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Monday (Morning Quarterback) Mélange

Questions continue to roll in about Iger’s rapid ascension at the Walt Disney Company. Like: Why the rush? Wasn’t the search for the Mouse House’s CEO supposed to continue on into June? Jim Hill tries to get to the bottom of this still evolving story.

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In the end, it was Meg that ultimately took Michael down a peg.

Meg Whitman, the chief executive of eBay, Inc. to be precise.

So, sure, it was Roy & Stanley who — by spreading around that story about how Disney CEO Michael Eisner was sitting in on interview sessions for his replacement — that turned up the heat on the board of directors. But it was Whitman who actually got the ball rolling. She was the one who began talking about how odd she thought it was that Eisner would choose to take part in these interviews. “Save Disney” grabbed that ball and began running with it … And the rest of the story, you know.

Now Disney Company officials are struggling to put as positive a spin as possible on the way that this whole thing all played out. But the fact of the matter is … A Saturday night meeting to deal with corporate succession issues? One that was called so hurriedly that it actually had to be held over the phone? That’s highly unusual, don’t you think?

Now some will tell you that the main reason that this meeting had to be held over the phone was because Disney Chairman George Mitchell had recently fallen and broken his arm. Which is all well & good. But as for the Saturday night part of the equation …

The fact of the matter, folks, is that members of Disney’s board of directors were starting to get concerned about bad publicity again. First there was James Stewart’s “DisneyWar” and all its unsightly revelations about how business was allegedly actually done inside the Mouse House under Michaer Eisner’s rule.

Then there was that scathing comment that News Corporation COO Peter Chernin, once a leading contender for the top spot at Disney, made. After reading Stewart’s book, Chernin said that he was struck by all “the insane personality stuff” that went on at the top corporate level at Disney.

Then — on last Thursday — came that broadside from “Save Disney.” Which revealed that Eisner had been sitting in on the CEO interview sessions as well as trying to get the press excited about the whole Disney-overpaid-for-the-Fox-Family-Channel issue again.

Members of Disney’s board of directors — who had long since written off “Save Disney” as a failed campaign and Disney & Gold as toothless complainers — were somewhat startled to see that the mainsteam media grab Roy & Stanley’s letter and run with it. The whole “Eisner-allegedly-sits-in-on-CEO-interview-sessions” was given considerable play by the press on Friday morning.

Then — late on Friday afternoon — when Ms. Whitman announced that she was taking herself out of the running for the top spot at Disney because (publicly) she said that the process was taking far too long but (privately) Meg was reportedly spooked by Eisner’s presence in the CEO interview sessions … Disney’s board of directors knew that something had to be done and fast.

Why for? Because the Mouse couldn’t afford to have any of this new bad news about the corporation & its dealings get any real traction. You see, even though the Walt Disney Company’s fortunes seemed to be on the upswing — with ABC’s ratings going through the roof and advance bookings for the resorts at the Disney theme parks tracking well ahead of projections — the fact of the matter is … Were you to do any real poking at Disney’s recent claims of success, you’d find that virtually all of these gains are actually paper thin.

To explain: ABC’s recent revival is based on the success on just a handful of new shows. While many of the network’s other programs (particularly its sad array of aging sitcoms) have been performing rather poorly lately and will soon be in need of replacement.

And as for all those people who are reportedly making plans to visit Disneyland and Walt Disney World to take part in “The Happiest Celebration on Earth” … As gas prices continue to climb, Disney officials have privately begun expressing concerns that many travelers will find it just too expensive to make that drive down to Anaheim & Orlando. Which could result in this year-and-a-half long event not meeting its financial projections.

So — as you can see — with Disney’s revival truthfully being as tenuous as it is, this wasn’t really a situation where the company could afford having the media turn the heat up. As in: Having the press suddenly paying extra close attention to every move that the Mouse was making. Out of fear of what all that extra attention might do to Disney’s stock price.

Which was why it was decided — after a frantic series of phone calls on Saturday morning — that the best thing to do was probably just get it over with. Put an end to the months of rumors & speculation about who Eisner’s successor might be by quickly putting the matter to a vote and then just giving the job to Iger.

As you might expect, this announcement drew the predictable response from Roy & Stan. On the heels of those first reports in the press early Sunday morning that Bob had officially been named as Michael’s replacement, “Save Disney” issued yet another missive. This time around, Disney & Gold blasted George Mitchell & Disney’s board for reneging on their earlier pledge to conduct ” … a bona fide search” for a new CEO. They insisted that Mitchell’s earlier promise was just a ruse to avoid a floor fight at Disney’s 2005 annual meeting.

