Tempting, Tasty Ways To Be Wooed By Tampa Bay – Forbes

Florida’s pretty city by the Bay shows off its cool personality these days at plenty of head-turning, tasty hotspots. Buzz-worthy? You bet. Beloved classics as well as razzle-dazzle newbies make a vacay in Tampa Bay deliciously fun. Here are favorites:

The Epicurean hotel lobby, where a state-of-the-art Culinary Theatre showcases classes.© Epicurean Hotel

A GREAT GOOD NIGHT  Unpack your luggage at Epicurean, an Autograph Collection Hotel in Tampa’s Hyde Park District. Hip and handsome, spacious and gracious, this chic boutique property with an eye-catching, heart-calming lobby harbors 137 contemporary guest rooms and suites. Its interior design by The Gettys Group is fashioned in serene earth tones, wine-motif accessories, appealing stonework, reclaimed wood, bead-board paneling, natural texture-rich fabrics, crushed bomber-jacket leathers, butcher-block cabinetry and cowhide rugs. Guest rooms delight with generous rain showers and pantries stashed with top-flight liquors, five half-bottle wine varietals, craft beers, espresso and artisanal snacks. Developed by Mainsail Lodging & Development and the Laxer family, owners of Tampa Bay’s landmark Bern’s Steak House across the street, this hospitality haven celebrates the tasteful life with a devotion to food and wine. Sip and quip with a sommelier in the hotel’s well-balanced, on-site wine shop. Muse with a mixologist about novel cocktails in the lobby bar.

CLASSY RECIPES  At the Epicurean Hotel, attend lively cooking demonstrations (bonus: eat the results) at its Culinary Theatre, which spotlights gifted Tampa chefs, such as Michael Buttacavoli of Cena and Beth Lukens of Cloud 9 Confections, who teaches the popular “Cupcakes & Cocktails” (video above) — replete with bartender tips.

NOSTALGIA UPDATED  Dine in the Epicurean Hotel’s Élevage restaurant, mastered by award-winning executive chef Chad Johnson. He and his accomplished chef de cuisine Jonathan Atanacio refresh time-honored fine fare with modern imagination: bronzed scallops with maque choux, verjus and Fresno chili pepper; shrimp-and-lemon grits with glossed vegetables, chervil and absinthe; and sorghum-glazed filet mignon accompanied by goat’s milk pommes purée, watercress, hen-of-the-wood mushrooms and truffle vinaigrette. Then scoot to the rooftop for late-night revelry at EDGE Social Drinkery, an al fresco lounge with city views.

Chill out by tuning into the couples room at the hotel’s Spa Evangeline.© Epicurean Hotel

SPA-LICIOUS  Epicurean Hotel’s full-service, elegant Spa Evangeline pampers with fruit scrubs, fresh herb-infused oils, an agave nectar scalp massage and grape-centric treatments, such as the “Lost In Wine Country Body Treatment” (intriguing idea, yes?) — a skin-smoothing crushed cabernet scrub, warm head-to-toe honey drizzle and steamy shower followed by hydrating, buttery-like rub.

Osteria’s tender braised octopus.© Laura Manske

CELEBRITY EATS  Italian-born, celeb chef Fabio Viviani has touched down in Tampa to serve up soothing, packed-with-flavor Italian cuisine at his new Osteria Bar & Kitchen in a Downtown see-and-be-seen, rustically refined space (with patio) — a collaboration with Lanfranco Pescante and David Anderson of Nocturnal Hospitality Group. This charismatic and funny restaurateur, cookbook author and “fan favorite” from Bravo-TV’s Top Chef Season 5 champions a necklace of eateries across the USA. Leap a deep dive into Osteria’s Mediterranean menu: housemade pastas with savory sauces and sensational seasonings; wild-caught fish and seafood; fired pizza crowned with an ample array of toppings; and slow-roasted meats. Especially notable are the Chianti-braised short ribs with creamy polenta, hazelnuts and zesty parsley gremolata; the squid ink gargarnelli with rock shrimp, cherry tomatoes, white wine and sea urchin uni butter; and rigatoni presented in an oversized Mason jar — its sauce of Parmesan crème, house-smoked bacon (can be omitted), Brussels sprouts, farmed egg yolk and Grana Padano cheese is vigorously shaken tableside by the waiter and then poured with aplomb into the serving bowl. Hungry yet? Cocktail aficionados appreciate the gusto of Osteria’s drinks, such as the Smokey Italian Mezcal and the Maple Walnut Old-Fashioned. Finish up with a Bombolini made memorable with vanilla custard, Key lime curd and chocolate ganache.

Bern’s Steak House — like no other.© Laura Manske

MEATY ICON  The boxy, white, virtually windowless exterior of the building that holds Bern’s Steak House belies the dynamic dining experience within. Step through the double set of doors and a singular Tampa luxury unfolds: immense in size and impressive in clubby adornment — ruby-red walls, dark carved woods, a golden-statue staircase, chandeliers and antique paintings. The restaurant was founded in 1956 by ambitious New York natives Bern and Gert Laxer, a husband-and-wife team whose son David, now president and owner, stays true to the family’s mission to maintain excellent eats even as the company’s purview has grown. This mesmerizing extravaganza is a go-to spot for jubilant engaged couples (or those ready to pop The Question), wedding anniversary celebrants, new job high-fivers, school graduates and birthday merry-makers. Racking up accolades galore, Bern’s Steak House won a James Beard Award in 2016 and Wine Spectator’s prestigious Grand Award annually since 1981. 

Eight rooms of various shapes and sizes seat diners. The many-paged menu with detailed cuts of beef (as well as appetizers, other entrées and sides) may take engrossing minutes to read, although waiter pros help eaters zoom in on preferred dishes. Chef de cuisine Haptead Habeb and his team keep expert reins on a bustling, galloping operation. Highlights include French onion soup, chateaubriand, rack of lamb, American red snapper à la plancha and charcoal-grilled jumbo shrimp on creamed corn and beurre blancWith dinner reservations, join an optional eye-opening tour of the kitchen and part of the massive wine cellar; there are 6,800 different selections with more than half-a-million bottles, overseen by wine director Eric Renaud and senior sommelier Brad Dixon. It is said that Bern’s owns the largest private wine collection in the world. The ornate bar — run by manager Doug Hoe with ace know-how by director of spirits Nate Wilson — delivers hundreds of stellar stirred and shaken libations every night. Upstairs is The Harry Waugh Dessert Room, named after one of Bern’s mentors, where 48 private booths with tables are encircled by floor-to-ceiling redwood wine casks. Each secluded refuge has a six-channel stereo system, which diners can switch to classical, contemporary, jazz, new age and progressive recordings as well as to live music as performed by a pianist, who tickles ivory keys nearby the maître d’ station and who will take song requests from patrons via a phone wired into their booth. Pastry chefs Amber Menendez, Heather Birr and their team of nearly 20 sweets-makers prepare approximately 50 dessert choices. The macadamia nut ice cream is a winner. At this unusual and alluring hideaway for confection consumption, more than 1,000 after-dinner drinks, cordials and dessert wines are available, plus 200 scotches.

