Shireen’s Spotlight: Semilla Eatery & Bar

Shireen’s Spotlight: Semilla Eatery & Bar

Shireen’s Spotlight: Semilla Eatery & Bar

Shireen’s Spotlight: Semilla Eatery & Bar

Shireen’s Spotlight: Semilla Eatery & Bar

Shireen’s Spotlight: Semilla Eatery & Bar

Shireen’s Spotlight: Semilla Eatery & Bar

Shireen’s Spotlight: Semilla Eatery & Bar

What:

Enjoying a killer Happy Hour & delicious French-inspired tapas at “Semilla Eatery & Bar” on South Beach.

Why:

If you love a good vibe, excellent drink specials and food you can share, “Semilla Eatery & Bar” is definitely the place for you.

The restaurant, which describes itself as a Gastro pub, has a special “je ne sais quoi” to it that reminds me of a bustling European bistro mixed with an intimate Parisian nightclub. What’s more, they’re killing the Happy Hour game, especially on Friday, when drinks and tapas specials are deeply discounted until closing time.

Semilla’s open-air kitchen dominates the restaurant, giving customers an enticing view into cocktails being created and food being prepared and plated. They’ve also perfected an appealingly chic atmosphere; with moody lighting, funky artwork and a DJ on-hand mixing tunes (wicky, wicky!) It’s a tough job, but….

I started Spotlight with Semilla’s insanely good “Bonne Maman Lemonade” (made with tequila, blueberry jam and pineapple juice.) The “Organic Cucumber Garden” was fresh and fantastic, tasting like it had just been plucked out of a local garden (of course) served with an adult twist: vodka (made with lime juice, basil leaves and ginger ale.) I also sipped on a traditional “Moscow Mule” which never disappoints, especially in its rustic ice-cold copper cup.

Once the tapas started arriving, they didn’t stop: diverse, delicious and decadent, I started with the “Tuna Tartar” mixed perfectly with avocado and yuzu (which is a Japanese citrus fruit.)

If you love Croquetas, do yourself a favor and try Semilla’s. It was one of my favorite dishes of the night, made with potato, chorizo, goat cheese and garnished with a thin slice of pepperoni — I’m still dreaming about inhaling them. Sometimes, I have to remember to pace myself…

Next-up: “Pulled Pork Brisket” served in pillowy bao buns (possibly my favorite kind of bread on earth.) The “Fried Oysters” were my absolute favorite of the night, made with confit leeks and smothered in creamy tarter sauce. This tapas is served with a cool, clear ramekin that helps squeeze your lemon. Now, that’s luxury! Lol (it’s the simple things in life.) BTW, the oysters are to-die-for!

What would Friday night “Happy Hour” be without a great flatbread? The “Tomato Mozzarella” was no exception; fresh and delicious. Another stand-out: the beautifully presented “Bay Scallop Au Gratin” garnished with truffles.

Give me some tender scallops, light potatoes and cheesy sauce goodness and we’ll be friends forever. Pair it with a crisp white wine (there’s a gargantuan list to choose from) and I’ve died and gone to foodie heaven.

My cup runneth over when the “New York Steak Au Poivre” arrived; tender, succulent and juicy. If you’re a meat lover, this will satiate your carnivorous cravings.

Ending my terrific tapas tour was the “Chocolate Bomb” (with raspberry granite, chocolate lava cake and fresh raspberries.) Yes, it was as good as it sounds. In fact, it was #TheBombDotCom …

If you work hard for your money (and God knows, we all do these days) and feel like treating yourself, “Semilla Eatery & Bar” is a great choice without the guilt; with quality food and amazing drinks at CRAZY GOOD PRICES, it’ll definitely be one of your favorite things, I know it’s one of mine. Round two, anyone?

When:

Monday-Saturday 5pm-12am (bar open until 2am)
Closed on Sunday
Happy Hour is week day from 5-8pm & all night Friday
(Wednesday ladies get 50% off the drink menu.)

Where:

Semilla Eatery & Bar
1330 Alton Road
Miami Beach, FL. 33139

Reservations: 305-674-6522 — if you want more specifics on their amazing prices, click here:
www.semillamiami.com and go to Happy Hour.

