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Wanna peek at the plot for “Pirates III”? How about “Ratatouille”?

Jim Hill blows the lid off of several films that the Walt Disney Company has in production for 2007. Sooo … If you don’t want to know anything about the storylines of “Meet the Robinsons” and “Enchanted”… NOW might be a really good time to bail out of today’s article

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When it comes to surprises, I’m not the most patient person.


I mean, back when I was a kid … As early as October, I was already tearing my family’s house apart. Trying to find out where exactly my parents had hidden the presents. Just so I could know in advance whether or not I was getting something good for Christmas that year.


And that urge, this compulsion of mine to know well in advance about surprises … Well, it’s even stronger today.


Take — for example — what happened back on the evening of July 16, 2005. Where I absolutely horrified my daughter as we stood in line at Walmart. When I cracked open our copy of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and turned to the last 50 pages. Just so I could know what happened to Dumbledore.


I know. I’m an awful person. The bad habit that I’ve just described shows a complete lack of character. But I can’t help myself. I like knowing in advance what’s about to happen. In plays, books, films & TV shows.


And a lot of you folks who regularly come by JHM … I know that you like to know about stuff in advance too. You enjoy that rush that comes from knowing something that you’re really not supposed to know. Something that hasn’t been officially announced yet. Be it a new attraction that’s about to added to a Disney theme park and/or an old favorite that’s about to be shut down.


But — that said — I know that there are also a number of you who don’t enjoy having surprises spoiled for you. And if that’s really the case … Well, you’d best bail out of JHM ASAP.


Why For? Because I’m about to reveal the plotlines of four films that the Walt Disney Company will be releasing in 2007. And I’m not talking about direct-to-video stuff like “Little Mermaid III.” But big budget, highly anticipated motion pictures like “Pirates of the Caribbean III.”


And given that no one — outside of the folks who are still struggling to complete all of the effects for “Dead Man’s Chest” — has actually seen a finished version of “Pirates of the Caribbean II” yet … Well, the information that I’m about to share with you sort of redefines the term “spoiler.” If you know what I mean.


And — yes — before you ask: This information is legit. Someone fairly high up at the Mouse House sent along these plot descriptions yesterday afternoon. Just to prove that — even though 2006 still looks somewhat shakey (At least from the studio’s point of view) — Disney is coming back strong in 2007.


Based on these brief story outlines … Well, I have to admit that it really does sounds like the Mouse has some great motion pictures in the works for next year. And even though 2007 will be the year of “Shrek the Third” and “Spiderman III,” Disney is still going to rake in plenty of dough. Thanks — in large part — to the four films that I’m about to describe.


So again — just to review here — there are HUGE spoilers just ahead. I’m about to reveal key plot points for “Meet the Robinsons,” “Pirates of the Caribbean III,” “Ratatouille” and “Enchanted.” And if you really don’t want to know anything about these Walt Disney Studios releases prior to their arrival at your local multiplex next year … NOW would be an excellent time to bail out of JHM.


 


Still with me?


 


Okay. You can’t say that I didn’t warn you.



Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises LLC


“Meet the Robinsons”
Release Date: March 30, 2007



“Meet the Robinsons” is about Lewis — a brilliant twelve-year-old with a surprising number of clever inventions to his credit. His latest and most ambitious project is the Memory Scanner, a machine that will help him find his birth mother so that they can then become a family. But before he can find her, his invention is stolen by the dastardly Bowler Hat Guy and his diabolical hat — and constant companion — Doris. Lewis has all but given up hope in his future when a mysterious boy named Wilbur Robinson whisks our bewildered hero away in a time machine and the two travel forward in time to spend a day with Wilbur’s eccentric family. In a world filled with flying cars and floating cities, they hunt down Bowler Hat Guy, save the future and uncover the amazing secret of the Robinson family. Based on the book “A Day with Wilbur Robinson” by William Joyce.


“Pirates of the Caribbean: World’s End” (Tentative title)
Release Date: May 27, 2007



Summer 2007 will be action packed as the third installment from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise comes ashore. As the age of piracy comes to a close, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) must sail off the edge of the map, navigate treachery and betrayal, and make their final alliances for one last decisive battle. Our heroes must face Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and Admiral James Norrington (Jack Davenport) in a titanic showdown that could eliminate the freedom-loving pirates from the seven seas — forever.



Copyright 2006 Disney/Pixar


“Ratatouille”
Release Date: June 29, 2007



Pixar, the creators of “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles” and “Cars” now cook up “Ratatouille,” a delicious new animated-adventure centering on an ambitious French Rat named Remy who dreams of becoming a great chef. Because of his passion for cooking, Remy accidentally uproots his family from the French countryside to the sewers of Paris, and finds himself ideally situated beneath a restaurant made famous by his culinary hero, Auguste Gusteau. When Remy helps create a soup that wins rave reviews from the world’s most powerful food critic, he sets in motion a hilarious and exciting rat race that wreaks havoc on the entire city, allowing him to achieve the impossible and pursue his true gift. The screenplay, written by Academy Award-winning Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”), is flavored with a colorful cast of characters and exquisite French backdrops making “Rataouille” a tantalizing recipe of imaginative fun and unexpected delight.


