Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

What:

An early dinner at one of the best oyster & seafood bars in Miami: Mignonette, the Uptown location.

Why:

I’ve always been a big fan of Danny Serfer…

If you open Uber Eats on my iPhone, his restaurant, “Blue Collar”, is the first thing that pops up. I love that place, including the fact that it’s attached to a somewhat shady hotel. You can’t beat the food, though, it’s freaking genius and when I drive by on the weekends, there’s a line snaking around the building for brunch. It’s got major food moxie and Miami loves it.

Danny’s not only a great chef, he REALLY knows food. Anything that comes out of his kitchen is made with thought-provoking creativity and an innate sensibility. What’s more, he does it without all the snobbery that typically comes along with the “foodie culture” in South Florida.

In other words, he doesn’t look down on people like me who don’t have a full grasp on all the cheeses in the world or where pink peppercorn is grown, which sometimes is in the grassy area of the parking lot at his latest restaurant, Mignonette (the Uptown location.) It’s a special place that reminds me of something you’d see in Brooklyn or even Manhattan’s west side.

The 40’s-style diner car (which has been some sort of greasy spoon since the 80’s) has been easily re-purposed into a seafood lover’s paradise, with tiled floors, cushy booths and a long bar that reaches all the way across the dining room. Its rotating seafood menu is on a nostalgic marquee above the kitchen and features what’s fresh for the day. More specifically, oysters.

From the raw bar, I started #Spotlight with a dozen West Coasters from Washington Sate (served with fresh lemon, cocktail & mignonette sauce.) Though smaller than East Coast oysters, they’re just as tasty. The fluted shells make for a sweeter, plumper meat.

Our server paired the platter with a delicious white wine from France (Sancerre from the Loire valley.) I also tried it with some champagne (Voirin-Jumel Brut.) A girl can never go wrong with bubbly and oysters.

One of the best appetizers at Mignonette Uptown is the Buffalo Scallops. Not only is it beautifully plated (with gorgonzola, crisp chicken skin and hot sauce,) it tastes phenomenal.

It’s the first dish my photographer, James and I, have actually fought over since starting the blog (and we’ve been doing this awhile.) For the record, James doesn’t even like scallops, but apparently, he’s a changed man. #UltimateFoodCompliment

The popular appetizer is perfect when paired with a super-light Muscadet (Domaine Des Trois Toits.) Don’t worry if you don’t know your way around a wine menu; the servers are extremely helpful with suggestions.

If you have more of a savory palette, like I do, Smoked Oysters served with creme fraiche, housemade jalapeño hot sauce and baked saltines won’t disappoint. A sip or two of the 2015 Tabalas Creek, Patelin de Tablas Blanc, will bring out the salty, smoked-filled goodness. 😊

I’ve heard through the “food vine” Mignonette’s Lobster Roll (dripped in drawn butter, served on a Portuguese roll with a heaping pile of fries) is the BEST thing on the menu and for the record, I agree. How good is it? Put it this way, it’s now on my “dead woman walking” food list. I tried it with a Banshee 2016 Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. Hmmm…Lord have mercy! I can’t wait to go back for more (wine & lobster.)

If you love fresh fish, there’s always a special of the day or you can go with a mainstay like Faroe Island Salmon, served with yummy orzo in a saffron broth. For this dish, we switched to a light Chinon Cabernet.

If you’re more adventurous and like trying a bit of everything, the Fish Stew (Bouillabaisse) is loaded with shrimp, clams, mussels, octopus and white fish. Julia Child would be proud; it was one of the late iconic chef’s favorite plates and tough to make. And good news: you can pair it with pretty much any drink.

Last but not least, you won’t forget to eat your veggies after you taste Mignonette’s famous herbivore dish. You choose four greens and/or starches from a diverse list, creating your own plate geared toward personal taste and/or diet restrictions.

I had beets with blue cheese and hazelnuts, roasted cauliflower, charred sweet potatoes and grilled asparagus. I’m not one to go on about vegetables, but they really are the bomb-dot-com. I prefer meat, but these were surprisingly delicious.

And, drumroll please….

