Shireen’s Spotlight: Mina’s Mediterraneo

Mina's Mediterraneo

Mina's Mediterraneo

Mina's Mediterraneo

What:

Mina’s, 749 NE 79th Street, Miami, Florida 33138

Why:

Chic, industrial and warm, Mina’s reminds me of some of my favorite restaurants in my beloved hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s even reminiscent of some of the cool, laid back, hipster spots I used to frequent in Austin, Texas (when I was a young, budding entertainment reporter working in The Lone Star State.)

Mina’s is the kind of place that just makes you feel good when you walk through the door, boasting a line of big, beautiful windows perched high against its back wall giving off a sense of roominess and different shades of moody lighting. During the day, it’s bright and airy; at dusk, it’s self-assured and sexy. When it gets dark, candles illuminate the dining room in a golden amber-like glow. Fresh cut flowers give each table a dose of unpretentious personality.

I started my dinner at the lively bar, where friendly locals chatted with me about how much they loved the place and how much they actually frequented it during the work week (at least twice, sometimes more.) My first drink of the night was the popular “Marakesh Cocktail” (made with Moroccan Mint Tea, Rye Whiskey and spiced pomegranate.) It’s definitely strong enough for a man, but women will like it, too. At least, if you’re like me and enjoy a stiff, strong drink. Back on the ranch, we describe it as “a beverage that’ll grow hair on your chest.”

“The Dusty Rose” was next and was my absolute favorite (made with white rum, pineapple, St. Germaine, rose water and cranberry.) Mmmm…it was unique, feminine and extremely appealing. My photographer, James, was all about the “Fresco Verde” (made with muddled cucumber, mint, basil, honey, gin and ginger beer.) It was definitely refreshing, smooth and I’d even go as far as describing it as effervescent.

Before I drank myself under the bar, I headed to my table to start my dinner with some amazing “Small Plates” on the menu. I really love this concept, too. Drinks, light bites and a great atmosphere; it’s reason enough to check the place out if you’ve never been before. Also, if you just wanna hang (I especially love the outdoor patio,) it’s got this really chill vibe, with live music every Thursday. Every third week of the month, they host something called: Play-te (great food and a theatre reading.) But I digress…

There’s nothing like a good dip! I started off with four amazingly fresh, mouthwatering ones: Besara (ground fava beans, cilantro, dill, parsley, celery, onion and garlic.) Tzatziki (Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, mint.) Baba Ghanoug (roasted eggplant, chickpeas and tahini.) Spicy Feta (Bulgarian feta with harissa.) This was one of my favorite parts of the meal, however…

I was completely infatuated with the “Spanakopita” (a serving of spinach feta phylo pies.) They were light, fluffy and fantastic. “The Stuffed Cabbage” was a pretty close second (served with rice, meat, onions in a savory tomato sauce. I need this in my life at least once a week.) I’m not a fan of “Grape Leaves,” per se, but wow — I surprisingly gobbled up two with no questions asked. My last appetizer, the “Lamb Burger Sliders” (with harissa, tatziki, tomato and lettuce) were absolute perfection.

Now, you’re probably thinking how in the world could I possibly have had room left for dinner after that appetizer extravaganza? Well, I may be wee, but I’m willful! Especially, with the quality and taste of the food. What’s more, Yasmine Kotb (Mina’s owner,) is so generous and kind, her food is a direct extension of her personality. With that being said, you can’t help but wanna try everything on the menu.

Before my main course, though, I tried “The Mersault” (made with muddled cherry tomatoes, lime juice, rosemary, tequila and a touch of harissa.) This drink wasn’t just photogenic, it was incredibly interesting. It was layered with unique flavors, reminding me of a fresh herb garden and who doesn’t love a drink peppered with little cherry tomatoes?

