Wednesday, May 31, 2017

#ThankYouMiami for Brunch - NaiYaRa

I have loved NaiYaRa since it first opened in Sunset Harbour almost two years ago. (That beef jerky! That crab fried rice! That Sunset Harbour roll! Heck, everything on the menu!) My last visit was in March when I took friends there before the ZZ Top concert at The Fillmore and I was heralded the hero of the evening for my dinner recommendation.

To be fair, the true hero was Chef Bee for delivering the consistent deliciousness for which he is known not only at NaiYaRa but also at his North Miami restaurant, Oishi Thai. That man can do no wrong. His latest stroke of genius is launching weekend brunch at NaiYaRa. It is typically available on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. but, for one night last week, his team gave us a sneak peek during happy hour.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

#ThankYouMiami Celebrates National Wine Day

Today is National Wine Day and, as you can tell by the time at which I am writing this post, I desperately need this holiday. A huge shout out to 8 lb. 6 oz. baby Jesus for delivering it at this very opportune time. I plan to make good use of the evening by gathering my wine snob friends to indulge in our favorite Groth sauvignon blanc and our favorite Franciscan Estates cabernet sauvignon. We've rotated through numerous wines over the past few years and, with the exception of the greats (Caymus, Silver Oak, Veuve Clicquot et al.), we've narrowed down our bougie wine palates to these two go-tos.

That said, we're adventurous types so we're planning to shake things up during our celebration by engaging in a blind taste test of two red wines graciously provided by Breakthru Beverage. The best part? Like every good millennial blogger, I plan to live stream the whole thing on our Instagram. No one knows which brands or types of wine we'll be drinking except me and I plan to brown paper bag them with my eyes closed. It's going to be a riot to watch us sip, savor and comment on both wines. Follow us so you can tune in!

Are you planning to celebrate? If you're looking for Miami spots with good wine programs (and some with great National Wine Day deals!), here are my three recommendations:

1. Glass and Vine (2820 MacFarlane Road, Coconut Grove)
Come for the beautiful outdoor setting, stay for half-off wine bottles all day and half-off all wines by the glass from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

2. Meat Market (915 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach): I love them for their Veuve Clicquot happy hour on Fridays at the bar, which includes complimentary passed bites, but their wine program is excellent every day of the week.

3. Rusty Pelican (3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne): The views at this waterfront restaurant are incredible, made all the better by their recently revamped wine program which now includes a world-class selection of over 300 wines. Today they'll be offering special wines by the glass in limited supply.

Monday, May 22, 2017

#ThankYouMiami for New Food Finds - Meraki Greek Bistro

Last week Celeste ventured to downtown Miami to Meraki Greek Bistro, where co-owner and executive chef Giannis Kotsos introduced her to the restaurant's new menu of one-of-a-kind, authentic Mediterranean dishes. Based on the 400+ likes that her photo from the evening garnered on Instagram, we'll venture to say you're intrigued by this new food find. Read below to hear what Celeste thought of its location, the ambiance and, of course, the food.

Meraki is located in Miami's best kept secret and—believe it or not—it's been there for years. It's tucked away inside a narrow alley on SE 1st Ave between 1st Street and 2nd Street in Downtown Miami. My favorite restaurant as a child was a family-owned Italian spot in that very same, mesmerizing restaurant village. (Think a less crowded Española Way.) I'm pretty sure my eyes lit up when I re-encountered the traditional red roofs on the romantic boutique buildings and brick floors, a true anomaly within the heart of downtown. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

#ThankYouMiami How-To: Making DÔA's Traditional Ceviche

Summer is making an grand entrance like a prima donna on My Super Sweet Sixteen. The bipolar weather the last few days is a testament that we're already settling into the seasonal routine of sweltering, steamy heat followed by apocalyptic downpour.

While there's nothing I can do about the rain, except remind you that true Floridians don't own an umbrella (we just don't), I want to do all I can to help you beat the heat. Today that means sharing a recipe for my favorite boat day/beach day snack: ceviche.

A huge thanks to DÔA's very own Chef Carlos Estarita for sharing his traditional ceviche recipe with us. My mouth is watering just thinking about how perfectly refreshing the citrus juice is and how perfectly light the fish is when it's hot outside. Plus, it's super simple to make!

