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WDI’s X-Scream Makeover of WDW’s Haunted Mansion: Part 5

Jim Hill concludes his series on this Magic Kingdom favorite by first talking about that state-of-the-art image capture system that was installed at this dark ride but never really turned on, then by discussing the exit area gift shop that will eventually be added to this attraction



Picking up where we left off … As our Doom Buggy exits the Attic, it then descends into the Graveyard. Where diehard fans of Walt Disney World‘s version of the The Haunted Mansion will notice that something‘s different about this portion on the attraction. But — that said — they’ll probably have a problem putting their finger on what exactly has been changed down here.

That’s because the Imagineers stuck with that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude that helped them through so many of their earlier decisions on the Haunted Mansion redo. And given that the Graveyard sequence is considered by many to be the real high point of this dark ride … The guys from WDI took an almost surgical approach to the changes that they made here.

Take — for example — the subtle color adjustment that was made to the ghosts in this area of the attraction. Where once these “creepy creeps with eerie eyes” were all colored purple, now this Graveyard seems to be filled with “Green Grinning Ghosts.”

“Why the change?,” you ask. Because the color purple (especially when viewed through those floor-to-ceiling scrims that you’ll find throughout this portion of the attraction) tends to look washed out. Whereas the color green still manages to pop when viewed under those conditions.

The Imagineers also upgraded the audio in this area by placing individual speakers in front of the Audio Animatronics that are found in the Graveyard scene. So that — as you ride through this revised version of the Mansion — it now sounds as though the dialogue that’s been assigned to a particular character is actually coming from their AA figure.

So now when the Headless Knight sings, you actually hear his voice coming from that head that he holds in his hand. Likewise the Opera Singer’s voice now comes out of her body and the Headsman’s voice seems to come out his body … And so it goes with all of the AA figures in this area. Which adds an element of reality to this unworldly setting.

It’s this renewed attention to detail that also helps make the new version of Little Leota so effective. Instead of staring off to the side as she previously had (So that this figure’s blank face could then line up with that 16 mm projector / periscope set-up that I mentioned in yesterday’s article. You know? The old 1960s era technological set-up that used to be used to project Madam Leota’s talking head into that crystal ball in the Séance Circle room?), Little Leota now looks directly at the guests as they roll by in their Omnimovers. Thanks to her new on-board internal digital projector, this tiny spectre can finally make eye contact. Which makes Little Leota’s instructions (i.e. “Be sure to bring your death certificate”) seem all the more eerie.

But as for the rest of the Graveyard & the Crypt (Which is where you’ll find those pesky hitchhiking ghosts) … The Imagineers didn’t touch a thing. I mean, why needlessly tinker with something that the public already loves?

Of course, that’s not to say that — even before work ever began on this particular Mansion redo — that the folks who run the retail side of things at the Magic Kingdom weren’t pushing for big changes to be made in this portion of the attraction.

“What sort of changes?,” you ask. Well, let’s remember that one of the most popular (not to mention the most profitable) Disney theme park souvenirs is the image capture. You know. That picture that’s snapped just as your log zips down Chickapen Hill over at Splash Mountain or just as that carnotaur lunges at your Time Rover. But what’s the one image capture that WDW guests haven’t able to get yet? That moment where you look in the mirror and discover which member of that hitchhiking trio is now the “ghost (that) will follow you home.”

According to WDW’s own surveys, this is the one souvenir photo that Disney World visitors would most like to have. Mind you, it’s not that the guys in WDW Merchandising haven’t tried to get an image capture up & running at this particular attraction. In fact, they actually funded the construction of a state-of-the-art test unit for the Mansion a few years back. Which was kept in place in this dark ride until just last year but never turned on.

“And why was that?,” you query. Well, this particular image capture system was supposed to make use of the next generation of Disney PhotoPass cards. Where each of these cards would then have had a Smart Chip embedded inside of it.

