Natural Woman

Natural Woman

Natural Woman

Natural Woman

Natural Woman

Natural Woman

Natural Woman

What:

Exploring the beautiful new apparel + home store OAK, which stands for one-of-a-kind.

Why:

Airy, soft and welcoming: OAK is the kind of boutique you can get lost in. It reminds me of a store you’d find in California (say, Malibu), mixed with a hint of Southwest mysticism. I love everything about it; it speaks to all of my girlie senses. From beautiful pillows, pots and dried flowers to casual cool t-shirts, jeans, jumpers and jewelry, there’s something for every kind of fashionista.

The new apparel + home hot spot, snuggled into the heart of Coral Gables, is the brainchild of Kelly Nelson and Nicolle Mailal, who just happen to be first cousins.

The two have an easy way about them; you can tell they’re very close. Kelly procures the home decor pieces and Nicolle hand picks the fashion. Although both were raised in Miami, the duo has traveled extensively, taking their love for different parts of the world and infusing it into their new store.

It’s different than anything I’ve seen in South Florida before and I really like the premise of one-stop-shopping. I’m a busy person and making stop after stop to shop just doesn’t suit my lifestyle. Not only can I get an entire outfit with accessories at OAK, I can also find unique touches for my personal space.

The natural textures of the home goods and the ease of the clothing is a direct reflection of what’s going on in fashion right now. People want less fuss, more quality and of course, individuality or what I like to call living as a “Natural Woman”. With that being said, everything at OAK truly is One-of-a-Kind.

For fall, a bold jacket is emerging as a major trend as well as high-waisted jeans and the all-important body suit. In the tropics, you can never go wrong with a wide-legged jumper, perfect for any occasion.

Don’t miss Deco Drive tonight at 7:30 & 11:30pm, as we go inside OAK to show off what “effortless style meets casual comfort” looks like, because being a “Natural Woman” is one of my Favorite Things.

Where:

OAK apparel & home
116 Valencia Avenue
Coral Gables 33134

When:

Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

www.shopoakonline.com/

Be Social:
IG: @oak__miami
FB: @OAKMiami

You are already what you are looking for.anonymous

Natural Woman

OAK by #annieSS

James Woodley Photography
Styling: Nicolle Mailal
wardrobe, accessories & home goods provided by OAK apparel + home
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “One-of-a-Kind” Auerbach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Scarpetta at Fontainebleau, Miami Beach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Scarpetta at Fontainebleau, Miami Beach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Scarpetta at Fontainebleau, Miami Beach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Scarpetta at Fontainebleau, Miami Beach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Scarpetta at Fontainebleau, Miami Beach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Scarpetta at Fontainebleau, Miami Beach

A special note: I haven’t posted in awhile due to Hurricane Irma. Getting back to normal has been tough for a lot of us. I hope this note finds you well, in good health and rebuilding or just getting back to normal.

What:

Trying delicious new menu items and drink specials at Scarpetta, one of my favorite restaurants in Miami.

Why:

I didn’t know it at the time, but my dinner at Scarpetta would be one of the last normal things I did before the wrath of Hurricane Irma. Needless to say, it was GLORIOUS: the icy cold cocktails, the exceptionally warm, well-cooked food AND who could forget the orgasmic air-conditioning??!! So cool, so refreshing, so perfect.

One can really gain perspective going through a major storm, but first…

There’s the pre-horror: “OMG, a CAT 5 is barreling this way!” Followed by a week of high-octane preparedness: gas, food, batteries, canned ravioli (because why not, if I’m going to die anyway?) Then you watch (TV), wait (while eyeing the cone of concern) and wonder (about life: what’s important and what’s not.)

When the storm bears down, all my crazy comes out. Especially, the nervous eating. I don’t normally dine on Habanero Cheetos with a side of Bush’s Baked Beans, but if it’s the end, I’m going out with a bang (in more ways than one…) 💩

Anxiety-ridden days are followed by sleepless nights with a relentless soundtrack of howling winds and hissing rain.

But still, there’s something even worse: THE UNKNOWN — which is clouded with fear. Fear of losing everything you own, fear of having to rebuild and finding the strength to actually do it and the fear that things will never be the same, because frankly, they’re usually not.

In-between those serious thoughts, usually, at some point, there’s a loud POP or a quiet click and just like that, your power goes out. It gives one a lot of time to think, appreciate and SWEAT. I went 11 longs days without power and my neighborhood suffered major damage, including the dreaded storm surge.

