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New “Alice in Wonderland” DVD has something for collectors and kids alike

Jim Hill offers up a review of this somewhat controversial new “Masterpiece Edition” DVD. Does this new 2-disc set deliberately short-change hardcore Disneyana collectors by holding back on the extra features? Read and learn.

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Woody Allen tells this great joke at the start of “Annie Hall”:

Two elderly women are staying at a Catskill Mountain Resource Resort. And one of them says “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says “Yeah I know. And such small portions.”

That joke immediately came to mind as I was getting ready to write my review of Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s new DVD, the “Masterpiece Edition” of “Alice in Wonderland.”

Why for? Because — as I was doing some research — I discovered that laser disc collectors all over the Web are up in arms about the new DVD version of this 1951 Walt Disney Studios release.

“So what are the laser disc guys grousing about?” you ask. Well, you see — back in 1996 — Buena Vista Home Entertainment released the “Disney Archives Collection” edition of “Alice in Wonderland” on laser disc. And this two disc box set was considered — by many collectors at the time — to be the finest laser representation of any Disney animated film to ever be released.

Not convinced? Here. Let me pull a quote from David M. Green’s review of the “Alice” laser disc, which appearing in a 1996 issue of “The Laser Tribune”:

“[The CAV edition of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” could] easily become the reference standard for laserdisc presentation in both its showcase of the film, and its flawless and highly informative supplement which could take days to properly appreciate (I spent two, and I don’t think half of it registered). [This two disc set] belongs in any animation collector’s assortment of titles.”

And — looking over a listing of the supplemental materials that were offered with the “Disney Archives Collection” laser disc — it’s easy to see why Mr. Green was impressed. The audio extras on this 2 disc set included:

Demos for all the songs that were considered for inclusion in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland”

Alternate takes on dialogue for various scenes in the movie

Radio commercials for the initial release of the film in 1951

Radio interviews with Walt Disney and Kathryn Beaumont

And the video extras of the “Disney Archives Collection” laser disc version of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” were equally impressive. These included:

Storyboards and concept drawings to Walt Disney Productions’ two earlier attempts to turn Lewis Carroll’s beloved children’s book into an animated feature. One version dating from the late 1930s while the other was in serious development during the early 1940s.

Live action footage shot as reference material for the animators working on “Alice.”

Various characters that were cut from the film.

Sounds fairly snazzy, doesn’t it? So why are laser disc collectors so upset with the “Masterpiece Edition” DVD of Disney’s “Alice of Wonderland.” Because only a handful of the ancillary materials that were created for the “Disney Archives Collection” version of the film were transferred over to this new “Alice” DVD.

Which is what made me think about that Woody Allen joke. I mean, to hear these guys going on and on about how the “Masterpiece Edition” of “Alice in Wonderland” couldn’t ever measure up to the “Disney Archives Collection” laser disc edition of the film. When it’s so obvious that these two versions of the same products were aimed at two totally different audiences.

To explain: The “Disney Archives Collection” of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” was clearly aimed at the hardcore Disney history fan. While the new “Masterpiece Edition” of this movie was obviously intended for a broader audience. Someone who might have an interest in the back story of this particular production. But — for the most part — the main reason that these people were purchasing this DVD was because they were looking for something to entertain their children.

That’s why the folks at Buena Vista Home Entertainment have loaded up the “Masterpiece Edition” of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” with kid-friendly features like the Virtual Wonderland Party. This interactive segment of the “Alice” DVD (I thought) was actually quite enjoyable. It features live actors playing Alice, the Matter Hatter and the White Rabbit who are having a Mad Tea Party with a group of kids.

What’s truly unique about the Virtual Wonderland Party sequence is that this section of the DVD allows viewers to play games and interact with characters from the film. So your kids can play games like “The Mad Hatter Says” or conduct a Teapot Orchestra. There are also songs to sing and riddles to solve. This part of the 2-disc set is really quite entertaining.

(Mind you, I don’t know the name of the performer who plays the Mad Hatter in the Virtual Wonderland Party. But this guy does a pretty amazing job of channeling Ed Wynn. By the way, be sure to linger over the menus on this section of the DVD for a while. You’ll really enjoy watching the Hatter grow more and more exasperated as he waits for you to make your next choice.)

Still, understanding that a fair number of adults are going to buy this 2-disc set just so they can aid this title to their Disney DVD collection, Buena Vista Home Entertainment has seen to it that the “Masterpiece Edition” of “Alice in Wonderland” features a fair number of extras. Stuff that’s sure to please the hardcore Disney history buffs out there. These features include:

“Operation Wonderland.” A wonderful featurette which shows Walt Disney — while riding his miniature stream train, “The Lily Belle,” around the Burbank lot — touring the various departments at the studio that had a hand in the creation of “Alice in Wonderland.”