For his defense, Disney’s Chairman insisted that the company had in fact mounted a legitimate search for a new CEO. In interviews that he held with the press yesterday, Mitchell described how Disney had actually deliberately held off meeting with outside candidates until the board had gotten back from Minneapolis. So that they could then concentrate on this all important task without any outside distractions.

Disney’s chairman then went on to describe how the board met 11 separate times to discuss succession issues. So that they could then take a careful, measured approach to the selection process. Which wasn’t originally slated to wrap up ’til sometime in June.

“But if that was really the case, then why the rush job?,” you query. “Why was it necessary for Disney’s board of directors to hurriedly convene on a Saturday night and announce the company’s CEO three months ahead of the previously announced schedule?” These are all excellent questions, folks. Ones that the Walt Disney Company genuinely hopes that mainstream reporters won’t be asking anytime soon.

As for how the Mouse would like to see this all play out … Michael Eisner now gets his victory lap. Disney’s out-going CEO presides over the May 5th launch of “The Happiest Celebration on Earth.” Michael also gets to stand in the media spotlight for Disneyland’s actual birthday on July 17th as well as Hong Kong Disneyland’s grand opening on September 12th before riding off into the sunset on September 30th. A full year ahead of schedule.

Which — I have to admit — kind of took me by surprise. The very idea that Uncle Mikey would voluntarily give up power prior to the official September 2006 expiration date of his contract with the Walt Disney Company.

But — based on the letter that Eisner sent to Disney’s board of directors yesterday — it really does seem like the once-embattled CEO is eager to exit. “As much as I have loved nearly every minute of my tenure at Disney,” Michael wrote,”two decades is enough time to spend as a chief executive officer of one company. I’m ready to move on and climb new mountains.”

Of course, those of you who are looking for hidden meanings here may find particular significance in the next passage of Eisner’s letter. Which reads: ” … while always being available to help Disney in any way I can.” Some Disney watchers are already suggesting that this is Michael’s less-than-subtle hint that he wishes to hang onto some sort of power at the Mouse House.

And — yet — in other portions of this same letter, Eisner seemed quite definitive about wanting to put his days at Disney behind him. “Although I intend to remain as a Disney director until the annual meeting of 2006,” Disney’s out-going CEO goes on to say, “I will not make a request of the board to nominate me for an additional term nor will I seek the chairmanship of the company after the retirement of George Mitchell.”

To some Disney watchers, the key word in the above sentence is “request.” As in: “I will not request the position of chairman. But — should Disney’s board of directors decide to nominate me anyway … Well, what the hey. I’ll take the job.”

Me personally? I don’t know if I really want to buy in with the Disney conspiracy theorists are saying on this issue. Though I will say that it’ll be genuinely intriguing to see who will eventually emerge as a viable candidate for Chairman of the Board position after Mitchell officially steps down in September of 2006.

So what happens now? Well, Disney’s PR staff is going to stand by and hope that the mainstream press accepts this rather hurried changing-of-the-guard without asking too many embarassing questions.

Roy & Stanley will also probably carefully consider their options. Weighing whether it would be wise to actively continue their “Save Disney” campaign now and possibly be viewed as spoilers. Or to just hang back for a while, wait ’til Iger has been in power for a number of months and actually made a few mistakes, then come back with a “The Walt Disney Company needs better leadership” campaign.

As for the immediate future … Well, Iger’s appointment doesn’t officially become effective ’til October 1st of this year. The transition process begins today, though. With Eisner supposedly showing Iger the ropes and slowly handing off his CEO duties to Bob over the next six months.

I’m told that some very powerful people in Hollywood have already called Iger, congratulating him on finally securing the top spot at Disney. Though — that said — I’ve also heard that there are already a couple of jokes bouncing around Burbank about the way this deal went down.

Here’s my favorite (so far): “Give that Bob only got this job because Meg opted to bail out of the interview process, would it be really tacky of me to buy Iger’s congrats-you-got-the-gig gift off of eBay?”

Which — I have to admit — is kind of funny. Though I’d imagine that Roy & Stanley can’t be all that amused with the way this all played out. Certainly, when they began talking up the whole Eisner-is-sitting-in-on-the-CEO-interview sessions last Thursday, this can’t be how Disney & Gold imagined this situation would eventually unfold.

Which is why — in spite of the fact that Disney’s PR office is insisting that this whole succession issue has been dealt with in a peaceful & professional manner — I can’t help but think that this story really isn’t over yet.

So JHM will continue to keep a close eye on this Iger-in-Eisner-out situation in the weeks ahead. And — should anything interesting happen — we’ll be sure to write about it here.

But — for now — what are your thoughts on how this all went down? Doesn’t this strike you as odd that Disney’s board of directors had to resolve this matter so quickly on a Saturday night? I mean, why the rush?

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.

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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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