A Trip to the Beach is about the maddening, exhausting and exhilarating challenges Melinda and Robert Blanchard faced while trying to live the simple life after moving to Anguilla to start a restaurant - and the incredible joy when they somehow pulled it off. As their cooking begins to draw 4-star reviews, the Blanchards and their kitchen staff - Clinton and Ozzie, the dancing sous-chefs; Shabby, the master lobster-wrangler; Bug, the dish-washing comedian - come together like a crack drill team. Anyone who's ever dreamed of running away to start a new life on a sun-drenched island will find the Blanchards' seductive, funny tale of pandemonium and bliss unforgettable.
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On a vacation with the family in Barbados, Mel and Bob Blanchard (of the Vermont-based Blanchard & Blanchard specialty foods company) stumble upon a tiny restaurant/shack on a Caribbean beach:
I marveled at the ingenuity of the set-up. A secluded spot, sand like flour, customers arriving in bathing suits. The guy barely lifted a finger, cleared at least $35.00, and gave us a lunch we'd remember forever.... The man had sold us a frame of mind.So begins the Blanchards' 10-year pursuit of the illusory notion of "island time." In a literary heartbeat, they abandon the "concrete jungle" that was Vermont and open a restaurant on a little-known island in the British West Indies called Anguilla ("rhymes with vanilla"). Narrated by Mel Blanchard, A Trip to the Beach dispels tired notions of the Caribbean--the steel drums, the lush landscapes, and acres of swaying palm trees--and instead focuses on the understated elegance and easy rhythms of the sublimely "flat, and scrubby" island. Though lacking the richness and finesse of Frances Mayes, and the wit and wisdom of Peter Mayle, Mel Blanchard nonetheless forges a new path in travel writing as the Martha Stewart of the Caribbean. A remarkably intuitive and inspired chef, Mel writes poignant passages on running a kitchen in Anguilla. Here she exposes the meat of the story, sharing her many outrageous adventures--how to cater to pampered and demanding guests, how to cook for a full restaurant in the darkest of island night with no electricity, how to prepare for recurring and utterly devastating hurricanes that wipe out your business. In these chapters the writing is as good as her cooking--inspiring, colorful, and easily digestible. Although she sometimes relies heavily on well-worn clichés and expresses naïve and rather privileged assumptions--"Why would anyone choose to live surrounded by concrete and traffic rather than fishing boats, water and palm trees?"--discerning readers will see the true nature of this tiny island--a place of simplistic beauty that struggles to maintain its independence while it depends on tourism for its livelihood. With a strange concoction of anecdotes, island politics, recipes, and sweet memories, the Blanchards seduce readers with the allure of "island time," bringing Anguilla home to the rest of us. --Daphne Durham From the Inside Flap:
This is the true story of a trip to the beach that never ends. It's about a husband and wife who escape civilization to build a small restaurant on an island paradise -- and discover that even paradise has its pitfalls. It's a story filled with calamities and comedy, culinary disasters and triumphs, and indelible portraits of people who live and work on a sliver of beauty set in the Caribbean Sea. It's about the maddening, exhausting, outlandish complications of trying to live the simple life -- and the joy that comes when you somehow pull it off.
The story begins when Bob and Melinda Blanchard sell their successful Vermont food business and decide, perhaps impulsively, to get away from it all. Why not open a beach bar and grill on Anguilla, their favorite Caribbean island? One thing leads to another and the little grill turns into an enchanting restaurant that quickly draws four-star reviews and a celebrity-studded clientele eager for Melinda's delectable cooking. Amid the frenetic pace of the Christmas "high season," the Blanchards and their kitchen staff -- Clinton and Ozzie, the dancing sous-chefs; Shabby, the master lobster-wrangler; Bug, the dish-washing comedian -- come together like a crack drill team. And even in the midst of hilarious pandemonium, there are moments of bliss.
As the Blanchards learn to adapt to island time, they become ever more deeply attached to the quirky rhythms and customs of their new home. Until disaster strikes: Hurricane Luis, a category-4 storm with two-hundred-mile-an-hour gusts, devastates Anguilla. Bob and Melinda survey the wreckage of their beloved restaurant and wonder whether leaving Anguilla, with its innumerable challenges, would be any easier than walking out on each other. Affectionate, seductive, and very funny, A Trip to the Beach is a love letter to a place that becomes both home and escape.
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Book Description Ebury Press, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 91883105
Book Description Ebury Press, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0091883105