Happy St. Patty’s Day from all of us at Shireen’s Favorite Things 🍀
(Shireen, James, Matty, Jessie, Jackie & Odett)…
Happy St. Patty’s Day from all of us at Shireen’s Favorite Things 🍀
(Shireen, James, Matty, Jessie, Jackie & Odett)…
Enjoying an amazing weekend breakfast at “Bake Shack” — a family-owned hidden gem, serving-up homemade baked goods and delicious specialty breakfast/lunch/brunch dishes.
If you love breakfast and discovering places off the beaten path, you’ll be completely smitten with “Bake Shack” in Dania Beach. Not only is everything made from scratch on a daily basis, the quality of the food is exceptional.
I started my weekend morning feast at “Bake Shack” with three of their yummy pastries (did I mention they’re known for their mind-blowing doughnuts?) …
I’ve bequeathed the “Guava Cheese Turnover” my soulmate; its perfect balance of sweet and savory deliciousness makes it a must-try. The “Blueberry Crumble Cake Doughnut” was meaty and moist, but if you’re a real dessert lover, the “Creme Brûlée Doughnut” is calling your name, complete with custard filling and a torched sugary top.
I’m a sucker for a good sandwich, which probably explains why I loved the “California Egg Sandwich” (made with a soft-yolked fried egg, avocado, tomatoes and mixed greens.) It’s served on their house-baked challah. They served mine with bacon and cheese (which are add-on’s) with a side of their balsamic mayo spread.
I washed it down with a “Watermelon Lemonade” garnished with lemon and mint. WOW! This really revved up my taste buds. I’ve never had anything like it; then again, I’ve never had “Watermelon Lemonade” before. It’s definitely worth a swig for the novelty, plus it’s sooooo good. It actually reminds me of drinking a piece of “Watermelon Bubbalicious” chewing gum.
If you like sweet and savory (like I do,) the “Chicken & Waffle” dish, served with maple butter and crushed pepper maple syrup, is amazing. The chicken is fried in Crispy Panko bread crumbs, while the Belgian Waffle is completely made from scratch. If your mom is a good cook, she’ll definitely be jealous of this recipe. Maybe take her for brunch?
I wasn’t planning on trying the pancakes, but when they sent a “Blueberry” one to the table, I easily caved. It was just the right shape and size (made with buttermilk and served with creamy maple butter.) If you want your pancake to have more personality, you can add bananas, chocolate chips or candied walnuts.
After my “Watermelon Lemonade”, I sipped on a delicious “Raspberry & Chocolate” cappuccino. I love coffee and originality, so this was a highlight for me. After gushing over my cup of love, I nibbled on a….
“Steak Sandwich” — which gave me a feel for the lunch menu (made with grilled skirt steak, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese.) It’s served on oven-baked focaccia bread and comes with a side of balsamic mayo spread. My photographer loved this plate; claiming it was his favorite, but he said that about the “Creme Brûlée Doughnut” too. Men can be so fickle (lol).
Even though I adore the laid-back atmosphere of the “Bake Shack”, it’s the food that’s the real scene-stealer. It’s just so good, it doesn’t need any bells and whistles to prove itself. It just needs some hungry foodies who appreciate quality (and enjoy supporting local businesses) … that’s why “Bake Shack” is one of my favorite things.
Saturday & Sunday: 7am-3pm
238 S Federal Highway
Dania Beach, FL 33004
(south of Stirling/US1)
Learning to embrace and maybe even love my curly hair — despite decades of beating it into submission — thanks to Zen Zen Organic Salon.
You may not be able to tell by looking at me, but I have really curly hair. Like, CRAZY curly. I’d even go as far as saying it’s kinky and not in a good way. It’s taken me years to come to terms with it and even longer to learn how to beat it into submission.
Believe you me, I’ve tried everything humanly possible to undo it: blowing, straightening, ironing, perming, curling, keratin, braiding, sponge curling, praying; the list goes on…
You name it, I’ve tried it. All in search of silky, satiny, sleek, sexy, poker-straight hair. You’d think by now I would’ve mastered my own mop, but sadly, I haven’t.
Instead, I let the professionals have their way with it, which includes: a weekly wash/blow-out/flat-iron sesh. If I have time, I ask for curls (of course, not my own.) I prefer well-contrived, perfectly constructed ones, created by a professional in a temperature-controlled environment. Yep…
Getting my hair straight is a full-time job and one I take pretty seriously. Television isn’t exactly the kind of career where you just let your fro’ go and hope for the best; in fact, I’ve written several blogs about it.
So, how is this one different? “Au Naturel” is about reimagining what my hair could have, would have, should have been if I had grown-up differently, in a progressive environment and bigger town. The blog is also about self acceptance, even if it’s years in the making. Speaking of…
From the moment I popped out of my mom’s womb, I had big, beautiful, bushy hair. I was a happy little towhead, with ridiculously cute ringlets. As I reached adolescence, my blonde locks faded into sandy brown and my curls grew tighter and thicker, becoming incredibly coarse. It made me miserable.
Mainly, because I didn’t know how to care for it and no one around me did, either. My mother tried, but it became impossible for her, too. That’s when we started our monthly salon crawls, trying to find someone who could understand and help manage my ethnic hair. Our search was semi-successful once we found some tricks of the trade.
Hello, lye and sodium hydroxide (those are the chemicals used to beat one’s hair into submission.) It stinks to high heaven, but the burning and stinging sensations (on the scalp) are even worse. Despite the suffering, the process never gave me the silky, straight hair I longed for. It did, however, make it more manageable.
