Beauty and Fashion Faves at The Shops at Merrick Park

Montserrat’s favorite picks

Christian Dior Beauté: 
Located at Level 1 inside Neiman Marcus; Christian Dior is the timeless French House of Beauty; choosing the right foundation, brushes and highlighters to enhance is not an easy task so we got expert advice from Yolanda Ayala who kindly guided us in the search for the perfect tones; loved the Dior Show in 2 steps: maximizer and dramatic mascara.  Another favorite is the Forever foundation with 35 SPF and shine control;  this makeup feels great on the skin leaving a sun kissed look.
For the perfect eyebrows I recommend the Dior Show brow styler, with a few touches following the arch of the eye brows to create a natural and filled look.

IMG_2250
Christian Dior’s picks from Neiman Marcus Merrick Park

Dolce & Gabbana : The Sicilian Bronzer – Limited Edition 

When I first saw this beautiful bronzer I said: “I must have it” and I did, thanks again to Yolanda who made it happen.  The limited edition “Sicilian carretto” designs on this beautiful coffret will make envy any other ladies at the powder room.
The Sicilian bronzer will give you that natural glow needed to complete your makeup.  I tried the Dolce Matte lipstick in Flirt; a long lasting color that can stay intact for hours.

IMG_7655
The Dolce Gabbana Sicilian Carretto Bronzer Limited Edition is inspired on the vivid and colorful art of the carriages in Sicily

L’Occitane en Provence: 

Located on Level 2 of the Shops at Merrick Park;   I became a big fan of L’Occitane and the Divine Collection; creams and serums made with essential oils extracted from the “Immortelle flowers” that grow in the wild island of Corsica and can live forever.
Try also the restorative hand creams and lotions made with original resources from the South of France; almond, lavender, roses and get all the steps to make your own spa indulgence at home.
Did I mention L’Occitane gives back? Not only a promise to the environment, all organic made, never tested on animals but also a support to charities all over the world.

IMG_9995
L’Occitane en Provence selections to make your own spa at home

Island Girl: 
Always on the second level and next door to L’Occitane we are at Island Girl and Sandra (Sandy) Saavedra gives us some insights on resort style.  Fashion that is eco friendly and supports fair trade.  Just take a quick look at this boutique and you will find everything you need for that weekend or exotic getaway; from limited edition handmade espadrilles to pom pom greek sandals to charms and ethnic bijoux by Indieluu. Sandy is the designer behind Indieluu, her own brand.
I can’t get enough of the very unique pieces found on this store; Indian accessories and Colombian guayuu bags; there is something for everyone.
Indian bajaraas; native American beaded jewelry and mini Wajuu bags made by the Wajuu people of Colombia at Island Girl in Merrick Park.

IMG_1926
Some resort selections from Island Girl Miami

Lilly Pulitzer:
When entering the Lilly Pulitzer store at Merrick Park we can’t be more happy; because Lilly’s designs are just all about a Floridian dream lifestyle, a scape to the tropics.
The iconic prints on the shift dress that made it to our first ladies and socialites closets are here to stay; find one for every occasion at Shops of Merrick Park’s first level.
Bright neons, turquoise hippocamps, pink flamingos, green palm leaves, yellow pineapples and all in between mosaics combined with tassels and charms; Lilly’s artistry is still alive on every dress.
The native of NY who settled in Palm Beach and opened a lemonade stand with her husband never thought how brilliant could be to start her own shift dress business after everyone loved the designs, sooner she sold more dressed than lemonade cups.
When packing for a vacation never miss a statement piece and a Lilly dress, after all… life is better at the beach.

