Shireen’s Spotlight: Bistro Cassis

Shireen's Spotlight: Bistro Cassis

Shireen's Spotlight: Bistro Cassis

Shireen's Spotlight: Bistro Cassis

Shireen's Spotlight: Bistro Cassis

What:

Bistro Cassis, 118 Buena Vista Boulevard, Miami, Florida 33137

Why:

I’ll never forget my first trip to Paris. I fell in love with absolutely everything: the elegant charm of the city, the spectacular historic architecture and the wealth of lively street cafes that seemed to be everywhere, serving fab French food and glasses upon glasses of hearty red wine. Finding that same kind of amazing ambiance in Miami hasn’t always been easy for me, but thanks to “Bistro Cassis,” it’s now possible.

From the moment I hit the front door, the lively French cafe transported me back to “the City of Lights.” With its tiled floors, comfy red booths and incredibly knowledgeable wait staff, I was defintely “se sentir heureux” (feeling happy.) The night started out as a celebration of sorts, with three unique cocktails: the “Isabelle” (made with vodka, cantaloupe, flower cordial and lavender,) the “Emerald Club” (made with gin, mint, green tea syrup, club soda, lime oils) and the “Just Ryte” (with rye whiskey, sage, lemon, bitters and ginger beer.)

I loved the smoothness of the “Isabelle,” the fashionable green brightness of the “Emerald Club” and the unique blending of the “Just Ryte.” Choosing my appetizers was tough, but I went with the suggested “Escargots Persille” (baked snails, garlic herb butter,) Steak Tartare (traditional chopped beef) and the “Mussels Mariniere” (white wine, fresh herbs.) The escargot were buttery and baked to perfection. The tartare (my fave) had just the right blend of spices and the mussels were tender, succulent and left me soaking my bread in its leftover broth and devouring each drenched bite.

Dinner was the best kind of French meal you could ask for: “Steak Frites” (New York strip steak, maitre d’hotel butter, French fries) with a side of mushroom risotto and a glass of “Estancia Merlot” (from Central Coast, California.) The steak was cooked to perfection, the fries were light and crispy and the risotto was exempliare! Dessert was a flaming good time with the “Crepes Suzette” (which are French pancakes with Grand Marnier sauce and vanilla bean ice cream.) I loved the vibe, food and company of this cafe. Who needs Paris when you have Bistro Cassis and thats why it’s one of my favorite things.

Where:

The bistro is snuggled into Midtown Miami (the city’s urban district) and is the perfect destination to enjoy a day of shopping and an evening of dining. Street parking can be tough in this busy area, but there are plenty of garages or why not cab/Uber it and walk to Bistro Cassis like a true Parisian pedestrian.

When:

Open 7 days a week !
Monday through Saturday 11:30am-11:00pm
Sunday Brunch 11:00am-5:00pm, Dinner 5:00pm-11:00pm

Life is an onion and one cries while peeling it.French Proverb

Website: www.cassismiami.com
Twitter: @CassisMiami
Instagram: @Bistro_Cassis_Miami
Facebook: Bistro Cassis Miami French Restaurant

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Photographer: James Woodley
Writer: Shireen Sandoval
Producer: Jessie Rosario

A special thank you to Brustman Carrino Public Relations

Wardrobe by Hollen & Jen Vintage Showroom
www.hollenandjenshoroom.com
Twitter: @HollenandJen
Instagram: @hollenandjen
Facebook: Hollen & Jen Showroom

The Desk Diaries (based on my recollection of true events)

The Desk Diaries (based on my recollection of true events)

The Desk Diaries (based on my recollection of true events)

The Desk Diaries (based on my recollection of true events)

The Desk Diaries (based on my recollection of true events)

The Desk Diaries (based on my recollection of true events)

The Desk Diaries (based on my recollection of true events)

When I first received the handwritten letter from my father, I didn’t quite understand its meaning. Matter of fact, it would be years before I actually did. Nonetheless, I studied the envelope carefully, which had come wrapped in a clear Ziploc bag and then cautiously opened it, unfolding the piece of paper that would change my life forever.

A few weeks earlier, my dad had left on a business trip; he traveled a lot for work but as of late, he was always gone and my mother seemed especially despondent and sad about his latest absence. She, too, along with my brother and I, also received a letter. For whatever reason, perhaps instinct, I knew the situation wasn’t a good one.

