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Wednesdays with Wade: The Disney / New Orleans Connection

As that city along the Mississippi continues to struggle as it tries to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, Wade Sampson reminds us why New Orleans occupied such a special place in Walt Disney’s heart.

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The continuing tragedy in New Orleans is heightened for me by the fact that Walt Disney had a special affection for that city and that affection was clearly reflected in his theme parks.

I suppose most Disney fans would immediately think of “New Orleans Square” in Disneyland as the major connection. It was the first new “land” added to the theme park since it opened in 1955. It was officially dedicated on July 24, 1966 by Walt and the Mayor of New Orleans, Victor Schiro. A reporter for a New Orleans newspaper wrote that “it’s the next best thing to being there” and repeated the information from the Disney publicity material that it was built for almost the exact amount paid for the entire Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

When New Orleans Square opened you could hear the chants and ringing bells of a voodoo queen living off a balcony on the backside of the Square near the bathrooms and the train station. I always wondered if it was the infamous Marie Laveau who practiced voodoo in New Orleans in the 1700s and 1800s. After all, her portrait could be found in both “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Haunted Mansion” when those attractions opened.

It wouldn’t have bothered Walt whose massive personal apartment was being built over the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride where his wife Lilly would have been able to easily visit the nearby “One-of-A-Kind Shop” filled with antiques.

At the dedication, Walt said, “Disneyland has always had a Big River and a Mississippi sternwheeler. It made

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sense to build a new attraction at the bend of the river, and so New Orleans Square came into being – a New Orleans of a century ago when she was the ‘Gay Paree’ of the American frontier.”

However, Walt’s interest in New Orleans goes back to his childhood and his fascination of the big steamboats that journeyed from St. Louis, Missouri down the Mississippi to New Orleans. In fact, one of the things young Walt was looking forward to when he returned from France was to take a trip down the Mississippi on one of those steamboats.

The first Mickey Mouse cartoon took place on one of those steamboats and the song “Steamboat Bill” was about a steamboat trying to beat the record of the Robert E. Lee to race to New Orleans.

On a trip to New Orleans in 1946 with his wife, Lillian, who was an avid antiques collector and loved shopping in the collectibles shops, Walt discovered a small golden birdcage with a singing bird and wondered if this type of technology could be duplicated on a larger scale. Most research describes this moment as the beginnings of audio-animatronics.

When Disneyland opened in 1955, Walt had plans for the development of a New Orleans section next to the “Jungle Cruise”. “Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House” (later “Aunt Jemima’s Kitchen” when it expanded in 1962 and then eventually the “Magnolia Tree Terrace” and finally the “River Belle Terrace”) featured wrought-iron balconies in the style of New Orleans.

At the opening day ceremonies, hosts Ronald Reagan and Bob Cummings both referred to the New Orleans flavor at the edge of Frontierland and the famous “Firehouse Five” played Dixieland jazz to inaugurate the area. A Disneyland postcard of the area stated: “down on New Orleans Street over in Frontierland…finest barbeque this side of the Mississippi…”

It was Walt who created “Dixieland at Disneyland” that debuted at the Carnation Gardens on October 1, 1960 and featured big name entertainers playing Dixieland Jazz. (Dixieland Jazz is more frantic and faster than Chicago Jazz or New York Jazz. Dixieland mixes elements of military bands with street parades and adds syncopation and rhythmic swing.)

The following year (September 1961) saw Louis Armstrong join the performances that had been moved to the Mark Twain steamboat. This event was filmed for “Disneyland After Dark” that was shown April 15, 1962 on the Disney television show and later released theatrically as a short subject both domestically and overseas.

Armstrong, who was born in New Orleans, performed again in 1962 and 1964-1967. In 1968, he even recorded an album entitled “Disney Songs the Satchmo Way” that brought the flavor of New Orleans to Disney standards. (Louis Prima who was the voice of King Louie in “Jungle Book” was also born in New Orleans.)

However, it was not just this special event that showcased the music of New Orleans. The streets of Frontierland echoed with the sounds of the South from groups like “Young Men from New Orleans” (the gag being they were anything but young) who performed from 1955-1966.

Johnny St. Cyr was the leader of the small group that included vocalist Monette Moore, Johnny St. Cyr (banjo), Kid Ory (trombone) Joe Darensbourg/Paul Barn – clarinet, Harvey Brooks – piano, Alton Redd – drums and Mike Delay – trumpet. He continued to perform at Disneyland until his death in 1966 and the “Young Men From New Orleans” can be seen in the “Disneyland After Dark” special as well as clips from various Disneyland parades.

