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: Bull Market American Bar & Kitchen

Shireen's Spotlight: Bull Market American Bar & Kitchen

Shireen's Spotlight: Bull Market American Bar & Kitchen

Shireen's Spotlight: Bull Market American Bar & Kitchen

Shireen's Spotlight: Bull Market American Bar & Kitchen

Shireen's Spotlight: Bull Market American Bar & Kitchen

What:

New brunch menu items at Bull Market, 210 SW 2nd Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL. 33301

Why:

“Bull Market” is the perfect kind of place to spend a lazy weekend afternoon; eating, drinking and just having a good time with friends. Besides being voted “Best Brunch” by New Times (in 2015), they’ve recently updated their brunch menu, providing good eats for a great price. Here are some of the mouth-watering reasons you should check it out…

They have a killer Bloody Mary bar (you make your own drink – just the way you want it). I take mine extra spicy with olives, bacon and cheese. Their Grilled Cheese Flights is a modern day twist on a traditional favorite and who needs a lot of money when you can munch on the “Millionaire Burger?” Okay, maybe you’ll need a few dollars to pay for it, but MAN, it’s mind-blowing.

I started Spotlight with three drinks: a tasty (and majorly stacked) Bloody Mary, a refreshing Mimosa and one of their famed cheeky drinks called: “The Panty Dropper” (made with Nolet’s cucumber gin, house made strawberry lemonade and basil).

Haha! I totally get it now. The drink goes down so easily, after a few rounds you’ll be doing waaaay more than just dropping your panties. More like dancing on the table and, perhaps, even scribbling your phone number on the bathroom wall. Bring a designated driver, so you can enjoy it. On the food side…

The Lobster Eggs Benedict was creamy and delicious (with Maine Lobster, freshly poached eggs, served on a toasted English Muffin). The aforementioned Millionaire Burger (Angus beef, maytag blue cheese, port wine sauce, grilled mushrooms and crunch onion frizzles) was my absolute fav thing on the menu, but the Grilled Cheese Flights (mini grilled cheese sandwiches served with shots of roasted tomato basil) were a close second. Yup, just like mom used to make, but way better. Don’t tell her I said that.

What’s weekend brunching without a heaping helping of French Toast? I had BM’s hand-dipped challah bread, coated in Captain Crunch cereal and topped with a house-made berry glaze. This plate is perfect if you’re a sweets-eater or you’re just looking to balance out something salty. I love ordering two dishes with my boo. He gets sugary, I get savory and we share. It’s the best of both worlds.

For dessert, you can’t go wrong with Bull Balls (doughnut holes served with caramel/chocolate dipping sauces and shots of milk). This is the bomb-dot-com and when mine arrived at the table, they were so fresh, they literally melted in my mouth. Nothing like some fried dough to end a great brunch.

Bull Market has a really cool, laid-back atmosphere, highlighted by a rustic bar look. It reminds me a little of the hipster bars/restaurants in Austin, Texas. Lucky for me, though, it’s in South Florida and serves up amazingly creative food, along with some traditional favorites and that’s why it’s one of my favorite things.

Where:

Bull Market is located downtown Fort Lauderdale in an area known as Riverfront. It’s busy on the weekend, but street and lot parking are plentiful. I love making a day of it, because the restaurant is a block or so away from the IMAX Theatre. Brunch and a matinee? Now you’re talking. Cheers!

When:

Monday-Sunday 11am-2am, Brunch Saturday & Sunday 11am-3pm

A bull market is like sex. It feels best just before it ends.Warren Buffet

www.bullmarket.com
Twitter: @BullMarketFL
IG: @bullmarketfl
FB: Bull Market @bullmarketfl

James Woodley Photography
Styling/Producing: Jackie Kay
Wardrobe: www.TedBaker.com
Fox Purse: www.V73.com
Editor: Matthew ” Bull Balls” 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

Fashion & My New Best Friend

Fashion & My New Best Friend

Fashion & My New Best Friend

Fashion & My New Best Friend

Fashion & My New Best Friend

Fashion & My New Best Friend

Fashion & My New Best Friend

Fashion & My New Best Friend

Fashion & My New Best Friend

What:

A few of my new favorite things: Jacqueline Pinto Jewelry, V73’s Frida in black suede with fringe and Rigby (my new best friend) …

Why:

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of March! How did that happen? With Spring already here, my last blog was definitely trend-heavy (Gorgeous Gladiator) and that’s not all: my wardrobe is slowly shifting itself into rich tans, velvety neutrals and bright yellows.

The muted colors and yummy textures surprise me. This time of year, I’m usually attracted to bright pinks, light purples and gangbuster greens, but I like the change. I also like the fact that blogging and social media opens this gigantic window into the fashion world around me.

It definitely changes my perspective, giving me a new lease on my fashion life. In fact, sometimes it reshapes and reinvents it. After all, most of us long to evolve; it’s just part of the ever-changing landscape of creativity. Speaking of…

I recently connected with Jacqueline Pinto, an independent fine jewelry company based in Miami. Jacqueline’s jewelry is just WOW. It’s so exquisite; but at the same time, it has this sassy, whimsical personality. I’ve been wearing her gorgeous rings and earrings on Deco Drive this week. I look forward to collaborating with her more and showcasing her gorgeous gems. 💍 Also…

It’s no secret that I love me some V73. The Italian purse company, which is based in Venice, has a lovely location in the Design District, too. Sure, I’ve always been a big fan, but I’m absolutely goo-goo over their Spring/Summer 2016 collection. My favorite is the Frida in black suede with fringe (pictured in the blog).