At Rooster & The Till: Fantastic flavors mingle.© Laura Manske

SMALL PLATES, BIG IMPACT  Chef Ferrell Alvarez — a shooting star in Tampa Bay’s culinary sky — and his longtime business partner and pal Ty Rodriguez (who tunes the wine list) wow a devoted clientele and waves of eager new fans at Rooster & The Till in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood. Its visionary small plate combos are ever-evolving, even audacious: Unexpected flavors, textures, aromas and colors strategically mix and match. The awe is that such a union of diverse details work together so well. Order the charred-salty-smoky-crunchy Brussels sprouts with tasso ham and aioli; barbacoa squash with raisin mole, radish, escabeche and epazote cream; beets with avocado, mango, pepitas and chili; gnocchi with short ribs, smoked ricotta, stewed tomatoes, and spicy pickled peperonata; and lamb top round with eggplant mango amba, fermented beet, marcona almonds and skhug. The Instagram-worthy cheese plate and its accompaniments are frequently changed. Alvarez and Rodriguez’s motto is “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work.” Their chef de cuisine Brian Lampe is key to this success and the server staff rocks, too. Rooster & The Till recharges and invigorates its creative zone via fraternization with other local chefs as well — a “be better by sharing and caring” vibe. At the squared bar, tell the mixologist your favored spirit and flavors, then let a surprise cocktail be born. Eye the to-and-fro in the open kitchen — like watching a dance. In the usually packed dining room, simply decorated with artisan tiles and succulents in planters on tables, notice the steady hum of conversations, the clink of glasses, the laughter…the win.

Tampa Heights: a revival in the making.© Laura Manske

FOOD HALL HAPPY  Tampa Heights neighborhood is undergoing a rebirth (ripe for real estate investors). Its energizing new 22,000-square-foot Armature Works is set in a restored former train trolley barn perched on the bank of the Hillsborough River. This pleasing gathering place with community-building activities boasts tall ceilings, natural light, an open floor plan, communal seating (dig the leather sofas), co-working spaces and events (its Show + Tell interactive culinary and wine-tasting classroom shines) — with more than a dozen on-the-ball curated restaurants and bars, among them these three:

A warm greeting at Steelbach.© Laura Manske

BEEFEATERS  Steelbach, led by carnivore-savvy executive chef Nathan Hardin, is a Southern-inspired chophouse in Armature with an oak-and-mesquite open fire grille. Its grass-fed cattle are raised on a range about two-and-a-half-hours east of Tampa. A roaring fireplace, exposed brick walls, sumptuous bar, cushy indoor banquettes and outdoor patio tables, and an extensive whiskey collection are welcoming. Order the popovers with smoked honey butter; sweet corn soup; deviled eggs; Maud’s fried chicken; and spit-roasted chicken, too.

ITALIAN INSPIRATION  At Ava Restaurant’s outpost pizzeria at Armature, executive chef Joshua Hernandez is dedicated daily to perfecting his pizza. Using a natural sourdough starter, the dough rises over three days before he adds locally sourced ingredients and then fires the pies in a wood-burning oven. Bite, chew, smile and dream of Naples.

FRENCH FLAIR  Chef Brad Sobo at Cru Cellars — a swanky Armature bar — finesses steak frites; roast chicken; duck confit with onion soubise, fig jam and fennel straws; and roasted baby carrots with ginger, miso, basil, chimichurri and macadamias. The wine list is stocked with small batch productions from around the world; choose from more than 35 wines or seven wine flights. It also regularly hosts sociable wine education seminars. Stop by Cru Cellars for a quick swirl or stay longer for a dining whirl stacking multiple Farmer’s Platters: artisanal cheeses and charcuterie. Voila!

Columbia’s Café Room is the original 60-seat space with mahogany bar that opened in 1905.© Columbia Restaurant

LATIN LEGEND  A cornerstone of Tampa Bay’s historic, fascinating and colorful Ybor City neighborhood is Columbia — Florida’s oldest continually operating restaurant. Since 1905, the Hernandez – Gonzmart family, now in its fourth and fifth generations, has owned and managed this commitment to Spanish and Cuban cuisine, expanding the festively decorated property over the years from a bar-and-sandwich shop to more than 1,700 seats in 15 interconnected dining rooms that stretch an entire block. Gustatory trendsetting or avant-garde fusions here? Nope. Go, instead, for an authentic, comforting, special slice of Tampa past and present, cherished and venerated.

Built in 1937, Columbia’s Patio Dining Room resembles a gracious outdoor eatery, like those in Andalucía, Spain.© Columbia Restaurant

Its best-selling Original Cuban Sandwich, known as The Mixto, was first concocted in the 1890s for the influx of cigar factory employees who lived and worked in the burgeoning area. As those immigrants from many countries built futures here, the sandwich, like Tampa itself, enlarged, incorporating layers of flavors. Cubans contributed marinated roast pork. Spanish added fine ham. Sicilians supplied Genoa salami. And Germans provided Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles. Daily baked Cuban bread from the 104-year-old La Segunda Central Bakery continues to wrap together this medley of meats, brushed with butter and pressed to a toasty finish just as it was done in Columbia’s 1915 recipe. Corporate chef Geraldo “Jerry” Bayona directs a warmly dependable menu. Enjoy the Cuban black bean soup, empanadas de picadillo, stuffed piquillo peppers, shrimp and crabmeat alcachofas, red snapper Adelita, fideua de Mariscos, paella a la Valenciana, café con leche and flan. Jim Garris, Columbia Restaurant Group’s director of operations, supervises the 240-page wine list of 1,056 labels among a 50,000-plus bottle inventory. Columbia is said to have the world’s best collection of wines from Spain. Six nights every week, flamenco dancers perform. Olé!

Paintings, photos and mementos of family and friends integral to the restaurant and its community’s storied stature are on display throughout Columbia Restaurant.© Columbia Restaurant

Columbia Restaurant Group’s president Richard Gonzmart heads six additional Columbia restaurants in Florida, as well as seven other restaurant concepts, one of which is Ulele, where Native Floridian ingredients are applauded. It is located on Tampa’s recently completed Riverwalk, which has opened public access to beautified waterfront and connected pathways among museums, parks, restaurants and hotels.

Smiles across the miles: Riverwalk brings Tampa together.© Keir Magoulas

LET THEM EAT BREAD  Owned and operated by the More family for four generations, La Segunda Central Bakery in Ybor City has produced well-loved Cuban bread for more than a century. Sought-after by Tampa residents and supplied to scores of Florida restaurants, the bread is also shipped to customers across the USA and around the world.

Some of La Segunda’s employees have been with the company for decades.© La Segunda Bakery

Baked in earthen molds as they have been since La Segunda first fired-up its ovens, doughy loaves are each prepped with a single strip of palmetto frond on top, creasing a line down the middle. When the leaves curl and tinge brown, then the bread is completed.

Cuban bread: Warm, crusty and fresh from the oven.© Laura Manske

A second new café location with seating and a wider menu of sandwiches and sweets in South Tampa features a hearth oven and open-view finishing table where bakers and pastry chefs prepare many of La Segunda’s signature items — all handmade from scratch.

