a better seven(ish) layer dip

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We’ve all had it: that mushed mess that always makes it to a potluck, a bastardization of everything good about dips. Truly evidence that many good things put together don’t make one great masterpiece. A frankenstein of a side dish. Preparing sustenance for the middle schooler’s birthday sleepover, along with the traditional staples of puffy cheetos and M&Ms, padre brought home a sub-par ‘seven-layer dip’ from a not so sub-par grocery chain. First question: what middle schoolers like seven-layer dip? Second question: we’ve never bought seven-layer dip, jamais, so why now? Padre’s logic aside, I was determined to vindicate this dish, to prove to the world that a seven-layer dip can be more than a sloppy, bland bowl of blech.

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First off: no olives. For an accompaniment loosely based on mexican (tex-mex, really) cuisine, who thought that olives would fit in with the taste profile? They don’t even originate from the same continent as the majority of the other ingredients. So no. No olives allowed.

The second offense of most attempts is the refried bean base. Personally, I find no bean superior to the black bean. Having learned to divvy up a batch into small containers and freeze for later use, black beans have become much more accessible in daily cooking when you don’t have to plan an entire day before (ain’t nobody got time for that!).

No, I did not make the guacamole, you can I guess if you don’t have a reputable guac dealer, but I luckily have a reputable and stable supply of only the dankest guac that ever guac-ed. Two batches were made: one with regular guacamole and a habanero variation. The smallest of grievances I have is that the spice of the habanero variety is not consistent. In this instance, it was hiccup inducing, runny nose, make your eyes water spicy. Just the way I like it.

So we’ve got two layers, five more to go. For layers three, four, five, and six, sorry, I cheated. Originally envisioned as a deconstructed pico de gallo – layers of tomatoes, onions, jalepeños, cilantro – I used an already assembled mixture from the guac dealer for time’s sake.

Final layer: shredded queso fresco. The offending version had some assortment of cheddar, or colby, something orange, again clashing with taste profile. Instead, I chose a variety I felt more appropriate for the task at hand.

IMG_5346To finish it off, I gave it a good crisping under the broiler. Seemed like a decent idea, but the cheese quickly cooled, forming a rather hard shell, not easily broken by a chip looking to get a taste of each layer in one bite. In the future I’d stick with the un-broiled iteration for ease of eatability. Et voilà! Bring that to the next tailgate, potluck, middle schooler sleepover and you’ll be a hit.


seven(ish) layer dip

-layer 1: guacamole. If you don’t have a great guac dealer like mine, try this one. A neighbor once suggested adding a white vinegar to enhance the acidity and balance the mild avocado.

-layer 2: black beans

-layer 3: diced tomatoes

-layer 4: diced red onions

-layer 5: chopped jalepeños. After adding this fifth layer, best to squeeze a little lime juice to retain some of the pico flavor.

-layer 6: cilantro leaves.

-layer 7: grated queso fresco, cotija, or another fresh cow’s milk cheese.

Serve with chips or corn tortillas.

el sapo

Twice I have been to happy hour at El Sapo. And twice I have been lost in the moment and sucked down my drink without taking a picture. Sorry freunden, hopefully this text can paint the visual enough to convince you that this Manor road, El Chile off-shoot is not to be missed.

On first attempt, I went with a classic and ordered the margarita. Only when it was half gone and the BF was drawing smileys in the still frosty mason jar did I realize what I’d forgotten. Strange, because a significant amount of time had passed. Most happy hour margs are easily almost chugged, but this concoction was so cold, so rich, and so potent you can’t help but slow it down a notch. Honestly I still should’ve grabbed a snapshot, but I digress as the server arrived with les plats principals. I know, you don’t go to a burger place and get fish, but you also listen to the waitress when she tells you her favorite dish. A bit pricey and not on happy hour, the El Pescador upends the concept of a fried fish sandwich. Using black drum instead of the all too prevalent (and surprisingly unhealthy, according to recent rumors) tilapia, El Sapo has a clear win. A testament to quality and paying $16 for a sandwich that is worth every penny.

And the onion rings. Enough cannot be said to adore this often overdone and overlooked accompaniment. Lightly breaded, there is a fiery spice in the mix that prompts the search for that margarita and defies the notion of the bland, unsatisfying side dish that leaves you with bad breath. Though, full disclosure, they probably still give you bad breath.