I dined on the “Osso Buco” for my main plate (lamb shank braised in wine sauce with mashed potatoes.) The lamb was soft, tender and a perfect cornucopia of classic flavors. The potatoes were fluffy, buttery and delicious, too. For dessert, three plates landed in front of me: Tiramisu, Walnut Baklava and Dark Chocolate Tart. Hands down, the tart stole my heart (insert crying emoji here.)

The thing I love most about Mina’s is that’s it’s close to Channel 7, so it’s my neighborhood hang-out, but truth-be-told, that’s exactly what it’s like even if you don’t live on 79th Street. It’s a friendly atmosphere, the food is fresh and it’s a fabulous place to feel part of our ever-changing community.

Where:

Mina’s is the Upper Eastside of Miami, which is slowly but surely turning into a bustling area; with clothing shops, different restaurants, hairs salons and home decor stores. The restaurant has a pretty big parking lot, so that’s not an issue. Not only that, Mina’s is working on free valet to make it even easier. Cheers!

When:

Tues-Friday 5pm-10:30pm, Saturday 12pm-10:30pm, Sunday 11am-9pm and Happy Hour Tues-Sunday 5pm-7pm.

The Mediterranean has the color of mackerel, changeable I mean. You don’t always know if it is green or violet, you can’t even say it’s blue, because the next moment the changing reflection has taken on a tint of rose or gray.Vincent Van Gogh

www.minasmiami.com
Twitter: @MinasMiami
IG: @minasmiami
FB: Mina’s Mediterraneo

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Photographer: James Woodley
Stylist: Pam Garcia

Wardrobe & Jewelry provided by www.KokoPalenki.com
Twitter: @KokoPalenki
IG: @kokopalenki
FB: Koko & Palenki

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

Fashion Overboard

My first time on the water in Miami was a bit of a disaster. I was on assignment for Deco Drive to get the deets on a new jet ski company specializing in showcasing the Magic City from a bay/ocean point-of-view. The idea was pretty cool, but I didn’t feel altogether comfortable being on the back of a jet ski, zipping around the city, for several reasons…

First off, I wasn’t exactly a “water girl.” I grew up in the desert; more specifically, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I enjoyed hiking, cave exploring and horseback riding. The only body of water remotely worth spending time around was the Rio Grande River, which we affectionately nicknamed “The Rio Sandy.”

It was beyond dry, parched and riddled with rattlesnakes, who were always looking for shade, water and someone to sink their teeth into. Let’s just say, that kind of atmosphere did nothing for my swimming abilities and/or my love of the water. Making matters worse, as an aspiring television reporter, I reluctantly moved my way around the U.S., living in small, dusty country towns best known for their beef, not their beaches.

By the time I arrived in Miami, I had a healthy fear of the water and didn’t understand why everyone basked/baked in the sun and boated their way around the bay, the Keys, even the Bahamas. I came to South Florida because it was a well-known television gateway. If you worked in Miami you were destined for a national TV show; better yet, you could even get picked up by the Network. A day at the beach wasn’t exactly my intention. That is…

Until I found myself in a skimpy bathing suit, straddling the back of a jet ski, holding onto some guy I barely knew for dear life. Upon seeing my nervous disposition, he quickly scolded me: “Stop being such a scaredy-cat, relax and trust me.” Yeah, famous last words. As we made our way into the water and the “ocean crotch rocket” started picking up speed, I quietly cursed my Deco Drive Assignments Editor and told my new pal: “Please don’t go fast and remember, I’m not a good swimmer.”

“That’s what your life jacket is for, you idiot,” he screamed over the ear-bending engine noise. With my camera man directly across from me (on another jet ski,) we took off into the abyss and I have to say, it was one of the most terrifying, frightening, horrendous experiences of my life. Over ten years later, it’s still Deco fodder.

Read the rest of the blog story at www.WSVN.com or shop the looks (better yet, buy a yacht!)

