Nick Loeb Goes Gaga for Crispy Onions

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Nick Loeb, a former senatorial candidate and recent boyfriend of “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara, has taken his passion for creativity to a crunchy place.

Loeb, whose endeavors, in addition to dabbling in a run for the Florida Senate, includes making documentary films and operating an environmental consulting firm, launched his newest effort, Onion Crunch, because of a serious love of crispy onions.

“I’m a serial entrepreneur,” Loeb told Delicious Voyages recently, but the real reason Loeb decided to launch his own food product was his love of crispy onions that he found served with meals throughout Europe, but not in the United States.

Throughout the years, he raved about the crispy onions so much that, “My friends suggested I start a company and launch a product.”

Americans seem to love them as much as he does. Since Onion Crunch launched 12 months ago, it can be found in 9,000 stores nationwide. The product will soon be tested at Soup Plantation restaurants in California, and can be found at stores like Ralphs, Fresh and Easy, Cost Plus, Smart and Final, Sprouts, and in the fall, at Safeway and Vons. The crispy treat was even served at Angel Stadium concessions stands and Ameci’s Pizza serves them on the side with deliveries.

“I wanted to go to a hot dog stand and have crispy onions. That’s all I wanted,” Loeb, who is involved in the flavor development of Onion Crunch, said of his crispy onion dream.

As for the future, Loeb says politically he might consider another run in a few years, but for now, he’s working on new flavors, such as barbecue, chipotle, Parmesan and Kosher bacon, as well as other crispy products.

“I hope I can grow this business into a successful national and international business, create a successful brand utilizing my creativity, create jobs, and provide me freedom to do the things I love to do.”

Here’s a couple favorite hot dog recipes, just in time for summer.

Cowboy Dog

100% All Beef Frank

BBQ Sauce

Cheddar Cheese Sauce

Mustard

Bacon

Onion Crunch® topping

Onion Crunch® Chili Dogs

2 hot dogs

3/4 cup chili with beans

1 slice bread

1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard

2 tablespoons Onion Crunch®

Directions:

Place the hot dogs onto a microwave safe plate and cook in the microwave 1 to 2 minutes until hot. Place the chili into a microwave safe bowl and microwave 1 to 2 minutes until hot. Slice the hot dogs in half lengthwise, and place onto hot dog buns or a slice of toasted bread; sprinkle with the cheese, the chili, mustard and top with Onion Crunch®.

 

Prep, Cook, Dine with Chef Dakota Weiss

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If you love to cook and want to learn from a “Top Chef” then get our your calendar and book yourself for “PREP.COOK.DINE” at W Los Angeles – Westwood, beginning next month.

These intimate, interactive, private sessions with Chef Dakota Weiss can be a great outing with a group of friends or a wonderful way to celebrate a special occasion.

Dakota has designed a seasonal menu for everyone to prep, cook and dine on with specialty cocktails and wine pairings to match.

Details:

· $135 per person (includes wine to match)

· Available for up to 8 people

· Dates available are: April 11, May 9, June 13, July 11, and August 8

· For more information, contact Stephanie Sanders at 310.443.8211 or email stephanie.sanders@whotels.com.

The menu for the first class (offered in April) will include a grilled artichoke appetizer with three dipping sauces, an entrée of whole roasted beef tenderloin with brown butter spring carrot puree, English peas and port wine reduction, and a dessert of roasted white chocolate and lemon-infused bread pudding with Voli Raspberry Cocoa vodka hard sauce.

You might have to book a room at the W after a feast like that.

 

 

Alternatives to Coffee

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I gave up coffee about three months ago without planning to. The three-day headache that resulted from not drinking my daily one or two cups hardened my resolve to stay off coffee, more specifically the caffeine. However, I miss the morning ritual of a hot cup of coffee with the aroma, the cream and sugar, and quite truthfully, the taste of coffee.

So I’ve been looking for a substitute. Tea is not my thing, and I’m hesitant about decaffeinated coffee.

There are several methods in the process to remove caffeine from coffee beans: one in which the beans are soaked in water, which removes the caffeine and the flavoring oils. Ethyl acetate is added to the water and the caffeine binds to the chemical. When the water is heated, the chemical and the caffeine evaporates. The beans are then soaked in the remaining water that now contains only the oils. While ethyl acetate is a naturally occurring substance in fruits (it’s responsible for their aroma), it is considered a “flammable liquid and vapor”  and, in addition to causing irritation of the eyes,  “prolonged or repeated contact causes defatting of the skin with irritation, dryness, and cracking.” (Mayo Clinic).

“Defatting of the skin”? My skin is dry enough already, I’d like to keep some of that moisturizing fat…

So, while realistically drinking what is called “naturally decaffeinated” coffee may not defat my skin and cause other problems, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

There is the Swiss Water process that uses no solvents or chemicals to decaffeinate coffee. The water that beans are soaked in to remove the caffeine processed through a carbon filtering system. This kind of coffee I might try. The prices don’t seem too outrageous, from $16 for a 1 lb. bag of Organic Decaf Peru to $31 for 30 oz. from Jeremiah’s Pick (it’s organic too).

In the meantime, I found in my pantry shelves, from a long ago trade show, a small envelope of Caffeine-Free Herbal Coffee from Teeccino. It’s not really coffee, but a blend of herbs, grains, fruits and nuts that  taste surprisingly close enough to it, and has a dark rich color, like coffee! The flavor I am drinking now, Almond Amaretto, is made with roasted carob, barely, chicory root, dates, almonds, figs and natural Amaretto flavor. The price range is decent as well–a 1 lb. can of its French Roast Herbal Coffee is $13.50.

I’m more used to spending $5 to $7 for a can of supermarket-bought coffee, like Don Francisco’s, but as in my quest to healthier eating, having to pay more for organic produce, I have to consider what’s more important–my health or a new pair of shoes.

