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I’m not lion, folks. This may be the most gruesome edition of “Why For” yet

Jim Hill returns with answers to more of your Disney-related questions. This time around, Jim talks about the very first “Living Character” to appear in the Disney theme parks, what the African veldt sequence in Disneyland’s “Jungle Cruise” used to look like, the real significance of “The Wonderful World of Color” as well as making JHM readers aware of an upcoming charity event

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First George K. writes in to say:



Jim


I really enjoyed today’s story about the Muppet Mobile Laboratory that’s going into DCA next year. But in that listing of all the “Living Character Initiative” projects that have gone into the parks already, you left out the first (and my personal favorite) : Push the walking, talking trash can.



Photo courtesy of Google Images


So could please you amend today’s article so that Push finally gets the acknowledgment that he deserves, so that this talking trash can assumes his proper spot in Disney theme park history?


Dear George K.


Actually, as fun as it is to see Push the Trash Can in action (And — just for the record — Push reportedly made his first public appearance at WDW‘s Magic Kingdom back in 1997) it appears that there was another “Living Character” at the Disney theme parks that actually predated him.


“Which character?,” you ask. Would you believe Donald Duck?


Take a look of the two image captures below from Disneyland‘s “Fantasy on Parade.” Which was presented at the Anaheim theme park back in the mid-1960s.



Copyright 1966 Walt Disney Productions


That’s Donald & his nephews riding — all by themselves — in an old fashioned, open-top roadster. This remote-controlled car (Which was reportedly the size of a “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” vehicle) could supposedly traverse the entire parade route on battery power. The Disneyland cast member who was walking in the street behind the roadster guiding the vehicle would deliberately make it swerve from side to side, nearly hitting the park guests who were seated along the curb. As if Donald barely had that car under control.


Of course, the main reason that this cast member would do this was so that Disneyland guests wouldn’t notice that the Donald, Huey, Dewey and Louie dummies that were seated inside the vehicle couldn’t actually move. Mind you, the figures were reportedly loosely attached to the car’s seats. So that — as the roadster swerved back and forth across the street — the characters would also shift in their seats. Which sort of gave the illusion that these characters were alive.


Then when you add in the reel-to-reel tape player that was hidden under the car’s seat (Which reportedly played a recording of Donald & the boys singing the “Quack, Quack, Quack Donald Duck” song) … The illusion was complete. To Disneyland visitors of the mid-1960s, it really did appear as if Donald himself were driving a tiny little car through that theme park.


“So what became of Donald Duck and his roadster?,” you ask. The way I hear it, this remote-control vehicle was so difficult to operate safely inside the park that the people who ran Disneyland’s parade eventually took this unit out of the regular line-up. Which meant (from then on) that Donald & his nephews only made an appearance in the parade when Walt personally requested it.


And then — when Disney passed away in December of 1966 — Donald’s roadster was permanently pulled from Disneyland’s “Fantasy on Parade.” Which is why so few Disneyana fans know anything about this particular parade unit.


But isn’t it funny to see that — decades before Push or Lucky actually began wandering through the Disney theme parks — that the Imagineers were already toying with a similiar concept? Doing the best they could with 1960s-era technology.


Speaking of things that have been removed from the Disney theme parks, Robert T. writes in to say:



Jim —


I finally got to see Disneyland’s new improved “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction this past weekend. And as impressed as I may have been with all of the new figures & effects, I still found myself missing the original version of “Pirates.” The one where the horny old pirates chased the women around the square.


Is there any chance that, when the Imagineers put in those Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly AA figures next year, that they could un-PC this New Orleans Square attraction? So that these randy rogues can start chasing some strumpets again?


Robert T.


Sorry. But POTC is going to stay PC. At least for the foreseeable future. After all, Disneyland’s goal is to always entertain its guests. Not offend them.


That’s why — since the 1960s — the Imagineers and/or Disneyland’s ops staff have quietly been making changes to various rides, shows and attractions at the park. Pulling out elements that may have unintentionally offended some theme park guests.


Don’t believe me? Then how many of you remember the old version of the African veldt sequence in Disneyland’s “Jungle Cruise“?



Copyright 1963 Walt Disney Productions


Way back then, there was just no way that a joke like “Oh, look. Those lions are protecting that sleeping zebra” could be used to gloss over this particularly grim section of the ride. Given that the other members of the pride …



Copyright 1963 Walt Disney Productions


… clearly had chunks of dismembered zebra hanging out of their mouths.



Copyright 1963 Walt Disney Productions


The more blatantly-carnivorous members of that pride of lions were culled out of this Adventureland attraction about the same time that the “Lost Safari” vignette was added to Disneyland’s “Jungle Cruise.” Which is where you’ll see these hyenas …



Copyright 1963 Walt Disney Productions


And speaking of hyenas …



Copyright 1964 Walt Disney Productions


How many of you remember when this scene used to be in Disneyland’s “it’s a small world” attraction?


