Shireen’s Spotlight: Sakura 736

Shireen’s Spotlight: Sakura 736

Shireen’s Spotlight: Sakura 736

Shireen’s Spotlight: Sakura 736

Shireen’s Spotlight: Sakura 736

Shireen’s Spotlight: Sakura 736

Shireen’s Spotlight: Sakura 736

Shireen’s Spotlight: Sakura 736

What:

Friday night dinner at Sakura 736 — a chic new eatery — where Japanese & Peruvian food fuse fabulously, creating a unique culinary experience.

Why:

Sakura 736 is just one of those places: cool, sexy and laid-back. It totally matches the vibe of the Magic City, but its food is a different story. It’s not just unique, it’s something that’s hard to find in the 305.

Its cuisine is called “Nikkei” — an interesting and artful fusion of Japanese & Peruvian foods. If you’re wondering how the unusual combination came to be, I’m right there with you. Thank God for Google…

Apparently, back in the 1800’s, a lot of Japanese families immigrated to Peru in search of a better life and a country said to be “filled with gold.” Since then, the two cultures have beautifully blended together. Sakura is a generous reminder of that historical harmony.

That nugget of information made my dining experience all the more enjoyable…

I started Spotlight with two creative drinks: the Word of Wisdom and Seppuku. I loved the presentation of both, but an Owl drink? I mean, WHO can resist a copper owl mug filled to the brim with vodka, pear brandy and spiced tea? The Seppuku, which is tequila-based, was muy caliente, made with yummy ingredients like Fresno chili, watermelon and agave. I’m a sucker for anything savory, so it’s black-salted rim was magic in my mouth.

One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Classic Ceviche (made with fish, red onions, Peruvian corn and sweet potato.) The Leche de Tigre they cure it in makes it extra special. Nothing like a marinade with moxie.

The scallops — named Hotate A La Parmesan on the menu — were pretty impressive, too. The presentation was appealing and the scallops were served in a mind-blowing parmesan sauce. If they served it in a cup, I’d definitely drink it. Lol.

The Sakura Roll was the most artistic dish of the night, made with lobster, tempura, cucumber & asapargus. Its pink spicy mayo was used to create sushi art; more specifically, the frilly leaves of a Sakura Tree (we call it a Dogwood). The restaurant and its signature roll are named after the tree, which is said to represent the fragility and beauty of life.

What’s sushi without a little sashimi? I’ve tried tuna before, but not toro, which is the pale, fatty cut of the fish that comes from its belly. Although I loved it, I feel like it’s an acquired taste — but don’t worry, there are plenty of other raw selections.

If you love quinoa, the Quinoto is interesting (made with quinoa, Peruvian corn, cheese and a gi-normous prawn.) I say “interesting” because I don’t find quinoa particularly worth inhaling, mainly due to its healthy reputation; but in this case, it added great texture to the plate and pairing it with a oversized prawn was perfect.

Before the mains, another round of drinks arrived. Both the South of Fifth and Sakura Maru packed an elegant punch, which of course (if you know anything about me,) I LOVE #LushesAreUs

The #SouthOfFifth, garnished with a lychee, is made with strawberry-infused sake and St. Germain. The #SakuraMaru (my favorite adult beverage of the night) mixes bubbly with yuzu, zamaca and cherry blossom.

I tried two main dishes — the savory Lomo Saltado (think Chinese stir-fry with sirloin) served with jasmine rice and the unusual Paiche (an Amazonian river fish) breaded with garlic panko and served with baby bok choy and wild mushrooms. As a side, I munched on little fried balls of heaven called: ‘Papitas Ocopa” or as we call them here, fried potato balls. Speaking of fried…

For dessert, I gobbled up a Peruvian specialty called Picaron (fried doughnuts.) The originals are made with squash and sweet potato and were created by Peruvian Royalty. If they’re good enough for royalty, well, they’re good enough for moi.

Sakura 736 is an alluring spot with exciting & unique food. It’s great for a date or a get-together with friends. And, if you’re a true foodie, you’ll definitely want to put this on your must-try radar and that’s why it’s one of my Favorite Things. Cheers!

Where:

Sakura 736
736 1st Street
Miami Beach, FL. 33139

Make a reservation: www.sakura736.com or 786-607-0199.

When:

Open Daily
Dinner Hours are 5pm-11pm

Be Social:
FB: @Sakura736
IG: @sakura_736
Twitter: @Sakura_736

Little by little one walks far.Peruvian Proverb
James Woodley Photography
Styling: Jackie Kay
Dress & Black Cami by @mvm_miami
Evening Clutch: @xobetseyjohnson
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Gi-Normous” Auerbach

Scent of a Man

Scent of a Man

Scent of a Man

Scent of a Man

Scent of a Man

Scent of a Man

Scent of a Man

Scent of a Man

Scent of a Man

Scent of a Man

What:

The intoxicating smell of love.