The three articles of mail, which came in a larger tattered manila envelope were hand-delivered to our front door on a lazy Sunday afternoon. A family friend, who was one of my father’s co-workers, seemed reluctant to hand them over, but eventually he did and then left us to our day and our letters. The thing is…

When I was growing-up, I never really knew exactly “what” my dad did for a living. So, I couldn’t even begin to tell you what his co-worker did, either. I did think it was odd, though; he’d made the house call without my father there. It may sound strange, but all the mystery surrounding my dad’s job and his co-workers made perfect sense to me at the time. Mainly, because whenever I inquired, there were always a myriad of answers provided without hesitation.

The adults around me would say things like “He’s a handyman” or “He’s a jack of all trades” or “He fixes things” or “He helps people that are in trouble.” Eventually, though, the job title that ended up sticking was: “He’s a roofer.” That’s because…

After one of his many business trips, my dad returned home pretty worse for wear. He was limping, his left arm was in a cast and he was beyond tired, sleeping and resting more than I had ever see him do. When I asked what was wrong, I was told that my dad had fallen off one of the roofs he was working on and he needed time to heal. And…

That was that. Twelve-year olds have a tendency to believe what you tell them. After his fall, his trips grew less frequent and my mother grew more content, but alas, business always needed to be tended to and my dad packed his things and took off. This time, during his longer than usual absence, the letters came…

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

The Scarlet Letter
www.thescarletletterstore.com
Twitter: @scarletlett
IG: @thescarlettletterstore
FB: The Scarlet Letter / Shopping & Retail

Wardrobe Provided by: La Boudoir Miami
www.laboudoirmiami.com
Twitter: @BoudoirMiami
IG: @laboudoirmiami
FB: La Boudoir / Vintage Store

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: @O.D.E.T.T

Styling & Assist: Jackie Kay
Blog ideas: jackie211@yahoo.com

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
MattAuerbach@yahoo.com

Shireen’s Spotlight: Cornell Café at Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens

Shireen's Spotlight: Cornell Café at Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens

Shireen's Spotlight: Cornell Café at Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens

Shireen's Spotlight: Cornell Café at Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens

What:

Cornell Cafe, 4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach, Florida 33446

Why:

In keeping with this week’s “Japanese Dreams” theme, I was more than delighted to feature Cornell Cafe, Morikami’s on-property restaurant. After a long day of meandering around the garden grounds, soaking up the beautiful scenery and hot summer sun, the open-air eatery on the terraces was a welcoming place to rest in the shade and enjoy some incredibly fresh sushi. By the way, this isn’t just any old cafe. It complements the museum with its elegant simplicity.

Beating the South Florida heat with some ice cold water is a given, but enjoying a refreshingly crisp adult beverage isn’t so bad, either. I started my late afternoon lunch with a straightforward Cold Sake, but it was the Unfiltered Nigori that really got my goat (in a good way.) It was rich, creamy and surprisingly sweet.

After demolishing a House Salad (I was starving after an early morning blog shoot,) I opted for two starters: “Crab Cake and Bang Bang Shrimp” (homemade crab cakes, lightly battered shrimp alongside Chef Fu’s special citrus sauce) and “Red Shrimp & Golden Tofu” (lightly fried shrimp and tofu in a sweet and tangy, tomato-based sauce.) Both dishes were a solid balance of my two favorite tastes: sweet and savory. Not only that, they were extremely easy on the eyes. For the Cornell Cafe, presentation is everything.

Which is why I opted for the beautiful Sushi Sashimi Bento Box, a wonderful mix of Pacific yellowtail, shrimp, salmon, tuna and 6 pieces of the chef’s choice of rolls. I’m super picky when it comes to sushi/sashimi and the box didn’t disappoint. It was extremely fresh and delicious. I saved room for dessert, too, after hearing how marvelous the “Manju (Mochi) Ice Cream” was. I had two bonbons (green tea and red bean) which were enveloped in rice paste. They were so smooth, they melted like butter in my mouth (cue the angels singing here.)