Be Social:
IG: @semilla_miami
FB: @SemillaMiami
Twitter: @SemillaMiami

Life without tapas, is like a heart without love.B.K.S Iyengar
Special thanks to Chef Frederic Joulin & Lavan Public Relations for making dinner so special.James Woodley Photography
Styling: Jackie Kay
Dress: @DVF Boots: @lilacandlilies_boutique
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Pillowy” Auerbach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Gianni’s At The Villa

Shireen’s Spotlight: Gianni’s At The Villa

Shireen’s Spotlight: Gianni’s At The Villa

Shireen’s Spotlight: Gianni’s At The Villa

Shireen’s Spotlight: Gianni’s At The Villa

Shireen’s Spotlight: Gianni’s At The Villa

Shireen’s Spotlight: Gianni’s At The Villa

Shireen’s Spotlight: Gianni’s At The Villa

Shireen’s Spotlight: Gianni’s At The Villa

What:

A glamorous Sunday evening dinner at “Gianni’s At The Villa” on South Beach.

Why:

I love fashion and adore food — so imagine my sheer delight when I was invited to dine at “Gianni’s At The Villa” on South Beach, inside “The Villa Casa Casuarina” (formerly known as the Versace mansion.)

Not only is the opulent fortress one of Miami’s crown jewels, it’s a place where imagination, fantasy and luxury come together in a massive eye-pleasing crescendo. It’s INCREDIBLE and…

No matter how many times I’ve gone behind the legendary walls (for stories, parties and star-studded events), it just never gets old. Honestly, it always takes my breath away and now, thanks to “Gianni’s At The Villa”, you can experience it, too. Imagine, drinking and dining where Gianni Versace himself actually mingled with the biggest names in fashion, movies and music. Dah-ling!

The new fine dining Italian-Mediterranean restaurant is housed on the first floor of the mansion, giving you access to admire its awe-inspiring main courtyard, exquisite dining room, elegant bar and famed 24K gold-tiled mosaic pool.

Not only is the scenery pure perfection, the food is pretty incredible, too (not to mention the cocktails.) I started Spotlight in the highly romantic and dimly lit “Onyx Bar ” where master mixologist, Alex Petriuk, impressed me with his mad shaking skills.

The appropriately named “Passion in the Mansion” (made with passion fruit vodka, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and topped with champagne) was mind-blowing. It’s the supermodel of cocktails; garnished with a gorgeous piece of passion fruit. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and tart (#sweettart).

Seeing as I’m a ranch girl from New Mexico and all, I’m a sucker for a good tequila drink and the “24 Karat Margarita” is phenomenal (made with gold infused tequila, Grand Marnier, fresh OJ & lime juice, sparkling water and a generous salted rim.) Hmmm… another round, please.

If you’re a fruit lover, the “Berrisace Collins” is gonna be your new best friend. Besides its cheeky name, its leftover berry bottom is the perfect pay-off after finishing your cocktail (made with vodka, fresh berries, lemon juice and sparkling water.)

Before dinner, I started with an antipasti called: “Burrata Millefoglie” — with juicy red tomatoes, roasted eggplant, 12-year-old balsamic vinegar, Grissini bread sticks and Prosciutto di Parma; you’ll definitely want more. It’s the extra soft, creamy burrata that does it. I mean, who doesn’t love mozzarella and stracciatella? Be still, my cheesy heart.

I tried two main dishes, first, the “Gnocchi Di Granchio”, which was superb. It comes with a healthy serving of New Orleans Blue Crab and is topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you’re more of a meat lover, “Filetto Di Manzo Rossini” (an 8oz Wagyu filet mignon cooked & seasoned to perfection) will NOT disappoint. It was my favorite plate of the night, served with grilled asparagus and pan-seared foie gras bordelaise jus.

And, the end-all, be-all of desserts? “Dolce: Triple Chocolate Mousse Temptation” (made with white, milk and dark chocolate mousse, crispy pearls, brownie cake.) What a treat! Its presentation is one of the best I’ve ever seen, especially its stream-lined, layered colors which are only discovered once you take a bite. Bravo!

There’s no other experience like “Gianni’s At The Villa” in all of South Florida. I’d even go so far as saying, there’s nothing else like it in the world. It’s just really special on so many different levels and now, thanks to the new eatery, its fabulously accessible to everyone and that’s what makes it one of my Favorite Things.