Take two: a wind-down happy hour with friends, or technically, co-workers (how do we get anything done??). Without clarifying exactly what I was getting myself into, I promptly ordered the O Gurl! Why? because when something is called O Gurl!, punctuation included, you don’t ask questions, you just drink it. However, because I had to know, the waiter clarified the ingredients of the very pink drink: chamoy. Apparently becoming the food trend of 2014, chamoy is a familiar yet unique flavor. You know you’ve grown up in Texas if a friend has ever handed you a candy and your tongue starts to burn. That is chamoy:  a salty, sweet, sour and spicy fruit reduction ranging from paste like to liquid. Many eateries have a version of a ‘jalepeño margarita,’ but this is not the same. It is saltier. Sweeter. Sourer. And much, much stronger. This is what makes El Sapo a must. Careful now, this bad girl is feisty. She’ll take you home and knock you out, so better stick to just two.

Also during happy hour, all botanas are half off. The first trip I eyed some of these smaller plates, but determined I had a bigger appetite. What did catch my eye though was the $10 guacamole. A guacamole appreciator myself, I was surprised at the seemingly overpriced starter. But, on recommendation of the server (and at half price), I kept my skeptical comments to myself and ordered the guacamole. Was it worth the $10? Well, it was only the best guacamole I’ve ever had! And I’ve had a lot of guacamole. My only complaint is it is a rather small serving; coming in a small cup and employing the widespread, clever tactic of beefing it up with shredded lettuce as a base, it is worth at least $8.

With a fabulous infrastructure repurposed from mechanic shop to boutique burger bar, I was surprised to see El Sapo fairly empty on both happy hour outings. Decor motifs borrowed from their affiliate across the street, a rad sign emblazoning the script “cantina” sits behind the bar and the über hipster bartender, but only a few straggling diners are actually at the bar. Blame it on an odd location installé on an odd triangular median of an intersection, or more likely, blame it on an unfortunate location directly across the street from Salty Sow, one of the best happy hours in town. What El Sapo does offer in spite of its successful neighbors is a more casual ambiance and a beautiful light penetrating the garage windows or bathing the spacious patio when the sun sets.

On a student budget, sticking to happy hour items is a pretty general rule. Venturing to other areas of the menu is tempting. Your stomach won’t regret it, but your wallet might. A welcome addition to the Manor road strip, I believe El Sapo’s happy hour will give Salty Sow a run for their money.

El Sapo Happy Hour: Daily 3-7

1900 Manor Rd, Austin, Texas 78722

half off botanas, $2 mexi-cans, $3 bottles, $4 craft drafts, $4 seasonal punch, $5 house margaritas, $6 o gurl!

Sunday September 21, 2014

searsucker

I can’t think of a more perfect way to end a Friday than to enjoy good company at happy hour, watching a beautiful Texas thunderstorm roll in. Braving the downtown traffic, the BF and I ventured to the San Diego transplant Searsucker for a drink and a bite.
farm bird lollipops

While they wouldn’t have been my first choice, our prototypically cool server Kyle suggested them as a favorite. Dipped in a sweet buffalo sauce served with bleu cheese crumbles, these fried chicken meatballs were an interesting variation on a bar food staple.  Great for happy hour, but I’d steer clear at the normal price.

shrimp + grits
But this joyous little bit of down home fun I’d pay full price for.  While shrimp with tails in a saucy dish is a personal pet peeve (I’d like to not dip my fingers in my food, but my cutlery skills need a little work) it’s definitely a sign of freshness. Putting their spongey, frozen counterparts to shame, no one can question that they were virile little creatures not too long ago. Complying with cajun tradition, this morsel had a spice to it that can turn a boy into a man, or in my case make my nose and eyes water profusely. Just how I like it.
snake in the grass

