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Has SaveDisney.com really lost its way?

With ill-conceived photo essays & lame readers polls, Jim Hill wonders: Is the “Save Disney” website — what with all of its mixed messages — actually doing Roy Disney & Stanley Gold’s “Oust Eisner” effort more harm than good?

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Earlier today, I got this note from BarksFan#1:

Boy, Jim. They must really hate you over at SaveDisney.com these days. Did you see their latest poll?

Which is your favorite SaveDisney website link?

  • MousePlanet.com
  • MiceAge.com
  • SongoftheSouth.net
  • AnimationNation.com
  • The Walt Disney Family Museum
  • CartoonBrew.com
  • LaughingPlace.com

JimHillMedia.com didn’t make the cut for “favorite SaveDisney website link”? Roy & Stanley used to run your articles all the time, Jim. Now you never ever see JHM stories up on SaveDisney.com anymore.

What happened? Did you and the SaveDisney people have some sort of falling out?

Well, it wasn’t actually a falling out, BarksFan#1. More that I dared to do the unthinkable. At least to Roy Disney & Stanley Gold’s way of thinking, anyway.

To explain: A few months back, I wrote an article that said that I really didn’t think that the “Save Disney” people were doing all that great a job of keeping the momentum going on their campaign. Of keeping their people motivated. Of keeping their cause focused, on message.

This – in the eyes of the “Save Disney” folks – was the height of heresy. Which was why – starting back in April – you began seeing fewer & fewer links to JimHillMedia.com articles popping up over at SaveDisney.com.

Of course, in order to fill the hole that was left by deliberately not running any more JHM stories over at their website, the “Save Disney” folks had to do something. Which was why they began linking to the articles that Al Lutz was posting over on his MiceAge.com site.

Which was all well & good. Except that the folks at SaveDisney.com then decided to borrow a few plays from Al’s old playbook. Which involved running these ill-conceived photo essays at their website which supposedly showed how poorly attended Disney’s California Adventure was and/or the rundown condition that the current management team had allowed Disneyland to fall into.

Merlin Jones’ Memorial Day DCA photo essay was particularly embarrassing. This piece actually attempted to make the case that – just because that theme park’s new “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” ride only had a 35 minute wait at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, May 31st – that this somehow meant that this brand-new $95 million attraction had to be considered a failure.

And Jones’ follow-up piece – which featured pictures of hundreds of happy Disneyland guests along with these over-written, over-ripe captions like “But all is not well in Walt’s Kingdom. A dark cancer spreads…” – was no prize either. It tried to portray Anaheim’s original theme park as the company’s crown gem. While – at the same time – Merlin couldn’t resist slipping in a few cheap shots at Disneyland’s expense. Like this caption for his photo of the “Partners” statue in the Hub. Which read:

“Walt surveys his Magic Kingdom (…or is he trying to flag down painters for the castle?).”

You see what I mean, folks? This isn’t balanced reporting. This is amateur night stuff. Certainly not the sort of thing that you want to see posted at a website that wants to be taken seriously by Wall Street.

Which was exactly the point that I was trying to make with my April 21st JHM article, “Who’s Gonna Save SaveDisney.com?” A story which – you may have already guessed – didn’t exactly endear me to the folks over at SaveDisney.com either.

But — as I keep telling you guys — I’m not here to make friends. I’m just here to report the news.

And the news these days (as I see it, anyway) is that Roy & Stanley’s once well-intended campaign has gone ‘way off track. That “Save Disney” now seems to have lost most of its momentum as well as a significant number of its supporters. Which is why I now seriously doubt that Disney & Gold will ever actually be able to achieve their goal: Which is to oust Michael Eisner as well as replace most of the people who currently sit on Disney’s Board of Directors.

Mind you, I take no pleasure in writing this, folks. (And please don’t misinterpret this article as being sour grapes on my part just because JimHillMedia.com was NOT selected to be a candidate in SaveDisney.com’s “favorite Disney-related website link” poll. I could honestly not care less about that poll.

I mean, when it comes to a “honor” like these, I think that Groucho Marx said it best:

“I would never want to belong to a club that would have me as a member.”

Anyway … Getting back to the whole “Save Disney” situation …) I just think that it’s really sad to watch as this campaign slowly caves in on itself.

I mean, do you remember when Disney & Gold’s efforts were actually taken seriously by the mainstream media? When reporters seemed to hang on Roy & Stanley’s every word?

Of course, that was back when it looked like these two former Disney directors might actually bring about some significant change at the Walt Disney Company. When it really seemed possible that Roy, Stanley & their followers would sweep Michael Eisner from power and “Bring Back the Magic” to the Mouse House.

Of course, that was back in early March. Right after Disney’s annual meeting in Philadelphia and the truly extraordinary things that happened there. But now it’s 10 days into June, folks. And Michael Eisner is still firmly entrenched at the Mouse House. More importantly, Disney’s embattled CEO shows no sign of stepping down anytime soon.

And as for Roy & Stanley … Well, their “Save Disney” campaign seems to have fallen right off the radar. I mean, when’s the last time you saw any major magazine or newspaper do a significant story about these guys?

