The plan was to meet at Ecologic Divers office so we could see our friends off on a Sunset cruise. While I knew it would be a great ride, I was not sorry I was missing the boat because I was about to enjoy an evening equally as fun.
Kendall, Karen and I headed down the beach towards the Ray’s Big Dog press and hospitality party. As we walked towards the Tackle box dock, there was no mistaking it from the big dog statue (which you will see Cowboy Doug power napping on below).
As we were one of the first groups to arrive, it was perfect timing to chat with the owners Dawn and Ray. It was interesting to learn more about the new kids on the block and their adventures of making it thus far in the wide world of starting a Belize business. We also toured the kitchen, met the crew, saw shrimp steaming and the big pile of dogs and sausages laid out for the party. Being there early had another advantage, best choice of seats – we opted for beach side and people watching.
Once we were seated the service began, both my companions ordered wine and I went with water since I am still being a booze virgin – since August 31 🙂 Thankfully they served us some yummy olives with our drinks as my appetite was running amok.
Next came Cowboy Doug in fine form along with plantain chips and chipotle sauce. Ordinarily, the chips are served with the dogs, but tonight was special and they wanted to give us a table sharing experience.
Only there for a pop in, Cowboy left just before the peel and eat shrimp growlers arrived. They came with two sauces – Ray’s Sunset and Bubba. The shrimp were some of the biggest I have eaten in my nine years here. Dawn explained the hunky shrimp were not from the shrimp farm. They have a fisherman who brings them in fresh off the boat.
Last but not least it was the moment we had been waiting for – Big Dog time. We all ordered something different and agreed on a 3-way split so we could do maximum tasting. We all agreed Karen’s choice was the winner – the Chicken Apple & Chardonnay grilled with slow simmered sweet onion relish and cranberry dijon.[slideshow_deploy id=’32364’]
A bit more about Ray’s Big Dog and the philosophy behind it.
Owners Dawn and Paul “Ray” LoCascio are striving for quality and throughout the night they asked their guests for feedback on what we thought needed improving. Our group said more zing to the sauces, buns toasted and that the peel and eat shrimp could be sold without the beers attached. They said they will zing it up and do shrimp solo or substitute beers for other drinks. We were going to mention signage but they beat us to the punch telling us about the unplanned delay and how Paul would have to install the sign early the day of their Grand Opening.
Their handmade dogs and sausages are inspired by Michael Ruhlrman and Brian Polcyn – two well known names in the cooking world, especially for their work in sausage making and bacon curing. Their love of cooking was passed down from their mothers and has inspired many chefs worldwide. The duo believes that all cooking comes down not to recipes, but rather to techniques. Sounds like good role models to me.
Ray’s Big Dog makes everything from scratch, the aiolis, plantain chips, split top buns, signature hot dogs and of course the gourmet toppings. You can also enjoy peel and eat shrimp growlers and old fashioned ice cream floats. They offer Belikin or wine for alcohol choices and a take-out window in case you need to grab and go food.
Dawn and Paul are community minded, being ongoing SAGA supporters they have deemed Ray’s Big Dog, furry friendly. In addition to Saga Humane Society, the LoCascio’s have also offered San Pedro Red Cross their support with occasional use of their space.
The super cool Big Dog statue was a transplant from Highland Park, Illinois and a part of the Dale Roger American Big Dog Show.
Restaurant hours: Friday to Wednesday from 11:00am to 7:00pm, with Thursday being a day of rest (and it is looking like they will need it).
P.S. if you are wondering where the name Ray came from, it is Paul’s vacation persona, when he is chilled out and enjoying the good life 🙂
Remember life is good when you can be happy, so take a moment every day and consciously enjoy happiness. To shake up the dull drums of Monday and the start of the work week, I spent a good time contemplating happiness in bed this morning and it was delightful.