At The Restaurant, Oxford Exchange.© Laura Manske

ROOMS WITH VIEWS  In a brick building that tracks back 128 years, near the University of Tampa, the charming transformed space that is now Oxford Exchange exudes a gladdening ambience that feels a bit like a brainy British hub for best buds. Linger in the heady bookstore. Sip specialty coffee and loose-leaf tea. Nose around a design-forward store brimming with tableware, travel accessories, jewelry, candles, soaps and more. Then excite your appetite at The Restaurant, which sports an open kitchen, an eye-candy bold art-filled main room and a sunlit greenery conservatory with retractable glass roof. Chef Richard Anderson’s menus are accented with bright-idea ingredients that give pleasant oomph and ahhh to dishes, such as a tomato soup with Cambozola (a soft-ripened, creamy cow’s milk cheese) and cornbread croutons.

Get thee to this glorious gin joint.CW’s Gin Joint

THIRST QUENCHER  The tagline for CW’s Gin Joint is “where style and grace have an attitude” — a darling apt description of proprietor Carolyn Wilson’s vintage-retro, chandelier-glowing, classy-sexy Downtown oasis, where patrons are encouraged to dress to impress. Peruse the wide-ranging repertoire of spirits — from Armagnacs to whiskeys — and feast on nourishing nibbles (angeled eggs, oyster soup, braised mussels, trout roe on blinis, mac ‘n’ cheese and white chocolate mousse). The lights are low. The mood is high. And the live music hits all the right notes. Cheers!

For more Sunshine State info and ideas: Visit Tampa Bay and Visit Florida.

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5 things you could be allergic to over the festive season – Health24

As we’re heading into the festive season, you’re probably getting the house ready for the celebrations, writing up shopping lists and planning for guests – but bear in mind that some of them might suffer from allergies.

The human body is a wonderful thing, but sometimes our immune system goes into overdrive when something is not “quite right”. From seasonal respiratory allergies to food allergies, here are some triggers that you might need to look out for:

1. The Christmas tree (and all those decorations)

Sorry for being the Grinch, but if your artificial Christmas tree with baubles and tinsel is packed away for months, it can gather dust and mould – all triggers for respiratory allergies and asthma.

Do you prefer to use a real pine tree? While the tree itself might not necessarily cause allergies, its fragrance, pollen spores and possible mould might. According a study conducted in 2007, a Christmas tree in a room could increase the number of mould spores sixfold. A small sample of Christmas trees carried about 53 different strains of mould. According to Dr Kelly Rose from Allergy Partners, California, USA, this can cause all types of symptoms from an itchy, runny nose to coughing and sneezing.

What to do: Store artificial trees and decorations in a cool, dry place during the year and give them a good dusting outside before starting the decorating. If you’re using a real tree, shake and rinse it before bringing it into the house.

Dad and daughter decorating Christmas tree

2. All the different types of food

Where do we start? With so many different traditions, the culinary assortment is vast and there can be loads to choose from. Unfortunately, for those who suffer from food allergies, things may end up not being so festive as they never know exactly what they’re ingesting, especially at someone else’s house. Nuts, eggs, cow’s milk, shellfish, wheat, soy and sesame allergies are among the most common food allergies.

What to do: Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask your hosts what will be on the menu – you are not being fussy, you’re simply trying to avoid a potentially serious medical situation. Read the labels carefully when buying ready-made food and treats such as Christmas cake, mince pies, glazed ham and sweets as many of these contain common allergens. Make sure that your treatment is up to date and that you carry the necessary medicine or an epi-pen with you when visiting family or travelling.

If it’s your turn to host, be mindful of family members with food allergies. Ask beforehand and make sure that there are options for them. Also make sure their foods are not accidentally contaminated by any allergens.

Festive cookies

3. Your aunt’s cat (or dog)

Pet allergies are caused by their dander that can release dust and tiny bits of allergens into the air. These allergies are common and can cause watery, itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing.

According a previous Health24 article, cat allergies are more common than dog allergies. The reason for this is a specific protein found in cat hair. Cat allergies are triggered by the overreaction of the immune system to a protein called FEL d 1.

And while your own pets might not trigger your allergies, someone else’s cat or dog could do so. 

What to do: Asking a relative to remove their pet from the scene might not be appreciated, so rather take your antihistamines well before the visit and wash your hands frequently, especially after handling any animals.

Hosts, be mindful of those with pet allergies by ensuring that rugs, carpets, couches and linen are cleaned properly. Make the guest room a pet-free zone if you have someone with allergies spending the night.

cat perching over table

4. Gifts

Never look a gift horse in the mouth but be careful of what you put in your mouth or on your skin if you don’t know the ingredients. From cosmetics and bath products, edible treats, soft toys and novelty items, the numbers of allergens are endless. Even wrapping paper or adhesive can cause an adverse reaction on the skin.

What to do: If you have a specific allergy and you receive a gift that might cause a flare-up (e.g. a scented candle, a bath product or chocolate-coated almonds), accept it politely but never use or eat anything without first checking the ingredients.

When you are buying gifts and you know someone has a skin allergy or hay fever, refrain from buying them cosmetics or fragranced products.

Man with unwanted gift

5. The sun (and everything that goes with it)

The festive season in the Southern Hemisphere is associated with long summer days around the pool or on the beach. But summer fun can turn into an uncomfortable nightmare if you have an allergic reaction to the sun – a very real condition. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity) can cause your immune system to react and cause an allergic reaction, often with symptoms such as an itchy, painful rash or even hives. Other factors such as sunscreen or chlorinated water can also cause a skin reaction.

What to do: Stay out of direct sunlight if you are prone to photosensitivity. If you are taking any form of antibiotic, check whether this can make you sensitive to the sun. Stick to a brand of sunscreen that you are familiar with and won’t cause an allergic skin reaction.

Family running on beach

Image credits: iStock

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Remembrances of Christmases past: Wild fowl, weeping willow and Junkanoo – Cayman Compass

Trees cut fresh from the beach and decorated with shells. The sweet aromas of turtle or wild fowl cooking in the kitchen caboose. The glow of heavy cakes baking on an open fire. The sights and sounds of a Cayman Christmas have changed dramatically over the decades. From fearsome Junkanoo masks to the gruesome spectacle of draining and butchering the cow for Christmas beef, some of the island’s favorite traditions are being kept alive this festive season.

Caymanians harbor many Christmas traditions that have persisted into the present day. One of them was not, however, a shortage of Christmas trees.

Long before Cayman Islands residents began importing exotic firs and pines, Caymanians had their own special wild trees to symbolize the yuletide season.

Finding and cutting your own “real” Christmas tree was a tradition everyone looked forward to in every household back in the day.

Sometimes it was a willow or casuarina tree, or a rosemary bush – decorated with red ladybug seeds, seashells, stringed popcorn, silver thatch ornaments, cloth dollies, painted sea shells, wooden toys, wild flowers or strips of colored cloth.

A few lit candles were placed on the window ledge to illuminate the tree and surrounding area.

A faint trail of smoke from a smoldering fire pan, lit near the doorway to keep the mosquitoes at bay, gave the tree a smoky look, almost like a light covering of snow.

Harvesting the Christmas tree involved work, trekking the beach and getting outside for some good old-fashioned seasonal fun.

It was always up to the children to scout out the best-looking tree, which could sometimes take hours and a lot of discussion.

Either the tree was too skinny, was too big to carry, did not have enough branches or was just too small, as everyone came up with their idea as to what the perfect Christmas tree should look like.

