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Walt Disney Family Museum’s “The World of Mary Blair” exhibit offers a dazzling, in-depth look at this Disney Legend’s artistry

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One of the most fascinating things about a new exhibition of
Mary Blair's work are the dozens of inspirational sketches created in pen and
pencil by an artist best known for her bold use of color.

Those rudimentary drawings – many paired with finished works
– provide a comprehensive look at one of the 20th century's most interesting
illustrators and designers. "Magic, Color, Flair: the World of Mary Blair"
opened last week at the Walt Disney
Family Museum

in San Francisco and continues its
run Wednesdays through Mondays from 10 a.m.
to 6 p.m. through Sept. 7.


Photo by Leo N. Holzer

"Almost all artwork, no matter the final form, begins with
drawing because drawing is the artist's fundamental tool," Blair said in 1967.
The quote is among those highlighted in the show.

Guest curator John Canemaker – an Oscar-winning independent
animator, animation historian, teacher and author – organized the exhibition to
reflect the arc of Blair's career before, during, and after her years at the
Walt Disney Studios.

"The most interesting thing, at least for me, is to be able
to show the process so that you get into the mind of Mary Blair a little bit more.
You see how she thought about designs and putting it together," Canemaker said.
"Even the paintings, many of them are showing the surround. You don't just have
it framed up to the picture but you have it go beyond so that you see some of
her paint splashes going off of the page and her rough sketches.


Walt Disney Family Foundation

"Pretty much half of this exhibition, maybe even more, is
from private collections. Of course, the bulk or almost all of the Disney
concept pieces are from the museum's collection," he continued. "We have work
from her student days, from her California School of Watercolor days, and from
when she left the studio in 1953 and worked for that decade in New
York doing clothing design and children's book
illustrations."

Born in McAlester, Okla.,
in 1911, Blair won a scholarship to Chouinard Art Institute in Los
Angeles. After graduation in 1933, at the height of
the Great Depression, she took a job in the animation unit at MGM rather than
pursue her dream of a fine arts career. In 1940, she joined The Walt Disney
Studios and worked on a number of projects, including the never-produced "Baby
Ballet," a segment for a proposed second version of "Fantasia
."

In 1941, Blair joined "Walt and El Grupo
," a U.S. State
Department-sponsored Disney expedition that toured Mexico
and South America for three months. The sketches and
watercolors she painted while on the trip inspired Walt Disney to name her as
an art supervisor for "Saludos Amigos" and "The Three Caballeros
." Blair's
striking use of color and stylized graphics greatly influenced many Disney
postwar productions, including "Alice
in Wonderland

," "Make Mine Music
," "Cinderella
," "Peter Pan
" and others.


Mary Blair examines concept drawings for "Cinderella."
Courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

Many people believe that Blair had her "ah-hah moment"
during the South American visit.

"She said she didn't think anything special happened down
there, but she did mention the color," Canemaker said. "It was the color, the
different customs of the people. I think it was the whole new atmosphere she
was in."

Afterward, Blair also had an opportunity to become "more assertive
in her own way," Canemaker continued. "Before that, she had worked at the
studio for about a year and she didn't like it that much because she was given
things to work on and wasn't generating them from her own ideas. But in South
America, when Walt saw what she could do, that all changed. She
then decided she did like what she was doing in animation and that it was a
very creative thing."


Courtesy Walt Disney Family Foundation.
Copyright Disney

The Blairs – nieces Jeanne Chamberlain and Maggie Richardson
as well as great-nephew Kevin – believe that their aunt "had a great deal of
fun, dancing, swimming and running on the beach" during the trip and that she
really enjoyed a "landmark moment" once she saw her work "translated
authentically to film" in a segment of "The Three Caballeros" featuring a train's
caboose with one square wheel.

"The Three Caballeros" followed closely by "Make Mine Music"
and "Peter Pan" are arguably the best examples of Blair's designs really
inspiring the final film.

Ted Thomas, director of a documentary film about the South American
trip and son of Disney animator Frank Thomas, never met Blair directly but said
that she was always spoken of with great respect by his father.


Walt Disney Family Foundation. Copyright Disney

"He would use her as an example of someone who was so
naturally gifted and then improved that gift through the different projects she
worked on. He'd also say how very difficult it was to try to draw and translate
her designs into animation because she was so superbly gifted at working in
this very flat kind of medium and animation eventually has to be rounded and
dimensional with volume," Thomas said.

"She was a very singular talent," he continued. "When
standout people work with other geniuses, you tend not to pick one out from
another. As time goes on and they're no longer with us but their work remains,
then it becomes clearer and clearer how outstanding their talents and their
achievements were. And, I think that's the case with Mary Blair. She was so
ahead of the curve, that we're only now catching up with her and becoming fully
appreciative of what a great talent she was."

In 1964, Walt Disney asked Blair to assist in the design of
the "it's a small world" attraction, first conceived for the 1964-65 New
York World's Fair
. The beloved boat ride – with
cheerful dolls representing several countries of the world in a musical prayer
for peace – was moved to Disneyland in Anaheim
after the World's Fair closed. The attraction has since been replicated for
Disney parks worldwide.


