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.
About the Author
Married for nearly thirty years, Melinda and Robert Blanchard divide their time between Norwich, Vermont, where they built their own home, and Anguilla, where they operate Blanchard's Restaurant. Together they have started eight businesses, including Blanchard & Blanchard, the award-winning line of specialty foods. Bob is a seventh-generation Vermonter, and Melinda was born and raised in New York City.
"A Trip to the Beach is the next best thing to being there. The Blanchards have given us a smart and amusing tale of running off to chase a dream. It's just as tasty as their cooking."
-- Tom Brokaw, Anchor, NBC Nightly News
"If you think it takes courage to open and operate a fine dining restaurant, just try doing it the Blanchard way. Pick a beautiful but remote island with cultural idiosyncrasies, build it from scratch, make it seasonal to assure up and down business, and subject yourself to the most powerful hurricanes Mother Nature knows how to create. Other than that, it's easy. I love the Blanchards' determined sense of hospitality and appreciate the rich texture they have woven into Anguilla's colorful fabric."
-- Danny Meyer, Coauthor, The Union Square Cafe Cookbook