01 September 2009

Anguilla Day 3

Our cabana at Elodia's

Woke up early to get to Geraud’s Bakery by 6:30 am to get best selection of pastries. Brought them back to eat on the balcony where we saw a large storm go by and then a vivid rainbow. Packed up and headed to Shoal Bay East around 9:00. Chose Elodia’s to hunker down for a few hours, but nobody was there. A passerby said someone would be there around 10:00, but by 11:00 with still nobody there, we started to fret about our chair & umbrella usage. Eventually somebody came and we started a tab with her. Around 1:00 we broke away from our reading to have lunch. $10 hamburger and $8 hot dog, plus a couple of Presidentes. Good food, nice & casual, barefoot atmosphere. After lunch we walked up toward Madeiriman’s and were glad we weren’t staying at Ku because it looked so busy with chairs & umbrellas. I think we would consider Shoal Bay Villas in the future, though, if we didn’t want to return to our home on Meads Bay. Then we retraced our steps and walked toward Upper Shoal Bay and enjoyed the wilder waves and the wind. Very castaway feeling around that point.
Relaxing with a book at Elodia's for lunch

The unbelievably gorgeous Shoal Bay East

After that we headed to Bankie Banx's place, Dune Preserve,on Rendezvous Bay and got there around 3:00, but though there were lights on, we didn’t see a soul. According to the Carimar book they should have been open until 4:00, but perhaps they’ve added Tuesdays to the “closed” roster. Oh, well. Remembering that a few people on various travel forums had declared the rum punches at Ferryboat Inn to be the best on the island, we backtracked back to Blowing Point instead. We sat there for a while, drinks in hand, admiring the view across to St. Maarten. The rum punch was very, very good. In fact, I'd say that it was the best I'd had on Anguilla and perhaps second only to the superlative rum punch served by the Long Bay Hotel on Antigua, where we were married.

For dinner we selected Blanchards. Like most other Caribbean-philes, I’ve read A Trip to the Beach, which I really enjoyed upon first reading but with distance from it, I feel much ambivalence. Honestly, I think the tone in that book is just short of being patronizing to Anguillians. But I also knew I probably wouldn’t consider my first trip to Anguilla complete without eating at the place that brought the island so much notoriety (plus they were offering the US $45 prix fixe, too!). The atmosphere was truly lovely (once you get past the distractingly bad art from their son hanging on the walls) and our table was pleasantly situated on the level closest to the beach. Service was gracious and attentive. For ambience, I’d have to rate it second after Veya, in fact. The food, however, I’d have to rate behind every other place we had dinner on the island. It wasn’t bad, by any means. It’s just that every place else was so much better in comparison, and when you take into account the price, I’d have to rate Blanchards overall at the bottom rung of our dinner experiences on both Grenada and Anguilla (except, perhaps, Roy’s). DH went with the prix fixe: spring rolls, Calypso chicken, and Key lime pie in a glass. All were good. I opted for two small plates – a salad and the samosas, which were both good – and the cracked coconut, which is their signature dessert. Again, good, but not special.

So what was noteworthy about the meal? The staff was very warm and accommodating, the garden atmosphere was cool & pleasant, and the rum list is, apparently, the most extensive in the world. We were much surprised to learn that there is a rum from Tennessee, my husband’s home state, on the menu. However, we were shocked and displeased to note that the same rum, El Dorado, aged 12 years from Guyana, that we ordered for US $10 at Veya was US $22 at Blanchards! I’ve read more than once that people think that the food is not as good when the Blanchards are not on island, and I can’t speak to that, but I do suspect that the restaurant is resting on its laurels a bit, and that compared to other places we’ve dined on Anguilla, the prices felt, well, extortionate. US $200 for one prix fixe meal, two appetizers, one dessert, bottled water, and three cocktails. However, and I can’t stress how much I loved this, Blanchards was the only restaurant that bans smoking. I never thought of myself as a cigarette Nazi before, but I may have to re-evaluate. If there’s one thing that can ruin a meal faster than anything for me, it’s having cigarette smoke waft in my direction while I’m trying to eat. Big, big kudos to Blanchards for taking the plunge and making the smoke free commitment.

Finished reading Netherland. Interesting for the most part.

Also, right before we left for dinner, security dropped off a package for us that had been left for us by a friend whose advice on various travel forums has always been indispensable. Though we’ve not yet met, HowardC has been extremely generous in his time answering my endless questions about Anguilla. He and his wife left for us a bottle of wine to enjoy as well as an out of print book that he thought I might like. Howard, thanks! You’re the best!

Another beautiful sunset

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