by Leslie Linsley
An Edible Book Review inspired by Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.
“In Key West: A Tropical Lifestyle, author Leslie Linsley presents the true character of this unique American place in twenty-two residences. Engaging anecdotes are drawn from interviews with homeowners, designers, and architects, and over two hundred lush, full-color photographs reveal the historic and contemporary interiors and gardens. Reflecting the style and personalities of their owners, these houses simultaneously respect and extend a distinctive legacy.”
“Architecture on Florida’s Key West reflects the diverse and colorful nature of those who have shaped this remote island’s character: grand classical homes of sea captains from new England, cobbled-together wooden dwellings of ships’ carpenters, humble but charming cottages of cigar makers from Cuba. Today’s equally varied population of artists, writers, and political figures contributes to that heritage by designing interiors and landscapes that complement the vibrant tropical location, quirky isolationist tradition, and relaxed atmosphere.”
I’ve had this book for several years so it was fun to revisit, especially after our recent getaway to Key West~ soaking in the sun, Caribbean flavor and charm of this southernmost point in the continental U.S. We spent a lot of time walking, admiring the architecture and tropical gardens, where I was easily entertained, fantasizing about owning and decorating a little shotgun or Conch house. It’s easy for me to lose myself within these pages after our return. . .taking up residence “living large in a small house”. . .
Come along with me for a stroll~
Key West lies 150 miles south of Miami and 90 miles north of Cuba. This little spit of land, four miles long by two miles wide, hosts weather that is consistently beautiful thanks to its subtropical climate, with temperatures of seventy-five to eighty degrees year round, and draws more than two million visitors a year~ one million of those arriving by cruise ship daily at Mallory Square.
Key West’s architecture is a charming mélange of styles~
Galvanized steel roofs, ventilating roof hatches, Bahamian top-hung shutters, wrap around verandahs, and houses built on piers – are all devices to combat the heat and sun of the tropics.
“Throughout Old Town one sees, in striking juxtaposition elaborate Queen Anne-style houses built at the end of the nineteenth century, little Louisiana Creole cottages, ornate Victorians, and Key West Tropical houses, to which an unmistakable combination of decorative motifs is applied. Every street, boulevard, and lane is rich with architectural variations and contradictions.”
“The taste for Victorian architecture that swept the country during the latter part of the nineteenth century also was incorporated into the design of many houses in Key West. Corner brackets, balustrades, porch columns, and fretwork fences, among other ornamental details, were applied to the otherwise spare Conch-style houses.”
We enjoyed Stone Crab, in season, while we were there, but I resisted the urge, (just barely :-) to order some online shipped to me at home, so instead, we’re enjoyed a little taste of the island for Food for Thought~
Crab Cakes, a mini version, served as an appetizer~ recipe for a regular size version courtesy Southern Living here.
With Roasted Garlic and Lime Aïoli, courtesy Coastal Living here.
And of course to wash them down, a Mojito ~
“Over the years, what used to be a funky little out-of-the-way, stuck-in-time place, has evolved into a sophisticated island resort. The little Conch houses have been bought up, remodeled, and often resold. And although the gentrification of Key West is celebrated by some residents and opposed by others, the fact remains that people who have the means to go anywhere in the world keep coming back to this place, just as my husband and I have returned again and again.”
Thank you for your visit, I’m joining: