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Picks and Pans Review: A Trip to the Beach

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Living on Island Time in the Caribbean

by Melinda and Robert Blanchard

After selling their successful Vermont food business, Bob and Melinda Blanchard wanted nothing more than to get away from it all in Anguilla, their favorite sleepy Caribbean island. They envisioned opening a little seaside eatery, serving fresh, uncomplicated meals and spending plenty of time lolling on the beach. Ah, the simple life.

What the Blanchards got instead were a four-star restaurant, endless headaches over scarce supplies, and more hard work than they had ever imagined. As this engaging memoir makes clear, they loved every second of it. A Trip to the Beach takes readers along with the enterprising pair, from their early days of building Blanchard’s restaurant from the ground up, through their hiring of an Anguillan staff they came to love as family, to the hurricane that destroyed almost everything they had. In addition to an entertaining narrative, the book includes some of Melinda’s delectable-sounding recipes—banana cabanas with white rum, anyone?—and the occasional name drop: Among the celebrities who found their way to Blanchard’s are Sandra Bullock and Sen. Edward Kennedy. Cagily, the authors reveal next to nothing about those visits—Blanchard’s, now rebuilt to its prehurricane splendor, needs repeat customers, after all. Reading this memoir will make you want to be one of them. (Clarkson Potter, $25)

Bottom Line: A beach book to savor