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Scrooge U: Part XXXI — “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” puts a silly but cynical spin on the season

Jim Hill continues his look at the many adaptations of "A Christmas Carol." This time around, Jim talks about the 2000 VH1 production which stars Vanessa Williams as the very bitchy Ebony Scrooge

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Some adaptations of "A Christmas Carol" are like a huge holiday meal. Rich, meaty, memorable. Really stick-to-your-ribs kind of shows.

And then there are those holiday specials like "A Diva's Christmas Carol." Which are the television equivalent of Chinese food.

Don't get wrong, folks. I LOVE Chinese food. Get me a pupu platter & some pork fried rice and I'm a happy, happy man. But — that said — I'm still not going to pretend that eggrolls & chicken fingers are haute cuisine.

Copyright 2000 Paramount Home Entertainment

Which is why I'm now not going to get on my high horse & get all pissy because this 2000 VH1 Production isn't a faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale. Because you & I both know that that was never what writer / director Richard Schenkman intended when he put together this particular TV movie.

What Schenkman was trying to do here was create a version of "A Christmas Carol" that would work for the VH1 audience. Something that was frothy & fun. That would use a lot of show business-based insider jokes to undercut the inherent sentiment of Dickens' holiday tale. In short, a cynical seasonal story.

And — within those (admittedly) very narrow parameters — "A Diva's Christmas Carol" is incredibly successful. Mind you, it shifts this story's locale from 1843 London to the pop music world circa 2000. And Ebenezer Scrooge has been changed from a greedy old white man to a bitchy young black woman. But — beyond that — Dickens' tale in pretty much intact.

 
Copyright 2000 Paramount Home Entertainment

This TV movie opens with Ebony Scrooge (Vanessa Williams) shooting a Christmas-themed music video in France. Being the pop diva that she is, Ebony is treating the cast & crew on this shoot horribly. Literally shutting down production because a piece of faux snow accidentally landed in her mouth. Which then causes this woman to threaten the gaffer who committed this gaffe with firing.

After Scrooge retreats to her trailer, her accountant, Ernie (Richard Jutras) arrives with some bad news. It seems that this pop star is having some serious year-end cash flow problems. So — in order to cover this financial shortfall — she needs to make a large wad of dough between now and New Year's Day.

So Ebony & Ernie come up with a plan. The pop star will first stage a charity concert in NYC on Christmas Day. Then Scrooge will pocket most of the proceeds, citing all the costs involved with producing this holiday fund-raising event before eventually handing over a token amount to some yet-to-be-named charity.

When Ebony's manager, Bob Crachett (Brian McNamara) hears about this holiday scam, he immediately balks. Crachett reminds Scrooge that their band has been on tour for months now. That she already promised to give all of these worn-out musicians & back-up singers Christmas Day off so that they could then spend that time with their families. More to the point, that what Ebony & Ernie are planning on doing seems rather unethical.

Copyright 2000 Paramount Home Entertainment

But Ebony refuses to listen. She then tells Bob that he has to break the bad news to the band & her road crew that they're now going to have to cancel their holiday plans.

Mind you, Scrooge's scheme is also going to cause Crachett considerable personal hardship. Given that Bob was really looking forward to getting some time off himself. So that he could then get home (after all of these months on the road) and see his son, Tim (Joshua Archambault). Who's been having some very odd health problems lately.

So Crachett then has to get on the phone and tell his wife (Linda Goodwin) & kid that he won't actually be able to make it home for Christmas Eve. That Bob's now got to help Ebony stage this last minute charity concert in NYC on Christmas Day. But — once that show's over — he'll catch the next flight back home to Philly.

As you might expect, Mrs. Cratchett isn't thrilled by this news. But Tim is sweet & understanding … Which makes Bob feel all the worse for blowing off his family on Christmas Eve.

But — that said — Crachett still makes all of the necessary arrangements for Scrooge's Christmas Day concert. Making sure that Ebony & all of her support staff make it into Manhattan the night before the event. With her musicans & back-up singers booked to stay in some flea-bag, while the pop star winds up in one of NYC's five star hotels.

Of course, once Ebony settles into her suite for Christmas Eve, that's when things start to go a little screwy.

Copyright 2000 Paramount Home Entertainment

Take — for example — what happens while this diva is on the phone, berating the room service staff because Ebony found a grain of sand in her spinach salad. As Scrooge is abusing the operator, out of the corner of her eye, she notices that a painting in the room is changing. That — for a brief moment — the face of her old bandmate, Marli Jacob (Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas) replaces that of the woman in this frame.

