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“What’s Opera, Doc?” celebrates the marriage of animation and classical music

Michael Giacchino, Pete Docter and Bruce Broughton came together this past Friday Night in Beverly Hills as part of the A.M.P.A.S.’s annual Marc Davis Celebration of Animation



As the lights went down in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater this past Friday night, the curtain rose to reveal Leopold Stokowski taking the conductor’s stand in Fantasia. But the first notes of
the evening were not from that 1940 classic feature. But – rather — from the tinny, half-destroyed instruments that Goofy and the gang played in that Mickey Mouse favorite, “The Symphony Hour.”

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This was then followed by a rapid-fire musical montage (which had been lovingly stitched together by Alexander Rannie and Les Perkins) which deftly wove together clips from 28 different cartoons. Among them Popeye‘s The Spinach Orchestra, Andy Panda’s The Bandmaster, Tom and Jerry’s The Cat Concerto, Clara Cluck in Orphan’s Benefit, Peter and the Wolf, Rhapsody in Blue and Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s dueling piano scene.

This reel played as if it were one massive cartoon symphony. And even though most of these clips are well over half a century old, they still received huge laughs and recognition
applause the instant they appeared on screen.

As this clip reel wrapped, it received a huge round of applause from the capacity crowd. And – with that – the Marc Davis Celebration of Animation officially got underway — exploring this year’s theme: “What’s Opera, Doc? Animation and Classical Music.”

(L to R) Oscar-nominated composer Bruce Broughton; Alice Davis, widow of Marc Davis; and Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino at the reception preceding Friday night’s “What’s Opera Doc?” presentation. Photo by Ivan Vejar. Copyright 2010 A.M.P.A.S.

Before the guest speakers took to the stage, this A.M.P.A.S. event’s producer, Randy Haberkamp, acknowledged some of the special guests in the audience. Among them the daughter & great granddaughter of Chuck Jones, as well as the official hostess of the evening, Disney Legend Alice Davis.

Randy also noted that “What’s Opera, Doc?” was being held in conjunction with the Los Angeles Ring Festival 2010. During which the LA Opera will present its production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Haberkamp noted that this production of the Ring cycle would take four nights to see in its entirety. Mind you, Chuck Jones’ version of Wagner’s epic (which would close Friday evening’s programming), would take just four minutes to see in its entirety. Shakespeare once said “brevity is the soul of wit.” Perhaps Wagner didn’t know how many laughs he was missing out on.

Haberkamp then brought out tonight’s host, the Oscar-winning composer of Up, Ratatouille, The Incredibles
and Star Trek, Michael Giacchnio. Michael is fresh from finishing 88 minutes of original music for the Lost series finale just one week ago and a Lost concert at Royce Hall just 24 hours before tonight’s event. “If Michael isn’t the busiest man in show
business,” said Haberkamp, “I pity the person who is.” As Giacchino took the stage, he added
“I thought this was going to be a discussion of possible endings to Lost …“

Michael Giacchino during Friday night’s “What’s Opera Doc?” program. Which was presented as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Marc Davis Celebration of Animation. Photo by Ivan Vejar. Copyright 2010 A.M.P.A.S.

Giacchino started by screening the 1935 Silly Symphony Music Land, and the Mickey classic The Band Concert, to boisterous laughter and applause. Giacchino then threw the discussion to panelist Bruce Broughton – legendary composer of films such as Silverado, The Boy Who Could Fly, Homeward Bound – The Incredible Journey, Young Sherlock Holmes, The Rescuers Down Under, Tombstone
and television’s Tiny Toon Adventures. Broughton should be familiar to Disney park fans, as the composer of the soaring scores to The Timekeeper, Ellen’s Energy Adventure and the playful music to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. Broughton was especially taken with the wit of Music Land’s score, which not only had to precisely punctuate the action and emotions, it also had to provide the characters’ voices. “The young prince of Jazz Land was voiced by a saxophone, while the old king was voiced by a baritone sax. The minister spoke through the sawing of a bass. It’s very cleverly worked out.” Broughton observed that the extraordinary thing about these cartoons is that they “pre-suppose that people knew what this music was. This was a time when people went to concerts, and knew the classics.”

Giacchino talked about Music Land in particular as evidence of a time when the old guard of music was giving way to the new guard. Giacchino, whose boyish enthusiasm for these films and their scores positively beamed, added that he first became aware of these classical music pieces through the cartoons.

Pete Docter. Photo by Todd Wawrychuk. Copyright 2010 A.M.P.A.S.

It was at this point that they were joined by Oscar-winning director of Monsters, Inc.
and Up Pete Docter – who valiantly fought his way through air travel and LA traffic to be here tonight. Docter asked the audience “How many of us learned classical music from these cartoons and The Muppet Show
?” The audience responded strongly. Docter’s insight is especially unique, since he hails from a family of accomplished musicians, and himself plays the violin. Pete talked about his music background playing into his animation, working out the rhythms temporally in his mind as if to music.

