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Why For?

Jim Hill answers even more of your Disney-related questions. This time around, Jim advises extreme patience when it comes to Disney-MGM getting a Roger Rabbit ride, asks for JHM readers’ help when it comes to solving the origins of “Applecore … Baltimore” as well as the mystery surrounding those mysterious “Wuzzle” costumes that keep popping up all over the tube. Plus a photo that shows where the entrance to Epcot’s Rhine River ride was supposed to have been.



First up, Michael (a hardcore Roger Rabbit fan if ever there was one) sent me an e-mail to ask:

Dear Jim,

This year is the 15th Anniversary of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” I have read your articles (about how there was supposed to) going to be a Roger Rabbit type land at MGM but (because of monetary issues, that project) was scrapped. But do you think now — 15 years later — it is too late? (That we’re never going to) see a Roger Rabbit type ride at Walt Disney World?


D-d-dear Michael:

I have found — when it comes to the Mouse — that it’s wise never to say never. After all, Disneyland didn’t get its “Pinocchio’s Daring Journey” ride ’til May 1983. And that was 43 years after Disney’s animated version of Carlo Collodi’s classic tale first appeared in theaters. So — if you’re really a hard core Roger Rabbit fan, Michael — it’s probably best to take the long view here. To understand that some real patience may be in order.

After all, the copyright on the Roger Rabbit characters is co-owned by two different corporations: The Walt Disney Company and Amblin Entertainment. This means that — before any new Roger Rabbit project (be it a new movie, a video game, a ceramic statue or collectible pin) can officially go into production — that both sets of owners have to agree on how Roger & Co. are to used used. And given that Disney’s CEO Michael Eisner and Amblin’s chief honcho Steven Spielberg haven’t seen eye to eye about anything since Spielberg joined forces with former-Disney-Studio-head Jeffrey Katzenberg in October 1994 to form Dreamworks SKG … well, Michael. Can you see now why some real patience may be in order?

Now don’t lose all hope, pal. Perhaps after Michael Eisner finally steps down from his all-powerful position as head of the Walt Disney Company, MAYBE then Steven Spielberg will look more favorably on allowing some more Roger Rabbit projects to go into productions. And — were that to happen — well, maybe then MGM would finally get that new Roger Rabbit ride that you were asking about.

But — for now — all of those Roger Rabbit characters (I.E. Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit, Baby Herman, Benny the Cab et al) are in the deep freeze. How deep in the deep freeze? For over 5 years now, WDI management has been telling the Imagineers to “… not even bother pitching any Roger Rabbit-themed rides, shows and attractions for the parks. After all, Spielberg’s not through with screwing with Eisner yet. Steven’s never going to allow any new Roger Rabbit projects to go through. Not as along as Michael’s in charge of Disney.”

I know that sounds like a really grim prognosis, Michael. But the upside is … Michael Eisner’s not always going to be charge of the Walt Disney Company forever. In fact, I’ve heard talk recently that Eisner could be out of a job as early as the Fall of 2006. (JHM will be doing some in-depth reporting about this matter next Tuesday. So be sure to drop by JHM on September 2nd. When we’ll be discussing the Post-Eisner Era. Anyway …)

So hang in there, Michael. 25, 30 years from now … who knows? You may finally get that Roger Rabbit ride at Disney-MGM after all. So patience, pal, patience.

I mean, think about how long the Pinocchio fans had to wait for THEIR ride, okay?

Next, James writes in to ask:

Hello Jim,

What’s the deal with the “Applecore… Baltimore. Who’s your friend?” joke from the “Donald Applecore” short? I vaguely remember what happens, but I don’t understand the joke. Any help would be appreciated.


Dear James:

You know, I once wondered about this particular gag myself. I mean, it sounds legit. Like it’s actually based on some ancient schoolyard prank. The whole “Applecore … Baltimore … Who’s your friend? … Me!” thing. Followed by the flinging of the applecore at your buddy’s head.

But when I asked veteran Disney animator Bill Justice about this “Applecore … Baltimore” stuff, he insisted that it was actually an original bit of business. Something that Bill and the other gagmen invented wholly on their own while they were working with director Jack Hannah on this January 1952 Disney short.

But given that Mr. Justice was fairly up there in years when we discussed this whole “Applecore … Baltimore” matter, I couldn’t help but think: Maybe Bill’s not remembering this correctly. Perhaps this routine actually is based on some schoolyard rhyme that Disney’s gagmen “borrowed.” Or maybe it’s some old bit from vaudeville that they’re paying tribute to.

So help me (and James as well) out here, people. Do any of you readers have any definitive information of this old “Applecore … Baltimore” routine. Whether in fact it was something that Disney’s animators actually invented or whether this bit was something remembered from days gone by. Any and all information would be appreciated.

And speaking of additional information, Artie write in to ask:

Dear Jim,

What’s going on with the Wuzzles? They are a Disney (owned) property, correct? The reason I ask is because I’ve seen (walk-around versions of these characters) popping up in places that I wouldn’t expect them to be.

For instance, in the film “The Sweetest Thing” (not a Disney owned film) starring Cameron Diaz, a guy in an Eleroo costume proceeds to engage in a “physical relationship” with Selma Blair’s character. Now granted, it was a knock-off costume, as you’d never see a Disney character costume doing “that” on screen. But it was Eleroo down to the last detail.

On top of that, over the past few years, I’ve spotted what looked like a costumed Bumble-lion, on more than one occasion. Doing magazine and televised adds for a car company, and — if I’m not mistaken — some type of sports something-or-another. Again, (it’s) probably a knock-off costume, but way too close for Disney not to react. So what’s the deal?