I recommend using fresh fish from a fish market like Chef Estarita for best results. From experience, the best fish markets in Miami are Don Camaron on NW 37 Ave, Captain Jim's in North Miami, or Miami River staples Casablanca and Garcia's. Enjoy!


Monday, May 15, 2017

#ThankYouMiami Catches Up Over Coopers' Craft Cocktails

I'm finally feeling better, no thanks to my going out and "day drinking" at Coral Gables' House Kitchen & Bar on Saturday afternoon. Turns out bourbon isn't the best medicine for a sinus infection. Nevertheless, my outing was much needed and well worth it. It gave us a chance to catch up with our South Florida Bloggers friends who we haven't seen in ages. I also learned a ton about Coopers' Craft, a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey (read, bourbon). Here are five fun facts I picked up:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

#ThankYouMiami Talks Soaking Up The Sun In Miami

I have been in quarantine for the last week. My co-workers gave me the head cold that's been going around and it developed into a sinus/chest infection, sidelining me from going to work, attending the fun events on my calendar, and seeing the beautiful outdoors for 6 whole days. I'm still not 100%, but a full round of z-pack later I'm regaining my appetite and ability to walk without wheezing.

The first order of business as soon as I can leave my apartment? Seeing the sun again. Luckily, my go-to meteorologists on CBS4 Miami announced that the next few days will be in the 80s and sunny (except for afternoon showers on Sunday afternoon). That means its the perfect time to head outdoors and revel in that Miami sunshine.

In my book The HUNT Miami, I shared my five favorite places to soak up the sun in Miami. (You can find the feature on pages 126-128 of your pocket-sized Miami guide.) It was super serendipitous timing that, this week, the list was released on The HUNT Guides blog for your reading pleasure. Want the full list of off-the-beaten path parks, hotels, restaurants, museums, shops and live music venues I recommend in Miami? You can order your very own copy of The HUNT Miami here!

P.S. If you too have fallen victim to this traveling head cold, drinking water, getting lots of sleep, and taking z-pack were the only three things that worked of the 30 things—ginger and wheatgrass shots, tea, NyQuil, gargles, binge-watching 13 Reasons Why—I tried. Get well soon!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#ThankYouMiami How-To: Keeping Summer Hair Healthy

I had "virgin hair" most of my life. ("Virgin hair" is what stylists call hair that has never been colored or chemically-treated.) Then, at 26, I decided to see if blondes really do have more fun and allowed the talented Emilee Coyle, now at Studio Platinum on Merritt Island, to give me a summer hair transformation. I have since gone from blonde, to blonder, to blondest, most recently under the careful care of Erin at IGK Miami.

I am addicted to being blonde. I look at pictures of myself as a brunette and, while my hair looks healthier—glossier, non-frizzy—the brown tresses don't suit me as well as the blonde ones. I don't look like me. So, I keep coloring it even as I watch its texture change, becoming progressively more dull and frayed from the chemicals as the conditioning treatment washes away from my hair in the weeks after my salon visits.

My mom was the one who made me realize how unhealthy my hair has started to look. Concerned that my hair was a warning sign of poor nutrition, she called an emergency mother-daughter meeting where she brought up her concerns. I quickly reassured her the state of my coif was a consequence of missing salon visits, not meals, and made a mental note to book an appointment with Erin immediately.

Erin's expertise comes at a hefty—albeit, well-worth—price tag so I can't always default to paying her a visit when my hair needs it. So, I have started relying on a three-tiered approach that is affordable and I can do at home to keep my summer hair healthy between visits:

1. Monthly: Hair masks for moisture
At least once a month, ideally every other week, I lather on a hair mask when I get out of the shower, braid my hair, watch an episode of The Americans, then rinse or wash it off. I love Palmer's Deep Conditioning Coconut Oil Formula and, when I'm feeling fancy, the Kérastase Résistance Masque Therapiste. They help my hair against dryness.

