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A bad news edition of Why For

Jim Hill delivers somewhat depressing answers to your Disney-related questions. This time around, Jim reveals why “The Morning Report” wound up on the Special Edition “Lion King” DVD, why Innoventions has become so bland, what happens to all those articles on “Save Disney” as well as what’s supposedly holding up the Disney Cruise Line’s third ship

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First up, Jennifer S. writes in to ask:

Why for? If anyone might know, you might…

In the Special Edition of “The Lion King,” the song “The Morning Report”, from the (Broadway) musical, is added.

But the thing is…there were many songs from the stage show that were much better and more important to the story. Like “He Lives In You,” which had its genesis on the “Rhythm of the Pride Lands” CD. Or “Endless Night,” Simba’s song about missing his father. Or “Shadowlands,” which Nala sings as she leaves the decimated Pride Lands. (At least that would have given her a song to herself.)

All of these songs detail dramatic character moments and would have added more to the existing movie. So, out of all those, why did they pick a song that really is no more than just a cute throwaway?

Dear Jennifer S.

To be honest, one of the main reasons that “The Morning Report” was selected for inclusion in the Special Edition of “The Lion King” was because this particular song from the Broadway show was so short.

More to the point, the “Morning Report” musical interlude could easily be swapped out for the pre-existing Mufasa-teaches-Simba-to-hunt sequence in the film without having any real impact on the picture that followed.

You see, what the Walt Disney Company basically wanted here was a new song that they could then use to hype the re-release of this 1994 film (I.E. “You may have already seen the original version of ‘The Lion King,’ but not the New! Improved! version of ‘The Lion King.’ Now with a brand-new song!). But — at the same time — the Mouse didn’t really want to pay an awful lot for this new number that was to be inserted into this re-released motion picture.

You see, just as work was getting underway on the “What-should-we-add-to-‘The-Lion-King’-so-that-people-will-then-buy-a-second-copy-of-a-film-that-they- already-own” project, the bills were beginning to roll in for “Beauty & the Beast” ‘s new sequence, “Human Again.” In order for that new musical interlude to fit seamlessly into the revamped version of that Academy Award winning 1991 film, numerous changes had to be made to the original picture. Including animating a new introductory scene for the song, plus digitally adjusting the scenes that directly followed “Human Again” (To reflect that fact that the enchanted objects had actually cleaned up the Beast’s bedroom just prior to his big date with Belle).

Given the additional costs that were involved with seamlessly blending “Human Again” in with the pre-existing footage of the original version of “Beauty & the Beast,” the suits who were then in charge of WDFA decreed that this wouldn’t ever happen again. From here on in, if a new song or scene was to be dropped into an animated re-release, that addition would have to have minimal impact.

So that’s actually why we got “The Morning Report,” Jennifer. Rather than something much more ambitious like “He Lives in You.” Sorry about that, Jennifer.

Next up, Rebecca G. writes in to ask:

Say I was wondering about something after coming back from our fourth trip to WDW.

Why for has Innoventions become so…bland?

See I’ve come on visits starting 1998 then 1999, 2002 and finally 2005. First time it was full of Sega games and it was like a dream come true for me (I think this was one side of Innoventions and the other stuff was things of little interest to me then). Second they had a small Dreamcast area, some cool exibits though wasnt as good as the first and pretty much the same thing next visit with a few added bits.

When we went in October I was really unimpressed with how Innoventions looks now. Everything was the same, the Disney Tag game (which I’d been told the year before and the year after that would eventally be released online but never happened, I’m curious about that too) was still there. The dance mat games were still there. Plus Disneys game section pretty much only consisted of Kingdom Hearts, Finding Nemo and some ESPN games. It felt very lackluster

Do you know if theres any plans to fix innoventions and make it as fun as it used to be or is there the possiblity it’ll be replaced by something?

Keep up the good work on the site BTW, I really enjoy the articles.

Dear Rebecca G.

Thanks for the kind words regarding JHM. As to why Innoventions has become so lackluster lately … I have two words for you, Rebecca: Barry Braverman.

You see, Innoventions was Barry’s baby. He was the WDI exec who (way back in the early 1990s) originally came up with the idea of reaching out to various corporations and offering them huge chunks of Communicore to use as display space for that company’s newest technologies.