Walt Disney Family Foundation. Copyright Disney

Blair also designed fanciful murals for Disneyland's
Tomorrowland
in Anaheim, Calif.,
and  the Contemporary Hotel at the Walt
Disney World Resort
in Orlando, Fla.
She died July 26, 1978, in Soquel,
Calif., and was named a Disney Legend in
1991.

Thirty-five years after her death, interest in Mary Blair
and her enchanting artworks continues to grow. Her early fine art watercolors
and classic Disney film production concept paintings are popular with
collectors. Contemporary artists still find inspiration in Blair's independent
spirit, and her ability to survive in traditionally male-dominated fields, her
technical virtuosity, bottomless creative ingenuity, and powerful visual
storytelling.

"I think her work is such that it does appeal to a wide
range of people and a wide age range and Walt Disney saw that as well,"
Canemaker said. "He liked the childlike quality in her art, but he also saw it
for possible use in futuristic stuff like the Tomorrowland murals" at
Disneyland and "he saw it in a primitive way like Grandma Moses … with a
certain warmth that went back to folk art."


Courtesy of Pam Burns-Clair family

In the exhibition, Blair's original sketches hang next to
brightly colored finished paintings. Pages from two sketchbooks – featuring
simple graphite and ink drawings of children, animals and international
settings that would inspire "it's a small world" – have been loaded into an
easy-to-use touch-screen digital display. Nearby, there's a video showing Walt
Disney and Mary Blair discussing "it's a small world" along with two glittery
characters from the attraction, a blue-haired tot and a penguin.

Great-nephew Kevin remembers very clearly when Mary Blair
was doing the sketches for 'it's a small world' one Christmas. "My grandparents
had this white brick fireplace and the sketches were spread across it. It was
just the sketches; just black and white. And she was showing me where
everything was going to be. I was 8 at the time. … I didn't understand that
there was going to be a ride or anything like that, but it was amazing looking
at all of that. … She always had 'small world' in her heart and it was such
an important part of her life after it was done."

Canemaker called his efforts for an exhibition championed by
Diane Disney Miller "a great joy." He also authored the $40 exhibition catalog
and participated with Ted Thomas, Alice Davis, Rolly Crump and Blair's nieces
on an hour-long complementary audio tour. Museum members will be able to
download a digital copy of the audio tour or listen to it free. Guests can pay
an additional $7 for the audio tour on top of the $10 to $25 admission charge.
Visit www.waltdisney.org for more information.


Photo by Roger Colton

Magic, Color, Flair: the world of Mary Blair is organized by
The Walt Disney Family Museum and is being presented in the newly dedicated and
named Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall in honor of Walt Disney's daughter
and co-founder of the museum. She died Nov.
19, 2013.

Former Disney CEO Ron Miller talked a bit about Diane Miller
during a special preview of the new exhibition and so did some others.

It wasn't too long after helping make sure the Walt Disney
Concert Hall in Southern California was completed, that
"Diane had a new mission. She was disturbed by some of the books that had been
written, the misrepresentations and everything, and she wanted to right the
wrongs," he said. "Diane went about it in a very modest way. She was a modest
person. … She got it done her way and walked off," turning her attention
to plans for the Walt Disney
Family Museum.


Ron Miller & Diane Disney Miller outside
of the Walt Disney Family Museum

"I think we have something really unique here," he
continued. "It's entertaining. It's a piece of history and it's the story of a
wonderful man with all the support of his collaborators and everybody else. I
think when people go through (the museum), they come back enthusiastic. I think
her wish was fulfilled and I wish she was standing here and not me.

"She was such a loving wife. She would do anything for me
and, most of the time, I would do anything for her. We had such fun and
excitement through our marriage – almost 60 years of marriage, six months shy
of 60 years. She was one month shy of being 80 years old and she had the
vitality and energy of a much younger woman.

"She still had things that she wanted to do here and the
family, we've made a commitment that we're going to fulfill the dreams of those
things she left us with and we're confident that we have the right people in
the right place to help us do it."

One of those right people is Kirsten Komoroske, the museum's
executive director.

"Diane described her father as a person with a lot of drive,
huge curiosity, a great love of life and of people. His example was do what you
love to do, work hard at it, do it as well as you can and always believe in
yourself. Diane was her father's daughter," Komoroske said. "Diane was
dedicated to sharing with the public the work of many talented artists who
contributed to the Walt Disney Studios throughout her father's lifetime.

"It's only fitting that the first exhibition in our newly
named Exhibition Hall showcases the work of another brilliant woman, Mary
Blair. Mary played a key role in shaping not only Disney history but also the
creative world as a whole. Her perspective and artistic influences are still
strong forces today. And the inspiration that Diane created is also a
significant force and is evident in all that we do here at the museum. We miss
Diane terribly. Not a day goes by that we don't notice her absence. But with
the strong leadership of the family and the board, we're determined to move
forward. We'll continue to showcase artists and innovators and educate and
entertain our visitors. Magic, Color, Flair: the world of Mary Blair is an
example of that determination."


Animation historian John Canemaker

Canemaker recalled one of his fondest memories of Diane
Miller. "It's the last time I saw her. She drove me back to my hotel … and I
asked her 'if Walt were here, what would you like him to say about all that
you've done with the concert hall in Los Angeles
and this wonderful monument?' She thought for awhile, sitting behind the wheel,
just parked waiting to let me out and she said, 'I hope he'd say that I did a
good job.' That was it. And I don't think there's any doubt about that."

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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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