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Where in the World is Walt?

Looking for something special to do the next time you’re visiting Walt Disney World? Then take along this challenging quiz crafted by JHM’s own kwazy quizmaster, Jim Korkis.

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Here is a little something special for those of you who might be visiting Walt Disney World and want to try something a little different.

For the Magic Kingdom Annual Passholders, I created a special 100 question experience to encourage guests to search for elements of storytelling that they may have missed in the past as they rushed to attractions or frantically sought out merchandise or food and drink. It was tremendously successful even if the final version replaced a handful of my more challenging questions.

When I was asked to prepare this special adventure for Walt Disney World cast members to help put the “Walt” back in “Walt Disney” for the 100 Years of Magic celebration, I used that “sketchbook” as my model to create an opportunity to re-discover Walt’s kingdoms of magic and to find those Walt tributes that may have been missed in the past and which can be shared with others in the future.

The Magic Kingdom certainly has elements of Walt’s childhood from his experiences at the turn-of-the-century including his first introduction to the great stories of adventure and fairy tales. The Disney-MGM Studios seems to reflect Walt’s adult life as a successful motion picture producer of both animation and live action films. Epcot is obviously Walt’s vision of the world of tomorrow where technology and international understanding contribute to an ideal future.

You will be following in the footsteps of Walt’s life as you search for the references to Walt that are scattered throughout these three parks that represent Walt’s life.

Don’t get frustrated at trying to answer all the questions. The fun is in the journey of discovery. Read signs and posters. Press your nose against windows and display cases. Look around corners and up on the shelves and walls. Search out photos. Go into shops you might not have visited previously. Look up.

These are questions designed for sorcerers rather than apprentices. You won’t find the easy questions like “Where is Walt’s window on Main Street?” but more along the lines of “Where in the Disney-MGM Studios would you find the photo of Walt standing in front of the Russian poster for THE THREE LITTLE PIGS?” (It’s in one of the display windows of the DARKROOM.)

If you need to ride an attraction to discover an answer, I made sure it was a low impact experience instead of a thrill ride so that is something everyone would be able to ride. You may need to visit food and beverage or merchandise locations to find an answer.

You do not need to climb over fences or any other barriers or stand on anything. You do not need to venture backstage to find the answer. Even cast members may not be able to help you find certain answers or they may unintentionally give you the wrong answer.

All the information and all the locations you need to find the answers are clearly visible and easily accessible for all our guests.

This adventure may prove to be challenging but it was designed to get you to explore the parks and to discover those Walt references you may have missed in the past as we celebrate a hundred years of magic.

I hope you will see that Walt Disney is still very much a presence in our parks but never more so than in our cast members and guests. They are the living legacy of Walt Disney. Every time you create happiness for a guest or a cast member then that is truly where the spirit of Walt is in our world.

If you have half as much fun tracking down these Walt references as I did putting it together, then I had twice as much fun as you!

The Walt Disney World cast members who participated in this experience through the Centers of Excellence (now officially known as the Disney Learning Centers) which are eight locations on property that are similar to an employee exclusive library received a special 100 Years of Magic pin. The top scorers were invited to bring a friend with them to a special two hour presentation I did where I shared some rarely seen audio, video and handouts that related directly to the life of Walt Disney. Unfortunately, we don’t have prizes for the readers of JimHillMedia other than the fun and satisfaction of re-discovering the parks. And, yes, unlike the cast member experience, I have also included the answers at the very end.


 

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS WALT?
A SPECIAL ADVENTURE CREATED BY JIM KORKIS

 

Magic Kingdom

1. Besides being a personal friend of Walt Disney, Art Linkletter was one of the television hosts for the opening of Disneyland. He wrote a book that was entitled KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS, which featured an introduction by Walt and artwork by Charles “PEANUTS” Schulz. A copy of this book is on display next to the original black-haired Barbie. What is the color of the tie that Mr. Linkletter is wearing on the cover of the book? (Main Street)

2. Animator and Imagineer Bill Justice did the artwork for this colorful scene of Disney animated characters (including ones from the BLACK CAULDRON) which surrounds a Walt Disney quote about what provided Walt “a lifetime satisfaction beyond all value”. According to this quote, what exactly provided Walt such satisfaction? (Main Street)

