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Wednesday with Wade: More “Making Fun of the Mouse”

Following up on Jim Hill's series from last week, Wade Sampson now shares some of his favorite stories about cartoons that parodied Walt Disney and/or the cartoons that his studio produced

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Last week, Jim Hill did a three part article on animated cartoons that made fun of Disney.And thorough as Mr. Hill tried to be with his “Making Fun of the Mouse” series, Jim still managed to miss a few great stories, which I’d like to share with you now.

Let’s start where Jim started. With Warner Brothers’ 1943 short, "Pigs in a Polka." Yes, this Academy-Award nominated cartoon was indeed a parody of Disney"s "The Three Little Pigs." This short was directed by Friz Freleng, who had worked as an animator at the Disney Studios on the early black & white silent shorts and was fired by Walt for an incident that Friz still grumbled about decades later.

So obviously there was no love loss between Freleng & Disney when Friz directed this parody.In fact, during his tenure at Termite Terrace, Freleng managed to get in yet another poke at Disney’s Three Little Pigs with Warner Brothers’ 1957 cartoon, "Three Little Bops." This clever short is done in a Fifties'jazz and rock'n'rock style where all the dialogue is done in rhyme (all sung by the versatile Stan Freberg).In this version of the classic , the trumpet-playing wolf wants to join the Three Little Pigs trio but has to learn you have to get real hot to play real cool.

Getting back to "Pigs in a Polka" now … What many animation fans don’t realize is that Freleng’s “Three Little Pigs” parody was actually preceded by another cartoon that spoofed this Academy-Award winning short. Only this cartoon – 1942’s "Blitz Wolf" – was directed by the legendary Tex Avery. In fact, “Blitz Wolf” has the distinction of being the very cartoon that Tex directed after he left Warner Brothers to set up shop over at MGM.

 

 

 

Anyway … Avery went out of his way to make sure that “Blitz Wolf” was also an effective parody of Disney’s “Three Little Pigs.” Tex even went so far as to hire Pinto Colvig to do the voice of the Practical Pig character (called "Sergeant Pork" in this version as a parody of war hero "Sergeant York") just as Pinto had done in the Disney version of this classic fairy tale.

A very strong anti-Nazi cartoon, the title character in “Blitz Wolf” is "Der Fewer.” A blatant Hitler parody, Der Fewer betrays an non-aggression pact in order to invade Pigmania.He huffs and puffs away the straw & wood houses but then finds himself confronted with the Practical Pig's house which is a bunker with hundreds of cannons.There are some fairly strong sexual gags in this animated short. In particular one with some phallic missiles & a copy of "Esquire" magazine & a cheesecake picture.

Moving on to some of the other films that Mr. Hill touched on as part of last week’s “Making Fun of the Mouse” series … In the talkbacks for those articles, a few JHM readers unfairly criticized "Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs." To understand the true significance of this seldom-seen cartoon, I’d first suggest that you read Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman's excellent article about “Coal Black.”

 

 

Better yet, if you live in the Los Angeles area, track down animator Milt Gray. Milt will not hesitate to educate you on the merits of this cartoon.More to the point, given that Mr. Gray knew Bob Clampett for many years, Milt will be glad to tell you that Bob was not a racist.And neither was “Coal Black” ‘s storyman Warren Foster.

Truth be told, the real origins of this classic cartoon parody came from Clampett's studying the caricatures in the book, "Harlem As Seen by Hirschfeld.”Hirschfeld's exaggerated artistic caricatures, of course, later inspired Disney animator Eric Goldberg's work on "Aladdin" and "Fantasia 2000.”

In addition, Clampett attended Duke Ellington's 1941 live musical revue, "Jump for Joy." After the show, Ellington & the cast suggested Clampett make a musical cartoon that focused on "black" music. To prep for this project, Clampett had his animation unit take a couple of field trips to "Club Alabam,” a Los Angeles area club that catered to African Americans. So that they could then get a feel for the music & the dancing that one often heard & saw when visiting a "black" nightclub.

To given “Coal Black” some additional authenticity, Clampett originally wanted an all-Black band to provide music for the short. But producer Leon Schlesinger nixed that idea refused for monetary reasons. Which is why the film was eventually scored by Carl Stalling.

But that didn’t stop Bob from trying to give this short an authentic “black” sound. Which is why Clampett eventually hired an all-black band — Eddie Beals and His Orchestra — to record the music for the “Waking up So White” sequence in the cartoon.

With the hope that having just the right voices for his characters might give “Coal Black” some additional authenticity, Bob even hired African American actors to perform the lead roles in his film. Clampett hired Vivian Dandridge (I.E. The sister of African American actress Dorothy Dandridge) to voice "So White" and then hired Ruby Dandridge (I.E. Dorothy & Vivian’s mother) to voice the wicked Queen. Bob even recruited Zoot Watson to do the voice of "Prince Chawmin" while Mel Blanc provided all of the other voices in the picture.

Now – over the years – many animation fans have wondered why this Bob Clampett cartoon is called "Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarfs" if the main character in the picture is referred to as "So White"?Well, producer Schlesinger feared that calling the cartoon "So White" would be just too close to the title of the Disney original. Which is why a change was eventually made in the cartoon’s title but not in the cartoon itself.

Most animation scholars and historians consider "Coal Black" an undisputed masterpiece for good reason.Animation is an exaggerated reality, especially in the world of Bob Clampett. And so the characters in the film were just as exaggerated and stereotyped as any other Clampett cartoon character. But there is a dignity and intelligence to the characters in "Coal Black" that somewhat offsets the racial images that were a common cartoon "shorthand" at the time.(Let’s not forget that several Mickey Mouse black and white cartoons that were made back in the 1930s also feature large lipped, savage, stupid cannibals, for instance.)