IMG_1463
The Town of Coral Gables and City Hall depicted on a hand painted wall at the dressing room of the Lilly Pulitzer boutique at Merrick Park

Directory:

Neiman Marcus:

390 San Lorenzo Ave. Coral Gables, FL 33146

Phone: 786 999 1000

L’Occitane en Provence:

330 San Lorenzo Ave. #2325 Coral Gables, FL 33146

Phone: 305 445 1040

Island Girl Miami:

330 San Lorenzo Ave. Coral Gables, FL 33146

Phone: 305 648 3333

Lilly Pulitzer:

358 San Lorenzo Ave. #1525 Coral Gables, FL 33146

Phone: 305 4419837

Miami’s top patisseries

 

Feeling nostalgic about that trip to Paris when you visited Angelina or Laduree or maybe even the calissons in Aix-en-Provence? Well fear no more, in Miami you can certainly have some options for French specialties.  I updated this post from years ago with the newest additions in patisseries around town so this one is the updated version as of May 2017.  Enjoy!

Here are some of my picks:

Atelier Monnier (848 Brickell Ave.)

Macaroons anyone? Photo by Montserrat Franco
The Macaroons at Atelier Monnier, you can customize boxes with your favorite flavors, my recommendations: lavender, pistachio and rose petals

Laduree ( 1118 Lincoln Road)

Maison Ladurée Lincoln Road
The display at Laduree in Lincoln Road where you can find limited edition gift boxes or the signature Maison Laduree boxes.
But first coffee and macaroons
But first coffee and macaroons?  If you can resist Miami’s outdoors seating; take a pause from shopping at Laduree in Lincoln Road

Bachour (600 Brickell Ave.)

The interior design at Bachour in Brickell just a block away from the newly Brickell City Center
The interior design at Bachour in Brickell just a block away from the newly Brickell City Center
Creations by Bachour
Creations by Bachour

Le Roy Rene (701 South Miami Ave. 35B – Brickell City Center)

Le Calissons at Brickell City centre
And here is the very first calisson boutique in Miami at Brickell City Centre.  You can also customize boxes in different designs.  Calissons are originally from Medieval Italy and were introduced to the French court for the second wedding of King Rene of Anjou.

Enjoy !!!

@MontserratFranco

 

Miami’s Romantic Dining Guide

We hear all the time that Miami isn’t a romantic city just because is considered mostly a party destination but in the magic city you can still find the perfect spot to dine at candlelight while overlooking at the Biscayne Bay with Miami’s fantastic skyline or maybe just that intimate and charming atmosphere.  I updated this post from years ago as of May 2017.  Restaurants have changed or closed and I wanted to keep my most recent picks up to date.  Enjoy!

The Lido Bayside Grill @ The Standard (40 Island Ave. Miami Beach)

Dining with a view at Thei Lido The Standard
Glorious views from The Lido @ The Standard Hotel & Spa.  Tip: arrive by boat (dock on site) sip on Rose all Day (preferably day because the view is just the best) Photo credit @stefmeriaux

Casa Tua (1700 James Ave. Miami Beach)

Casa Tua private dining room
Casa Tua Lifestyle, more than a charming restaurant located in a historic Miami Beach Spanish Renaissance cottage is also a members-only club on the second floor.  Enjoy superior service, Italian cuisine and great wine selection.  Reservations highly recommended.

Juvia (1111 Lincoln Road. Miami Beach)

Juvia Miami Beach
Loving rooftop dining or cocktails at sunset? Juvia in Lincoln Road is “the place” for a date night.  Tip: Make reservations in advance for an inside or outside seating with the perfect view of Miami Beach.  Photo: @JuviaMiami

Crazy about you (1155 Brickell Bay Dr. Brickell)

If you are looking for that place with a view which is affordable: “Crazy about you” maybe the answer.   Located on 1155 Brickell Bay Dr. at The Mark building with convenient valet parking on location.

Crazy about you Brickell
Romantic dining at “Crazy about You” restaurant overlooking the Biscayne Bay and Miami’s skyline.

Rusty Pelican (3201 Rickenbacker Cswy. Key Biscayne)

 

Decoy at Rusty Pelican
The romantic dining at Rusty Pelican has stunning views of Miami and fireplaces. Photo credit: David Franco

Red Fish Grill (9610 Old Cutler Rd. Coral Gables)

Lost in paradise but in your own town, that’s how you feel when you arrive to the Red Fish Grill, a romantic waterside restaurant inside Hammock Park that you will be thrilled to discover.

