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“TRON: Legacy” footage screened this past Wednesday night reveals that Disney sci-fi sequel has crossover potential



Flynnsbiggestfan writes in to say:

Thanks for sharing all that great info about "Tangled." But
could you please be a bit more specific about this new Disney animated film?
Maybe talk about "Tangled" songs or action sequences? Any additional
information you can share would be great.

Sorry, Flynnsbiggestfan. No can do. You see, the only way
that Disney would agree to let me (and about 100 – 150 other media types) see "Tangled"
this past Wednesday night is if we agreed not to review it. So it's okay for me
talk in generalities about this new Walt Disney Animation Studios production.
But as for specifics (i.e. song lyrics, bits of dialogue, etc.) … That's a
no-no 'til the second or third week of November.

Sam Flynn's lightcycle was on display just outside of the theater where Disney's Holiday
Showcase event was presented this past Wednesday night. Photo by Jim Hill

But how about this? As kind of a make-good, why don't I tell
you about what else Disney showed us on Wednesday night. Which was 23 minutes
from the first half of "TRON: Legacy."

Rich Ross, Chairman of Walt Disney
Studios, was on hand to introduce this footage. Ross first talked about how
impressed he was with Joseph Kosinski's work. How it was kind of amazing that
someone who's just begun in long form film for the very first time (Joseph initially
rose to fame on the back of the many clever commercials that he's created over
the past 10 years) could have produced something that looks as polished as "TRON:
Legacy" does.

For Kosinski's part … To be honest, he seemed pretty nervous
about how this footage might be received. Joseph talked about how this 23 minutes
of film we were about to be shown was still pretty rough, how it had  come " … straight from the editing bay."
Kosinski also mentioned that – immediately following Wednesday night's
screening – he'd be headed up to Skywalker Ranch for a month to help out with "TRON:
Legacy" 's final sound mix.

(L to R) Garrett Hedlund, Steven Lisberger, Jeff Bridges and Joseph Kosinski on the set
of "TRON: Legacy." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But beyond that … Before this selection of scenes was
screened, Joseph went out of his way to praise all of the people who'd been associated
with this project. Including Steven Lisberger, the director of the original "TRON."
Kosinski sang Lisberger's praises, talking about how far head of the curve
Steve was in regards to design, concept & technology.

Joseph also took time to praise " … the thousands of people
who are still working on this picture," making sure that "TRON: Legacy" will
actually be ready for its December 17th release date. Kosinski also
talked a little bit about his vision for this "TRON" sequel. How it's not so
much a sci-fi extravaganza, but – rather – a story about " … people trying to
make a human connection in this digital age."

And after that, the house lights went down and the press & their guests
were then treated to 23 minutes worth of selected scenes from "TRON: Legacy."

Bruce Boxleitner & Cindy Morgan in the original "TRON."
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"So how was this footage?," you ask. Well, I guess I should
probably tell you folks that I'm not all that big a fan of the original "TRON."
I mean, I thought that this 1982 Walt Disney Productions release had some terrific
visuals & amazing special effects. But as for the story that actually drove
the characters & plotline of this Steven Lisberger film … To be honest, I
thought that it was something of a snooze.

But as for "TRON: Legacy"  …

WARNING !! There be spoilers ahead. If you don't want to
know about some key plot points for "TRON: Legacy" almost three months ahead of
when this Walt Disney Pictures release is scheduled to roll into theaters, NOW
would be a very good time to bail out of today's JHM article.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Still here? Okay. Here goes …

… I have to admit that I was impressed by the nuanced,
intelligent approach that Kosinski took with "TRON: Legacy." Meaning that – in order
for us to buy into the digital world of TRON, to get us to actually care about
what goes on inside of this virtual realm – Joseph first had to give us some
characters that we could care about.

And Joseph actually pulls this off with the character of Sam
Flynn (who's played by Garrett Hedlund). This character basically serves as our
guide through the world of TRON. Which has changed significantly since the
original 1982 film (More on this later).

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Anyway … In the introductory scene that was screened on
Wednesday night, young Flynn must have just pulled one hell of a stunt at ENCOM's
annual meeting given those huge bruises on his back. Alan Bradley (Bruce
Boxleitner) comes by for Sam's garage / apartment for what Kevin Flynn's kid thinks
is the next in a series of "You-have-to-clean-up-your act" speeches.

But Bradley has a surprise for young Flynn. In the scene that
we've all already seen from the "TRON: Legacy" trailer, Alan tells Sam that he's
just been paged by his father from a number that's been disconnected for over
20 years. Young Flynn first scoffs at the idea that his Dad might still be
alive. "He's dead or chilling in Costa Rica. Maybe both," Sam says. But Bradley
still tosses him the keys to Flynn's Arcade. Which then sets this "TRON" sequel's
lightcycles in motion.

Wednesday night's screening then jumped ahead to the scene
where Sam rides his bike over to Flynn's Arcade to investigate that mysterious
page. Which is where I really had to give kudos to the filmmakers for their
musical choices. Given that – when young Flynn hits the circuit breakers,
sending power surging through the long-shuttered Arcade – what song comes
blaring out of the jukebox but Journey's "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" ? Which
all you 1980s music fans will remember features lyrics like …

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Here we stand
Worlds apart, hearts broken in two, two, two
Sleepless nights
Losing ground
I'm reaching for you, you, you

… which does a nice job of underscoring / foreshadowing Sam's
search for his Dad.