Dragging the tree back home through the sand often tore off many of the branches.

On the way home, empty paint cans were filled with white sand to plant the tree in and to decorate the yard.

Most families did not have much money and store-bought items were scarce. Come Christmas morning, a mix of presents wrapped in brown paper and adorned with colorful thatch string could be found under the tree, containing perhaps sets of playing Jacks, boxes of Cracker Jack with their surprise gifts, wooden trucks, stitched dollies, slates and pencils, flower sack dresses or khaki pants.

Caymanians enjoy a Christmas meal in earlier days.

No one was forgotten at the Christmas tree gathering. Children in the community would make a penny hauling a tree and a penny for each can of white sand delivered to a neighbor’s house.

My childhood friend Martin Bodden recalls hunting the perfect Christmas tree.

“A couple of days before Christmas, my parents would head to South Sound where some of the prettiest willow trees could be found,” he said.

“Most Caymanians will tell you, the best trees were always found around a cemetery. It was also the most feared place that most Caymanians, whether young or old, went to cut a tree.”

Begging his daddy not to cut the tree so close to a graveyard just fell on deaf ears.

He remembers his mother using a pan filled with white sand and rocks to keep the tree upright. It had to be watered each day, so it would keep fresh.

“I look back at those beautiful days with mixed emotions … thoughts of fearing the dead, old people, and how it used to be. Sadly, each year we use an artificial tree to decorate, it’s not the same. One day, I will go back to cutting the tree … that’s where the spirit of Christmas all began for me,” he said.

Christmas preparations

Bodden Town resident Neville McCoy, age 79, remembers the Christmas days of his childhood as being magical – it was “so quiet you could hear a pin drop,” he said.

Christmas preparations started with the “backing” of white sand in paint cans from the beach.

Junkanoo was used to scare people in a spirit of good fun while collecting money for the church.

The sand was collected during moonlit nights and sold around the community for a penny. Sometimes, the sand was carried to homes as far as Lower Valley in Bodden Town. Three trips a night for a week for a fee of sixpence, he said.

The men in the neighborhood would cut “grass fields” and get paid one cow when the job was done. The cow was divided among the men who participated, Mr. McCoy said.

The houses also had to be painted, new flour sack curtains hung on the windows, plantain leaf bedding restuffed with fresh dry leaves, firewood collected, new shag rugs made for the floor, and the oil lamps topped up with kerosene.

Paint could not be bought those days, so residents made their own from a mixture of “white lime,” sea coral and coloring powder to whitewash the house.

Yard cleaning and the spreading of white sand was also a big deal just before Christmas.

The piles of white sand had to be raked evenly over the ground at the front of the house and the walkway lined with fresh conch shells. No one dared to step on the sand after it was evenly raked, Mr. McCoy said.

The exciting part came just before Christmas Eve, when families would sweep the sand and make it smooth. For the children, playing in the freshly piled white sand Christmas morning was a treat.

To get children to bed, parents would tell them that, if they were not asleep, the mysterious entity named “Junkanoo” would come calling instead of Santa. But by the crack of dawn, everyone was awake and under the Christmas tree.

Traditional foods and music

Special foods and seasonal music were also a big part of the holiday celebrations, Mr. McCoy said.

As Christmas approached, families obtained whatever they could to prepare for the feast.

He said in those days there were no fridges, nor gas or electric stoves, but mostly fire huts.

This wall mural, painted by Joyce Hoff, at the Bodden Town Mission House shows what Bodden Town looked like in the 1800’s, featuring a wattle and daub house, a caboose, a white sand yard and conch shells.

Some people had wood stoves, and the men would cut firewood and put it by the roadside for sale. People would come from all parts of the island to buy the wood to use for fuel, for cooking or for burning to keep the mosquitoes away.

Getting nearer to Christmas, farmers would go to the plantation to harvest crops. Sweet potatoes, corn, cassava, yams, breadfruits, sorrel and watermelons were favorites for Christmas.

The air was flooded with sweet aromas from freshly baked cakes and breads, stew beef, rabbit, wild fowl, turtle or stew pork cooked in the outside kitchen caboose. Oddly, although eaten the rest of the year round, hardly any fish dishes were seen at a Christmas venue.

Several weeks before Christmas, Caymanians would bake the traditional “heavy cakes,” made from cassava, yam, sweet potato, pumpkin or breadfruit. Basically, any produce the men would bring from the land or from what the women grew around the house were used to create this dense and sticky sweet treat.

Everyone in town claimed their heavy cake was the best, even when there was no recipe to be had. Most bakers just said, “Add a dash of this” and “a pinch of that,” and “Everything will be just fine.”

Traditional heavy cakes are made by grating the root, adding flour, spices, sugar, salt and coconut milk and baking for hours over coals in a cast iron pot on a wood fire.

At almost every house in the community, you could see the glow from the outside fire where the heavy cakes were baking.

“Those who didn’t bake had no need to worry. Everyone around would bring over a piece at Christmastime,” Mr. McCoy said.

In West Bay, Chris Christian recalls his grandfather Andrew Powery digging a hole in the ground for grandma Ellen to bake her cassava heavy cake in a cast iron Dutch pot.

He said a hole was dug in the cliff rock, maybe 2 feet wide and one foot deep. Dried grape tree or logwood branches were added to the hole and burned into coals.

Phillip Sciamonte and children Malachi and Sari drag a Christmas tree from the beach. – Photo: Jewel Levy

While the fire was burning, grandma Ellen was in the “out kitchen” preparing the cassava mixture.

The pot was placed on the coals in the hole, more coals covered the pot sides and a sheet of zinc with coals was placed on the pot top. “That was the easy part,” Mr. Christian said.

“Granny spent several hours making sure the fire was a constant temperature by adding coals and taking time to baste the cake with a mixture of coconut milk and sugar.”

Basting was a necessary technique used for keeping the cassava cake moist while cooking in those days, Mr. Christian said.

“We just couldn’t wait for a piece, and hung around taking in the delightful aroma.”

Mr. Christian said his favorite part of the cake was the scraping from the pot bottom and the sugary sticky pieces left around the pot sides.

For him it seemed it took forever for the cake to cool, but once this was done, it was served with fresh boiled cow’s milk or sorrel.

Cows were butchered on Christmas Eve or a day before.

The men would kill the cow and hang it to drain, and butchering was carried out early in the morning under the grape trees on the beach. This was because shopkeeper Logan Bodden, who was the meat inspector in the Bodden Town community, had to inspect the meat before it went on sale.

“Mr. Logan didn’t know a horse from a cow, much less if it was good for consumption or not,” Mr. McCoy said with a laugh as he explained how as health inspector, Mr. Bodden had to be given a choice lot of meat as his fee.

“The saying was at the time, ‘Don’t touch a thing until Mr. Logan comes.’”

Santa makes a Christmas visit to Cayman in earlier days.

Before Mr. Bodden came to carry out the inspection, the men would cut meat from the cow’s neck, make up a fire under the sea grape trees and cook up a big pot of beef stew seasoned with shallots, bird peppers, and salt and pepper. This was eaten with either roast, boiled or steamed soft or waxed cassava, pumpkin, sweet potato or breadfruit. Bammy, a sticky flatbread made from peeled cassava grated, squeezed, pan fried and then soaked in beef stew gravy was also enjoyed by the older folks.

