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Jim Hill’s back with even more answers to your Disney related questions. This time around, Hill gives you an update on what’s going on with Mickey and the Muppets, reveals why “The Search for Mickey” is off (at least for now), talks about the various versions of the “Gaston” song, then asks for your help in tracking down Part 4 of his “California Misadventure” series.

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StinkyCat writes to say:

Jim:

Congratulations! You actually got one right! Judging by the story that CBSMarketwatch just did as well as that report that Reuters just ran, it looks like the Walt Disney Company really is making one more run at the Jim Henson Company.

So – Oh great Swami Jim – since you were so on the money about Mickey renewing his pursuit of the Muppets, is there any chance that you could gaze into your crystal ball and find out what this weekend’s winning Powerball number might be.

Thanks for the kind words, StinkyCat. Sadly, I don’t actually have a crystal ball. Just a lot of friends who work in the industry who regularly toss interesting tidbits my way.

Speaking of which, here’s the latest on Disney’s bid to acquire the Jim Henson Company:

The Walt Disney Company reportedly officially made its intentions known at virtually the very last minute. (I’m told that the deadline for bidding on the Jim Henson Company is close of business tomorrow.)

Though this is far from a done deal, Disney’s PR machine is already reportedly gearing up for the big announcement. There’s supposedly been much discussion about where the best place would be to reveal this news: The Burbank lot (which would make it much easier for both Disney’s CEO Michael Eisner as well as Henson’s CEO Charlie Rivkin to take part in the announcement) or the Disney Studios Paris theme park (which make it much easier for EM.TV and Kirch reps to take part, in addition to giving Disney the chance to announce that several new Muppet-related rides and attractions are already in the works for that troubled theme park).

Sadly, there’s been no word as to whether — once the Mouse actually does acquire the Muppets — if Disney will be retaining Henson CEO Charlie Rivkin. Which — given that it was Charlie who personally masterminded this year’s amazing Muppet comeback campaign (bringing a dormant franchise roaring back to life. Showing the world just how viable & valuable these classic Henson characters really are) — would just seems to be a no brainer to me.

Of course, no one ever accused the Mouse of having brains. After all, it was 12 years ago this month that Disney originally let the Henson Company slip through its fingers.

Okay. That’s enough editorializing on my part. If I hear anything more about Disney acquiring Henson (or suddenly have an inkling about what that winning Power Ball number might be), I’ll be sure to let you know, StinkyCat.

Next, Heather writes to ask:

Do you know anything about the upcoming movie, “The Search for Mickey Mouse?” All I’ve been able to find out about is on IMDB. Have all of the voice actors listed actually been signed on? And will it be traditional animation or CG?

Sad as this is to say, Heather, (Particularly given that I was one of the very first people to actually write about this project ‘way back in June of 2000 over at Aint It Cool News — back when I was still using my Moo Cow handle whenever I posted pieces at Harry’s site), it appears that “The Search of Mickey” is off. At least for the foreseeable future.

What’s the problem with this project? Well, I’m told that the folks at Walt Disney Television Animation division just loved the concept behind this project. (I.E. Mickey gets kidnapped. So Minnie hired the world’s greatest detective, Basil of Baker Street, to help her track down the missing mouse. Minnie, Basil, Donald, and Goofy then travel the globe in their search for Mickey. And in the process, encounter every animated cartoon character that has ever appeared in a Disney film). Unfortunately, they were just never able to come up with a workable script for the film.

What was the problem? Logistics, really. By that I mean: The writers had to come up a semi-plausible storyline which emotionally engaged audience members that still allow a different set of classic Disney characters to come strolling on screen every two or three minutes. That sort of gimmick is cute for a while. But imagine a 90 minute long film that does nothing but that? Sounds kind of annoying, doesn’t it? More of a stunt than a story.

Anyway … given that “The Search for Mickey” was supposed to be the project that the Walt Disney Company would be using as the centerpiece of its year long celebration of Mickey’s 75th birthday (which officially kicks off in January 2003), this proposed film’s continuing script problems finally forced Disney to table the project. At least for now. In its place, Disney will be releasing a similar but simpler film: An all-new animated version of “The Three Musketeers” starring Mickey, Donald, and Goofy in the title roles, Minnie as the Princess and Black Pete as the villainous Captain of the Guard.

From what I hear, “The Three Musketeers” will be a perfectly fine film for the Walt Disney Company to release in recognition of Mickey’s 75th birthday. Folks who have been working on the project that report that the movie looks great and that it’s loaded with charm and heart. (As well as some very odd gags. My personal favorite comes late in thepicture, where Mickey finds himself locked up in the dungeon. The valiant mousekateer … er … musketeer has been chained to the wall. And water is pouring into the chamber. So it looks like Mickey is doomed for sure. This is when the Mouse glances over toward the opposite wall of the cell that he’s chained up in and notices a white dotted line. Next to the line is a sign that reads: “You must be at least this tall in order to survive this torture.” Which I think is an admittedly weird but still funny little riff on all that Disneyland “You must be at least this tall in order to ride the …” signage.)

So what’s going to happen now with “Search for Mickey” (which — in spite of all the information that’s currently on file over at IMDB about which performer recorded what voices for this file — I still can’t get official confirmation from anyone over at Disney as to whether any vocal tracks were ever recorded for this proposed picture)? The project will unfortunately remain on hold ’til some lucky writer figures out how to break the back of the film’s story problems.