You see, the beauty of this next generation PhotoPass system was that — thanks to that Smart Chip — the computers that monitors all of the image capture systems that are located within Disney World’s theme parks would then have been aware of your whereabouts. So that — if you had this new, improved version of the Photo Pass card on your person as you rode through Space Mountain or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster — this system would have known to automatically get an image capture of you on that attraction and then save it to memory. So that you’d then be able to view this photo later. Like when you got back to your WDW hotel room later that same night.

You see, the beauty of this system was … If you want to have some imagery of your family enjoying themselves while you were all vacationing at Walt Disney World but wanted to avoid the hassle of bringing a camera with you to the parks … Not to worry. This Smart Chip-driven system would do all of the heavy lifting for you.

What’s more, once you got back to your on-property resort that night, you could then use the television in your hotel room to first review the photographs that had been taken that day. Then if you wanted to share any of these images with friends & family back home, you could then use this same Smart Chip / TV / computer set-up to e-mail these photos to whomever you’d like.

I know, I know. The system that I’ve just described here sounds like something of Steve Spielberg’s “Minority Report.” But I’ve had Mansion insider swear to me that this Smart Chip-driven image capture system was actually in place in that attraction as recently as last year. But that the Mouse never ever turned it on. At least not while any WDW visitors were riding through that show building.

Why For? Well, there were two reasons, actually. One was obviously tied to privacy-related concerns. Disney execs were reportedly worried that guests would really be put off by the idea that — thanks to the Smart Chip that was supposed to be embedded inside of these next generation Disney PhotoPasses — that their movements around the resort could now be tracked.

Truth be told, though, it wasn’t those privacy-related concerns that temporarily put the kibosh on this new image capture system. But — rather — the high cost of these Smart Chip-driven PhotoPasses and Disney’s worry that guests might then lose them that ultimately put an end to any field testing of this new technology.

Mind you, once the per-unit cost for those Smart Chips drops down to a price point that the Mouse’s management team is much more comfortable with … Well, you can then expect the guys in WDW Merchandise to circle back around to this idea. All with the hope that they’ll then be able to sell image capture souvenir photos to any guest who’s ever walked around one of their theme parks with a next generation Disney PhotoPass in their pocket.

Of course, one of the other improvements that’s long been proposed for the Mansion is building a gift shop in its exit area. One where every WDW visitors who was getting off of this Liberty Square attraction would be forced to walk through before they could re-enter the Magic Kingdom.

As I understand it, the blueprints for this proposed store have been drawn up for almost a decade now. Phase One of construction would involve ripping out that post-show Mausoleum area. During Phase Two, the Yankee Trader shop would triple in size until it was finally connected to the Mansion itself.

“Why would this expanded version of the Yankee Trader have to be so large?,” you ask. Well, you have to keep in mind that over 2600 people typically cycle through the Haunted Mansion every hour. And with that many people continually getting off of the Omnimover for 10, 12, sometimes 16 hours a day and then walking straight into your shop … Well, you’re going to need an enormous amount of retail space if you ever hope to handle that much flow-thru traffic.

It’s worth noting here that — ever since the Magic Kingdom’s Skyway system closed back in November of 1999 — that the folks who handle the retail side of things at that theme park have been pushing for the creation of this massive new version of the Yankee Trader. Which would be this ginormous store that would straddle both Fantasyland & Liberty Square while also serving as the Mansion’s new exit area.

One of the other incentive for going ahead with construction of this new Haunted Mansion gift shop / exit area combo is that it would then allow the Imagineers to completely overhaul the attraction’s off-load area. With an eye toward making this section of the Mansion that much more accessible for folks in wheelchairs and/or any WDW visitors who need special assistance in order to properly experience this dark ride.

“So why wasn’t these design changes made this time around?,” you ask. Well, let’s remember that the Imagineers were only given $30 million to cover all of the construction costs of this latest Mansion redo. And given that previous estimates for the revamping of this dark ride’s exit area / the expansion of the Yankee Trader put its construction costs somewhere in the low $40s ($40 millions, that is) … It just didn’t make sense to spend all that money on a Haunted Mansion-themed gift shop when the attraction itself was so desperately in need of some TLC.

