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: Olla

Shireen’s Spotlight: Olla

Shireen’s Spotlight: Olla

Shireen’s Spotlight: Olla

Shireen’s Spotlight: Olla

Shireen’s Spotlight: Olla

Shireen’s Spotlight: Olla

What:

A fun Friday night eating Mexican food at Olla on Lincoln Road.

Why:

I’m pretty serious about three things in life: fashion, film and Mexican food. And since this is my food blog…

I’m a beast when it comes to anything south of the border (I’m a New Mexico girl, after all.) If salsa and chips are in front of me, I’m useless until I’ve devoured every last bite. Hmmm…

So, imagine my delight when I was invited to “Olla Miami” to drink & eat all things Mexican. The new South Beach eatery is brimming with personality: it’s chic, industrial and moody. Perfect for my kind of palate.

BTW, in Spanish, “Olla” means “cooking pot” and sharing a pot/plate of food is the restaurant’s concept (think tapas.) Believe you me — if you go hungry, you’ll definitely leave happy.

Per usual, I started Spotlight with three signature drinks: “Passionista” (spicy & strong,) “Oaxaca Burro” (served in a mini-earthen pot) and “Pinche Flor” (refreshing & gingery.) Each drink was unique and packed its own kind of punch.

The “Passionista,” which is tequila-based and made with chile liqueur, was my absolute favorite (ingredients include: avion blanco, lime juice, ancho reyes, passion fruit and citronge.) Having just one of these creative cocktails was next to impossible. Round two, anyone?

As soon as I sat down, the freshest of guac with four yummy salsas/sauces arrived at the table. I’m proud of myself for exercising will power. Instead of annihilating, I nibbled; saving room for every daring dish created by Chef Scott Linquist (yes, of Coyo Taco fame.) The guy has major food game and I wanted to play.

I started with perfectly petite bites of “Erizo” (made with sea urchin, blue corn tostadita, asiento avocado, chile de arbol and pickled red onion.) It was smooth, sophisticated and unusual.

Oh hello, flavor-filled pots…

The corn truffles and wild mushrooms in queso fresco, called “Huitlacoche,” was rich and savory, but my love affair with the “Fideos Seco,” a.k.a Mexican Pasta, was unadulterated (with toasted garlic, chipotle tomato sauce and mexican style cheeses.) If you like pork and beans, “Charros” (made with cowboy beans, pork belly, pork cheek, smokey chilis and roasted tomatoes,) was succulent and zesty.

I tasted three main dishes…

The “Huarache” (cured skirt steak) was extremely tender; bursting with flavor. I’ve always been apprehensive to taste cuttlefish, but I went for it with the “Sepia” bowl (made with cuttlefish, Spanish onions, peppers and chimichurri.) It reminded me of calamari, which I happen to like. I especially enjoyed its texture and the bowl’s mix of flavors.

Last but not least, I devoured the “Coloradito” (duck breast, duck carnitas, sour cherry salsita, roasted peanuts and a fruity nutty red mole.) This dish was EVERYTHING! My favorite of the night. It was flavorful and that mole sauce? I had to force myself not to lick the plate.

Shockingly, I did have room for dessert.

With that being said, I enjoyed a bowl of “Churros” (smothered in ice cream, topped with whipped cream and drizzled in chocolate and caramel sauce.) Yes, it’s as good it looks. Actually, better.

I’ve spent many Miami nights wondering where to get great Mexican food in the Magic City. Wonder no more!

Whether you’re brunching, lunching or weekend dinner-ing, “Olla Miami” is more than just a fabulous fiesta, it’s a first-class dining experience filled with all kinds of spicy deliciousness and that’s why it’s one of my favorite things.

When:

Monday-Thursday: 11:30-4pm, 5-11pm
Friday: 11:30am-4pm, 5pm-12am
Saturday: 11:30am-12am
Sunday: 11:30am-8pm

Where:

Olla Miami is located on the west end of Lincoln Road, where chain restaurants and cookie-cutter stores have yet to infiltrate. It’s on the north side of the street. Your best bet is to park in the lot behind the restaurant or if you prefer a garage, there are two easily accessible on Alton.

Olla
1233 Lincoln Road
Miami Beach, Florida 33139

Reservations: 786-717-5400

Instagram: @ollamiami
Twitter: @OllaMiami
FB: Olla Miami
www.ollamiami.com/

Mexican food is so full of color, life and music. It’s like a piñata exploding in your mouth.Kate McLennan
Photography: Life In A Flash (IG: life_in_a_flash)
Photo editing: James Woodley
Styling: Jackie Kay
Wardrobe: @bcbgsouthbeach
Evening Purse: @ximenakavalekas
Grooming: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Cooking Pot” 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

Herve for the Holidays

Herve for the Holidays

Herve for the Holidays

Herve for the Holidays

Herve for the Holidays

Herve for the Holidays

Herve for the Holidays

Herve for the Holidays

What:

Hot holiday looks from Herve Leger by Max Azria located inside BCBG on South Beach.

Why:

I love the holidays and everything that surrounds them: food, family, festivities and, of course, all the fabulous dresses.

In fact, every Christmas/Hanukah, I relish choosing my favorite fashions for my annual holiday dress blog. Months prior, I shop my way through the Magic City, searching for the perfect fit and style.

Most of the time, I end up wearing something that helps convey where I am in life and what’s ahead for the new year. Yup, I’m definitely one of those women who believes your wardrobe says a lot about where you are in life.

For my last holiday dress blog, I tried harnessing my sexy side with Hot Miami Styles, in hopes of ringing in 2016 with a va-va-voom vibe.

I was aiming to feel alive again after a painful knee injury that required surgery and extensive physical therapy, not to mention a mini-relapse from a major neurological illness I suffered a few years ago. With that being said…

Now, I’m in a totally different place, with a more positive frame of mind and a healthier body. Since the bad mojo is behind me, my life has blossomed into something new, interesting and well, I haven’t figured it all out yet. I just know that I’m changing…

My fashion taste is, too. I’ve left behind a lot of the fuss, like my fluffy skirts and eccentric shirts (that I used to hide behind,) opting instead for the simple, sleek and sophisticated. That’s why “Herve for the Holidays” makes complete sense to me.

I’ve always been a big fan of Herve Leger by Max Azria and its famous bandage dress, but for years, I was intimated by the body-conscious appeal of the line, until I tried one on a few weeks ago.

Their “second skin” concept isn’t what I expected. Sure, it’s about highlighting the good, but it’s also about diminishing the bad. “Think of it as one big pair of Spanx,” said the person who talked me into trying one on for size (she knows who she is!)

The dresses are made of such quality material (a meaty blend of rayon, nylon and spandex,) it’s impossible not to have coy confidence when wearing one. What’s more, they’ve expanded their line to include styles with longer hems, more fashion-forward silhouettes and gorgeous textures.

The bandage dress isn’t just a seasonal investment, it’s a killer classic that’ll complement your closet for years to come and that’s why “Herve for the Holidays” is one of my favorite things. Happy shopping, fashionistas and enjoy your turkey day!

When:

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

Where:

Lincoln Road Mall, 744 Lincoln Road, Miami Florida 33139 (on the corner of Lincoln and Meridian.)

IG: @bcbgsouthbeach
www.bcbg.com www.herveleger.com

Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.Anonymous
James Woodley Photography
Styling by Jackie Kay
(All holiday looks, shoes and jewelry provided by BCBG/Herve Leger on South Beach)
Grooming: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Va-va-voom” Auerbach

special thanks to Marina of BCBG/Herve Leger