Naked Crab photographed by Carl-Frederick Francois
Styling: Jackie Kay
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew Auerbach
(***ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ON PHOTOS***)
(***ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ON PHOTOS***)
Wrapping up 2017 wearing one of my Favorite Things: HERVE LEGER. Plus, a little jibber-jabber about hopes, dreams and fancy things in 2018.
Ahh, romance & glamour…
Nothing used to say “New Year’s Eve” to me like a fabulous dress, a festive party and a fantastic man. Think the popular 80’s movie: “When Harry Met Sally”… More specifically, that famous last scene in the film when Harry & Sally realize they’re freaking nuts about each other.
It starts out with a hurried Harry pushing his way through a crowded New Year’s Eve party trying to find a heartbroken Sally. He’s in street clothes, she, of course, is in a gorgeous off-the-shoulder dark blue cocktail dress, looking every inch the fashion goddess.
Despite being broken up for months, the “meant to be” couple finally comes face-to-face on one of the most iconic nights of the year.
And, while their chemistry is ELECTRIC and their love PALPABLE, their happily-ever-after hangs delicately in the balance. (Get me a tissue!)
Harry proceeds to tell Sally she’s the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with. He adds sweetly: “I love you.” “What?” She says perplexed. “I love you,” he says emphatically.
Sally doesn’t believe Harry (because, well, most of the time men suck,) so she explains: “It doesn’t work that way! You can’t just barge back into my life expecting to pick up where we left off, because it’s New Year’s Eve and you feel lonely.”
Just as the traditional countdown begins, Harry tells Sally he doesn’t love her because he’s lonely, he loves her because of her special idiosyncrasies; like how she gets cold when it’s 71 degrees, how her face wrinkles up just above her nose when he says something annoying and how it takes Sally an hour or so just to order a simple sandwich.
“Auld Lang Syne” starts playing in the background and Sally cries: “I hate you, Harry,” but of course, she doesn’t really hate him, she LOVES him, they love one another. As they embrace and fall into a passionate kiss, the camera zooms out revealing the landscape of the party: the balloons, the confetti and dozens of couples dancing… Happy New Year!! 🎉
OMG! Be still, my besotted heart. 💝
Not only is that scene major movie magic, it’s something I’ve tried recreating for the better part of my adult life. The dress, the party, the man, the romance of it all and the trappings I assumed came along with it.
LUCKILY, somewhere along the way, life grabbed me by the shoulders and shook the hopeless romantic out of me. I know, I know, it sounds kind of morose, but actually, it was more like divine intervention.
Hollywood happiness isn’t just fleeting, it’s not even humanly possible. In fact, it’s a fool’s set-up for complete and utter disappointment. And while I’m at it, so is all the “politically correct” love rhetoric floating around in today’s society.
I don’t like ad campaigns, movies, social media, fairytales, religion, race or even my parents telling me how to love, who to love and what I should be wearing while I’m doing it.
You see, I tried all that on for size and it didn’t fit. In fact, it was suffocatingly small for what life really had in store for me. Two divorces and a lot of emotional baggage later…
Life is ridiculously messy and heartbreaking and more often than not, it doesn’t come with witty Billy Crystal dialogue, good movie lighting and a perfect wardrobe (believe me, some of my early New Year’s Eve outfits were real doozies.)
Eventually, that dress, that man, that party, it all changes. The focus appropriately shifts to the woman you’re becoming, how the man treats you (with loving actions, not gilded words) and just as important, it’s about who you choose to surround yourself with (even when at a party.) We are, after all, the company we keep.
As New Years pass, I’ve had a lot of time to think about “When Harry Met Sally” and exactly what I was trying to extract from the last scene of the movie. And…
The answer is still somewhat elusive because it’s not necessarily tangible. Instead, it’s this incredible *feeling* that washes over me when I watch it. One of warmth, hope, dreams and desires…
Which is impossible to find during an hour and thirty six minutes of cinematic romance. It simply takes a lifetime of mistakes: highs, lows, self-tolerance, growth and trusting yourself to find out exactly WHAT it is that YOU need and what YOU want and no one else.