And when Innoventions originally opened in July of 1994, it was this huge success. The public just loved having all these new exhibits to explore at the very heart of Future World. And WDW management … They loved the fact that Innoventions cost the Walt Disney Company virtually nothing to operate. The corporations that sponsored all of these displays of their latest products picked up 90% of the cost of operating & staffing Innoventions.

And given that Braverman was the guy who’d originally come up with this extremely clever idea, Barry’s stock really began to rise within Walt Disney Imagineering. Lots of great opportunities quickly started coming his way.

First, Barry was invited to consult on Disneyland’s new Tomorrowland project (Which is why this part of the Anaheim theme park eventually wound up with its very own clone of Epcot’s Innoventions attraction). Then — after the Westcot project fell through — Braverman was invited to pitch ideas for a new second gate for the Disneyland Resort.

Mind you, while all of this was going on, Barry was still supposedly keeping an eye on Innoventions. Making sure that the displays at Epcot’s Future World and Disneyland’s new Tomorrowland were kept fresh & up-to-date by continually hitting up the sponsor companies to bring in their newest products & technologies.

But then as the Disneyland Resort second gate project — AKA Disney’s California Adventure — began to consume more & more of Braverman’s time and energy, Innoventions stopped being such a high priority with Barry. Which is why the time between change-outs of displays of new equipment & technologies gradually grew longer and longer. Until we wound up with what we have today at Innoventions … Which are (to be honest) are mostly out-of-date displays of what used-to-be cutting-edge technologies.

Of course, given that Braverman no longer works for WDI (He officially exited the theme park design arm of the Walt Disney Company earlier this month), Innoventions is pretty much a headless operation right now. There’s no one within the Imagineering organization who is actually keeping after these corporations now, making sure that they regularly change out their Innoventions exhibits, bringing in the latest products & technologies to display.

So now … Well, the guys at WDI are waiting to see what John Lasseter will do once he officially comes on board at Imagineering’s new Principal Creative Advisor. Will John keep Innoventions going? Or will he simply opt to gut this entire section of Future World? Bring in something bold and new just in time for Epcot’s 25th anniversary (Which is officially due to get underway in the Fall of 2007).

Sorry, Rebecca. I wish I had better news for you. But it’s quite likely that Innoventions will remain very lackluster for the next 18 months or so. Til this section of Future World is finally radically revamped and/or it disappears entirely.

And — speaking of disappearing entirely — Carl E. writes to ask:

Carl E.

Do you have any idea of what became of all the articles that were accumulated on the Save Disney web site? There was a lot of very good history and stories. It would be a shame for all of that to just disappear.

Thank you.

Dear Carl E.

You know, while I may not have always agreed with what Roy & Stanley did, I always enjoyed going over to the “Save Disney” website and reading the articles that were posted there. Particularly those pieces that were written by Merlin Jones. Those articles — while they may have laid the Eisner-is-evil-and-must-be-anhilated stuff a little too thick (at least for my tastes, anyway) — were always well researched and loaded with all great info.

Which is why I — along with thousands of other Disneyana fans out there — were sorely disappointed when Disney & Gold decided to shut down their “Save Disney” website on August 7, 2005. Basically scattering this great collection of Disney-related articles to the four winds.

Ah, but that’s the beauty of the Web, folks. Just because someone decides to pull the plug on their website doesn’t actually mean that that particular website is actually gone for good. All you have to do is know the right place to look. More importantly, the right search engines to use as you begin your search.

My advice to you, Carl, is to go on over to the Internet Archive. In particular, check out the Wayback Machine, that amazing tool that basically allows you to travel back in time (at least in a cyber-space sort of way). So that you’re then allowed to resurrect long-dead websites and read stories that were posted there.

The last time I looked, there were various versions of “Save Disney” available for perusal via the Wayback Machine. Mind you, the most recent one dated back to April 7, 2005. So admittedly, you’d miss out on the last four months worth of stories that were posted on that site. But — hey — that’s better than nothing, isn’t it?

Just be warned, though, folks. Last night, as I was trying to access “Save Disney” via the Wayback Machine, the Internet Archive was behaving in a very flukey manner. Which means that — while I could see the listing of “Save Disney” sampling dates that were supposedly available for perusal — I was never actually able to open any of them. So here’s hoping that this proves to be just a temporary glitch.

