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“The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History” looks back at Conan O’Brien’s beginnings

Jim Hill reviews John Ortved’s book. Which talks about the part that this acclaimed animated series played in CoCo becoming David Letterman’s replacement



With all the talk this past week or so about how NBC is booting Conan O’Brien off of The Tonight Night so that network execs can then turn this show back over to Jay Leno, I thought that it might be interesting to take a look back at how CoCo actually got into the late night talk game.

Which is why I cracked open a copy of John Ortved’s “The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History” (Faber & Faber, October 2009). Which – to put it bluntly – is this supremely entertaining, behind-the-scenes look at this long-running (451 episodes and counting) Fox series.

Copyright 2009 Faber & Faber. All Rights Reserved

And given that O’Brien played such a huge part in shaping this show … Well, it’s only appropriate that Ortved devotes a full chapter of this 352-page hardcover (which is loaded with great stories from writers, animators, producers and network executives who worked on this animated show over the past 20 seasons) to Conan’s tenure with “The Simpsons.” Which actually
came about became CoCo had grown tired of working for another late night television show, “Saturday
Night Live

As O’Brien told Ortved in a recent interview:

I was working on Saturday Night Live. It was fall of ’91 and it was time for all the writers to come back to Saturday Night Live, and I just realized I was burnt out.

Lorne Michaels and Conan O’Brien. Copyright New York Daily News

I told Lorne Michaels I couldn’t come back to work and I just needed to do something else. I had no plan whatsoever. I was literally in this big transition phase of my life where I decided, I’ll just walk around New York City, and an idea will come to me.

And this is one of those stories that aspiring TV writers everywhere must hate, but my phone rang, and it was Mike Reiss and Al Jean, and they said, “We heard that you just left Saturday Night Live. Would you be interested in working at The Simpsons?” So I said, “Yes.”

And – as it turns out – the staff of “The Simpsons” (because of Conan’s reputation for being the funniest writer at “Saturday Night Live”) welcomed O’Brien with open arms. As Josh Weinstein – a writer/producer who worked on this animated series from 1991 – 1997 – remembered:

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Some of my best memories from (working on “The Simpsons” come from being with) Conan. Every day Conan was in the room it was like a ten-hour Conan show, nonstop.

This is largely because – during O’Brien’s time with this animated series – Conan helped write several episodes that are now considered “Simpsons” classics. Chief among these is “Homer Goes to College” and “Marge vs. the Monorail.” With that last episode having a particularly large impact on shaping the future of this Fox show.

As screenwriter Brent Forrester told Ortved:

The Simpsons was not initially cartoony. The first few seasons, it was an animated show about a family that was highly realistic. The conventional wisdom is that the show changed after the monorail episode, written by Conan O’Brien. Conan’s monorail episode was surreal, and the jokes were so good that it became irresistible for all the other writers to write that kind of comedy. And that’s when the tone of the show took a rapid shift in the direction of the surreal.

Copyright Fox. All Rights Reserved

And yet – as O’Brien was cranking out these classic episodes of “The Simpsons” – there were rumors floating about that Conan was eyeing greener pastures. As Wallace Wolodarsky (who –
along with Jay Kogen – were the first writers hired to work on this animated series) remembers, people on staff at the show were saying that …

… Lorne Michaels was talking to Conan about being the guy to replace Letterman. And it made complete sense to us, because Conan was so funny. We never would have thought of it in a
million years, but as soon as you heard it, it made sense.

“So how did CoCo actually go about auditioning for the Late Night gig?,” you ask. Well, as Gavin Polone – O’Brien’s former agent – describes the scene to Ortved:

Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson. Copyright Johnny Carson Productions. All Rights Reserved

We came to this agreement (with NBC executives that they would allow us to) do a test with Conan on The Tonight Show’s stage and see how it went. We got Jason Alexander and Mimi Rogers to be the guests, and Conan worked on a monologue – and he did a great job.

And as Wallace Wolodarsky (who was there as this test was being taped) recalls:

One of the weirdest experiences of my life was going to see Conan’s tryout for Late Night, because it was done on the stage of The Tonight Show. That was back when Johnny Carson was still hosting the show (the curtain looked a certain way – it was this multi-colored curtain), and seeing this friend of yours, this guy that you worked with, walk out from behind that curtain
and deliver a monologue was something that you could only dream up that you couldn’t ever imagine actually happening.

Copyright Johnny Carson Productions. All Rights Reserved

The whole thing was beamed back by satellite to New York, where Lorne Michaels was watching and probably other NBC executives.

So Conan came out and did an approximately twenty-minute version of a talk show. And then we all ran down and hung out on The Tonight Show stage, because we couldn’t believe it, and sat in the guest chair and did all the stuff that a tourist would do.