Another group was “Royal Street Bachelors” that performed starting in 1966. The leader, Jack McVea, was personally hired by Walt Disney himself. McVea kept the job for twenty-seven years, retiring in 1992. McVea was a famous musician in his own right having written the song “Open the Door Richard” in 1946. The original “Royal Street Bachelors” who all played string instruments included Harold Grant (who was replaced by Ernest McLean when Grant passed away) and Herb Gordy.

Other groups that kept the flair alive at Disneyland were the “Side Street Strutters” (that had a horn section) and “Bayou Brass” (that had a Cajun flavor).

The Disneyland parades were even influenced by New Orleans. Blaine Kern is known as “Mr. Mardi Gras” because when the Mardi Gras parades were offering only dim shadows of past glories in the Fifties, Kern became an innovator at creating fanciful, outlandish floats that included storybook characters whose heads turned and whose eyes moved.

In 1959, Kern met Walt Disney who was visiting Mardi Gras in search of new ideas. Walt was quite taken with one of Kern’s more inspired creations: an18-foot-tall King Kong-like gorilla, with five men inside, that walked and made facial expressions. Remember this was when Walt was still trying to get a grip on the concept of audio-animatronics for his park attractions. Disney showed a clip of Kern’s gorilla in an episode of his television program entitled “Carnival Time” where Ludwig Von Drake sends Donald Duck to report on the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Walt offered Kern a job to work as an Imagineer designing floats for Disneyland as well as working on other projects. Kern’s boss, Darwin Fenner (the son of the Fenner in the Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith) convinced Kern to say “no” to Walt.

Fenner reminded Kern of his love for New Orleans, and his passion for Mardi Gras. According to Kern, “Fenner said, ‘Son, let me tell you: You stay here in New Orleans, you’re gonna be a big fish in a little pond. You go out there, you’re gonna be a small fish in a big pond.’ He said, ‘Your fortune will be here in the future. Mardi Gras is democratizing, it’s opening up to everybody.’ “

However, Walt’s studying of Kern’s work helped inspire the re-design of Disneyland parades. Today, Kern’s son, Barry, carries on the family tradition and he is the builder and designer of props and sculptures for Disney and other theme parks.

Of course, the most notable New Orleans influence on a Disney parade was the famous “Party Gras” parade in Disneyland in 1990 to celebrate “35 Years of Magic”. In fact, the parade was so impressive that it was shipped out to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1991 to help celebrate the Twentieth anniversary of that park.

Singer, dancers, and stiltwalkers threw beads and a special Party Gras coin to guests and occasionally the parade stopped so the guests could participate. Huge forty feet tall floats of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and Roger Rabbit rolled down the street and seemed to dwarf the Main Street buildings.

In the early 1980s, *** Nunis pushed for an expansion of the Shopping Village at Lake Buena Vista (better known as “Downtown Disney” today) by creating a moderately priced themed resort to resemble Port Orleans. The Empress Lilly restaurant would have been a steamboat that had docked to unload its cargo at this riverfront town where the guest rooms would have been “hidden” in buildings resembling a cotton mill or a boatwrights shop.

A New Orleans themed resort did appear on Walt Disney World property on May 17, 1991 thanks to Fugleberg Koch Architects of Winter Park, Florida in collaboration with Disney Development Company. It was characteristic of the New Orleans French Quarter with balconies, wrought iron railings, cobblestone streets, and courtyards but with Disney touches like trombone playing alligators. Blaine Kern Artists, Inc. were responsible for collecting and creating the many Mardi Gras props, such as the jesters. Some of the Mardi Gras decorative props were purchased directly from Mardi Gras warehouses in New Orleans. (On March 1, 2001, it officially merged with “Dixie Landings” and became Port Orleans: French Quarter.)

There are other more subtle connections as well but my sadness at the plight of the population of New Orleans that will be felt for years is increased by the realization of the many Disney touches that were inspired by that famous location and its colorful residents.

Hey, gang. Jim Hill here. Wasn’t that a great column by Wade Sampson today? Reminding us of all the strong connections that the Walt Disney Company has with that city along the Mississippi. Mind you, due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, it may be years before New Orleans regains much of the charm that made this place so enticing to Walt Disney. Which is why it’s crucial that we now all do what we can to help this city and its citizens get back on their feet.

So if you’d like to help out the on-going relief efforts, both Wade and I strongly suggest that you hammer on this link. Thanks in advance for your help.

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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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