Pastry Chef Devin Braddock treated James and I to her amazing Valrhona Chocolate Hazelnut Pie, snuggled into something called: Devin’s Magic shell (it’s served with malted ice cream.) It was WOW x2. A close second? Her extra moist Red Velvet Cake. #HeavenInMyMouth

For me, Mignonette Uptown is a no-brainer when it comes to really fresh, high quality seafood served in a laid-back, unpretentious atmosphere. Plus, it’s not every day one gets to break bread (or in this case, crack a shell or shuck an oyster) in a really cool retro diner car and that’s why it’s one of my Favorite Things. Cheers!

Where:

Mignonette (Uptown)
13951 Biscayne Boulevard
North Miami Beach, Florida 33181

When:

Lunch ~ Monday-Sunday 11:30am-3pm
Dinner ~ Sunday-Thursday 5:30pm-10pm, Friday & Saturday 5:30pm-11pm

*Worth mentioning — Mignonette Uptown’s amazing Happy Hour which is daily 5:30-7pm & 10pm until close. You get 25 percent off all bottles of wine and oysters start at $1 (bar seating only.)

www.mignonettemiami.com

305-705-2159

Be Social
FB: @mignonettemia
IG: @mignonetteuptwn
Twitter: @mignonetteuptwn

If you don’t love life you can’t enjoy an oyster; there is a shock of freshness to it and intimations of the ages of man, some piercing intuition of the sea and all its weeds and breezes. They shiver you for a split second.Eleanor Clark
James Woodley Photography
Styling: Jackie Kay
Wardrobe: @bcbgsouthbeach
Clutch: @Dennisham_Designs
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Aw, Shucks” Auerbach

’Tis the Sequin…

’Tis the Sequin…

’Tis the Sequin…

’Tis the Sequin…

’Tis the Sequin…

’Tis the Sequin…

’Tis the Sequin…

’Tis the Sequin…

’Tis the Sequin…

What:

Turning up the wattage on my Holiday wardrobe, because a girl can never go wrong wearing sequins from November through December (and some other stuff I felt like writing about, too.)

Why:

My editor, Matty, always says when you’re a writer: “There’s nothing scarier than a blank computer screen staring you in the face.” He hates the blinking black cursor, too. “It’s like it’s taunting you, making fun of the fact you have writer’s block,” he quips with his brash New York sensibility. I agree.

I don’t have writer’s block, per se, but I’m torn between writing a deep moving piece about what the holidays mean to me verses what I like wearing during the “most wonderful time of the year.” So, with fair warning: this blog is a bit of both. If you’re a regular reader, you know I have fragile health, so the next paragraph is a must-read.

I feel GOOD, better, stronger (not my body, necessarily, but my mind) and THAT is a powerful thing. After hurricane Irma, I struggled A LOT, which I know most of us did, but a few weeks later (when things got back to normal,) I went through a surprising mini-transformation. The storm gave me a sense of strength I didn’t know I still had. I thought my GBS/CIDP had, frankly, beat it out of me. It didn’t.

Exhausted, I pushed through almost two weeks with no power, a major knee injury and a hole in my heart; I worried about everyone and everything around me. My little family was struggling, but instead of letting trauma divide us, it brought us closer together. After the storm…

I de-cluttered my house and personal closet (which is no easy task when you’re a fashionista.) I did so partially because of storm damage, but also because I needed to for my sanity. I got rid of STUFF (from a previous relationship) that was weighing me down. We all know how that extra “baggage” goes. After I was done, I could hear the parapsychologist from the 1982 movie “Poltergeist” saying matter-of-factly: “This house is clean.” Next…

I focused on elevating my performance at work (on TV); paying close attention to skills that often fall by the wayside because of age and experience. I took notes, worked on inflections, breathing and mulled over what it meant to be an entertainment journalist in 2017.

I also took a few days off, left Miami and spent time with my family. THIS always helps me, because I feel loved, nurtured and part of something more important than the rat race of my career. As I’ve grown older, spending quality time with special people is food for the soul.

During my mini-transformation, I also found out I have high blood pressure — like, dangerously high; forcing me to re-evaluate the necessary and cut out the evil (like gas station wine, turkey jerky, needy people, DRAMA and anything or anyone high maintenance.) I’m slim and watch what I eat, but STRESS is trying to kill me. Imagine the humor I find in that.