“Enchanted”
Release Date: November 2, 2007



A classic Disney animated fairy tale meets with the modern, live-action romantic comedy in Walt Disney Pictures’ “Enchanted.” Featuring an all-star cast, the film follows the beautiful princess Giselle (Amy Adams) as she is banished by an evil queen (Susan Sarandon) from her magical, musical animated land and find herself in the gritty reality of the streets of modern day Manhattan. Shocked by this strange new environment that doesn’t operate on a “happily ever after” basis, Giselle is now adrift in a chaotic world badly in need of enchantment. But when Giselle begins falling in love with a charmingly flawed divorce lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) who has come to her aid– even though she is already promised to a perfect fairy tale prince (James Marsden) back home — she has to wonder: can a storybook view of romance survive in the real world?


Okay. I know. Those are just bare bones plot descriptions. But — that said — don’t these sound like four strong films? Four motion pictures that movie-goers will be going out of their way to see next year?


Oh, and while I’m dishing out spoilers here, I guess that I can pass along that comic Patton Oswalt is reportedly voicing the title character in “Ratatouille,” while “Everybody Loves Raymond” vet Brad Garrett is supposedly doing the voice of the chef in this same Pixar film.


And according to Tom Hollander (Who plays Lord Cutler Beckett, the new villain of the “Pirates” trilogy, who will be introduced in “Dead Man’s Chest”), Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards will be making a cameo appearance in “Pirates of the Caribbean: World’s End.”


Okay. That’s a pretty exciting way to end the week here at JHM, don’t you think? Sooo … Do you have any comments about the projects that I’ve listed above?


Your thoughts?


UPDATE: It appears to be Cranky Pants Friday here at JHM. With at least a dozen readers already chiming in this site’s talkbalks about how lame all of the spoilers that are contained in today’s column supposedly are.


This is one of those “can’t win for losing” situations, folks. If I had just posted today’s article without including that elaborate “There-be-spoilers-ahead” intro … Well, I’d have had JHM readers writing to me saying “You ruined that movie for me.” And I honestly didn’t want that to happen.


Which is why I made the “Opt Out” portion of today’s article as large as I did, as long as I did. So that there’d then be this enormous buffer between the story’s intro and the actual information that this piece contains. So that no one could then just click on JHM and accidentally see some information that they didn’t really want to see about “Ratatouille.”


Speaking of which … Today’s article reveals the basic plot of Pixar’s 2007 film, the name of the protagonist & the antagonist of the picture … And — to my knowledge — this is the very first time that this sort of detailed information about “Ratatouille” has appeared outside of the Walt Disney Company. So how is that not a spoiler?


Trust me, folks. Based on the angry e-mails that I’ve already received from folks who work in Emeryville, the people at Pixar think today’s column is a HUGE spoiler. A spoiler that can be seen from space.


And as for “Pirates III” … Given that most people aren’t yet aware of what actually happens at the end of “Dead Man’s Chest” … Well …


Tell you what: In three weeks time, go catch “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” on its opening day. THEN re-read the plot description of “Pirates III” that I’ve posted on the site today. Once you’ve got all the information that you need … Well, I think that you’ll then realize that there are at least two significant spoilers casually thrown away in that rather bland-sounding paragraph.


Sorry. I don’t mean to sound defensive here. It’s just that … Well, I wanted to try & explain why I did what I did with today’s article. I honestly wasn’t trying to over-hype this piece. But — rather — just make sure that these upcoming films weren’t accidentally spoiled for those who really didn’t want to know about “Meet the Robinsons,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: World’s End,” “Ratatouille” and “Enchanted.”


And as for the rest of you jaded Disney insiders who already know how the full-blown plots for these upcoming releases actually play out … Hey, I’m always looking for additional information here at JHM. So if you’ve got a juicy tidbit that you’d like to share, my e-mail address is jim@jimhillmedia.com. So be sure and send that info along.


Okay. That completes the groveling portion of today’s column. I’ll let you guys get back to bashing me in the talkbacks now.


Which (Believe it or not) I’m actually okay with. I’m a big boy. I can take it.


But — that said — having the stuff that you write regularly get savaged on discussion boards is honestly one of the more bizarre aspects of working for the Web. Seeing a story that you carefully researched, spent hours working on … suddenly get treated like a pinata? Where everyone gets to take a whack at it? That aspect of this job can get pretty amusing at times.


That’s why I always tell anyone who asks me for advice about writing for the Internet that you really need three things before you can get started:



  • A very healthy ego

  • Incredibly thick skin

  • Most importantly, a strong sense of humor. One that actually allows you to laugh at yourself.

Without those three things, I don’t think that you can honestly have a career on the Web. I mean, you can’t get allow yourself to get excited & go on the attack every time that someone criticizes you and/or something that you wrote.


You have to have the ability to “take it.” When people go after something that you’ve written and/or make fun of you … Well, you can’t allow yourself the luxury of taking it personally. You just have to suck it up, take your lumps and then move on to the next story.


And as for today’s column … Okay. Maybe I did really over-sell the whole “Huge Spoilers” aspect of today’s column. If I did, then I apologize.


But I honestly did what I did because … Well … I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t accidentally spoil those four films for JHM readers who didn’t want to have “Meet the Robinsons,” “Pirates II,” “Ratatouille” and “Enchanted” spoiled for them in advance.


Alright. That’s enough with the explanations now. I’ll go back to taking my lumps now. You folks have a great weekend, okay?


j

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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