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Happy Topsy Turvy Day!!

In honor of January 6th (AKA the “Feast of Fools”), Jim tells you why a particular sequence ended up getting cut out of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

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Tess Turbo22 recently wrote to ask:

Dear Jim:

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” has always been one of my favorite Disney animated films. But there’s a moment in the movie that I don’t quite get.

What am I talking about? It’s this short sequence right before the film ends. Phoebus has just saved Quasi’s life by catching the hunchback as he was plummeting by a window in the cathedral. As the soldier pulls him to safety, Esmeralda comes rushing in. The three of them share a smile, then Quasimodo takes Esmeralda and Phoebus’ hands. The hunchback then makes a big show of placing his hands on top of and underneath theirs. It almost looks as if Quasi is giving his blessing to the soldier and the gypsy girl.

Don’t get me wrong, Jim. I mean, I understand the emotional effect that the filmmakers were trying to achieve at that moment in the movie. They wanted the audience to believe that Quasimodo’s now okay with the idea of Esmeralda & Phoebus being together. That the hunchback won’t let his own feelings for the gypsy girl get in the way of her chance of happiness with the soldier.

But still, it feels (at least to me, anyway) like there’s something missing here, Jim. Given the way this particular sequence is staged, I can’t help but think that this is the payoff for some other moment in the movie that we didn’t get to see.

Am I right, Jim? Was there originally supposed to be another scene in Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” that set up this whole Quasi-takes-Esmeralda-and-Phoebus’-hands bit? Or am I just reading too much into this moment in the movie.

I figured that – if anyone would know about this – it would be you, Jim. So whaddaya say, oh knower of all things Disney? Is there really a story here?

Actually, there is, Tess. There originally was supposed to have been an earlier moment in Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” that would have set up that Quasi-takes-Esmeralda-and-Phoebus’-hands bit toward the end of the movie. As to the reason that this particular sequence ended up getting cut out of the finished version of the film … well, you can blame the fidget factor.

To explain: Had Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” stuck with the original storyline that screenwriters Irene Mecchi, Tab Murphy, Jonathan Roberts, Bob Tzudiker and Noni White had mapped out, the movie’s “Court of Miracles” sequence would have been much, much longer than it does now.

Just to refresh your memory (for those of you who may have forgotten the storyline of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”): The “Court of Miracles” is this special hideaway that the thieves and the underclass of Paris retreat every night. Judge Claude Frollo has been searching for years for the gypsies’ secret hideout to no avail.

But Quasimodo and Phoebus — thanks to a handy clue that Esmeralda provides them with — are eventually able to find the super secret entrance to the “Court of Miracles.” Unfortunately, as soon as they enter the gypsies’ underground lair, they are captured, gagged and brought before Clopin. He immediately orders them executed.

Nooses are quickly thrown around Phoebus and Quasimodo’s necks. And Clopin is just about to pull the switch that releases the trapdoor on the gallows when Esmeralda appears. She explains that these two are her friends (friends to all the gypsies, actually) which is why they don’t deserve to be hanged.

With that, Clopin turns to the gagged Phoebus and Quasimodo and says “Why didn’t you say so?” He then releases the two intruders …

At least that’s how this sequence now goes in the finished version of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” But — had the animators stuck with the original expanded storyline for this sequence — the hunchback and the soldier wouldn’t have gotten off quite so easy.

To explain: Borrowing a story idea from Hugo’s original novel (where Esmeralda takes pity on the poet Gringoire — who is about to be hanged by Clopin, the King of Thieves, for accidentally discovering the whereabouts of the “Court of Miracles” — and marries him, thereby saving him from the gallows), Clopin was going to insist that the only way that Phoebus would be able to escape death now was if he became a gypsy himself.

Of course, the only way you can become a gypsy is if you are born into this way of life and/or if you marry into it. Which is how Phoebus finds himself plucked from the gallows and plopped in front of the preacher. Who of course, is Clopin.

Now the soldier starts to squawk until he realizes that his bride-to-be is actually Esmeralda. Which somehow makes this punishment much more palatable.

Now you may be wonder why these same rules didn’t apply to Quasimodo. Well, according to the original screenplay of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” just because Quasi had recently been elected “King of Fools,” the gypsies consider him exempt from this particular punishment.

Still, as the newly crowned King of Fools, he is expected to officiate at Phoebus and Esmeralda’s wedding. In particular, Quasimodo must give the final blessing at the end of the service.