Matheson Hammock Park
The quiet beach at Matheson Hammock Park in Old Cutler Road is the perfect setting for a romantic walk before dining at the Red Fish Grill.
Red Fish Grill
The Red Fish Grill is a great hide away restaurant located on a historic coral construction that used to be a beach pavilion. Once you know this place it will be your best kept secret.

 

Enjoy !!!

@MontserratFranco

Miami’s cultural and gastronomic tours

With so much to do in Miami it is hard to decide where to start your day but if you are in the Downtown area, need a great cup of coffee and at the same time support your local roasters stop by Eternity Coffee Roasters on 117 SE 2nd Ave.  They have a roasterie and tasting room where you can choose your grains, make your own blends and they will roast it and brew for you on site.  I took my European friends to the tiny shop and they all agreed the coffee was superb, the espressos made just right, the aromas and the blends fantastic.

Just like in the wine world, the coffee can be tasted and appreciated, today there are more coffee connoisseurs who are showing interest in the “art of the barista” (coffee barman) So now you know, when you need your Java dose try Eternity Coffee and get the whole experience of coffee tasting.

The roaster at Eternity Coffee shop and tasting room.  Their single origin grains are mainly from Colombia from Farm direct trades.
The roaster at Eternity Coffee shop and tasting room. Their single origin grains are mainly from Colombia from Farm direct trades.
Choose, smell and taste the finest grains at Eternity Coffee roasters coming directly from the Farms in Colombia, Guatemala and other plantations in the world.
Choose, smell and taste the finest grains at Eternity Coffee roasters coming directly from the Farms in Colombia, Guatemala and other plantations in the world.
The flavor profile of each coffee is indigenous from the grain itself some of them with wild flower honey hints and herbal notes, hazelnut, milk chocolate, vainilla or tangy cranberry
The flavor profile of each coffee is indigenous from the grain itself some of them with wild flower honey hints and herbal notes, hazelnut, milk chocolate, vainilla or tangy cranberry

If you didn’t make a trip yet to Miami’s newest Museum the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) there’s no better time to do it then now and there are no excuses to be immersed in the contemporary art world with all this Museum has to offer. Arrive to the Museum by car, foot or take the Metro Mover stopping at the Museum station and you will be right there on 1103 Biscayne Blvd. Each second Saturday of the month there’s a free admission for everyone, a program sponsored by Target.

Most of the Latin American Art collection including Botero, Diego Rivera and Wilfredo Lam comes from Colombian-born developer Jorge Perez who donated $40 million in cash and art to earn naming rights.  Perez, the son of Cuban exiles, has been a major force in Miami’s urban redevelopment.

A visit to the PAMM will definitely open new ways to look at art and think twice when labeling Miami as a less cultural town.

Ai Weiwei "According to what?" retrospective at PAMM on display through mid March
Ai Weiwei “According to what?” retrospective at PAMM on display through mid March
The Museum is open from Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm.  Tickets are $12 for Adults and $8 for Seniors and Children 7-18 years old
The Museum is open from Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm. Tickets are $12 for Adults and $8 for Seniors and Children 7-18 years old
Piles of crabs installation by Chinese Master Ai Weiwei during the Opening reception of the PAMM
Piles of crabs installation by Chinese Master Ai Weiwei during the Opening reception of the PAMM

Time for lunch? Visit the Historic Miami River neighborhood, one of the oldest in Miami.  At a settlement from the early 1840’s is where you will find Garcia’s Seafood and Grill Fish Market located on 398 NW North River Dr. you will find fresh fish and seafood from the boats to your plate served with the traditional Caribbean seasonings and flavors.  For over 40 years The Garcia’s (a Cuban-born family of 11 kids) have been offering affordable dining with fresh catch grilled to order on a casual riverside setting.