Of course, this is not to say that — four or five years further on down the line — that the Imagineers won’t then circle back around to this Haunted Mansion gift shop / exit area overhaul idea. The belief in-house right now is that the Mouse is missing out on millions annually because it doesn’t yet follow the example of “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” and have all of the Mansion’s riders exit through a retail environment. And given how much Mickey likes money … You can bet that this idea is going to come up again sometime soon.

But as I said earlier, that’s at least four or five years further on down the line. So for now, we get to savor our new gift-shop-free version of WDW’s Haunted Mansion. Which sets the bar high for all Disney theme park ride revival projects that follow.

Trust me, folks. This ride — which was great fun before — is now truly spectacular. Never before have the Imagineers been so smart about how they’ve used their available resources. Making changes to this dark ride only where they really needed. Where they’d then have the biggest impact on the guest and/or give the biggest boost to this 36-year-old attraction.

Anyway … Be sure and check out the revamped version of the Haunted Mansion the very next time you’re down in Orlando. You’ll be so glad that you did.

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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Jens Dahlmann of LongHorn Steakhouse has lots of great tips when it comes to grilling



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Sure, for some folks, the Fourth of July is all about fireworks. But for the 75% of all Americans who own a grill or a smoker, the Fourth is our Nation’s No. 1 holiday when it comes to grilling. Which is why 3 out of 4 of those folks will spend some time outside today working over a fire.

But here’s the thing: Though 14 million Americans can cook a steak with confidence because they actually grill something every week, the rest of us – because we use our grill or smoker so infrequently … Well, let’s just say that we have no chops when it comes to dealing with chops (pork, veal or otherwise).

So what’s a backyard chef supposed to in a situation like this when there’s so much at steak … er … stake? Turn to someone who really knows their way around a grill for advice. People like Jens Dahlmann, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Darden Restaurant’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.

Given that Jens’ father & grandfather were chefs, this is a guy who literally grew up in a kitchen. In his teens & twenties, Dahlmann worked in hotels & restaurants all over Switzerland & Germany. Once he was classically trained in the culinary arts, Jens then  jumped ship. Well, started working on cruise ships, I mean.

Anyway … While working on Cunard’s Sea Goddess, Dahlmann met Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque 2000. Sirio was so impressed with Jens’ skills in the kitchen that he offered him the opportunity to become sous-chef at this New York landmark. After four years of working in Manhattan, Dahlmann then headed south to become executive chef at Palm Beach’s prestigious Café L’Europe.

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

And once Jens began wowing foodies in Florida, it wasn’t all that long ’til the Mouse came a-calling. Mickey wanted Dahlmann to shake things up in the kitchen over at WDW’s Flying Fish Café. And he did such a good job with that Disney’s Boardwalk eatery the next thing Jens knew, he was then being asked to work his magic with the menu at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.

From there, Dahlmann had a relatively meteoric rise at the Mouse House. Once he became Epcot’s Food & Beverage general manager, it was only a matter of time before he wound up as the executive chef in charge of this theme park’s annual International Food & Wine Festival. Which – under Jens’ guidance – experienced some truly explosive growth.

“When I took on Food & Wine, that festival was only 35 days long and had gross revenues of just $5.5 million. When I left Disney in 2016, Food & Wine was now over 50 days long and that festival had gross revenues of $22 million,” Dahlmann admitted during a recent sit-down. “I honestly loved those 13 years I spent at Disney. When I was working there, I learned so much because I was really cooking for America.”

And it was exactly that sort of experience & expertise that Darden wanted to tap into when they lured Jens away from Mickey last year to become LongHorn Steakhouse’s new Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef. But today … Well, Dahlmann is offering tips to those of us who are thinking about cooking steak tips for the Fourth.

Photo by Jim Hill

“When you’re planning on grilling this holiday, if you’re looking for a successful result, the obvious place to start is with the quality of the meat you plan on cooking for your friends & family. If you want the best results here, don’t be cheap when you go shopping. Spend the money necessary for a fresh filet or a New York strip. Better yet a Ribeye, a nice thick one with good marbling. Because when you look at the marbling on a steak, that’s where all the flavor happens,” Jens explained. “That said, you always have to remember that — the higher you go with the quality of your meat — the less time you’re going to want that piece of meat to spend on the grill.”