Now keep in mind that — at this point in the picture — Quasi is still carrying a huge torch for Esmeralda. And the fact that Clopin and the rest of the gypsies are now insisting that he play such a prominent part in Phoebus and Esmeralda’s wedding is just tearing the hunchback up inside.

Perhaps my favorite moment in this entire sequence comes when Quasi — clearly heartbroken — tries to slip away from the ceremony. As the hunchback attempts to step back into the shadows and flee, Clopin spies him.

CLOPIN: Where are you going?

Taking Quasimodo’s arm, Clopin leads him back to the banquet table.

CLOPIN: Has no one offered you a drink?

Clopin picks up two goblets, one of which he hands to Quasimodo.

CLOPIN: Here.

Clopin then lifts his glass to Phoebus, Esmeralda and the rest of the assembled guests.

CLOPIN: A toast to love.

Phoebus then lifts up a goblet of his own and turns toward Quasimodo.

PHOEBUS: A toast to Quasimodo. Without your help, my friend, I would never have found my one true love.

ESMERALDA: Thank you, Quasimodo.

For just a moment, Quasimodo clearly doesn’t know what to do or say. In his goblet, the hunchback catches a quick glimpse of his own reflection. The curved shape of the glass distorts Quasi’s image, making him look — just for an instant — like a regular guy. A normal man with relatively handsome features.

All sorts of emotions quickly play over Quasi’s face. His heartbreak at losing Esmeralda. His embarrassment of being forced into this extremely awkward position. The sad knowledge that — had he looked anything like his reflection in the goblet did — the homely hunchback might have actually had a shot at winning the fair gypsy’s heart.

Shaking all of this off, Quasimodo suddenly raises his goblet.

QUASIMODO: To love and friendship.

CLOPIN: Spoken like a true gypsy.

With the wedding toast complete, all that must be done now to complete the ceremony is for the King of Fools to give his blessing to the happy couple. Quasi is clearly reluctant to do this. But thanks to Clopin’s constant prodding, the hunchback is just about to take Esmeralda and Phoebus’ hands when Frollo and his troops coming rushing in and interrupt the wedding.

So you see. you WERE right, Tess. That sequence toward the end of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” really was the pay-off for a scene that you never got to see: Esmeralda and Phoebus’ aborted gypsy wedding. By freely taking their hands in that manner and finally giving the soldier and the gypsy girl his blessing, Quasimodo really is indicating that he now thinks that it’s alright for these two to get together.

And that whole gypsy wedding sequence sounds pretty moving, doesn’t it? So why did this particular portion of the “Court of Miracles” sequence of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” make it into the finished film? As I mentioned earlier, the fidget factor played a big part in this decision.

“And what, pray tell, is the fidget factor?” you might ask. To be honest, it’s based a lot on how kids in test audiences react to various sequences in early work-in-progress versions of the movie. If a particular scene or song in a movie really doesn’t hold the attention of the under-5 crowd, it’s usually targeted for tightening — if not outright elimination from the feature.

Some of you make recall that this is what happened to Disney’s “Pocahontas” and its love ballad, “If I Never Knew You.” Arguably one of the more achingly beautiful songs ever written for a Disney feature length animated film, “If I Never Knew You” went over like a lead balloon with the kiddies during “Pocahontas” test screenings. I’ve heard stories about how children were literally racing up and down the aisles right after Mel Gibson and Judy Kuhn began belting Alan Menken and Stephen Schwarz’s truly beautiful tune. Which is why this rather sweet song ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor.

With Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Schwartz and Menken actually wrote two different ballads for the movie’s gypsy wedding sequence: “In a Place of Miracles” and “As Long as There’s a Moon.” With the hope that at least one of them might catch on with test audiences and help prevent this particular sequence in the movie from getting cut.

Alas, it was not meant to be. As nice as “In a Place of Miracles” and “As Long as There’s a Moon” might be (and they’re actually both pretty terrific songs. So much so Alan and Stephen had hoped that one or both of these tunes might become the film’s liftable ballad. That song — like “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin” and/or “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King” — that has a life outside of the movie. That tune that finds its way into the Top 40, that helps promote the project to teens and adults), kids in the test audiences really began to fidget as soon as the gypsy wedding sequence got underway. It was only when Frollo and his men entered the “Court of Miracles” that the film finally won back their attention again.

Which ultimately, is why the gypsy wedding section of the “Court of Miracles” sequence of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” ended up getting cut. Which is why that hand clasping moment between Quasimodo, Phoebus and Esmeralda later on in the film doesn’t pay off nearly as well as it probably should.

Now aren’t you glad that you asked, Tess?

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.

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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