 

Sources:

Mayo Clinic

International Coffee Organization

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Swiss Water

Tantalizing Valentine’s Day Menus & Treats–Los Angeles

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If you want to make the right moves on Feb. 14, then check out these romantic spots with menu or treats that will delight his or hers taste buds.

Lovers in Paris–Westwood

Special Valentine's Day cocktails, like this Light Kisses martini, will be served on that special day at Ninethirty Restaurant at the W - Westood Los Angeles.

Chef Dakota Weiss especially created the Valentine’s Menu, “Lovers in Paris,” for NINETHIRTY Restaurant, at W Hotel – Westwood Los Angeles. The menu includes appetizers (amuse) such as cehvre foundue-boquerones, first plate (premier) dishes including herb de Provence gnocchi – american caviar and main entrees like winter legumes – sage – champagne beurre blanc  The decor is appropriately dark, and seating intimate and chic. If you want to go all out, book a room for the night at the W!  Prix fix menu: $70 per person.

Phone: (310) 443-8211. Website: ninethirtyw.com. 930 Hilgard Avenue W Hotels-Westwood, Los Angeles, CA 90024

 

Wine Garden and Chocolate Opulence –Santa Monica

Two things that are always a hit on V-Day is wine and chocolate. Get both at the Sonoma Wine garden and Chocolate Opulence at Santa Monica Place. The Sonoma Wine garden, on the 3rd level deck, overlooks the Pacific Ocean providing a perfect, romantic atmosphere for Valentine’s Day. The outdoor restaurant showcases signature dishes with Mediterranean flavor such as Sonoma’s own fois gras or lobster spaghetti. There’s a large wine selection ranging from the dryer Old World style wines of Burgundy to New World style wines from Sonoma wine country provided by Sonoma Wine Garden’s own sommelier.

Main Courses range $24-$28. 395 Santa Monica Place Santa Monica, CA 90401; (424) 214-4560
 
The Large Chocolate Opulence Gift sets have 12 chocolates with a large-sized chocolate shell heart. Price: $54.00

After dining, treat your love to some gourmet sweets at Chocolate Opulence at The Market where decadent gift sets are more than just your average box of candy. The master French chocolatiers offer unique, modern hand-painted designs with many exquisite flavor profiles such as cucumber vodka, earl grey, mango wasabi, pomegranate, hibiscus, curried kiwi sure to satisfy any palate.

395 Santa Monica Place  Santa Monica, CA 90401-2372 (310) 395-1707

 

Piper-Heidsieck's French Cancan Champagne bottle designed by Jean Paul Gaultier is $55 and can be purchased at luxury retail stores.

Champagne with Abandon–Malibu, L.A.

The French Cancan, true to Jean Paul Gaultier’s love of the sensual and shocking, is dressed in Piper-Heidsieck’s signature glossy red and black colors, adorned with Gaultier’s coquettish fishnet stockings and sealed with a sleek, latex sheath and shiny red eye-mask, epitomizing the abandon to passion and desire long represented by Piper-Heidsieck. The French Cancan bottle of Piper-Heidsieck Brut ($55), is available at renowned New York and Los Angeles restaurants,( including Malibu’s Moonshadows restaurant 20356 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu 90265), hotel bars and nightclubs in addition to select luxury retail stores, ensuring that all will be invited to surrender to their darkest desires this Valentine’s Day.

Love and Lust at Naya on Sunset in Silver Lake

The dining room at Naya on Sunset offers a unique romantic setting.

For those lucky to be lost in love, the dining room at the modern Indian cuisine restaurant Nayain Silver Lake seems made for a romantic Valentine dreamscape. Billowing white lace, white handmade leather booths, high gloss lacquered tables, low lighting and sexy world–inspired music set the stage for an intimate evening. With rose petals on the table and Indian bangles for the ladies, a five-course pre-fix menu kicks off with “Love”, a rose-water scented champagne cocktail. The five course menu is priced at $55 per person, and includes courses such as the Tandoori Garlic Prawns with Cumin-Carom Marinade and Pomegranate ChutneyEverest and Lamb Ossobuco with Onion-Tomato Demi Glaze and Naya Rice. The dinner also includes a complimentary after-dinner “Lust” cocktail in Naya’s next door lounge, where you’ll be treated to Indian burlesque dancers and sultry fire artists who will mingle among guests moving to the entrancing sounds of a live doumbek drummers.

Valentine’s Day dinner reservations begin at 6 p.m. and can be made on OpenTable or by calling 323-663-8268. Naya Lounge does not require reservations and will be open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Dancers and live music begin at 7 p.m. Naya is located at 3705 West Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles (Silver Lake), CA 90026.
 
 
Inside, Pink Taco offers a prix fix menu complete with Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Outside, singles looking for love can enjoy $8 margaritas during a round of speed dating.

Speed-date Your Way to Love at Pink Taco–Century City

Enjoy a romantic meal at famed Mexican restaurant, Pink Taco in Century City, for $45 per person. Prix fix menu includes a Trio of Lobster, Shrimp and Fish Ceviche, Pan Seared Golf Snapper served in a Chile Lemon Butter Sauce, and a Chocolate Brownie Sunday, along with a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries to share with your significant other. Pink Taco Century City will not only be serving a special menu for love birds inside the dining area, but they will host the exact opposite on their patio: “Speed Dating on the Patio – Singles Only.” This Taco Tuesday party from 3 p.m – 7 p.m. for the single ladies and gents will include $2-$3 tacos, $8 pink margaritas and 2 for 1 pitchers of margaritas, and, of course, match making.

Pink taco is located at 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA at the Century City Mall. For reservations, please visit www.pinktaco.com or call 310.789.1000.