As the years passed, I learned not to overlap lye (it burns your hair off) and without fail, I kept up the diligent task of hiding my hair’s true texture. If I had to be completely honest, I was only fooling myself.
Fast forward to adulthood and a successful career in television and a lot has changed (including society’s perception of naturally curly/kinky hair.) Meeting and working with some of the best styling gurus in the business has indeed helped me with my life-long hair struggles, but the last three years have been the most pivotal.
Zen Zen Organic Hair Salon and its master stylists (Cindy & Jess) have literally transformed my hair and my mindset. They treat your head and anything on it with love, respect and compassion, shying away from harsh chemicals and damaging techniques. Instead, they help you understand and care for your natural hair, all while helping it reach its maximum potential.
In the meantime, society has slowly but surely shifted its view on what beautiful hair is, with some of Hollywood’s leading ladies and high-profile models embracing their natural textures, in turn sending a healthy message to not only love the skin you’re in, but to celebrate it, too.
I’ve seen the aforementioned individuality movement expressed strongly in “Generation Z” (kids of today,) who easily express their ethnicities without the confinement of labels like “TV News Hair” or “Barbie Hair” (the list goes on)…
I’m not saying the world is perfect and there aren’t still prejudices, but I do think it’s better and I do think some of us are horrified by those who are judged because of race, religion and their overall “differences”…
In a perfect world, if I had been given a chance to see a famous actress, model or TV presenter with big, beautiful bushy hair, I think things would have been different for me. I would have relished my individuality and when I looked in the mirror, I wouldn’t have hated my curls and made it my life-long commitment to undo them.
When I see a young girl now with an Afro, I smile and think of how far we’ve come and how “Au Naturel” is removing the burden of some weird, unattainable perfection and replacing it with the beauty of individuality and that’s why it’s one of my favorite things.
Zen Zen Organic Salon
1825 NE 123rd Street
North Miami, Florida 33138
Drinks & Dinner at famed Italian eatery, Valentino Cucina, in Fort Lauderdale; featuring the cuisine of Chef & Owner, Giovanni Rocchio.
“Valentino’s Cucina” isn’t just chic and sophisticated; the food is simply ART (and lucky for me, it’s the edible kind.) The restaurant is a mix of all the things I love: a cosmopolitan atmosphere, creative cocktails and killer homemade Italian cuisine. I was blown away by my experience there last Friday night.
I arrived after a long work week, which included highlighting the “Sobe Wine & Food Festival” — so I was definitely in need of a break from gargantuan white tents, long lines and finger foods. Just as I sat down…
A glass of bubbly made its way into my hands and Chef Giovanni Rocchio, who’s kind, conversational and a bit of a 70’s movie buff, offered up the most delicious amuse-bouche of lobster ravioli (with hints of corn and leeks). It was nothing short of spectacular.
(Although I would quickly learn when dining at Valentino, “spectacular” is pretty much the norm.)
Before I tried more of Giovanni’s ambitious cuisine (and frankly, some of the best I’ve had in South Florida,) I tasted three easy-on-the-eyes beverages…
“The Gia” (made with citrus vodka, limoncello and prosecco) tasted fresh and bubbly; the “Pink Blazer” (made with tequila, hibiscus syrup and passion fruit puree,) reminded me of red peppers on ice and “Zero Gravity” — which was my favorite of the night — was an interesting mix of bourbon, lemon juice, honey syrup, Earl Grey tea, muddled strawberry & blueberries, fresh salt and ground black pepper. It would sure be easy to lose count when sipping on one of these frothy concoctions. I’m guessing that’s why it’s called “Zero Gravity.”
Each cocktail was fashion-forward and interesting, a nice change of pace in what sometimes feels like an overly-crowded world of sweet Cosmos & Lychee Martinis.
My first appetizer was the creamy “Burrata” with cherry tomatoes, black olives, marinated anchovies, arugula and pine nuts. I’m not big on beets, but wow — the “Beet Agnolotti” w/ aged goat cheese and sesame brittle was divine and the “Foie Gras with Ginger Mascarpone” (and strawberries) was mind-blowing. No doubt, Chef Giovanni is a master at pairing seemingly unrelated flavors.
Before my main course of “Branzino” (served with heirloom beans, artichokes and chili peppers,) I sipped on Valentino’s take on a “Singapore Sling” (imagine drinking an extra juicy black cherry.)
The chef also sent a surprise of “Prawn Langostine Ravioli” (it’s impossible to pick my favorite dish of the evening, but this one is pretty close.)
After a palette-cleansing “Raspberry Sorbet & Sake Yogurt” and a sip or three of a Dirty Martini (don’t judge me; it was Friday night,) three decadent desserts arrived…
“Chocolate Cheesecake,” “Olive Oil Pistachio Mousse Cake,” and “Chocolate Vanilla Truffles”. I’m a sucker for a good cheesecake, add some chocolate and well, it’s the perfect after-dinner treat.
All the desserts were artistically plated and tasted better than they looked, if that’s even remotely possible.
Valentino’s is not only a first class, fine dining experience, its people — who are warm, caring and committed to excellence — are the real secret ingredients that make the restaurant a huge success and that’s why it’s one of my favorite things. Cheers!
620 S. Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
(valet on property)
Friday & Saturday: 6pm-12am
Closed on Sunday
Bar opens at 5pm