Website: hargravecustomyachts.com
Twitter: @hargraveyachts
Instagram: @hargraveyachts
FB: https://www.facebook.com/hargravecustomyachts

Wardrobe provided by Dominique Boutique
www.dominiquecoralgables.com
Instagram: @DominiqueBoutique
Twitter: @Dominiqueok
FB: Dominique Boutique

Twitter: @ShireenSandoval
IG: @ShireenSandoval
ssandoval@wsvn.com
www.shireensandoval.com

Photographer: James Woodley
Twitter: @BritFloridian
IG: @BritFloridian
www.James-Woodley.com

Hair & Make-up: Odette Hernandez
Twitter: @Odettehernandz
IG: @Odett_herndz

Styling/Co-Producer/Assist: Jackie Kay
blog ideas: Jackiekay211@yahoo.com

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
MattAuerbach@yahoo.com

Shireen’s Spotlight: WunderBar inside Circa 39 Miami Beach

WunderBar inside Circa 39

WunderBar inside Circa 39

WunderBar inside Circa 39

WunderBar inside Circa 39

What:

WunderBar, 3900 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33140

Why:

In keeping with this week’s ‘Favorite Things’ location theme, I managed to find some downtime inside “Circa 39 Miami Beach” to enjoy WunderBar. The gorgeous little garden-like gem (with Mexican tile, freshly displayed herb greenery and puffy blue and white throw pillows,) is the perfect place to grab a drink, a light bite to eat and brush up on your RUM game!

Although WunderBar whimsically writes its daily cocktail specials on a chalk board, it specializes in all kinds of the spirit known as ‘the pirate’s drink': oaky, vanilla-esque, molasses-like, caramel-tasting, fruity, cinnamon-y and spicy! (a.k.a light and dark rum.) I’m a novice at imbibing this smooth, strong and spirited drink, but there’s no time like the present!

I started my drink fest with the “Rum Sampler” (which is a selection of three or four of your own or the bartender’s choices of rums.) I decided to drink mine neat-verses-iced and the bartender did the choosing. With over 60 rums to choose from, I was in over my head. I sipped, slurped and swished my way through four yummy “Kill-Devil’s” (that’s one of rum’s historical nicknames.)

On the lighter side, I lapped up the festive looking “Guarapo” (served in a bamboo cup and made with freshly pressed Sugar Cane juice and 1.5 ounces of Rhum Clement Canne Bleue.) Not to be outdone, the “Lime in the Coconut,” (yes, like the song) was my favorite drink (served in a coconut with fresh lime, coconut and 1.5 ounces of Bacardi 8.)

By the way, each drink was under twenty dollars, which is a killer deal on the beach. Although I didn’t have a lot of time to eat, I did get a quick order of the “Shrimp Bang Bang” (which is fried, rock shrimp in a sweet chili Aioli.) It was the perfect bold and spicy accoutrement to go along with my savory drinks. After all, a fashionista can’t drink on an empty stomach!

While WunderBar is warm, cozy and full of atmosphere, Circa 39 Hotel is just as fashionably fetching, catering to locals with great stay-cation deals. The vintage charm, intimate nature and garden courtyard of both places makes it one of my favorite things.

Where:

WunderBar is snuggled into the back of the Hotel, just off the main lobby. It’s so light and adorable, you can’t miss it. If you happen to drive to the beach, there’s a lot just off 39th Street reserved for hotel guests or you can try your luck at street parking. Either way, it’s a great place to spend the day or make a weekend of it. Cheers!

When:

Sunday – Thursday 11am-11:000pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-midnight.

