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Wednesdays with Wade: Going to the Dogs

In honor of this film’s release on DVD yesterday, Wade Sampson is back with even more stories about “Lady and the Tramp”

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I wrote an extensive article about the creation of “Lady and the Tramp” last year in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the release of this film. It is one of my favorite Disney animated features and I am happy that this week it is being re-released again on DVD.

The film was released on June 16, 1955, just one month before the opening of Disneyland. And — as I mentioned last year — the artists who worked on that film set at the turn of the century were pulled in to help with Disneyland’s Main Street and I can certainly see some strong influences. Of course, there are strong influences at Walt Disney World as well. Which is why there is a “Tony’s” restaurant on Main Street.

Did it ever bother anyone that on an All-American Main Street that there would be an Italian restaurant? Well, it is because Tony’s restaurant is such a strong image from “Lady and the Tramp” set during the same time period. Tramp eats at other ethnic restaurant locations in the movie but it is “Tony’s” where he is known as “Butch” and the spaghetti eating scene that stands out in people’s minds.

In fact, Walt wanted to cut the spaghetti eating scene from the film, feeling that it would be awkward at best. It was animator Frank Thomas who experimented in his backyard with his own dogs eating spaghetti and came up with some sketches that finally changed Walt’s mind and resulted in one of the most romantic moments in American films. Thomas was lucky. Before animating the intense fight between Tramp and the rat, animator Woolie Reitherman kept rats in a cage next to his desk to study their actions.

The picture required four years and cost four million dollars to make which was quite a sizeable investment when Walt was so strapped for cash with the development of Disneyland. “Lady and the Tramp” was the first Disney animated feature to be released in CinemaScope as well as the first Disney feature to be based on an original story created at the studio.

As early as 1937, Walt Disney was intrigued by a story outline by the late Disney Legend Joe Grant about a cocker spaniel named Lady who had to deal with the arrival of a new baby in the household as well as a mother-in-law with two devious Siamese cats. Grant had used his own dog, “Lady Nell” as well as the birth of his first child as the inspiration for the story and for the concept artwork that he showed to Walt. All of the basic elements of the story, except for Tramp and the supporting cast of canines, were in Grant’s treatment.

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Although Walt liked the story, like many of the other stories under development (from “Beauty and the Beast” to “The Little Mermaid“), he felt there was something missing. Walt always liked to “plus” a story rather than settling for the obvious plot formulas. In the mid-1940s, he read a story by Ward Greene, an executive at King Features Syndicate, entitled “Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog” and he felt the roguish dog in Greene’s story would give the story of “Lady” a little more “bite” and conflict as well as a romantic angle.

Walt — in his best press release mode — claimed that he got in contact with Ward and that they ” … exchanged doggish anecdotes and family experiences involving our own pets. It wasn’t long before Ward had whistled up the Tramp and it didn’t take much urging to incite Ward to write a book about their amazing adventures.

Walt loved dogs. That little white poodle we saw with Walt on some of the introductions to his weekly television show was named “Lady” but she was just one of a long line of dogs that Walt loved from his earliest days in Marceline to his success in Hollywood.

In fact, the classic story of one of Walt’s dogs — a small chow puppy named “Sunnee” — inspired one of the scenes in “Lady and the Tramp.” Walt’s wife, Lillian, didn’t care for dogs because she felt they were dirty, had fleas and shed fur. So Walt researched and found that the “cleanest” dog was the chow.

So one Christmas, he bought a chow puppy, put it in a hat box with a big ribbon and presented it to Lillian as a gift from Santa. Lillian was angry because she felt Walt had gotten her a hat and she felt that Walt had terrible taste in hats. However, when she opened the hat box, the little puppy popped out its head. After a quick scream from a surprised Lillian, she fell in love with the dog and insisted it sleep in the bed with her and Walt. That scene of a puppy popping out of a ribboned hat box at Christmas was later re-created in “Lady and the Tramp”.

Actually, it was Walt who came up with the name of “Tramp” against objections from Greene and the film distributors and just about everyone else who felt the name was too “adult” for a Disney film. At different points, Tramp was called Homer, Rags and even Bozo. It is hard to imagine Tramp being called anything but Tramp.

The live action reference model for Tramp was found at a local dog pound by Disney story artist Erdman Penner. He rescued the dog only hours before it was to take the “long walk.” The dog was less than a year old and a female. After she finished modeling, she lived out the rest of her life happily at Disneyland’s Pony Farm, a wonderful anecdote that Disney Historian Jim Korkis shared with me in last year’s article.

Larry Roberts who did the voice for “Tramp” retired from show business in the Fifties and returned to Cleveland where he reassumed his last name “Salters” and went into the ladies’ clothing business. He first worked for Bobbie Brooks, Inc., a company founded by his uncle, Maurice Saltzman. He then moved to New York City and was a designer for Russ Togs, another ladies’ clothing manufacturer. Larry died of AIDS-related causes on Fire Island, New York sometime around the late Eighties. He was chosen to play the role of Tramp in “Lady and the Tramp” when a Disney storyman discovered him performing onstage. Roberts was extremely active in the Hollywood theater scene. He created and was part owner of the Players Ring, a prominent Hollywood theatre group of the day. “Lady and the Tramp” is his only film credit.