I mean, I’d really hate it if all of Merlin Jones’ “Save Disney” essays really were gone for good. While I may not have always agreed with that guy’s corporate politics, I almost always enjoyed the stories that he wrote. Here’s hoping that Merlin finds a new home on the web someday.

And — finally — Adam S. writes in to ask:

hi jim,

love the “dailies” i look forward to them, well, umm,… daily. i know alot of what you write on is disney media and parks, but i am looking for some sort of cruise line update. do you have any news on new ships in the works?

thanks.

adam

Adam —

Thanks for the compliments about JHM. As for the Disney Cruise Line … The way I hear it, the third ship of the line is already designed. The plans have been drawn up for several years now. Even the money for construction of this third cruise ship (which would supposedly be berthed on the West Coast) has already been set aside. In fact, all that dough is said to already be in some Disney corporate account, drawing considerable interest.

“So if the plans are complete and the money has already been set aside, then why hasn’t the Walt Disney Company actually gone forward with construction of the third cruise ship?,” you ask. Would you believe that it’s mostly the cost of steel that’s supposedly holding this project up?

I kid you not, folks. I’ve talked with numerous folks at various levels of the Walt Disney Company about this subject. And each of these people have basically told me the same tale. How Disney’s current management team is reportedly waiting for the cost of steel to come down before they finally okay construction of that third Disney Cruise ship.

All the pieces are allegedly already in place. Disney’s reps have even picked out the European shipyard where they want their next cruise ship to be built. But until the cost of steel comes down to a more affordable pricepoint, the Mouse is going to continue to postpone this project.

Anyway … That’s pretty much it for this week’s  bad news edition of “Why For,” folks. Here’s hoping that you all have a great weekend and that we’ll see you here again bright & early on Monday morning!

Later,

jrh

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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Jens Dahlmann of LongHorn Steakhouse has lots of great tips when it comes to grilling

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Sure, for some folks, the Fourth of July is all about fireworks. But for the 75% of all Americans who own a grill or a smoker, the Fourth is our Nation’s No. 1 holiday when it comes to grilling. Which is why 3 out of 4 of those folks will spend some time outside today working over a fire.

But here’s the thing: Though 14 million Americans can cook a steak with confidence because they actually grill something every week, the rest of us – because we use our grill or smoker so infrequently … Well, let’s just say that we have no chops when it comes to dealing with chops (pork, veal or otherwise).

So what’s a backyard chef supposed to in a situation like this when there’s so much at steak … er … stake? Turn to someone who really knows their way around a grill for advice. People like Jens Dahlmann, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Darden Restaurant’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.

Given that Jens’ father & grandfather were chefs, this is a guy who literally grew up in a kitchen. In his teens & twenties, Dahlmann worked in hotels & restaurants all over Switzerland & Germany. Once he was classically trained in the culinary arts, Jens then  jumped ship. Well, started working on cruise ships, I mean.

Anyway … While working on Cunard’s Sea Goddess, Dahlmann met Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque 2000. Sirio was so impressed with Jens’ skills in the kitchen that he offered him the opportunity to become sous-chef at this New York landmark. After four years of working in Manhattan, Dahlmann then headed south to become executive chef at Palm Beach’s prestigious Café L’Europe.

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

And once Jens began wowing foodies in Florida, it wasn’t all that long ’til the Mouse came a-calling. Mickey wanted Dahlmann to shake things up in the kitchen over at WDW’s Flying Fish Café. And he did such a good job with that Disney’s Boardwalk eatery the next thing Jens knew, he was then being asked to work his magic with the menu at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.

From there, Dahlmann had a relatively meteoric rise at the Mouse House. Once he became Epcot’s Food & Beverage general manager, it was only a matter of time before he wound up as the executive chef in charge of this theme park’s annual International Food & Wine Festival. Which – under Jens’ guidance – experienced some truly explosive growth.

“When I took on Food & Wine, that festival was only 35 days long and had gross revenues of just $5.5 million. When I left Disney in 2016, Food & Wine was now over 50 days long and that festival had gross revenues of $22 million,” Dahlmann admitted during a recent sit-down. “I honestly loved those 13 years I spent at Disney. When I was working there, I learned so much because I was really cooking for America.”

