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Monday Mouse Watch: Will MGM’s upcoming name change really allow the Universal Orlando Resort to nudge Disney out of the spotlight?

Jim Hill shares what he’s heard about Universal’s bold new plan to reposition that Central Florida Resort. He also offers up additional information about that after-hours Halloween party that’s now in the works for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And would you believe “Holidays at Hogwarts” ?

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What’s in a name?


Well, as Universal learned the hard way back in 1998, when it decided to rename its recently expanded resort “‘>Universal Studios Escape” and thus confused hundreds of thousands of tourists … Sometimes picking the wrong name for your theme park and/or resort can prove to be disastrous.



Copyright 1999 Universal Studios Escape


Which is why it was kind of intriguing to learn late last month that Universal Studios Orlando reps were out there surveying up a storm. Not to find out what theme park goers actually thought of the names that Universal had chosen for its two Central Florida parks. But — rather — to learn about what Central Florida tourists thought of the new moniker that the Mouse had chosen for Disney-MGM.


To be specific, the folks at Universal wanted to know if theme park goers felt that Disney-MGM’s new name was confusing (i.e. Where would you expect to find “Disney’s Hollywood Studios” ? In Hollywood, California or in Orlando, Florida ?) as well as what their expectations for the soon-to-be-renamed theme park might be (i.e. What would you expect to find at a “Disney’s Hollywood Studios” that you might not find at a “Disney-MGM Studios” ?). They even went so far as to quiz people about which proposed name they liked best for WDW’s studio theme park (i.e. “Disney’s Hollywood Studios,” “Disney’s Orlando Studios,” “Walt Disney Studios” or “Disney-Pixar Studios”).


“And why would Universal be doing something like this ?,” you ask. To borrow an analogy from Steven Spielberg’s 1976 classic, “Jaws,” Universal sensed that there was blood in the water.


To explain: The executives who run the Universal Studios Orlando resort genuinely believe that the renaming of Disney-MGM Studios theme park will confuse a certain number of tourists. And Universal intends to take advantage of this confusion by launching a bold new promotional campaign for their resort in 2008.


To date, the Universal Orlando Resort hasn’t quite settled on which new tagline it wants to use. Among the finalists are:



  • “Universal Orlando Resort: The Blockbuster Capital of the World”


  • “Universal Orlando Resort: The Feature Attraction

But Universal is determined to do whatever it has to in order to grab would-be theme park visitors’ attention & nudge Disney out of the spotlight. Perhaps even going so far as to hire Academy Award-winner Morgan Freeman to serve as the new face & voice of their resort.


One of the ideas that’s currently on the table involves Freeman starring in an eye-popping series of commercials, which — through the magic of digital effects — Morgan would be inserted into memorable scenes from “Spider-Man,” “The Hulk,” “Jurassic Park,” “Men in Black” as well as the “Harry Potter” films.


Speaking of Harry … Even though “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” isn’t expected to open at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure ’til 2009, look to the Universal Orlando Resort to begin playing up the fact that J. K. Rowling’s characters (as well as the characters from “The Simpsons”) will soon be appearing in their Central Florida theme parks. Look for many of Universal’s TV commercials for 2008 to be peppered with brief clips from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”



Copyright 2007 NBC / Universal


FYI: You may have noticed that — in the early concept art of the Hogsmeade Village section of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” — that this section of Island of Adventure‘s newest “land” is blanketed with snow. Well, there’s a reason for that. You see, Universal is hoping to turn IOA’s “Harry Potter” -themed section into a way to challenge Disney World‘s dominance when it comes to Christmas in Central Florida. Picture — if you will — a yearly “Holidays at Hogwarts” promotion at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. With carolers strolling through the streets of Hogsmeade and a traditional English Christmas feast being served nightly in the Great Hall at Hogwarts Castle.


Of course, what’s kind of ironic about all this is that Disney is well aware of all the survey work that Universal has been doing lately. And Mouse House officials think that it’s silly that Universal Orlando Resort executives seem to believe that any Central Florida tourists will be confused by Disney-MGM’s upcoming name change.


As one unnamed MGM manager explained it to me:



“It’s not like we’re actually going to be closing the park while we rename the place. It’s all going to happen overnight. When the Studios closes on January 6, 2008, it will officially cease being called Disney-MGM and then become Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There’ll be absolutely no interruption in operations. So I don’t understand when exactly it is that Universal thinks that WDW guests are going to start to get confused by this name change.”


