Connect with us

General

Lasseter, Burton, Zemeckis and Miyazaki to take part in Disney panels at this year’s Comic-Con

Jim Hill shares a press release that Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures just passed along. Which offers details on the Mouse’s presentations at this year’s Comic-Con International

Published

on

If you haven’t already decided that you really, really,
REALLY need to attend this year’s Comic-Con International, the following will
certainly seal the deal.

You wanna know who Disney’s bringing to San Diego this year?
Would you believe John Lasseter, Tim Burton, Robert Zemeckis and Hayao Miyazaki?
Not to mention Ron Clements, John Musker, Kirk Wise and Lee Unkrich.

Wait. It gets better. On Thursday, July 23rd,
Patton Oswalt (That’s right. The voice of Remy from “Ratatouille” ) will
moderate Comic-Con’s first-ever 3D panel. Which feature footage from Walt
Disney Studios Motion Pictures’ upcoming 3D adventures, “Disney’s A Christmas
Carol,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Tron.”

Here. Read the press release. Then – if you don’t already
have a pass to the show – head on over to eBay and hope & pray that someone
is selling their tickets to this year’s Comic-Con:

WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES’ COMIC-CON AGENDA IS
FULL OF “FIRSTS”

DIRECTORS ZEMECKIS, BURTON TO TAKE PART IN FIRST-EVER 3D
PANEL

ANIMATION LEGENDS MIYAZAKI & LASSETER TO ANCHOR
ANIMATION PANEL

Studio to Showcase Key Titles—PONYO, TOY STORY & TOY
STORY 2 DOUBLE FEATURE, DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG,
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, TOY STORY 3 and TRON

BURBANK, Calif. (July 9 , 2009) — Animation greats Hayao
Miyazaki and John Lasseter and directors Robert Zemeckis and Tim Burton will
take part in their first ever Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center July
23-24. The filmmakers will be on hand to
help Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures showcase a wide-ranging roster of
upcoming films, including 3D juggernauts ALICE IN WONDERLAND, TRON and DISNEY’S
A CHRISTMAS CAROL, and animated gems THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, BEAUTY AND THE
BEAST, PONYO and the TOY STORY trilogy.

Zemeckis, Burton, Miyazaki and Lasseter will take part in
industry panels.

  • COMIC-CON’S
    FIRST EVER 3D PANEL — Veteran directors Robert Zemeckis and Tim Burton join
    TRON producers Sean Bailey and Steve Lisberger on Thurs., July 23 at 11 a.m.
    for an unprecedented presentation featuring behind-the-scenes filmmaker
    insights about the highly anticipated 3D adventures DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL,
    ALICE IN WONDERLAND and TRON. In
    addition to Q&A opportunities with each of the filmmakers, the 90-minute
    panel will feature never-before-seen concept art, trailers, actual 3D film
    footage and other Comic-Con-only footage debuts. In a groundbreaking technical feat, this is
    the first time ever that 3D footage will be shown at Comic-Con.Patton Oswalt will moderate.
  • ANIMATION PANEL
    — Animation legends Hayao Miyazaki and John Lasseter join veteran animation
    directors Lee Unkrich, Kirk Wise, Ron Clements and John Musker on Fri., July 24
    at 12:45 p.m. for an animation panel which will highlight upcoming animated
    films, including Disney•Pixar’s TOY STORY/TOY STORY 2 double feature,
    Disney•Pixar’s TOY STORY 3, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ BEAUTY AND THE
    BEAST, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ half-hour holiday TV special PREP &
    LANDING, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG and
    Miyazaki’s PONYO. John Lasseter will
    host the panel and Patton Oswalt will moderate a group Q&A following the
    presentation, which will include filmmaker insights, trailers and select film
    sequences.