And while I still love a fabulous dress, a festive party and a fantastic man, I’ve learned to go about it the right way — MY WAY — because we all deserve our own #HappilyEverAfter even if it’s not something Hollywood would ever write about and that’s why “Slay in Herve” is one of my Favorite Things.
Herve Leger inside BCBG South Beach
Lincoln Road Mall
Miami, Florida 33139
(On the corner of Lincoln and Meridian.)
A special thank you to BCBG South Beach & Herve Leger for supporting my ambitious fashion writing and television career everyday of the year.
This blog is dedicated to Jackie Kay.
Friday night dinner at “R House Wynwood,” one of the coolest, most dynamic restaurants in the Magic City. It also happens to be the perfect place to celebrate Art Basel 2017, because no one should “baaaasel” on an empty stomach.
Magnetic, inspired and original: “R House” is more than just a restaurant, it’s an experience.
Sitting loud and proud in the center of Wynwood, it’s a place that beckons you from the street and quietly seduces the senses once inside. It’s not just about breaking bread, either (although the bread is to die for)…
Instead, it’s a seamless mix of art, food and music with a sexy attitude woven in-between, which coincidentally mirrors the characteristics of the Magic City, especially this week as Art Basel bares down on our majestic mecca.
From South Beach, Midtown, Mimo to Wynwood, there are a lot of different places to celebrate, but “R House” has that *thing* everyone seems to be looking for during one of the biggest art fairs in the world.
I don’t mean to sound elusive when I use the word “thing” — but art is subjective and personal, making it almost impossible to define in a food blog. It is, however, something that can make you feel good, which is a beautiful thing considering the climate of the world we live in and “R House” does just that: makes you feel good.
The restaurant, which features all kinds of gorgeous artwork you can buy while filling your belly, is the brainchild of Chef Rocco Carulli. Although he credits a lot of people around him for his success, it’s Rocco himself who willed “R House” into existence.
When I met him last Friday night, he lit up like a Christmas tree recounting how he left his restaurant up north to give this city a go. It wasn’t easy, either, and at the time, Wynwood wasn’t exactly the hot bed it is now. Despite all the idiosyncrasies of the food and real estate business in Miami, he built his eclectic vision and never looked back.
The food at “R House” is described as “rustic Southern Italian complemented by modern farm-to-table American dishes.” While that’s accurate, it’s also delicious and high-quality. Chef Rocco knows his stuff and he does it with the ease and grace of a food ninja. When his cuisine saturates your tastebuds, you don’t know what hit you, but you know you want MORE.
Oh, and did I mention the liquor? Using top shelf spirits like Skyy Vodka, a lot of the cocktails are infused with delicious fruits and other fresh ingredients, making even Wild Turkey easy to swallow (I’ll get to that in minute) but first…
I started #Spotlight with the strawberry-muddled “Japanese Lemonade” made with sake. Who doesn’t like fresh and fruity? Plus, I’m a sucker for anything pretty & pink. The cool as a cucumber “Culantro Martini” (made with cucumber-infused vodka and elderflower liqueur) has a delicious cilantro flair.
While I love drinks with originality, I like the classics, too. Especially Old Fashioned’s & Moscow Mules. “R House” has original takes on both. With strawberry-infused vodka, homemade ginger beer and muddled strawberries, their mule is magnificent. The “R Old Fashioned” (which comes with straight bourbon whiskey or rye whiskey) is mixed with raw brown sugar, aromatic bitters, orange zest and garnished with an Italian cherry. It’s mind-boggling-ly smooth. (Warning: your mind WILL boggle with two.)
From the Sharing Plates part of the menu, I inhaled the “Yellowfin Tuna Tartare” (made with avocado, sweet chili sauce, wasabi cream and wonton chips.) It’s a MUST-TRY. The “Beet Arugula Pesto Salad” is healthy and yummy with goat cheese and spicy candy pecans.