Grilled Yellowtail, stone crabs sides of fried plantains (tostones), yellow rice and fried sweet plantains (maduros)
Grilled Yellowtail, stone crabs, sides of fried plantains (tostones), yellow rice and fried sweet plantains (maduros) with grilled shrimp. These side dishes are perhaps part of Miami’s Cuban traditional gastronomy
Garcia's fresh stone crab
Garcia’s fresh stone crab

Now is time to visit another great unconventional Gallery on a Historic site in Downtown Miami, CU1 Gallery at the Security Building on 117 NE 1st Ave.

The Security Building in Downtown Miami was the most imposing building at time of construction.  Constructed in the Beaux Arts architectural style,  is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
The Security Building in Downtown Miami was the most imposing building at time of construction in 1926. Constructed in the Beaux Arts architectural style, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
20140107-213406.jpg
CU1 Gallery is a photo space located inside the iconic Security Building. You can visit the gallery Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 6 pm. Free admission
20140107-213454.jpg
“Look at Me” was the first opening exhibition at CU1 Gallery where you can take a look through the photographer’s lens inside the vault at The Security Building
"Look at Me" showcased works by European photographers, most of them with extensive backgrounds in editorial and fashion advertising.
“Look at Me” showcased works by European photographers, most of them with extensive backgrounds in editorial and fashion advertising.
For the European partners of CU1 Goettlicher, Weber, Schmidt and Mueller, Downtown Miami will be facing an incredible art renaissance, it's going to happen.
For the European partners of CU1 Goettlicher, Weber, Schmidt and Mueller who believed in Miami’s art life, Downtown Miami will be facing an incredible art renaissance and it’s going to happen.

“Eye to Eye” is the current exhibition at CU1 Gallery on view until February 14 2014.  What are you waiting for? take a look at one of the newest innovative galleries in Miami.

Now get ready for the next art exhibitions on board of the SeaFair docked at the Chopin Plaza next to the Intercontinetal Hotel from January 16th to the 20th of 2014.  it is a unique experience to appreciate works of local and international artists showcasing installations, paintings, photography and sculptures.  See you on board Miami !!!

The Miami International Art Fair (MIA) is coming on board of the mega yacht SeaFair on January 16th to the 20th
The Miami International Art Fair (MIA) is coming on board of the mega yacht SeaFair on January 16th to the 20th

(C) 2014 Montserrat Franco

Best kept secrets in Downtown Miami

Take a stroll in Downtown Miami like a local and if you live in Miami discover or revisit these great spots once again. Start with a good coffee at The Urban Öxy proudly brewing Panther coffee , a local roaster located on 101 NE 2nd Ave. I really love this coffee shop where everything is made from scratch so you can have your coffee the way you want it.
Prices are reasonable and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, try some of the grill sandwiches made to order with roasted artichoke, sun-dried tomato, goat cheese, provolone, Swiss or for the sweet tooth the mini cupcake selection or the homemade oatmeal cookies with pecan, dark and white chocolate chips, cranberry or macadamia nuts, absolutely delicious.

The Urban Oxy serves Panther coffee, a Miami based specialty coffee roaster
The Urban Oxy serves Panther coffee, a Miami based specialty coffee roaster
Black chalkboards on the walls of the Urban Oxy, a coffee house with a soul of its own
Black chalkboards on the walls of the Urban Oxy, a coffee house with a soul of its own
Homemade sweets like vainilla and red velvet mini cupcakes, brigadeiros (a brazilian chocolate delight) and coconut sweets at the Urban Oxy
Homemade sweets like vainilla and red velvet mini cupcakes, brigadeiros (a brazilian chocolate delight) and coconut sweets at the Urban Oxy

Now that you’ve got your coffee and read your newspaper why not taking a visit to the Freedom Tower, just at walking distance located on 600 Biscayne Blvd. across the American Airlines Arena, the Freedom Tower is one of Miami’s magnificent landmarks constructed in 1924 on the Spanish Colonial revival architectural style, conceived originally for the Miami News, serving later as center for Cuban refugees during 1962 to 1964. Today is home of the Miami Dade College Museum of Art and Design and you can enjoy the contemporary art and photography exhibits as they are free and open to the public from Wednesdays to Sundays until 5 pm.

