Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel Culture & Cuisine / Travel

While I always enjoy traveling abroad whenever and wherever I can, I’ve learned that you don’t always need to pop on a plane to have an adventure.

Becoming a parent has forced me to get more creative in my explorations, and I’ve started looking closer to home for fun things to do. Especially if they mean Little Linguist can tag along.

And while the events are more grown up-oriented, I’ve found the Ritz Carlton Food & Wine Experiences to be the perfect evening escape. They’re an excellent way to do a little culinary exploration. Plus, I certainly can’t complain about the view.

Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | EurolinguisteFood & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel

This past summer, the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel hosted several dinners where handcrafted cocktails, distinctive wines, and seasonal cuisines. The first we attended was the “Italian Seafood Celebration” where we were introduced to a variety of cheese, Italian wines, and indulged in several beautifully prepared meals. Towards the end of the summer, we also made it out for the “Taste of Baja Experience” that focused less on food and more on the 15+ boutique wineries from Mexico.

The two events – as far as food and setting – differed dramatically, but the quality of the ambiance and presentation certainly earned high marks across the board.

Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

Italian Seafood Celebration

A brief walk through the resort and down to the Dana Lawn leads you to a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean and beautifully arranged tables reminiscent of outdoor, French-style family meals. The chef, Brian Sundeen, and his team are setup at the heart of things, preparing food and answering questions in an almost cooking class-style setting.

With a glass of Prosecco in hand, we meandered over to the cheese table where Marin French cheese a selection of soft cheeses and artisan breads do more than tempt the palate. After selecting a plateful of fromages we made our way towards the tables where we claimed our seats, appreciating the view and conversation with those around us.

Before the staff set out serving the various dishes, Chef Sundeen made an announcement sharing a little of the process behind their creation. A team made the rounds, pouring a generous glass of chardonnay (Tomaresca, Puglia, Italy) and then the feast began.

The first course featured a selection of four items: tomato burrata salad; a Hamachi crudo topped with jalapeno that just melted in your mouth; grilled asparagus salad with prosciutto; and finally, compressed watermelon with kale, feta cheese, candied walnuts and a balsamic reduction. Each of the dishes was brought to our table and passed around from guest to guest. If anything ran out, someone was quick to bring another plate and the challenge quickly became a matter of trying a little of everything without filling up before the entrees and dessert.

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Wine glasses drained, we were then served a red – Primitivo from Tormaresca, again. Another announcement from the chef signaled a new round of dishes brought out to the tables. The onslaught of entrees included: grilled rack of lamb with corn relish; smoked potato gnocchi; basil crusted halibut; seared scallops, smoked bone marrow butter garlic bread; and a grilled vegetable salad.

As the sun set, I made a brief escape to the end of the lawn where I watched a collision of colours take over the view. I snapped a few photos, then sauntered back for dessert. Thankfully I didn’t have to choose between the coconut meringue roulade, the manjari chocolate brioche pudding or the crème fraiche cheesecake. The servings were generous enough that we could each relish all three completed by a glass of Luxardo Amaro as the evening drew to a close.

Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

As the sun set, I made a brief escape to the end of the lawn where I watched a collision of colours take over the view. I snapped a few photos, then sauntered back for dessert. Thankfully I didn’t have to choose between the coconut meringue roulade, the manjari chocolate brioche pudding or the crème fraiche cheesecake. The servings were generous enough that we could each relish all three completed by a glass of Luxardo Amaro as the evening drew to a close.

Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste/

A Taste of Baja

While the focus of the first experience was on the food, the center of attention at this event was without a doubt, the wine.

A Taste of Baja moved us from the Dana to the Pacific Promenade Lawn where we had an equally exquisite view of the sea, but a more intimate backdrop. Between the buildings that pressed us together from one side, stringed-lights crisscrossed overhead.

Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

With only a few standing tables, this second event encouraged us to roam from wine vendor to wine vendor, tapas booth to tapas booth in a seemingly unending experiment in pairings. This wine with fresh shrimp tacos, that with chicken mole.

The setting for this second event, in all honesty, was overwhelming. While the Ritz Carlton did their best to arrange the wine and food options in a convenient way, I felt that having to navigate my way through them all without a place to really sit down and enjoy everything wasn’t as fulfilling of an experience as the first evening.

That’s not to say, of course, that the wine and food wasn’t outstanding. It was. But I did feel a certain fear of missing out, constantly rushing to occupy a briefly open place at a standing table or moving aside to stand at the edge of the venue, trying to balance a glass of wine, a plate and sometimes silverware.

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The menu showcased aguachile mixto (a ceviche of sorts), tostadas de carnitas, shrimp tacos, chicken mole with Spanish rice, roasted New York strip steak with mashed potatoes, and churros with dulce de leche and ice cream. More than fifteen wineries were highlighted at the event – each offering anywhere from one to four or even five selections. We settled on the Cavas Valmar Tempranillo (2015) as our preferred selection and were able to bring a bottle home.

It was an elegant and decently arranged event, but the Italian-themed evening absolutely stood out as the preeminent occasion. Overall highly-recommended as a memorable way to experience cuisines and wines from other places in a local setting.

Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

Italian Seafood Celebration Full Menu

First Course
Tomato Burrata Salad, Grilled Stone Fruit
Hamachi Crudo
Grilled Asparagus Salad, Prosciutto
Compressed Watermelon, Kale, Living Mache, Feta Cheese
Candied Walnuts, Balsamic Reduction
Tormaresca, Chardonnay, Puglia, Italy

Entrée
Grilled Rack of Lamb, Corn Relish
Smoked Potato Gnocchi, Fava Bean Puree, Porchinis,
Brown Butter, Summer Truffles
Basil Crusted Halibut, Tomato Stew
Seared Scallops, Housemade Pappardelle Pasta, Asparagus
Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic White Wine Sauce
Garlic Bread, Smoked Bone Marrow Butter, Caper Salsa Verde
Grilled Vegetable Salad, Chives and Thyme
Tormaresca, Primitivo, Puglia, Italy

Dessert
Coconut Meringue Roulade, Harry’s Berries Compote
Manjari Chocolate Brioche Pudding, Vanilla Bean Anglaise
Crème Fraiche Cheesecake, Passion Fruit Chantilly
Luxardo, Amaro

Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

A Taste of Baja Full Menu

Savory Stations
Aguachile Mixto
Tostadas de Carnitas
Crispy Piloncillo Shrimp Tacos, Pickled Chayote Slaw
Grilled Chicken Mole, Spanish Rice, Cotija Cheese, Toasted Sesame
Roasted New York Strip, Oaxaca Mashed Potato, Pickled Onion Ancho Demi
Warm Cinnamon Sugar Churros, Dulce de Leche, Assorted Ice Creams

Wineries From Baja, Mexico
Bodegas Henri Lurton
D’Poncelis
Corona del Valle
Fluxus
La Trinidad
Madera 5
Vinas de la Erre
Vinedos Malagon
VinSur
Alximia
Bodegas Marilena
Cavas Valmar
El Cielo
Legado Sais
Moebius
Relieve
Valle de Tintos

Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel
One Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, California 92629 United States
1 (949) 240-2000
$95 per person, inclusive of tax and gratuity



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