“My, what a treat that was … We had those elderly people who could prepare the beef so good it would make you lick your fingers. Beef was only had once a year and that was at Christmas, and everyone was anxious for a taste,” Mr. McCoy said.

The kids would hang stockings over the bed. Sometimes those stockings on Christmas morning would contain a gig [spinning top] if it was available, or a yo-yo, or sometimes, if the parents could afford it, a little toy gun, which looked like the “real McCoy” and gave off quite a bang when it was fired, he said.

After all the preparations for Christmas were completed, people started having fun by attending numerous quadrille “kitchen dances” around the community and visiting friends and family in other districts.

Caymanians would gather at neighbors’ homes and have kitchen dances with whatever homemade musical instruments they could find. Those days, it could be the fiddle, the flute (made from a papaya stalk punched with holes), homemade drums stretched tight with cow skin, pots, pans, maracas, graters and forks. “It sounded good too,” Mr. McCoy said.

Christmas caroling was also a part of the Christmas traditions. Jolly bands of churchgoers, dressed in knitted shawls and long frocks, went door-to-door spreading the spirit of Christmas through hymns such as “Deck the Halls,” “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” or “We Three Kings.”

Christmas morning

On Christmas morning, the most delicious breakfast awaited: freshly baked bread and Anchor butter, fried fish, Jamaican cocoa spiked with fresh cow’s milk and warm eggnog, and heavy cake. By midmorning, the women were drinking sorrel while eating spiced Christmas cake and preparing clothes for Christmas church.

The men prepared their fedora hats and jackets while savoring a spiked-up version of sorrel. Other men in the community gathered under the grape trees at the beach behind Miss Lorna Bodden’s shop to drink and retell old stories.

Ann Walton prepares the fire to bake a cassava cake. – Photo: Jewel Levy

Christmas Day was a holy day, said Mr. McCoy. There was no one on the streets after church. After Christmas service, families gathered at home to celebrate and enjoy the Christmas feasts everyone had been preparing leading up to the holiday.

The rest of the day was either spent visiting friends in other districts or quietly respecting the day.

The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, was nothing special – just another day for most residents. Only Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day were celebrated, according to Mr. McCoy.

New Year’s Day Junkanoo

Early in the morning on New Year’s Day, Caymanians in Bodden Town celebrated Junkanoo as they prepared for the New Year’s Day Garden Party at the Manse.

“Few people are alive today who can tell us where this age-old tradition came from, but I can say it dates way back,” Mr. McCoy said.

The ladies in their bonnets or hats and long plaid dresses and the men in khaki and bowler hats made a charming panorama on the grass as they enjoyed the joyous occasion with old friends and family.

For the Junkanoo, a few men in the community, especially the men from Gun Square, would dress up in costumes made with whatever material was handy – bits and pieces of brightly colored fabric, cow’s skin, seaweed and sea fans, and other discarded items.

The ghastly Junkanoo face mask was made from a dried-out whitewashed cow’s head. Pieces of dried coconut bark were used for the hair and beard. An old straw hat tied with thatch string finished the get-up.

“We were really scared of the Junkanoos as they came riding down the street, especially when it was getting dark” Mr. McCoy said.

Blowing cow horns, banging on homemade cowskin drums and shaking tambourines, the Junkanoos would parade through the district collecting money for the church with a band of revelers in tow.

Those were made up of adults and children following the horse as they wove their way through the streets of the community on their way to the Webster Memorial United Church where the New Year’s Garden Party was being held.

Caymanians enjoy a Christmas meal in earlier days.

The garden party was an amazing event and one that was waited upon all year with great anticipation. It was exciting and great fun, especially for us children who looked forward to watching the ladies dance the Maypole.

A main draw was the town’s auctioneer selling off the most prized produce and fruits. For the occasion, everyone had saved the best of produce, craft or homemade food to be on display during auction time.

Some overzealous bidders often paid triple for what the produce was worth, because they knew all the proceeds would go to a good cause, the church fund.

The children also got to sample the delicious homemade peppermint and coconut candies and cakes.

The Junkanoo was the highlight of the whole holiday season, Mr. McCoy said. “If there were 10 cars on the island, all 10 of them would be in Bodden Town for the party on New Year’s Day,” he said.

A dance at the Town Hall, the lighting of lots of firecrackers, thunderbolts and cherry bombs wrapped in decorated Chinese paper, food and drinks ended the season’s festivities with a bang.

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The Best Hotels in the World: 2019 Gold List – Condé Nast Traveler

Remember when some places used to call themselves art hotels, for the sake of a few second-rate daubings on the walls? Well, this opened in 2013, a key player in Oslo’s waterside reboot, and has the sort of collection many urban galleries would kill for. There’s a genuflecting bronze by Antony Gormley outside by the revolving doors, a Julian Opie animation in the lift, and you’ll spot pieces by Warhol, Richard Prince, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Tony Cragg dotted around the public spaces. The Thief is the work of Petter Stordalen, who drives a biofuel-powered Ferrari and has banned bacon in his hotels for sustainability reasons. It straddles the water on the reclaimed islet of Tjuvholmen, a sheeny-shiny place of glinting bridges and new builds, many of which are home to small independent galleries—though the big-hitter is the neighboring Astrup Fearnley, from where much of the hotel’s artwork is borrowed. The spa and pool are accessed via a secret underground tunnel—locals come for the Sauna Gass experience, inspired by Dr Kneipp’s immune-system-boosting methods, with a dip in the icy Oslofjord followed by a sauna using essential oils. Rooms are clad in touchy-feely textures, golds, and grays, with picture windows to slide wide open for gulps of Nordic sea air from the harbor below. (Two of the biggest rooms were designed by Lee Broom and Peter Blake, riffing on Fifties and Sixties London—a cubist coffee table here, a geometric-patterned sofa there.) The rooftop restaurant was recently revamped, British chef David Taylor has fun with regional ingredients (scallops, turnips, monkfish, lamb neck) at the FoodBar restaurant, the bar has helped up Oslo’s cocktail game (try the Michael Jackson and Bubbles—rum, banana cordial, green tea, Champagne, in a ceramic monkey head). London-born Dominic Gorham is the personable go-to guy for guests, taking it to the stage to MC regular unplugged music sessions. It’s a 15-minute walk from the town center—this is a city for striding out, along the Aker Brygge waterfront, over the glacier-like Opera House and up for more sculptures in the hillside Ekeburg park. The Thief’s new art collection is set to land soon, along with a sister hotel in town. Oslo’s overflowing oil wealth meant this was a place that never bothered itself unduly with drawing visitors, but that’s changed and it now rocks a go-getting international outlook—this is the best place to feel you’re part of that.

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Vegan Linoleum 'Lino' Leather Soft and Durable Enough to Replace 'Rumen' Cow Hide – LIVEKINDLY

Designer Don Kwaning has created a material that mimics leather but is entirely vegan, architecture and design magazine Dezeen reports.

Called Lino Leather, as the name suggests, the material is made from linoleum, commonly used as flooring. Kwaning, who specializes in finding creative ways to use natural materials, teamed up with flooring manufacturer Forbo to generate new methods to treat linoleum to make it more versatile.

