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Scrooge U : Part XXXIII — “Christmas Carol — The Movie” beefs up Belle

Jim Hill continues his look at the many adaptations of "A Christmas Carol." This time around, Jim talks about the 2001 animated version. Which significantly expands the part that Scrooge's fiancee previously played in this holiday tale

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Belle has always been one of the more intriguing characters in Charles Dickens' classic holiday tale. The woman who gave Ebenezer Scrooge back his engagement ring because she was the first to see how hard his heart was becoming.

Whatever became of Belle after she walked out of Ebenezer's life? Some adaptations of "A Christmas Carol" actually follow Dickens' original text. Which has the Ghost of Christmas Past showing Scrooge that his former fiancee has gone on to live a rich, full life without him. That Belle now has lots of children & a loving husband.

Mind you, the sight of this happy scene deepily wounds Ebenezer because he knows that this is the life that he & his fiancee could have had. If Scrooge had just chosen a different path.

Still other adaptations of this classic holiday tale (Like "The Stingiest Man in Town") show Belle old & alone. Suggesting that she never quite recovered from the social stigma that came from breaking off her engagement with Ebenezer.


Copyright 2003 MGM Home Entertainment

"Christmas Carol — The Movie" imagines an entirely different path for Scrooge's fiancee. Where Belle actually appears to be making an effort to make up for all the misery that this miser has been causing the world by working as a nurse in a charity ward.

Which — I know — seems like a pretty significant departure from the way this story is traditionally told. But — to be honest — it's just one of many ways that director Jimmy T. Murakami & screenwriter Piet Kroon depart from the Dickens. With the end result being an animated adaptation that may not be faithful but is always fascinating.

How so? Well, let's start with the first 10 minutes of "Christmas Carol — The Movie." Where we see Ebenezer Scrooge acquiring a new list of debtors from another money lender, Mr. Leach. Ebenezer then turns these accounts over to Old Joe. You know? The guy who usually runs the Rag & Bone Shop? The place where the undertaker, the charwoman and the laundress go to sell off Scrooge's belongings in the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be portion of the story?

Anyway … Ebenezer tells Old Joe to move on these accounts immediately. And even though it's Christmas Eve, Joe gets the necessary court orders and begins making the rounds. Rousting those who can't pay from their homes and then taking them straight to debtors prison.


Copyright 2003 MGM Home Entertainment

While all of this is happening, we're then introduced to Belle's world. We see that she now works for kindly old Dr. Lambert. Who is — just this moment — is discharging Tiny Tim after treating this poor boy for pneumonia.

Suddenly Old Joe & his goons burst in. And after collecting Lambert for falling behind in his payments, they then tell Belle that — if she wants to get the good doctor out of debtors prison — she's going to have to bring payment in full to the man who now holds his account. One Ebenezer Scrooge.

So Belle now writes a letter to Ebenezer that asks this old miser to take their personal history into account & show some mercy toward Dr. Lambert. Belle then hand-delivers this message to Scrooge's office. Only to have Bob Crachit accidentally misplace her note.

Mind you, all of this story comes before the start of the traditional version of "A Christmas Carol." Where Scrooge arrives at his office & begins barking at Bob Crachit, heaping abuse on his nephew, Fred, etc. Now to add to this that one of the very first things that we see Ebenezer do once he actually gets into work is this miser being kind. Slipping a tiny piece of cheese to a mouse in his office, while deliberately making sure that Bob Crachit doesn't witness this act of charity.


Copyright MGM Home Entertainment

And while we're now sort of plugged into the version of "A Christmas Carol" that we've previously known, the deviations from Dickens keep on coming. Take — for example — Tiny Tim's illness. Now Bob Crachit's son becomes deathly ill because Tim's part of a group of Christmas carolers that Scrooge tries to drive away from his window by throwing a bucket of water on them. So becoming wet on the cold streets of London is what causes Tiny Tim's persistant cough to return. And then … Well, you can guess where this part of the story goes from here.

And when it comes to all of those spirits who visit Ebenezer on Christmas Eve, Murakami & Kroon mix up the batting order a bit. Given that they have the Ghost of Jacob Marley visit Scrooge in his offices just after Bob Crachit leaves for the night.

This sequence is particularly eerie. Given that — even as Jacob is trying to tell Ebenezer to mend his ways — Marley is always fighting against his chains, trying to prevent them from pulling him backwards out the window.

You see, this version of Jacob is literally chained to another set of miserable spirits. Which is why Marley can always pause a moment in Ebenezer's office before he must continue on in his unending journey of torment.


Copyright MGM Home Entertainment

Mind you, Scrooge clearly doesn't learn all that much during Jacob's visitation. Given that — immediately after Marley's ghost is pulled backwards through the window — the charitable gentlemen show up at Ebenezer's offices seeking contributions for the poor. And Scrooge quickly brushes these two off before heading home for the night.

We now cut back to Belle watching over the remaining sick children in the charity ward. Agonizing how she's ever going to take care of all of these kids now that Dr. Lambert has been locked away in debtors prison.