3. If you know where to look for the “Public Lives and Personal Memories,” then you will discover a photo of Walt Disney hosting a 1964 television special. How many buttons are visible on Walt’s sweater in the picture? (Liberty Square)

4. An elaborate, fully operational model of Walt Disney’s original vision of Epcot was housed on the top floor of Carousel of Progress at Disneyland for many years. A very small part of that model was rescued and is visible when you take the Blue Line. But on top of the Cosmopolitan Hotel which was the tallest building in the model is there one flashing beacon, two flashing beacons or no flashing beacons? (Tomorrowland)

5. According to this sign, who were the four individuals who helped Walt “create a 1/8 scale steam train that would travel along 2,600 feet of track around Walt’s backyard?” Another sign has a similar quote but does not provide the answer so be careful. (Main Street)

6. Walt Disney provided the voice of Mickey Mouse in the early cartoons like “Mickey’s Good Deed” and “Mickey’s Nightmare.” Where exactly are those two framed cartoon posters located in the Magic Kingdom? (Toontown)

7. Between which two three-digit numbers does Walt Disney show off his Carolwood Pacific engine to his two young adult daughters Diane and Sharon? (Include the letter as well and make sure you are picking the numbers that on the same level as the photo.) (Main Street)

8. Roy O. Disney sits on a bench with Mickey Mouse (not Minnie) near a picture of Walt wearing a white coat and a construction hat clearly labeled with what word? You may have to walk slowly by this picture more than once to get the answer. (Main Street)

9. Charlie Chaplin was an early inspiration for the young Walt who won contests imitating the comedian. In the Magic Kingdom, there is only one photo of this comic actor but the photo shows Chaplin in how many different poses? (Main Street)

10. Ray Kroc was a teenage volunteer in the same ambulance unit as Walt Disney in World War I. In fact, when Disneyland opened in 1955, he wrote a letter asking if Walt was interested in having Ray’s new business be part of Disneyland. Well, it was many years later but his business finally made its appearance on Disney property and the sign says it has been in the same location “since 1855.” But what was the original date which has been crossed out? (Frontierland)

 

Disney-MGM Studios

11.This location has an authentic signature of Walt Disney on a Bank of America check for the amount of $200. Walt must have had some old checks to use up because it has the Hyperion Ave. address on the check but the date is (month, day, year) and at that time Walt had relocated to the new studio in Burbank. What is the month, day, year on the check?

12. The Holly-Vermont Realty Office was Walt’s first studio. Walt inquired about the office rentals at a real estate office, declaring he could pay $10 a month. The only place at that price was a room at the back of the real-estate office. He operated there from October 1923 until he moved to the Kingswell Studio location in February 1924. According to the Holly-Vermont logo on the door, Holly-Vermont serviced which two cities?

13. Our recreation of the Dopey Drive sign that intersected with Mickey Avenue lists “Post Production, Soundstages and Special EFX” as the areas on Dopey Drive. However, the photo of Walt and actress Rosalind Russell standing right next to the actual sign (which was originally installed for the film RELUCTANT DRAGON) clearly shows that at the Disney Studios in Hollywood the three locations on Dopey Drive were actually what?

14. This group of three pictures shows Walt involved with three different athletic activities. (One picture has Walt’s wife, Lillian, and another picture shows one his daughters but not even the Disney Archives know who that young man with Walt and Lilly is.) What are those three athletic activities?

15. The Carthay Circle Theater was where SNOW WHITE premiered in December 1937 and was one of only two theaters fitted with Fantasound for the premiere of FANTASIA. This theater on San Vicente was torn down in 1969 because it was not earthquake safe. It was also the theater that premiered another Disney “first”and the star who made his first appearance in that series is featured on a nearby poster reproduction. What was that historic Disney first that premiered at this theater?

16. Artists Hank Porter and Roy Williams (the Big Mooseketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club) designed the insignia for the Flying Tigers unit during World War II. It was the first Military insignia designed by the Disney Studios and Walt insisted it be done free of charge for military. The Disney Studio eventually created over 1,200 logos. Which building is decorated with this famous insignia?