I survived some crazy virus that wreaked havoc on my nerves & immune system and now, high blood pressure wants to have its way with me? Take a number and stand in line. 😂

As the year gallops toward its end, my mini-transformation has given me a deeper sense of gratitude and thankfulness which, coincidentally, is how a lot of us feel around Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years. The holidays are special for a lot of different reasons, but as a woman, it’s a time when I do a little more for the people I love, my house and my wardrobe. And, MAN, do I eat it all up (literally & figuratively)…

The generosity of spirit, the togetherness, the food & drink (turkey and stuffing is my favorite,) my Christmas tree and especially the extra sparkle and shine I add into my #OOTD. That’s where Vchic Boutique in Hallandale comes in.

It’s just one of those places where you can always find what you’re looking for and moreover, something special: a great top, a fabulous dress, a sexy romper.

Owner Andreina Hernandez, who happens to be a gorgeous brunette with a smoking hot body, knows fashion, but in a way that’s romantic, feminine and chic — all the things I believe clothing should be. “For the holidays, it’s all about the sequin,” she says, as she describes what’s in for the woman who wants to dress on trend.

“You can wear them day or night, you just have to commit to one color scheme,” she adds. Avoid looking like a holiday display by keeping your sequins to one portion of the body (top or bottom.) If it’s a full-on glittery dress, accessories should be simple. AND, if you’re showing a lot of leg, cover your boobs and vice versa. Leaving something to the imagination is a gift we can all appreciate.

Don’t miss Deco Drive tonight at 7:30 & 11:30 p.m. as we go inside Vchic Boutique and get dressed up for the holidays. From day to night, work to play, ‘Tis the Sequin…is one of my Favorite Things and I’m hoping it will be yours, too. ✨

Where:

Vchic Boutique
1011 Hallandale Beach Blvd.
Hallandale Beach, Florida 33009

When:

Monday-Saturday 10am-8pm

www.vchicstore.com

Be Social:
IG: @vchicstore
FB: @vchicstore

I’m just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time.Lady Gaga

’Tis the Sequin…

Sequins by #annieSS

James Woodley Photography
Holiday looks by @Vchicstore
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “I Can’t Think Of Anything” Auerbach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Drunken Dragon

Shireen’s Spotlight: Drunken Dragon

Shireen’s Spotlight: Drunken Dragon

Shireen’s Spotlight: Drunken Dragon

Shireen’s Spotlight: Drunken Dragon

Shireen’s Spotlight: Drunken Dragon

Shireen’s Spotlight: Drunken Dragon

Shireen’s Spotlight: Drunken Dragon

Shireen’s Spotlight: Drunken Dragon

Shireen’s Spotlight: Drunken Dragon

What:

Stretching my foodie muscle at one of Miami’s best kept secrets: Drunken Dragon.

Why:

You know the saying: “You can’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, that’s exactly the case at Drunken Dragon. The Korean barbecue hot spot is nestled into one of the most unassuming strip malls I’ve ever seen. There’s no signage, no arrow pointing toward the door, no hint of anything, really. Once you walk in, though, it’s a whole other world.

South Florida foodies like to call it: “Miami’s best kept secret.” I’ve even heard it referred to as an “underground” foodie paradise; think speakeasy back in the Prohibition Era. Instead of imbibing on illegal alcohol, though, you’ll partake in some of the best food you’ve ever tasted. In fact, it’s so good, it SHOULD be a crime!

Round up the lot of ’em, charge ’em with food felonies! The arrest citation should read: “How dare you hide world-class cuisine from us mere mortals?” And don’t even get me started on the bartenders! They’re going down with mixology misdemeanors 😂…

Between the whimsical tiki-inspired drinks, phenomenal food and sultry dark wood decor, I have two words for you: MIND BLOWN (but I digress)…

Before I arrived at Spotlight, someone tipped off the powers-that-be regarding the direct way to my heart (which happens to be through a thick straw with an adult beverage at the end of it.) Ha! Who am I kidding? A straw isn’t even necessary. While I love a stiff drink, I also enjoy creative cocktails (a girl can only drink so many Cosmos) and Drunken Dragon is great at both.