Made with the house cucumber infused gin, this lime, soda and mint cocktail erred on the side of disappointing. More like a sparkling lemonade, the snake in the grass exhibited the first signs of a motif we found throughout their cocktails: too sweet.  There is a delicate art in balancing quality, quantity, and price. While considering clientele is important (downtown, you really get a random bunch ranging from young professionals, to old professionals, to the occasional student who ventures down from campus) I’ve always been more satisfied with a quality, reasonably priced sipping drink in a more concentrated size to truly appreciate the flavors involved. Also tried were the Leopard’s Tail, the New Fashioned (not on happy hour), and the Skinny Jenny. All fairly sweet. Will have to call the Skinny Jenny, a variation on the Moscow Mule with a hint of lavender, the favorite of the night.

beef tartare

Pervasive on french menus, this was the first time I’d seen beef tartare on a menu since returning from the continent, so naturally I had to try it. Please ignore the purple hue, shadows and lighting and whatnot. Though not a connoisseur, it definitely seemed on par with anything I’d had in France. Topping raw meat with a raw egg is still jarring to the unsuspecting patron who sees tenderloin+chips on a menu, but the fresh potato crisps when eaten with the raw ingredients provide a change of texture that help the wary consumer with the somewhat frightening transition from cooked to uncooked. That said, I couldn’t finish it. The taste was lovely but the aversion to eating raw meat finally won over my adventurous side.

What really sets this place apart is the decor. Pictured above is just one of the neat lighting fixtures. Much larger than it looks from the outside, the front room serves the bar scene with hip lounge, bar, and high-top seating, while the back is a more traditional dining room. The prolific Anthropologie dishware also makes the prices make a little more sense. With unique pieces throughout the establishment, Searsucker fits right in with the downtown Austin dining scene that serves an audience with diverse wants. Even if you’re not looking to sit down, I’d definitely recommend stopping in for a peak at the interior created by Somebody Schooz (sorry I’m not up on the decor scene so I didn’t really catch the name).

I mentioned early our ‘prototypically cool server Kyle,’ but that description really fit everyone there. He knew just when we needed something and said just the right things when we asked about anything. In the middle of our meal, there was what started as a little stir in the back by the kitchen with clapping and chanting that turned into a group pep yell by the kitchen and dinner staff filling the room. What some might view as a disturbance to their experience I believe was a heartwarming taste of teamwork, of a place that is fun to work at, somewhere that might just be a second home. Any American diner knows that the demeanor of the waitstaff significantly affects the experience of the patron. At Searsucker, that will never be a problem.

Though the cocktails were average, the food was stellar. And now that we have a $25 brunch card (um, heck yes!) we’ll definitely be back to see what else their chef has to offer. Well done, California. Well done.

Searsucker Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 4:30-6:30

415 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701

$5 select plates, $5 select cocktail infusions, $3 drafts, $5 select wines

September 7, 2014

crave

Friday was a day of experiments. With the launch of the new 803 MetroRapid bus line, I figured I should give it a shot before writing about it. Unfortunately, though not unexpected, it was more than underwhelming. Please don’t tell me the bus will be there in six minutes when it will literally be twice that during off-peak hours. It makes me feel lied to. The only saving grace was the return trip, traveling towards happy hour during rush hour downtown in the bus-only lane, passing car after car of frustrated businessmen.

Hopping off the bus I meandered to experiment number two: meeting la mère and padre at the presumptuously named Crave. Or CRAVE as it is so delicately put on all the publicity. I shouldn’t have been surprised at the unfolding events as I first noted the restaurant’s specials through facebook ads. First tip: TURN OFF CAPS LOCK, CRAVE!

pink mojito?

I read somewhere once a list of tips on how to know when to order a good mojito. You have to talk to the bartender, know they care. The place can’t be busy because a mojito takes some love. But I just asked “what is on happy hour other than beer.” Apparently by pink mojito they meant colored rum and soda water with some leaves in it. Second tip: a mojito cannotbe a well. Just, just no. Take me back to Menton and the real mojito fraise please.

sweet-potato tots and fries, caprese, sauvignon blanc, blackened chicken flatbread, margherita flatbread

Though everything was less than $6, it was thoroughly average. Third tip: quality ingredients. Austin has a lot of amazing food. Amazing cheap food at that. You cannot compete if you skimp on the basics. Personally, I just don’t like thin fries (sorry P. Terry’s) and sweet potato tots are never as good as you think they’ll be. They just don’t cook the same way as regular potatoes. If you get your watery tomatoes from Costco and serve them downtown, you’re gonna have a bad time. If you put a disintegrated tomato with some dry mozzarella and shredded basil on a cracker and call it a flatbread, you’re gonna have a bad time. That’s not to say these dishes were inedible. But I’d walked about 2 miles with my backpack at that point in the Texas heat and I was starving. Aside from this first round of food, the Sauvignon Blanc was rather pleasant, dry but still refreshing, and helped to ease the disappointment.