The Lino Leather comes in two forms. The first type, which is thicker than the other, is similar to rumen leather, usually made from a cow’s stomach. Kwaning has used this material, which has folds and a honeycomb structure, for wall panelling that has acoustic dampening properties, Dezeen reports.

The second Lino Leather kind is softer, closely replicating saddle leather, and could be used widely in commercial settings.

The materials are double-sided, unlike linoleum flooring. To do this, Kwaning placed the textile backing that is usually needed to stabilize linoleum in between two layers of his vegan leather. He believes it could be used in furniture design and upholstery.

According to Kwaning, linoleum, which has existed for more than 100 years, is an “overlooked material” with “great future potential.” 

“Many people don’t even know it’s made from only natural materials,” he added.

Linoleum is made from plant-based oils and resins combined with minerals or fine powders, like ground cork. It is then placed onto a textile backing, like canvas, and tinted various colours.

“I took out all the pigments to give the material more depth, which also gives the Linoleum Leather a more natural look since the materials that it is made from show in the colour,” Kwaning told Dezeen. “The colours that you see are the colours of the wood-flour which is one of the Linoleum Leather components.”

“I like projects that aim to change the industry by introducing new ecological substitutes for existing materials that are toxic or harm animals,” Kwaning said. He has also used wetland weed to make furniture and packing.

Kwaning joins other innovators using vegan materials to craft cruelty-free leather. Hugo Boss uses pineapple to make leather men’s shoes, coconut water has been used to make leather-style handbags, and rugs made from palm leaves could replace cow-hide leather carpeting. German sneaker brand nat-2 uses coffee grounds to make leather shoes – they even smell like coffee.

The vegan leather industry is only becoming more popular, with the market set to be worth $85 billion by 2025.


Image Credit: Don Kwaning | Dezeen

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Vegan Linoleum ‘Lino’ Leather Soft and Durable Enough to Replace 'Rumen' Cow Hide

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Vegan Linoleum ‘Lino’ Leather Soft and Durable Enough to Replace 'Rumen' Cow Hide

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Designer Don Kwaning created Lino Leather, made from linoleum, as a cruelty-free, vegan alternative to rumen leather, made from the stomach of a cow.

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Jemima Webber

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LIVEKINDLY

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Rug Report: Creature(-free) comforts are popular – Home Accents Today

Creature DomadaDomada’s cowhide rug

Without sacrificing good taste, area rugs are joining the list of vegan goods.

No animal products or byproducts used here.

“We’re capitalizing on cow-friendly hides,” said Blake Dennard, senior vice president of Kaleen Rugs. “Our new Chaps Collection answers to the growing population on the vegan side.”

Chaps, which Kaleen launched at the October High Point Market, is a collection of replica cowhides handmade in India of viscose and wool.

“No cowhides were used in the making of this product,” the company emphasized.

The same is true for Kas Rugs’ new indoor-outdoor selection of animal-inspired rugs. The Provo

Creature Capel SafariCapel Rugs Safari Leopard

Collection encompasses textured machine-woven rugs made of UV-treated polypropylene in a variety of spotted skin patterns.

“Our new Provo Collection has some animal inspiration behind it,” said Brianne Coradini, Kas Rugs’ marketing associate. “Faux animal designs are still a hot trend that is not going away. We [weren’t] offering any animal patterned outdoor rugs, so Provo [now] rounds out our assortment perfectly.”

Capel Rugs’ Luxe Shag collection of animal looks presents “a new take on shags” with its longer acrylic/polyester fibers. Plus, they “can even be cut into a pelt shape,” according to Cameron Capel, president of sales and marketing.

The company has several other species of animal-friendly rugs, like the machine-made Leopard that is based on a textile design by Kevin O’Brien, a licensee of Capel Rugs for the past eight years.

Animal prints, O’Brien said, “connect with us on several levels. Even though they have a practical purpose for the animal, they are naturally elegant and by definition perfect.”

He continued: “In our DNA, there is a connection to the wild origins of our own species and the wildness still very much present in these animals. We revere the primal nature of these beautiful animals and know that we are not really that far removed from them.”

For her latest introduction with Loloi Rugs, designer Justina Blakeney of “Jungalow” fame dreamed up a contemporary faux-tiger series in both native and exotic colorways. Ironically named Feroz, which means fierce in Spanish, this tame version of animal skin is hand-loomed by artisans in India and then feline formed.

Creature loloi verticalFeroz by Justina Blakeney x Loloi

Blakeney said the idea for Feroz came from an antique Tibetan prayer rug found at a flea market.

“I researched the history of these prayer rugs and learned that they tell a rich story of Tibetan culture and are full of Buddhist symbolism. They are traditionally on the smaller side and can be prohibitively expensive,” she said. “I wanted to put my own spin on them while paying homage to their Tibetan roots. My reinterpretation is a larger scale rug made of 100% wool and is a fanciful depiction of a tiger — an animal I love.”

Domada is a newcomer to the upscale rug industry, paving its path with a niche business: cowhide-shaped vintage rugs.

Launched earlier this year as an e-commerce business and now expanding into wholesale, Domada sources its products from Morocco, India and Turkey, with more countries currently being explored. Most of its rugs average about 70 years old and feature a range of classic and traditional Oriental designs, and many are one-of-a-kind.

“I want my pieces to be unusual. I look through thousands and thousands of rugs looking for special pieces,” founder Katherine Stevens said. “Hides bring an organic sense to spaces, but many responsive to this aesthetic shy away from them out of respect for the natural world,” Stevens said. “Conscious consumers are driving design away from doing harm, and our fusion of traditional, ethnic rugs with hide and skin shapes speaks perfectly to this market. Domada is proud to offer its cruelty-free collection. I love that we can make something special that feels organic but doesn’t harm any animals.”

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Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways – See It Now – Lonny Magazine

Photographed by Maria del Rio.

Whether you think of a rug as a starting point or a finishing touch, there’s no denying its power to transform a room. One of our favorite styles that can work in a variety of spaces? Cowhide rugs. It truly is a jack-of-all-trades. Layer a faux cowhide rug over a classic woven sisal, for instance, and a traditional space feels infinitely chicer. On its own, a cowhide rug could be the subtle dose of pattern you need to round out otherwise busy or eclectic decor.

In other words, every well-dressed room needs a rug. It serves a grounding stylish addition, while also providing texture and warmth to your floors. Not only are they a trendy and easy stand-in for a full-out reno, but a faux cowhide may be an easier way to incorporate one than you think.

A hot home-decor ticket in Argentina and originally fashioned out of cured cow skin (hence the name), modern and more humane versions of the cowhide rug are typically made of polyester with a suede backing underneath, and patterns that are either acid washed, natural, or stenciled. The big draw of the cowhide has been how durable it is (spotted versions are fantastic at camouflaging stains), but its low profile and wide-ranging colors and patterns mean it also blends seamlessly with any decor style. Yes, that even means the most minimalist spaces.

To prove it, we’ve rounded up five rooms that fit a variety of decor aesthetics that use a cowhide rug as its centerpiece. From a Hollywood Regency-style living room that is grounded with a neutral hue to a colorful entry stairway lined with a funky cowhide runner, this design proves its flexibility and durability.

