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

Shireen’s Spotlight: Bake Shack

Shireen's Spotlight: Bake Shack

Shireen's Spotlight: Bake Shack

Shireen's Spotlight: Bake Shack

Shireen's Spotlight: Bake Shack

Shireen's Spotlight: Bake Shack

Shireen's Spotlight: Bake Shack

What:

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.

Why:

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.

When:

Monday-Friday: 6:30am-3pm
Saturday & Sunday: 7am-3pm

Where:

Bake Shack
238 S Federal Highway
Dania Beach, FL 33004

(south of Stirling/US1)

IG: @bakeshackfl
FB: @bakeshackfl
Twitter: @bakeshackfl

www.bakeshackfl.com

Why are breakfast dates not a more popular thing? Like, forget your 9 pm fancy dinner reservation, let’s go eat pancakes at 9 am in our p-j’s.Unknown
James Woodley Photography
Producing: Shireen & Jackie
Wardrobe: www.AnnTaylor.com
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Bubbalicious” Auerbach

Special thanks to Emilio!

Shireen’s Spotlight: Perricone’s Market Place & Cafe

Shireen’s Spotlight: Perricone’s Market Place & Cafe

Shireen’s Spotlight: Perricone’s Market Place & Cafe

Shireen’s Spotlight: Perricone’s Market Place & Cafe

Shireen’s Spotlight: Perricone’s Market Place & Cafe

Shireen’s Spotlight: Perricone’s Market Place & Cafe

Shireen’s Spotlight: Perricone’s Market Place & Cafe

What:

Celebrating 20 years of great Italian food at Perricone’s downtown Miami.

Why:

When I first moved to Miami over a decade ago (as a young whippersnapper entertainment reporter,) Perricone’s was one of the first places I went with my co-workers from Deco Drive. Just like most new converts to the Magic City, I fell madly in love; the pasta was yummy and the ambiance was an intriguing mix of “garden oasis meets classic New York City steak house:” dark wood, twinkling lights and a bustling bar.

Mind you, it was all smack-dab in the middle of skyscraper central — downtown Miami. It was, and still is, paradise in the heart of a concrete jungle; more specifically, Brickell. Fast forward to 2016 and the eatery is celebrating 20 years of mouth-watering business. When I first heard about Perricone’s big birthday, two things came to mind: WOW, am I getting old; and I’ve gotta feature them on Spotlight. I’ve often wondered…

HOW in the world they’ve kept a great thing going for so long? Not only is Perricone’s a South Florida institution, they’ve also managed to grow and evolve without changing the original “je ne sais quoi” that’s made them so famous. Not an easy task in a town where restaurants come and go faster than the ebb and flow of tourists.

Since my very first visit all those years ago, a lot has changed. They’ve added a Market Place where you can shop for authentic, hand-crafted Italian delicacies: meats, cheeses, desserts, breads and wine. If you live downtown, I’m sure you know about it. They’ve also expanded their outdoor dining area, making the most of their lush, tropical landscape with a large open-air tent (that connects to the main dining room.) It easily transforms into an air-conditioned haven or an outdoor, cool weather hot spot.

That’s where I dined last Friday night on a beautiful Miami evening. I started Spotlight with three yummy drinks: “Sour Apple Martini,” “Classic Mojito” and “Frozen Moscow Mule.” All three drinks were yummy, but the Moscow Mule, which I’m told is a customer favorite, was smooth, well-blended and deliciously strong (made using a Kelvin Slush Machine.)

After drinking up the majority of my adult slushy, two appetizers arrived: “Baked Brie en Croute” and “Mussels Steamed in White Wine.” The brie (which is a whole baked brie wrapped in a crispy puff pastry, drizzled with warm apricot glaze and served with fresh fruit and crackers,) was spectacular and the mussels were just as delicious; light and succulent.

For dinner, I tried a little bit of everything, starting with the scrumptious “Grandma Jennie’s Classic Meatballs” with their signature Pomodoro Sauce and the “Catch of the Day,” which happened to be an amazing “Parmesan-Crusted Grilled Bronzino.” While I love meat and fish, my absolute true love is pasta. I could eat it every natural-born day of my life. With that being said…

I tried the “Penne with Grilled Chicken” (with olives, sun dried tomatoes, basil and feta). I especially loved the fact that it’s served in a garlic/extra virgin olive oil. Even though pasta can be hearty, it doesn’t have to taste or leave you feeling that way and this dish is the perfect example. My favorite pasta and dish (for that matter) of the evening was “Fiocchi Gorgonzola” (purse-shaped pasta stuffed with fresh pear and four cheeses, served with a walnut Gorgonzola sauce.) It was absolutely to-die-for. It’s on the rich side, but you won’t regret it if you try it.