During it all, I kept thinking about Scarpetta. Not only is it one of Miami’s true hot spots, it reminded me of how lovely things could be when Mother Nature was happy and well-adjusted. At the moment, though, she sucked major… well, you get the idea..

During the storm, my photographer, James and I joked about Scarpetta being our “Last Supper”, so to speak. I’m not complaining. I mean, if you’re gonna have one last meal, it’s more than adequate. In fact, it’s dead-man-walking good.

Before Irma, our “Spotlight” was about highlighting Scarpetta’s new infused drinks like CRAVE (made with watermelon infused vodka, Aperol cranberry, lime and mint) and the EN FUEGO (jalapeno infused tequila, sauvignon blanc, St. Germain, lemon and agave.) I also had a SORRENTO. Even though it’s not a new item, it’s one of my all-time favorites (with oxley gin, house-made lemoncello & basil.)

It was also about how they’re changing up the food menu, too; adding new items, but don’t worry, they still have the classics like Scott Conant’s “SPAGHETTI” made with tomato and basil. And, yes, the “Yellowtail Crudo” — made with ginger oil & pickled red onion — which is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

If you love ravioli (and not from a can, like I ate during Irma 😂), “Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli” in marsala reduction is an excellent choice. If you’re more of a meat lover, ”Braised Short Ribs of Beef” served with veggies and squash & kale risotto is a dynamic plate with a solid taste balance. And, if you’re like me, always watching your waistline, “Seared Halibut”, which comes in a leek fondue, is light, succulent and different.

Not to be forgotten, Scarpetta’s dessert menu, which consists of revolving classics alongside new and creative culinary delights. I tried “Coconut Panna Cotta ” (with caramelized pineapple & guava soup) and “Amedeo Chocolate Cake ” (made with blood orange & milk ice cream.) Both were exceptional.

With all that being said, Scarpetta isn’t just one of my favorite things, it’s given me much-needed perspective; reminding me good food isn’t just nourishment, it’s love and art intertwined. ❤️

What’s more, technology isn’t just about air-conditioning, although it’s much appreciated. It’s about evolving our species and giving us a better existence, while expanding and strengthening our own communities. All of this makes the world, or at least mine, a better place. Cheers!

When:

Sunday – Thursday: 6pm-11pm
Friday & Saturday: 6pm-12am

Where:

Scarpetta
Fontainebleau, Miami Beach
4441 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33140

Click here to book a reservation on-line tinyurl.com/y7gawxyd
or call 800-548-8886

Twitter: @ScarpettaMiami
IG: @ScarpettaRestaurants
FB: @FontainebleauMiami

There are some things you can only learn in a storm.anonymous
James Woodley Photography
Wardrobe: www.BCBG.com
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Cone of Concern” Auerbach

Special thanks to Brustman Carrino Public Relations / www.brustmancarrinopr.com

Shireen’s Spotlight: Cantina La Veinte

Shireen’s Spotlight: Cantina La Veinte

Shireen’s Spotlight: Cantina La Veinte

Shireen’s Spotlight: Cantina La Veinte

Shireen’s Spotlight: Cantina La Veinte

Shireen’s Spotlight: Cantina La Veinte

Shireen’s Spotlight: Cantina La Veinte

Shireen’s Spotlight: Cantina La Veinte

Shireen’s Spotlight: Cantina La Veinte

What:

An early Sunday night dinner at “Cantina La Veinte” — because I’m a sucker for good Mexican food anytime of day.

Why:

You can’t help but be impressed when you walk into “Cantina La Veinte,” — visually it’s just a WOW! It’s grand, fancy and fabulous. I know, I know, flowery adjectives can be annoying, but I’m not kidding.

The main dining room, which features black-lacquered walls with gold trimming, reminds me of something out of the movie, “The Great Gatsby” (the one from 2013, starring Leo DiCaprio), where decadence and intrigue were on display everyday. I love a good romance and I could totally tell, I was about to have one. 😍

When I arrived, just before five PM, a spirited Mariachi band was serenading customers with verve and gusto. The music was so lively, it drifted its way into the rafters and bounced off the restaurant’s gi-normous windows. That’s when I saw it…

The Miami New River sauntering its way into the bay, glistening glamorously in the late day sun. What a view! Also, easy on the eyes…

The big shadow box shelves, displaying some of the coolest Mexican art I’ve seen in South Florida: statues, figurines, ornate boxes and pots.

