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Disney DVDs goes to the dogs with “Old Yeller” & “Savage Sam”

Jim Hill takes a look at two recent DVD releases from Buena Vista Home Entertainment: Walt Disney Productions’ 1957 live action classic, “Old Yeller,” and that film’s lesser known sequel, 1963’s “Savage Sam.”


on defines the “dog days of summer” as that period between July and September when it’s just too darn hot to do much of anything. Or words to that effect.

Anyway … Given that the above phrase describes the waning days of August 2004 to a T … Well, I thought that now might be a good time to head back into the house & give in to our canine instincts. (I.E. Find a nice, cool, comfortable spot on the couch and sack out). Then — once we’re settled — we can fire up the DVD player and take a look at two recent dog-themed releases for Buena Vista Home Entertainment, “Old Yeller” and “Savage Sam.”

“Old Yeller” (I’m sure) is familiar to all you baby boomers out there. After all, this Walt Disney Productions live action classic has been making dog lovers cry for over 47 years now. The story of the movie (which I’m sure you’re all already familiar with) goes something like this:

The Coates family — which consists of the father, Jim (played by Fess Parker); mother, Katie (Dorothy McGuire); elder son, Travis (Tommy Kirk) and younger sibling, Arliss (Kevin Corcoran) — lives on a remote ranch in Texas in the late 1860s. It’s a rough life with few luxuries. Which is Travis & Arliss are thrilled when a big yellow mongrel dog enters their lives: Old Yeller.

Mother Katie isn’t immediately won over by this mutt. But when Old Yeller saves Arliss from a bear and Travis for a herd of wild pigs, Mrs. Coates changes her tune. This frontier mom is particularly grateful that the big yellow dog is part of the family when Old Yeller protects her from a rabid wolf.

Unfortunately, Old Yeller gets bit by that wolf. And — given that her husband is off somewhere, out in the wilderness — it’s now up to poor Travis to put the family pet out of its misery. I guarantee you that there won’t be a dry eye in the house when Tommy Kirk finally shoulders his rifle and heads out back to do what needs to be done.

Yeah, “Old Yeller” does have some extremely sad moments. But — on a whole — this is a very entertaining & uplifting film. I’d even go so far as to say that “Old Yeller” is actually one of the best live action motion picture that Walt Disney Productions produces during the era when Walt was still running the show.

Which is why I’m pleased to see that Buena Vista Home Entertainment has done such a nice job with the DVD release of this Robert Stevenson film. BVHE has really loaded up this special 2-disc “Vault Disney” edition of “Old Yeller” with lots of extra features. Among these are:

  • An audio commentary track for the film featuring Fess Parker, Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran as well as Bob Weatherwax, the son of “Old Yeller” (Who’s real name — FYI — was Spike) ‘s original trainer, Rudd Weatherwax. Which every good Nick at Nite fan should know is the man who originally trained Lassie.

    Anyway … It’s Kirk who actually does most of the talking on this audio track, with Parker & Corcoran chiming in whenever they can get a word in edgewise. Mr. Weatherwax’s comments are mostly restricted to how they got Spike to perform various tricks during the filming of “Old Yeller.” Which — as you might imagine — involved a lot of learned behaviors as well as hidden food.

  • For those of you who didn’t already get your fill of Kirk listening to “Old Yeller” ‘s audio commentary track, you can learn even more about Tommy’s 8 years at Walt Disney Studios by watching “Conversations with Tommy Kirk” — a 14 minute long interview with the actor.
  • Or — if you’d just prefer to learn more about how this Disney classic actually came together — I suggest that you watch “Old Yeller: Remembering a Classic.” This 36-minute documentary features appearances by Parker, Kirk, Corcoran, Weatherwax as well T. Beck Gipson, the son of Fred Gipson — the author of the original “Old Yeller” book. It’s actually a nice nostalgic look back on the production.
  • But — me personally — I’d have to say that my favorite feature on this 2-disc DVD was the “Ranch of the Golden Oak” featurette. Which offers an in-depth look at the 708-acre facility that the Walt Disney Company owns out in Newhall, CA. Lots of Disney films (Among them “The Parent Trap,” “The Apple Dumpling Gang” and “Pearl Harbor”) as well as non-Disney films (Among them “Back to the Future” and “Independence Day”) have been filmed here over the past 45 years.

There’s one other film that was also shot at Golden Oaks Ranch that you probably should know about … but don’t. And that’s “Old Yeller” ‘s sequel, “Savage Sam.”

“And why isn’t ‘Old Yeller’ ‘s sequel as well known as the original film?,” you ask. That’s a pretty interesting question, actually. A lot of the elements necessary for a successful sequel seem to be in place for this production. By that I mean: Key cast members (I.E. Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran and Jeff York — who played “Old Yeller” ‘s comic relief role, Bud Searcy) agree to reprise their roles. The script for “Savage Sam” was also based on a Fred Gipson novel. And — since the old Coates homestead set was still standing at Golden Oaks Ranch — Disney didn’t have much difficulty in recreating the first film’s primary setting.