“One Hour in Wonderland.” The very first program that Walt Disney ever produced for television. It’s a fascinating look back at the early days of the medium. Take — for example — that heavy handed Coca Cola commercial in the middle of the show. And take a gander at Edgar Bergen. No wonder this guy had his greatest success in radio. I’ve never seen a ventriloquist who moves his lips as much as Edgar does.

The very first “Alice” cartoon. Basically the pilot for this early, early Walt Disney live action / animated film series. Beautifully restored, this short gives you a keen understanding of what the pioneering days of the movie medium must have been like.

An extended clip from “The Fred Waring Show,” where a number of the songs from Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” made their world debut. Again, another charming look back at the early days of television. And check out the show’s stylized sets (Which were actually designed by the woman who did a lot of the early color conceptual work on the feature, Disney artist extraordinaire Mary Blair).

Yes, a lot of the features that I mentioned above were actually harvested from the “Disney Archives Collection” laser disc. But that’s not to say that Buena Vista Home Entertainment didn’t create anything new for their new “Alice in Wonderland” DVD. They actually hired voice artist Jim Cummings (Best known these days as Disney’s current official voice of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger) to come in and do his Sterling Holloway impression. Cummings sings a recently rediscovered “Alice” song, “I’m Odd,” which was written as a possible piece for the Cheshire Cat to perform in the film. This song — along with the additional concept art that’s featured as Jim is performing — makes this a welcome addition to the DVD.

Yes, I guess I can understand why laser disc fans would be complaining about the “Masterpiece Edition” DVD of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Yes, it really would have been nice if all the extras that were featured on the “Disney Archives Collection” laser had wound up on this 2-disc set. But — given that this release was primarily intended for a family audience, not hardcore collectors — some sort of compromise was obviously in order. Me personally, I think that the “Alice” DVD strikes a nice balance between the family friendly stuff and the strictly-for-Disneyana-fans extras.

If it’s any consolation, I’m told that Buena Vista Home Entertainment actually does have plans to eventually revive its “Disney Archives Collection” line. Several years down the road, look for BVHE to create this limited edition series of DVDs which will be aimed solely at the hardcore Disneyana collector market. As you might expect, these multi-disc sets will supposedly feature a fairly high price tag. But — at the same time — these DVDs will reportedly also be loaded with a ridiculous number of extras. Which (to my way of thinking, anyway) will make them worth waiting for.

But — until that happens — the “Masterpiece Edition” of Disney’s “Alice of Wonderland” DVD is just fine by me. Though this 2-disc set’s extra may have “such small portions,” I still enjoyed poking through them.

In fact, as I was digging through these discs, I actually finally found the answer to an “Alice in Wonderland” related question that’s been puzzling me for years. You see, for a while now, Stan Freberg has been insisting that Walt Disney himself personally hired him to do voice work on “Alice in Wonderland.” To be specific, Stan says that Walt hired him to do the voice of the Jabberwock for the “Jabberwocky” sequence in the film.

Well, obviously, that “Jabberwocky” sequence never made it into the finished version of the movie. Which is why — for 50 years now — people have been seriously doubting Freberg’s claims.

Well, with this DVD, Stan has been vindicated. You see, as part of the new “I’m Odd” segment of the “Masterpiece Edition” of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland,” a memo — circa 1948 — is briefly shown. “And what does that memo say?” you ask. It briefly summarizes the proposed storyline for the movie’s “Jabberwocky” sequence as well as listing the vocal talent that was to have been used in this part of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

“And just who was supposed to have provided voices for Alice’s ‘Jabberwocky’ sequence?” you query. Stan Freberg, Daws Butler (of “Yogi Bear” fame) as well as the Rhythmnaires.

So how can one possibly complain that a Disney DVD “is so terrible” if it manages to solve a 50 year old mystery? Me, I give the “Masterpiece Edition” of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” DVD high marks. As I said earlier, I think that this 2-disc strikes a nice balance between what a parent (who’s looking for something to entertain their children) wants and what a hardcore collector (who’s looking for something of value to add to their Disneyana collection) needs.

Plus this “Alice” DVD features a beautifully restored version of the 1951 film. So how can you possibly complain about something like that?


If you’d like to pick up your own copy of the “Masterpiece Edition”

of Disney’s “Alice of Wonderland,” then why not click on the

Amazon.con link to your right.

Your cost will (unfortunately) remain the same (though Amazon.com

is currently offering this 2-disc DVD set for 30% off!) But — if

you go there through us — JHM gets a tiny cut of what you spend. So help

keep Jim Hill behind the computer where he belongs and pick up your copy

of the Masterpiece Edition of Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland”

DVD through the link to the right.

Shop at Amazon.com

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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