Not all those who wander are lost.J.R.R. Tolkien

www.circa39.com/wunderbar/
Twitter: @PalmsCircaMIA
IG: @Wunderbarmaimi
FB: WunderBar at Circa 39 Hotel

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Photographer: James Woodley
Producer: Jessie Rosario
Stylist: Zlata Archy & Jackie Kay
Special Thanks: Tanja Morariu

Wardrobe, jewelry and shoes by www.MagentaCouture.com
Twitter: @MagentaCouture
FB: Magenta Couture
IG: @MagentaCouture

Wrapped & Bagged

Wrapped & Bagged

Wrapped & Bagged

Wrapped & Bagged

Wrapped & Bagged

Wrapped & Bagged

Wrapped & Bagged

Wrapped & Bagged

Wrapped & Bagged

Wrapped & Bagged

As a young boy, designer Carlos Marrero was obsessed with clothing patterns; more specifically, the beautiful images of fashion-forward women on their packaging. His grandmother (who helped raise him because his mother was a single, working parent) loved sewing designs from the likes of McCall’s and Butterick’s.

By doing so, she unlocked his artistic imagination without even knowing it. After she would finish a pattern, or at least take it from its packaging, Carlos would study the drawings and practice replicating them over and over again. He laughs wholeheartedly when he relays the story to me at Circa 39 Hotel on Miami Beach, where I interviewed him and shot fashion photos for the blog.

“Try being a boy growing up in Puerto Rico drawing women from patterns,” he told me, coyly. Carlos doesn’t just have a great sense of humor about it, he’s beyond modest when it comes to relaying just how successful he’s become as a fashion illustrator. After honing his skills when he was young, then going on to art school in Chicago and hustling his way into the office of a major fashion magazine (to fill in for someone who had cancelled at the last minute,) he finally got his big break.

Over the next 25 years, he would draw, sketch and create images for some of the most powerful fashion magazines in the world: Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Latina and Vogue. Over the last few years, though, Carlos has gone through a major transformation, recreating and re-branding himself, especially as the magazine world has fallen into a hushed corner due to the social media revolution.

Part of that transformation is called the “Marrero Collection,” an affordable accessory line featuring beautiful boho scarves and glamorous black and white purses. Each item is adorned with one of Carlos’ famous sketches; a fetching fashion lady, whimsical shoes, pretty purses, fabulous flowers, a lucky white elephant, tropical turtles or a tempting tigress.

As a fashionista who’s been hoarding scarves for years, I’m in love with his neckerchiefs (a smaller scarf, easily wrapped around your hair or neck.) When I confess this to Carlos, he laughs and says: “You gotta love a good purse lift, too.” When I look at him perplexed, he explains…

Read the rest of the blog at www.WSVN.com or shop the looks with the links below.

Scarves & bags www.marrerocollection.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/camarrero
Instagram: https://instagram.com/camarrero/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/camarrero

Wardrobe & jewelry www.HauteGlamBoutique.com
Twitter: @HauteGlamBtq
Instagram: @HauteGlamBoutique
Facebook: Haute Glam Boutique

Special thanks: Circa 39 (Tanja Morariu)
www.circa39.com
Twitter: @PalmsCircaMIA
FB: Circa 39 Hotel, Miami Beach

Twitter: @ShireenSandoval
IG: @ShireenSandoval
ssandoval@wsvn.com
www.shireensandoval.com

Photographer: James Woodley
Twitter: @BritFloridian
IG: @BritFloridian
www.James-Woodley.com

Styling & Assist: Jackie Kay
blog ideas: Jackiekay211@yahoo.com

Hair & MUA: Tabitha Rey
IG: @makeupbytabs
makeupbytabs@yahoo.com

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
MattAuerbach@yahoo.com

Shireen’s Spotlight: Kuro inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Kuro at the Hard Rock

Kuro at the Hard Rock

Kuro at the Hard Rock

Kuro at the Hard Rock

Kuro at the Hard Rock

What:

Kuro, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, Florida 33314

Why:

Unique, sophisticated and amazingly delicious, Kuro is a class act and a definite must-try if you’re a foodie or if you’re just the kind of person who appreciates beautiful and tasty things. The palatial restaurant, housed inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, doesn’t feel as big as it actually is.

Its decor, which is an awe-inspiring blend of shining glass, tiles, shells, lights and chandeliers, fills the restaurant with a kind of warm, intimate glamour. The open-air bar, where I decided to start my meal, is especially exquisite. At sunset, it gleams in a rich, earthy gold, reminiscent of Russian opulence (without all the fuss, naturally, because it’s a Japanese restaurant.)