My experience at Cornell Cafe inside the grounds of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens wasn’t just relaxing, it was reinvigorating. After lunch, I had an extra burst of energy and took in some more sights and sounds of the sixteen acre lush greenery. If you haven’t been able to visit the Gardens yourself, it’s definitely a South Florida must-see, where you can take time to enjoy nature’s grandeur and all the gorgeous things that go along with it. That’s why it’s one of my favorite things.

Where:

Morikami is located in the quaint coastal city of Delray Beach, which is known for its Downtown Arts District, boasting a plethora of unique galleries and pretty little boutiques. The Japanese Gardens are, of course, a big attraction as well, located just off Jog Road, north of Yamato Road and south of Linton Boulevard. There’s always plenty of parking when you arrive and the grounds never seem overly crowded.

When:

Tuesday through Sunday 10am-5pm, Closed Mondays & major holidays.

The Bamboo that bends is stronger than the Oak that resists.Japanese Proverb

Website: morikami.org
Twitter: @morikamimuseum
Instagram: @morikamimuseum
Facebook: Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

Please note: Dining at the Cornell Cafe is a benefit of Morikami Membership. Non-members must pay museum admission to enjoy the restaurant.

Adult admission: $15
Kids (6-17) admission: $9
Kids (under 6) admission: Free
Seniors/Military: $13
Students: $11

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Photographer: James Woodley
Writer: Shireen Sandoval
Stylist: Jackie Kay

Shop the blog looks at www.lalacouture.com
Twitter: @LaLaCoutureGirl
Instagram: @LaLaCoutureGirl #LaLaCoutureGirl
Facebook: LaLa Couture Boutique

Japanese Dreams

Japanese Dreams

Japanese Dreams

Japanese Dreams

Japanese Dreams

Japanese Dreams

Japanese Dreams

Japanese Dreams

Japanese Dreams

I love South Florida nature and all of its beautiful gifts: the lush tropical greenery, the warm salty air and the deep blue ocean that hugs the Magic City in the most awe-inspiring way. I would never have imagined in a million years, however, that if I hopped into my car and drove north for less than an hour, I would be able to feast my eyes on the most spectacular Japanese-inspired gardens I’ve ever seen. Yes, a full-blow Japanese garden(s) in Florida.

The “Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens” in Delray Beach is a sprawling sixteen acres of meticulously manicured greenery; with rushing waterfalls, ponds filled with Koi fish, curious swimming turtles and immaculately kept Bonsai trees, it’s like something out of a movie. It’s official name…

The Roji-en: Garden of the Drops of Dew (which, in essence, is about renewal,) is split up into six different gardens: Shinden, Paradise, Early Rock, Karesansui Late, Hiraniwa Flat and Modern Romantic (all of which are modeled – but not copied – after famous gardens in Japan.) On Mondays, (that’s the only day of the week Morikami is closed) seven gardeners pour their blood, sweat and tears into perfecting its already pristine grounds.

Marketing and Special Events Coordinator, Monika Armar, who calls the group “small yet mighty,” also says the gardeners work tirelessly mowing, weeding and mulching on just that one day to allow visitors an uninterrupted experience the rest of the week. And boy, is it ever and then some. Which begs the question: how did these surreal, serene and sumptuous gardens grow here in the first place?

Back in the early 1900’s, a group of young Japanese farmers were invited to form a colony to revolutionize agriculture in Florida. They did so with gusto, calling it Yamato (an ancient name for Japan,) in the northern Boca Raton area. Unfortunately, sustaining the land didn’t take root (so to speak) and eventually each returned home, except for George Sukeji Morikami.

In a twist of fate, George stayed in the Sunshine State and eventually prospered, buying land in Delray Beach and farming it for almost thirty years. He passed away in the mid ‘70’s at the age of eighty-nine, but not before donating his land to Palm Beach County, in hopes that his “Japanese Dreams” would be granted: a park built to preserve the memory of the Yamato Colony.

Read the rest of the blog at www.WSVN.com or to get more information on Morikami see the information listed below.

