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“Faster than the Speed of Gravity” – A Tower of Terror Review

The Official Opening of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is approaching quickly, DCA Central.com brings you it’s review of the new Tower of Terror.

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When Disney’s California Adventure (DCA) opened in February, 2001, I remember the rumors on the Internet that The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror would be a part of the first phase of new construction on the agenda for the new park.

It made total sense; the Hollywood Picture Backlot (HPB) screamed for an E-ticket attraction. While HPB was one of the more highly themed and interesting areas of the park, it seriously lacked a strong central icon.

Disney Animation was featured as the premier attraction in HPB, but Animation never drew in the crowds that a ride like California Screamin’ or Grizzly River Run did. I’ve never seen a huge number of people standing around waiting for Animation. Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney Animation but it’s a bit slow for my tastes (it’s a great place to kick back in the air conditioning).

It was in January 2002, Disney’s Annual Report included Michael Eisner’s announcement that DCA was going to be the home of a second generation Tower of Terror attraction. This was really great news for all the west coast people like myself (even though I live in Phoenix, AZ) who loved Tower of Terror but rarely had the time and money to travel to Orlando to go on it.

The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror at DCA is based on the popular Disney attraction at the Disney-MGM Studios in Florida, which opened on July 22, 1994. The Tower of Terror is themed after a “lost” episode of the Twilight Zone in which five people entered an elevator on a dark and stormy night only to have the building struck by lightning. Part of the building disappeared along with the guests, never to be heard from again.

DCA Central.com’s Tower of Terror Ride Review (Spoilers Included!)
As guests walk up to the Tower they realize just how immense the building is. I have to admit I was really surprised since I’d always been at a distance from the building. The 183-feet tower sports the Pueblo Deco style, popular in the Los Angeles area during the 1920s.

“Pueblo Deco, popular when the hotel was built in the 1920’s, is characterized by the clean, geometric shapes common to the Art Deco style. However, from southwestern Native American art, it borrows elements such as radial sunbursts, arrowhead shapes, and simplified thunderbird motifs.A prime southern California landmark in the Pueblo Deco style is the L.A. City Hall Building.”

The building is properly detailed to be both timeless and haunting, which is wonderful for the setting of a “lost” Twilight Zone episode.

The overall impression of the tower is creepy and imposing. When guests look up at the crumbling “Hollywood Tower Hotel” signage, which part of flickers at night, hearing the other guests screaming out at the top of the elevator shafts, and you really start to think one of two things: “What have I got myself into?!” or “Oh, yeah!”

At the base of the Tower is a dry water fountain with a huge plaque inscribed with “Hollywood Tower Hotel”. As you stand there for a couple seconds the plaque starts to flicker with little fiber optic lights from behind with the words, “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror”.

To the left of the fountain and around the corner is the Tower Hotel Gifts, and to the right is the main entrance and FASTPASS distribution center for the attraction. The main entrance is a gold metal gate with Standby line on the left and FASTPASS return on the right. If you look around at the queue space what you notice is the FASTPASS guests have their own personal little queue space on the west side of the building which goes around another dry water fountain and a small angel statue. The Standby guests have a much larger queue space, with a good amount of overhead cover to keep guest shaded on those hot summer days.

Inside the Tower
The two queue lines converge on the main entrance of the hotel, and the lobby is really the beginning of the Tower of Terror experience. Guests come into a excellent lobby, ripe with period furniture in yellows, reds, and wood.

Everywhere in the lobby are spider webs and layers of dust. Around the lobby are indications that guests at the hotel just disappeared in quite a hurry on the night of the accident: a newspaper sits on the arm of a chair, a little girl’s doll lies on the couch, and a set of luggage waits at the front desk. As guests look around the room, they notice a card game at one table waiting for the next move, for a late night snack set at another table, and a large, dust and cobweb covered owl sitting on a perch at a center table.

A bellhop stands behind a podium taking “guest reservations” in parties of ones, twos, or fours. Guests are moved into another holding area on either side of the lobby on the other side of the front desk. If they get sent to the left, guests have to cross in front of the two (oddly not three) original guest elevators, which plummeted to the bottom on the fateful night of October 31, 1939. The two elevator doors are detailed with twisted metal and the walls look like they had experienced a huge amount of stress.

At opposite ends of this area are two paintings, portraits of Louis Napoleon and Eugenie hanging at opposite ends of the area behind the front desk. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was the nephew of Napoleon I. He ruled as emperor of France from 1848 to 1870. What they’re doing at the Hollywood Tower Hotel, I don’t know.

Around the corner guests enter a small library filled with tall bookcases, a window on one side, an armchair, and an old-fashioned black-and-white television set placed high up atop a bookcase. Numerous trinkets and collectibles are placed around the room, many representing different stories from the “Twilight Zone” television series that originally ran for five years on CBS, from 1959 to 1964. One of the noticeable items in the room is a miniature spaceman from the episode “The Invaders,” featuring Agnes Moorhead, who played Endora on the television show, “Bewitched

The doors shut behind and the lights go out, a flash of lightning and thunder comes from the window. The original “Twilight Zone” music starts up, and the television flickers to life, directing guest’s attention. Guests hear the voice of Rod Serling, the Twilight Zone’s creator and host, start the show.