Just call me ‘Meatball Sandoval’ after trying the “Grass-Fed Brisket and Short Rib Meatballs” — I could eat them everyday for the rest of my natural born life. Hmmm…I sopped up Chef Rocco’s heirloom tomato marinara with perfectly baked bread. If you happen to be a fan of tiger prawns, the “Gamberetti Marinara” is terrific and boasts a chili flake kick. BTW, all prawns are NOT created equally; while gi-normous, these are also tender and tasty.
Before my main course, my server (who was the perfect mix of interesting and knowledgeable) suggested the drink most people can’t get enough of. He actually called it the “Happy Hour Destroyer”… I laughed out loud at its bequeathed title, but he insisted it was true. “Women love them and before you know it they’ve had one, two, three.. we have to cut them off” he explained. Well then, by all means…
The Happy Hour Destroyer is actually called: “Berry Bourbon” (made with Berry-infused Wild Turkey bourbon, berry puree and lime juice.) WOW. I get it now. I’m a total convert and I’m not exactly a Wild Turkey kind of woman. I can change my ways, though. Lol. Next…
I tried “Braised Lamb Shanks” from the Main part of the menu (made with a porcini mushroom-coriander-cinnamon rub and served on a bed of arugula pesto Israeli couscous.) The meat fell off the bone and the couscous was the perfect texture, not too hard; not too soft. Hmmm…
I’ve never had “Zeppole” but Chef Rocco changed that; serving his delicious Italian doughnuts smothered in powdered sugar. They come in a medium sized brown bag — shake and pour. I tried raspberry and chocolate. Who doesn’t love little round balls of fried dough? It’s heaven in a nondescript sack.
Food, art and music are some of the best things in life and when they merge together under one roof, it’s like Art Basel all year long and that’s why “R House” is one of my Favorite Things. Cheers! And, Happy Basel-ing.
R House Wynwood
2727 NW 2nd Avenue
Miami, Florida 33127
Wednesday – Thursday: 3pm-10pm
Friday 3pm-3am, Saturday 12pm-3am & Sunday 11:30am-9pm
PS-they also have an amazing brunch that’s a real ‘DRAG’ — check-out their website for all the showstopping details.
Making my New Year’s Eve outfit extra-special with some magnificent millinery AND trying to breath new life into my usual “Auld Lang Syne” traditions.
That’s how I’d describe my typical New Year’s Eve. At least over the past decade, but it’s probably not what you’re thinking. Especially if you’re taking GANGBUSTERS positively. Sure, yes, it’s a success, but barely.
My night usually goes something like this…
After hosting Deco Drive, I jump OFF the set and INTO a Channel 7 live truck, where I’m whisked away to the biggest party in Miami. I know, I know, it sounds kind of glamorous, but it’s sooooo NOT. At some point during our hurried drive, we hit cra-cra traffic and that’s when the nail-biting nightmare begins.
My heart races, my palms sweat and my mind goes through a million trouble-shooting scenarios. Not because I’m nervous to be on TV; it’s about what goes along with it…
Getting timely interviews, writing a comprehensive story about the night’s revelries and dealing with the boozers — who love giving mom a shout-out or yelling obscenities at me — while I’m on live TV (don’t be THAT person 😂).
Even worse, the journalism part has to happen BEFORE 10 o’clock.
Okay, okay, so I know what you’re thinking: if I get off the set at 8pm (when Deco’s over) and head to the party, it seems do-able. Challenging, but do-able.
The problem? Traffic, crowd congestion, DUI checks, finding the other crew who are set up and waiting for me. Tick tock, tick tock…
One year, I landed in front of the camera ONE minute before I was supposed to be on. My story wasn’t done and I was panting from running a few blocks to get to my crew (obviously before my bad knee situation. Although, honestly, when it comes to live TV, you run despite a bad knee.)
