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Introducing “The Other Jim”

JimHillMedia.com is pleased and proud to welcome on board its newest columnist: animation historian, raconteur, and all around swell guy, Jim Korkis.

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Hey, gang!

Jim Hill here. You know, one of the real pleasures of running a website like JHM is you just never know who is going to toss an e-mail your way.

Like late last month. I had just put a story up on the site, announcing the beta test of JimHillMedia.com’s Walt Disney World tours, when this note popped in my in-box:

I would be interested in participating in any tour you are planning at the WDW site. I am a long time reader and fan of your writing and regretted I wasn’t able to participate in your Disneyland/DCA tours. However, I will bet that you already have nearly a full roster! Just in case you don’t:
Jim Korkis
Orlando, Florida 32821

To which I replied:

Jim Korkis? THE Jim Korkis?! If you’re signing up for one of my WDW tours … Well, then the wrong guy is leading this tour …

I know, I know. A lot of you JHM readers are already well aware of Mr. Korkis’ impressive body of work. But — for the few of you who somehow have managed to miss out on reading those great columns that Jim used to write for “Animation” magazine and/or don’t already own copies of some of his snazzy animation history books (“Encyclopedia of Cartoon Superstars,” “Cartoon Confidential” and “The Animation Art Buyers’ Guide” et al) — Jim is the real deal. A guy who knows the entertainment industry — with a particular emphasis on animation history and the Walt Disney Company — inside and out.

Given all the great reading that Jim has given me over the years, there was just no way that I could ever accept payment from him if he still wanted to come along on my measly little WDW tour. Which Korkis did. Which is why — after cautioning Jim that the stories that I’d be telling on my WDW tour probably wouldn’t be nearly as cool as any of the stories he already knew about the theme parks — I asked him to be my personal guest that day at the Magic Kingdom.

So Mr. Korkis shows up for my WDW tour on Saturday, May 3rd. And I make a sincere effort to get a serious tour underway … but then the trouble (or was it the fun?) started.

I won’t lie to you, folks. The Magic Kingdom tour that I had so carefully scripted and researched pretty much went out the window 5 minutes into the tour. But that was because I would tell a story … then Jim would chime in with a story that built on and/or topped my story …. then I would try and tell a story that built on and/or topped Jim’s story … then Jim would chime in with another story that would build on and/or top anything that I had said up until that point … which is how the morning pretty much devolved into this incredible Disney schmoozefest. This great rambling talk that touched on all aspects of the history of the Walt Disney World resort. Not to mention a great number of other Disney related subjects.

It was a fine, fun time. At least for me. (Though — to be fair — I did feel rather bad that the formal Magic Kingdom tour that I’d planned to give had ended up crashing and burning. So much so that I actually offered to refund all of the money that the other folks had paid to come along on that Saturday morning’s tour. To a man, they refused. Saying that they’d so enjoyed listening to Jim and I lob stories back and forth at one another that it had been worth the price of a tour alone just to be able to tag along and listen to us yammer.)

Anyway … long story short here: Several days after that wonderful morning at the Magic Kingdom, Jim Korkis, Nancy and I got together for lunch. Jim was looking for some spot on the Web to serve as the cyber-showcase for all of his wonderful animation-and-Disney related stories. Me? I’m always looking for strong new writers that I can bring on board at JimHillMedia.com. And — since Korkis was already one of my favorite authors — I was absolutely thrilled at the idea that he’d even consider contributing to JHM.

So you lucky readers, you. After months of putting up with my Disney-related drivel, now you’re going to get a real writer. Someone who can really write rings around me when it comes to animation history and the Walt Disney Company. (And that’s not all that Mr. Korkis is going to contribute to JimHillMedia.com … but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? … You’ll learn more about that with the official announcement later this week … Anyway …)

So it is — with the greatest of pleasure — that I now introduce you to … the other Jim !

Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Dumber, and Tweedle Dumberer …
you guess who’s who.


 

Welcome to the obligatory first column where a new columnist introduces himself and immodestly recounts his accomplishments in an attempt to establish some credibility. In addition, the obligatory first column usually indicates what topics the columnist will be exploring in future columns.

The sad thing is that no matter how impressive these credits are or how interesting the topics may appear, it may still all result in dull, pedantic, meandering columns that steal precious minutes of your life that will never be replaced.

So my advice is to not read this installment until after you have read a few columns and then you can find this column in the archives if you really want to know who I am and what I will be trying to do.

For those brave souls who have decided to venture onward because Jim Hill doesn’t have a new installment today, here’s the story of “the other Jim.”

My name is Jim Korkis and my official biography declares that I am “an award winning teacher, a professional actor and magician and a published author with several books and hundreds of magazine articles” to my credit. Just remember to keep that in perspective and that all of that and ten bucks will buy me a cup of coffee just about anywhere on Walt Disney World property.

I am also considered an internationally recognized Disney historian whose research has been used repeatedly by the Disney Company for a wide variety of projects. Among other credits, I wrote the text for the WDW Magic Kingdom 30th Anniversary trading cards that not enough of you purchased, was the host on the Disney Vacation Planning video for the 100 Years of Magic, created the Disney character personality test for the Disney internet website, was the off camera announcer on the syndicated television series SECRETS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, was an animation instructor at the Disney Institute, assisted in the portrayal of both Merlin and Prospector Pat at the Magic Kingdom, performed magic and balloon animals on Pleasure Island, created and facilitated dozens of backstage programs at the WDW parks and currently teach over seventy-five different Disney heritage programs at WDW where I am also a keynote speaker for a variety of groups from FELD Entertainment to Stag-Parkway to United Motorcoach Association to the National Association of Conservation Districts and many, many more. I have many more Disney related credits but we can discuss those in the future if they are of any interest.

