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What do Fairy Facts, Alice in Wonderland and Knucklehead Smiff all have in common?

All three get touched on today as Jim Hill continues his look at some books you just might want to add to your shelves.



You want to know the real dangerous part of starting up a book review section on your website? People start sending you books to review. Lots and lots and lots of books to review.

That’s why I’ve fallen so far behind schedule here at I’ve been buried under this ton of books that all these authors and publishing houses have been kind enough to send me. And it’s taken me quite a while to dig myself out from under this pile of new releases, as I try and decide which titles would be worth telling JHM readers about.

Thankfully, I finally seem to have gotten a handle on all of the summer reading that I had to do for the site. So — over the next few weeks — JHM will be bringing you up to speed as to which new titles are actually worth adding to your Disneyana library. Once that’s done … well, I guess I’ll just get started on all the great movies-and-Disney-related books that are due out on store shelves this fall.

*Sigh* Working as a book reviewer is like having to do book reports for the rest of your life.

Okay. That’s enough feeble excuses for one morning. Let’s get started, shall we?

The first title that I’ll be touching on today is “Queens in the Kingdom: The Ultimate Gay & *** Guide to the Disney Theme Parks” (Alyson Publications, April 2003). As you might have guessed by the title, this volume has a somewhat specialized take on the whole Disney theme park experience. This is a book that’s aimed squarely at those gay singles and couples who are looking to get the maximum magic out of their next trip to one of Walt’s magical kingdoms.

Well, after paging through Epstein and Shapiro’s pithy prose, I daresay that even the straightest of heterosexuals might get a rise out of reading “Queens in the Kingdom.” Why for? Well, for starters, the official Disney Birnbaum guides never ever get this bitchy.

Yeah, Jeffrey and Eddie’s guide to getting the most you can out of your next vacation to Anaheim and Orlando can occasionally have an admittedly catty tone. I mean, where else are you going to find a Disney guide book that — as it describes Disneyland’s Splash Mountain — remarks that “Brer Bear’s butt will be indelibly marked on your brain” and “This is the most bear-friendly attraction in the park.”

Now please don’t assume — just from the above quote — that Epstein and Shapiro have filled their guide book with snide asides that rip on the various Disney theme parks. Truth be told, these guys are actually quite fond of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. And while they may occasionally get off a well-phrased zinger at a particularly lame attraction or show (EX: In their description of the “Global Neighborhood” exhibit in the post-show area of Epcot’s “Spaceship Earth,” the authors say that this part of the theme park “… has some amusing kiosks to play with — including a booth where you can call someone and incorporate sound effects so that they think you’re in the jungle or a haunted house. If they’re stupid.”), it’s clear that they still care about the theme parks. More importantly, Jeffrey and Eddie really do seem to want their readers to get the most they can out of their next trip to Florida or Southern California.

So, yeah, “Queens in the Kingdom” does have a somewhat stylized approach to the whole Disney guide book game. I mean, where else are you going to find a volume that liberally studded with “Fairy Facts” (FYI: That’s Epstein and Shapiro’s special name for a running feature in their book — NOT mine) or features a section that tells you where the Top 10 spots to share a gay moment in the Disney theme parks are?

Written with considerable style and wit as well as being loaded with lots of great inside information, “Queens in the Kingdom” is well worth picking up if you’re a FOD who’s headed for DLR or WDW sometime in ’03 or ’04. But — even if you’re none of the above (or if you just had trouble translating the above sentence) — Jeffrey and Eddie’s book is still worth a look-see.

Now — if you’re a Disneyana fan and it’s sex that you want (how’s that for a provocative segue?) — then you may want to consider picking up a copy of Rupert Holmes’ new novel, “Where the Truth Lies” (Random House, July 2003). For this well-written mystery really takes you for a walk on the wilder side of the Magic Kingdom. There’s a sequence in this book that’s set in a room at the Disneyland Hotel where … well … I don’t think that Walt would have approved of what that Disneyland cast member (while she’s still wearing her Alice in Wonderland costume, by the way) winds up up doing with the book’s narrator.

Mind you, Holmes’ book isn’t just about naughty Disney-related hijinks in Anaheim area hotel rooms. It’s really about a lot more than that. “Where the Truth Lies” is this extremely well-written mystery that uses Manhattan and Hollywood of the 1970s as its principal settings. It’s just that — in the course of unveiling this title’s carefully-crafted plot — the novel’s narrator makes several trips to Disneyland.

Ah, but Rupert doesn’t send his heroine to “The Happiest Place on Earth” just so she can get off a few cheap shots at the theme park. Holmes — just like Jeffrey and Eddie — appears to be a real fan of Disneyland. He even has the novel’s narrator — K. O’Connor, a young female journalist — offer up this somewhat back handed appreciation to the place:

“When I first came out to the West Coast, I’d been hired to trash the place for the ‘LA Free Press’ before that paper became a sex rag. There’d been some rumors – untrue – that the Disney Company was thinking of reinstating the dress code of the sixties, which barred men with long hair from attending the park. Not from just working there, but actually going on the rides or walking around the place. This was supposed to prevent another yippie invasion, which had closed the park for a day in 1970. My assignment was to savage Disney’s simplistic, sanitized spin on America’s past and future, with an additional directive to search the fairy tales for latent pederastry and anal fixation. I spent a week in a cut-rate motel only a few blocks from the main gate and patrolled the park armed with a pencil sharpened to a dart-like point … and came away by the end of the week completely smittened with the place.”

