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A watered down version of “Why For”

Jim Hill tries to describe what Disney’s Long Beach theme park would have been like, reveals the schedule for this year’s tours of Disneyland & Walt Disney World as well as telling LA-based JHM readers where they can go to try & score their very own copy of “Mr. 3000.”

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First up, Rita S. from Long Beach, CA. writes in to say:

Jim —

I really love all the stories that you’ve been doing this week about the Disney theme parks. From Animal Kingdom’s drainage problems to Knott’s Berry Farm almost becoming Disney’s America. But when are you going to do a story about the Disney theme park that almost got built in my hometown: DisneySea?

I’d really love it if someday you did a multi-part story about Disney’s Long Beach project and why the DisneySea theme park never made it off the drawing board.

Rita —

Well … What with all my other long-overdue assignments, I can’t really start a long form story about Disney’s Long Beach project. Not without JHM readers threatening to come out to the woods of New Hampshire and lynch me.

But what I can do, Rita, is tell you that I share your fascination with the stateside version of DisneySea. Which is why — for almost 15 years now — I’ve been collecting research material on that proposed seaside resort and theme park. With the hopes of someday being able to do the definitive history of that ill-fated project.

What’s that you say? You know about about the Tokyo DisneySeas theme park, but never heard a word about the stateside version of this water-based Disney theme park. Here, then: Let me reprint an article from the first (and only) edition of the “Port Disney News” (I.E. A publication that the Walt Disney Company printed up and distributed to Long Beach residents back in 1991. With the hope that the city’s people would then get behind what the Imagineers were trying to build down by the harbor). This long out-of-print story should give you some idea about Mickey wanted to do with all that waterfront property.

Welcome to DisneySea! Here you will experience a thrilling journey through the mysteries, challenges and natural wonders of the sea. Among the highlights of your trip will be an intimate encounter with our planet’s most important environmental resource and the chance to participate in exciting research activities conducted by some of the leading oceanic scientists.

For millions of Southern California residents and visitors, this fantastic voyage may become a reality based on the conceptual master plan for one of the most innovative theme parks ever concieved by the Walt Disney Company. According to its designers, the goal of DisneySea is to enable everyone to experience the “marvels of nature’s secret world beneath the sea” and to gain first-hand experience of how the oceans affect human life as well as the life of the planet.

Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative, design, production and project management subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company responsible for the creation of Disney theme parks and attractions, has been charged to develop DisneySea. Its vision for Long Beach is a singular blend of entertainment and education through Disney-style rides and attractions, marine research facilities, an oceanarium and other aquatic adventures.

“Our goal is to sensitize millions of visitors each year to the enormous challenges and opportunities of our seas — our most precious resource — in a setting that encourages play and fantasy,” said David Malmuth, project director and vice president with Disney Development Company. “Basically, we want people to have fun. We also want our guests to directly experience the sea, to wonder about it, to ask questions and to have a memorable time.”

Oceana

The architectural centerpiece of DisneySea, Oceana would also serve as one of the main educational components of the park. Within this oceanarium, guests will experience true-to-life recreations of marine habitats and ecological systems from around the globe. Visitors will be able to touch, smell, feel and hear the world of water. Overhead walkways and undewater portholes would provide both bird’s-eye and crab’s-eye views.


Copyright 1991 The Walt Disney Company

In Oceana, interactive displays and hands-on participation will encourage children and adults to learn about the ocean in ways that are fun, challenging, and informative. For example, guests can see for themselves how gills work, how fish communicate, and how coral build their fragile, complex reefs. Through special lenses, they may see through the eyes of an octopus, a lobster, a penguin, and a whale. A variety of demonstrations and experiments will be specially created to educate as well as entertain.

Future Research Center

Set at the edge of DisneySea, the Future Research Center will be a state-of-the-art research laboratory where guests could interact with some of the nation’s top marine scientists conducting oceanographic research.

Southern Californians active in marine science will be invited to serve on an advisory board to direct the initial mission statement of the Center.

Through an ongoing dialogue with the local scientific community and nearby universities, joint research programs will offer students of all ages a rare opportunity for hands-on exploration.


Copyright 1991 The Walt Disney Company

Guests will be able to visit the heart of this functioning sea laboratory, observing scientists at work. Watching these experts, visitors can glimpse the future of man’s involvement with the seas and probe deeper into man’s relationship with the environment. For the more light-hearted adventurers, the Center will include a simulator adventure that will give guests a glimpse of the drama — and danger — faced by real explorers of the deep.

Interactive Programs for Students of all Ages

In addition to Oceana and the Future Research Center, DisneySea will offer more formal on-site educational programs. A variety of full and half-day programs will be designed to help teachers in their efforts to share the wonder of the ocean with students. Programs may include special field trips featuring multi-media presentations, tours and lectures for the Los Angeles and Orange County area schools.

Ocean Outreach Center

Similar to the Teacher’s Center in Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center, an Ocean Outreach Center is envisioned to assist visitors in their quest for more information about the ocean. Serving as a library of the sea, the Outreach Center will ofer computer terminals, reading rooms and research files designed to meet the need of guests, staff scientists, teachers and students.