ABOUT THE MOVIES:

Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

PONYO

From the Academy Award®-winning director and world-renowned
Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki comes PONYO, a story inspired by Hans
Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Little Mermaid.” Already a box-office success in Japan, the
story of a young and overeager goldfish named Ponyo (voiced by NOAH CYRUS) and
her quest to become human features an outstanding roster of voice talent,
including CATE BLANCHETT, MATT DAMON, TINA FEY, FRANKIE JONAS, CLORIS LEACHMAN,
LIAM NEESON, LILY TOMLIN and BETTY WHITE. PONYO opens in U.S. theaters on Aug.
14, 2009.

TOY STORY & TOY STORY 2 – DOUBLE FEATURE (In Disney Digital 3D™)

Disney ● Pixar’s TOY STORY and TOY STORY 2 return to the big screen in an
exciting double feature Oct. 2, 2009—this time in Disney Digital 3D™.

TOY STORY

They’re toys, they talk—at least when people aren’t
around—and they’re back… celebrating the return of the “Toy Story”
franchise—this time in Disney Digital 3D. TOY STORY, the film that started it all, takes moviegoers back to that fantastic fun-filled journey, viewed mostly through the eyes of two rival toys— Woody
(voice of TOM HANKS), the lanky, likable cowboy, and Buzz Lightyear (voice of
TIM ALLEN), the fearless space ranger.The comically-mismatched duo eventually learn to put aside their
differences when circumstances separate them from their owner Andy and they
find themselves on a hilarious adventure-filled mission where the only way they
can survive is to form an uneasy alliance.

TOY STORY 2

Disney•Pixar’s TOY STORY 2 picks up as Andy heads off to
Cowboy Camp, leaving his toys to their own devices. Things shift into high gear when an obsessive
toy collector named Al McWhiggin (voice of WAYNE KNIGHT), owner of Al’s Toy
Barn, kidnaps Woody (voice of TOM HANKS).At Al’s apartment, Woody discovers that he is a highly valued
collectible from a 1950s TV show called “Woody’s Roundup,” and he meets
the other prized toys from that show – Jessie the cowgirl (voice of JOAN
CUSACK), Bullseye the horse and Stinky Pete the Prospector (voice of KELSEY
GRAMMER).Back at the scene of the
crime, Buzz Lightyear (voice of TIM ALLEN) and the gang from Andy’s room – Mr.
Potato Head (voice of DON RICKLES), Slinky Dog (voice of JIM VARNEY), Rex
(voice of WALLACE SHAWN) and Hamm (voice of JOHN RATZENBERGER) – spring into
action to rescue their pal from winding up as a museum piece.The toys get into one predicament after
another in their daring race to get Woody home before Andy returns.

DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL (In Disney Digital 3D™ and IMAX® 3D)

DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL, a multi-sensory thrill ride
re-envisioned by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, captures the
fantastical essence of the classic Dickens tale in a groundbreaking 3D motion
picture event.Ebenezer Scrooge (JIM
CARREY) begins the Christmas holiday with his usual miserly contempt, barking
at his faithful clerk (GARY OLDMAN) and his cheery nephew (COLIN FIRTH).But when the ghosts of Christmas Past,
Present and Yet to Come take him on an eye-opening journey revealing truths Old
Scrooge is reluctant to face, he must open his heart to undo years of ill will
before it’s too late.Opens in theaters
nationwide on Nov. 6, 2009.

Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG

Walt Disney Animation Studios presents the musical THE
PRINCESS AND THE FROG, an animated comedy set in the great city of New Orleans.
From the creators of “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” comes a modern twist on
a classic tale, featuring a beautiful girl named Tiana (ANIKA NONI ROSE), a
frog prince who desperately wants to be human again, and a fateful kiss that
leads them both on a hilarious adventure through the mystical bayous of
Louisiana.THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG
marks the return to hand-drawn animation from the revered team of John Musker
and Ron Clements, with music by Oscar®-winning composer Randy Newman. Opens on
November 25, 2009 in NY and LA, and on December 11, 2009 nationwide.