And speaking of cooking … Before you even get started here, Jens suggests that you first take the time to check over all of your grilling equipment. Making sure that the grill itself is first scraped clean & then properly oiled before you then turn up the heat.

“If you’re working with a dirty grill, when you go to turn your meat, it may wind up sticking to the grill. Or maybe those spices that you’ve just so carefully coated your steak with will wind up sticking to the grill, rather than your meat,” Dahlmann continued. “Which is why it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes prior to firing up your grill properly cleaning & oiling it.”

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of heat … Again, before you officially get started grilling here, Jens says that it’s crucial to check your temperature gauges. Make sure that your char grill is set at 550 (so that it can then properly handle the thicker cuts of meat) and your flattop is set at 425 (so it can properly sear thinner pieces of meat).

Okay. Once you’ve bought the right cuts of quality meat, properly cleaned & oiled your grill, and then made sure that everything’s set at the right temperature (“If you can only stand to hold your hand directly over the grill for two or three seconds, that’s the right amount of heat,” Dahlmann said), it’s now time to season your steaks.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold here. You can’t be shy when it comes to seasoning your meat. You want to give it a nice coating. Largely because — if you’re using a char grill — a lot of that seasoning is just going to fall off anyway,” Jens stated. “It’s up to you to decide what sort of seasoning you want to use here. Even just some salt & pepper will enhance a steak’s flavor.”

Then – according to Dahlmann – comes the really tough part. Which is placing your meat on the grill and then fighting the urge to flip it too early or too often.

“The biggest mistake that a lot of amateur cooks make is that they flip the steak too many times. The real key to a well-cooked piece of meat is just let it be, “Jens insisted. “Of course, if you’re serving different cuts of meat at your Fourth of July feast, you always want to put your biggest thickest steak on the grill first. If you’re also cooking a New York Strip, you want to put that one on a few minutes later. But after that, just let the grill do its job and flip your meat a total of three or four times, once every three minutes or so.”

Of course, the last thing you want to do is overcook a quality piece of meat. Which is why Dahlmann suggests that – when it comes to grilling steaks – if you’re going to err, err on the side of undercooking.

“You can always put a piece of meat back on the grill if it’s slightly undercooked. When you over-cook something, all you can do then is start over with a brand-new piece of meat,” Jens said. “Just be sure that you’re using the correct cut of meat for the cooking result you’re aiming for. If someone wants a rare or medium rare steak, you should go with a thicker cut of steak. If one of your guests wants their steak cooked medium or well, it’s best to start with a thinner cut of meat.”

Photo by Jim Hill

As you can see, the folks at Longhorn take grilling steaks seriously. How seriously? Just last week at Darden Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, seven of these brand’s top grill masters (who – after weeks of regional competitions – had been culled from the 491 restaurants that make up this chain) competed for a $10,000 prize in the Company’s second annual Steak Master Series. And Dahlmann was one of the people who stood in Darden’s test kitchens, watching like a hawk as each of the contestants struggled to prepare six different dishes in just 20 minutes according to Longhorn Steakhouse’s exacting standards.

“I love that Darden does this. Recognizing the best of the best who work this restaurant,” Jens concluded. “We have a lot of people here who are incredibly knowledgeable & passionate when it comes to grilling.”

Speaking of which … If today’s story doesn’t include the exact piece of info that you need to properly grill that T-bone, just whip out your iPhone & text GRILL to 55702. Or – better yet – visit prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers is a sincere if somewhat surreal way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont



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Some people travel halfway ‘around the planet so that they can then experience the excitement of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. If you’re more of a Slow Living enthusiast (as I am), then perhaps you should amble to Brattleboro, VT. Where – over the first weekend in June – you can then join a herd of cow enthusiasts at the annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Now in its 16th year, this three-day long event typically gets underway on Friday night in June with a combination block party / gallery walk. But then – come Saturday morning – Main Street in Brattleboro is lined with thousands of bovine fans.

