Raya | The Ritz-Carlton
There is something very special about Girls Night Out. And when you are surrounded by women who empower you, lift you up, make you laugh and simply bring joy to your life, well then you’ve hit the jackpot my friend. This is exactly what happened when our very own Trendsetters were invited to The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel for a very special dinner at Raya, that none of us will soon forget. 162-feet above sea level, Raya, a restaurant concept by acclaimed Chef Richard Sandoval, is known for its signature Latin flavors and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
Some of the most creative and inspiring women I know feasted on everything from soup to nuts (literally) while enjoying wines, cocktails, adult snow-cones (yes, they do exist!!!) and some of the most hysterical stories I’ve heard in a really long time. I’m proud to announce, The Trend Tribe shut the place down.
It all began with sunset drinks inside Bar Raya where I broke out of my shell and asked the bartender to “mix something pineapple-y!” Let’s just say it was vodka with a side of pineapple. Remember in cartoons when bells, whistles and firecrackers fly out of the characters ears? This drink packed a severe punch! Soon thereafter, Chef Matt brought out Smoked Swordfish Tacos consisting of a crispy wonton shell, mango salsa and pico de gallo and I believed in Santa Claus all over again.
We then moved to the main dining room of Raya where Orange County native, Chef Marissa Gerlach, delivered to our table a selection of Pan-Latin Coastal Cuisine appetizers and first courses made up of sustainable seafood, local produce and organic meats. Santa Barbara Mussels, shrimp tempura lettuce wraps and the most amazing Chilled White Gazpacho I have ever tasted. I swear the flavors were doing the Cha-cha in my mouth.
PHOTOS: 2012 Event || Raya :: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
Each Trendsetter ordered something different and you can bet your bottom dollar that no plate within my reach was safe from my fork as it trespassed, snatched and held no prisoners by tasting everyone’s entree! Oh yes…I went there. I was *that* person. Some of the plates that stand out in my mind:
:: Grilled Ponzu Pacific Swordfish ::
sweet plantain rice / black bean purée / mole verde / frisée salad
:: Pan Seared Sea Scallops ::
roast corn / sushi rice / nopalito / char siu pork belly / snap peas / white soy mojo
:: Dry-Aged Natural NY ::
dungeness crab potato purée / grilled pickled onions / chipotle hollandaise / truffle chimichurri
:: Chimichurri Jidori Chicken Breast ::
pipian sauce / truffled farmers market carrots / turnips / red onions / truffle creamy wild rice / mango-pine nut-lime salsa
:: Seafood Risotto ::
maine lobster / prawns / santa barbara mussels / calamari / spanish chorizo / saffron rice
:: Grilled Thai Prawns ::
adobo marinade / fufu / tomato-olive-caper sauce / pickled poblano / tostones
The Dessert Sampler was beyond my wildest dreams and exceeded my expectations unlike anything I could imagine. Milk Chocolate Coconut Cake…Cinnamon Spice Churro…Kahlua Pudding…Dulce de Leche…Almond Tres Leches…and Praline ice cream. NOM. Oh, and the Panko Crusted Banana Fritter Split? To die for. It had pina colada & banana ice creams with caramel rum & chocolate sauces and candied peanuts. Le sigh.
The whole evening was truly amazing!
On behalf of the Trendsetters here at The Trend Tribe, I would like to extend a very extra-special THANK YOU for The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel for hosting such a wonderful night.
Raya at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
One Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, California 92629
(949) 240-2000 or view online at www.ritzcarlton.com/lagunaraya
Disclosure: On occasion, contributors of The Trend Tribe receive products and services gratis or at discounted rates. This practice does not influence the contributor’s point of view or the outcome of the review. All descriptions are factual and accurately reflect the reviewers experience. The opinions are their own. Photos courtesy of The Trend Tribe.