2. Weekly: Hair oils for shine
I blow-dry my hair—yes, I finally learned how—once a week. When I do, I help it look soft and silky with hair oils, specifically Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture's Brassica Seed Oil and Kérastase's Elixir Ultime Versatile Beautifying Oil. They both do the trick aesthetically-speaking, but I'm partial to the brassica seed oil because of its cotton candy-like scent.

3. Daily: Thickening shampoo for damage repair
Color-treated hair requires special shampoo to maintain its integrity. I have found shampoos that make my color last, but none of them seem to have done much to repair color damage. That's why I alternate them with Renpure Professional's Coconut Bamboo Thickening Shampoo. It helps with damage repair and I love that it is made from all-natural ingredients—a bonus considering the chemicals needed to keep my beautiful blonde locks.

How do you keep your summer hair healthy? What other advice do you have for counteracting the effects of coloring treatments? What hair products can you not live without? Leave a message below or send me a tweet @ThankYouMiami!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

#ThankYouMiami for Miami Museum Month

The long-awaited Frost Museum of Science opens tomorrow in downtown Miami. As a major "science geek"—my Bachelor's and Master's degrees are in marine science—I can't wait to check it out and am amping hardcore about the gulf stream aquarium that is shaped like a martini glass. I'm planning to take advantage of their extended hours during opening weekend to stop by.

Turns out May is the perfect month to do so, not just because the Miami science museum will be brand-spanking new, but also because May is Miami Museum Month. For the occasion, local museums are offering special deals like "join one museum, see them all" and "buy one, get one free admission". Yesterday my mom, dad and I took advantage of the latter for a fun Saturday afternoon at the Pérez Art Museum Miami ("the PAMM"). 

Friday, May 5, 2017

#ThankYouMiami How-To: Making a SpikedSeltzer Paloma for Cinco de Mayo

I feel it is my responsibility, as your token Mexican blogging friend, to be the first to wish you a happy Cinco de Mayo. And, also to remind you that no—today is not Mexican independence day. September 16 is Mexican independence day.

Today's holiday is an American-created excuse to indulge on tacos and tequila without abandon, with "Mexican heritage" at its helm. I can't blame you, I love a good excuse to celebrate and let's be honest, tacos and tequila are two of the greatest things in the world. (Thank you, ancestors.) But before I proceed with today's nugget of knowledge, let the record show what you're really toasting is Mexico's unexpected victory over the French in some random battle and that, in Mexico, it's just a quiet little Friday.

That said, I relish in being everyone's token Mexican friend for this annual occasion. To that end, I have included a little blurb on Cinco de Mayo festivities around Miami I found worthwhile on our Miami Events page. There's all-you-can-eat tacos, bar crawls, larger than life piñatas, and free tequila shots on ice luges, because Miami... On my end, I will be hosting a happy hour for friends in South Beach and retiring home eat tacos and sip palomas.

I listed my favorite new paloma recipe below so you can join me no matter where you are. It's light and super refreshing. Oh, and while you're at it, don't forget to check out these delicious Mexican food and drink recipes I posted last year. ¡Salúd!

Paloma Cocktail Recipe
12 oz. Indian River grapefruit SpikedSeltzer (available at Publix)
2 oz. fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (Natalie's, available at Publix, is my favorite)
1 oz. tequila (I recommend Don Julio blanco)
1/2 slice of fresh grapefruit

Stir ingredients and serve in a cooler glass over ice, with half a grapefruit slice.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#ThankYouMiami Talks Spring Menus at the W South Beach

Last week W South Beach extended us an invitation to try their newly launched spring menus at Living Room and The Dutch. I've shared a few evenings over the quirky handcrafted cocktails at Living Room but I have never dined at The Dutch—I know, right?!—so I was super excited for both. Unfortunately, due to a last minute conflict, I wasn't able to go. Thankfully our fearless contributor Celeste stepped in on my behalf to experience the evening and recount it for you below. (For the record, cedeing the opportunity to eat artichoke ravioli was not an easy feat...)

I'm not one to brag but, man that evening was delicious. One word: WOW. I think I whispered that under my breath countless times after sipping on most of the drinks and pretty much after every bite of everything—literally everything. I can guarantee that if I'm ever feeling splurgy, I know the W Hotel is the place for quality comfort food anyone can enjoy.

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