For dessert, I savored Perricone’s signature “Chocolate House Cake” (made with rich, bittersweet chocolate mousse and chocolate cake, drizzled with white chocolate hazelnut crunch, with chocolate ganache frosting.) This is the perfect plate to share, but there are so many good desserts to choose from, I’d order a couple and play a game of round-robin tasting.

Besides all the usual favorites on the menu, Perricone’s isn’t afraid of stretching its food muscle, too; always coming up with the new and exciting. That’s one of the many reasons I love eating there. The incredible service, inviting environment and warm energy is top notch and that’s why it’s one of my favorite things.

When:

Dinner Hours are Sunday – Thursday 4pm-11pm, Friday & Saturday 4pm-11:30pm.
(for Market, Lunch and Brunch hours check-out www.perricones.com).

Where:

Brickell 15 SE 10th Street, Miami, Florida 33131. Your best bet is to use their valet. It’s fast and efficient and parking downtown can be pretty difficult these days or better yet, cab or uber it.

IG: @perricones, Twitter: @perricones, FB: Perricone’s Marketplace & Cafe

Life is a combination of magic and pasta.Federico Fellini
James Woodley Photography
wardrobe: www.anntaylor.com
Hair: Odett Hernandez, Make-Up; Javier Lucero
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Je ne sais quoi” Auerbach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Shooters Waterfront

Shireen’s Spotlight: Shooters Waterfront

Shireen’s Spotlight: Shooters Waterfront

Shireen’s Spotlight: Shooters Waterfront

Shireen’s Spotlight: Shooters Waterfront

Shireen’s Spotlight: Shooters Waterfront

Shireen’s Spotlight: Shooters Waterfront

What:

Saturday & Sunday Brunch at “Shooters Waterfront” in Fort Lauderdale.

Why:

Holy intracoastal views, Batman! When it comes to brunch on the water, it doesn’t get much better than “Shooters Waterfront” in the 954. The place is drop dead gorgeous, with an expansive outdoor patio that seems to be the heart and soul of the restaurant. I went last Sunday to try out their brunch menu and was pleasantly surprised.

I mean, everyone knows about Shooters, it’s practically a South Florida institution. Once noted for its famed pool parties and bikini contests, now (thanks to its new owners from Grateful Palate) the eatery has been reimagined with an updated “Hamptons-esque” look and a yummy new seafood-inspired menu.

When I arrived, I was quickly ushered to a table just steps away from the water. Although the place was comfortably crowded, I still felt as if I were having an intimate experience. The weather, which was beautiful and breezy, was perfect for a long and leisurely Sunday brunch. Just as I was settling in, champagne arrived for bottomless mimosas as well as…

A meaty “Shooters Ale” (perfect for our English photographer,) a delicious “Pink Lemonade” rimmed with raw sugar (made with vodka, lemonade & sour mix) and my favorite, the refreshing “Grand Raspberry Peach Fizz” (made with grand marnier, ginger, cardamom, raspberry peach liquor, champagne, raspberry puree.)

My jaw dropped to the ground when the “Norm De Mar” arrived. It’s a total seafood extravaganza (with rock lobster tail, shrimp cocktail, alaskan king crab legs, blue navy oysters, served with cocktail sauce, mignonette and horseradish.) The two-tiered mountain of shellfish goodness was incredibly fresh, decadent and definitely big enough to share (although, I would have been perfectly happy trying to eat it all by myself.)

The “Godzilla Sushi Roll” (made with shrimp tempura, ahi tuna, cream cheese, avocado, wake salad, chili oil & tempura flakes) and “Lobster Benedict” (Maine lobster, avocado & béarnaise sauce) were just as impressive. The roll is named after Godzilla for a reason: it’s a meal in itself! The Benedict, which is a nice spin on a classic favorite, had perfectly poached eggs with a buttery, soft center.