And it was exactly that sort of experience & expertise that Darden wanted to tap into when they lured Jens away from Mickey last year to become LongHorn Steakhouse’s new Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef. But today … Well, Dahlmann is offering tips to those of us who are thinking about cooking steak tips for the Fourth.

Photo by Jim Hill

“When you’re planning on grilling this holiday, if you’re looking for a successful result, the obvious place to start is with the quality of the meat you plan on cooking for your friends & family. If you want the best results here, don’t be cheap when you go shopping. Spend the money necessary for a fresh filet or a New York strip. Better yet a Ribeye, a nice thick one with good marbling. Because when you look at the marbling on a steak, that’s where all the flavor happens,” Jens explained. “That said, you always have to remember that — the higher you go with the quality of your meat — the less time you’re going to want that piece of meat to spend on the grill.”

And speaking of cooking … Before you even get started here, Jens suggests that you first take the time to check over all of your grilling equipment. Making sure that the grill itself is first scraped clean & then properly oiled before you then turn up the heat.

“If you’re working with a dirty grill, when you go to turn your meat, it may wind up sticking to the grill. Or maybe those spices that you’ve just so carefully coated your steak with will wind up sticking to the grill, rather than your meat,” Dahlmann continued. “Which is why it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes prior to firing up your grill properly cleaning & oiling it.”

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of heat … Again, before you officially get started grilling here, Jens says that it’s crucial to check your temperature gauges. Make sure that your char grill is set at 550 (so that it can then properly handle the thicker cuts of meat) and your flattop is set at 425 (so it can properly sear thinner pieces of meat).

Okay. Once you’ve bought the right cuts of quality meat, properly cleaned & oiled your grill, and then made sure that everything’s set at the right temperature (“If you can only stand to hold your hand directly over the grill for two or three seconds, that’s the right amount of heat,” Dahlmann said), it’s now time to season your steaks.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold here. You can’t be shy when it comes to seasoning your meat. You want to give it a nice coating. Largely because — if you’re using a char grill — a lot of that seasoning is just going to fall off anyway,” Jens stated. “It’s up to you to decide what sort of seasoning you want to use here. Even just some salt & pepper will enhance a steak’s flavor.”

Then – according to Dahlmann – comes the really tough part. Which is placing your meat on the grill and then fighting the urge to flip it too early or too often.

“The biggest mistake that a lot of amateur cooks make is that they flip the steak too many times. The real key to a well-cooked piece of meat is just let it be, “Jens insisted. “Of course, if you’re serving different cuts of meat at your Fourth of July feast, you always want to put your biggest thickest steak on the grill first. If you’re also cooking a New York Strip, you want to put that one on a few minutes later. But after that, just let the grill do its job and flip your meat a total of three or four times, once every three minutes or so.”

Of course, the last thing you want to do is overcook a quality piece of meat. Which is why Dahlmann suggests that – when it comes to grilling steaks – if you’re going to err, err on the side of undercooking.

“You can always put a piece of meat back on the grill if it’s slightly undercooked. When you over-cook something, all you can do then is start over with a brand-new piece of meat,” Jens said. “Just be sure that you’re using the correct cut of meat for the cooking result you’re aiming for. If someone wants a rare or medium rare steak, you should go with a thicker cut of steak. If one of your guests wants their steak cooked medium or well, it’s best to start with a thinner cut of meat.”

Photo by Jim Hill

As you can see, the folks at Longhorn take grilling steaks seriously. How seriously? Just last week at Darden Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, seven of these brand’s top grill masters (who – after weeks of regional competitions – had been culled from the 491 restaurants that make up this chain) competed for a $10,000 prize in the Company’s second annual Steak Master Series. And Dahlmann was one of the people who stood in Darden’s test kitchens, watching like a hawk as each of the contestants struggled to prepare six different dishes in just 20 minutes according to Longhorn Steakhouse’s exacting standards.

“I love that Darden does this. Recognizing the best of the best who work this restaurant,” Jens concluded. “We have a lot of people here who are incredibly knowledgeable & passionate when it comes to grilling.”