The story begins at the Hollywood Tower Hotel in 1939, amidst the “glitz and glamour” of Hollywood’s premier hot spot for the famous and the well-to-do, all until one dark and stormy night something happened. Five people (four guests and a bellhop) entered the guest elevator, and the building was struck by lightning. The front of the building disappeared, along with the guests on the elevators.

The show cuts to back to a clip of Rod Serling in front of a service elevator in the basement of the hotel. The service elevator is still in operation and is “waiting” for you to recreate the accident on that stormy night.

“The episode from which Rod Serling’s appearance was taken is entitled ‘It’s A Good Life,’ written by Rod Serling. This episode tells the story of a little boy who can read minds and control people.”

Rod invites you to experience what those five people experienced that night. A door in the back of the room opens, guests file out of the room and around the corner into a huge, two-story working boiler room overflowing with details. The boiler room contains six loading areas, three on each floor.

The room has hanging chains, gauges, and pipes all over. Creaks and noises come from all directions. There are several areas around the room where workers had set up their workstations, with notes, pictures, and personal items. On the second floor is a chalk drawing of a doorway from the episode, “Little Girl Lost“, which included a doorway into another dimension. A huge boiler sits at the end of the room with what appears to be a giant face.

Guests come around the corner of the walkways to a cast member who assigns them to an elevator. The guests are queued into one of six lines on the floor, representing which row of the elevator they’ll ride in during the show.

“Faster Then The Speed of Gravity”
The elevator door opens and guests are led to the waiting service elevator car with three rows of four and three rows of three, for a total of 21 people per car. Guests have a seat in their pre-assigned rows, and fasten their seat beats with a large yellow strap. The bellhop cast member reminds guests to keep their personal items like hats and glasses safely in hand or secured. They then process to ask everyone to put their hands up and then pull on the yellow seat belt strap.

With that said, the cast member retreats and wishes everyone a safe ride. The doors shut and the fun begins.

The lights go out, stars come out and Rod Serling’s voice fills the room, talking about the night of the accident when the hotel entered the Twilight Zone. The car begins to move backwards into the drop shaft. The car then quickly moves up the tube to the first show scene.

The doors open to a hallway with a large wooden table and huge oval mirror, and a voice tells you to wave good-bye to the people in the mirror, because they’re about to enter the “Twilight Zone“.

The door snaps shut and the elevator falls a floor the second show scene. The doors open to a long hallway with doors all down the way to a window at the end. As guests look down the hall, the five people who disappeared on the night of the accident appear as ghosts all translucent and blue. As they beckon guests to join them, the room appears to be struck by lightning and the ghosts disappear again. The walls display electricity running through them and the hallway fades to black with stars. At the end of the hallway, guests can see the a little image of an elevator with the five ghosts open and drop out of sight.

And then BOOM! The elevator drops! The elevator goes thought several up and down drops, finally rising all the way to the top of the shaft over looking the Disneyland Resort. A huge flash and the car plummets down the shaft. About half way down, the elevator stops, drops again, goes all the way back up and drops for the final time to the bottom of the shaft.

The doors open back up with Rod Serling giving you advice that the next time you “check into a haunted hotel” you better make sure you check the reservation, or you may become a permanent resident of the “Twilight Zone“.

After The Terror…

The exit from the elevator goes directly through the same area where you loaded up, but you typically exit around the corner, down the stairs if you where on the second floor of the boiler room, and around into a long hallway that goes behind the back of the boiler room to the exit. At the exit you’re dropped into the image capture area, where you can view you reaction to the drop. The Tower Hotel Gift shop is quite nice with lots of cool Tower of Terror specific merchandise, like “Hollywood Tower Hotel” bathrobes and towels. There are plenty of shirts, coffee cups, and some stranger stuff like swishy eyeballs.

At the “Picture If You Will…” area of the gift shop is where you may purchase the image captured from the top of the first large drop. The quality has improved quite a bit since Disney first started using digital images year ago that even I purchased a copy. Guests have a choice between 5×7 and 8x10s for around $15 each.

At the exit to the Tower Hotel Gift shop you exit to the outside on the east side of the building looking out at the side of the Hyperion Theater and a huge wall with trees and bushes.

Conclusion
Disney’s California Adventure’s latest edition is a much-welcomed attraction to the park. The theming around the attraction could have used a little bit more time and effort on the part of Disney before the park originally opened in February 2001.

The Tower of Terror team apparently was aware of that fact because they spent some time and money re-theming the side of the Animation building to look like a 1930s version of the Walt Disney Animation Studio with a large Mickey Mouse billboard along the side, and working lights in the windows.

But, given the fact that the Tower of Terror wasn’t going to be installed so quickly, I guess who knew that the theming back there wouldn’t have been conducive to the attraction. The theming behind the gate was done really well. The FASTPASS area and queue line look great. The trees and shrubs will look much better once they’ve had a chance to grow and get more “unkempt” with time.

The attraction ride itself is very enjoyable and thrilling. The attraction was designed with newer technology that is more reliable, but also re-programmable just like the original in Orlando.

Overall, if you’re into thrill rides at all, guests would be advised to go on Tower of Terror.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror officially opens May 5, 2004.

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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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