It was a disaster, but it’s live television and the show must go on. In fact, it always goes on, with or without you. I had some props (squeaky toys and some confetti) so I made due and for my next live-shot was able to string together something resembling a story.
Around 11:30pm, the news ENDS and the crew packs up (we call it break down) and we’re left deciding exactly “what” to do.
If I’m working with a photographer who has a family or significant other, usually he or she is motivated to make it home before the New Year countdown, but more often than not, we find ourselves stuck in traffic or just not physically able to wiggle our way out of the situation we’re already in.
And just like that, sitting in a nondescript news vehicle somewhere alongside I-95 or Biscayne Boulevard, the clock unceremoniously turns midnight. Uh, Happy New Year?
Listen, I’m not belly-aching (okay, maybe I am just a little,) it’s what I signed up for. You know, the whole journalist thing. You move away from home, work on holiday’s, early in the morning, late at night, on weekends, you travel more than a 747 and sometimes, you spend New Years Eve at the last place in the world you wanna be. I’ve made my peace with it so don’t feel sorry for me.
The good news is…
As I get older and have more seniority, I get SOME holidays off, but man, I always have wicked bad luck with New Years Eve. Last year, I actually spent it on a plane. Don’t ask. I tried doing a silent NYE countdown in my head, but the guy next to me was so busy telling me about his new rap video and how I should put it on Deco Drive, I couldn’t concentrate. Uh, Happy New Year?
This year, though…
The holiday falls on the weekend AND I happen to be OFF or at least my bosses haven’t told me I’m working (yet) and I’m not about to ask (don’t worry, they don’t read my blog. Hi Tom! Hi Geoff!)
In celebration, I’ve been planning like a mad “hatter”.
Caviar for everyone! Send a case of champagne to the station and don’t forget that all-important outfit so you can “Party Like It’s 1999” or in this case, 2018.
Am I over-doing it? Well, maybe the Caviar and champagne part, but as far as what I’m wearing? I’ll be “Topping It Off for 2018” because…
I want more than just a dress, more than just sparkly earrings, I want pizzaz, originality and of course, a special night off! That’s why I enlisted the help of Featherheart Designs by Dannielle Kukar; a skilled milliner, who knows how to take fashion to the next level with her fancy fascinators and sophisticated hats.
When I ask her why a woman should “Top It Off for 2018,” she coyly says: “It gives an outfit that special oomph; besides, you never forget a person in a hat.” And, I totally agree and believe you me, I don’t like fuss. I like ease and elegance and that’s exactly what her creations are. They slip on just as easy as they slip off. (BTW, You place a fascinator and you wear a hat.)
Dannielle, who’s a trained graphic artist, understands shapes, lines and composition. She started making fascinators as an outlet to get away from her computer. Now, if you dream it, she custom makes it. “I just follow the muse,” she says and she does so with the highest quality silks and materials. She also has pieces “ready to wear.”
This New Year’s Eve, I’m also dreaming of a sultry atmosphere with an Art Deco flair like the National Hotel (pictured in the blog.) I’m reminiscing, laughing and singing a new kind of “Auld Lang Syne” — one that’s far away from the time crunch of live television.
Even, if, for just one night…
Don’t miss Deco Drive at 7:30 & 11:30 p.m. as we “Top It Off for 2018” with Featherheart Designs by Dannielle. From how to wear a fascinator to fabulous hat trends, we’re showing off gorgeously glamorous headgear, because a fashionable and Happy New Year is one of my Favorite Things. Cheers!
Shop Dannielle’s creations at www.etsy.com/shop/featherheartdesigns
Shot on location at the uber glamorous …
1677 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
National Hotel Reservations: 305-532-2311
Hat-titudes by me #annieSS
James Woodley Photography
All fascinators by Featherheart Designs by Dannielle
shot on location at National Hotel
Styled by Jackie Kay
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Hat’s All, Folks” Auerbach