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Who would you prefer to see as the Skipper in Disney’s Jungle Cruise movie? Tim Allen or Tom Hanks?

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Late last week, SkipperZippy wrote in to ask about that
"Jungle Cruise" movie
that Walt Disney Pictures just announced. To be specific:

I'm so excited about the Jungle Cruise movie.  Can you please tell me which roles Tom Hanks
and Tim Allen will be playing in this movie? What scenes from the theme park
attraction
will be recreated as part of this movie?


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

SkipperZippy –

First of all, you may want to contain that excitement a bit.
After all, we're quite a way aways from the actual physical start of production
on Disney's "The Jungle Cruise" movie.

To be specific, if ABC actually decides to pick up "The Last
Days of Man" (i.e. that sitcom pilot that Tim Allen is supposed to shoot for Fox) …
Well, that then means that Allen wouldn't really be available to begin working
on this new Mandeville Films production until sometime in the late winter /
early spring of 2012.

And in the meantime, you can expect that Roger S.H. Schulman
(Who's probably best known for the work that he did on the screenplays of
"Shrek," "The Jungle Book 2," "Mulan II," "Bambi II" and "The Fox and the Hound 2." Though – more recently – Schulman served as executive producer for two
Disney Channel series, "Phil of the Future" and "Jonas") will be digging
through all of the previous drafts of Disney's "The Jungle Cruise" movie scripts
as he attempts to craft a live-action feature which will then showcase both Hanks
& Allen's comic talents.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And make no mistake here. Roger has quite the pile of
scripts to dig through. Let's remember that Walt Disney Pictures has been
struggling to get a "Jungle Cruise" movie made ever since the Spring of 2004. Which
is when "Sweet Valley High" creator Josh Goldstein and John Norville (best
known as the screenwriter of Kevin Costner's 1996 golf comedy,"Tin Cup") were first
hired to write a feature film script that was based on this popular Adventureland
attraction.

Now jump ahead to September of 2006. Which is when the
Studio brought in "Smallville" creators Al Gough and Miles Millar. With the
hope that these two might succeed where Goldstein & Norville had failed and
then find a way to turn the "Jungle Cruise" ride into a family-friendly
adventure-comedy.

Clearly Al & Miles' take on this material (which was
supposed to be – if you can believe it – a lighthearted riff on Joseph Conrad's
existential trip upriver, "Heart of Darkness") didn't sit well with Mouse House
managers. Which is why this project (which then-Disney Studio head Dick Cook had
seen as a natural follow-up to the "Pirates of Caribbean" film franchise, given
that " … the skipper will … be more of an Indiana Jones kind of guy, with a
little Jack Sparrow in him
") was then tabled for a few years.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But then came "Toy Story 3" with its worldwide gross of
nearly $1.1 billion. Not to mention those 10.6 million DVDs of this Lee Unkrich
film that have been sold since November of 2010. Which got folks at the Studio
thinking that – if "TS3" really was going to be the very last feature film in
the "Toy Story" series – wasn't there then some sort of live-action project
that they could then pair Tim Allen & Tom Hanks in? Because audiences
clearly enjoyed it when these two performers worked together.

So that's when they began burrowing through everything that
the Studio then had in development.  And once
they came across that last draft of "The Jungle Cruise" … Well, given that Tom Hanks
had appeared in 1990's "Joe Versus the Volcano" & 2000's "Cast Away" and Tim
Allen had starred in 1997's "Jungle 2 Jungle," it did seem plausible that
audiences might respond strongly to a film which then placed these two popular
performers in a jungle setting where they could then have some sort of comic adventure.

But then came the big question: Who should play the Skipper
role in this motion picture? Given that Hanks had turned in such a memorable
comic performance in 1992's "A League of Their Own," playing against type as
the washed-up, former-baseball-great–now-alcoholic Jimmy Dugan … Well, some
folks at Disney thought that it might be great fun if Tom played a similar sort
of character in "The Jungle Cruise."


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

The only problem with that was … Well, Allen had already
done the while fish-out-of-water,
beleaguered-Dad-takes-a-trip-upriver-and-can't-really-handle-all-of-the-jungle-stuff
thing in 1997's "Jungle 2 Jungle."  Which
is why it just didn't make sense for Tim to play the exact same sort of
character again in Disney's "Jungle Cruise" movie.

So – as of right now – Tim is supposedly playing the Skipper
in this film while Tom reportedly has the Dad's role. The guy who decides to
treat his family to something special by taking them on a trip upriver.