Artie –

You know, this one’s got me puzzled as well. I too have noticed that walk-around versions of the Wuzzles character costumes have been popping up in the oddest places. I recall seeing someone in a Bumblelion costume wandering through a music video on MTV not too long ago.

So what’s the deal here? Did someone in the Zoo Crew take home an Eleroo and a Bumblelion costume back in the early 1980s and forget to return it? Well … I don’t think so, Artie. Why for? Because I just called a friend who works in Disneyland’s character department (You know? The folks who actually design and manufacture all of those walk-around character costumes for the parks) and he went through that department’s records. And — near as my pal can figure — there never were any Wuzzle walk-around character costumes produced for the Disney theme parks.

Which — given that “The Wuzzles” wasn’t exactly a screaming success when this Disney animated series initially debuted on CBS back in September 1985 — I guess it’s easy to understand why no walk-around costumes for these characters were ever created. I mean, that show crashed and burned after only 13 episodes. It was hopelessly overshadowed by the other strictly-for-network-television animated series that Disney rolled out in the Fall of 1985, “Disney’s Adventures of the Gummy Bears.”

Which means (I guess) that those Wuzzle costumes that you and I have been seeing on TV recently, Artie, must be knock-off. Something that some Furry with a lot of scratch had put together.

And yet …

You see, I’m not entirely ready to sign off on this explanation because … well … I don’t think that “Disney’s Wuzzles” was quite the failure that I remember it being. I mean, if you were to go over to eBay right now, there’s two whole pages of Wuzzle related merchandise currently up for bid. Things like cute little plush versions of the characters from Hasbro to original animation cels to cake pans.

Plus — if I’m remembering correctly — “The Wuzzles” ran for one year (September 14, 1985 – September 9, 1986) on CBS. Then the same 13 episodes were rerun (and rerun and rerun …) by ABC for most of the next season (September 13, 1986 – May 16, 1987). After that, I’m fairly certain that the show ran on the Disney Channel for a number of years.

So “The Wuzzles” were characters that — while (admittedly) they weren’t nearly as popular as Disney’s Gummy Bears — still had a lot of exposure. And — given that it was Michael Eisner himself who reportedly ordered that these first two Disney animated TV series be put into production — it just stands to reason that there must have been one or two “Wuzzle” character costumes created for the parks.

Tell you what, folks. Let me call my friend at Disneyland’s Character Dept back. I’ll have him check some alternate spellings for Eleroo and/or Bumblelion. Just in case this info has been misfiled.

In the meantime, do any of you recall seeing a walk-around version of Eleroo or Bumblelion while you were visiting Disney’s theme parks in the mid-to-late 1980s or early 1990s? Better yet, would any of you have a photograph of these particular costumes? So that we could compare these outfits to the ones that appear in “The Sweetest Thing” and that MTV video?

I’m fairly certain that I’m right about those “Wuzzle” costumes that Artie and I have seen are knock-offs. But — given that we’ve just started up the “Jim, You Ignorant ***!” section here at — I’d rather be right than have to print a retraction a week or so from now. So — if you folks could help out here — I’d really appreciate it.

And — speaking of JHM readers helping out — here’s a note from Robert S. that sheds some additional light on the Rhine River ride controversy:

Hey there, Jim.

Way back in May, you had a couple small articles in your “Why For” column about the Rhine River attraction that never got built. And there was discussion about the fabled “big wooden doors at the back of the attraction”. Well, I visited WDW in early June, and thought I’d swing by there and take a look.

Anyway … As you approach the back of the Germany pavilion, there are two large arches. The left one leads to the Oktoberfest restaurant. The right one contains a small sitting area for the Sommerfest quick-service food stand.

Aha! This is where I noticed something. In fact, in going back to re-read the May article, the quote referred to the wooden doors as being at the back of the Sommerfest seating area. Well, at the back of the seating area is just a wall with a nice mural painted on it.

But, if you look *up*, you realize that this wall is really a filled-in archway. Where the mural is, the wall is set in about 6-8 inches, and you can see the detail at the top of the arch. My guess is that there *used* to be doors there, but at some point they decided that the attraction would never be built, and they removed the doors and just walled it up.

I took a picture from the *outside* of the whole double-arch entrance, but didn’t get a close-up of the mural archway. But, I attached the photo anyway. I’ve lightened it up a bit so you can see inside better.

[ Click to view larger version ]

If you look closely, you can see the mural and the archway over it on the right side. Looking to the left, you can see the corresponding archway on that side, and how it continues through to the restaurant entrance. This would be the logical way the right-side attraction entrance would be laid out. I have a feeling that Sommerfest was only ever supposed to be a walk-up stand with no seating area, or perhaps not there at all, and was added when they didn’t put in the attraction. It does seem very shoe-horned in. Lastly, I should have looked to see if there was an obvious attraction exit, whether near the restaurant side, or perhaps through one of the stores.

Anyway, I hope this helps with the debate.

-Rob S.

Thanks for the excellent photo and report, Robert. As this particular edition of “Why For” proves, we love it when JHM readers can come forward and help us answer particularly vexing questions.

Anyway … that’s it for this week, folks. I hope you all have a great Labor Day.

FYI: Just a quick programming note. Though Parts VII and VIII of Jim Korkis’ great “History of Comic Books” will run on Saturday and Sunday respectively, we won’t be updating on Monday. David Gasior and I decided to give the crew at JHM a bit of break.

But make sure to come back on Tuesday, September 2nd … when we’ll have a sure-to-be-controversial story up at the site, “The Post-Eisner Era.”

’til then … Well, you folks have a nice, restful three day weekend, okay?


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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