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Do you want to join Captain Jack Sparrow on his next voyage? Then why not audition to be an extra in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” ?

Sande Alessi Casting is searching for a few good scalawags. Jim Hill shares the particulars about these piratical auditions … PLUS gives us a peek at the “Pirates III” teaser poster … PLUS posts the final listing for JHM’s guess-the-opening-weekend-gross-of-“Dead-Man’s-Chest” contest

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Barrett B. writes in to say:



I’ve really been enjoying Lady F. ‘s series about working on “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” That’s always been my dream of mine. To an extra on a big Hollywood film like “Pirates.” To stand on the set in costume and watch as the film’s cast & crew make the magic happen.



Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises


Given that you seem to be so well connected at Disney, Jim, I don’t suppose that you could help me make my dream come true. Based on what you said in Monday’s article, they’ve still got to shoot another six-to-eight weeks of stuff to finish up “Pirates III.” Will they be using extras in any of those scenes? And if so, do you know anyone who’s associated with this picture who can help me get a job as an extra?


Thanks in advance for your help,


Barrett B.


Dear Barrett B.


My typical answer to an e-mail like this usually goes something like this: “You do realize that I’m the guy who lives ‘way the hell out in the woods of New Hampshire, right? The one that a lot of Disney executives despise? Which is why I’m really not the one you want to talk with if you want special treatment from the Mouse House”


But then — almost within minutes of receiving Barrett’s e-mail — another note popped up in my in-box. Which read:


PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3 OPEN CALL


Open Casting Call – Through 15 August 2006


Pirates of the Caribbean 3


PIRATES HOTLINE


818.725.2905


Sande Alessi Casting


13731 Ventura Blvd., Top Floor


Sherman Oaks, CA 91423


Monday through Friday, 11am – 3pm


Seeking Pirates — men age 18+, all shapes and sizes, all ethnicities: Asian, Spanish, French, African, Syrian, Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Turkish, Armenian, Arab, Persian, Caucasian, South American, Pacific Islander, Eskimo, etc…


You must be an extreme character type! We need extremely skinny, very tall, very short, hunchback, little people, unusual facial features and body types, exotic amputees, albinos, etc.


Bring your own current 3×5 photo (does not have to be professional). If you do not have a photo, we can take one for you for $2.00


It’s weird how the universe works sometimea, don’t you think?


Anyway … There’s your answer, Barrett. If you really want to be an extra on the set of “Pirates III,” Sande Alessi is looking for some new rogues to appear in “At World’s End.” So if you’re going to be Southern California now through August 15th, why not swing by their office in Sherman Oaks and see if you actually have what it takes to become a member of Captain Jack Sparrow’s crew?


Speaking of “Pirates III” … Last month while Jeff Lange & I were at the Licensing Show in NYC, Jeff was actually able to snag a shot of the teaser poster for the next film in the trilogy:



Photo by Jeff Lange


Pretty neat looking, don’t you think?


Also, in this past Monday’s story, I mentioned that officials at Walt Disney Studios were being rather closed-mouth when it came to discussing how they thought “Dead Man’s Chest” might do over its opening weekend. Out of concern of repeating what just happened with “Cars.”


Some JHM readers supposedly thought that I just made up that part of Monday’s column. That there was just no way that an official from Walt Disney Studios would actually talk that way to a member of the press. Well, if that were really the case … Then how do you explain this quote from Chuck Viane, the president of Buena Vista Distribution, which appears in today’s “Variety“?



But Disney is staying mum on how big it thinks “Pirates” will be. “I have no idea. I am not even going to fathom a guess,” Mouse House distrib topper Chuck Viane said. “No matter how you answer that question, it can come back to hurt you.”


That sounds sort of familiar, don’t you think?


But JHM readers … They’re not afraid to hazard a guess as to how “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” will do over its opening weekend. As of midnight last night, 170 folks have posted their predictions about this motion picture will do at the box office:







































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































JHM reader’s guess at “Dead Man’s Chest” opening weekend gross

JHM reader’s name

$46.6 million

Chlane

$52.5 million

Kingmob

$61.3 million

kingofswing

$67.5 million

disney my second home

$68 million

A. K. Hershey

$68.1 million

Stevie1derful

$69.5 million

i love donald

$71.3 million

kelderek

$71.6 million

Chipnme1962

$72.3 million

TerryTiger

$74.5 million

curmudgeon

$77.5 million

Topollino

$78.4 million

Ripthorn

$79.5 million

TikiBird 73

$80.1 million

pfitzsi

$81 million

ConnerLives

$82 million

outsider624

$82.5 million

colelaus

$82.6 million

OrangeWhip

$82.7 million

Gargamike

$84.5 million

t1carroll

$85 million

leodavinci

$85.3 million

Fictitious

$85.5 million

peoplemover

$86.6 million

tolkoto

$86.9 million

kronos77

$87,550,000

Rob

$88 million

mattyp0119

$88.2 million

bigWALL

$89.2 million

original19

$89.7 million

swenocha

$89.8 million

Oogie13oogie

$90.1 million

Disneyfamily

$90.2 million

englishboy

$90.3 million

LenTesta

$90.6 million

DizneeProfitEar

$91.5 million

Lee

$91.7 million

kgforce

$92.3 million

wylander

$92.3 million

Mister Glass

$92.5 million

nwe

$92.6 million

Dancing with the Stars!