Speaking of which … If today’s story doesn’t include the exact piece of info that you need to properly grill that T-bone, just whip out your iPhone & text GRILL to 55702. Or – better yet – visit  ExpertGriller.com prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers is a sincere if somewhat surreal way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont

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Some people travel halfway ‘around the planet so that they can then experience the excitement of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. If you’re more of a Slow Living enthusiast (as I am), then perhaps you should amble to Brattleboro, VT. Where – over the first weekend in June – you can then join a herd of cow enthusiasts at the annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Now in its 16th year, this three-day long event typically gets underway on Friday night in June with a combination block party / gallery walk. But then – come Saturday morning – Main Street in Brattleboro is lined with thousands of bovine fans.

Photo by Jim Hill

They’ve staked out primo viewing spots and set up camp chairs hours ahead of time. Just so these folks can then have a front row seat as this year’s crop of calves (which all come from local farms & 4-H clubs) are paraded through the streets.

Photo by Jim Hill

Viewed from curbside, Strolling of the Heifers is kind of this weird melding of a sincere small town celebration and Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade. Meaning that – for every entry that actually acknowledged this year’s theme (i.e. “Dance to the Moosic”) — …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something completely random, like this parade’s synchronized shopping cart unit.

Photo by Jim Hill

And for every piece of authentic Americana (EX: That collection of antique John Deere tractors that came chugging through the city) …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something silly. Like – say – a woman dressed as a Holstein pushing a baby stroller through the streets. And riding in that stroller was a pig dressed in a tutu.

Photo by Jim Hill

And given that this event was being staged in the Green Mountain State & all … Well, does it really surprise you to learn that — among the groups that marched in this year’s Strolling of the Heifers – was a group of eco-friendly folks who, with their  chants of “We’re Number One !,” tried to persuade people along the parade route not to flush the toilet after they pee. Because – as it turns out – urine can be turned into fertilizer.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of fertilizer … At the tail end of the parade, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who were dealing with what came out of the tail end of all those cows.

Photo by Jim Hill

This year’s Strolling of the Heifers concluded at the Brattleboro town common. Where event attendees could then get a closer look at some of the featured units in this year’s parade…

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

But as for the 90+ calves who took part in the 2017 edition of Strolling of the Heifers, once they reached the town common, it was now time for a nosh or a nap.

Photo by Jim Hill

Elsewhere on the common, keeping with this year’s “Dance to the Moosic” theme, various musical groups performed in & around the gazebo throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Jim Hill

While just across the way – keeping with Brattleboro’s tradition of showcasing the various artisans who live & work in the local community – some pretty funky pieces were on display at the Slow Living Exposition.

Photo by Jim Hill

All in all, attending Strolling of the Heifers is a somewhat surreal but still very pleasant way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont. And that’s no bull.

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, that could be a bull. To be honest, what with the wig & all, it’s kind of hard to tell. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sunday, June 4, 2017

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Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick’s Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage

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Let’s at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon – the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food – loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th.

“I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That’s terrific,” Kevin said.

But then when it comes to what many Americans eat & drink on St. Paddy’s Day (i.e., a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Which is then washed down with a mug of green beer) … Well, that’s where Dundon has to draw the line.

Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon displays a traditional Irish loin of bacon with Colcannon potatoes and a Dunbrody Kiss chocolate dessert. Photo by Tom Burton. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Green beer? No real Irishman would be caught dead drinking that stuff,” Kevin insists. “And as for eating corned beef & cabbage … That’s not actually authentic Irish fare either. Bacon and cabbage? Sure. But corned beef & cabbage was something that the Irish only began eating after they’d come to the States to escape the Famine. And even then these Irish-Americans only began serving corned beef & cabbage to their friends & family because they had to make do with the ingredients that were available to them at that time.”

And thus begins the strange tale of how corned beef & cabbage came to be associated with the North American celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Because – according to Dundon – beef just wasn’t all that big a part of the Irish diet back in the 19th century.

To explain: Back in the Old Country, cattle – while they were obviously highly prized for the milk & cheese that they produced – were also beasts of burden. Meaning that they were often used for ploughing the fields or for hauling heavy loads. Which is why – back then — these animals were rarely slaughtered when they were still young & healthy. If anything, land owners liked to put a herd of cattle on display out in one of their pastures because that was then a sign to their neighbors that this farm was prosperous.

“Whereas pork … Well, everybody raised pigs back then. Which is why pork was a staple of the Irish diet rather than beef,” Dundon continued.