More importantly, “Coal Black” captures some of the high energy spirit of Black Culture of the time.Let me add that the Black performers who participated in the production of this cartoon found it hilariously entertaining. Just as Nick Stewart (AKA the voice of B’rer Bear in Disney’s “Song of the South”) was not embarrassed nor ashamed by his work in later years.

Unfortunately, back in the 1960s, this cartoon was consigned to the "Censored 11." Which meant that it wasn’t to be seen on television or in theaters. In spite of “Coal Black” ‘s many virtues, which included showing African Americans in uniform defending their country. Which is something that you usually didn’t see in motion pictures made during this time.

Moving on now to one of the other Disney parodies that Mr. Hill discussed as part of last week’s “Making Fun of the Mouse” series, “Beanyland” … Disney historian Jim Korkis was a friend of Clampett's and interviewed him extensively over the years. One of those interviews focusing on the "Beany and Cecil" animated show will be appearing in a forthcoming issue of "Hogan's Alley" (Issue #14, which is due out next month).

In exchange for giving “Hogan’s Alley” a rather gratuitous plug in today’s article ("Hogan's Alley" is an outstanding magazine, one that’s devoted to covering the history of animation & cartooning. Past issues have featured detailed interviews with Disney legends Bill Peet, Marc Davis and Ward Kimball. If you’d like to see why animation fans have been raving about “Hogan’s Alley,” for a limited time, you can pick up a sample back issue for half price! For further information, click on this link), I get to share an excerpt from Korkis’ upcoming interview with Clampett.

Looking back on this particular episode of “The Beany & Cecil Show,” Clampett recalled:

“ABC got very upset about ‘Beanyland’ because — of course — they had been running the ‘Disneyland’ television program and other Disney programs. And they didn’t want to make Walt mad because there were some legal things going on where Disney was leaving ABC.

“Oh, you can’t have a caricature of Walt Disney in there saying, ‘I’ll make this my DismalLand’!’I’d answer, “Where’s Walt Disney in there?The character with the hook nose and mustache is my longtime villain Dishonest John.Everybody knows who he is.”

My original version of “Beanyland” was very, very funny because it was such a tongue-in-cheek satire on Disneyland even as to the way they worded their advertising.Beany would say stuff like “Look, what he’s doing to my creamy, dreamy Beanyland!” And that made fun of those peanut butter commercials.

I had Dishonest John packaging the moon as cheese and bringing it back to Earth to sell it.On the package, I had the word “Krafty” and ABC was afraid the Kraft Cheese Company would sue them.It was those kinds of things they censored and so much more for seemingly no reason.This place wasn’t built by a mouse; it was built for mice!”

This story was later adapted for the April-June 1963 DELL "Beany & Cecil" comic book, which illustrated by Willie Ito, an artist who worked for Disney Feature Animation back in the 1950s. Where Ito helped animate the spaghetti-eating sequence in "Lady and the Tramp.” In the comic book version of this episode, they show a much more detailed map of "Beanyland." And it features a "Rock and Roller Coaster" & a "Go-Man Chinese Theater" decades before Disney actually built those attractions in Florida.

Getting now to another classic cartoon that Jim covered in his “Making Fun of the Mouse” series … Jay Ward's "Fractured Fairy Tales" version of "Sleeping BeautyLand" also has some Disney history behind it.It was directed by Bill Hurtz who joined Don Graham's life drawing class at Chouinard Art Institute when he was thirteen years old and got flustered by seeing a nude model for the first time.He joined the Disney Studios in 1938 and worked on "Pinocchio," "Fantasia" (the mushroom dance sequence) and "Dumbo.”When he went on strike with other Disney animators, he was fired and eventually wound up at UPA. In 1959, he became a senior director for Jay Ward's animation studio.

"(“Sleeping Beautyland”) was a take-off on Disneyland and I purposely caricatured the prince as Walt Disney and we had Daws Butler do his Phil Silvers type voice which was the standard sneaky but friendly con man," Hurtz told me when I was interviewing him for a never-published book about the Jay Ward cartoons.

Mind you, Ward didn’t only make fun of Walt Disney. As animation legend June Foray (Who did the voice of the princess & the evil fairy in this particular “Fractured Fairy Tale”) once told me: "Jay's cartoons offended nations, school teachers, weather bureaus, everyone."

In fact, Ward loved controversy and parodied historical figures, media celebrities, literary artists and any other visible targets. When actor Durwood Kirby threatened to sue over a "Rocky & Bullwinkle" item called the "Kurwood Derby,” Ward welcomed the attention to his struggling series.

There was the belief at the studio that the Disney parody where an "X coupon" would get you across the bridge of "Moat Land" in front of the castle, a "Y Coupon" would get you into "Entrance Hall Land" and a "Z Coupon" would get you up "Staircase Land" to see the Sleeping Beauty might raise the ire of the Disney Company and generate some publicity. But Disney chose to ignore the cartoon.

There are other classic cartoons out there that make fun of Disney films (I mean, how could Jim forget Marv Newland’s classic "Bambi Meets Godzilla?). But – given that Mr. Hill is supposedly already hard at work on yet another installment of his “Making Fun of the Mouse” series – I suppose we can overlook the few films that seem to have eluded his grasp so far.

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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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