Now as for which sequences from this Disneyland Opening Day
attraction will be replicated as part of "Jungle Cruise," the movie … The
drafts that I've previously read of this project were all set in Africa.
Deliberately so that the filmmakers could then make use of the elephant bathing
pool, the safari outpost (i.e. that scene in this Adventureland ride where Gorillas
have invaded some explorer's camp), the hippo pool as well as the rapids. A
version of this "Jungle Cruise" film that had been set back in the late 1940s /
early 1950s also included the trapped safari (i.e. that great white hunter and
his porters being treed by a rhino). But all of the drafts that were set in the
present day opted to delete that comic scene from this theme park attraction.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And – yes – just in case you're wondering: The "back side of
water" does actually factor into the storyline of Disney's "Jungle Cruise"
film. In several drafts of this screenplay, the Skipper, the Dad and his family
all had to journey under Schweitzer Falls. So that they can then search for this
cure which was supposedly hidden deep inside of a cave behind that waterfall.

Whether Roger S.H. Schulman will actually keep this
journey-under-the-waterfall plot point in his version of "The Jungle Cruise"
screenplay remains to be seen. I do know that Schulman has supposedly been
asked to create several instances in this proposed motion picture where Tim
& Tom's characters will then get the chance to bicker. The thinking here is
… Well, given that those scenes in the "Toy Story" films where Buzz & Woody
get to verbally spar with one another are among the more memorable moments from
those movies … Well, Disney is hoping that audiences will respond just as
strongly to some live-action versions of these same sorts of scenes.

And that – when you get right down to it – is why Disney's "Jungle
Cruise" movie finally got greenlit. Not because the Studio had an especially strong
script in hand. But – rather – because it was actively looking for some sort of
vehicle that Tom Hanks and Tim Allen could then co-star in. So that – when this
film is finally ready to be released to theaters – Disney can then promote this
project as being the one that reunites these "Toy Story" stars, placing Tim
& Tom in their first live-action feature together. More importantly, by having
Hanks & Allen do lots of high profile television appearances – like being
interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America" and/or sitting down on the couch
for NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"& CBS's "Late Show with David
Letterman
" – together. Which – the Studio hopes – will help build audience
interest and then make this project the sort of motion picture that people just
have to see while it's out in theaters.


Tom Hanks and Tim Allen at the "Toy Story 3" world premiere. Photo by Tom
Williamson / WireImage. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

Because – to be blunt – Disney could really use some
sure-fire hits for 2012 and beyond. Given that 2011 hasn't exactly gotten off
to a stellar start for the Studio.

To explain: While "Gnomeo & Juliet" looks like it may
eventually limp past $100 million domestic, which would then give Disney its
first official blockbuster of the new year, everything else that the Studio has
released to date has under-performed. Take – for example –"I am Number Four." Though
this Disney-released DreamWorks release just wrapped up its fourth weekend in
theaters, this sci-fi adventure – which reportedly cost $60 million to produce
— has only sold $50.4 million worth of tickets so far. Or better yet, "Mars
Needs Mars
." Which – according to initial box office reports — only pulled
in $6.8 million over its opening weekend
.

This is why Disney is looking for sure things for 2012 and beyond. Movies that
will not only recover all of their production and P&A costs but also turn a
healthy profit.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But the downside is … Given the multitude of theme
park-related projects that Walt Disney Studios already has in development (i.e.
Dwayne Johnson's oft-delayed "Tomorrowland" movie, that "Magic Kingdom" film
which Jon Favreau will soon begin directing for Disney, that "Haunted Mansion"
reboot
which Guillermo del Toro is developing, that "Enchanted Tiki Room" -inspired
script
that Ahmet Zappa is writing for the Studio, not to mention that Terry
Rossio was recently signed to write the screenplay for "Pirates of the Caribbean
5"), one wonder what sort of appetite the movie-going public will still have for
productions like this by the time that "The Jungle Cruise" finally floats into
theaters in 2013 / 2014.

But that's where Tim Allen and Tom Hanks come in. They're
Disney's insurance policy when it comes to making sure that people will actually
turn out to see "The Jungle Cruise." But given Allen & Hanks' back-end
deals (Which hopefully won't be nearly as pricey as the one that the Mouse had
with Johnny Depp on Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland." For his inspired performance
as the Mad Hatter, Depp reportedly took home $40 million), this could turn out
to be a pretty pricey insurance policy.

Which is why the Studio is supposedly looking to get some
additional insurance for their Tim-and-Tom insurance policy. The way I hear it,
Disney has allegedly already put in a request with Pixar that they produce a "Toy
Story Toon
" (You know? One of those new "Toy Story" -themed shorts like "Hawaiian
Vacation
," which is going to be screened in front of "Cars 2" this June?). So
that – just ahead of this "Jungle Cruise" movie – people will then be reminded
of why they so enjoy  it when Tim Allen
& Tom Hanks work together.


Copyright Disney / Pixar. All rights reserved

But what do you folks think? Would you go see "Disney's Jungle
Cruise" movie if a new "Toy Story Toon" were to be screened just ahead of this live-action
feature?

More to the point, do you agree with Disney's casting
choice? Who would you prefer to see as this film's Skipper? Tim or Tom?

Your thoughts?

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  ExpertGriller.com prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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

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

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

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

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

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

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

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

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