I was a winner on THE GONG SHOW, a loser on THE DATING GAME and won a Cadillac on the game show, CAMOFLAGUE, before appearing with my brothers on FAMILY FEUD. I have performed in over a hundred different stage productions and have directed well over fifty stage plays. I have appeared on a variety of television shows and films as well as doing voice over work for a variety of clients including the Los Angeles Zoo and the American Medical Association.

I wrote and directed the longest continuously running stage show at Six Flags Magic Mountain, LUCKY LOUIE’S ROARING TWENTIES REVUE where I was also a street performer. I have written and directed specialty shows for Harvey’s Casino in Lake Tahoe, Broadway Department store, Western Cruise Lines, Jonathan Clubs, McDonalds and countless others.

I have written for dozens of magazines including DISNEY ADVENTURES, FILMFAX, OUTRE, ANIMATION (where I wrote a popular column entitled “Animation Anecdotes”), MINDROT, COMICS JOURNAL, AMAZING HEROES, COMIC BOOK ARTIST, PERSISTENCE OF VISION and many, many others. In addition, I was the co-editor of the first newsstand distributed animation magazine, CARTOON QUARTERLY (which only lasted one issue even though we had three issues prepared). Currently, I am a columnist for HOGAN’S ALLEY and the latest issue features an interview I did with Ward Kimball (which you can order it from www.budplant.com if you can’t find it at Borders) and the next issue will feature my articles on the secrets behind STEAMBOAT WILLIE and a discussion of an unmade DUCK DODGERS cartoon as well as a history of the character.

With the best, most insightful writing partner in the world, John Cawley, I co-authored several books including ENCYLOPEDIA OF CARTOON SUPERSTARS, HOW TO CREATE ANIMATION, CARTOON CONFIDENTAL and ANIMATION ART BUYER’S GUIDE. For Malibu, I wrote scholarly introductions to dozens of comic strip and comic book reprints from THE THREE STOOGES to I LOVE LUCY to POLLY AND HER PALS. For Warner Brothers International, I wrote scripts for TINY TOONS comic books.

Also my animation and Disney research is credited in a variety of books from THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF DISNEY ANIMATED CHARACTERS to THE MOOSE THAT ROARED. And my research has gone uncredited in almost an equal number of books.

At this point, even I am in awe of all of these accomplishments and of course, you all must assume that I must be at least 150 years old in order to have done them all. (I did a lot of this stuff concurrently so I am barely a third of that century and a half.) In fact, there are several more pages of credits which have yet to impress single women into throwing themselves at me so we’ll just avoid all of those pages for the moment.

I hope you aren’t too impressed with those credentials. All of those accomplishments never seemed to help me when my tire went flat on the freeway and I didn’t have a spare or when I had to mow my lawn in the Florida heat and humidity and accidentally cut the cable to my air-conditioning or when I didn’t correctly set the timer on my vcr to record a favorite program. However, I do hope my experience provides you with some assurance that I have a broad range of expertise on topics from animation to theme parks to writing to performing to things that even surprise me and I will be discussing all of them and more in future columns.

Just like some of you, I grew up being a kid who woke up early on Saturday morning to watch cartoons, running to a variety of different stores to find new comic books, and dreaming of a career where I would be rich and famous and have naked cheerleaders throwing themselves at me. Unlike most of you, I had the good fortune to do that growing up in Glendale, California. Glendale is right next to Burbank where the Disney Studios are.

When I watched Disney cartoons, I would look at the names in the credits and then go to the Glendale-Burbank phone book and look up the names of the people and phone them up. I was about ten years old and some of the artists would invite me over and my mom or dad would drive me over. While they waited in the car reading, I would watch these guys draw and listen to these great stories. Eventually, as I grew older and could drive myself over for a visit, I started writing down those stories and sold the interviews and articles to magazines. That experience led to my writing books.

One of the first artists I met was Jack Hannah who directed many of the classic Donald Duck and Chip’n’Dale cartoons among countless other credits. (He was one of John Lasseter’s teachers at California Institute of the Arts.) In a future column, I’ll share with you some of Jack’s memories of working with Walt Disney and at the Disney Studio during that Golden Age.

Of course, the entire Korkis family were frequent visitors to Disneyland and the other popular locations like Knott’s Berry Farm and Pacific Ocean Park and we have boxes of out-of-focus, heads-cut-off, faded color photos and slides to prove it. Yes, I remember riding the flying saucers in Tomorrowland and using a ticket book to allow me to experience Walt’s kingdom of magic.

When I moved to Florida several years ago to take care of my parents who had developed some health challenges, I brought out with me (after eliminating two-thirds of my personal library) over 10,000 pounds of books, magazines, videos and clippings relating to Disney and animation. In the almost eight years I have worked for the Disney Company in Florida that weight has increased and like the ghost of Marley, I will probably be dragging behind me for all eternity chains entwined with hundreds of unread books and unwatched videos.

Just remember that when you read my columns that they are my own opinions and do not reflect the opinions and policies of the Disney Company, Jim Hill Media or anything or anybody else.

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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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