Holmes is clearly smitten with Disneyland as well. For he describes — in loving detail — the wonders of walking out into the park from backstage (with its vast array of beige, vaguely industrial-looking buildings) only to have your senses assaulted by all the color and the music and the smells. Rupert also includes (as part of the book’s narrative) a trip to Club 33 that makes visiting this most-exclusive-of-all-Disney theme park restaurants sound like the hippest and sexiest place you can ever take a woman on a date.

So what’s this book about? Sorry, but that would be telling. Let’s just say that this Edgar Award-winning author has delivered a thoroughly entertaining mystery which (admittedly) may upset some of you Disneyana fans who have delicate sensibilities. (But — what the hey — if you have delicate sensibilities, you’re probably already upset with me for daring to say nice things about “Queens in the Kingdom.” So you now undoubtedly think that I’m a real dummy for recommending that you rush out to get a book that features a Disneyland cast member dressed as Alice who takes part in a three-way.)

And speaking of dummies (I know. I know. That was another lame segue. I promise that that’s the absolutely last one you’ll read on this review, okay?) I just received a copy of this fun new book about ventriloquists and their dummies. Its title is “Dummy Days: America’s Favorite Ventriloquists from Radio and Early TV” (Angel City Press, July 2003).

Now I know that this may seen like an oxymoron (I.E. a fun book about ventriloquists). But if you grew up in the late 1950s / early 1960s and watched a lot of children’s television, you probably have some very fond memories of Paul Winchell and his dummies, Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff. Or how about Shari Lewis and Lambchop? Or — better yet — Danny O’Day and Farfel? (You know, that mournful-looking dog that taught all of us that the proper way to pronounce the word “chocolate” was “CHAW-CLAAAT! [Snap!]”)

Well, they’re all here — along with Senor Wences (“S’awright?” “S’awright.”) and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy — in this beautifully illustrated and extremely well-researched volume. Author Kelly Asbury (probably best known in animation circles for his wonderful work on “Shrek,” “Toy Story” and “Beauty & the Beast’) has put together a really entertaining read here. Loading this book up with intriguing bits of trivia like:

“Like his friend Walt Disney, (Edgar) Bergen understood the value of merchandising his creation. So he licensed his dummy’s image on everything from wrapping paper to egg cups. At one point, Bergen was bringing in $400,000 a year on Charlie products alone. During the 1930s and 1940s, only Mickey Mouse surpassed Charlie McCarthy in mass-market popularity. Unlike Disney’s goody-two-shoes mouse, however, Charlie’s appeal came from his wisecracking ways. He was a dummy with attitude.”

Well, Asbury’s certainly no dummy. Kelly’s smart enough not to restrict his storytelling just to show biz related tales. For example, there’s a great little side bar that details Paul Winchell’s friendship with medical professionals like Dr. Henry Heimlich (Yes. THAT Dr. Heimlich. The guy who invented the life-saving Heimlich Maneuver) as well as the veteran ventriloquist’s involvement in the research for a viable artificial heart. There’s also the sad but sweet story of Shari Lewis. About how this dedicated performer — even though she had been stricken with uterine cancer — still insisted that she keep working. So even while Shari was secretly undergoing radiation therapy and chemotherapy, she stayed on the job. Finishing up a full season of “The Charlie Horse Musical Pizza” TV show before finally passing away just two weeks after production of her syndicated children’s television program had wrapped.

The end result is that “Dummy Days” — in spite of its admittedly somewhat oddball subject matter — is still a very fun read. Particularly if you ever toyed with ventriloquisms and/or just grew up watching Winchell and Lewis and O’Day on television.

Okay. So that’s three very different titles that I personally think are very much worth taking a look at. So if you’re interested in having a gay old time at WDW and/or want to read about Alice’s amorous adventure at the Disneyland Hotel and/or occasionally find yourself singing the “Nestles” song (“N-E-S-T-L-E-S. Nestle’s makes the very best CHAW-CLAAAAT! [Snap!]”), then you might want to consider picking up one or more of the books that I’ve mentioned in today’s review.

Okay. That’s three down … 1200 more to go … *Sigh*

If you’d like to get any of these books Jim mentioned today as well as help support, you can do so by clicking on one of the boxes that you’ll find below.

Your cost will (unfortunately) remain the same (though they are currently all 30% off!) But – if you order any of these books from through us – the site gets a tiny cut of what you spend. So help keep Jim Hill behind the computer where he belongs and and pick up your copy of “Queens in the Magic Kindom,” “Where the Truth Lies” and/or “Dummy Days” through these links:

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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

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

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

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

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

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

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

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

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