The look may be distinct, but few rugs prove to be as versatile. Behold, the case for the cowhide:

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Becky Kimball.

Eclectic

A zebra-print cowhide runner lines the stairway in the entryway of BURU founder Morgan Hutchinson’s Salt Lake City abode. Hutchinson, who runs the e-commerce site with her husband, Brett, mused on her home’s perfect pattern clash in a chat with Lonny. “Color makes me happy,” she says. “I would like to think it also makes my family and guests happy when they are in the space. My dream word for others to describe our house would be just that — HAPPY.”

Hutchinson describes it as a box of Skittles; we like call it eclecticism 101.

Back in the entryway, an equally graphic ikat rug is a surprising complement to the cowhide runner, while a balloon display ups the liveliness even further.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Ball & Albanese.

Beach House

Pop art and a sofa upholstered in a classic ticking stripe already feel like an unexpected combination, but fashion photographer Ben Watts threw a steamer trunk and a cowhide rug into the mix of his living room decor. Throughout the beach house in Montauk, New York, industrial flourishes serve as a counterpoint (and, no doubt, a topic of conversation) to the home’s more New England-style elements.

According to Hamptons Magazine, Watt’s collaborated with interior designer Staci Dover to furnish the house with classic pieces that would stand the test of time (oh hey, cowhide), later punching it up with his own collection of art and accents. Among them: A hot pink boom box, Day of the Dead-inspired works, and his own photographs, of course.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Jenna Peffley.

Traditional

How do you pull together splashy pieces like a Vladimir Kagan floating sofa, vintage chairs from Arredamenti Corallo, and a painting by Danvy Pham? Gather them around a black and white cowhide rug as Bare Collection’s Jeet Sohal did inside her Hancock Park home.

The rug’s colorway feels just as classic as the home’s formal features — think: wood panelling, gold-painted molding, and leaded glass windows — while giving the living room a little edge. While pops of mint, purple, and red bring the space into an eclectic palette, the natural rug ties it all together.

In fact, Sohal, who decorated the home herself, managed to strike the perfect balance between stately design and modern approachability, and she says she kept it all cohesive by using a bold color palette throughout the house.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Genevieve Garruppo.

Minimalist Meets Scandinavian

For some it’s considered minimalist, for others it’s bohemian Scandinavian. What’s indisputable is how this bedroom’s bone cowhide rug anchors this space.

“We wanted it to feel like the best parts of Venice — easy, livable, and casual,” designer Leanne Ford says of the California home she outfitted for fashion designer Amber Farr, founder of Ruby Skye.

All-white walls created a dreamy backdrop for Ford to layer on all the texture. Ford says this is the secret to a minimalist home with personality. “You don’t have to have much in your home for it to feel warm,” she shares. “The key is woods, stones, cozy textures, and shades of white for all of that to shine off of.” The result is a dreamy space perfect for cozying up at the end of the day.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Winnie Au.

Modern

It’s hard to imagine anything but the black-and-white zebra rug Victoria De La Fuente chose as the centerpiece of her West Village living room. But in actuality, any variation of a cowhide rug would work alongside the clean-lined furniture and millennial  pink walls throughout the cozy apartment.

Blending contemporary artwork with a few mid-century modern flourishes and loads of girly accents, De La Fuente says her home is an extension of her personality.

One other influence that helps tie the look together? Travel. “Having lived in over seven different cities [over the years], I try to get something local at every place I live at or visit,” she says. Thankfully, cowhides are also easy to tuck away into a spare suitcase.

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5 Ways To Use Cowhide Rugs — No Matter Your Decor Style – Lonny Magazine

Photographed by Maria del Rio.

Whether you think of a rug as a starting point or a finishing touch, there’s no denying its power to transform a room. One of our favorite styles that can work in a variety of spaces? Cowhide rugs. It truly is a jack-of-all-trades. Layer a faux cowhide rug over a classic woven sisal, for instance, and a traditional space feels infinitely chicer. On its own, a cowhide rug could be the subtle dose of pattern you need to round out otherwise busy or eclectic decor.

In other words, every well-dressed room needs a rug. It serves a grounding stylish addition, while also providing texture and warmth to your floors. Not only are they a trendy and easy stand-in for a full-out reno, but a faux cowhide may be an easier way to incorporate one than you think.

A hot home-decor ticket in Argentina and originally fashioned out of cured cow skin (hence the name), modern and more humane versions of the cowhide rug are typically made of polyester with a suede backing underneath, and patterns that are either acid washed, natural, or stenciled. The big draw of the cowhide has been how durable it is (spotted versions are fantastic at camouflaging stains), but its low profile and wide-ranging colors and patterns mean it also blends seamlessly with any decor style. Yes, that even means the most minimalist spaces.

To prove it, we’ve rounded up five rooms that fit a variety of decor aesthetics that use a cowhide rug as its centerpiece. From a Hollywood Regency-style living room that is grounded with a neutral hue to a colorful entry stairway lined with a funky cowhide runner, this design proves its flexibility and durability.

The look may be distinct, but few rugs prove to be as versatile. Behold, the case for the cowhide:

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Becky Kimball.

Eclectic

A zebra-print cowhide runner lines the stairway in the entryway of BURU founder Morgan Hutchinson’s Salt Lake City abode. Hutchinson, who runs the e-commerce site with her husband, Brett, mused on her home’s perfect pattern clash in a chat with Lonny. “Color makes me happy,” she says. “I would like to think it also makes my family and guests happy when they are in the space. My dream word for others to describe our house would be just that — HAPPY.”

Hutchinson describes it as a box of Skittles; we like call it eclecticism 101.

Back in the entryway, an equally graphic ikat rug is a surprising complement to the cowhide runner, while a balloon display ups the liveliness even further.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Ball & Albanese.

Beach House

Pop art and a sofa upholstered in a classic ticking stripe already feel like an unexpected combination, but fashion photographer Ben Watts threw a steamer trunk and a cowhide rug into the mix of his living room decor. Throughout the beach house in Montauk, New York, industrial flourishes serve as a counterpoint (and, no doubt, a topic of conversation) to the home’s more New England-style elements.

According to Hamptons Magazine, Watt’s collaborated with interior designer Staci Dover to furnish the house with classic pieces that would stand the test of time (oh hey, cowhide), later punching it up with his own collection of art and accents. Among them: A hot pink boom box, Day of the Dead-inspired works, and his own photographs, of course.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Jenna Peffley.

Traditional

How do you pull together splashy pieces like a Vladimir Kagan floating sofa, vintage chairs from Arredamenti Corallo, and a painting by Danvy Pham? Gather them around a black and white cowhide rug as Bare Collection’s Jeet Sohal did inside her Hancock Park home.

The rug’s colorway feels just as classic as the home’s formal features — think: wood panelling, gold-painted molding, and leaded glass windows — while giving the living room a little edge. While pops of mint, purple, and red bring the space into an eclectic palette, the natural rug ties it all together.

In fact, Sohal, who decorated the home herself, managed to strike the perfect balance between stately design and modern approachability, and she says she kept it all cohesive by using a bold color palette throughout the house.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Genevieve Garruppo.

Minimalist Meets Scandinavian

For some it’s considered minimalist, for others it’s bohemian Scandinavian. What’s indisputable is how this bedroom’s bone cowhide rug anchors this space.