From here in on, we pretty much follow the established path for "A Christmas Carol." What with the Ghost of Christmas Past arriving and then taking this flinty old miser on a tour of his past. Again, Murakami & Kroon try to make Belle much more of a presence in this version of Dickens' classic tale by casting her as Fan's best friend from school. Which means that Ebenezer is now able to meet his future fiancee much, much earlier in the story.


Copyright MGM Home Entertainment

We now chug through the usual moments. The party at Fezziwig's. Belle & Ebenezer becoming engaged. Followed by Scrooge's fiancee returning his engagement ring because his heart has become so hard.

Now it's time for the Ghost of Christmas Present to come on the scene. Where this holiday spirit first takes Ebenezer on a stylized trip through Christmas Day. The animation in this section of this movie is particularly striking. With Scrooge learning to wield the Ghost of Christmas Present's horn of plenty as they fly past these holiday scenes rendered in wild pastels.


Copyright MGM Home Entertainment

Mind you, this joyful interlude is interrupted by a scene which shows Old Joe & his crew clearing all of Dr. Lambert's equipment out of his office. Thereby making it impossible for this charity ward to stay in business. Then it's time to drop by the Crachits for Christmas dinner. Where Ebenezer now learns about the part he played in Tiny Tim's latest illness.

As Scrooge is trying to process all this, finally realizing the full depth of the misery that he's brought into the world … Who should arrive but the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be?

Now what's truly cool about this section of "Christmas Carol — The Movie" is that this holiday spirit is composed entirely of shadows. So that — when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be has something that he has to show Scrooge — he just transforms himself into that particular scene. So that we now get to see the Crachits' first holiday dinner after Tiny Tim's passing done entirely in silhouette.


Copyright MGM Home Entertainment

Murakami & Kroon also do a neat callback to Jacob Marley's appearance in Scrooge's graveside scene. Given that — almost immediately after Ebenezer arrives in front of his headstone — a chain jumps out of the ground & wraps itself around this miser's waist. And — as Scrooge apologizes to Bob Crachit for the role that he played in Tiny Tim's death — he finds himself dragooned into the same group of ghouls as Jacob Marley. Who then drag the now-screaming Ebenezer off into the night sky.

Now Christmas morning arrives. And Scrooge discovers that he is not in fact dead. But very much alive and able to make amends for all the wrongs that he's done over the years.

So we now see Ebenezer go through all of the usual "Christmas Carol" moments. Sending that young boy off with a wad of cash so that he can then buy the prize turkey for the Crachits. But then — for just a moment — Scrooge backslides. Wondering aloud if that boy will actually do as he asked or just run off with the money.


Copyright MGM Home Entertainment

But then Ebenezer glances in the mirror and catches a glimpse of that immense chain that Jacob mentioned still wrapped around his waist. Scrooge now realizes that he's actually going to have to work this spiritual debt off. So the now-reformed miser then wanders through the streets of London, doing good. And — en route — Ebenezer once again encounters the Ghost of Christmas Past & Present. Who genuinely seem pleased to see Scrooge out amongst his fellow man, trying to undo all of the damage that he's done over the years.

Which brings us back to Belle. Who — late Christmas night — confronts Ebenezer on the steps of his home and then berates her old fiancee for closing Dr. Lambert's charity ward. Scrooge immediately apologizes and says that he'll forgive the doctor's debts. Ebenezer even promises to replace all of Lambert's now-lost equipment and underwrite the cost of running this clinic for the poor from here on in. As Belle wonders what's happened to her old fiancee to cause him to undergo such a huge change of heart, there's a hint that these two may eventually reconcile.

From there, we get the usual assortment of final scenes. With Scrooge promising to help Crachit & his struggling family and all that. And with that, "Christmas Carol — The Movie" quickly draws to a close.

Okay. So this is obviously not a traditional adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic holiday tale. And I haven't even mentioned the most annoying aspect of "Christmas Carol — The Movie." Which is this cloyingly cute pair of mice that Murakami & Kroon have shoehorned into the story. Who — just as Jaq & Gus did with that key in Disney's "Cinderella" — are constantly hauling Belle's note around, trying to get Ebenezer to finally notice it.

If you're willing to overlook that particular aspect of this adaptation (As well as the fact that the film-makers play pretty fast & loose with the traditional plot of Dickens' classic holiday tale), what you're left with is a very well animated version of "A Christmas Carol" that features a surprisingly strong vocal cast (I.E. Simon Callow as Ebenezer, Kate Winslet as Belle and Nicholas Cage as Jacob Marley).

In short, "Christmas Carol — The Movie" is an interesting variation of this old holiday theme. One that you may want to check out sometime if you've finally had your fill of the Alastair Sim version of "A Christmas Carol."

Tomorrow … How exactly do they celebrate the holidays down in the Briar Patch? Well, I guess we'll find out when I review "Brer Rabbit'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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