My first sip of the night was a yummy concoction called Cucuzaki, made with sake, gin and elderflower. It was perfectly paired with two starters: Truffle Popcorn and the ever-so-popular, Crispy Bok Choy. Who knew leafy green veggies could taste so good? I especially loved its plum soy sauce.

I had a bonafide liquid love affair with the Mai Tai (made with Appleton Rum.) Not only was it the bomb-dot-com, it reminded me of a cool summer night in Malibu. The drink, originally created in California, is also known for its Polynesian flair. It was my favorite of the night, alongside the Beef Tartar (served with crispy tortillas.) While I’m not a huge fan of raw beef, this dish (made with tenderloin, quail egg and pine nuts) was so unbelievable, I’d go back just to have more. It’s a #MustTry …

The refreshingly frothy, Thai Basil Mule, made with vodka, thai basil and ginger beer was delicious, too. It went great with my Salmon Poke Bowl, which had tons of fresh ingredients: avocado, seaweed, scallions, sesame seeds and black rice. Mixing it just right will be your only job of the night, unless, of course, you go for the classic Korean BBQ.

While I’m not the kind of girl who just happens to wander into my kitchen (unless I’m looking for vodka ) … I decided to give the grilling a go. After all, it was smack dab in the middle of the table and seemed easy enough. Besides, I love trying new things, especially when they involve Skirt Steak with chimichurri & Shrimp.

At first, I was a little overwhelmed, but after I tried it, I liked it. It was pretty straightforward and, dare I say, fun? It’s great for a first date or a new sizzling foodie adventure.. Plus, there’s something “magically delicious” about food cooked over an open flame.

The cheekiest drink of the night, Voodoo Lady, was presented with major personality. Along with tequila, pineapple & grapefruit, there’s something “hearty” on the backside of the cup, too. ♥️ You’ll wanna grab a pic, it’s perfect to post on social media.

Also impressive, the BFR Meat Board (served with steamed Taiwanese Buns, pickles, lettuces, herbs and 3 sauces: chimichurri, Hoisin and Red dragon.) If you prefer a veggie option, they serve a Shiitake Mushroom version as well. If you think this dish is impressive in the photos, wait ’til you lay eyes on it yourself. Throw in a side of mind-blowing Brussels and your tastebuds will never be the same.

Wrapping up the night, The Ronin (strong enough for a man; pretty enough for a woman.) It’s a Scotch whiskey blend with Earl Grey and a grapefruit twist. My photographer, James, barely let me touch the thing, let alone taste it. He said it was his favorite of the night.

If dessert makes you feel guilty, try the “Matcha Tres Leche” — combining good quality green tea with condensed milk and heavy cream balances out the diet universe or why not just throw caution to the wind and enjoy yourself? Honestly, that’s what Drunken Dragon is all about.

No matter how many foodies claim it or how many magazines dub it a mystery cloaked with a nondescript door, don’t be intimidated. It’s something special everyone should have the opportunity to explore and that’s why Drunken Dragon is one of my Favorite Things. Cheers!

When:

Monday-Thursday: 6-11pm
Friday-Sunday: 6pm-12am

Where:

Drunken Dragon
1424 Alton Road
Miami Beach, Florida 33139

www.drunkendragon.com
305-397-8556

Be Social:
IG: @drunkendragon
FB: @DrunkenDragonMIA
Twitter: @DrunkenDragons

It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.J.R.R. Tolkien
James Woodley Photography
wardrobe: @bcbgsouthbeach
owl clutch: www.macys.com
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “I’m On Vacation” Auerbach

It’s in the JEANS

It’s in the JEANS

It’s in the JEANS

It’s in the JEANS

It’s in the JEANS

It’s in the JEANS

It’s in the JEANS

It’s in the JEANS

What:

My elusive hunt for the perfect pair of jeans at CAVEAT in Wynwood.