The Freedom Tower was modeled after the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville
The Freedom Tower was modeled after the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville, the alligators climbing on the tower were part of the “ForeverGlades” exhibition in 2013 in collaboration with Galleria Ca D’Oro Rome-Miami
Detail of the roof and chandelier Inside the majestic main lobby of the Freedom Tower
Detail of the roof and chandelier Inside the majestic main lobby of the Freedom Tower. Photo credit: David Franco
"Rituals in Haiti" the newest photography exhibition taking place at the Freedom Tower
“Rituals in Haiti” the newest photography exhibition taking place at the Freedom Tower. Photo credit: David Franco
The Mural at the Lobby on the Freedom Tower.  The Freedom Tower is an icon of faith, democracy and the generosity of the American people
The Mural at the Lobby on the Freedom Tower. The Freedom Tower is an icon of faith, democracy and the generosity of the American people

And for those who are craving of cultural things to do in Miami there are no excuses, this is exactly what we will do if we were in NYC going from one Art Gallery to another and then stopping for some coffee and cupcakes, really? At least I will.

Now having fulfilled your cultural appetite why not going for lunch just a few blocks away on another historical building of Downtown Miami, yes I am talking about ‘Soya & Pomodoro” a truly hidden gem, a place were you can seat and relax like in NYC’s SOHO while enjoying comfort Italian food on a very particular setting.

Soya & Pomodoro located on 120 NE First St. inside another historical landmark The Shoreland Arcade Building built on 1925
Soya & Pomodoro located on 120 NE First St. inside another historical landmark The Shoreland Arcade Building built on 1925
Detail on the entrance of Soya & Pomodoro restaurant.  The Shoreland Arcade Building is part of the National Register of Historic Places
Detail on the entrance of Soya & Pomodoro restaurant. The Shoreland Arcade Building is part of the National Register of Historic Places
The casual dining at Soya & Pomodoro located on the building that is the last remaining intact arcade in Downtown Miami featuring large arches and pilasters with masonry medallions exhibiting symbols of Florida's history.
The casual dining at Soya & Pomodoro located on the building that is the last remaining intact arcade in Downtown Miami featuring large arches and pilasters with masonry medallions exhibiting symbols of Florida’s history.
Absolutely amazing the "Fazzoletti di pere e formaggio" fresh pasta filled  with Taleggio cheese and fresh pears on a bed of creamy ricotta and shrimp sauce
Absolutely amazing the “Fazzoletti di pere e formaggio” fresh pasta filled with Taleggio cheese and fresh pears on a bed of creamy ricotta and shrimp sauce
The Shoreland Arcade Building constructed on the Beaux Arts architectural style,  very present in the heart of Downtown Miami
The Shoreland Arcade Building constructed on the Beaux Arts architectural style, very present in the heart of Downtown Miami

Soya & Pomodoro is also great to visit on the evenings for dinner, Thursdays
or Fridays when they have live jazz and… talking about live Jazz another
great place to visit in Downtown Miami is “Le Chat Noir” this intimate suburban spot next door to Soya & Pomodoro has anEpicurean market section were you can get your selection of cheeses and charcuterie and a bottle of French wine, then go downstairs to listen to jazz and blues truly soulful musicians.  If you are looking for
an alternative atmosphere, this is the place to be.

Le Chat Noir features live jazz and blues in the cellar on  Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays starting at 9:30
Le Chat Noir features live jazz and blues in the cellar on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays starting at 9:30
Vintage pictures and postcards on the wall going downstairs to the cellar at Le Chat Noir for live jazz.  You can order also appetizers and wine at the Bar while listening to the finest jazz music.
Vintage pictures and postcards on the wall going downstairs to the cellar at Le Chat Noir for live jazz. You can order also appetizers and wine at the Bar while listening to the finest jazz music.
Hope you enjoy this short Downtown   Miami tour for a day, keep coming to the blog for new places   to dine, shop and live a cultural life in Miami.  See you soon   !!!
(C) 2014 Montserrat Franco.  All   pictures by me, except for the ones with credits.