tempura bites, california roll

Looking around after the plates were cleared, seeing plate after plate of sushi being served, we concluded we’d chosen poorly. If sushi is their thing, then it’s sushi we shall have. You can’t go to a burger joint and expect a great salad (unless it’s Hopdoddy’s, then they do everything spectacularly), thus you can’t go to a sushi joint and expect great American food — we’ll just ignore the establishment’s slogan “FRESH. VIBRANT. AMERICAN.” But this is what happens when you put padre in charge of ordering sushi. You get non-sushi: tempura bites and a california roll. Served with too sweet sauces, the california roll was the essence of average. The rice was fairly dry and the veggies lacked a crispness intended to accent the soft crab meat, ending on a note of muddled meh. Of the whole event however, I believe the tempura bites were a favorite. This was one dish I’ve never seen done before in this exact construction. Each rice and seaweed roll had a unique filling, from fish, to veggie, to avocado and was fried in a light tempura batter. For a more accurate description, however, I’d like to rename them ‘sushi nuggets.’

After chastising him for not ordering real sushi, padre redeemed himself and ordered raw fish. At this point I was disenchanted and fairly full so I broke my own rule and did not try these myself, though the albacore sashimi looks a bit under the weather.

wouldya look at that spread?

What saves CRAVE from the 10 year plan is their $2 any draft special. Yeah. All those taps up there are $2 per pint. Maybe Jason, the well meaning bartender well versed in public transportation issues, was humoring us, but that’s pretty amazing.  Especially for a place whose happy hour times makes up almost half of their operating hours. That first tap may be Bud Lite, but that Polar bear is Alaskan Amber. There’s Hans Pils, New Belgium, Circle blur, an assortment of Live Oaks and other pretty crafty brews. With their enormous patio, we determined that this is a beer and dogs kinda place. Venture outside those limits at your own risk.

Tip number four: keep your specials special. As a student I can’t complain about cheap prices, but this business model in a city that is serious about its food cannot last. Maybe instead of a second happy hour, try some farmers market tomatoes or artisanal mozzarella. Puts some exotic spices on the southwest flatbread that might give it a zing rather than a wah-wah-waaah.

J’admets this review isn’t too flattering, but the wait staff was prompt, polite, and interesting. The room had a strange light to it despite the massive windows, but the general ambiance of the patrons was humble, yet varied. Though most were dressed for their downtown jobs, I didn’t feel unwelcome as I walked in sweaty in shorts and a tank top.  When the weather cools off, if it’s still open, we will likely return for some beer on the patio. But I’ll drive next time.

CRAVE Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 4-6:30; Saturday 11-4; Sunday all day. Late Night – Monday-Wednesday 8:30pm-10pm; Thursday-Saturday 9pm-11pm

340 E 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

$2 beer, $3 wells, $4-6 select food

salty sow

Though the drama and inequalities resulting from gentrification of the east-side deserve a post in their own right, the happiest of hours at this Manor gastropub soften the angst of a disappearing community through a cocktail cloud while simultaneously fueling an inner dilemma of enjoying something that is ostensibly hurting others. Seated bar-style at a window looking out on the young professionals on the casual chic patio who would’ve been uncharacteristic in then neighborhood 10 years ago, the little bits of heaven were harder to enjoy knowing that not only could the traditional residents of the community likely not afford this experience, but the mere existence of the space was pushing them away from their homes and the amenities that make this city great.

But they really were little bits of heaven.

the salty sow-r and the blanche, a blood orange frozen margarita

When making a conscious effort, it is totally possible to dine here on a budget. But being first timers, the BF and I wanted to try tout. The Sow has a grand selection of $5 cocktails and wine (including bubbles!) and ‘small’ plates of tacos, chicken, and veggies. The specials also include a selection of $4 beers and $2 off their other drinks. When they say ‘small plate,’ I guess it follows the McDonald’s ever enlarging small-sized drink concept. Surpassing the traditional measly portioned bar food, these little meals turned an afternoon snack into an early evening dinner.