The color and texture goes great with my recent tan/nude color obsession and the purse also compliments yellow perfectly. And, because V73 is officially taking over my handbag wardrobe, it makes total sense that I would become their U.S. Brand Ambassador! It’s a very exciting title and I can’t wait to show you more of their latest collection. 👜

The absolute best part of this week’s blog, though? Trying to do photos with my new doggie, Rigby, who obviously steals the show. He was adopted from the Humane Society of Greater Miami just two short months ago and the amount of love I have for him is indescribable. 🐶

He’s sweet, charming and vivacious (with a touch of crazy). Rigby loves chasing squirrels and barking at everything and anything. His nickname is “Monkey,” because he’s curious, playful and jumps around like nobody’s business. He loves my closet, too — and no, he hasn’t chewed any shoes (yet). 👠

I know it’s fashionable to “adopt, not shop,” but it’s also incredibly rewarding and that’s why “Fashion & My New Best Friend” are one of my Favorite Things.

Where:

Instagram: @jacquelinepintoinc & @v73official (I haven’t started Rigby an Instagram account just yet!)

Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are.anonymous
Photographer: James Woodley
Jewelry: www.jacquelinepinto.com
Purse: www.v73.it/us
Wardrobe: www.whitehouseblackmarket.com & www.AnnTaylor.com
Shoes: www.ysl.com
Styling: by me 😀
Rigby’s Hair: Magic Grooming
Editor: Matthew “From A Motel Room in Gainesville” Auerbach

The Perfect Purse (featuring V73)

The Perfect Purse (featuring V73)

The Perfect Purse (featuring V73)

The Perfect Purse (featuring V73)

The Perfect Purse (featuring V73)

The Perfect Purse (featuring V73)

What:

V73, 4218 NE. 2nd Avenue, Miami, Florida 33137

Why:

Okay, okay, okay…I lied! V73 doesn’t just have “The Perfect Purse,” it has a lot of them. The chic and sophisticated line, which hails from Venice, Italy (one of the most beautiful cities in the world,) has “The Perfect Purse” for every single facet of your fashionable life. Lucky for us! I mean, come on — have you ever heard a woman say: “I have too, many purses!” Uh, never.

The creator behind these luxurious but affordable bags is Elizabetta Armellin, who studied fine art in Italy. She eventually became a fashion designer for major brands and then, launched her own label in 2011. The rest is, as they say, fashion history.

Elizabetta’s vivacious personality and skilled craftsmanship, specifically as an artist, is breathed into each and every one of her creations. I found out about the line about a year ago, when I started the Spotlight portion of my blog. In fact, V73 was one of my first features. Eventually, though, that part of the blog turned into the fabulous food feature that it is these days and I didn’t get to do a full-blown blog on them until now. I love everything about these purses; the materials, textures, colors, versatility and quality. I’m especially obsessed with their latest Fall/Winter 2016 Apache backpack. You can check it out on my Instagram (@ShireenSandoval).

My second favorite is their IT bag of the season: the “Selva” (shopping bag,) which features wild and whimsical creatures. I adore the parrot, but the cougar is a close second. It’s all kinds of glamourous while being able to carry my computer, phone, make-up and even my shoes inside (don’t worry, my kitchen sink is still intact.) BTW, the hobbling continues in my “Chicks in Kicks” after knee-surgery, but at this point, I’m throwing my heels in “The Perfect Purse” for good measure because I’m finally off crutches.

I looovvveeed spicing things up with the “Ducale Xxs Red Pepper.” Even though it’s petite, it sure packs a powerful fashion punch; with luxurious leather, gold detailing and two versatile handles (the other is a chain shoulder strap.) You can carry this little firecracker like a pocketbook or wear it cross body. It’s so sassy, I can hardly stand it. It also comes in deep blue and black. I think the “Peggy Ottanio” has the same kind of pizzaz, especially with its quilted material, metallic hardware and beautiful blue/greenish color (it comes in grey, too.)

Last, but not least, the holiday’s are upon us and having a purse to carry along for a special night is a must-have for every fashionista. I collect clutches, but more importantly, I collect ones that go with just about anything and the “Stella Black” is the perfect example. I love its effortlessly chic appearance.

Venice is where Elizabetta’s inspiration comes from and 73 is the year she was born and the number of the Atelier (workshop) where she studied fine art. Voila! V73 was created and I love everything about it and that’s why it’s one of my favorite things.

Where:

V73 is located in the Miami Design District and believe-you-me, it’s not just a store, it’s an experience! The picturesque boutique is snuggled into the first level of a charming house, draped with vibrant greenery. The inside is warm, relaxing and feels like you’re in someone’s living room (someone with really good taste.)

Everything has a V73 flare to it: the chandelier, furniture, even the art. I’ve never been to Venice, but I’m pretty sure this is a taste of its sophistication and elegance. The best part? Each purse is lined up against illuminated walls (think a spotlight on each purse) displaying their textures, materials, colors and sizes.

Parking isn’t a problem; next to the house there’s a nice lot with assigned spaces. Also, the store is just a hop, skip and a jump away from one of my favorite lunch spots in Miami, Mandolin Aegean Bistro. Make a day of it; you won’t regret it. Happy Shopping!

When:

Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-5pm

E-shop: www.v73.us
Twitter: @V73Official
Instagram: @v73official FB: @V73

Be sure what you want and be sure about yourself. Fashion is not just beauty, it’s about good attitude. You have to believe in yourself and be strong.Adriana Lima

Photographer: James Woodley
Hair/MUA: Odett Hernandez
Stylist: Jackie Kay

Wardrobe: @HotMiamiStyles www.HotMiamiStyles.com
Scarf: @CarlosMarrero (Marrero Collection)
Shoes: @irregularchoice & @prada

All purses are by V73 and pictured in the following order: Selva-Parrot, Ducale-XxsRed Pepper, Peggy-Ottanio and Stella-Black. Prices available upon request.