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An Extra Special Halloween Treat: The other “Haunted Mansion” movie

In conjunction with the nice folks over at, JimHillMedia now tells the tale of the movie that might have been. The "Haunted Mansion" film that Walt Disney Studios almost produced (twice) back in the 1990s.



If you're a Disneyana fan, I'm sure that you'll recognize the following couplets:

Serpents, spiders, tale of a rat,
Call in the spirits, wherever they're at,

Rap on a table, it's time to respond,
Send us a message from somewhere beyond

But this next line may not be as familiar to you:

I beseech you to hear this spell that I cast
Let us now see dark deeds from the past

"Now what is that, Jim?" I hear you asking. "A line that Madam Leota says in Disney's new 'Haunted Mansion' movie?"

Well … It is a line that Madam Leota says. And it is from a "Haunted Mansion" screenplay. Just not the one that Walt Disney Pictures opted to produce earlier this year. The one that Robert Minkoff directed and Eddie Murphy stars in.

But — that said — this is still a line from a "Haunted Mansion" screenplay. One that the Walt Disney Company toyed with producing twice in the 1990s. Only to have the studio eventually take a pass on the project.

So how did I manage to get my hands on this screenplay? Well, you see … Sigh … I co-wrote it.

You see: Way back in the 1990s, long before I became the fat-but-happy webmaster that you see before you today, I was a struggling screenwriter. And I — and my then-writing partner, Sheila Greenberg — were doing everything we could to get noticed. By that I mean: we pitched ideas to anyone who would listen. Pestered producers. Annoyed agents. Cranking out spec scripts for "Star Trek: The Next Generation" as well as "Murphy Brown. Only to be told — time and again — "Thanks but no thanks."

Even so, we never got discouraged. We always kept hustling. Forever on the lookout for that big break. And then one day — in the late Spring of 1993 — it actually happened. This amazing opportunity dropped straight into our laps.

Sheila and I learned (in a way that's far too convoluted to recount here) that then-Disney Studio head Jeffery Katzenberg was actually toying with the idea of making a series of movies which would be based on the Mouse's most popular theme park attractions. And among the films that Jeffery most wanted to make was a movie about Disney's "Haunted Mansion."

Now — totally co-incidentally — six months earlier, I had spent several delightful days at the home of Marc Davis. Where this veteran Imagineer had walked me through the entire developmental history of Disneyland's "Haunted Mansion" attraction. Which left me with pages of great notes about the real back story of this ride, who all these characters were that you encountered in your journey through the house, etc.

My original intention was to use all this info that Marc had given me as deep background for an article that I hoped to sell to "Disney News." But then — when this other opportunity suddenly came along — Sheila and I (along with the help of my then-wife, Michelle Smith) jumped at it.

So we took all the mythos and characters that Marc had told me about, and then attempted to cobble together a coherent narrative. Something that would try and explain the real origin of Disney's "Haunted Mansion" attraction. Why all these creepy but colorful characters ended up haunting this particular house.

And — given that we'd never have been able to written this screenplay without Mr. Davis' input — Sheila and I decided to pay tribute to Marc … as well as many of the other Imagineers who worked on this attraction and/or inspired us along the way. Which is why — in our "Haunted Mansion" script — virtually every character is named (in some way) after someone who worked at WED at one time or another.

Anyway … We work frantically for a few weeks until our "Haunted Mansion" script is done. A nice, tight PG-rated supernatural comic-adventure. In short, exactly what Jeffrey Katzenberg was supposedly looking for.

At least, that's what we were told by our agents at UTA when Disney finally got ahold of our screenplay. The reaction of the studio was immediate. They supposedly loved our script. Particularly the merchandising possibilities of the project. So much so that — in early November of 1993 — Sheila and I actually met with the senior staff of Disney's gaming division. Why for? Because these guys wanted to talk with the two of us about taking the characters and concepts that we'd created for our "Haunted Mansion" screenplay and using those as the basis for the Walt Disney Company's first-ever role playing game.

It was a pretty exciting time. Which — sadly — abruptly came to an end when — later that year — Disney's accountants finally got the box office totals for "Hocus Pocus" in hand. Given how miserably this PG-rated supernatural comic-adventure had done at theaters worldwide, Katzenberg abruptly announced that there was absolutely no audience out there for this sort of motion picture.

And — once Jeffrey's pronouncement came down from on high the doors started slamming shut at the Mouse House. From that day forward, no one at Disney would return any of our phone calls about the "Haunted Mansion" project. And Sheila and I went from being hot-hot-hot to cold-cold-cold in a matter of seconds.

Which was — admittedly — a kind of a disappointment. But as our new agent at Coast-to-Coast Talent explained: "That's Hollywood for you, guys. Things happen real fast out here. Scripts can go from being the absolutely hottest thing in the development pipeline ever to dead-as-a-doornail in a day's time. That's just the nature of the beast out here on the coast."

