AFBA Happy Hour: The Hightower

AFBA Happy Hour: The Hightower

The Hightower in East Austin is hard to classify.

Outside the patio is nice and large, perfect for grabbing a drink before heading home. In July, that did not seem like the best option, so we asked to be moved inside, which they so kindly obliged. Inside is a bit dark (and very hard to take good pictures in 🙂 ) but the atmosphere is relaxed for a nice after work happy hour.

About 15-20 people showed up to July’s happy hour—whether that’s because we didn’t have a happy hour in June or because there was free food is hard to say. We each got two free drink tickets. The drinks were fairly strong, so I gave away my second ticket. I would have liked my drink, the Deep Eddy Splash, to have been a tad bit sweeter, but it was refreshing none-the-less.

The rugged, small bar has surprisingly good food, which ranges from classic-with-a-twist American food to traditionally ethnic dishes.

At The Hightower, the chef takes the always-popular Brussels sprouts ($5) and adds peanut butter and golden raisins, to create something different than you’ll find elsewhere. The fried chickpeas ($4) were a nice, crunchy pre-dinner treat. But the real favorite seemed to be the roasted pork jowl with rice, egg yolk, burnt avocado, cucumber, pickled shallots and house sriracha ($14). I tried a bite before the bowl got stirred up with all the roasted pork jowel and it seemed top notch!

I’ll definitely recommend this place to coworkers for a future happy hour. Thanks for hosting us!

AFBA’s Biggest Fundraiser The Big Chill Helps Meals on Wheels

The-Big-ChillHey! We just wanted to share with you one of the biggest events the Austin Food Blogger Alliance puts on. This year, we’ve changed the name from Cupcakes and Cocktails to The Big Chill, which will focus a bit more on the food side than in prior years where the cupcakes were the main focus.

Restaurants will be serving cold dishes to cool you off from the summer heat. As noted above, we’ll have yummy foods and drinks from some great chefs, such as No Va, Trace, Noble Sandwich Co. and many more.

I’m especially excited that this year’s event benefits Meals on Wheels and More, my nonprofit of choice. I already support them financially, but especially since my grandma died recently, I’ve been thinking about what a great service they are for the older community who may just want a visitor to pay them a visit and bring them a hot meal.

I hope you’ll come out June 26 and enjoy food and drinks and support Meals on Wheels! It’s gonna be a blast!

Purchase your ticket now at

AFBA Happy Hour: Trace

AFBA Happy Hour: Trace

Tonight the OhSpooners got the chance to try Trace‘s happy hour* as part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance monthly pow-wow. Trace is an upscale dining establishment located within the W hotel in downtown Austin. The weather was great, the cocktails were spicy and the food was delicious. I especially enjoyed the cheesecake with grapefruit on top (not pictured), although everything was excellent.

Our friend, Emily Teachout, promotes the restaurant, so we were especially excited to check it out. She did not let us down. The staff was very helpful and you really can’t beat the view—perfect for people watching. The prices for happy hour, I’m quite surprised to say, are very reasonable. Crab cake for $7? Yes, please! I’ll definitely have to go back.

Crafted cocktails are $7 during happy hour.
We recommend:

Deep Eddy vodka, jalapeno, lemon juice, cucumber water

Until we meet again!

*Food  and drinks were courtesy of Trace.

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AFBA: Happy Hour at Finn + Porter


By Tiffany Young

Last Wednesday, the Austin Food Blogger Alliance held its monthly happy hour at Finn + Porter near the Austin Convention Center. If you haven’t made it to Finn + Porter, the bar is hopping during happy hour, the cocktails are refreshing and the appetizers are tasty. I couldn’t try many of the appetizers, since they were meaty, but the one above was good! Check out more photos in this slideshow:

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AFBA Potluck: Quiche Me Again, Please

DSC_2635By Tiffany Young

OK, from the title, you may have already guessed I have a bit of a love affair with quiche. I mean, how could I not? It has eggs. I love eggs. It has cheese. I love cheese. And best of all—it has crust! I mean frittatas are good, but quiche, with it’s lovely crust, is better. (That’s the difference between quiche and frittatas if you never knew.)

I have been invited to a lot of potlucks lately, and, while I enjoy cooking I don’t like to spend all of my free time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, unless it’s by choice. So, I’ve been sticking to quick and dirty recipes. Some of my favorite, easy recipes include cornbread, quick pies and—back to the subject—quiche.