But — in spite of having all of this stuff going for it — “Savage Sam” still misfired at the box office. When it was released to theaters in June of 1963, audiences pretty much ignored the picture.

So what went wrong? Some folks suggest that — because moviegoers had had to wait 6 years for an “Old Yeller” sequel — that there wasn’t all that much audience left by the time this motion picture finally debuted. Still others suggest that Walt should shoulder some of the blame here. Given that Disney was actually the guy who opted not to assign “Savage Sam” to the first film’s director, Robert Stevenson. But — instead — fobbed the project off on one of the studio’s lesser helmer, Norman Tokar.

That said, “Savage Sam” is still a pretty entertaining picture. Much more of a straightforward adventure than “Old Yeller,” this film follows the further adventures of Travis & Arliss Coates. Ma & Pa Coates are convienently out of town (visiting relatives, allegedly) as the picture gets underway. Which means the boys have to run the ranch all by themselves in their parents’ absense.

Of course, brothers don’t always get along. And Travis in particular is having trouble controlling his younger sibling. Rather than clearing brush, the young boy would much rather prefer to be chasing after a bobcat with the help of his brand new dog, Savage Sam.

Of course, it’s the chasing of that bobcat that actually starts the Coates brothers down the road down to some wild west adventure. Arliss runs off into the woods with Sam. Travis takes off after his brother with Lisbeth Searcy in tow (played by “Lost in Space” lovely, Marta Kristen). While these three are away from the ranch, they encounter a group of horse-stealing Indians. The Indians then kidnap Arliss, Travis & Lisbeth, with the idea of adopting the younger Coates boy and turning the Searcy girl into a squaw.

Travis? Eventually, he slips away. And — with the help of Savage Sam as well as some of the Coates’ friends & neighbors — eventually rescues Arliss & Lisbeth as part of a daring shoot-’em-up finale.

So — as you can probably see by the above description — you won’t be reaching for the Kleenex while you’re watching “Savage Sam.” Still, you’ll probably get a kick out of seeing all the veteran Disney players who put in appearances in this Norman Tokar film.

“Like who, fer instance?,” you query. For starters, there’s Brian Keith (AKA Uncle Bill from TV’s “Family Affair.” Though Disney fans probably know Keith best from his work in Disney’s 1961 live action release, “The Parent Trap”), Slim Pickens (Veteran western character actor. Though all you sci-fi fans probably know Slim best from his vocal performance as Old Bob in Walt Disney Productions’ gee-I-wish-I-were-“Star-Wars” epic, 1979’s “The Black Hole) as well as Royal Dano (Not a face that most people would know. But Disneyland fans know Dano’s voice intimately. For Royal provided Abe Lincoln’s speaking voice for the original version of “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln”). There’s also Jeff York who reprises his role as Bud Searcy, though most Disneyana fans probably know Jeff best from his performance as Mike Fink in that 1956 “Davy Crockett” sequel, “Davy Crockett and the River Pirates.”

Mind you, the above bits of trivia are more than you’ll find on the “Savage Sam” DVD. Buena Vista Home Entertainment — echoing the sentiments of earlier Walt Disney Productions execs (Who thought that this Norman Tokar picture was such a dog that they actually allowed “Savage Sam” to be aired on “The Wonderful World of Color” less than three years after the film’s initial theatrical release) — tossed this picture out on DVD with virtually no bonus features. No audio commentary. No original trailer. No nothing.

Still, I enjoyed watching “Savage Sam.” Why for? Well, there was this remarkable consistancy to all of the live action pictures that Walt Disney Productions churned out during this period in the studio’s history. The films’ mattes (thanks to Peter Ellenshaw) always looked great. The movies’ scores (Thanks to composer Oliver Wallace and music editor Evelyn Kennedy) always sounded terrific. Even these motion pictures’ set decorations (Thanks to the work of Disneyland vet Emil Kuri) had the same great attention to detail. Everyone still at the top of their game back then.

Of course, all of this would change when the 1970s finally rolled around. The Old Mousetro had been gone for quite a while by that point. But the folks at the studio kept cranking those pictures as if Walt were watching. Which is how (I think) Walt Disney Productions eventually lost its way. The people who ran the company back then were so busy looking over their shoulders — trying to remember how exactly Walt used to make these family-friendly films — hat they never even noticed that the audience that used to watch the studio’s films had actually wandered away. That Disney’s old audience was passing up the chance to see movies like “The Shaggy D.A.” and “Hot Lead and Cold Feet” in favor of films like George Lucas’ “Stars Wars” and Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

Now “The Shaggy D.A.” THAT was a real dog of a movie. Which we’ll talk about some other time. But — for now — if you’re looking for a nostalgic way to beat the heat, I suggest you pick up a copy of “Old Yeller” and/or “Savage Sam.” Two recent BVHE DVD releases that really do bear out this division’s new slogan: “There’s magic in the memories.”

Your thoughts?

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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