Just as I was having a “man, I love this place moment”, things got even better, thanks to my attentive & thorough server, Jorge.

He suggested I start “Spotlight” with a customer favorite: “The Golden Margarita” (they have a huge list to choose from.) It was the bomb-dot-com, salted and filled to the brim with swanky tequila, fresh lime, Cointreau and agave nectar. I couldn’t get over the size of the thing. It puts a 7-Eleven Big Gulp to shame.

Served in a mini cantina, I threw back a delicious amuse bouche of Shrimp Bisque. The broth was extra yummy and ended with a spicy kick. Weeping while eating is a way of life when you’re from New Mexico. Yep, I’m a “Land of Enchantment” lady and we like our food extra hot & spicy. 🔥

Like a kid in a candy store, I get totally giddy when chips and guac come to the table, but THIS was a whole other level. “Cantina La Veinte” makes theirs from scratch. Fresh & delicious, it’s a must-try before dinner. Pace yourself, though; pre-dinner shenanigans can take up a lot of tummy room. Take it from me, I have ZERO will power when it comes to Mexican food, but there’s always more to come.

Like…

The sweet & minty “Mexican Mojito” (made with Rum, lime juice, mint leaves, and simple syrup.) It was the perfect precursor to “Ceviche de Atun” (fresh tuna, sliced avocado, tomato, mint leaves, red onions and cilantro with smoke chipotle.) The “Aguachile de Callo, Pulpo, Cameron o Mixto” was a light and zesty carnival of seafood (with scallops, octopus and shrimp.) It’s mixed in lime juice, cilantro, serrano chile, cucumber, avocado and olive oil.

Next, I switched up my drink with the “Mezclarita” (made with Mescal, passion fruit puree and other secret ingredients.) I could’ve had another round. From the “Make-Your-Own-Taco” part of the menu, I went with the “Molcajete de Ribeye” (sautéed ribeye served with melted manchego cheese and tostaditas.) 👌🏼

I also wanted to try something on the lighter side, so Jorge recommended “Huachinango y Camarones en Salsa Poblana” (which is pan-seared red snapper with prawns, mushrooms, white asparagus on top of poblano sauce.) Even though a lot goes into the dish, there’s a fresh simplicity to it.

For dessert, I tried two dishes: the sweet and creamy “Panna Cotta de Mango” (made with mango panna cotta covered in white chocolate served with house-made frozen yogurt) and “Explosion de Maiz Dulce.” If you’re an adventurous foodie, this is a total veggie re-imagining (it’s basically sweet corn every which way but loose.)

If you like GREAT Mexican food and a decadent atmosphere, “Cantina La Veinte” is an upscale take on going South of the Border. It has authentic roots with a modern day flair and that’s why it’s one of my favorite things. Cheers!

When:

Monday-Thursday: 12pm-12:30am
Friday-Saturday: 12pm-1:00am
Sunday: 12:30pm-11pm

Where:

Catina La Veinte
495 Brickell Ave, Miami, FL 33131
www.cantinala20.com

Reservations: 786-623-6135
reservations.laveinte@cinbersol.com

Be Social:
IG: @cantinala20
FB: @la20miami / Cantina La Veinte
Twitter: @CantinaLaVeinte

Life without Mexican food is like no life at all.Unknown
James Woodley Photography
Styling: Jackie Kay
Wardrobe: www.brinyboutique.com
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Verve and Gusto” Auerbach
Special thanks to Manuela Mejia

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

Piece by Piece

What:

Building a couture wardrobe the best way a fashionista can: “Piece by Piece” — mixing and matching tops and bottoms by one of the most inspiring young fashion designers in the Magic City.

Why:

Tucked away inside Aventura’s industrial warehouse district, designer Michelle Meler is building her fashion empire with quiet resilience. When I ask what sets her apart from other designers in Miami, she doesn’t hesitate: “You have to have a great concept.”

And she does.

With seven tops and five bottoms, she guarantees you can build up to 70-plus looks with her line. She got the idea after exhausting her entire wardrobe getting ready for a night out on the town. “I tried on everything I owned and that was it. I had nothing to wear.”