While the drinks might be small, these $5 cocktails have about $5 worth of alcohol in them. I was set after the Blanche, but the BF moved within easy walking distance, and with 4 minutes left of happy hour why not get another? A combination of cheap and loaded, the Blanche is a best of.  Being a boy, the BF had to get a whiskey drink. Now, I usually get the whiskey shudders as the fumes linger in my nasal cavity destroying any appetite I once had, but the rule is if I take a picture, I have to try it. Though you could feel the unmistakeable warm tingle of the perfect poison, no shudders ensued. I dare say I actually liked it. Touché Mr. Bartender.

crispy brussels sprouts leaves, carnitas taco, pork belly taco

It’s amazing what people do with brussels sprouts these days. This crispy, savory snack with sweet accents from golden raisins is easily shared among two, and probably among three. When the BF got his tacos, these were definitely not what we expected. Each loaded with their respective meat and cheese, the taco is topped with a fried egg. Again, enormous. Though somewhat messy as the yolk drips down your fingers and hopefully onto a plate, the BF unwaveringly declared the carnitas taco the victor. Not usually one to turn down more food, he uncharacteristically decided one taco was probably enough. Another testament to the Sow’s possibility of affordability.

honey rosemary dipped fried chicken

And then there was this monster. I guess when it said fried chicken I thought this $5 dish would be more like little fried nuggets. But this item was true to its name. Two massive pieces of semi-sweet boneless fried chicken in a light buttery sauce with the most biscuity-biscuit you ever did see. Most went home in a box.

Sadly, the hostess made her rounds with the cow bell at 6:30 signaling the end of the afternoon. In all, this happy hour is a best of with its affordably priced generous portions and quality cooking. But there is an unavoidable uneasiness when one realizes the circumstances allowing this cocktail haven’s existence and the uncertain consequences for those who have been there the longest. That’s not to say any guilt should prevent a visit to east-side entrepreneurial ventures because of geography. Rather, enjoying an afternoon should come with a recognition of reality and the affirmation to be a responsible consumer. We can share this beautiful place. Blanches for everybody!

Salty Sow Happy Hour: Every day 4:30-6:30

1917 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722

Happy Hour Menu – $5 select cocktails, wines, and small plates; $4 select beers; $2 off signature sips and beer

ABGB

After München, nothing else really counts as a biergarten. But I’m not going to lie: I was extremely disappointed with my ventures in German beer. They were much lighter and less tasteful than I had imagined, though I guess that makes them good as a breakfast beverage. There was no way I could explain that to the Bavarians, though the French were much more receptive to the consideration. One point both groups were surprised to hear though was that in Texas, we are good at more than just BBQ. Craft drafts are a Texan staple, and we even have local(ish) cheap(ish) options such as Shiner and Pearl. With its abundance of established vineyards and wineries, Europe hasn’t seen the full extent of the wonders that are microbreweries.
Upon my return from the continent, on a habitual commute, I noticed a sign had popped up outside an old warehouse I’ve so often overlooked. Only when I looked closer did I see thatABGB stood for Austin Beer Garden and Brewing Co. And of course, they have a happy hour. And a stage with a band. Austinite heaven.
Deal assessment? A solid meh. Best for a snack and a drink combo, but if you’re looking to branch out a little, your wallet will need the same openness of mind.
Aspali dry cider

What ABGB’s happy hour lacks in deals, it makes up for in an abundance of quality options. Though not made in house like all of the beers at ABGB, this Aspali cider was champagne like in it’s dry, crispness, serving my ever present need for bubbles.

speck heirloom caprese

The best surprise of the bunch, this salad. Cured ham comes with tomatoes and mozzarella in almost every other Italian dish, so of course it would be magnificent in caprese. But it’s the walnuts, pesto, and sprouts that give it that Austin je ne sais quoi. Best of in my book.

See? Just like a German beer hall.

Best part? In addition to their large, outdoor seating area, ABGB’s dog friendliness takes it further, with $1 of every pint of their Austin Pets Alive! Series Single-hopped American Pale Ale benefiting APA’s long stay dogs. ABGB for APA FTW!