From there, young Flynn discovers his Dad's secret computer lab. Which
prominently features the laser that zapped the original Flynn into the world of
"TRON" back in 1982. And before we know it, Sam's following in his father's
footsteps. Being blasted into bytes by that laser and then being reassembled inside
of the virtual realm.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Once young Flynn arrives in the digital world, he's almost
immediately captured by a Recognizer. Which then flies Sam – along with several
other hapless programs – high above this futuristic cityscape before it then
lands at the Game Grid. And given that one of these programs actually commits
suicide (i.e. jumps to his death into an enormous fan, which immediately shreds
his body) rather than submit to the horrors of the Game Grid … Well, that then gives
you some idea how things have changed in the World of TRON over the past 28
years. Not to mention that program who's locked in place right next to young
Flynn on board the Recognizer. Who's clearly had half of his face sheared off
by a far-too-close encounter with somebody else's identity disc. This is a far
rougher, darker place now than the world that we visited back in 1982.

From here, Sam is suited up for competition. But to prove once
again that this isn't your Daddy's "TRON" movie, young Flynn first has his
clothes lasered off by four statuesque sirens ("This thing has a zipper, you
know," Sam whines) before he's then given armor and his own identity disc. Even
so, the sirens note that there's something unusual about young Flynn ("He's
different," whispers one sleek plastique beauty to the other as they select his
breast plate and knee guards).

And then Sam finds himself high up on the Game Grid, with
thousands of programs below cheering and applauding, waiting for the bloodsport
that's about to begin. As young Flynn looks across the playing field, he
actually recognizes the warrior that he's about to go up against. "I've got a
three-inch action figure version of you at home on my shelf," Sam says. But
this warrior seems singularly unimpressed by that fact as he pulls out his
identity disc and then flings it directly at young Flynn's head.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Okay. Rather than literally go through every single piece of
"TRON: Legacy" footage that was unspooled on Wednesday night, let me now  jump ahead to the most important scene shown
at that press screening. Which was when Sam was finally reunited with his long
lost father, Kevin Flynn. In this sequence from his film, we actually get a
sense of what Joseph Kosinski was saying. That – if you can totally disregard
this film's great visuals and awesome design – when you get right down to it, "TRON:
Legacy" – in its heart of hearts — is about people struggling to make a human
connection in this digital age.

And young Flynn … Given that it's been decades since he last
saw his father, Sam is clearly overcome by emotion as he hugs his Dad. Whereas
Kevin Flynn … Clearly all this time that he's spent alone away from real humans
in the world of TRON has fried Flynn's circuits. In a truly inspired
performance by Jeff Bridges, you get to see this man genuinely struggling to
reconnect, trying to step away from the monk-like routines that he's created
for himself in order to stay sane in this virtual world. Where (to quote from
The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever") nothing is real. As the elder Flynn steps
away from his son, saying that they'll talk over dinner, all will be explained
then, you can see Sam wondering what's really going on with his father. Why he
seems so distant now.

And as for what Kevin Flynn is actually been through , what
caused him to become the way he is today … Well, you're going to have to wait 'til
December 17th in order to get the full skinny on that aspect of "TRON:

Copyright 2010 New York Comic Con. All rights reserved

If – on the other hand – you'd like to get a bit more back story
ASAP about what happened in the World of TRON over the past 28 years and you happen
to live on the East Coast … Well, New York Comic Con is next weekend. October 8
– 10th at the Jacob K. Javits Center to be exact.

And among the many great panels that will be presented at
this three-day-long pop culture celebration is a "TRON: Legacy" panel. Which
will be held on Saturday, October 9th in Room 1A21. And at this
presentation, the developers of "TRON: Evolution"  will reveal how this soon-to-be-released video
game will link the world that we saw at the end of
1982's "TRON" (when all of the programs were freed) with the darker, far more
sinister world of "TRON: Legacy." How did this place come to be? More importantly,
how did Kevin Flynn wind up being trapped inside of this virtual prison that he
himself helped to create?

For answers to these and any other "TRON" -related questions
you have, you should probably make plans now to be in Room 1A21 next Saturday
from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. to catch that "TRON: Evolution" presentation. During which (hopefully) some new details about Kevin Flynn's back story will be revealed.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But beyond that … I have to say that I was quite impressed
by what I saw of "TRON: Legacy." Which took the strengths of the original "TRON"
(i.e. great design & visuals) and then supplemented those with far better
acting as well as a much more intriguing storyline. The end result is a motion
picture that (based on just that 23 minutes of footage, that is) looks like it's
going to appeal to a far larger audience than just the sci-fi crowd. That –
just like last year's "Star Trek
" reboot from J.J. Abrams – this new Walt
Disney Pictures release has lots of crossover potential.

Provided – of course-that the other hour+ of "TRON: Legacy"
are just as entertaining as the 23 minutes that were screened for the press
this past Wednesday night.

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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