So why did this particular vignette get cut? The way I hear it, back in the late 1980s, an African tourist reportedly expressed outrage over this specific scene in this Fantasyland attraction. Supposely because they found it extremely offensive that a group of African children would be placed in such close proximity to an animal that (in real life, anyway) is as filthy as a hyena.


So — because one person of color allegedly registered a complaint — this particular gag in “it’s a small world” had to be completely restaged. First the four laughing kids had to be moved to a  different section of  “small world” ‘s Africa scene. Then that solitary hyena was given a brother to yuk it up with. After that, these two were paired with a rhino & a zebra. And several thousand dollars later, the hyena-proximity crisis was finally averted.


That’s an awful lot of time, money and effort to expend, don’t you think? All because of a single complaint?


And speaking of color, Kenny C. writes in to say:



Jim —


This Sunday is the 45th anniversary of “The Wonderful World of Color.”



Copyright 1961 Walt Disney Productions



Do you have any “colorful” stories to share about that historic television program to share?


Dear Kenny C.


Indeed I do. Looking back from today’s wireless world, where it’s now possible to watch movies & TV shows on your iPod, it’s kind of hard to imagine the enormous impact that “The Wonderful World of Color” had when it debuted on NBC back on September 24, 1961. But this one television program actually convinced tens of thousands of Americans to buy color TV sets that year.  


Don’t believe me? Then check out this quote from Neal Gabler’s excellent new biography, “Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination” :



Shortly after the premiere Card Walker, who was now the head of advertising at the studio, wrote Walt that sales of color televisions were soaring — 105 percent of the previous September. NBC couldn’t be happier.


Mind you, one of the ways that “The Wonderful World of Color” convinced people to go buy color TV sets was through a rather ingenious giveaway. To explain: Take a gander at that rather odd duck in the photo below.



Copyright 1961 Walt Disney Productions


No, not the peacock. The rather professorial-looking fellow standing on the desk to the left of Walt. That’s Professor Ludwig Von Drake. A then-brand-new cartoon character that the artists at Walt Disney Studios created just for “The Wonderful World of Color.”


Voiced by the late, great Paul Frees, Ludwig made his debut of the very first episode of this new NBC show. Which was titled (what else) “An Adventure in Color.” And Von Drake was hilarious as he tried to explain how exactly color TV worked.


Now where this gets interesting is that — during “The Wonderful World of Color” ‘s commercial breaks — RCA Victor (Which, FYI, was NBC’s parent corporation) ran ads encouraging people to drop by their local RCA dealership to experience the wonders of color television in person. And — just for dropping by the dealership — these people could then receive a free promotional box of Disneykins …



Photo courtesy of Google Images


… which (surprise, surprise) prominently featured a very tiny version of Professor Ludwig Von Drake.


So the kids who had been watching that first episode of “The Wonderful World of Color” immediately pestered their parents into taking them down to their local RCA dealership. Just so they could then get that free box of Disneykins. And — of course — once the parents got in the door and saw how good the picture on those color RCA televisions actually looked … Well, they just had to have one.


Mind you, once CBS and ABC saw the huge ratings that NBC was getting with “The Wonderful World of Color” … Well, then they had to start producing television programs in color as well. Which — of course — spurred the sales of color TV sets even more.


So thanks to this single TV series, the television industry was literally transformed. Thanks — in large part — to a free set of Disneykins. Which are now (appropriately enough) a highly-sought-after Disney collectible.


And speaking of Disney collectibles … You baby boomers out there remember how “The Wonderful World of Color” started, right? With Tinker Bell flying through the air as colorful bursts of fireworks exploded behind Sleeping Beauty Castle?



Copyright 1961 Walt Disney Productions


Well, in honor of the 45th anniversary of this program, the talented folks over at Master Replica have created this beautiful statue of Tinker Bell. Who is sculpted so that it appears as if Tink is flying straight out of an old color television just as “The Wonderful World of Color” is just getting underway.



Copyright 2006 Master Replicas


FYI to all you Tinker Bell fans out there: This piece is limited to an edition of 3000 and will begin shipping later this fall.


Now you’re going to have to excuse the somewhat jarring segue that I’m going to try & make now, folks. As I shift from talking about the world of Disney to the world of horror.


Here. Let me ease this transition by showing you another shot of that lion chewing on a chunk of zebra in Disneyland’s old “Jungle Cruise.”



Copyright 1961 Walt Disney Productions


Oooh. Gruesome, isn’t it?


And speaking of gruesome things …




Terry Pendt, one of the very nice guys behind KeepToTheCode.com (the official fan site for Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies) has been having some awful health problems lately. To help Terry get out from under those huge medical bills, the fine folks at FrightFest (I.E. This annual horror-themed event that actually held up here in New Hampshire during the month of October) are throwing a fundraiser. This two-night party will feature an appearance by Kane Hodder (AKA Jason Voorhees from a few of the “Friday the 13th” films).


So — as one webmaster — I’m asking you now to please help out another webmaster by attending this event next month and/or sending a donation Terry’s way.


And on that charitable note … I’m outa here. See you folks next Monday morning, okay?


j

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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

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

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

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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