When:

Tuesday-Sunday: 6pm-Midnight

Where:

Gianni’s At The Villa
The Villa Casa Casuarina
1116 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL. 33139

IG: @giannisatthevilla
FB: @TheVillaCasaCasuarina
Twitter: @Giannis_SoBe

www.vmmiamibeach.com

Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but YOU DECIDE what YOU ARE, what YOU WANT to express by the way you dress and the way you live.Gianni Versace
A special thank you to Gabriel Scocco for making our dinner so special and a shout-out to Priscilla Burgos for being an awesome PR guru.James Woodley Photography
Dress: Keepsakethelabel.com.au
Purse: V73 www.v73.it/us
Boots: BCBG South Beach www.bcbg.com
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Sweet & Tart” Auerbach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Izzy’s Fish & Oyster

Shireen’s Spotlight: Izzy’s Fish & Oyster

Shireen’s Spotlight: Izzy’s Fish & Oyster

Shireen’s Spotlight: Izzy’s Fish & Oyster

Shireen’s Spotlight: Izzy’s Fish & Oyster

Shireen’s Spotlight: Izzy’s Fish & Oyster

Shireen’s Spotlight: Izzy’s Fish & Oyster

Shireen’s Spotlight: Izzy’s Fish & Oyster

What:

A leisurely weekend lunch at Izzy’s (owned by my good friend, Chef Jamie DeRosa.)

Why:

On a balmy Saturday afternoon, I snuggled into a corner table at “Izzy’s Fish & Oyster” on South Beach and let the atmosphere consume me. The warm, inviting eatery reminds me of the places I used to frequent in my childhood, especially in northern Maine.

I would spend my summer school breaks there visiting my aunts (my mom’s sisters,) who taught me the New England way of life. Things seemed simpler back then; I remember it like it was yesterday, too: the sun shining on my face, the sand between my toes and fresh seafood for almost every meal.

At lunchtime, I would ride my bike across Islesboro Island (off Penobscot Bay) to the local diner and feast on lobster rolls. If I got lucky, at dinnertime, they’d serve up something called Lobster Newburg. Hmmm…I can still smell it. (It’s a lobster casserole baked with butter cream, cognac, sherry and eggs.)

A lot has changed since then, but at “Izzy’s Fish & Oyster,” owner and chef Jamie DeRosa has managed to bring my childhood memories to life, updating them with a magical foodie flair. From the blue-and-white decor (think Cape Cod) to the dark/twinkly bar (think downtown Boston,) Izzy’s is the kind of place that inspires you to make memories or linger for a long afternoon snack. Matter of fact, I’d love to go back, sit at the bar, drink a cold beer and have a dozen or so oysters on the half shell.

Before I started Spotlight, I was treated to a glass of bubbly, “Chambong-style.” Yep, just like a beer bong, but a champagne bong is way classier (at least that’s what I tell myself.) Deco Drive featured the novelty at Izzy’s a few months ago and I couldn’t wait to try one for myself. It was worth the wait!

(Warning: it’s all about form, people. I tried sipping out of the bong but sometimes, a girl has to let go and guzzle. I mean, YOLO! Plus, sipping a bong is messy and frankly, ridiculous. After bonging…)

Three signature cocktails arrived: “Izzy Fizzy,” “New England Express” and “Where The Figawi.” I loved the whimsical presentation of the “Izzy Fizzy,” complete with a yellow and white straw. The refreshingly unusual drink is made with kava, ginger, mint, lemon, vodka and aperol.

The “New England Express” was pretty and packed a major punch, made with mezcal, honey, lime, basil oil, pineapple and cracked pepper. I love the the play on words with “Where The Figawi”. Okay, stay with me here. You know that traditionally heavy Boston accent?

Think “The Departed” (starring Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Leo DiCaprio) where they were always sayings things like: “Where the F*** are we?” Well, that’s the drink: “Where The Figawi.” Haha! Genius, right? (It’s made with rye, hibiscus, grapefruit, lemon and a white German beer.)

The “Key Lime Stuffed French Toast” (with key lime custard, graham cracker and mint) was the first dish I tried; it was moist and marvelous. It’s perfect if you have a sweet tooth. When you cut it, it oozes yummy goodness. I’d call it an explosion of Florida flavors.

The “New England Clam Chowder” (with potato leeks and oyster crackers) was thick and delicious. In fact, I could eat this meaty soup the rest of my natural born life. In full disclosure, I’m a sucker for a good soup. It’s so hearty, it could easily be a meal.