My first appetizer, the “Tuna Crispy Rice” (spicy tuna and caviar) was an incredible mix of soft and crispy textures. I washed it down with a sweet and succulent drink called: “NI” (rum, yuzu, watermelon, thai basil, fennel syrup and togarashi.) The clean, creative concoction was made by Kuro’s master mixologist, Jared Boller.

Boller (by the way) totally knows what he’s doing. He has mad mixing skillzzzzz, probably some of the best I’ve encountered in South Florida. He builds his drinks to awaken your taste buds one layer at a time. Boller also knows his way around an ice block, basing beverages on how different ices – cuts and kinds – affect the taste of alcohol and all of its trimmings.

With that being said, I’m not sure there are enough appropriate adjectives to describe the wonderful assortment of drinks I tasted at Kuro, but “provocative” and “entertaining” will have to do. Here’s the list: “ICHI” (made with scotch, sea salt, cucumber, lime juice and dry vermouth,) “HACHI” (Japanese 4 mushroom bourbon, mirin, black pepper syrup and lemon juice,) “BITTER” (rye whiskey, campari, beet juice and roasted coffee) and, last but not least, “SALTY” (Roku shochu, prosecco, soy, coriander, honey, lemon and pomegranate molasses.)

Along with a plethora of palette-pleasing drinks, I had an amazing plate of extremely fresh, art-infused sushi (each piece was so well-crafted, the presentation looked like a painting) and of course, tasted terrific: “Tuna” (wasabi and truffle tofu,) “Seared Hamachi” (cilantro, jalapeño ponzu,) “Scallop” (sea salt, yuzu jelly,) “Kanpachi” (cucumber, shio kombu,) “House Smoked Trout” (shiso, yuzu kosho aioli) “Seared Salmon” (chive, onion sauce) and “Toro” (seasame, negi.) It may sound like a lot, but when you look at the pictures, the sushi is dainty, delicate and decadent.

For my main course, the “Ribeye Miso” was rich, flavorful and juicy (served with pine nut miso, grilled asparagus and shiso dressing.) Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, dessert was served and for the record, I’ve never EVER in my life seen or tasted anything like the “Kuro Goma Panna Cotta” (with ginger gelee, cucumber pearl, pomegranate foam and nori sponge crumble,) it was a fantastic carnival of sweetness, with ever-changing textures on my tastebuds.

I’m no food critic, but this is one of the most spectacular restaurants I’ve featured on Spotlight. Mainly, because of its quality: it’s consistent across the board. From the atmosphere to the drinks, food and dessert, it’s definitely one of my favorite things. Happy Weekend!

Where:

Kuro is located inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino just off the left side of the main lobby. It’s between the Rock Shop and valet pick-up, snuggled alongside the pool area. Whether you valet or self-park, there’s always plenty of space and great service to help you get to where you’re going.

When:

Tuesday-Thursday 5:30pm-10:30pm, Friday-Saturday 5:30pm-11:00pm, Sunday 5:30pm-10:30pm. Bar & Lounge Tuesday-Sunday 5pm-close.

Beautiful food and health are priceless.Bryant Mcgill

For reservations call 954-327-7625 or email kuro@seminolehardrock.com
website: www.seminolehardrockhollywood.com
Twitter: @HardRockHolly #KuroHardRock
IG: @hardrockholly #KuroHardRock
Facebook: Kuro Japanese Restaurant at Hard Rock Hollywood

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Photographer: James Woodley
Writer: Shireen Sandoval
Producer: Jessie Rosario
Styling: Jackie Kay
Special Thanks: Brustman Carrino PR

Wardrobe provided by www.koreboutique.com
Twitter: @Kore_boutique
IG: @KoreBoutique

Clutch provided by www.CandyWoolley.com