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Carl Fallberg and the Lost Disney Book

Instead of posting the usual Jim Hill Thursday book review, Jim invited Jim Korkis to fill in JHM readers on a long-promised Disney studio history book that (sadly) won’t be turning up at a bookstore near you anytime soon.

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Over the years, one of the greatest frustrations I have had as a Disney fan and animation fan is trying to track down Disney and animation books that were announced and often listed as being published and yet further research eventually revealed that they never existed.

In my files is an excerpt from an interview with animation storyman Bill Danch who claimed that he wrote a book on animation with Dave Fleischer and that Fleischer took full credit for it. It is not listed in Leslie Carbarga’s terrific book on the Fleischer studio and G. Michael Dobbs (who almost twenty years ago was supposedly writing a definitive book about the fabulous Fleischers and was listed as “the official biographer”) never mentioned it either.

When Disney animator Bill Tytla passed away, his widow announced she would be producing a book entitled THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WILLY T. (I assume some of that information eventually was used in John Canemaker’s outstanding program book for the 1994 Katonah Museum of Art exhibition of Tytla’s work since he lists Adrienne Tytla’s DISNEY GIANT, “an unpublished, undated manuscript” as one of his references.)

How many of us waited patiently for John Culhane’s book on animation that was announced on the flyleaf of his 1981 book SPECIAL EFFECTS IN THE MOVIES? Culhane was not just the inspiration for Mr. Snoops in THE RESCUERS and Flying John in FANTASIA 2000 but also a respected author on animation including the book on FANTASIA. I got a chance to talk with John about the book a few years ago and he assured me he had boxes and boxes and boxes of interviews and notes for that animation book but he kept getting sidelined on other projects.

And how many of you have a copy of the Spring 1991 catalog from Publishers Group West which was distributed that year at the American Booksellers Association and announced THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE FEATURE FILMS OF DISNEY by Jim Korkis and John Cawley? There was even an ISBN number for this 200 page trade paperback which would be “a complete guide to all of the animated features from the Walt Disney Company. Covers the entire behind-the-scenes story for each film, including exclusive interviews and rare illustrations.” The publisher even had a mock-up cover for the book (that he never approved through either John or I) that would have been guaranteed to get us all sued by the Disney Company. However, the publisher was, to put it politely, an outright crook and when John and I finally wised up to that fact, we cancelled that project although I notice it still gets listed as “published but out-of-print.” I think I still have the notes and sample chapters somewhere in a box in my storage unit.

Anyway, at a much earlier American Bookseller Association gathering, a small publishing house, Heimburger House Publishing, was announcing their upcoming list of titles including:

DISNEY’S MEN, WOMEN AND MOUSE:
The Fascinating Story of Walt Disney’s Golden Age of Animation at the famed Hyperion Studios in Hollywood
by Carl Fallberg

The Disney Studio was located at 2719 Hyperion Ave. in Hollywood from 1926 to 1940. The Hyperion Studio assumed a legendary aura synonymous with the Golden Age of Animation-a period when the animated cartoon developed into a true art form in a remarkably short time.

In DISNEY’S MEN, WOMEN AND MOUSE, Carl Fallberg recalls working at the Disney Studios in the 1930s as an assistant director and storyman on Disney’s landmark animated features such as SNOW WHITE, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, FANTASIA and BAMBI.

Included in this illustrated history are personal interviews with men and women who worked for Walt, along with a look at Walt’s decision-making capabilities, his personality, creative ability, sincere dedication to his dream, his affection for his employees and a glimpse at what it was like to work for Disney.

Tentative book length of 200 pages, 8½ x 11.

Who is Carl Fallberg? Thousands upon tens of thousands of people worked for the Disney Company for almost a century and very few of their names (especially those who worked in the early years of the Disney Company) are known by the general public.