This same manager also asked that I please clarify some of the information that has been put out on the Web to date about the Studios upcoming Halloween hard ticket event. Which is now tentatively scheduled to get underway in late October of 2009, with a weeklong series of parties being held after-hours at that theme park.



“We’re not going to do anything nearly as scary or gross as Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. To be honest, given that the Studios Halloween event is being built around Jack Skellington and the ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ characters, it’ll be more eerie and silly than anything.


People need to understand that the real reason that we’re prepping a second after-hours Halloween event for the Disney World Resort isn’t because we want to do something like Universal. To be honest, we’re just doing this because of the pent-up demand, because ‘Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party‘ sells out every year. Particularly during that week just before Halloween.


If we offer a second after-hours hard ticket event that’s Halloween-themed, we’ll then be able to meet that demand. Give those folks who weren’t able to get into ‘Mickey’s Not-So-Scary’ another place on property where they can then go and party with their friends & family.



 Copyright 2007 Hong Kong Disneyland


So this isn’t really about Disney trying to out-gross Universal. But — rather — the Disney World Resort just looking for new ways to meet the seasonal demands of our guests. And if this Halloween event at the Studios proves to be successful … Well, we’ll then do what we did with ‘Mickey’s Not-So-Scary’ and ‘Mickey’s Very Merry.’ Which is add a few new dates every year. Maybe even offer people a combo package, so that — if they book a room at one of our on-property resorts during the months of September and October — we’ll then offer them the opportunity to buy tickets to both the Magic Kingdom‘s Halloween party as well as the Studios Halloween party.


But as for the Disney’s Hollywood Studios Halloween event being our way of challenging Universal’s supremacy when it comes to that holiday … Yeah, maybe there’s a little of that going on with this new hard ticket. But to be honest, this is mostly because ‘Mickey’s Not-So-Scary’ always sells out during that last week of October. We’re just trying to do something to meet that pent-up demand. Give the people who are staying on property and who are looking to attend an after-hours Halloween party during their Disney World vacation another alternative to chose from.


But please put the word out. The ‘Twilight Zone Tower of Terror‘ with its new 5th Dimension drop sequence — think ‘Up, up and Away!’ — is about as scary as this new after-hours event at the Studios is ever going to get.”


Now what’s kind of bizarre about all this is — even as the Walt Disney World Resort is trying to create a brand-new, on-property, after-hours Halloween event that will deliberately not be as scary as Halloween Horror Nights — Universal is reportedly looking into creating its own new family-friendly event that — come 2009 — would then challenge “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.”


As the story goes, once Phase One of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” opens in 2009 (FYI: That phase of the project will probably only include Hogwarts Castle and Hogsmeade Village. Phase Two — featuring the Forbidden Forest and that Weasley-family-flying-car attraction — isn’t expected to come on line ’til sometime in early 2010), this new “land” will then allow Universal to offer yet another after-hours seasonal event, ” Halloween at Hogwarts.” So while Mom & Dad are next door at Universal Studios Florida getting the snot scared out of them at Halloween Horror Nights, their youngsters can be trick-or-treating in a deliberately scare-free environment over at IOA.


So all in all, it looks like an interesting couple of years for anyone who’s heading down to Central Florida. With Universal looking to take advantage of the confusion that it thinks will arise from MGM’s name change. So that the Universal Orlando Resort will then be able to reposition itself as the place where “… the biggest movies become the biggest rides.” Where you can “… experience the greatest blockbusters of all time in ways that you’ve never imagined.”


Whereas Disney’s response is basically (to borrow a phrase from Alfred E. Newman) “What, me worry?” They’re so confident that the Disney’s Hollywood Studio upcoming name change will be a non-issue (More importantly, that once “Toy Story Mania” opens, that this new state-of-the-art shooter attraction will give WDW guests a compelling new reason to come visit the studio theme park) that they’re not even bothering to prepare a response to Universal’s new ad campaign. These folks are just concentrating on making sure that this name change does go as smoothly as possible come January 6th. Then — once those new Pixar-themed rides & shows are up and running at Disney’s Hollywood Studios — they’ll turn their attention toward getting that new after-hours Halloween hard ticket event up out of the ground.



Copyright 2007 NBC / Universal


So what do you folks think? Will Disney-MGM’s name change — as well as those new “Simpsons” and “Harry Potter” -themed attractions that will be coming on line at the Universal Orlando Resort over the next two years — really be the opportunity that Universal execs seem to think that it is? Will this momentary bit of confusion really be enough to allow them to reposition their resort, convince Central Florida tourists to give Universal another try? Or is Disney forever going to be dominant in the Orlando tourism market?


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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