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How does the “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts” ride experience stack up against “Forbidden Journey” ?

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So how exactly does Diagon Alley's marquee attraction —
"Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts" — compare to
Hogsmeade's signature ride, "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey"
?


Copyright NBC Universal. All rights reserved

Well, before we get started here doing the
compare-and-contrast thing … I think it's important to acknowledge that "Forbidden
Journey" could also be called "Harry Potter's Greatest Hits." Because
— as that Kuka arm powers your flying bench through that massive IOA show
building — you then have all of these very brief but extremely intense
encounters with iconic characters & memorable settings from the Potter
books & movies.

I mean, seriously. Think about it. Within seconds of your flying bench being
dispatched,  you're suddenly being (SPOILERS AHEAD for anyone who has yet to ride this 4
year-old Universal Orlando attraction) pursued by this fire-breathing dragon.
Then you're surrounded by massive spiders in the Forbidden
Forest. Once you escape the Forest,
you nearly pulverized by the Whomping Willow before — BANG! — you're right in
the middle of this fierce Quidditch match. And then as the Death Eaters arrive,
you tumble with Harry down into the Chamber of Secrets and … Well, you get
the idead.

And while all of this is going on, you have these blink-and-you'll-miss-them
encounters with your favorite Harry Potter characters. There's Hagrid looking
for his missing dragon. Draco Malfoy accusing Potter of " … showing off
for your Muggle admirers." There's Dumbledore warning you to tuck your
elbows in as your bench flies back to "Forbidden Journey" 's unload
area.

Don't get me wrong. As a fan of the Harry Potter films, when
"Forbidden Journey" first opened in June of 2010, I enjoyed the heck
out of this attraction. And not just because of its Kuka arm-based ride system
brought a real sense of intensity & excitement to the whole "Forbidden
Journey" ride experience, bringing you closer to sets, props & animatronic
figures than had previously been thought possible with more conventional ride
systems.

And given that "Forbidden Journey" 's film
sequences feature the real Harry Potter actors and were actually partially shot
on this movie series' then-still-standing sets at Warner Bros. Studios,
Leavesden
… Well, this new Islands of Adventure attraction had a level of
authenticity & immersion that very few theme park rides on this planet had
ever achieved.

That said, "Forbidden Journey" did have some pretty
glaring flaws when it first opened four years ago. Chief among these being that
— at least for its first few months of operation — this attraction's flying
benches weren't exactly fat-friendly. It took a quick redesign of Forbidden
Journey's ride vehicle (which then made the outer two seats on each flying
bench far more accommodating for more ample individuals) to finally make it
possible for 90% of all Universal Orlando visitors to then enjoy &
experience this attraction.

And then there was "Forbidden Journey" 's height
requirement. Which then made it tough for Harry's littlest fans to find out exactly
what was going on inside of Hogwarts Castle.
Not to mention the intensity of the entire "Forbidden Journey"
experience, which — because of that fluid, back-and-forth movement of those
Kuka arms — left some Islands of Adventure visitors nauseous.

Interesting side note here: Because the Japanese are
supposedly so much more motion sensitive than people here in the West are,
Universal Creative developed a somewhat milder / smoother version of
"Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey." And according to what Seth
Kubersky of the Orlando Weekly told me, Universal Creative actually test-drove
the new version of "Forbidden Journey" at Universal's Islands of Adventure
earlier this year by temporarily substituting the original version of this
attraction's programming for the newer, eventually-headed-to-Universal-Studios-Japan
programming. Given that this milder / smoother version of "Forbidden
Journey" 's programming was deemed a success, it was then shipped off to Osaka.
Where it then began delighting visitors last month when the Japanese version of
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter officially opened to the public on July
15th.

Anyway … Getting back to "Harry Potter and the Escape
from Gringotts" … Ever since the movie-going public saw Harry &
Hagrid go into Gringotts Wizarding Bank in 2001's "Sorcerer's Stone
"
and then rode that Goblin-driven cart through those caverns deep underground
below Diagon Alley, there were Potter fans out there who said "That would
be a really great theme park ride."


Copyright 2001 Warner Bros. All rights reserved

And then when "Deathly Hallows – Part 2" came out in 2011 and people
saw Harry, Ron and Hermoine's exciting escape from Gringotts aboard a
fire-breathing dragon, the chorus of theme park fans saying "That's a ride
I want to experience. Will someone please build a
Gringotts-mine-cart-deep-underground attraction?" grew louder &
louder.

