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The next voice you hear …

… may not be the performer that Mickey originally wanted. Jim Hill talks about Disney animated films that didn’t actually get their dream casts.

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I just got an e-mail from E. Roberts, a JHM reader who really loves his Platinum Edition “Aladdin” DVD. E wrote to say:

My favorite “extra feature” on this 2-disc set has to be Eric Goldberg’s pencil tests for the Genie. You know, those two brief scenes that Goldberg animated to cuts from Robin Williams’ “Reality … What a Concept” album?

I have to know: Did Disney really use this footage to try & sell Robin on the idea of playing the Genie? I mean, those scenes are great & all. But they’re so short. I kind of find it hard to believe that animating Williams’ “I’d like to talk you about schizophrenia” bit and his “We’ve used these words in a sentence” riff was enough to convince a super star like Robin to come on board this project.

Well, believe it or not, E. But those brief clips really were what closed the deal for Williams. As soon as Robin saw that second head coming popping up out of the Genie’s shoulder, he reportedly burst out laughing, then turned to “Aladdin” ‘s directors — Ron Clements & John Musker — and supposedly said “I’m in.”

And — given that this once-kept-under-tight-lock-and-key clip has finally made its way out of WDFA’s vaults — Disney animation fans are now asking: As other recent Disney animated films recieve the Platinum Edition” treatment, can we expect to see other animated “auditions” to pop up on upcoming DVDs?

Because — I’ll tell you, folks — the one that I’d really love to see is the animated version of Jack Nicholson that Musker & Clements had Andreas Deja put together for their “Hercules” pitch to the superstar. The way I hear it, this short sequence was animated to a piece of dialogue that Ron’n’John pulled out of Jack’s 1992 hit, “A Few Good Men.” During which Nicholson’s Col. Nathan Jessup tells another character in that film: “Take caution in your tone, Commander. I’m a fair guy, but this f***ing heat is making me absolutely crazy.”

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see & hear that particular piece of dialogue coming out of the mouth of an animated Jack Nicholson? Particularly a Jack-as-Hades, seated on his throne in the Underworld?

Well, where this story gets interesting is — as Ron’n’John are pitching Nicholson on the picture, Jack spies a drawing of Phil. You know, Philoctetes? Hercules’ over-the-hill satyr trainer? This concept painting showed Phil lounging at poolside, resting in the arms of a lovely tree nymph. Nicholson reportedly turned to “Hercules” ‘s helmers, waggled his eyebrows over his ever-present sunglasses and said: “Now this looks like a really interesting character. How about I play him?”

Sadly, Jack wound up playing neither character. Though Jack was said to be definitely interested in voicing a role for “Hercules” (Here’s an interesting bit of trivia for all you animation buffs out there. Nicholson’s very first job in the film industry? Working as a messenger boy from MGM’s animated shorts unit. Strange but true. Anyway … ), the Mouse and the superstar were never able to come to terms over what Jack might get paid to play in this picture. Nicholson’s representatives supposedly asked for a fee significantly north of $10 million. Disney responded by offering an amount that was a 10th of what Jack’s agents were asking for. Which is why Nicholson (albiet reluctantly) passed up his chance to lord over the Underworld.

Once Jack was (literally) out of the picture, Musker & Clements searched high & low for a suitable Nicholson replacement. For a while, John Lithgow was “Hercules” ‘s designated Hades. But the “Third Rock from the Sun” star didn’t really have the sleazy-yet-sinister quality that Ron’n’John wanted for this role. Once Lithgow was let go, the directing team auditioned a number of A list actors for this part (Including Captain James T. Kirk himself, William Shatner!) before Musker & Clements finally hired James Woods to fill Hades’ smokin’ sandals.

Speaking of the Lord of the Dead … Much of “Hercules” ‘s comic relief comes from Hades abusing his minions, Pain and Panic. Disney animation fans can probably quickly name the two comic performers who voiced these roles: stellar stand-up Bobcat Goldthwait as the portly Pain and “Max Headroom” himself, Matt Frewer, as the always-frazzled Panic.

But how many of you know that — if Ron’n’John had had their way — Hades would have actually had two stand-up stars on his staff. Bobcat would still have played Pain, while the constantly-kvetching Richard Lewis would have provided neurotic vocals for Panic.

Interesting casting idea, don’t you think? Sadly, Lewis wasn’t really interested in doing animation. Which is how Frewer finally won this role.

Yeah, filling those sidekick parts in Disney’s animated films can sometimes be pretty tough. I mean, look at all the problems that Kevin Lima & Chris Buck had when they were trying to find just the right performer to portray Terk, Tarzan’s furry best friend in Disney Feature Animation’s Summer 1999 release.

Kevin & Chris thought they had found the perfect person to play Terk: Stand-up sensation Chris Rock. But Rock was actually said to be pretty offended when Lima & Buck offered him this part.