Why:

I have a fashion confession: I don’t like jeans. In fact, sometimes I actually despise them and not for lack of trying. Believe you me, I’ve worn them all: skinny, wide, tight, lose, stretchy, stiff, cuffed, ripped, patchwork, pre-washed, raw, regal, dark, light, designer, department store, expensive, cheap. You name it, I’ve wiggled my way into the best of them, “butt”…

When I turn to check my backside, Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back” creeps in to my head. “Oh, my, God Becky, look at her butt.” While I don’t mind having “junk in my trunk,” so to speak, it’s all about presentation. Even though I have a slight build, I do have curves and when stuffed into the wrong pair of denim, that famous line from the 1989 movie “Steel Magnolias” comes to mind…

The one where Olympia Dukakis’ character, Clairee, refers to a woman’s backside as “two pigs fighting under a blanket.” And don’t even get me started on trying to bend over in the latest pair of must-have’s! That’s when my apple bottom jeans scream: “Crack is Whack!” Or better yet, “Crack Kills” and showing one’s nether regions is never on trend unless, of course, you’re living in a nudist colony and why would you need jeans while living in the buff? #JustSaying

Over the years, I’ve often dreamed of designing my own denim. Imagine the possibilities?! A pair of jeans accentuating the positive and carefully concealing the negative. Frankly, it’s never been a possibility — until now.

Enter: CAVEAT, a place where you don’t just “find” the perfect pair of jeans, you “create” them. It’s called #TheCAVEATexperience

It’s an approach from days gone by mixed with modern technology. It involves personal attention built around a quality product; something we’ve lost sight of in a retail world driven by medicinal on-line shopping.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like shopping in my pajamas with a vodka and soda, but sometimes you just need to touch, try and mull over a purchase in person and that’s where CAVEAT comes in.

The denim destination is housed in a nondescript building in Wynwood; inside, it’s anything but. The open-air interior exudes modern day glamour with a chic retail space. Directly behind it, though, is where the real magic happens. A large wall of raw denim is flanked by a cutting-table and just beyond that is a glass wall, giving a clear view into the manufacturing room, where on-site tailors create your custom order.

And it’s your say all the way. After getting measured, you handpick your own denim and the details: stitching, buttons, hardware, even your own zipper.

Stacy Glover, who’s the brains behind the company, told me: “You shouldn’t have to worry about your jeans. It should be one less decision in your busy life.” He means it, too. Everyone at CAVEAT wears a t-shirt that reads #OneLessDecision ….

Before our interview, I confessed I tried on at least 5 pairs of jeans, trying to find something he’d approve of, as well as keeping my crack concealed. We both had a good laugh, but I’ve just never had that go-to pair of jeans and it’s really bothered me over the years.

When I ask Stacy what the biggest mistake is when it comes to wearing denim, the answer easily rolls off his tongue. “Not living in them long enough,” he says. When I ask him to expand, he shares what I believe to be the true Yoda secret of good denim: “You have to give them a chance, break them in, let them mold to the body and that doesn’t happen after just a few wears or seasons.”

I feel good about Stacy and CAVEAT, and I can’t always say that about fashion. I often wonder if certain boutiques and designers have the tenacity to make it. What I mean is: does the idea or concept have strength and longevity?

Anyone can open a business, but can they put their finger on the pulse of fashion? It’s a fickle fraternity that spits out the best of them. Jeans, though? It’s a staple, a sure thing, everyone has them. They’re just not all created like CAVEAT.

Don’t miss Deco Drive tonight at 7:00p.m. on Channel 7 as we go inside CAVEAT; showcasing their personalized experience. It’s interesting, unique and fun. Yes, fashion can still be fun, even satisfying, especially when “It’s in the Jeans” and that’s why it’s one of my Favorite Things. 👖

Where:

CAVEAT
448 NW 28th Street
Miami, Florida 33127

When:

Monday -Friday: 11am-7pm
Saturday: 12-6pm

www.caveatmiami.com

Be Social:
FB: @caveatmiami
IG: @caveatmiami
Twitter: @caveatmiami

I want to die with my blue jeans on.Andy Warhol

Natural Woman

Creating at Caveat #annieSS

James Woodley Photography
Styling: CAVEAT & Shireen Sandoval
Denim provided by CAVEAT
Tops & boots by Zara
Make-up: Tabitha Rey & Hair: Jess Stuver of www.zenzenorganicsalon.com
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Jean Genie” Auerbach