Docter, Giacchino and Broughton analyzed cue sheets from the era, and the ways the composers would annotate the notes with specific beats tied to on-screen action. They noted that in the old days, the cartoon’s director, the composer and the layout artist would sit in a room together to work out the timing, the story and composition. As Broughton noted, “these
composers had to know the timing of the action and gags just as well as the story men did.” Pete remembered a story about the director of Music Land utilizing a metronome to illustrate to Walt how the tempo would change throughout the cartoon.

(L to R) Michael Giacchino, Pete Docter and Bruce Broughton. Photo by Todd Wawrychuk. Copyright 2010 A.M.P.A.S.

Giacchino screened the comical ballet “The Dance of Hours” from Fantasia. The panel shared
anecdotes they had heard about the limitations of sound technology at the time these classics were made. Michael Giacchino related a story he had heard, during the production of Fantasia, Walt referred to the single-channel audio of the day as “tinny” and in need of something to recreate the rich sound of being at the symphony live. This led to the development of the first
multi-channeled audio for what would be known as “Fantasound.” It would take theaters decades to catch up with the idea of stereophonic sound. Docter shared an anecdote from PIXAR / Lucas Film sound designer Gary Rydstrom. There were so many tracks, that the tape hissing was audible. So they recorded everything loud, then played it back to re-record the audio, keying the volume
up and down live to suit the volume required. As Bruce Broughton added, Walt once said of Fantasia, “Gee, this’ll make Beethoven.”

One of the highlights of the evening was the screening of three separate cartoons, each utilizing the venerable “Hungarian Rhapsody” – Rhapsody in Rivets, The Cat Concerto and The Backyard Oproar. The panel observed the differences in the orchestrations and the ways they interacted with the on-screen action. Broughton rhapsodized on the quality of the musical performances themselves, a product of the age in which studios had staff orchestras. These gifted musicians would spend the day recording with Max Steiner for a major live action score,
then Carl Stalling would jump in at the end of the day and get them to record one of the cartoons.

Bruce Broughton. Photo by Ivan Vejar. Copyright 2010 A.M.P.A.S.

Docter made perhaps the most profound observation of the evening, noting that classical music in cartoons functions much like Margaret Dumont in the Marx Brothers films. “The classical music was there for the cartoon to make fun of.”

Giacchino treated the audience to a rarity from the production of Up – the scene following “Married Life,” in which Carl gets up in the morning and we see the routine of his life after losing Ellie. He screened the scene twice. The first time the scene was played, we saw
the action as seen in the released film, but accompanied by an original piece of music by Michael Giacchino. It starts small, almost clockwork-sounding, and adds instruments as the scene
progresses. The final jaunty assemblage of instruments contrasts the stark banality of Carl’s actions, almost going out of its way to punctuate the comedy. It fits beautifully with the rest of the Oscar-winning score, and definitely foreshadows some of the instrumentation in the later Paradise Falls scenes.

Copyright 2009 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved

But as wonderful as Giacchino’s music was for that scene, the filmmakers decided that it just didn’t play as the moment needed. They then screened the finished scene from the film, with the selection from Bizet’s opera Carmen in lieu of the original composition. Docter noted following the heavy “Married Life” sequence, you needed something to give you permission to laugh. Giacchino said that familiarity of the classical music put you at ease.

The night closed with a screening of What’s Opera, Doc? In this legendary Chuck Jones short, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd gad about an Agnes de Mille dream ballet landscape, playing a Wagner-type opera fairly straight. It is rendered absurd by the intensity with which Bugs and Elmer carry out the melodrama. The only wink to the camera is the final shot of the film, when Elmer carries Bugs’ lifeless body into Valhalla’s rays of sunlight. Bugs turns to the audience and states “What did you expect from an opera, a happy ending?” As Broughton stated earlier in the evening, “comedy is serious business.”

(L to R) Pete Docter, Michael Giacchino and Bruce Broughton. Photo by Todd Wawrychuk. Copyright 2010 A.M.P.A.S.

After Friday night’s presentation, the audience streamed back into the lobby. Not only to ooh & aah at all the original Chuck Jones art that adorned the wall. But also to scope out the one-night-only display that had been set up at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in conjunction with this year’s Marc Davis Celebration of Animation event. Which featured some incredibly rare animation artifacts. Among them a studio memo from Walt Disney to composer George Bruns about his adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s music for Sleeping Beauty.

It’s displays like this – not to mention events like “What’s Opera, Doc? Animation and Classical Music” – which is why film fans should make a point of regularly dropping by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website to see what else they’ve got in the works. For this particular Marc Davis Celebration of Animation was truly a one-night-only, must-see event.

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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