Website: morikami.org
Twitter: @morikamimuseum
Instagram: @morikamimuseum
Facebook: Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

Shop the blog looks at www.lalacouture.com
Twitter: @LaLaCoutureGirl
Instagram: @LaLaCoutureGirl #LaLaCoutureGirl
Facebook: LaLa Couture 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: @O.D.E.T.T

Styling & Assist: Jackie Kay
Blog ideas: jackie211@yahoo.com

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
MattAuerbach@yahoo.com

Shireen’s Spotlight: The Vagabond Restaurant & Bar

Shireen's Spotlight: The Vagabond Restaurant & Bar

Shireen's Spotlight: The Vagabond Restaurant & Bar

Shireen's Spotlight: The Vagabond Restaurant & Bar

What:

The Vagabond Restaurant & Bar, 7301 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida 33138

Why:

If you love art, atmosphere and amazing food, the Vagabond Restaurant & Bar is the newest “IT” place to be. The hotel (built back in the 50’s,) has been remodeled, revamped and re-imagined; all while leaving its original charm and sassy Art Deco attitude intact.

Even though the place is operating on the DL (so far they’ve only had a hush-hush soft opening,) they’ve still managed to attract every mover and shaker the Magic City has to offer. For good reason, too. I went on a Friday night and the place was packed with just the right amount of people, giving off just the right kind of vibe: laid-back and local.

My dining experience was an exact reflection of the aforementioned, but it also encompassed the tastes and textures of the unique and the unusual, too. I started the night with two cocktails: “East of the Tracks” (made with Milagro Tequila, smoked pineapple and Ancho Reyes) and the “Bissap Mule” (Tito’s Vodka, lemon bissap, ginger and mint.) Both drinks were smooth, easy to drink and creative. (The bright pinkish-red drink pictured in the blog was only for looks.)

The “Mango Salad” (green mango, pickled fruits, fresh milk and mint) wasn’t just pretty, it was incredibly light on the palette. The “Foie Gras Torchon” was all kinds of yummy and made perfectly (creamy with a cured sweetness) but it was the “Issan-Style Beef Tartare” (lychee, key lime mint) that really stole my heart. It was incredibly fresh, succulent and at the same time remarkably simple. I could have died and gone to heaven right then and there, but alas, there was more food to be had.

I really enjoyed the “Roasted Market Fish” of the day, which was a grouper (made with turnip dashi, pickled mustard seed and purple pac choi,) until they served the “Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper.” Holy fish, Batman! Not only was it massive, it tasted spectacular. I’m a sucker, though, for a great sauce and whatever it was soaking in reminded me of a full-bodied curry (made with preserved sour orange, chermoula and turnips.) It was my absolute favorite, along with the beef tartare. On the side, I gobbled up an order of “Blistered Cauliflower” (made with grilled goat’s milk and smoked trout roe.)

I passed on dessert, but made my way outside to the pool bar for a nightcap. It was a beautiful, balmy night and the cement pond was literally aglow with different shades of blue. Skinny spouts of water (reminiscent of a grand Vegas hotel) adorned each corner of the pool, giving off a tropical paradise kind of feel.

With a full tummy, I nestled into a tall, but uber-comfy braided patio chair and let the night whisper into my ear: “Come back real soon” and that’s why the “Vagabond Restaurant & Bar” is one of my favorite things.

Where:

The hotel and restaurant is located in the popular Upper East Side area of Miami, right on Biscayne Boulevard. Over the last few years, the neighborhood has undergone a major face lift, with all kinds of restaurants and stores setting up shop. This part of the city is all about the locals and you’ll relish the fact that it’s off the beach and away from the hustle and bustle of tourism.

When:

Sunday 6pm-10pm, Tues thru Thur 6pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-12pm. Closed on Monday.

Reservations: 786-409-5635 or email reservations@vagabondrestaurant.com

The man who leaves home to mend himself and others is a philosopher; but he who goes from country to country, guided by the blind impulse of curiosity, is a vagabond.Oliver Goldsmith

Website: www.thevagabondhotel.com & www.vagabondrestaurant.com
Twitter: @VagabondMiami
Instagram: @vagabondrestaurant @vagabondhotelmiami
Facebook: Vagabond Hotel Miami

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Photographer: James Woodley
Writer: Shireen Sandoval
Producer: Jessie Rosario

Wardrobe provided by www.lebeaumaroc.com.
Twitter: @LeBeauMaroc
Instagram: @LeBeauMaroc
Facebook: Le Beau Maroc