Attractions Capture Spirit of the Sea

While plans for DisneySea are still evolving, Walt Disney Imagineering is planning attractions for visitors to enjoy the spirit of the sea with fun as the common denominator. For example,n on the exotic beaches of Venture Reefs, guests will enjoy scenic beach vistas from the Caribbean, Polynesian, and the Pacific. They’ll be entertained and invited to dine, shop, and take a dip in the the ocean, where they’ll find sunken ships and marine life “under the sea.”


Copyright 1991 The Walt Disney Company

Fleets of Fantasy, adventurous attractions, themed to storybook seafaring, would recapture the spirit and whimsey of turn-of-the-century amusement park rides. Mysterious Island and Hero’s Harbor would feature “high seas” thrill rides incoprorating thousands of years of mythic folklore relating to the ocean.

At the rim of the American continent and the Pacific Ocean, DisneySea will offer a unique entertainment experience — and a site of magic and wonder.

Sounds pretty snazzy, don’t you think? So why didn’t the Walt Disney Company actually go ahead with building this ambitious harborside resort? It’s a l-o-o-o-n-n-g story, folks. Which — when you really think about it — is entirely appropriate. Given that most of this story is actually set in Long Beach.

So tell what, Rita. As soon as I finish “Mary Poppins: From the Page to the Stage,” my “Light Magic” series, My “Tower of Terror” series as well as my “Muppets” article … I’ll be sure to get right to work cranking out that Disney / Long Beach story for you.

And — speaking of things that are long overdue — next, NatterNatter wrote in to say:

My wife and I are planning to go to Southern California later this year to attend Disneyland’s 50th anniversary celebration. Will you be offering any tours at that theme park this summer?

Dear NatterNatter:

Yes. As a matter of fact, I will be. This year — with the help of Keith & Scott over at Mouseketrips — I’ll actually be hosting a number of tours in Anaheim & Orlando over the next 11 months. With the hope that we’ll then be able to accommodate all of the people who have previously expressed an interest in taking part in a JHM tour.

The upcoming tour dates are:

  • Saturday, March 19th & Sunday, March 20th — Disneyland
  • Saturday, April 9th & Sunday, April 10th — Walt Disney World
  • Saturday, July 9th & Sunday, July 10th — Disneyland
  • Saturday, September 3rd; Sunday, September 4th & Monday, September 5th — Walt Disney World
  • Saturday, October 8th; Sunday, October 9th and Monday, October 10th — Disneyland
  • Thursday, December 1st & Friday, December 2nd — Walt Disney World

If you’d like to grab a slot on an upcoming JHM tour and/or get a bit more information about what a JHM tour of Disneyland or Walt Disney World is actually like (Small price! Big laughs! Lots & lots of stories that you probably never heard before!) … Then I suggest that you follow this link over to Mouseketrips.co. Where Keith & Scott will be glad to help you out.

Speaking of people who are glad … Not everyone who wrote into JHM this week was a happy camper. Take — for example — this e-mail I got from Tom H. Which said:

Jim —

What happened to this week’s JHM Readers contest? Here I was, all ready to answer a trivia question or make up a funny caption so that I could win a pin or a t-shirt or a coffee mug. And what do I get? You whining for pages about getting hit with a cease & desist letter.

Nobody wants to read about cr*p like that, Jim. What we really want is the chance to win prizes like a pound of coffee and a “Beauty & the Beast” screenplay.

So no more whining. Nobody cares about your legal troubles, Jim. Just shut up from here on in and make with the contests & the prizes.

Dear Tom H.

Sorry about that. I guess — what with getting hit with that “cease & desist” letter — I completely blanked on this week’s JHM readers contest. I promise that that won’t happen again.

But — hey — I notice that (from the info in your signature) that you seem to live in the LA area, Tom. Well, if that’s really the case and you’re still itching to try & win a prize this week … Then you might want to head over to the Staples Center later this afternoon.

Why for? Because between 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. this evening, the nice folks at Buena Vista Home Entertainment will be holding a special promotional event to celebrate this week’s release of the “Mr. 3000” DVD. And if you’d like to try & win your very own copy of this Bernie Mac film and/or meet some of the stars of this movie … Well, then I suggest you hightail it over to the corner of Georgia & 11th Street so that you can get in on the fun … And maybe win a prize or two, Tom H.

Okay, folks. That pretty much does it for this week. Next week should be a whole lot of fun here at JHM. Why for? Because on Thursday, I’ll be winging my way to Minneapolis. Where I’m going to try & cover the Walt Disney Company’s annual shareholders meeting for the site. Here’s hoping that I don’t get kicked to the curb again this year.

And — while I’m in the Twin Cities — I’m also going to try & attend one of those screenings of “Dream On Silly Dreamer” that are being held at the Crown Theater on Thursday night. Here’s hoping that I see a lot of you JHM readers there, particularly you big-time animation fans.

“Dream On” is a very special movie, folks. So you really don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to see this one, alright?

Anyway … You guys have a great weekend, okay? And we’ll all meet up here again next Monday morning, okay?

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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