Her wheels started turning as she wondered why cocktail attire was such a one-time event. “Who designed it that way?”, she asked me curiously. Meler, who is in her 20’s, fully understands society’s insatiable need for the perfect selfie or the everyday social media pic: “showing casing” or, as Fergie would call it, “The Fabulous Life.” I even do it with my television #OOTD.

Armed with a need for versatility, the one-time architecture student, who interned for a New York City fashion designer, decided to venture into haute couture clothing. Meler sketches beautifully, understands material, sews and chases originality; all characteristics of a budding artist. I like her style a lot. It oozes femininity, but not in an overly frilly kind of way. I see myself wearing her clothing, investing in them “Piece by Piece.”

“My designs are about movement, but also about being still,” she explains. I have an image of water as she pensively describes her designs. The ocean is textured with many different sides to it: interesting, peaceful, moody and never underestimated; an analogy that seems to fit her fashioning.

Clothing in versatile combinations isn’t Meler’s only talent; she also makes custom cocktail dresses and gowns AND they are to-die-for. Check out that purple number I’m wearing. Holy smokes. It screams old Hollywood. I can’t remember the last time I put on a dress of that caliber.

During our interview, Michelle is timid, but passionate. Something in her switches, though, when I ask what makes her designs stand out. “It’s about a moment, even if it’s simple. I always have in mind that moment when a woman first walks into a room: how does she feel, how do I feel looking at her…” she trails off.

Even though there are a lot of years between us, I fully grasp what she’s saying; I’m a woman, after all. I’ve had a lot of those moments: bad, mediocre, good and GREAT. I don’t want to sound trite, but the GREAT ones feel a helluva a lot better then the other adjectives on the list. That’s when I realize “Piece by Piece” isn’t just about what I’m wearing, it’s about what I’m feeling, too.

Don’t miss Deco Drive tonight on Channel 7 at 7:30pm & 11:30pm, as Michelle takes us inside her creative space and gives us an up-close look at her decadent designs.

In this day and age, it’s not just about that one “wow” look, it’s about working your wardrobe in more ways than one and that’s why “Piece by Piece” is one of my favorite things.

When:

Monday-Friday: 9am-5pm

Where:

www.michellemeler.com
or visit the showroom
1644 N.E. 205th Terrace
Miami, Florida
(use google maps for the best directions)

Be Social
IG: @michellemelerstudio
FB: @MichelleMelerStudio
Twitter: @MichelleMeler

Design is a constant challenge to balance comfort with luxe, the practical with the desirable.Donna Karan

Piece by Piece

Michelle Meler & Model by #annieSS

James Woodley Photography
Styling: Michelle Meler
wardrobe provided by Michelle Meler Studio
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Timid, but Passionate” Auerbach

Shireen’s Spotlight: The Foundry (Eat. Drink. Lounge.)

Shireen's Spotlight: The Foundry (Eat. Drink. Lounge.)

Shireen's Spotlight: The Foundry (Eat. Drink. Lounge.)

Shireen's Spotlight: The Foundry (Eat. Drink. Lounge.)

Shireen's Spotlight: The Foundry (Eat. Drink. Lounge.)

Shireen's Spotlight: The Foundry (Eat. Drink. Lounge.)

Shireen's Spotlight: The Foundry (Eat. Drink. Lounge.)

Shireen's Spotlight: The Foundry (Eat. Drink. Lounge.)

Shireen's Spotlight: The Foundry (Eat. Drink. Lounge.)

Shireen's Spotlight: The Foundry (Eat. Drink. Lounge.)

Shireen's Spotlight: The Foundry (Eat. Drink. Lounge.)

What:

An early weekend dinner at “The Foundry” in Pompano Beach. Yes, I left the 305 on a Sunday night and it was totally worth it.

Why:

My new shabby chic couch and “Game Of Thrones” (season 7) are my latest obsessions, so, why in the world would I leave the 305 on a Sunday night to do Spotlight?

“The Foundry” — that’s why.

I heard about the restaurant about a year ago from friends, Deco Drive fans and some die-hard South Florida foodies, but “wanting” to spend time in Pompano Beach and actually “doing it” are two different things.

Finally, after a well planned-out weekend and an online GoT’s leak, I was ready to head north. I know what you’re thinking and NO, I didn’t watch the leaked version (although I thought about it); I flexed my on-demand finger muscles instead.

