Eat This Now: "Lovers" Dessert at Sahara Falafel

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Gabriel San Roman / OC Weekly
What's not to love?
Anaheim's Little Arabia District is all about pastries these days. Trays of rich baklava and sugary mammouls are being served up and down Brookhurst Street restaurants where they weren't before. Sahara Falafel, one of the oldest restaurants of its kind still around, is getting in on the act too.

A new baker brings the freshly made goods in the evenings. The most unique among his offerings is loqmat al-ushaq: "lovers' dessert." The Palestinian pastry comes by way of the West Bank city of Nablus, which also birthed the sweet and salty cheese pastry known as knafeh.

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Strickland's Making Girl Scout Thin Mint Ice Cream THIS SATURDAY

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Edwin Goei
Thin Mints.

If you're like me, you're probably a bit low on your supply of Girl Scout Thin Mints right about now. This is why I'm calling Strickland's announcement that they're making ice cream with this most popular of Girl Scout Cookie flavors on Saturday perfect timing.

In my opinion, if anyone's going to do a Thin Mints ice cream justice, it's the ice cream parlor that made too many of our Best Of lists to count.


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Yogurtland Launches 'Flavor Quest' With 10 International Tastes

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Mona Shah-Anderson
A perfect swirl

It's hard to imagine a time before Yogurtland. The inexpensive, self-serve, poppin' boba fro-yo giant knows their dessert market well. Their founder, Philip Chang, was also a previous On the Line subject. Yogurtland's dedication to introducing new flavors and joining forces with other brands (HELLO, Kitty!) keeps them relevant in a competitive industry.

To celebrate their third annual celebration of tastes known as Flavor Quest, we joined a mass quantity of fans to taste test some of them. You can say there was a whole lotta swirling going on-- and sugar highs! Here's a brief rundown of their flavors. Note: each flavor is brand-new to the family, and will only be dispensed for two to four weeks before being replaced by another.

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Strickland's Ice Cream Selling Rose and Red Velvet Ice Cream for Valentine's Day

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Edwin Goei
Not as romantic, but just as good: cookies-n-cream.
Strickland's can be counted on to commemorate every major holiday with a flavor of ice cream to match. And this year's Valentine's Day is no different. The lone outlet of this Ohio franchise is making two flavors tomorrow for all the lovers and lovers of ice cream out there: rose and red velvet.

For the red velvet, they swirl pieces of real velvet cake swirled into their vanilla. It's delicious. The rose flavor, I gather, will involve rose water and might be similar to what Persians call bastani.

Ah l'amour!

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VIDEO: OC Weekly Visits Jason Quinn's Dough Exchange

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Photo by Charles Lam
It was magical

UPDATE: The last day of the Dough Exchange experiment has been moved up to FEBRUARY 14. After that, you can make your way over to the Fourth Street Market starting February 16 to buy the pastries. Go, eat and throw the bakers a few dollars, the pastries are definitely worth it.

It's been a few weeks now since Jason Quinn switched Dough Exchange over into almost-everything-is-free mode, and it looks like the results have been pretty good. The pastries, which Dave didn't love before, are now near top notch. The Playground's patio, which was normally only full during dinner service, has had a fair share of day-time visitors (which is impressive, given the abysmal day-time foot traffic in the area). And there's no debating more people have tasted their bread.

But how does Quinn feel the experiment himself? Well, watch this video and find out.

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Sugarfina Relocates To Permanent Spot In South Coast Plaza

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Anne Marie Panoringan
Sugar overload

Raise your hand if you are still seeking something original for Valentine's weekend. We hear ya, and there is an answer. Back in November, we reported a couple of seasonal stores landing in Costa Mesa's shopping mecca. Turns out one of them did so well, they were offered full-time status. The only catch was they had to relocate.

Sugarfina closed in early January and reopened less than a month later downstairs by the carousel. One doesn't even have to think about driving to Beverly Hills for some fancy treats. But are they really that expensive? Yes and no.

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On the Line: Richard Foley of ChocXO, Part Two

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Photo by LP Hastings
And this is where all the chocolate magic happens

Hockey plays a large role in today's installment with Richard Foley. I wouldn't expect anything less from this Canadian. So put down that dessert and follow along for his fork-tastic skill, plus an upcoming Valentine's announcement.

Get to know the candy man over here in part one.
Then please continue reading when you're caught up. . .

When did you know you would build a career in chocolate?
My dad owned a chocolate factory where we grew up in Canada, making candies and confections. In 1982, I took a few blocks of his chocolate to some local pastry chefs and sold some to my first customer ever: Bridges Restaurant in Vancouver. I immediately set up an office in my bedroom at my parents' house and started building my first chocolate distribution business.

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Jason Quinn's Dough Exchange Sucked at First. Now? Much Better

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Dave Lieberman
Dough Exchange, or D'oh! Exchange?

The first time I went to Dough Exchange, the Playground-affiliated bakery in Santa Ana's East End Marketplace, was a week or so after it opened, and it was absolutely execrable. Jason Quinn had contacted me asking me to let him know when I came in, and being the contrary bastard I am, I snuck in without telling him. I went with a friend who is extremely knowledgeable about food, and we sat down with the four items we purchased.

It was as though the basic concept of gluten formation had escaped the bakers. The cinnamon roll was bread; the empanada was bread; the doughnut was bread; the croissant was bread. All four were tough and chewy, obviously overworked.


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On the Line: Richard Foley of ChocXO, Part One

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Photo by LP Hastings
Chocolate makes the world go 'round

As we close in on Valentine's Day, my focus is on the sweet stuff. ChocXO opened late last year, offering delectable desserts in the form of chocolate bark, cocoa nibs and customizable boxes of beauties. If you get a chance to visit their factory/retail shop in Irvine, you may spot Richard Foley working on their newest treat. I took a tour (look for the spouts that dispense pure chocolate!) with him to learn more about the dessert science.

Most frequently asked question by guests:
Where's Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loompas?

Where do your beans originate from?
Our cacao beans are sourced directly from growers we know in Central and South America. Our farmers share our philosophy of growing fine flavor cacao beans rather than bulk cacao. Guests of our behind-the-scenes factory tours get to see, touch and taste these beans in various stages of production. It's a pretty fun way to learn all about the chocolate making process.

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Yes, Red Velvet Oreos Are Coming Soon; Yes, We Will Be Eating Them

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For Valentine's Day, Nabisco will be selling limited edition red velvet Oreos. The cookies are going to be available for about six weeks starting from Feb. 2.

Now, before you get excited, a little birdie told me that the only thing that makes these Oreos "red velvet" is the cream-cheese frosting, which I've heard doesn't even particularly have a strong cream cheese flavor. The red cookies reportedly aren't even any different; they're just the standard Oreo cookies dyed red.

Check after the jump for how you can get these early.

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