After all the aforementioned yumminess, I was a goner (or at least I thought I was) until the “Seared Brown Butter with Scallops & Shrimp” unexpectedly showed up at the table. O-M-G. This was AMAZING. My absolute favorite (made with corn risotto, seared asparagus & citrus beurre blanc.) The scallops were so fresh and so tender. If you couldn’t tell, I’m a sucker for a good scallop.

For dessert I tried three dishes: the decadent and crazy-good “Chocolate Fudge Cake” (which is five layers of rich chocolate cake topped with chocolate fudge icing,) the beautiful and artistically crafted “Key Lime Baked Alaska” (made with torched meringue, key lime, and coconut daiquiri) and “Caribbean Bread Pudding Flan” (served with bananas foster ice cream & brown butter flan.) I loved the flan, but everyone at the table hovered over the chocolate cake. Also, I’ve never tried Baked Alaska and for the record, I’d definitely order it again. The presentation was spectacular, too.

Besides our featured dishes, Shooters has an awe-inspiring ($30) brunch buffet. On it? Almost anything your heart desires: eggs any way, bacon, pancakes, waffles, fruits, salads, baked goods — the list goes on. Also worth mentioning: they’re hosting an impressive Thanksgiving Day buffet. You can find out more about it on their website: www.ShootersWaterfront.com.

If you’re looking for the perfect place to rest, relax and enjoy the weekend, “Shooters Waterfront” isn’t just an option, I think it’s the answer. I hope they don’t mind if I become a regular, because they’re going to be seeing a lot more of me for Sunday brunch and that’s why it’s one of my favorite things.

When:

Brunch is Saturday & Sunday from 10am-to-4pm. Reservations: 954-566-2855

Where:

The restaurant is located at 3033 NE 32 Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33308. It’s smack dab on the intracoastal with easy access coming and going because of their valet. If you prefer to park yourself, there’s also a public lot across the street housed in a high rise. If you love living life on the water, you can also take a Water Taxi (Shooters is stop #11).

https://shooterswaterfront.com
Twitter: @ShootersFL, IG: @shooterswaterfront, FB: Shooters Waterfront

Sundays…sleep until you’re hungry then eat until you’re sleepy.anonymous
James Woodley Photography
Produced by Jackie Kay
Styled by me!
wardrobe: www.anntaylor.com
sunnies: Kate Spade
purse: Calypso St. Barth
Grooming: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Godzilla” Auerbach

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

What:

Body Details (Laser Hair Removal) & its new midtown location: 45 NE 36th Street, Miami, Florida 33137

Why:

I’m no stranger to “laser” (said in my best Dr. Evil voice with air quotes). In fact, I actually tried it back in the day when it first came out. YES, I’m old and YES, it hurt. The experience was so traumatizing it’s burned into my brain like a bad break-up.

I did four agonizing sessions in the back of a high-end hair salon in Indianapolis, Indiana (my second television market) with one of my best friends, Jordana Green, who was also a young, budding journalist at the time. Despite the esthetician giving us squeezy balls (for both hands) to combat the pain…

We still took turns holding one another down (Jordana loved putting me in a Half Nelson), yelling things like: “Beauty is pain!” “Hair free is fabulous” and “You go girl, get rid of that man hair!!” It was absolute torture.

After we were done getting snapped, crackled and popped, we’d head over to P.F. Chang’s in the Circle City Mall (by the aforementioned salon) to drown our sorrows in Cosmos, Lettuce Wraps and Mongolian Beef. Honestly, though, no amount of vodka, carbohydrates or sugary protein could dull THAT kind of pain.

Man, I gotta hand it to Jordana: she stuck with it, but I didn’t. After the fourth session, I pledged on my own beauty bible that I would NEVER EVER do laser hair removal again. I made peace with my hairiness and shaved everyday like a criminal running from the long arm of the law. It was exhausting, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Fast forward a decade later, when…

My attitude ‘slightly’ changed toward laser, thanks to Doctor Martin Zaiac (dermatologist to the stars and us TV types). Dr. Marty explained to me the advances in laser technology and, more importantly, he told me it didn’t hurt like it used to. I trusted him (still to this day, the good doc manages my skin care and anti-aging regimen). So I tried it, but…

I didn’t stick with it. At the time, I was on a demanding schedule traveling the globe as an Entertainment Reporter for Deco Drive and making my way to Mount Sinai to “Greater Miami Skin and Laser Center” was challenging. I spent more time in Los Angels and New York City than I did in Miami. So, once again, I embraced my hairiness and waxed my way into ladylike smoothness at weird little salons all over the world.