And Universal Creative — to their credit — listened. Though their takeaway
from all those "We want a Gringotts coaster" cries was a little
different than you might have expected.You see, Universal Creative — after taking a closer look at
"Forbidden Journey" — decided that the next Harry Potter-themed
attraction that they designed wouldn't be another greatest hit ride. This time
around, the Universal Creative team wanted to design an attraction where Potter
fans would then get to spend a lot of time in a single location. Not only that,
but — this time around — Universal Orlando would get plenty of face time with
the books & films' greatest heroes — Harry, Ron & Hermoine — as well
as this series' scariest villains; Bellatrix Lestrange and
he-who-must-not-be-named, Lord Voldemort.

This — to my way of thinking, anyway — is what makes
"Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts" an intriguing departure
from "Forbidden Journey." "Escape from Gringotts" is a far
more story-driven experience. Over the course of this 4 & 1/2 minute-long
ride, you visit far fewer places than you did on "Forbidden Journey."
You interact with far fewer characters as well. But at the same time, when
"Escape from Gringotts" is over, Universal Orlando visitors have had a
far richer, more involving ride experience.


Copyright NBC Universal. All rights reserved

"And why is that exactly?," you ask. Because you've become familiar
with Bill Weasley & Blordak the Goblin before this ride actually got
underway, the stakes are now higher. And then when you encounter Bellatrix
Lastrange, Lord Voldemort and Nagini later in the ride … Because Harry Potter
film fans already know how lethal this trio can be, the scares are bigger and
the stakes are much higher this time around.

Look, I know that there are Potter purists who complain that
what the ride film for "Escape from Gringotts" shows us departs
significantly from what we all previously read in "The Deathly
Hallows" and/or saw in "Deathly Hallows – Part 2." But given
that J.K. Rowling herself signed off on this ride concept when Universal
Creative first pitched it to her three years ago, that the creator of all seven
"Harry Potter" books thought that the storyline proposed for this
attraction was plausible … Well, just because these scenes weren't recounted
in the books and/or depicted onscreen doesn't mean that they also couldn't have
happened.

Speaking of Ms. Rowling, Mark Woodbury — the President of
Universal Creative for Universal Parks & Resorts — revealed that Jo
herself wrote the lines that Bill Weasley says at the very end of this ride.
Which puts a really fun button on this whole ride experience.


Copyright NBC Universal. All rights reserved

You know what's also fun / different about "Escape from
Gringotts" ? On "Forbidden Journey," there's just four of you —
at best — strapped into that flying bench. Which admittedly makes this ride a
more private & personal experience. But that said, if your three riding
companions aren't the sorts to hoot & holler as they're being whipped
around at the end of that Kuka arm, "Forbidden Journey" can sometime
be a pretty quiet ride experience.

Whereas "Escape from Gringotts" … Well, because
each train that heads out of the station is made up of two carts which can then
each have upwards of 12 people riding aboard them for a total of 24 passengers
being dispatched every 80 seconds … You have much more of a communal
experience going on Diagon Alley's signature attraction. As a group, you're
menaced by trolls in armor. As a group, you spin 360 degrees as Bill &
Blordak try to get you to safety. Which means that you're getting a whole lot
more energy & excitement out of your fellow theme park guests.

And let's not forget about "Harry Potter and the Escape from
Gringotts" super-elaborate queue with all of its animatronic goblins. Or
its Musion-based pre-show where Bill & Blordak quickly sketch out all of
the exposition that you need to understand what's going to happen next (Because
— let's remember — not everyone who visits Universal Studios Florida is going
to be a Potter fan who can then quote from the books and/or knows the films
backwards & forwards). Not to mention your trip 9 miles down into
Gringotts' vaults involves climbing aboard an elevator that's basically a
NextGen version of the Living Seas'
old hydrolators
.


Copyright NBC Universal. All rights reserved

The other thing that I really enjoyed about "Escape to
Gringotts" is that — because this is a train-based experience —
Universal Studios Florida was able to lower this ride's height requirement by 2
inches. Which means that even more family members can get in on all this Harry
Potter goodness.

And then when you factor in the clever way that Universal Creative has
reimagined image capture for "Escape from Gringotts"(because — let's
face it — a taken-on-the-ride image of 12 people wearing 3D glasses isn't
exactly something that you'd want to frame and then place on your desk at work)
so that people are now being issued visitor badges for Gringotts Wizarding Bank
… Even the retail side of this attraction is innovative & fun.

So how good is "Harry Potter and the Escape from
Gringotts" really ? So good that a person I know who stood in line on
Opening Day for six hours to experience Diagon Alley's signature attraction and
then — immediately after they got off that ride — got right back in an
equally long line. All with the hope that they might be able to squeeze in one
more ride on Gringotts before Diagon Alley officially closed for the day.

And if that doesn't tell you know good this new Universal
Studios Florida attraction actually is … Well, then you're even more of a Muggle
than I thought.

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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