And after O’Brien’s audition, a couple of weeks went by. And – out of the blue – he got the call that changed his life. As O’Brien told Orvted:

“The Simpsons” writing staff circa 1992. Back row, L to R: Mike Mendel, Colin ABV Lewis, Jeff Goldstein, Al Jean, Conan O’Brien, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Mike Reiss, Ken Tsumara, George Meyer, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti, CJ Gibson and David M. Stern. Front row, L to R: Dee Capelli & Lona Williams. Copyright Fox. All Rights Reserved

I remember very clearly: we had just done a script. It was the day we were going to record an episode and we were all sitting around this table. A phone rang and someone said, “It’s for you, Conan.” It was my agent, Gavin Polone, and he just said – it was probably like ten o’clock in the
morning – and he said, “You’re the new host of Late Night.”

Now if you think that O’Brien actually celebrated this news … Think again. As his fellow “Simpsons” writer Colin A.B.V. Lewis remembers:

The day he got hired, Conan came over to hide, basically, in our offices. And he was just lying on the floor, hands over his head, like, Oh, my God! It was just so bizarre.

Copyright NBC Universal. All Rights Reserved

“Simpsons” post production Michael Mendel also recalls O’Brien’s
odd reaction:

(Conan) was passed out facedown in this horrible shag carpet. He was just quiet and comatose down there … I remember looking at him and saying, “Wow. Your life is about to change, in a really dramatic way.”

And indeed it would. Given that – at that time – CoCo didn’t have the sort of grown-up wardrobe that one associates with a late night host. Looking back on that time, O’Brien said:

Copyright NBC Universal. All Rights Reserved

I didn’t own a suit. I just had a zip-front jacket and three pairs of jeans. So Gavin bought me two suits, ‘cause I had to go in and people had to get a look at me.

“So Conan then immediately went on to achieve late night success,” you say. Not so fast. As it turns out, what NBC’s been doing to O’Brien for the past two weeks isn’t the first time that he’s been jerked around by a television network. As Polone explained:

After NBC wanted him, Fox would not let (Conan) out of his contract. It was really shocking, actually, because we thought they would. I think it was a guy named Steve Bell. Really hard-assed us  and I’ll never forget it. They actually demanded money. And it wasn’t a situation where (O’Brien) was going to compete against them. (Fox) could have built goodwill, and they just dispensed with all of that, so (that the network) could squeeze a writer – who wasn’t making huge money to begin with – out of $100,000. It’s pretty funny.

Copyright NBC Universal. All Rights Reserved

O’Brien also recalled this awkward time:

Some executive at Fox – who I don’t remember, and that’s probably for the best – said “No, no, no. he still owes us money on his contract.” It was like a year’s salary or something. So I think NBC paid half, and I paid half. I actually had to pay my way out of Fox, which always felt a little strange. I’m sure that Simon Cowell has that money now. He’s using it on hair gell.

One has to wonder – given that it’s rumored that Fox is anxious to have CoCo come on over to their network so that O’Brien can then start up a brand-new late night talk show – whether Fox executives will now offer to reimburse Conan for that “Simpsons” exit penalty that they hit him with nearly two decades ago.

Brad Bird

Mind you, O’Brien’s trials and tribulations aren’t the only thing covered in “The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History.” Ortved also ropes in other production veterans like Brad Bird. Who talk about how this ground-breaking television show furthered his own personal agenda. As this Pixar rock star explains:

My agenda almost as long as I’ve been working professionally is to try to reinforce the idea that animation is not exclusively for kids. And so, for me, The Simpsons was a wonderful way to get on board a ship that was flying in the face of that. The problem with a lot of animated films that aren’t aimed at kids is that they try to declare their “adultness,” and it’s an adolescent way of announcing that you’re not aimed at kids. It’s not truly an adult way.
What I liked about The Simpsons was that beside it being really funny, it was smart. It ran the gamut from really base, the occasional butt-crack joke, and then talking about Susan Sontag or something in the next sentence. It affected things very profoundly. But I think, unfortunately, a lot of people have taken the wrong lessons from The Simpsons and just the butt-crack jokes, and not picked up the smart ball.

Well, if you yourself would like to pick up the smart ball and then learn more about this Peabody
-winning series (Which has won 25 Emmys over its to-date 20-year run of this show), be sure and get yourself a copy of “The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History.” And if you’re on Team CoCo … Then you should definitely purchase John Ortved’s book. If only because you’ll then have some Conan-related reading material to tide you over until O’Brien’s next late night talk debuts in September.

Copyright Fox. All Rights Reserved

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 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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