But then — when Scrooge hangs up the phone — the painting has resumed its original form. So Ebony just shrugs the whole thing off, attributing this temporary hallucination to jet lag.

But then the ghost of Marli actually shows up in the suite (Though — instead of dragging her chains — this long-dead pop star now wears them to accentuate her skin-tight outfit). And — following the tried & true "Christmas Carol" way– Scrooge's old partner warns Ebony that she has to change her way. Or she risks being sent to a dark realm where there are no facials & pedicures. Where every day you're tortured by having to break a nail

Scrooge — at first — refuses to believe that this apparition is actually Jacob's ghost. She thinks that it's just some celebrity impersonator who's playing Marli. So this spirit has to take matters into her own hands — with Jacob literally separating her head from her shoulders — before Ebony will believe that this ghoul is actually Marli. Then — after warning Scrooge about the three other ghosts that will be visiting her that night — Jacob disappears.

Copyright 2000 Paramount Home Entertainment

This then sets the stage for the Ghost of Christmas Past. Who's played with great bite & verve by comedian Kathy Griffin. This holiday spirit spirits Ebony back to her old childhood stomping grounds. Which were in Paterson, N.J. Which — as Griffin cracks " … explains the smell."

Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past then look in on the pop singer's tough childhood. Where the abuse that Ebony and her brother, Ronnie (Asde Obayomi) suffer at the hands of their drunken dad forces the authorities to place these two kids in foster care. From there, we watch Scrooge leave the bad times behind by forming "Desire" (I.E. The trio that Ebony performs in along with Marli Jacob & Terry Freeman [Stephanie Biddle]).

"Desire" seems destined for greatness. But when Marli dies in a car accident, Ebony opts for a solo career. Leaving poor Terri behind to first fall in obscurity and then homelessness.

Once the Ghost of Christmas Past departs, it's now time for the Ghost of Present to come on the scene. And who should play this role but John Taylor from Duran Duran.

Copyright 2006 Paramount Home Entertainment

The Ghost of Christmas Past then takes Scrooge on a (literally) whirlwind trip of New York City. Where they first peek in on Ebony's niece, Olivia (Amanda Brugel). Who — in spite of how rude & distant her aunt has been to her over the years — this young woman still hopes that Scrooge will have a happy holiday.

These two then drop by Ernie's 5th Avenue apartment. Where it quickly becomes apparent that Ebony's current cash flow problems aren't really related to the end of the tax year. But — rather — because Scrooge's accountant has been helping himself to her money in order to fund his rather extravagant personal lifestyle.

Then comes the news that Bob is bailing on Ebony right before tomorrow's concert. You see, Tim has taken a sudden turn for the worse. And Crachett feels that he really needs to be home right now. So he literally leaves Scrooge in the lurch.

Copyright 2006 Paramount Home Entertainment

As for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be … Well, that's kind of the dividing line for a lot of Dickens fans when it comes to "A Diva's Christmas Carol." Some people seem to think that it's far too crass & self-promotional that a VH1 program actually play the part of this holiday spirit. While still others think that it's actually kind of clever & entirely appropriate that this TV movie uses an episode of "Behind the Music" to show how this pop diva how poorly her future turned out. That Ebony may have died with a lot of cash in hand, but she was still alone & unloved.

As Scrooge is then sucked into the wide screen television in her luxurious suite, the now-reformed miser vows to change her ways, to make amends to all those that she's wronged over the years.

Copyright 2000 Paramount Home Entertainment

And Ebony actually does keep her word. She starts treating her band & back-up singers much better. Scrooge has Crachett's wife bring Tim to NYC so that he can then be treated by the very best doctors. Ebony even reaches out to her old singer partner, Terri, and asks this down-on-her-luck performer to come join her on stage in a number during that charity concert.

Speaking of that charity concert  … Scrooge now makes sure that all of the money that's raised actually gets in the hands of a really-for-real charity. As for Ernie the accountant … Ebony contacts the FBI, who then come & arrest Ernie for embezzling.

So — as you can see — "A Diva's Christmas Carol" ends on an up note. With Scrooge trying to set things right in the world.

And — again — while this may not be the most faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," this TV movie is still kind of fun. Though (not to belabor the Chinese food analogy that I introduced at the very start of this story) you may have trouble remembering any of the particulars of the plot a half hour after you've actually watched this VH1 production.

Frothy, fun but ultimately forgettable. That pretty much sums up "A Diva's Christmas Carol." Tomorrow … It's a tart, comic take on Dickens' classic tale: "Maxine's Christmas Carol."

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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