Photo by Jim Hill

They’ve staked out primo viewing spots and set up camp chairs hours ahead of time. Just so these folks can then have a front row seat as this year’s crop of calves (which all come from local farms & 4-H clubs) are paraded through the streets.

Photo by Jim Hill

Viewed from curbside, Strolling of the Heifers is kind of this weird melding of a sincere small town celebration and Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade. Meaning that – for every entry that actually acknowledged this year’s theme (i.e. “Dance to the Moosic”) — …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something completely random, like this parade’s synchronized shopping cart unit.

Photo by Jim Hill

And for every piece of authentic Americana (EX: That collection of antique John Deere tractors that came chugging through the city) …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something silly. Like – say – a woman dressed as a Holstein pushing a baby stroller through the streets. And riding in that stroller was a pig dressed in a tutu.

Photo by Jim Hill

And given that this event was being staged in the Green Mountain State & all … Well, does it really surprise you to learn that — among the groups that marched in this year’s Strolling of the Heifers – was a group of eco-friendly folks who, with their  chants of “We’re Number One !,” tried to persuade people along the parade route not to flush the toilet after they pee. Because – as it turns out – urine can be turned into fertilizer.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of fertilizer … At the tail end of the parade, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who were dealing with what came out of the tail end of all those cows.

Photo by Jim Hill

This year’s Strolling of the Heifers concluded at the Brattleboro town common. Where event attendees could then get a closer look at some of the featured units in this year’s parade…

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

But as for the 90+ calves who took part in the 2017 edition of Strolling of the Heifers, once they reached the town common, it was now time for a nosh or a nap.

Photo by Jim Hill

Elsewhere on the common, keeping with this year’s “Dance to the Moosic” theme, various musical groups performed in & around the gazebo throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Jim Hill

While just across the way – keeping with Brattleboro’s tradition of showcasing the various artisans who live & work in the local community – some pretty funky pieces were on display at the Slow Living Exposition.

Photo by Jim Hill

All in all, attending Strolling of the Heifers is a somewhat surreal but still very pleasant way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont. And that’s no bull.

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, that could be a bull. To be honest, what with the wig & all, it’s kind of hard to tell. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sunday, June 4, 2017

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Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick’s Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage



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Let’s at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon – the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food – loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th.

“I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That’s terrific,” Kevin said.

But then when it comes to what many Americans eat & drink on St. Paddy’s Day (i.e., a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Which is then washed down with a mug of green beer) … Well, that’s where Dundon has to draw the line.

Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon displays a traditional Irish loin of bacon with Colcannon potatoes and a Dunbrody Kiss chocolate dessert. Photo by Tom Burton. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Green beer? No real Irishman would be caught dead drinking that stuff,” Kevin insists. “And as for eating corned beef & cabbage … That’s not actually authentic Irish fare either. Bacon and cabbage? Sure. But corned beef & cabbage was something that the Irish only began eating after they’d come to the States to escape the Famine. And even then these Irish-Americans only began serving corned beef & cabbage to their friends & family because they had to make do with the ingredients that were available to them at that time.”

And thus begins the strange tale of how corned beef & cabbage came to be associated with the North American celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Because – according to Dundon – beef just wasn’t all that big a part of the Irish diet back in the 19th century.

To explain: Back in the Old Country, cattle – while they were obviously highly prized for the milk & cheese that they produced – were also beasts of burden. Meaning that they were often used for ploughing the fields or for hauling heavy loads. Which is why – back then — these animals were rarely slaughtered when they were still young & healthy. If anything, land owners liked to put a herd of cattle on display out in one of their pastures because that was then a sign to their neighbors that this farm was prosperous.

“Whereas pork … Well, everybody raised pigs back then. Which is why pork was a staple of the Irish diet rather than beef,” Dundon continued.

So if that’s what people actually ate back in the Old Country, how then did corned beef & cabbage come to be so strongly associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the States.? That largely had to do with where the Irish wound up living after they arrived in the New World.