Why:

The first time I got a good whiff of my boyfriend, James, I knew it was true pheromone love. He was so intoxicating, I could hardly contain myself. In fact, I inappropriately sniffed him up at a cocktail party after one too many glasses of wine. He laughed it off, but I followed him around like a giddy school girl the entire night. It wasn’t just his cologne; it was something stronger, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on — or, in this case, my nose.

Months would pass before we saw each other again and when we finally did, we were both going through rough break-ups. I can’t speak for James, but the guy I was dating at the time had unceremoniously dumped me for being “too successful” and making him feel like “less of a man”. Strangely, I never liked the way he smelled anyway, which was a mix of pastrami, onions and dirty mop water. I know, I know…

So, why was I dating him in the first place? Well, after two failed marriages and a string of sucky boyfriends, I let someone at work (who happens to be editing this blog) talk me into taking a chance on someone I wouldn’t normally date. I was game. I mean, why not? Growing up, my mom always used to say: “The face of love will surprise you.”

I don’t think she meant FORCE YOURSELF TO LIKE SOMEONE, but I was desperate and slightly immature. It’s not that I didn’t like him; it just never really clicked. He knew it and I knew it. So, he put “US” out of our misery. I took it pretty hard, but honestly, it was about more than just the break-up, it was ALL of it.

I thought I’d never find true love or any love, for that matter. I was so good at making bad decisions, I made Flava Flav’s obnoxious dating show “Flavor of Love” look like a romantic Hollywood classic.

Anyhow, a few days after we parted ways, I became extremely depressed and despondent. I spent hours over analyzing my life, drinking too much and drunk texting another ex-boyfriend. My inadequate feelings led to a brief reunion. Boy oh boy, was THAT a mistake. As if he wasn’t crazy enough the first time, on our second go around he gave Charles Manson a run for his money. He didn’t murder anyone, but he was a spitting image of the serial killer and did I mention crazy? #WeAllMakeMistakes #SometimesTwice

After that, I gave up on men altogether and did something out of the ordinary. I followed my nose…

When I first called James, it was purely innocent. I had no idea he was going through a break-up and or how he’d respond to me ringing him up out of the blue asking for relationship advice. He was cordial and generous with his time and told me if any man felt threatened by my success that was on them and had nothing to do with me.

Our conversations spilled into emails and then text messages and eventually into a few get-togethers with mutual friends. Along the way, I noticed that James did things that no other man in my life had ever done. He called when he said he would, he texted without fail, he didn’t play games and he never, ever magically fell off the face of the earth. My ex-husband was astonishingly good at that last one.

James was stable, reliable and acted like he genuinely wanted to be around me, but what about taking it to the next level? Was I misreading him? I didn’t have the confidence to ask him in person, so I decided to text him instead…

Me: You know I really like you, right?
James: I like you, too.
Me: No, I mean I like you, LIKE you.
(Silence)
Me: I want to be more than just friends.
(Silence)
James: I feel the same.

Those four little words would change my life BIG time. After that text exchange, James has never stopped loving me (through the good and the bad.) During our first few months together as a couple, I stumbled around in a haze of love. I was completely ridiculous, ask me if I cared? NOPE.

When James left for work, I’d sniff the pillows he slept on or the shirts he left behind. When he’d go out of town, I’d wear his clothes around the house and squirt myself with his cologne. Eventually, I confessed my “Scent of a Man” obsession to which James replied: “I kind of figured that out the night of the cocktail party.” Was I embarrassed? NOPE.

That’s the thing about the right kind of love: it gives you the confidence to be yourself. In my other relationships, I was always jockeying for position; trying to figure out exactly what was happening and where I stood. Not with James, though: it’s clear, straightforward, undeniable love and attention. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy, but it means it’s ALL worth it.

Four years later and I’m still sniffing my way around the relationship. The only difference now is James and I have a life together, we have history and a more mature love – still – whether I’m smelling his shirt, pillows or his delicious neck: “Scent of a Man” will always be one of my Favorite Things. Happy Valentines Day!

IG: @ShireenSandoval
FB: @ShireenSandoval
Twitter: @ShireenSandoval

P.S. I love the way my puppy smells, too, hence his guest appearance in the blog. Plus, he’s super photogenic.

Don’t have someone to sniff? Create your own “Scent of a Man” look with a shirt like this: http://tiny.cc/n8h1qy

The best smell in the world is the man that you love.Jennifer Aniston
James Woodley Photography
Shirt: @Forever21
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “I’m No Matchmaker” Auerbach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Wynwood Oven

Shireen’s Spotlight: Wynwood Oven

Shireen’s Spotlight: Wynwood Oven

Shireen’s Spotlight: Wynwood Oven

Shireen’s Spotlight: Wynwood Oven

Shireen’s Spotlight: Wynwood Oven

What:

Sunday night dinner at one of Miami’s newest hot spots — Wynwood Oven — where a chic neighborhood atmosphere meets amazing Italian cuisine. Oh, and if you happen to like wine, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to vino heaven.

