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Two Really Good Reasons Why You Ought to be Watching the Disney Channel

Jim Hill sings the praises on two Zoog Disney series that are primarily aimed at tweens (But are still pretty entertaining for the rest of us): “Kim Possible” and “The Proud Family”

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You know, we’re still getting a lot of mail here at JimHillMedia.com about that recent programming change at the Disney Channel. Extremely angry e-mails like this one from P**** B. of Townsend, MA. Who writes to say:

“I can’t believe that Eisner actually had the b&%$@ to cancel ‘Vault Disney.’ Now what are my kids supposed to watch? This ‘Zoog Disney’ s&^% like ‘Kim Possible’ and ‘The Proud Family’?!”

… Which is what immediately clued me into the fact that P****B. has never actually watched “Kim Possible” or “The Proud Family.” How can I tell? Well, these two ‘Zoog Disney’ animated series may be many things – well written, loaded with great design as well as humor that plays at a variety of levels, fun for both kids & adults to watch – but they are decidedly NOT “s&^%”

Of course, these days, it’s “Kim Possible” that getting most of the press. Which is sort of understandable (I guess). Given that “The Proud Family” debuted back in September 2001, while “Kim Possible” was just rolled out back in June. So the Disney Channel’s currently throwing most of its marketing might behind “Kim” (Just to make sure that that highly lucrative 7 to 14-year-old tween demographic is aware that “Kim Possible” is out there).

Well, all of that publicity must be working. For “Kim Possible”‘s premiere (back on Friday, June 7th) broke records at the Disney Channel, delivering 2.5 million total viewers and 1.8 million households, the highest ever on the 19-year-old network. The “Kim Possible” that aired Friday before last (September 27th) reportedly tied the record ratings for the show’s highly hyped premiere … And an audience of that size for a regularly scheduled episode of “KI” can only mean one thing: “Kim” isn’t just a hit with kids anymore. It’s a toon that adults are also checking out & watching now on a regular basis.

So “What’s the sitch” with “Kim Possible”? Why does this Disney Channel animated series (which stars a brainy cheerleader who battles super villains when she’s not juggling homework assignments) play so well with audiences of all ages? Well, “KI” does feature some truly great character design by animator/cartoonist Stephen Silver. But – if I’m going to be awarding credit as to who got this show right – I guess I’d have to point toward “Kim Possible”‘s trio of executive producers: Chris Bailey, Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley.

After all, all three of these guys are animation vets. Chris is probably best known to the Disneyana crowd for his work on Disney’s “Runaway Brain” short as well as Miramax’s late, lamented “Clerks – The Animated Series.” (FYI: Bailey also directed the “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” 3D CG film that’s still being presented at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as well as Disney’s California Adventure theme parks.)

And as for Bob & Mark… Well, if you’ve ever seen an episode of “Aladdin – The Animated Series,” “Hercules – The Animated Series” or “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command,” you’re familiar with McCorkle & Schooley’s work. Which is typified by very strong stories that have clever dialogue as well as some very odd gags.

I mean, who but Bob & Mark – when looking for an actress to provide the voice of Echidna, the “Mother of all monsters” for “Hercules and the Return of Typhon” would have thought of Kathie Lee Gifford? Or would have thought of a way to top that gag by hiring Kathie Lee’s much beleaguered co-host, Regis Philbin, to provide vocals for Echidna’s constantly kvetching husband, Typhon?

So – when you pool all the talent of all these animation veterans – what do you get? You get a series that looks great but is also more than slightly smart assed. I mean, who else but these guys – when told by the Disney brass that Kim’s best friend, Ron Stoppable, needed to have a pet (so that the show would have something cute to potentially market further on down the line) – would have thought to make that character the proud owner of a naked mole rat?

I mean, this sort of snarky sensibility snakes through all aspects of “Kim Possible”? I personally love “KI”‘s weird little moments that deviate significantly from spy movie tradition. Like when arch fiend Drakken is about to reveal his evil plan to Kim. That’s when Drakken’s smarter associate, Shego, interrupts and reminds the evil genius that things always go wrong when the villain makes the mistake of telling the hero what he’s about to do. So Drakken actually shuts up!

Or that wonderful moment in the “Kim Possible ” pilot when a giant killer robot is bearing down on Ron. Staring up at the mechanical marvel, Stoppable says something to the effect of “That would be so cool if it weren’t about to hurt us.

That’s another thing that “Kim Possible” has got going for it. The show (to put it bluntly) is cool. “KI”‘s distinct look, the show’s smart writing as well as its fleet pacing all add up to one great half hour of television. If you haven’t seen “Kim Possible” yet, make a point of doing so soon.