I’d heard a lot about “Izzy’s Maine Lobster Roll” (served warm or cold) with lobster mayo. It comes with a side of seasoned waffle fries. Hello, lovah… where’ve you been my whole life? It’s a MUST-TRY! The roll is simple and delicious; easily reminding me of my beloved Maine in the summertime .

Last but not least, I enjoyed a preview of what’s to come in the new year at Izzy’s in the form of a “Knuckle Sandwich”(made with swiss cheese, Maine lobster, Florida pickles and parsley. ) This and the lobster roll were my two favorites. The picture (with the sandwich bleeding cheese) doesn’t even do it justice.

I wrapped up Spotlight with a “Classic Whoopie Pie” (complete with marshmallow fluff.) I can’t say I’m surprised at how great Izzy’s is, because Jamie just “gets” it. The award-winning chef doesn’t just know food, he realizes it can evoke emotions, feelings, even memories…that’s just part of what makes him so great at what he does.

What’s more, he created his restaurant after a road trip up the New England coast with his wife, Amy and his daughter (named Izzy,) who was just six-weeks-old at the time. Somewhere in-between baby naps, time with his beautiful wife and a King’s share of seafood, Jamie gave birth to a new idea: a cool crab shack in the heart of the Magic City.

Now, Jamie infuses those precious memories into “Izzy’s Fish & Oyster” on a daily basis. For the record, this isn’t just any crab shack; it’s a glamorous one, with great food and an infectious atmosphere — that’s why it’s one of my favorite things. It also happens to be the perfect place to have a special holiday meal. Happy Christmas!

When:

Lunch: Monday-Friday 12pm-4pm.
Dinner: Sunday-Wednesday 6pm-10pm & Thursday-Saturday 6pm-11pm.
Brunch: Saturday & Sunday 12pm-4pm.
Happy Hour is everyday 4pm-7pm.

Where:

Izzy’s Fish & Oyster is located South of Fifth on Washington Avenue on South Beach.
423 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139

www.izzysmiami.com
IG: @Izzysmiami
Twitter: @Izzysmiami
FB: Izzy’s Fish & Oyster

I’m living on things that excite me, be they pastry, or lobster or love…Jimmy Buffet
Photography: Life In A Flash (IG: life_in_a_flash)
Photo editing: James Woodley
Styling: Jackie Kay
Clutch by www.lamouge.com
Grooming: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Whoopie” Auerbach
Special thanks to Jamie DeRosa

Vegan Leather

Vegan Leather

Vegan Leather

Vegan Leather

Vegan Leather

Vegan Leather

Vegan Leather

Vegan Leather

What:

Spicing up your fall wardrobe with Vegan Leather from BCBG on Lincoln Road, South Beach.

Why:

Fall, how I love thee; let me count the ways: Vogue’s September Issue, Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Lattes, distressed ankle booties, worn-in jean jackets, New York Fashion Week and all of my fellow fashionistas who post autumn-inspired styles on Instagram…

Sadly, I can only enjoy these cool weather trappings in the comfort of my own home, with the air-conditioner on full blast! I’m not kidding, either; I keep my place a crisp 69 degrees. I weep when the electric bill comes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My fellow Magic City fashionistas know exactly what I’m talking about…

As soon you step outside (into the searing heat and humidity,) FALL tends to be the last thing on your mind. In other words, forget about anything snuggly-wuggly, I’d just rip it off to avoid breaking out into a full sweat. With that being said, it’s always a bit tricky finding fall fashions that are befitting of South Florida’s tropical weather.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to work with BCBG on Lincoln Road, especially since they suggested “Vegan Leather” (perfect for our fall weather.) Not only are we living in a time when people want to know what they’re putting inside their bodies, but they also wanna know what they’re putting on them, too.

“Vegan Leather” contains no animal by-products and is usually made with cork or kelp-based materials. It’s pliable, breathable and less expensive than the real thing. BCBG’s vegan pieces are easy to mix and match, too. I especially love their rich jewel tones that easily suggest a change in season, without layers upon layers of material. Besides the great vegan dresses, jackets, tanks, shirts and skirts…

They also have fabulous accessories and a killer selection of open-toed booties (to help save a girl’s feet from the heat!) If that weren’t enough, have you seen BCBG’s South Beach store? It’s awe-inspiring; brimming with the bold and the beautiful of all things fashionable. Even though there are a few more months before Florida feels a slight chill in the air, “Vegan Leather” can easily get you started on your tropical fall wardrobe and that’s why it’s one of my favorite things.