Austin Beer Garden and Brewing Happy Hour: Tuesday-Friday 3-7

1305 W Oltorf St, Austin, TX 78704

$1 off pints, $2 off pitchers, $6 slice+pint, $27 pie+pitcher, $7 brat+beer

Sunday August 24, 2014

pacha

Tucked between a pet supply store and a construction company on North Burnet road is a little yellow house that unequivocally serves the best pancakes. Ever. Unfortunately, parking is terrible and sometimes prevents the pancake pilgrimage, but something about waking up early on a week day makes spots just open up.

A classically Austin establishment, the decor seems to be pieced and pacha-ed together over the years. The interior of this little yellow house is a little yellow home. It feels like home, like you never even put on real clothes, got in your car, struggled through the riddle that is Austin traffic, flipped through a million radio stations and flipped off a few drivers, waited impatiently in the center lane to turn while oncoming traffic backed up and that one Narr didn’t leave enough space when the light turned red so you had to wait a-whole-nother cycle…

But they have real macchiatos! As I waffled between a single or a double shot, the barista skeptically asked “Do I have to tell you this is a real macchiato?” No, sir, not unless your version inherently includes caramel or vanilla. Cue Starbucks disappointment commiseration.

Et voilà. Le meilleur pancake. This unique pastry (is it a pastry? is it a bread? what is a pancake?) is cooked, then browned in a pan with butter to give it a crispness you never knew you needed in a pancake. At Pacha, you can add all sorts of stuff to your pancake! On my first trip I asked the barista her favorite. Cinnamon. And I have ordered it ever since.

Pacha Organic Café
4618 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78756

 Friday August 22, 2014

wahoo’s fish tacos

Wahoo’s has been a family staple since it arrived in Austin. As a California company, they caused quite the stir when they took over a space on the traditionally local South Congress. But given time, the fresh food, fresher prices, and surfer vibe wooed the wary Austinites.

And they have a killer happy hour I didn’t even know existed! Wahoo!! I got my usual veggie bowl, no rice, extra veggies with black beans when the lady at the counter asked if I’d like a $2 pint. A $2 pint! Not Lonestar, not Bud, but a selection of crafty drafts like the Stash IPA or an agave wheat. Uh, yes please. But if beer’s not your thing, try a $3 margarita pint. Commence jaw dropping. While not gourmet, the food is rad, dude, and those drink prices are far out. But the best part is that I didn’t even know! We were just there for dinner as usual, and now I get to write this!

I missed the before picture… oops.
Do you want to spend $3 or $8??
But here’s the rub: you have to ask for the happy hour margarita. You see the left? You see the right? Yeah, exactly the same size. But on the right side you’re paying $5 for a not-so-fancy plastic goblet. No, thanks. I’ll take the same stuff for cheaper please.

Don’t you hate when happy hour ends at 6 but you’re not done drinkin’? Another win for Wahoo’s. The worst days of the week happy hour is extended!

Wahoo’s Fish Tacos Happy Hour: Monday-Wednesday 4-9, Thursday-Friday 4-7

1722 South Congress Ave. Austin, TX

$2 drafts, $3 margaritas, $6 bulldogs

There is another location in downtown, but no telling if their specials are the same. Looks like they used to have temperature priced margs during the summer (but it was 99 cents!) but who knows if that was going to bankrupt them. Anycase, these specs only apply to the South Congress location.

Starbucks spinach feta wrap

It just takes leaving for the tiniest bit to really appreciate home. The weekend was spent in Richardson and Denton dropping off the freshman at school, and nothing makes you love Austin more than a trip to Dallas.  Makes you remember that we live in Texas, and in Texas you get twelve shrimp on a shrimp plate, a rack of ribs that dwarfs the platter it’s served on, and a cauldron of queso.  And a margarita.  Just la mère et moi, we managed the affair with minimal tears as we drove away the mammoth rented Expedition required to move all the freshman’s stuff (there was no way we were using the air-conditionless dog mobile).