Carl Robert Fallberg was born in 1915 and joined the Disney Studio in 1935. He was listed as an assistant sequence director (assisting Perce Pearce) on SNOW WHITE and is credited as a storyman on BAMBI and the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment of FANTASIA. He left the Disney Studio during World War II and joined the Marines. After the war, he apparently found some work at various animation studios before settling in to the life of a freelance writer turning out tons of work for DELL/WESTERN/GOLD KEY comics.

His work for those comics included almost every character in the Walter Lantz, Warner Brothers, Hanna-Barbera, DePatie-Freleng and more stable of animated characters. More importantly, he was a very important contributor to the Disney line of comic books.

Remember those classic MICKEY MOUSE SERIALS in the back of WALT DISNEY COMICS AND STORIES illustrated by the great Paul Murry? A number of different artists were tested before Murry’s first serial was published in WDCS 152, in May 1953. This tale, “The Last Resort” is a milestone in the history of Mickey Mouse not only because it was Murry’s first serial comic but because it was also written by Carl Fallberg. Up until 1962, it was Murry and Fallberg who produced almost all of those serials in WDCS for close to a decade. Since, by his own admission, during his career Murry never wrote a story of his own, it was Fallberg’s writing that helped create that universe of mystery and adventure for Mickey Mouse and Goofy that enchanted millions of readers in those back pages of the popular comic book. “The Last Resort” was a terrific story where Mickey and Goofy are vacationing at the Whispering Pines Hotel, but soon discover that somebody is trying to scare them away and the story set the pattern for even more wonderful stories.

Fallberg worked for DELL/WESTERN/GOLD KEY from 1952 until 1977 where he wrote Disney stories about The Li’l Bad Wolf, Jiminy Cricket, Ludwig Von Drake, Scrooge McDuck, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and more familiar character names that would fill this page to overflowing. (I believe the last comic book work that was written by Fallberg was “Goofy the Kid” which appeared in DISNEY COMICS in 1990.)

In the Seventies, Fallberg wandered back into animation working at Warner Brothers on THE SPEEDY AND DAFFY SHOW and at Hanna-Barbera where he worked on shows like THE THREE ROBONIC STOOGES, LAFF-A-LYMPICS, and THE ALL NEW POPEYE HOUR among others.

Fallberg also worked on “special” projects like writing ADVENTURE IN DISNEYLAND (the Richfield Oil Giveaway from 1955 that was offered at Disneyland) and the 1976 MICKEY AND GOOFY EXPLORE ENERGY for Exxon (which he later redesigned to promote Epcot’s UNIVERSE OF ENERGY attraction). Did you have a copy of the Sears WINNIE THE POOH COLORING BOOK from 1975? Fallberg wrote and designed that book along with issues of many Disney Magazines like WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY 1969-1970. Do you have the Whitman Big Little Books from the mid-Sixties like DONALD DUCK AND THE LUCK OF THE DUCKS or DONALD DUCK AND THE FABULOUS DIAMOND FOUNTAIN? Carl wrote those as well as other books that featured licensed characters from the major animation studios.

In addition, he found time to write for syndicated comic strips like BUGS BUNNY and ROY ROGERS in the Fifties and Sixties and later DISNEY’S TREASURY OF CLASSIC TALES (Sunday only from 1976-1980 and 1982-1987) as well as some of the Disney’s Christmas oriented strips that appeared in newspapers each year from around 1976-1984.

Quite an impressive resume! However, why was Heimburger House publishing his book of memories at the Disney studio since that publishing house did (and still does) print books for railroad fans?

Well, for nearly six years after he got out of the Marines, Fallberg wrote and illustrated a monthly one panel strip for RAILROAD MAGAZINE entitled FIDDLETOWN AND COPPEROPOLIS. “To anyone familiar with the lore of Colorado’s 3-foot lines, the feeling persists that within the pages of FIDDLETOWN AND COPPEROPOLIS lies a disguised pictorial history of those railroads in humorous vein. Narrow gauge railroading represented the zenith of informality in a now-vanished era, a mood the artist has been able to recapture,” stated R.H. Kindig, the President of the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club when the book was first published by Hungerford Press of Reseda, California in 1960.