Why for? Well, the way Chris saw it … For Walt Disney Feature Animation to offer this Emmy award winning African-American performer the role of a gorilla (in a film that — even though it was set in Africa — didn’t feature an appearance by a single African!) somehow bordered on racism.

Understandably, Kevin & Chris were said to be shocked when Rock offered this explanation as to why he was taking a pass on the part of Terk. Out of concern that offering this role in “Tarzan” might offend other African American stars, Lima & Buck then reportedly decided to go another way with this animated character. Which is how talk show host Rosie O’Donnell wound up playing Tarzan’s best friend.

(By the way … It should be probably be pointed out here that — while Chris Rock may have found it demeaning to be asked to play a gorilla — that doesn’t mean that the star of “Bigger & Blacker” turned his back on any other animation gig that came his way. After all, Chris was perfectly happy to voice the title character in Warner Feature Animation’s 2001 release, “Osmosis Jones.” Rock is also said to be doing a bang-up job with Marty the Zebra in Dreamworks/PDI’s “Madagascar” [Which is currently slated to hit theaters in May 2005]. So it’s pretty obvious that this guy likes working in animation. Just don’t ever make the mistake of asking him to play a gorilla! Anywho … )

Speaking of Chris Rock … Chris Rock’s mentor — Eddie Murphy — of course voiced the role of Mushu in WDFA’s 1998 release, “Mulan.” But how many of you know that Eddie was NOT Disney’s first choice for the diminutive dragon? Earlier on in the production, the film’s directors — Tony Bancroft & Barry Cook — toyed with the idea of hiring “My Cousin Vinnie” star Joe Pesci to voice Mulan’s sidekick. Then — when Pesci didn’t pan out — Tony & Barry gave some thought to hiring “Frasier” star David Hyde Pierce to put a somewhat finicky spin on this ridiculous reptile.

But then word came down from on high (How high? The Team Disney Burbank building, to be exact) that Michael Eisner had had a brainstorm. Disney’s CEO thought that the star of 1984’s “Beverly Hills Cop” (FYI: That Paramount Pictures release — which made Murphy a movie star — was one of the very last projects that Eisner greenlit before leaving Paramount to go run Walt Disney Productions) would be the perfect performer to voice Mushu.

So — just as they did with Robin Williams & Jack Nicholson — the animators working on “Mulan” prepped a brief Mushu audition piece to show Eddie by using a cut that they pulled off Murphy’s debut stand-up album. (Though — if I’m remembering correctly — Tom Bancroft, the animator who was actually assigned this project, had a really hard time finding a single section of that recording that wasn’t loaded with swears. Anyway …)

Eddie was said to be really impressed with the Mushu audition scene that Tom created. Which is why he eventually agreed to take on the role. But — in the end — Disney Feature Animation staffers were said to be not all that impressed with Eddie’s work ethic.

How come? Well — the way I hear it — Murphy kept blowing off recording sessions for this film. Once — when “Mulan” was in the middle of crunch-time (literally weeks away from being released) — Eddie supposedly skipped out on one previously scheduled session in order to take his family to Tahiti for a vacation.

This might explain why — when you look over the cast listing for “Mulan II” — you’ll see that virtually every member of the film’s original vocal cast (Ming-Na as Mulan, B.D. Wong as Shang, Pat Morita as the Emperor, Harvey Fierstein as Yao, Gedde Watanabe as Ling, Jerry Tondo as Chien-Po, Soon-Tek Oh as Fa Zhou, June Foray as Grandmother Fa et al) has returned to work on this direct-to-video sequel. Everyone except Eddie Murphy, that is. Mushu’s role in this “Mulan” follow-up (Which is due in stores on February 1, 2005) is now being voiced by a Murphy soundalike, Mark Moseley.

And Eddie’s somewhat problematic reputation — at least in animation circles — is still following him around. How do I know? Well, how many of you saw that recent “Father of the Pride” episode where Murphy’s character from “Shrek” — Donkey — made a protracted cameo appearance? Some industry insiders are suggesting that this particular episode of that NBC sitcom was actually an elaborate in-joke that the folks at Dreamworks played on Eddie.

How so? Well, in this episode of “Father of the Pride,” Larry the Lion is desperate to get Donkey to make an appearance at his son’s school. How desperate? So desperate that he stuffs the “Shrek” star in a burlap sack and kidnaps him. Only once he gets home & opens the sack, Larry finds that he didn’t really kidnap Donkey. What the Las Vegas lion nabbed instead was Donkey’s lookalike stunt double, Jamie.

And — given that Donkey’s stunt double actually has more dialogue in this episode of “Father of the Pride” than the real Donkey does — Well, I’ll let you folks be the judge as to whether the gag that Dreamworks’ writers were trying to put across here was really on Mr. Murphy.

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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