Not because “KI” is going off the air anytime soon, mind you. Far from it. Disney actually just ordered up 30 additional episodes of “Kim Possible” (Why? Because execs at the Disney Channel are reportedly talking about stripping “KI.” Which would involve having a different episode of “Kim Possible” to air every weeknight in the same time slot. If these executives have their way, this Disney Channel programming change could be in place as early as late 2003 / early 2004). A line of “Kim Possible” action figures are also reportedly already in the works. Not to mention the possibility of a live action “Kim Possible” feature film in the not-so-distant future (But – hey – you didn’t hear that from me … )

So what is it really that makes “Kim Possible” so successful? Some might say it’s because the show’s title character is such a positive role model for young women. Kim truly is a girl of action. Of course, the same might be said about Penny Proud, the central character of the Disney Channel’s other great animated series, “The Proud Family.” That Penny’s also a great role model for young women.

But to point toward this appealingly animated young lady as the sole reason that “The Proud Family” is popular would really be selling this Disney Channel show short. “The Proud Family” is a big hit with kids and adults for many of the same reasons that “Kim Possible” is popular.

By that I mean, the writing on the Disney Channel’s “Proud Family” is top notch. Sharp and consistently funny. Of course, what helps is that “The Proud Family”‘s head writer / executive producer Ralph Farquhar has had plenty of experience in the sit-com field. Ralph served as the supervising producer on Fox’s “Married … With Children” as well as executive producing and co-creating UPN’s “Moesha” and its spin-off “The Parkers.”

And the animation on “The Proud Family” is absolutely aces too. Of course, it helps that Bruce Smith – best known to Disneyana fans as the guy who served as supervising animator on Kerchak in “Tarzan” and Pacha in “The Emperor’s New Groove” – created this show. Bruce has a real gift for affectionately caricaturing African-Americans. This gift was first glimpsed with his under-rated but still highly amusing 1992 animated feature, “Bebe’s Kids.” But it’s really come to full flower with “The Proud Family.”

By that I mean … What other TV series (live action OR animated) would dare to take so many good natured swings at Magic Johnson, former basketball great, now inner-city entrepreneur? The “Proud Family”‘s Wizard Kelly character is obviously modeled after Johnson. From his distinctive speech pattern right on up to his enormous height, Wizard is clearly intended to be seen as a parody of Magic.

Which (I’ll grant you) might be considered a pretty odd thing to see on a Disney Channel show. If it weren’t so obvious that this was an affectionate parody. That it’s all meant in fun.

Yeah, you won’t see characters anywhere else on television that look like Sugar Mama or Oscar Proud. But – as biting as some of the writing and/or character designs on the]is show might be, “The Proud Family” ultimately still wears its heart on its sleeve.

“The Proud Family” also boasts one of TV’s best vocal casts. This talented group of performers (I’d say) is second only to “The Simpsons”‘s stellar vocal ensemble. Tom Davidson is a particular standout as Oscar Proud. As is Jo Marie Payton as Sugar Mama.

Another thing that “The Proud Family” has in common with “The Simpsons” is the top flight talent that’s begun lining up to do voicework for the show. Take – for instance – last year’s wonderful “Seven Days of Kwanza” episode, where Samuel L. Jackson, Vivica A. Fox, & Raven Symone provided the voices of a homeless family that the Proud family unintentionally invites into their home over the holiday season.

So how can you not like a show that’s this sharp & funny … yet still ultimately manages to be so upbeat & positive? Which might explain why Disney has also ordered up additional episode of “The Proud Family” (Again with an eye toward turning this animated series into a weekly strip for the Disney Channel in late 2003 / early 2004.)

So don’t be like P**** B., folks. Don’t turn your back on an excellent program like “Kim Possible” or “The Proud Family just because it’s not a 45 year old rerun of “Zorro.” Yeah, it’s sad that “Vault Disney” went off the air. But that still doesn’t mean that you should deny yourself the opportunity to see these two great TV shows that air as part of “Zoog Disney”?

If you still want to protest this Disney Channel programming change, fine. Make a point of changing the channel during “Lizzie Maquire” or the umpteen millionth rerun of “Boy Meets World” and/or “Sister, Sister.” But do make a point of checking out “Kim Possible” and “The Proud Family.” You can thank me later.

“Kim Possible” airs at 6:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. central time) weekends on the Disney Channel. “The Proud Family” comes right after “Kim,” airing at 7 p.m. (6 p.m. central time). Also on weekends. Also on the Disney Channel.

For those of you who don’t get the Disney Channel, good news! In an inspired bit of programming repurposing, “Kim Possible” and “The Proud Family” are now part of ABC’s “ABC Kids” Saturday morning line-up. Consult your local listing for exact channels & showtimes.

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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