Fiddletown and Copperopolis were chosen as likely small towns for the rickety 19th century narrow gauge railroad to service and the cartoons show the same detail and love that Ward Kimball used to devote to his classic old time car cartoons (“Asinine Alley” which Fantagraphics reprinted some wonderful examples of in the first three issues of its 1990 publication GRAPHIC STORY. The title “Asinine Alley” was Kimball’s take-off on “Gasoline Alley” and the cartoons showed the trials and tribulations of early motorists…including one having his car hijacked by a creature from outer space!)

Well, Heimburger House reprinted Carl Fallberg’s classic book of turn of the century railroading cartoons and it is still available today and can be ordered from www.amazon.com for fifteen dollars! “This delightful collection of railroad cartoons by Fallberg of Walt Disney fame is a 144-page, softbound, 9 5/8 x 6 1/4” book illustrating the trails and tribulations of a narrow gauge “uncommon” carrier. To anyone familiar with the lore of America’s three-foot railroad lines, the feeling persists that within these pages lies a disguised pictorial history of prototype narrow gauge railroads in a very humorous vein. The key word in Fallberg’s illustrations is exaggeration,” is the recent description of the book from the publisher.

As much fun as the railroad book is, I was more excited to see a book of memories about Disney’s Hyperion Studio. Every ABA, I asked Heimburger House about the book which still listed it as “coming soon” and was assured by the representatives at their table that it was close to completion. I used to write a column for the ASIFA-Hollywood Newsletter, INBETWEENER, and in one of my columns in 1995 I was bemoaning the fact that I was going crazy waiting for this book to be published because I was very excited to hear stories of the early days of the Disney Studio.

I was saddened when the editor of INBETWEENER forwarded me a note sent to the newsletter in regards to that column by Fallberg’s daughter, Carla: “Thank you for your interest in my father, Carl Fallberg’s involvement in the art of animation. He was in the Story Department at Disney’s, working on ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ in FANTASIA and on BAMBI. He also worked as an assistant director on SNOW WHITE. He left the studio when World War II broke out and joined a training film unit in the USMC. After the war, he worked in various animation studios and eventually ended up working freelance for Disney writing comic books. He is now 79 years old and living in a senior board-and-care, unable to take care of his daily duties because he suffers from brain damage due to early alcohol abuse. I am just glad that he still has enough of his mind together to sign his name. He had to stop work on his book about the old Disney days because of his disability. Sadly, the right side of his brain, the creative side was affected the most. Keep enjoying the art of animation-old and new-and I will let him read your appreciation.”

Apparently, Carl did not suffer much longer. He passed away May 9, 1996 taking with him many great untold stories. A few years later I heard that Carla Fallberg was looking for a writer with an understanding of Disney history to help put together her father’s notes and rough draft chapters into a book that would be a final tribute to her father but that project apparently never happened.

When you go to Amazon.com to order a copy of FIDDLETOWN AND COPPEROPOLIS, be very careful because under Carl Fallberg, they also list DISNEY’S MEN, WOMEN AND MOUSE as having been published but is currently “out of print.” But for a long while, they also did the same for THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE FEATURE FILMS OF DISNEY by Jim Korkis and John Cawley and I only discovered that fact when I relocated to Florida and several people kept writing to me asking if they could buy a copy. Take it from me, after decades of trying to track down obscure Disney and animation books, these two were never published. However, there are some very interesting books on those topics that were published and are equally obscure. I’ll try to alert you to some of those in another column.

Until then, I strongly recommend that you visit The Ultimate Disney Books Network handled by Didlier Ghez (the author of an outstanding book on Disneyland Paris which is equally highly recommended). I don’t always agree with Didlier’s descriptions of Disney books but I applaud and am astonished at his extensive listings of Disney books published and out of print. However, you won’t find the Fallberg or Korkis and Cawley book there either!

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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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