Before voicing Lady, Barbara Luddy was a radio actress well known to audiences of the “First Nighter” radio program. She also voiced Merryweather in “Sleeping Beauty“>Sleeping Beauty” (1959), Kanga in the “Winnie the Pooh” featurettes, and Mother Rabbit in “Robin Hood” (1973). Finally, here’s an interesting bit of trivia: Ms. Luddy had a single line role as the grandmother in the Carousel of Progress attraction shown at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, at Disneyland Park and later at the Magic Kingdom in the Walt Disney World Resort.

As a kid, one of my favorite characters in the film was the feisty little Scottie known as “Jock.” Jock’s Scottish voice was done by the versatile Bill Thompson, well known to Disney fans as the voice of Mr. Smee in “Peter Pan” and the White Rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland” and the little Ranger in the Donald Duck cartoons. Thompson also supplied another Scottish voice for the Disney Company. He was the first voice of Scrooge McDuck in the short “Scrooge McDuck and Money.” In 1957, Thompson joined the Los Angeles branch of Union Oil as an executive, working in community relations and unfortunately only occasionally doing voice work for animation. Jock is really not a black dog because it would have made him too dark to see any facial expressions. He is painted in a medium value with darker shades of grey and the backgrounds are always light behind him making him look like a black dog.

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Singer Peggy Lee supplies the voice not only of “Peg” the female dog in the dog pound but also the voice of both Siamese cats, “Si and Am”, as well as the voice of “Darling,” one of Lady’s owners. The character of “Peg” was originally named “Mame” in the storyboards but since this was the Fifties, there was a concern that it might be considered offensive to President Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie. Miss Lee very graciously allowed the character to be named “Peg” instead. Several characters in “Lady and the Tramp” went through name changes. Even “Si and Am” at one point were called “Nip and Tuck.” Eric Larson who animated Peg claimed that when he animated “Peg” that she was based “partly on Mae West and a lot on Peggy Lee.”

In 1987, Peggy Lee sued Disney over “Lady and the Tramp.” Lee’s lawsuit claimed that she was due royalties for video tapes, a technology that didn’t exist when she agreed to write and perform for Disney. She only gave Disney permission to use her voice and songs for the original film and soundtrack recordings. She was eventually awarded $2.3 million, but not without a lengthy legal battle with the Disney Studio that negatively impacted her health. The lawsuit was finally settled in 1991 and set a precedent for future talent contracts at Disney. Lee was dissatisfied with the settlement and threatened that she was going to write a book about the entire incident but never did. She passed away in January 2002.

Beginning with “Cinderella,” Walt filmed live action reference footage on minimal sets in order to help save time with the final animation by pre-determining angles and composition. I would love to see some of that film footage as well as the live action film footage from “Peter Pan.” I’ve seen a series of stills from those films but never the actual live action footage. (Disney did live action footage as early as “Pinocchio.” Ward Kimball shared with Jim Korkis that they had shot live action film of an actor portraying Jiminy Cricket including a scene where Jiminy warms his rear end by a fire. An excerpt of that film footage still exists.) With “Lady and the Tramp,” it would have been difficult to get real canine actors to do what was needed to be done to provide the necessary reference action for the animators.

So one of Walt Disney’s innovations in the making of the feature that few people know (and that I’ve never even seen reference photos of) is that Walt had his artists construct a miniature Victorian mansion just like the one in the final film. With Walt’s love of miniatures, he made sure it was furnished to the last detail. Then, the artists used celluloid cutouts of the principal characters (especially the animal characters that were done in the appropriate scale) to move around the house to get an idea for composition of scenes and the relationship of the character to the background. It really helped the artists get a “dog’s-eye view” of going up the stairs and through doors.

It was especially important to pre-plan scenes in “Lady and the Tramp” because this was the first cartoon feature to use CinemaScope. With the wider screen, the characters had greater freedom to move around through alleys, streets and even the house itself, rather than moving the backgrounds behind the figures as had been done in previous films to give the illusion the character was walking down a street. Unlike earlier animated features, fewer cuts and close-ups were necessary to conceal the lack of space for movement.

For such a wonderfully simple story, there were an amazing number of changes. When Trusty the bloodhound is crushed underneath the dogcatcher’s wagon, he was originally supposed to die which is why Jock howls so mournfully. Walt, who had taken criticism for death of Bambi’s mother, decided the scene was too intense and had the animators include Trusty in the final Christmas scene.

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Another scene was planned that was “inspired” by “Pink Elephants on Parade” from “Dumbo.” In the scene, Lady would be fearful of the arrival of the new baby and would have a nightmare where a baby bootie would split in two, then four and continue to multiply menancingly until Lady wakes from her dream when she sees real shoes and the wearer happily announcing that the baby had been born. Another planned scene would have had Lady and the Tramp walking in the park and a song would have introduced a fantasy segment where the roles of dogs and humans would be switched where dogs are the masters and the humans are their pets.

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I don’t know whether any of this material will appear on this week’s DVD release. But I just love the film so much I wanted to share some of the notes I’ve had in my “Lady and the Tramp” files that might help you see the film a little differently.

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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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