Why:

Wynwood Oven isn’t just a place, it’s a feeling. A really good one…

And it comes straight from the restaurant’s Creative Director, Stefano Campanini. He’s an explorer, adventurer and more importantly, a die-hard foodie. Stefano’s new restaurant, in the southernmost part of Wynwood (which is booming with cool businesses at the moment) is a mix of his beloved hometown of Parma, Italy and his bigger-than-life personality.

From a real Italian wood-burning oven, provocative artwork, an ever-changing menu to an extensive wine list, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Even the tomatoes at Wynwood Oven have major game, as they’re grown in the volcanic soil of Mt. Vesuvius. That’s a delicious first for me.

Listen…

If you’re expecting sloppy pasta and overly-sauced pizza, this is NOT the place for you. It’s the complete opposite. The cuisine is clean and delicious. While it doesn’t take itself too seriously, per se, the food does have an incredible quality to it known as “unconventional Italian heritage.”

The pizza is the perfect example…

I tried one with mozzarella, ricotta, the aforementioned fancy tomatoes, basil and prosciutto. It was refreshing and light, which is a shocking way (at least for me) to describe pizza. The pies here are made with just one percent wheat. Take that, gluten! No more pizza coma for me.

If you love a good charcuterie spread, the 50/50 Parma is perfect. It’s filled with yummy treats like Speck, Salami, fig jam and amazing cheeses — hmmm, it’s a definite musty-try. The most surprising dish of the night was the “Eggplant Parmesan.” Not only was it beautifully plated, it was a complete departure from what I’m used to.

Its light marinara, cream-drizzled parmesan and focaccia bread (made with oil) really let the eggplant do the talking and ohhhhh, the things it was saying to me. #FoodPorn (lol). It really was spectacular and I’m not even an eggplant lover. I also tried one of Stefano’s specials: an open-faced lasagna with chestnut sausage, spinach and Parmesan cream cheese.

He told me if I didn’t like it, I could be “brutally honest” — which I found extremely charming. I mean, the entire experience couldn’t have been any better and he wanted “MY” honest opinion. He’s just that kind of guy. During Spotlight, I noticed Stefano treated everyone he came in contact with like they were the most important person in the room. That’s not just a skill, it’s the trait of a true “people person.” And for the record, the lasagna was so kick-ass, I almost licked the plate.

If you’re a meat lover, don’t worry: they have plenty of non-pasta dishes to choose from. The Sous-Vide Pork Chop was tender & flavorful (marinated in sweet onions and mustard.) Mine was served with a side of green beans made with cranberries. After a couple of glasses of amazing red wine (chosen for me) and some great conversation, a “Zabaglione” made its way to the table. If you like sweet custard poured over a fluffy pastry, you’ll wanna get this in your mouth ASAP. #ToDieFor

When I left Wynwood Oven, I felt nourished and enriched. Yes, because of the quality of the food, but also because of the joy and heartfelt love put into it and that’s why it’s one of my Favorite Things. Cheers!

Where:

Wynwood Oven
2085 NW 2nd Avenue
Miami 33127

When:

Lunch is Tuesday-Sunday 12pm-4pm & Dinner is Tuesday-Sunday 5pm-10pm

Be Social
IG:@wynwoodoven
FB: @WynwoodOven
Twitter: @WynwoodOven

We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine.anonymous
James Woodley Photography
Styling: Jackie Kay
Top & Booties: @Zara
Pants: @filomenafashion
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Volcanic” Auerbach

Special thanks to Lisa at Allegory PR

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

The Ultimate Traveling Companion

What:

If I collected all of my special travel memories & awe-inspiring moments on the road and put them into one place, it would look and feel like a Boucle Bag.

Why:

When I caught my very first glimpse of a Boucle Bag, I was completely intoxicated by its originality. Yes, it actually made me HAPPY, something I talked a lot about in my first blog of the year: “A Fashionable Change”.

Purses don’t usually evoke emotion out of me; I mean, I’m a shoe girl, but this one? WOW. With its bold colors, yummy textures and individual styling, I could hardly ignore HOW it made me feel.

Boucle Bags aren’t just purses, they’re travel bags inspired by the Far East and one of the area’s creative customs: people write wishes on colorful tags and tie them around tree branches. Whether it’s love, health, success or happiness, those hopes and dreams are sent into the universe, leaving a kaleidoscope of fascination behind.