PREP & LANDING

PREP & LANDING is ABC’s first television special
produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. The half-hour holiday special
reveals the never-before-told tale of an elite unit of Elves known as Prep
& Landing. Every Christmas Eve, this high-tech organization ensures that
homes around the world are properly prepared for a visit from the Big Guy (aka
Santa Claus). After working tirelessly on Prep & Landing for 227 years, an
elf named Wayne (voice of Dave Foley) is upset when he doesn’t receive an
expected promotion to be the Director of Naughty List Intelligence. Instead,
Magee (voice of Sarah Chalke), the North Pole Christmas Eve Command Center
Coordinator (NPCECCC for short), partners Wayne with Lanny (voice of Derek
Richardson), an idealistic rookie who has an undying enthusiasm for Christmas.During their Christmas Eve mission, Wayne and
Lanny encounter unexpected challenges that push them to their limits.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (In Disney Digital 3D™)

Walt Disney Pictures’ magical animated classic BEAUTY AND
THE BEAST returns to the big screen in Disney Digital 3D™, introducing a whole
new generation to the Disney classic with stunning new 3D imagery. Opening Feb. 12, 2010, the film captures the
fantastic journey of Belle (voice of PAIGE O’HARA), a bright and beautiful
young woman who’s taken prisoner by a hideous beast (voice of ROBBY BENSON) in
his castle. Despite her precarious
situation, Belle befriends the castle’s enchanted staff—a teapot, a candelabra
and a mantel clock, among others—and ultimately learns to see beneath the
Beast’s exterior to discover the heart and soul of a prince. Featuring unforgettable music by Howard
Ashman and Alan Menken, and an enormously talented vocal ensemble, BEAUTY AND
THE BEAST was the first—and only—animated feature to receive a Best Picture
nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (In Disney Digital 3D™)

From Walt Disney Pictures and visionary director Tim Burton
comes an epic 3D fantasy adventure ALICE IN WONDERLAND, a magical and
imaginative twist on some of the most beloved stories of all time. JOHNNY DEPP stars as the Mad Hatter and MIA
WASIKOWSKA as 19-year-old Alice, who returns to the whimsical world she first
encountered as a young girl, reuniting with her childhood friends: the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum,
the Dormouse, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, and of course, the Mad
Hatter. Alice embarks on a fantastical
journey to find her true destiny and end the Red Queen’s reign of terror.The all-star cast also includes ANNE
HATHAWAY, HELENA BONHAM CARTER and CRISPIN GLOVER; Linda Woolverton wrote the
screenplay. Capturing the wonder of Lewis Carroll’s beloved “Alice’s Adventures
in Wonderland” (1865) and “Through the Looking-Glass” (1871) with stunning,
avant-garde visuals and the most charismatic characters in literary history,
ALICE IN WONDERLAND comes to the big screen in Disney Digital 3D™ on March 5,
2010.

Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

TOY STORY 3 (In Disney Digital 3D™)

The creators of the beloved “Toy Story” films re-open the
toy box and bring moviegoers back to the delightful world of Woody, Buzz and
our favorite gang of toy characters in TOY STORY 3.Lee Unkrich (co-director of “Toy Story 2” and
“Finding Nemo”) directs this highly anticipated film, and Michael Arndt, the
Academy Award®-winning screenwriter of “Little Miss Sunshine,” brings his
unique talents and comedic sensibilities to the proceedings.TOY STORY 3 comes to theaters nationwide in
Disney Digital 3D™ on June 18, 2010.

TRON (title not final) (In Disney Digital 3D™)

TRON is a 3D high-tech adventure set in a digital world
that’s unlike anything ever captured on the big screen. Sam Flynn (GARRETT HEDLUND), the tech-savvy
27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn (JEFF BRIDGES), looks into his father’s
disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs
and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 25 years. Along
with Kevin’s loyal confidant (OLIVIA WILDE), father and son embark on a
life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has
become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? And – yes (Just in case you’re
wondering) JHM WILL be covering these panels at this year’s Comic-Con.

Your thoughts?

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

General

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

Published

on

Listen to the Article

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

Continue Reading

General

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

Published

on

Listen to the Article

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

Continue Reading

General

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

Published

on

Listen to the Article

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

Continue Reading

Trending