A few years later, I would find myself at a quirky but chic medical spa in the Design District called Emena, where I was doing a feature story for Deco on a famous male pedicurist (who could give a woman a foot rub like nobody’s business). Not only did I fall in love with the foot pampering, but the spa, too. A few months later, I went back and signed up for laser hair removal.

Everything was going pretty well until I suffered an unrelated health issue. I got a virus (from out of the country) that triggered a neurological disorder in my body called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. After that, everything – just – stopped.

There was no time left for frivolities and the fight for my life began (sans laser hair removal). I started aggressive IVIG (Immunoglobulin therapy) and got my affairs in order. Luckily, a few years after my initial diagnosis I recovered, but I paid a hefty price for it. The meds wreaked havoc on my body (I weighed 90 pounds) and my skin, nails and hair were a disaster, too. Speaking of hair…

While I lost a lot of my locks (on my head,) prickles started popping up elsewhere. More specifically, on my CHIN! Talk about over-sharing. Sigh. I mean, come on?! Wasn’t almost dying enough? Apparently not, snickered the beauty Gods as they peppered my face with random, coarse whiskers on my upper lip and chin area.

I told everyone I knew (that would listen) about my hairy situation and bequeathed myself the nickname “The Bearded Woman.” Plucking, shaving, waxing, you name it, I did it all while bemoaning my fate and dodging any kind of “painful” solution.

Luckily, I happen to be a big fan of Annie Vasquez a.k.a The Fashion Poet, one of South Florida’s top fashion bloggers, who just happened to feature Body Details (Laser Hair & Tattoo Removal) on her Instagram. Annie faced her “man hair” publicly, so, why shouldn’t I? The rest is “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow” history….

I made my appointment straight away at Body Details, opting for their new Midtown location. It’s really convenient and close to my house. Not only was it modern, sleek and comfortable, the staff was gracious, warm and welcoming.

After some paperwork, I had a consultation (which they do for free) with one of their on-staff nurse practitioners who understood my medical issues and knew right away what I had been through had made my skin extremely sensitive and prone to hyper-pigmentation. I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous. Actually, I was sweating profusely…

I think being sick and remembering the pain of my illness and my first laser experience (which was burned into my brain like a bad break-up) got to me, but I hid it. I just took a deep breath, laid back in their comfy spa chair and put my goggles on (they looked more like Gucci Sunglasses). And then, well, I got zapped.

NEWSFLASH: It didn’t hurt! They used a cooling spray just as the laser made contact. I couldn’t believe it. It was so fast and easy. A sense of relief washed over me — not just because it wasn’t painful, but because finally, after all this time, I was getting rid of something that made me horribly self-conscious.

I use humor a lot to deflect my awkward feelings, but I’m just a normal girl living in a shallow world of blogging, social media posting, television and modeling. Anything to bolster my self-esteem is BIG and much appreciated. With that being said…

Body Details knows its stuff. They have the latest and greatest in laser technology and they have a digital presence that I appreciate (texting and emailing appointment confirmations; you can even make one yourself on-line). I truly believe a huge part of their success is due to the fact they make it so EASY.

Eventually, my little chin hairs fell out of their nesting ground and my bearded area turned pink-y smooth. So, I tucked away my tweezers (more specifically, the ones I use in my car, because plucking a pesky prickle at a red light is uber-gratifying) and I came up with a new nickname: “The Hairless Hot Tamale” …

I love hot tamales, they’re my favorite candy and they’re smooth and delicious just like my chin area. 😬 Despite my long laser hair removal journey, I’m glad I ended up at Body Details: what a great experience. I can’t wait to go back and that’s why “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow” is one of my favorite things.

Where:

Find the location nearest you and make an appointment at www.bodydetails.com/
FB: Body Details, Twitter: @BodyDetails, Instagram: @bodydetails

Mommy, why do you have a mustache?anonymous
Photographer: James Woodley
jewelry: www.jacquelinepinto.com
purse: www.v73.it/us
wardrobe: www.AnnTaylor.com
shoes: www.stuartweitzman.com
styling by me 🙆🏻
editor: Matthew “I have yet to pluck a pesky prickle” Auerbach
special thanks to Claudio Sorrentino