17. That beautiful display of Academy Awards for animation showcases twelve statuettes from 1932 to 1969. But which year is represented by two Oscars?

18. Walt Disney was inducted into the TV Hall of Fame in 1986 along with Mary Tyler Moore, Jackie Gleason, Burr Tillstrom, and Steve Allen. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences inducts up to seven individuals (or programs) each year into its Hall of Fame at the Academy’s home in North Hollywood starting in 1984. They have a Hall of Fame plaza. The one here at Disney/MGM Studios opened in 1993 and the bust of Walt was sculpted by Blaine Gibson in what year? ( Blaine also sculpted the Partners statue and the Roy O. Disney statue in the Magic Kingdom.)

19. There are lots of Walt photos that decorate the display windows on Hollywood Boulevard. This large photo doesn’t appear normally and shows Walt sitting next to a live action motion picture camera with two other gentlemen in the picture who both wear hats and glasses. What is Walt wearing on his feet? Mud-caked boots, shoelace-tied shoes, fuzzy house slippers, two different shoes, or barefoot.

20. Imagineer Herb Ryman created the first map of Disneyland with Walt in a marathon session but in this photo Herb is sketching a famous Hollywood celebrity from 1938. It appears at an even more famous Hollywood location where Walt Disney often went with his wife on those rare occasions the Disneys went out on the town. Who is the famous celebrity that Herb is sketching? (If you are nice at this location, they may even show you the book with Walt and Lilly’s photo at this famous Hollywood location.)

 

Epcot

21.Yes, that is Walt’s actual handwriting in this picture surrounded by so many other images of Walt and it lists the only ride Walt had planned for Walt Disney World property. What was the name of that ride written in Walt’s own hand? (Future World)

22.These two large pictures (one black and white and the other color) show Walt using a pointer. They are located in a display window. In the black and white picture, what is Walt pointing at? (Future World)

23. As Walt stands in front of the map for the Disney Florida Project, the legend at the lower right lists the following: Property Boundary, Swamp, Lakes, Scale Feet and what other category? (Future World)

24. Inventor’s Circle at Epcot is missing the name of Walt Disney who in the year 2000 was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame for Patent # 2, 20l, 689. Fortunately, Epcot does have a large photo of Walt standing in front of the invention (the exact same photo exists inside a building at Disney-MGM Studios on Hollywood Boulevard). What is Walt holding in his right hand while he stands in front of the invention? (In his left hand is something considered disposable after they had been filmed in the 1950s but are very valuable in today’s collector market.) (Future World)

25. To the right of Jane Addams is what Walt Disney quote? (World Showcase)

26. Where exactly does Walt Disney’s name come after Johnny Carson and right before Albert Einstein? (World Showcase)

27. Walt looks on with delight at the delicious treat being held in front of him in this photo. (That’s Walt’s wife sitting to the left and his daughter Diane to the right in the photo.) But what is that word in the center of table? (World Showcase)

28. You can see in this photo that Franz is excited discussing with Walt their new product that they are going to release in 1955 and is still being produced reasonably expensively today. Which Disney character does Walt hold in his hand? (World Showcase)

29. The model of the Nautilus submarine from 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA was designed by Imagineer Harper Goff who went against Walt Disney’s original wishes that it should look more sleek and modern. This model with the lighted portholes hangs next to a reproduction of a poster for the film. Is it a reproduction of the original film poster or a reproduction of one of the re-releases? Fortunately the answer is on the poster. (Future World)

30. The animated feature FANTASIA has a memorable battle between two dinosaurs: a T-Rex and a Stegosaurus. That classic moment was recreated in audio-animatronics at the 1964 World’s Fair on the Ford Skyway and later found a home in the Grand Canyon Diorama at Disneyland. Here at Epcot, we have an homage to that classic scene but with some significant (and more historically accurate) differences. The coloring of the Epcot dinosaurs now reflects the more colorful spectrum of birds rather than the greens and grays of lizards. And it is now an Allosaurus rather than a T-Rex battling what kind of dinosaur? (Future World)

 

DON’T LOOK AT THE ANSWERS. DON’T YOU WANT THE FUN OF DISCOVERY??