Of course, this isn’t to say that we won’t be seeing a movie someday very soon that will feature dozens of classic Disney characters taking part in an epic adventure. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about Disney’s consumer products division has been actively pushing the folks over at the studio to put a “Kingdom Hearts” movie into development. A live action / CG feature that would supposedly feature many of the worlds and characters seen in the best selling Disney Interactive / SquareSoft game.

The thinking behind a film like this is that a “Kingdom Hearts” movie could be used to introduce new characters and worlds which could be featured in the second or third versions of a “Kingdom Hearts” game. Which (if properly promoted) could give Disney its very own Pokemon like franchise. Which could generate tons of cash for the Mouse as well as SquareSoft.

Of course, what helps Disney’s consumer products division is that the studio has already made a “Country Bears” movie (which — by the way — just come out on home video and DVD this past Tuesday) as well as having a “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Haunted Mansion” movie in production. “If we can make movies based on theme park attractions, why can’t we make a film based on our best selling Playstation 2 game?”

Of course, the problem that’s facing Disney now is how to come with a script for a 90 minute long movie that does justice to all the colorful characters and settings one sees while playing “Kingdom Hearts.” Which in a way, brings us back to the problems that stalled out production of “The Search for Mickey.”

As in: If you don’t have a strong story that emotionally involves & engages your audience, you don’t really have a movie. So, if Disney’s writers can just break the back of all of the story problems involved in making movies out of the “The Search for Mickey” core concept as well as the “Kingdom Hearts” Playstation 2 game, I’m sure that we’ll eventually see movies based on both of these properties.

If not, these proposed Disney films will eventually be abandoned. Taking their place on the shelf next to all the other great story ideas that didn’t successfully make the transition to the big screen. Projects like “Kingdom of the Sun,” “Song of the Sea” and “Silly Hillbillies from Mars.” The list goes on and on …

Next, Eric G. from CA. writes to ask:

Jim:

I’ve loved your articles ever since I started to read them about a year ago. I look for everything you’ve done. More marathon things, I love those.

Anyway, my question goes to “Beauty and the Beast.” During the “Gaston” song scene, I really remember a part where Lafou tries to spell Gaston’s name but fails. I thought this part might be in the DVD, but nothing! Can you tell me if I thought of it?

No, Eric, you’re not imagining that you heard a version of “Gaston” that ended that way. That’s actually how the song ends on the “Beauty and the Beast” soundtrack. The folks over at Walt Disney Records chose this version of the song for the film’s soundtrack — rather than the song actually plays out in the movie — because it had a neater, tidier, funnier end. Which obviously made it a better choice as a stand-alone track for the soundtrack.

Mind you, “B & B”‘s late lyrist Howard Ashman wrote a couple of dozen different verses for this particular comic song. The movie’s directors — Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale — chose the ones that they thought were funniest AND the most kid friendly to go into their film.

However once the Broadway bound production of “Beauty and the Beast” was mounted in the fall of 1993, the film’s composer Alan Menken was able to unearth some of the other lyrics that Howard had written for “Gaston” and finally get them folded into the song. Gems like:

Who has brains like Gaston? Entertains like Gaston? Who can make these endless refrains like Gaston?

If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of the original cast album of “Beauty and the Beast: The Broadway Musical,” Eric, you might want to consider doing so now. By comparing this recording to the film’s soundtracks, you’ll notice all of these intriguing little differences between how Ashman and Menken’s great songs were performed for the screen and how they were performed on stage. Not to mention that cool expanded version of “Gaston.”

Anyway … finally, Peter Postamus writes to asks:

Jim,

Don’t get me wrong. I love all the new stories and all. But where’s Part Four of “California Misadventure”? I’ve been waiting for over a week now for that installment. Don’t leave me hanging, bud. When’s the next chapter going to run?

That’s an excellent question, Peter. I just wish I had an answer for you.

What’s the problem? Neither Michelle nor I can find a copy of Part Four of my “California Misadventure” series. You see, the computer that I stored the original version of the text on had its hard drive wiped clean by a virus a few months back. And Michelle — while she was using the Wayback Machine to snag copies of all of my old MousePlanet stories — wasn’t able to find Part Four of my “California Misadventure” series anywhere on the Web.

Why was Michelle using the Wayback Machine instead of going straight to MP to request copies of all my old articles? Because MousePlanet evidently had some data storage problems a year or so back (I remember Al telling me something about a bad disc writer, or something like that). Which unfortunately means that their entire archive of “View from a Hill” columns was lost during a data transfer.

Which is why I’m now appealing to you folks. I mean, I keep hearing from JHM readers who say things like “I’ve downloaded every single story that you’ve ever written, Jim” and/or “I’ve made copies of every piece that you’ve posted on the Web, Jim.” Well, if that’s really the case, then someone somewhere out there has to have a copy of Part Four of that “California Misadventure” series.

If one of you folks could dig that article up, I — along with a number of other JHM readers — would be eternally grateful.

So whaddaya say, folks? Would one of you like to perform a Christmas miracle and resurrect a copy of this old MousePlanet story?

Here’s hoping you can. In the meantime, you folks have a great weekend, okay?

jrh

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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