“The Foundry” (which is set up as an ode to a metal factory) is a big, beautiful open-air restaurant with dark wood, moody lighting and modern art. It reminds me of some of my favorite places in Chicago, where it’s not just about what you’re eating, it’s about how you feel, too. It’s friendly and inviting, flanked by a long bar that reaches its way into a front outdoor patio. There’s a cool raw bar in the back and in-between is the dining area.

I started my Spotlight experience with a strong & savory “Cucumber Martini” (made with gin) & an ice-cold “Hibiscus Mule” (a new twist on an old favorite) made with vodka, hibiscus-infused syrup, lime juice and fever tree ginger beer. If I was a dead man walking, a martini would definitely be my go-to, but this mule is mind-changing.

If you love fresh, healthy and delicious, my first appetizer, “The Sushi Stack”, is an absolute must-try. I could live off this layered pile of love for the rest of my natural born life. Tuna, salmon, avocado and cucumber are perfectly placed atop seasoned sushi rice. The icing on the cake, so to speak, is kimchi mayo and tempura crunchies. It’s big enough to share, although I’d rather have it all to myself. From the raw bar, I tried the “Tasting for 2” (with oysters, shrimp and ceviche.) It was extremely fresh and I liked the tartness of the ceviche.

If you’re not a seafood lover, try the “House-Made Classic Polpette” — one can never go wrong with a tangy meatball (made with crispy polenta, pomodoro sauce, ricotta and basil.) Mama Mia! These bite-sized beauties were a party in my mouth. Truth be told, I wanted more, but a girl has to pace herself when working on her beloved food blog and watching her waistline.

Transitioning into dinner meant changing up our drinks, too. Enhancing the flavor of “Shrimp & Grits” was easy with a Reisling by North by Northwest (from Horse Heaven Hills, Washington.) It was dry and slightly fruity.

Back to those “Shrimp & Grits” that were totally to-die-for…(made with shrimp, sausage, peppers, onions, garlic mixed in a spicy creole sauce, alongside stone ground grits and crispy collard greens). I spent part of my teen years in the south and I’m a real snob when it comes to grits, but these are the real deal.

The 12 oz succulent “Grilled Pork Chop” was my favorite of the night, made with maple glaze and served with butternut squash puree and miso-glazed brussel sprouts. The chop was so tender, I could cut it with a butter knife. #ComeToMama #GetInMyBelly I could go on with the hashtags, but you get the idea.

Last but not least, the “Short Rib Entree”, my photographer’s favorite, was made with faro and wild mushroom ragout and served with shaved veggies. It was paired with an incredible red blend called Forward Kidd (from Napa Valley). I’m a total convert. I need to get a box of the stuff for my house. Nothing like cracking open a great bottle of wine on the weekend.

I tasted two terrific desserts: “Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake” & “Coffee & Doughnuts” — all the sweets are homemade; heck, practically everything is. I’m a sucker for a good cheesecake (I have it every year on my birthday,) but along side the doughnuts, served in a mug is something called: “espresso pot de creme.”

I call it crack in a coffee cup. It’s amazingly decadent and sinfully delicious. If you have a sweet tooth, this will nail you to the wall and you won’t even scream for a great escape.

I can’t say enough about the food at “The Foundry”. It’s amazing, but what I truly fell in love with was the people. Everyone I came in contact with really believes in the restaurant. Our server, Zach, was excellent and NICE. Chef Shari knows her food and she’s passionate about what she does (not to mention wickedly talented) and GM Rick Hamilton is knowledgeable and smart, but not in a way that makes you feel like you should know more about food and what goes in it.

Sure, “The Foundry” is a destination, especially if you live in or around Miami, but it’s also a bonafide experience that won’t disappoint and that’s why it’s one of my Favorite Things. Cheers!

When:

Lunch/Brunch
Monday-Saturday: 11:30am-3pm
Sunday Brunch: 11am-3pm

Dinner
Sunday-Thursday: 4pm-10pm
Friday-Saturday: 4pm-11pm

Where:

The Foundry
2781 E. Atlantic Blvd.
Pompano Beach, FL. 33062

(754) 205-6977

www.thefoundryfl.com

Be Social:
FB: The Foundry FL
Twitter: @TheFoundryFL
Instagram: @thefoundryfl

The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.Richard M. Nixon
James Woodley Photography
Producer/Styling: Jackie Kay
Wardrobe: www.bebe.com
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Forward, Kid” Auerbach