 

 

 

 

Answers

1. Red (This paperback copy is located in the Kodak Exposition Hall in the display case on the right hand side just past the entrance to the Walt Disney Theater showing the cartoons.)

2. “To translate the world’s great fairy tales, thrilling legends, stirring folk tales into visual theatrical presentations and to get back the warm responses of audiences in many lands…” (At the exit of the Walt Disney Theater, right behind the Mr. Toad car is the big mural with the quote right in the middle.)

3. Three (3) buttons (Located in the Hall of Presidents attraction. As you enter it is the second photo on the left. The tv special is about the 1964 World’s Fair.)

4. One flashing beacon (The model is located in the Alien Encounter building second floor and you can see it on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover.)

5. Roger E. Broggie, Ed Sargent, Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston (This plaque is in the Main Street Train Station on the bottom floor. It is the plaque honoring Roger Broggie.)

6. On the ceiling slats inside Mickey’s garage in Toontown Fair.

7. Between locker numbers B183-B219 (This is between the first two lockers in the Main Street Train Station on East side.)

8. Disneyland (This photo is at the exit of the Walt Disney Theater near the model of the castle.)

9. Seven (7) (This photo is located in the Main Street Cinema. It is on the wall immediately to your left as you enter the shop.)

10. ’53 (This is the McDonalds French Fry wagon near Pecos Bill. The sign with the information is on the righthand side of the wagon.)

11. March 19, 1941 (This check is in Sid Cahuenga. It is on the wall separating the two entrance doors.)

12. Hollywood and Beverly Hills (This doorway is next to the Peevey’s Concotion in the Echo Park area. The doorway is to the right of Peevey’s.)

13. InBtween, Special EFX, Layout (The signpost and photo is right next to the Mickey meet and greet soundstage right next to the giant Coke bottle.)

14. Ice Skating, Tennis and Swimming (These photos are in Mouse About Town shop on Sunset Blvd. As you enter the shop, the photos are on the immediate right wall.)

15. The first Silly Symphony, SKELETON DANCE, premiered there in 1929. (The poster of Donald Duck who premiered in the Silly Symphony series is on the left hand side of the Carthay Circle Theater. Hunters will also need to come into the COE to do some research. This information is on page 100, second paragraph of the paperback version of the Bob Thomas book WALT DISNEY AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL.)

16. On the side of Rosie’s All American Café. (It is on the side where the cast only entrance is.)

17. 1941 (These Oscars are located in the exit area of the Animation attraction. The exit area is also accessible through the Animation Gallery shop.)

18. 1991 (The date is on the back of the bust. The Hall of Fame Plaza is on the left of the ABC Theater.)

19. Shoelaced tied shoes (This is in the display window of the last shop on the left hand side of Hollywood Blvd.)

20. George Jessel (This is inside the Brown Derby. As you enter, it is on the left hand side of the large wall in front of you, near the phones.)

21. Swamp Ride (This is in the Innoventions East building near the exit on the big wall with all the photos of Walt innovations.)

22. A concept sketch of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland (This is in the window of the Art of Disney Gallery near the front of the park across from Spaceship Earth.)

23. Cypress Groves (This is the last Walt photo in the Heritage Hallway in the old Pasta Piazza building. The hallway is at the exit of Ice Station Cool.)

24. A pair of glasses (This is the second Walt photo in the Heritage Hallway in the old Pasta Piazza building. The hallway is at the exit of Ice Station Cool.)

25. “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.” (This quote is in the rotunda of the American Adventure. As you enter, it will be in the middle of the big wall on your left.)

26. On a poster in the rotunda of the American Adventure (This poster is located right at the entrance before you go up the escalators.)

27. CINZANO (This photo is in the lobby of Alfredo’s in Italy. The photo is located to the right of the big plaque telling the story of Alfredos.)

28. Goofy (This photo is in the Goebbel and Sons Hummel shop in Germany. It is on the wall directly across from where the Disney Hummels are displayed near the side exit door.)

29. Re-release (This poster is in the pre-show queque of Living Seas.)

30. Stegosaurus (This is in the Universe of Energy attraction just past the brontosauruses.) Yes, a trick question to make you double check your memory.

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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.

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“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.

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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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