“We wanted it to feel like the best parts of Venice — easy, livable, and casual,” designer Leanne Ford says of the California home she outfitted for fashion designer Amber Farr, founder of Ruby Skye.

All-white walls created a dreamy backdrop for Ford to layer on all the texture. Ford says this is the secret to a minimalist home with personality. “You don’t have to have much in your home for it to feel warm,” she shares. “The key is woods, stones, cozy textures, and shades of white for all of that to shine off of.” The result is a dreamy space perfect for cozying up at the end of the day.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Winnie Au.

Modern

It’s hard to imagine anything but the black-and-white zebra rug Victoria De La Fuente chose as the centerpiece of her West Village living room. But in actuality, any variation of a cowhide rug would work alongside the clean-lined furniture and millennial  pink walls throughout the cozy apartment.

Blending contemporary artwork with a few mid-century modern flourishes and loads of girly accents, De La Fuente says her home is an extension of her personality.

One other influence that helps tie the look together? Travel. “Having lived in over seven different cities [over the years], I try to get something local at every place I live at or visit,” she says. Thankfully, cowhides are also easy to tuck away into a spare suitcase.

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Source link

Rug Report: Creature(-free) comforts are popular – Home Accents Today (press release) (blog)

Creature DomadaDomada’s cowhide rug

Without sacrificing good taste, area rugs are joining the list of vegan goods.

No animal products or byproducts used here.

“We’re capitalizing on cow-friendly hides,” said Blake Dennard, senior vice president of Kaleen Rugs. “Our new Chaps Collection answers to the growing population on the vegan side.”

Chaps, which Kaleen launched at the October High Point Market, is a collection of replica cowhides handmade in India of viscose and wool.

“No cowhides were used in the making of this product,” the company emphasized.

The same is true for Kas Rugs’ new indoor-outdoor selection of animal-inspired rugs. The Provo

Creature Capel SafariCapel Rugs Safari Leopard

Collection encompasses textured machine-woven rugs made of UV-treated polypropylene in a variety of spotted skin patterns.

“Our new Provo Collection has some animal inspiration behind it,” said Brianne Coradini, Kas Rugs’ marketing associate. “Faux animal designs are still a hot trend that is not going away. We [weren’t] offering any animal patterned outdoor rugs, so Provo [now] rounds out our assortment perfectly.”

Capel Rugs’ Luxe Shag collection of animal looks presents “a new take on shags” with its longer acrylic/polyester fibers. Plus, they “can even be cut into a pelt shape,” according to Cameron Capel, president of sales and marketing.

The company has several other species of animal-friendly rugs, like the machine-made Leopard that is based on a textile design by Kevin O’Brien, a licensee of Capel Rugs for the past eight years.

Animal prints, O’Brien said, “connect with us on several levels. Even though they have a practical purpose for the animal, they are naturally elegant and by definition perfect.”

He continued: “In our DNA, there is a connection to the wild origins of our own species and the wildness still very much present in these animals. We revere the primal nature of these beautiful animals and know that we are not really that far removed from them.”

For her latest introduction with Loloi Rugs, designer Justina Blakeney of “Jungalow” fame dreamed up a contemporary faux-tiger series in both native and exotic colorways. Ironically named Feroz, which means fierce in Spanish, this tame version of animal skin is hand-loomed by artisans in India and then feline formed.

Creature loloi verticalFeroz by Justina Blakeney x Loloi

Blakeney said the idea for Feroz came from an antique Tibetan prayer rug found at a flea market.

“I researched the history of these prayer rugs and learned that they tell a rich story of Tibetan culture and are full of Buddhist symbolism. They are traditionally on the smaller side and can be prohibitively expensive,” she said. “I wanted to put my own spin on them while paying homage to their Tibetan roots. My reinterpretation is a larger scale rug made of 100% wool and is a fanciful depiction of a tiger — an animal I love.”

Domada is a newcomer to the upscale rug industry, paving its path with a niche business: cowhide-shaped vintage rugs.

Launched earlier this year as an e-commerce business and now expanding into wholesale, Domada sources its products from Morocco, India and Turkey, with more countries currently being explored. Most of its rugs average about 70 years old and feature a range of classic and traditional Oriental designs, and many are one-of-a-kind.

“I want my pieces to be unusual. I look through thousands and thousands of rugs looking for special pieces,” founder Katherine Stevens said. “Hides bring an organic sense to spaces, but many responsive to this aesthetic shy away from them out of respect for the natural world,” Stevens said. “Conscious consumers are driving design away from doing harm, and our fusion of traditional, ethnic rugs with hide and skin shapes speaks perfectly to this market. Domada is proud to offer its cruelty-free collection. I love that we can make something special that feels organic but doesn’t harm any animals.”

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Palm leather rugs are vegan alternative to cow hide – Dezeen

Dutch designer Tjeerd Veenhoven’s rugs made from a palm leaf material, called palm leather, are a sustainable and vegan alternative to traditional leather made from animal skin.


For the range of rugs, thin strips of the material are laid end to end by hand and attached to a woven base, before being cut to size. Any inconsistencies or folds in the strips are left to give a patterned appearance to the finished rug.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

Dutch designer Veenhoven first started experimenting with leather made from palm leaves eight years ago after he became interested in the natural fibres of the tree’s leaves, and asked someone he knew in India to send him some so that he could research them.

“In my material research I found out that the material was super brittle and not very useful, but if you soften it with a special material of glycerin and water, and some other materials you can make it nice and soft,” explained Veenhoven.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

The designer and his studio then developed and refined the “leather” further, testing it out by making products with various companies. Initially he experimented with making the rugs in Holland, before testing out production at a factory in India.

The rugs are now made at a factory in the Dominican Republic where “they’re experienced with green initiatives, so they have the necessary quality controls in place,” and shipped directly to consumers.

As well as the rugs, the studio is hoping to sell the palm leather material as a product in its own right. There has been a lot of recent interest from the “extremely demanding” automotive companies who have recently become increasingly interested in vegan alternatives to leather car interiors.

Veenhoven explained that how palm leather has been perceived has changed over the years, from an initial interest in its potential use as an alternative to man-made leather substitutes, to the current spike in interest as a vegan material.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

“It first was seen much more as a potential replacement of leather-like materials, or neoprenes or plastics – that was the first hook for people,” he told Dezeen.

“Then it was a little bit connected to re-inventing craft, which has also been a topic of discussion, how can we make craftsmen more contemporary, and interestingly in the last two years it’s been about it being vegan,” he explained.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

The move towards eating vegan and buying vegan products for the home, Veenhoven suggests, has been pushed by real problems that the world faces including the need to reduce the amount of meat that we eat.

“We have to focus more on plant-based systems and we have to encourage them more because they are essential to our livelihoods,” said Veenhoven, who experiments with many alternative materials and systems at his studio in Groningen, northern Holland.

These views echo Nicolas Roope who told Dezeen that avoiding global disaster will be the greatest design challenge in history, in response to the recent UN report on climate change.

Back in 2016, the Campana brothers Fernando and Humberto, covered a house in Sao Paolo with palm fibre that gave it a hairy texture. Last year, graduate Billie van Katwijk made an alternative leather from cows’ stomachs, rather than their hides.

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