So when you go to Starbucks at 7 in the morning on a sleepy Sunday morning in a quiet suburb, turns out they can make a decent capuccino. Maybe it was the massive storms that kept everyone in bed. Oh well, more foam for me! Since I’ve been making my own coffee I’ve also missed out on the coffee giant’s spinach feta wraps that are surprisingly perfect. At only 290 calories, it’s actually an awesome breakfast that keeps you full on moving day but also won’t kill your waistline on a more sedentary weekend.

So what do you do when you find something perfect someone else makes? You steal it and make it yourself!

And you add hatch, just because.

Like all that I share with you, mes amis, this one is BF approved.

starbucks spinach feta wrap

ingredients
-large wheat tortilla
-whites of two eggs, lightly scrambled
-spinach
-dash of lemon juice
-diced onion
-diced slow roasted tomatoes
-garlic
-crumbled feta

method

-sautée diced onions until soft, then add a handful or however much spinach you so desire to the pan, add the dash of lemon juice, a dash of salt, then cover and simmer until the spinach wilts.

-slow roasted tomatoes are slow, and I didn’t have any, so I used fresh diced tomatoes and added a bit of garlic, but to get the flavor right, and if you have time to watch paint dry, you’re going to need slow roasted or sun dried tomatoes. I sautéed the diced fresh tomatoes with garlic and drained the excess liquid.

-in a small pan, add butter, then cook the egg whites. After pouring the egg whites into the pan, cover an let it sit until the whites set and you can flip it like an egg frisbee.

-place cooked egg whites on the wheat tortilla, add spinach and tomatoes and sprinkle feta crumbles on top. I didn’t add enough feta, so err on the side of gluttony.

-fold burrito style and place edge side down on a baking sheet. Broil for about 1 to 2 minutes. Don’t walk away, you have to watch it. Like a s’more, you want the top to be just golden with a little bit of brown.

-it’s hatch season! so everything has to have a hatch version! Dice some hot hatch peppers and throw them in when wilting the spinach. The peppers I used weren’t hot at all, maybe because I didn’t use any seeds, so if you want a kick, throw some in. Instead of feta, I used a hatch monterey jack, because there’s just something to me about feta and spicy…nope. And avocado. You gotta add avocado.

-serve with a smattering of dumb jokes and a dash of sarcasm.

odd duck

With camp girl and padre away at a soccer tournament, dinner options were essentially limitless.  Having been just named one of the 50 Best New Restaurants in America, the choice of Odd Duck was only natural. And tada! We actually made it to this happy hour with 15 minutes to spare! Somewhat of a last minute decision, we were lucky to make it, so we spread out the ordering amongst the table, regardless of personal preference. While this baby genius does offer 25% off wine by the bottle and large format beer, the $5 Draft Moscow Mule, $5 Melon Margarita and $3 Texas Drafts are a better bet for those looking to explore their diverse menu. They get leurs fleurs on Thursdays, so naturally on a Friday the vibrance and liveliness of the table piece added an additional truc to the meal.
Draft Moscow Mule 
Melon Margarita 

The aura resonating from the decidedly laid back yet enticingly hip ambiance underscores the shared small plate format of the dining options.  While they recommend 3-4 small assiettesper person for dinner, the style perfectly lends itself to an after-work, -school, -pool drink and snack.

Mais since we only made it for the last taste of happy hour, we were tempted, enticed, forced to explore other options. The Summerthyme was recommended as the current most popular cocktail. As a lover of any cucumber drink (RIP Vivo and their beloved cucumber margarita, I can’t believe you’re gone, stop teasing me with the “reopening date to be determined”mess) this gin mixer is aptly named, being a perfect summertime cooler.  The whiskey lover that he is, the BF adored his Peach Old Fashion (though the thought of whiskey inherently makes me shudder). So if whiskey is your thing, have at it. Apparently it’s great.

Summerthyme, Peach Old Fashion
Pink Bubbles!
Of course, when there are bubbles, I have to get bubbles, so I got bubbles. Pink bubbles this time! A Spanish cava.
I really wish I could talk more about the food. But being that we had 5 people, we ordered around 16 plates. No sooner than the server set down the plate, the food was distributed, and no pictures were taken.  But it’s safe to say that all the dishes were amazing, and I know that a multitude of outlets have rightly described the wonder that is Odd Duck’s culinary prowess.
Odd Duck Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 2:30-6, Sunday 2:30-10
2024 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704