I mean, sure. Occasionally you’ll see an anti-Eisner quote that’s invariably attributed to Stanley Gold pop up in an article in the business section every now & then. But that’s only because reporters now know that they can count on Stanley to serve up a good CEO-slamming sound-bite. But – beyond that – these two former Disney Board of Directors members & their “Save Disney” campaign have pretty much slid out of the spotlight.

Oh, I know. The “Save Disney” folks will tell you that this is all actually part of Disney & Gold’s master plan. That Roy & Stanley are deliberately keeping a low profile right now. But — come mid-November of this year – Round Two of their brilliant “Oust Eisner” campaign will finally kick into gear.

“And what’s going to happen in late November?,” you ask. Well, according to “Save Disney” insiders that I’ve spoken with … After the presidential election is over but just before the 2004 holiday season officially gets underway, “Save Disney” is supposed to formally announce its alternate slate of candidates. These are the folks that Disney & Gold will reportedly be proposing as possible replacements for Disney’s current board of directors.

Then – in December & January – “Save Disney” staffers will then allegedly begin contacting individual Disney shareholders as well as large institutional investors. With the hope that – if Roy & Stanley can actually persuade all of these people to take part in an unprecedented corporate recall campaign – Michael Eisner & his cronies will have no choice but to step down after the Walt Disney Company’s annual meeting in 2005.

Which means that Disney & Gold would then be able to install their very own brand new, hand-picked management team at the Walt Disney Company. And the Disney corporation would supposedly see a second flowering that hasn’t occurred since … Well … Since Michael Eisner first came on board at Walt Disney Productions back in 1984.

That’s a pretty exciting sounding scenario, don’t you think? And it even comes with a very Disney-like “The villain is vanquished / After much hardship & struggle, the heroes emerge triumphant” ending. My only problem is … Where’s all the support for “Save Disney” ‘s “Round Two” supposed to come from?

I mean, let’s remember, folks, that Roy & Stanley’s campaign started off as a grassroots effort. That it was all those individual shareholders who logged on at SaveDisney.com, all those animators who signed petitions, all those Disneyana fans who stood up and applauded when Walt’s nephew’s made his appearance at January’s N.F.F.C. “Kickoff” event that initially put this story on the map.

Sadly, a great number of those early “Save Disney” supporters have now supposedly wandered away. Some of them because they’ve allegedly grown tired of just sitting around, waiting to be told by Disney & Gold’s people what they should do next. Still others have bailed out of the “Save Disney” effort because they reportedly believe that Roy & Stanley squandered the opportunity that they had back in March. That these two should have done more to try & force Eisner from office back then.

Of course, the “Save Disney” people will tell you that that last claim is nonsense. That Disney & Gold did everything they could to try & turn up the heat on Eisner back in March. But who knew that this guy would be so determined to hang onto power?

Well, that may in fact be true. But – right now – “Save Disney” is dealing with a real perception problem. I mean, people go to the SaveDisney.com website these days and see the same old tired assortment of anti-Eisner newspaper articles and/or magazine stories. Or – worse yet- lame polls that ask insipid questions like “Which Mouseketeer most represents Disney?” (What a surprise. It’s Annette.)

So is it any wonder that – what with Roy & Stanley not being very forthcoming about what “Round Two” of their “Save Disney” campaign will actually entail and/or SaveDisney.com doing such a poor job of keeping the Disney faithful motivated – that”Save Disney” ‘s support base is slowly fading away?

I mean, it’s still a long time ’til November. And – if Disney & Gold don’t start doing a better job soon of motivating their troops – there may not be any troops left to rally when “Round Two” finally rolls around.

Again, I’m not saying these words out of anger or of spite, folks. As the banner at the top of this page clearly shows, I remain a supporter of the “Save Disney” cause. I still firmly believe that the Walt Disney Company would be better off if Michael Eisner were to resign and a new management team were put into place.

But – that said – I still have serious doubts that Roy Disney & Stanley Gold can be effective agents of change. I fear that the “Save Disney” campaign really doesn’t have a plan in place to cover what happens between now and November. Which means that SaveDisney.com will continue to be a mess. A website that – due to its lack of focus – actually does more harm than good for the “Save Disney” campaign.

Which I think is really sad. Why for? Because I – like so many other people – was really counting on Roy & Stanley succeeding. And when I think of all the animators & Imagineers & current Disney cast members who put their careers on the line in order to support “Save Disney” … My heart goes out to these people.

Why for again? Well, knowing what a vindictive SOB Michael Eisner can be, I worry that we may be headed back to the bad old days of the 1940s. Back when the animators who dared to join a picket line found themselves on an unofficial blacklist at Disney. Talented artists who sided against Walt in the 1941 strike who – as a result of being on the “wrong” side of this conflict – never worked for Walt Disney Studios ever again.

I hope that that doesn’t actually happen here. But – after watching how callously Michael treated his longtime friend, Mike Ovitz, as well as his longtime colleague, Jeffrey Katzenberg – I don’t really think that Eisner is the “Forgive & Forget” type.

But – hey – that’s only how I see this situation. Your mileage may vary.

So whaddaya say, folks? What’s your take on what’s been going on with the “Save Disney” campaign lately?

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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