But then — almost as an after-thought, sensing that her two new clients needed a bit of bucking up in order to get over this crushing disappointment — our agent then said: "But — on the upside — sometimes things that are dead in the water can come roaring back to life. So who knows? Maybe your 'Mansion' script will catch a break. It's unlikely. But it's happened before."

Well — as it happens — our "Haunted Mansion" script actually DID catch a break. 3½ years later, our agent at Coast-to-Coast gets a call from someone on Disney's TV side of the house. And — as it turns out — the Mouse is now interested in producing our "Haunted Mansion" screenplay. Only as a special TV movie which was scheduled to air on or about Halloween 1998 on ABC's "The Wonderful World of Disney."

So our rep at Coast-to-Coast haggles back and forth with Keystone Productions (The production house that Disney wanted to have produce the TV movie version of "The Haunted Mansion." Keystone and the Mouse — as it turns out — did a lot of stuff together. You know all those "Air Bud" sequels that Buena Vista Home Entertainment keeps releasing? Keystone Productions produces those. Anyway …). The end result is — in March of 1997 — Sheila and I end up signing a contract that gives Keystone Productions a six month option on our screenplay. We're each receive a nice little check for our efforts, along with the promise of lots more dough to come — should the TV movie that's based on our "Haunted Mansion" screenplay ever actually go into production.

But that — sadly — never happend. What went wrong? To be honest, Sheila and I have never gotten a satisfactory answer to this particular question. Near as we can figure, given the disappointing ratings that the "Tower of Terror" TV movie (which aired on ABC's "The Wonderful World of Disney" in October 1997) racked up, Disney television executives quickly lost most of their enthusiasm for making a TV movie that was based on "The Haunted Mansion."

So — after six months — the rights to our "Haunted Mansion" screenplay quietly reverted back to Sheila and myself. And that script went back into a drawer. Where it probably would have stayed … Except that — late last year — Walt Disney Pictures announced that they were making a live action feature film that was based on the "Haunted Mansion" theme park attraction.

Now I'd LIKE to be able to tell you that the movie that the Mouse is releasing next month is based on Sheila and my screenplay. But — based on what I've been able to uncover so far about Disney's soon-to-be-released "Haunted Mansion" movie — Mickey's in-house writer, David Berenbaum (Best known for his work on the "Country Bears" screenplay) seems to have crafted a scary tale of his very own. Which makes use of some of the same characters and situations that Sheila and I used, but — in the end — is a very different take on the same material.

Which should have been the end of this story. Except … Well … I didn't like the idea of Sheila and I's version of the "Haunted Mansion" screenplay ljust anguishing in a drawer somewhere. Never to be seen or read again.

So I thought — BEFORE the new Eddie Murphy "Haunted Mansion" movie comes out — that I'd give you folks the chance to take a look at the version of the film that Disney almost produced. Twice.

So — after getting Sheila's permission (Thanks, Sheila. I owe you big-time for this) — I got in touch with the nice folks over at And we worked out a deal.

The actual story of how Sheila and I's version of the "Haunted Mansion" movie almost got produced will be housed at But the screenplay itself … That would become part of the great collection of "Mansion"-related material that already has on display over at their website. You'll find a link to the script at the tail end of this article.

A word of warning, though. Before you throw yourself headfirst into this 108 page long opus, please keep in mind that Sheila and my "The Haunted Mansion" screenplay is NOT some great unproduced masterpiece of American cinema. This film was meant to be a supernatural comic-adventure aimed at a family audience. So don't expect Stephen King-type scares and/or Oscar Wilde-type wit.

"So just what exactly were you trying to do here, Jim?," you ask. Well, Sheila and I both grew up on the Disney films of the late 1960s / early 1970s. You know, your "Blackbeard's Ghosts," your "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." Those motion pictures that strictly adhered to the Mouse House style of movie-making. Where the audience was guaranteed a big special-effects-filled slapstick-laden final sequence (where the villains always got their comeuppance) before the film finally segued into a happy ending.

That's the sort of "Haunted Mansion" movie that Sheila and I were trying to put together. Something that attempted to catch the flavor and the feel of those old Robert Stevenson / Bill Walsh / Don DaGradi Walt Disney Productions productions.

That … And we had one hard-and-fast rule as we wrote this script. That — on the very last page of our "Haunted Mansion" screenplay — that the haunted house that served as the central setting for our movie had to become the place that we all know and love from our numerous visits to the Disney theme parks. A place where …

Happy haunts materialize,
And begin to vocalize,
Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize!

And — for the most part — I think that Sheila and I succeeded. Oh sure, there are part of this "Haunted Mansion" screenplay that still make me cringe. That make me wish that we'd had the chance to do one more polish, one more rewrite.

But it's a little too late for that now. But not too late for you to take a peek at the "Haunted Mansion" movie that Disney almost made back in the 1990s. I offer this script up as a special Halloween surprise to all our loyal JHM readers. (Though it's ultimately up to you to decide if this screenplay's actually a trick or a treat.)

So what are you waiting for? Just click on the link below, which will take you over to the page where has Sheila and I's screenplay stored.

There's no turning back now!

Happy Halloween, everyone!


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 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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