Not only does Boucle bring that beautiful tradition to life via fashion, it does it with exquisitely handcrafted quality. No two bags are alike and all that gobsmacking detail isn’t just reserved for the outside. Boucle Bags are roomy, sturdy and ready to help you chicly conquer your next destination: work, play, a long weekend getaway or how about that trip you’ve always dreamed of?

Speaking of…

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to truly express the impact traveling the world has had on my heart. My first golden sunset in Australia, the incredible visual impact of Hong Kong’s cityscape, the lush green rolling hills of Scotland and the rich architecture and opulence of Russia. I can’t wait for my next exciting adventure and you can bet my new Boucle Bag will be right there with me and that’s why “The Ultimate Traveling Companion” is one of my Favorite Things.

Shop the Gabriella Boucle Bag here: www.bouclebag.com

Be Social:
IG: @bouclebag

I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.Mary Anne Radmacher
James Woodley Photography
Outfit by @xobetseyjohnson
Shoes: @Forever21
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Completely Intoxicated” Auerbach

The Strand

The Strand

The Strand

The Strand

The Strand

The Strand

The Strand

The Strand

What:

Shireen’s Spotlight: The Strand Bar & Grill

Why:

Airy and chic, “The Strand Bar & Grill” is a sophisticated space snuggled inside Carillon Miami, a world-class Wellness Resort geared towards a healthy lifestyle. While the hotel is known for its beautiful oceanfront views, MiMo architecture and lavish stylings, it finally has a restaurant to match its prestige.

Although the menu is a flow of foodie favorites like Foie Gras and Beef Tartare, it’s also incredibly unique, thanks to the way Executive Chef, Stephen Ullrich, interprets and presents his food. He also knows a thing or two about whipping up creative culinary concoctions you’ve never heard of, like Caviar Pie, which happens to be insanely delicious.

I started Spotlight with some interesting cocktails: “A Beet Up Mule,” with Beet Infused Açaí Veev and Ginger Beer, tasted surprisingly healthy. I also tried “No More Thyme,” a whiskey-based cocktail with herb syrups and frothy egg whites, garnished with a goo-goo-eyed baby duck sure to make you smile.

Before dinner got started, Chef warmed me up with an amuse-bouche of savory diced octopus. Just as I was wrapping my mind around its deliciousness — a flurry of fabulous food made its way to the table.

The starters at “The Strand Bar & Grill” are the bomb-dot-com, especially the “Stracciatella,” served with stone fruit and basil. If you’re a “Steak Tartare” fan, they make theirs with mustard emulsion and beet pickled onions, which gives it a slight kick. It’s perfect if you pair it with a crisp Riesling.

The Caviar Pie was my favorite of the night. I mean, just the words alone: “Caviar Pie” — sent my taste buds into a total tizzy. The app comes with the typical trimmings, but it’s some kind of secret sauce slathered under the cavvy that evokes sheer foodie happiness. Pairing your pie with a petite glass of Sparkling Rose Asti Spumante is highly recommended.

The “Soft Poached Egg” with lobster, porcini & pumpernickel breadcrumbs was spectacular, too. Stir your own dish for optimal deliciousness. For the record, this is Chef’s favorite, so you know you’re in good company when you sop up this ooey-gooey plate of perfection. Every single server I came in contact with at “The Strand” is all about the “Foie Gras” because it’s pan seared, which in their opinion (and mine) improves the overall texture. It’s definitely a must-try.

The “Beet Bucatini” (thick spaghetti-like pasta) was light and refreshing, made with arugula pesto, whipped ricotta and parmesan. If you’re more of a meat lover, the hearty “Lamb Trio” with smoked yogurt sauce won’t disappoint (you get to taste the belly, loin and sausage.) Watching your waistline? Try the “Sea Scallops” served on top of brussel sprouts in a pomegranate sauce.

OMG. I thought I was full until the “Coconut Panna Cotta” & “Pecan Pie Bread Pudding” arrived at the table — both desserts were beautifully plated, but if I were a dead woman walking, I’d go down with a mouthful of bread pudding. Don’t judge me until you’ve tasted it.

A chic atmosphere, a ducky drink, great food and more — “The Strand Bar & Grill” is worth a night out on the town and… a long walk on the beach after dinner in the moonlight never hurt a person either and that’s why, it’s one of my Favorite Things. Cheers!

Where:

The Strand Bar And Grill at Carillon Miami
6801 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33141
305-514-7474

When:

Dinner 6pm-10:30pm / Bar open until 11pm

www.thestrandmiami.com

Be Social:
FB: @TheStrandMiami
IG: @thestrandmiami

Not on one strand are all life’s jewels strung.William Morris
James Woodley Photography
Styling: Jackie Kay
Wardrobe: @AnnTaylor
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Ducky” Auerbach