth
Chef Lou Lambert leads  “Big City Camp Cooking” November 2-4 at El Cosmico in Marfa. Lambert's Fort Worth/Facebook
El Cosmico in Marfa
If you don't want to sleep in a trailer, you can choose a safari tent, teepee or personal tent (as in B.Y.O.T.). Photo courtesy of El Cosmico
El Cosmico in Marfa
Chef Lou Lambert of Fort Worth
El Cosmico in Marfa

Sleeping in a tent? Cooking all of your meals outdoors? No, it’s not summer camp; it’s a weekend in Marfa with the Lambert siblings.

The brother-sister and, respectively, chef-hotelier duo of Lou and Liz Lambert are at it again. And this time they’re getting back to basics with what’s being touted as “Big City Camp Cooking” (November 2-4) in the high plains of rural West Texas.

Lou Lambert, the creator of Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue in Austin and Lambert’s Steaks, Seafood & Whiskey in Forth Worth, among others, sums it up like this: “A casual weekend in the mountains of far West Texas learning the nuances of outdoor cooking, from backyard grilling to serious camp cooking.”

 Lou Lambert teams up with hotelier sister Liz for “a casual weekend in the mountains of far West Texas learning the nuances of outdoor cooking.”

And, if you’re going to learn to cook outdoors, you might as well get used to sleeping outdoors. Luckily for all the anti-campers, El Cosmico, the latest concept in Liz Lambert’s growing empire of raved-about boutique properties, makes the transition pretty easy. 

Unlike its siblings — which include Hotel San Jose and Hotel Saint Cecilia and the historic Hotel Havana in San Antonio — El Cosmico forgoes vine-covered bungalows and Mediterranean Revival facades for, well, tents and trailers — but with the Lambert touch, of course.

Guests have the choice of one of four types of accommodations: trailer, safari tent, teepee or personal tent (as in B.Y.O.T.). But leave the sleeping bags at home. Each safari tent is about 120 square feet and features wood floors, queen-sized futon, lighting and an electrical outlet for those who just can’t bear to leave their beloved iPhone 5 at home.

The fun kicks off Friday night with a welcome reception of — what else? — beer, margaritas, and chips and salsa. But all of that is just an amuse-bouche. Grilled lemon shrimp quesadillas, adobo pork street tacos and cheese chiles rellenos in tomato broth remind you why you came.

On Saturday, the real work, if you can call it that, begins. You’ll learn what Lou calls the fundamentals of successful outdoor cooking — “menu planning, preparation, understanding your fire and proper equipment” — through hands-on demonstrations and classroom sessions that utilize both Dutch ovens and open-fire grilling.

The payoff, of course, is chowing down on your creations. (Think slow-roasted leg of lamb with chimmichurri, grilled asparagus with a broken tomato vinaigrette, and apple and blackberry crisp with homemade Mexican vanilla ice cream.) Highlights of the weekend are Saturday’s cookout dinner at Bunkhouse Ranch and the closing camp breakfast on Sunday, Lou’s personal favorite.

Guests will also have plenty of down time to explore Marfa’s thriving arts scene or simply take in the desert scenery from El Cosmico’s hammock grove.

Hardcore grilling and grubbing aside, the weekend is all about “getting out of the city and eating some great food,” Lou says. “There’s no report card, so you can drink a few margaritas and heckle the chef, or you can roll up your sleeves and work the fire.”

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For a full schedule of events and to register, visit elcosmico.com. Act fast, as spots are likely to fill up.