SHOPPING / FOOD AND DRINK
Shopping: Stores open Monday to Friday 8:00am to 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm. Locally produced items include, crochet, pottery, wood sculptures and clothing. There are attractive little boutiques with one-of-a-kind items. Chic beachwear, sportswear and accessories are found at resorts boutiques. Hand-made, locally designed tropical wear is available at trendy shops dotting the island.

Food and Drink: There is a wide choice of food and drink. The island has many excellent restaurants ranging from barefoot, to romantic, to elegant. The cosmopolitan cuisine includes specialties from many nationalities and regions. Snapper and lobster are frequently on the menu. Some traditional local foods are goat soup, mauby and cassava bread. For drinking, bottled water is most popular, but rain water is caught and stored in cement underground cisterns for household use. Desalinated water is used mainly for non-drinking purposes.

Traditionally the Caribbean has had a pretty dodgy reputation for food, but the islands have worked hard on it over the last fifteen years and gradually this image has become unfair. Nowadays it possible to eat well in most islands.

In their defence running a hotel dining room or a restaurant there is tough work. The islands are unable to provide regular supplies of the food favoured by visitors and so most of the ingredients have to come deep frozen by sea — 'salmon used to arrive with the elasticity of a cricket bat', said one chef.

Recently island regulations have loosened up, foreign chefs have arrived and some local chefs have returned from abroad and started ventures of their own, often adapting island recipes in a style to suit travellers' tastes. But above all it is the air links that have made the difference to the gourmet Caribbean.

St Maarten/St Martin receives regular service flights from Florida and from France, enabling restaurateurs there, in Anguilla and St Barts to have regular, unfrozen supplies. Over the past 15 years these three islands have developed an impressive tradition of cuisine.

Anguilla has the nicest story. In the early eighties Malliouhana Hotel opened, with its excellent French restaurant. The cuisine offered some concessions to the climate - lighter sauces, fruit-based dishes rather than European winter vegetables - but even so, after a week of classical French cuisine their guests wanted to explore. Bob and Melinda Blanchard spotted the opportunity and opened Mango's and then later Blanchards, creating a trend on the island of delightful settings and superb fare.

Now, between its hotels and restaurants, Anguilla has about ten serious restaurants in which to eat. Others worth checking out are Hibernia, Altamer and also Mango's. The restaurants are not cheap but then nor is Anguilla.
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