$93 million

CraigSam

$93.4 million

unit42ffd

$93.5 million

shoewee

$93.6 million

outsider624

$94.2 million

RogerRmjet

$94.2 million

rjrip

$94.5 million

peanutj

$94.6 million

pschnebs

$94.8 million

abogdan

$95.2 million

dclyde06

$95.2 million

bravesfn1

$95.7 million

percy

$96.2 million

doceagle

$96.3 million

dsnypaul

$96.4 million

DwAdale

$97.4 million

Addie Boy

$98.2 million

technobrat

$98.5 million

mschwert11

$98.6 million

Moonliner

$99 million

orljustin

$99.5 million

NubtheSquirrel

$100 million

RoadDogBC

$100 million

N2DVD

$100.2 million

icrra

$100.3 million

rricg03

$100.4 million

Bixby

$101.2 million

crow

$101.5 million

rjrice6173

$101.7 million

ESVADJ

$102 million

thunderl

$102.2 million

Yensid321

$102.4 million

DisneyScott

$102.6 million

Nitemuze2

$102.6 million

brotherdave

$103 million

ckane123

$103.2 million

Cybergosh

$103.5 million

Electric Panda

$104.2 million

neon

$104 million

Bill5925

$104,444,000.44

btbarlow

$104.7 million

RidePhoto101

$105 million

supersanborn

$105 million

mawnck

$105.6 million

toddhs

$106.2 million

DisneyFanatic001

$107.1 million

swfanatic

$107.35 million

jeffsch

$107.4 million

wolverine92

$108.1 million

brer frog

$108.5 million

RRapier33

$109 million

juampi

$109.6 million

Davidgrahammd

$110 million

maskdmirag

$110.35 million

BigDaddy

$110.8 million

sgtslovak

$111 million

Smilee306

$111.11 million

fliewr

$111.12 million

craiglisa

$111.5 million

mickeyfan97

$112 million

Abigail’s Uncle

$112.5 million

WDWFanatic

$112.5 million

a-mad

$112.6 million

Buck

$113.13 million

jordn613

$113.7 million

k-man

$113.7 million

volvodrivingdude

$114 million

anonymouse

$114.35 million

bhb007

$115.1 million

AuntDisney

$115.4 million

zapatabe

$115,527,014

Xited4disney

$116.2 million

kfrogpaul

$116,525,113

RichrayM

$116,985,000

cruisedude4

$117,110,708

zenifrax

$117.2 million

jocksparrow

$117.3 million

ocjedi

$117.3 million

mark4407

$117.43 million

Tomas Soderlind

$117.46 million

WelcomeHomeOKW

$117.5 million

manutdfan

$117.5 million

POTCgurl

$117.6 million

greenyskp

$117.7 million

TZA

$118.1 million

anthrid

$118.215 million

Skull Rock Pirate

$118.5 million

sure

$119 million

Livia52001

$119.3 million

pixiegirltink

$119.6 million

RenRuiz

$120.3 million

tericson

$120.7 million

futureman

$121 million

Jackthepumpkinking

$121.6 million

cbissonette

$122 million

campdisney

$122.5 million

AlexK

$122.7 million

JenLoy

$123,023,023.42

GeoffreyNeasedotcom

$123.6 million

PintoColvig

$124.3 million

Friar Storm

$124.6 million

Epcotrob

$124.6 million

ChuckBo

$124.7 million

pixiesfan37

$125 million

Skibammer

$126.2 million

AnnB

$126.3 million

indnchf

$126.4 million

MosquitoControl

$126.5 million

pacomama

$127.1 million

juanpablor

$127,217,009.42

hagen

$128.2 million

megaelch

$128.4 million

jennifer1013

$129.5 million

vishazz

$130 million

brresler

$130.5 million

mgbrooks

$131 million

GofForever

$132.6 million

muppetaphrodite

$133.4 million

blackcauldron85

$135.63 million

aggie96

$136.2 million

mnmears

$142 million

Uncle Ed

$144.4 million

Gracie

$148 million

ennsm

$150 million

Bryangiss

$160 million

C33

$167.5 million

jonyyeh

$210.5 million

dlr50th

$317 million

yensidtlaw1969

$321 million

otisney

Just a reminder: The JHM reader who comes closest to predicting the exact figure that this Gore Verbinski film earns over its first Friday, Saturday and Sunday in domestic release will win a “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” gift pack. Which includes:



  • A “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” movie storybook
  • A “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” storybook with spyglass
  • A “Pirates of the Caribbean” Ultimate Sticker book
  • A “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest — The Curse of Davy Jones” picture book
  • A “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest — Swann Song” picture book
  • A “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest — The Chase is On” picture book
  • A “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest — Search for Jack Sparrow” deluxe coloring book
  • A “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” reusable sticker book
  • A “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” coloring book with tattoos

The winner of JHM’s latest contest will be announced on Tuesday morning after the final official box office tallies for this upcoming weekend have been posted. Thanks to all of you who decided to take part in this contest … and good luck.


My apologies if today’s column seems to be a bit on the short side. But I now have to go get on line for the first matinee of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” After all these months of yakking about Disney’s latest release, I thought that it might be kind of fun to see if the finished product was actually worth all of this fuss.


You folks have a great weekend, okay? We’ll talk again on Monday …


j

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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

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

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

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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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