My favorite base recipe comes from here. This “recipe” is perfect for me, because it’s not too structured. I want the basics: about this many eggs, this much dairy product, but I never really follow recipes to the T. This recipe allows you to decide what to add. Case in point, sometimes I have milk on hand, other times it’s half and half or cream. They all work just fine, so start with this recipe and then venture from there.

This quiche was made to share with the Austin Food Blogger Alliance for our anniversary potluck. You can just imagine all the deliciousness that was shared. And in good company, too!

Luckily, my coworker, Frank, had brought me a dozen fresh eggs and I had a frozen pie crust already awaiting for me in the freezer.

At the store, sundried tomatoes were calling to me, so I decided to pair it with feta cheese and Italian herbs. A quick tip: Always line the pie crust with cheese, so it doesn’t get too soggy on the bottom. I had a little cheddar cheese to start with, about 1/4 cup to spread on the bottom. Then I added a thick layer of feta cheese, then sundried tomatoes (both of these items already had Italian herbs added), then the egg mixture (see the formula on the link above) and then I added a sprinkle of Herbs de Provence.

I wasn’t sure what I would get since I’d never used feta or sundried tomatoes in quiche before, but it was better than I had even imagined.

So, the next time you’re pressed for something to bring to a potluck (or a brunch, or Easter breakfast), do us all a favor and make a quiche (just remember it takes about a full hour to bake, so it’s not necessarily quick, but it is easy!).



Childhood Memories with Natalie Paramore

Meet Natalie Paramore, AFBA secretary and food blogger for We asked Natalie to tell us a bit about her childhood food memories.

AFBA secretary

AFBA secretary

1. What was the most (or some of the most) common meal(s) you ate as a child?
For me, I loved buttered noodles and taco salad as a kid.
2. What was your favorite snack as a kid?
My favorite snack was triscuits and cheddar cheese warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave or oven. 
3. Tell me about the setting of a typical meal in your family.
I ate out a LOT as kid because my parents worked. So, my dad was really big on using table manners, like sitting still, napkin in lap and using proper utensils. Especially chopsticks at Asian restaurants. 
4. Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
I really liked mushy french fries and would always try and pick the mushiest ones to eat first. 
5. If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently? 
My palate has definitely changed! It probably changed the most in college. I really love fresh salads and juice, which I never liked as a kid. One thing that hasn’t changed is that I still love green beans and broccoli!
This is a part of our Childhood Memories series. Want to be considered for a future post on your childhood memories? Contact

Childhood Memories with Brittanie Duncan of Three Diets One Dinner

Meet Brittanie Duncan, AFBA social chair and food blogger for We asked Brittanie to tell us a bit about her childhood food memories.
AFBA Social Chair

AFBA Social Chair

1. What were the most common meals you ate as a child?
Chicken piccata, canned peas and strawberry shortcake. 

2. What was your favorite snack as a kid?
Boursin cheese with homemade pita chips. I’d eat the entire ensemble in one sitting.


3. Tell me about the setting of a typical meal in your family.
Dinner would always be ready at 3:30 p.m. when we got home from school. My mom cooked in the morning. We would just reheat it when we were ready to eat. My family would always sit down at the dinner table together for an early dinner. My mom would never eat, although she would sit with us; I guess she just grazed all day.


4. Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
I would only eat the creme filling out of Oreos. My best friend filled a jar with just the creme once and gave it to me for my 10th birthday. To this day, it is the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received. 

5. If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently?
I stopped eating processed food about three years ago. So yes, everything has changed. I still crave canned peas, though.


This is a part of our Childhood Memories series. Want to be considered for a future post on your childhood memories? Contact

Austin Food Bloggers Alliance ‘Prop Swap’ Holiday Party

By Antonio Delgado

Gourdough’s has been taunting me for months. I have had friends tell me about how great the place is. 

Truth be known, I have a severe sweet tooth. And my attempts to watch my weight have become just that, watching my weight.

Then we at OhSpooning got the invite for the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance Holiday Happy Hour. Hence, we prepared for our defeat.

Gourdough’s has a pleasant laid back atmosphere. Although they are known for their savory and sweet doughnut dishes, Gourdough’s menu expands beyond that. The doughy team sponsored our event, serving up fried oysters on kettle chips, sweet doughnuts with peanuts and holiday cider.

Reality is, most holiday parties feel like an obligation to me. But the people within Austin Food Bloggers Alliance have truly become friends. We greet each other with hugs and genuinely care about each other. All the family awkwardness is out the window and the best part is, you don’t have to impress anyone.