“When the Irish first arrived in America following the Great Famine, a lot of them wound up living in the inner city right alongside the Germans & the Jews, who were also recent immigrants to the States. And while that farm-fresh pork that the Irish loved wasn’t readily available, there was brisket. Which the Irish could then cure by first covering this piece of meat with corn kernel-sized pieces of rock salt – that’s how it came to be called corned beef. Because of the sizes of the pieces of rock salt that were used in the curing process – and then placing all that in a pot of water with other spices to soak for a few days.”

And as for the cabbage portion of corned beef & cabbage … Well, according to Kevin, in addition to buying their meat from the kosher delis in their neighborhood, the Irish would also frequent the stores that the German community shopped in. Where – thanks to their love of sauerkraut (i.e., pickled cabbage) – there was always a ready supply of cabbage to be had.

“So when you get right down to it, it was the American melting pot that led to corned beef & cabbage being found in the Irish-American cooking pot,” Dundon continued. “Since they couldn’t find or didn’t have easy access to the exact same ingredients that they had back in Ireland, Irish-Americans made do with what they could find in the immediate vicinity. And what they made was admittedly tasty. But it’s not actually authentic Irish fare.”

Mind you, what Kevin serves at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs (which – FYI – Orlando Magazine voted as the area’s best restaurant back in 2014) is nothing if not authentic. Dundon and his team at this acclaimed gastropub pride themselves on making traditional Irish fare and then contemporized it.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Take – for example – what we serve here instead of corned beef & cabbage. Again, because it was pork – rather than beef – that was the true staple of the Irish diet back then, what we offer instead is a loin of bacon that has been glazed with Irish Mist. That then comes with colcannon potatoes. Which is this traditional Irish dish that’s made up of mashed potato that have had some cabbage & bacon mixed through it,” Kevin enthused. “This heavenly ham – that’s what we actually call this traditional Irish dish at Raglan Road, Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – also includes some savory cabbage with a parsley cream sauce as well as a raisin cider jus. It’s simple food. But because of the basic ingredients – and that’s the real secret of Irish cuisine. That our ingredients are so strong – the flavors just pop off the plate.”

Which brings us to the real challenge that Dundon and the Raglan Road team face every day. Making sure that they actually have all of the ingredients necessary to make this traditional-yet-contemporized Irish fare to those folks who frequent this Walt Disney World favorite.

“Take – for example – the fish we serve here. We only used cold water fish. Salmon, mussels and haddock that have been hauled out of the Atlantic, the ocean that America and Ireland share,” Kevin stated. “Not that there’s anything wrong with warm water fish. It’s just that … Well, it doesn’t have the same structure. It’s a softer fish, which doesn’t really fit the parameters of Irish cuisine. And if you’re going to serve authentic food, you have to be this dedicated when it comes to sourcing your ingredients.

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

And if you’re thinking of perhaps trying to serve an authentic Irish meal this year, rather than once again serving corned beef & cabbage at your Saint Patrick’s Day Feast … Well, back in September of last year, Mitchell Beazley published “The Raglan Road Cookbook: Inside America’s Favorite Irish Pub.” This 296-page hardcover not only includes the recipe for Kevin’s Heavenly Ham but also it tells the tale of how this now-world-renown restaurant wound up being built in Orlando.

On the other hand, if you happen to have to the luck of the Irish and are actually down at The Walt Disney World Resort right now, it’s worth noting that Raglan Road is right in the middle of its Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This four day-long event – which includes Irish bands and professional dancers – stretches through Sunday night. And in addition to all that authentic Irish fare that Dundon and his team are cooking up, you also sample the fine selection of beers & cocktails that this establishment’s four distinct antique bars (each of which are more than 130 years old and were imported directly from Ireland) will be serving. Just – As ucht Dé (That’s “For God’s Sake” in Gaelic) – don’t make the mistake of asking the bartender there for a mug of green beer.

“Why would anyone willingly drink something like that?,” Dundon laughed. “I mean, just imagine what their washroom will look like the morning after.”

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 17, 2017

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