So if that’s what people actually ate back in the Old Country, how then did corned beef & cabbage come to be so strongly associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the States.? That largely had to do with where the Irish wound up living after they arrived in the New World.

“When the Irish first arrived in America following the Great Famine, a lot of them wound up living in the inner city right alongside the Germans & the Jews, who were also recent immigrants to the States. And while that farm-fresh pork that the Irish loved wasn’t readily available, there was brisket. Which the Irish could then cure by first covering this piece of meat with corn kernel-sized pieces of rock salt – that’s how it came to be called corned beef. Because of the sizes of the pieces of rock salt that were used in the curing process – and then placing all that in a pot of water with other spices to soak for a few days.”

And as for the cabbage portion of corned beef & cabbage … Well, according to Kevin, in addition to buying their meat from the kosher delis in their neighborhood, the Irish would also frequent the stores that the German community shopped in. Where – thanks to their love of sauerkraut (i.e., pickled cabbage) – there was always a ready supply of cabbage to be had.

“So when you get right down to it, it was the American melting pot that led to corned beef & cabbage being found in the Irish-American cooking pot,” Dundon continued. “Since they couldn’t find or didn’t have easy access to the exact same ingredients that they had back in Ireland, Irish-Americans made do with what they could find in the immediate vicinity. And what they made was admittedly tasty. But it’s not actually authentic Irish fare.”

Mind you, what Kevin serves at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs (which – FYI – Orlando Magazine voted as the area’s best restaurant back in 2014) is nothing if not authentic. Dundon and his team at this acclaimed gastropub pride themselves on making traditional Irish fare and then contemporized it.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Take – for example – what we serve here instead of corned beef & cabbage. Again, because it was pork – rather than beef – that was the true staple of the Irish diet back then, what we offer instead is a loin of bacon that has been glazed with Irish Mist. That then comes with colcannon potatoes. Which is this traditional Irish dish that’s made up of mashed potato that have had some cabbage & bacon mixed through it,” Kevin enthused. “This heavenly ham – that’s what we actually call this traditional Irish dish at Raglan Road, Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – also includes some savory cabbage with a parsley cream sauce as well as a raisin cider jus. It’s simple food. But because of the basic ingredients – and that’s the real secret of Irish cuisine. That our ingredients are so strong – the flavors just pop off the plate.”

Which brings us to the real challenge that Dundon and the Raglan Road team face every day. Making sure that they actually have all of the ingredients necessary to make this traditional-yet-contemporized Irish fare to those folks who frequent this Walt Disney World favorite.

“Take – for example – the fish we serve here. We only used cold water fish. Salmon, mussels and haddock that have been hauled out of the Atlantic, the ocean that America and Ireland share,” Kevin stated. “Not that there’s anything wrong with warm water fish. It’s just that … Well, it doesn’t have the same structure. It’s a softer fish, which doesn’t really fit the parameters of Irish cuisine. And if you’re going to serve authentic food, you have to be this dedicated when it comes to sourcing your ingredients.

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

And if you’re thinking of perhaps trying to serve an authentic Irish meal this year, rather than once again serving corned beef & cabbage at your Saint Patrick’s Day Feast … Well, back in September of last year, Mitchell Beazley published “The Raglan Road Cookbook: Inside America’s Favorite Irish Pub.” This 296-page hardcover not only includes the recipe for Kevin’s Heavenly Ham but also it tells the tale of how this now-world-renown restaurant wound up being built in Orlando.

On the other hand, if you happen to have to the luck of the Irish and are actually down at The Walt Disney World Resort right now, it’s worth noting that Raglan Road is right in the middle of its Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This four day-long event – which includes Irish bands and professional dancers – stretches through Sunday night. And in addition to all that authentic Irish fare that Dundon and his team are cooking up, you also sample the fine selection of beers & cocktails that this establishment’s four distinct antique bars (each of which are more than 130 years old and were imported directly from Ireland) will be serving. Just – As ucht Dé (That’s “For God’s Sake” in Gaelic) – don’t make the mistake of asking the bartender there for a mug of green beer.

“Why would anyone willingly drink something like that?,” Dundon laughed. “I mean, just imagine what their washroom will look like the morning after.”

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 17, 2017

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