Most Christmas parties themes call for Tacky Sweaters or a White Elephant exchange. However, this would not be an AFBA gathering without a twist. The invitation called for the invites to a “Prop Swap” meaning the Spooners had to bring a prop that we used in our pictures over the last 12 months. Perplexed, we had no idea what to bring. What was our theme this year? What did we shoot the most of? After some deliberation we agreed to bring a bottle of whiskey.

Overall, the evening was lovely. Gourdough’s proved why they are becoming an Austin staple and I won a growler in the gift exchange. Win for everyone!



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AFBA RIO Happy Hour

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By Tiffany Young

As part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, we get to try a lot of really cool places that we wouldn’t necessarily think to try on our own. One such place is RIO Rooftop Lounge on Sixth Street, near Benji’s Cantina and 219 West (no longer on West Street).

For our day-before Halloween happy hour, the food bloggers were invited to check out the rooftop lounge to try some nibbles and wine. There weren’t many pescetarian options, but the wine was really good! The sliders looked good, but don’t really work with my diet.

But what I’d really recommend going to RIO for is the view! On a nice day, this place has a great view, not only of downtown, but of it’s own rooftop pool, which I really want to swim in this summer. I’m pretty sure it’s not actually for swimming, but that would rock in the heat of Texas.

The cabanas are nice for smaller groups, but since we are not a very small group, we lounged about the many couches and congregated around a few tables strewn about the deck.

RIO Rooftop Lounge
601 Rio Grande, Ste. 200/300
Austin, TX 78701

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Austin Food Bloggers Cookbook Challenge

We know it’s been awhile since our last post, but like old friends, we missed you and we’re hoping that our getting back in touch will be a warm welcome. We’ve been having some discussion about where this blog is going and what we’d like to do with it. We think you’ll be seeing some new types of blog posts from us soon as we start narrowing our focus down to the things we truly love, instead of posting for the heck of it—because we feel like we have to. That didn’t make the change sound fun, but it will be. It will be FUN!

Moving on …


Southwestern Salad with Seared Scallops

As part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, OhSpooning was challenged this month to make a recipe out of its new “The Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook.” My (Tiffany’s) pescetarian ways made choosing a recipe a little difficult as most of the recipes we were drawn to included chicken, pork, turkey, etc. We finally decided on the Southwestern Salad with Seared Scallops—can’t go wrong with scallops.

We walked out the door to get groceries and came back immediately after forgetting the ingredient list—nicely written on a notepad specifically for that purpose (Is anyone else obsessed with specific purpose notepads?).


Shopping List

At the store, we asked the checkout attendant a burning question: Does it count as one item in the 10 or less line if you have, say 4 limes that puts you over the 10 limit? He confirmed my suspicion that they’re not that anal retentive about the number of items, so long as you’re close (and not a pain in the rear!). Whew! One less thing to worry about.

Back at the house, we got to work … creating a cocktail. OK, OK. Antonio started working on the cocktails as I started chopping things. Although I know better, we did not read the instructions all the way through before beginning, so we waited about 5 minutes before realizing we should have put the corn in the oven to roast as soon as we got to the house, since it takes the longest of any of the recipe steps—20 minutes.

Otherwise, the recipe went smoothly. Just some prep work, throwing ingredients into a blender for an amazingly delicious dressing and cooking scallops.

The only thing we probably would have done differently the next time is gotten the bigger scallops and let them thaw completely before cooking so there wasn’t extra water we had to cook out. Oh – and used the red onion. Yep, there was still an uncut red onion left on the table after I cleaned the kitchen. Whoops. Nonetheless, this recipe is amazing and took us about 45 minutes to cook. This time could probably be cut down by cutting things in advance, preparing the dressing ahead and having grilled corn ready to go. The grilled corn was so yummy, though, so don’t leave it out! The bonus is, I still have dressing, tomatoes, grilled corn, red onion, cilantro, limes and lettuce … so tomorrow I’ll whip up a similar salad sans scallops for lunch!

For more yummy recipes, you can get your copy of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance cookbook here!

Cocktail Creation:

Accompanying this meal, we created a cocktail using leftover orange and lime juice and added grapefruit juice, gin and club soda for good measure, served over ice. Use the orange peel for garnish. Like all good drinks – amounts to taste! This drink is simple and perfect for summer time and was complimentary to the meal.

1 Part Gin

3 Parts Grapefruit juice

1 Part Club Soda

Squeeze 1/6 lime

1/6 of an Orange for Garnish