When:

Monday-Wednesday 10am-10pm, Thursday-Saturday 10am-12am & Sunday 11am-11pm.

Where:

Lincoln Road Mall, 744 Lincoln Road, Miami Florida 33139

IG: @bcbgsouthbeach
www.bcbg.com

Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.William Cullen Bryant

James Woodley Photography
Styling by Jackie Kay
(All Vegan Leather wardrobe & accessories provided by BCBG, South Beach)
Grooming: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Snuggly-Wuggly” Auerbach

special thanks to Marina of BCBG

Shireen’s Spotlight: Barton G. The Restaurant

Barton G

Barton G

Barton G

Barton G

What:

Barton G. 1427 West Ave. Miami Beach, Florida, 33139

Why:

At Barton G. not only is “presentation everything,” it’s also about how you feel and at this South Beach eatery, they want you to feel great and have fun. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to this Miami staple, but when I went last week (to check-out some of their new menu items,) I remembered why I loved the place so much.

People were smiling, laughing and thoroughly enjoying their food experience and that’s not really something I’ve seen since starting my food blog. Not only is the food cool and creative; it’s culinary innovation at it’s finest without being pretentious. I felt excited and awe-inspired as soon as I walked through the front door.

From the “Below Zero Nitro-Bar” I started with two amazing drinks: “Buddhalicious” (made with pear infused vodka, lychee and cranberry, served with a nitrogenized pop of pear vodka) and “Cooper’s Margarita” (don julio silver tequila, triple sec, sweet and sour with a grand marnier popsicle.) Holy fabulousness! Both drinks were wonderfully whimsical and packed an extra punch with their liquor-infused popsicles.

For starters I tried three of Barton G’s new appetizers: “Holy Smokes Popcorn,” “The Devil’s Eggs” and “Champagne Oysters & Caviar.” The popcorn (which comes in a Holy Smokes case) is perfect for the truffle lover in your life; made with bacon, white truffle, black truffle, grated parmesan and fresh herbs. The eggs come caged with a carton to boot; made with truffles, bacon, garlic and garden herbs. Last but not least, the oysters (wrapped in a champagne cucumber mignonette, yuzu bubbles and beluga caviar) were absolute perfection and came in a really captivating octopus plate.

Before my main course I tried the colorful “Octopus Terrarium Salad” (filled with a speckling of deep sea yumminess, including seaweed.) The funky “Polynesian Fish Fry” (which is a crispy whole snapper, coconut jasmine rice, spicy veggie pineapple slaw and miso-kona lime remoulade, ) was my main event! The fish practically fell off the bone and who doesn’t love Jasmine rice? It’s one of my absolute favorite things on planet earth. The yummy side sauces complimented every bite perfectly.

Dessert was an over-the-top, free-for-all (in a good way) with the “Lolli Pot Garden” and “Brain Freeze.” The garden was beautiful with a variety of sweets and cake pops (mere words can’t even do the presentation justice) and the brain on a plate:(chocolate fudge mousse cake) was moist, rich and beyond decadent.

Needless-to-say, I did not leave hungry (which sometimes I do on my food blog!) I also left happy; my face actually hurt from smiling. Barton G. has a special artistic spirit that’s totally contagious. I noticed when dining, as each plate emerged from the kitchen (no matter the table,) everyone took turns oohing and awing over it. A mutual love of all things inspiring makes the restaurant’s vibrant energy undeniably palpable. Cheers!

Where:

In the heart of South Beach, just a few blocks away from Alton Road. Street parking is really tough in this area, but the good news? Barton G. provides a speedy valet; one you don’t have to wait a million years for like most restaurants on the beach.

When:

Sunday-Thursday 6pm-10pm, Friday-Saturday 6pm-12am

www.bartongtherestaurant.com
Twitter: @Barton_G, IG: @bartongmia, FB: Barton G. The Restaurant

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.Roald Dahl
Photographer: James Woodley
Wardrobe & Jewelry: @ErmannoScervino
Chanel Handbag: @SerendipityConsignment