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Jim Hill’s back with even more answers to your Disney-related questions. This time around, he reveals the name of Frollo’s horse, talks about ASIFA-Hollywood’s upcoming “Aladdin” reunion as well as promoting this month’s screenings of “Dream On Silly Dreamer.” In addition to talking up Disney-MGM’s proposed drive-in project & tonight’s “Kim Possible” finale.

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First up, Mark W. writes in to say:

Dear Mr. Hill —

I’ve just discovered JimHillMedia (Last Saturday’s article about your recent run-in with Disneyland Security made me aware of your site). And I have to say that I’ve been really enjoying digging through your old articles archives. One story that I particularly enjoyed was your recent “Rewind and recast” piece. So I was wondering if you have any other Disney animation-related stories that you could share?

Mark W.

Dear Mark W.

Well, given that yesterday’s “Eisner’s Orphans” got so many people talking about “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” I guess I could share a few more stories about this 1996 Walt Disney Pictures release.

Take — for example — Judge Claude Frollo’s horse. That fierce black beast with the red eyes. Ever wonder what that fearsome creature’s name might have been? Would you believe … Snowball?

Okay. I know. That’s a pretty goofy name for the villain’s steed. But — to be honest — that’s the whole point, folks. The animators who were working on this Kirk Wise & Gary Trousdale film named Frollo’s horse that just because the character’s name then became something funny to say in a story session.

Mind you, “Hunchback” ‘s Snowball wasn’t Disney Feature Animation’s first Snowball. No sir. Calling the villain’s horse this cute & cuddly name was actually a gag that supposedly dates back as least as far as 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast.” So that horse that Gaston rides (albeit briefly) in the “Kill the Beast” number? He’s called Snowball.

And that sleek arabian we see Jafar sitting on toward the start of “Aladdin” (You know? In the scene where the villainous vizzer & Gazeem race off across the desert in search of the Cave of Wonders)? Yep. He’s Snowball too.

And Govenor Ratcliffe’s steed in “Pocahontas“? Also a Snowball. That wild mongolian horse that Shan Yu rides in “Mulan“? Again a Snowball. Even that winged griffin-thing that pulled Hades’ flying chariot in “Hercules” is supposedly called Snowball.

This WDFA running gag kept going (I think) right up until “Kingdom of the Sun.” Where one of the llamas that Pacha had in his herd was actually going to be called Snowball. On camera, no less. But when this Roger Allers project suddenly began to have serious story problems … Well … Keeping a goofy running gag going didn’t seem quite as important as trying to prevent that picture from crashing & burning.

Mind you, I have heard from a few Disney animators that this Snowball gag may actually date back as far as the studio’s 1949 release, “The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad.” Where the story guys who were working on this picture — just to be goofy — supposedly gave the Headless Horseman’s horse a cute & cuddly name. But I have yet to get official confirmation on that ..,

But — to be honest, folks — animators do this all the time. Give the unnamed supporting characters in the pictures that they’re working on goofy but memorable names. Like those unnamed members of the Palace of Justice guard that you see repeatedly in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Four of them are actually named after members of the Three Stooges — Moe, Larry, Curly & Shemp — while two others owe their names to those famous animated magpies, Heckle & Jeckle.

Of course, if you like these sort of stories (I.E. Behind-the-scenes tales about how Disney animated features really came together), then you really gotta find a way to get to the Glendale Central Library on Friday night, April 22nd. For that’s when ASIFA-Hollywood will be holding an “Aladdin Reunion.”

Trust me, folks. If you’re an animation fan, this is not an event you want to miss. Among the folks who have already confirmed that they will be taking part in that evening’s panel are “Aladdin” ‘s directors Ron Clements & John Musker as well as lead animators Andrea Deja, Will Finn and Eric Goldberg. Moderated by Tom Sito, president emeritus of the animation guild, this “Aladdin” reunion promises to a fun & informative evening.

How fun & informative? So fun & informative that I’m actually flying in all the way from New Hampshire to attend this once-in-a-lifetime shin-dig. That’s how good I expect the stories to be.

What’s that you say? You’re stuck on the East Coast and can’t make it to Glendale to attend the “Aladdin Reunion.” Well, that’s okay. Particularly if you live in the Orlando area.

Why for? Because this Sunday morning — as part of the 2005 Florida Film Festival — there’s going to be another public showing of “Dream On Silly Dreamer.” You know? Tony West & Dan Lund’s heartfelt little film about the demise of traditional animation at Walt Disney Studios?

Well, this clever documentary is going to be presented at the Enzian Theater this coming Sunday morning at 11 a.m. (Mind you, “Dream On” is paired — somewhat oddly — with two other short live action films: Eric Breitenbach’s “When Pigs Fly” and Jeff Marks & Adam Elend’s “Fighting for Life in the Death Belt.” But it’s still well worth going out of your way to see)

What’s that? You’re not going to be in Orlando this coming weekend. Not to worry. There are several other public screenings of “Dream On Silly Dreamer” scheduled over the next four weeks. After its presentation at the Florida Film Festival, Dan & Tony will be taking their labor-of-love to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Where “Dream On” will be screened at the Red Stick International Animation Festival. Which is being held on April 21-23.

Well, I hope that “Dream On Silly Dreamer” is shown fairly early in the Red Stick fest. For Lund & West just learned that their documentary has also been selected to be shown at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Which is being held ‘way on the other side of the country (in Newport Beach, CA) at virtually the very same time!

That screening of Dan & Tony’s documentary (which will be held at the Orange County Museum of Art on Saturday, April 23rd at 4 p.m.) will actually be the film’s West Coast premiere. So it will be interesting to see if any of the folks who actually appear in “Dream On Silly Dreamer” turn out to see how this picture plays on the big screen.

I know that I’ll be attending the “Dream On” screening at the Newport Beach Film Festival. I’ll be covering the “Aladdin” event on Friday night and the showing of Lund & West’s film on Saturday afternoon. Here’s hoping that I see some of you folks at either of these two events.

And — speaking of things that are shown on the big screen — DirtyDawg wrote in to ask:

Jim

As a new Disney-MGM cast member, I have to tell you that I’ve learned quite a bit about the place I work at thanks to your site. Like that “Lights, Motors, Action!” article you ran last week. I never knew that the Imagineers were planning on bringing Disneyland’s “Indiana Jones Adventure” to the studio. That would have been so awesome if they’d actually built that ride here.

Anyway, the real reason that I’m writing today is that I was wondering if you could help me win a bet that I’ve made with a co-worker. He claims that WDI once planned on showing movies out in Disney-MGM’s parking lot. I say that this idea sounds screwy. I mean, how is Mickey supposed to make any money off of showing movies out in a theme park’s parking lot?

This guy said he’d buy me lunch if I’m right, Jim. So since I’m an hourly employee and would really love a free meal, PLEASE tell me that I’m right.

Thanks for your help. And keep up the good work.

Dirty Dawg

Dear Dirty Dawg —

I hate to break it to you, D.D.. But it looks like you actually owe your pal a free lunch.

As it turns out, ‘way back in the mid-1990s, the Imagineers actually were planning on showing movies out in Disney-MGM’s parking lot. And this wouldn’t be just a one-time event.

No, the plan was to take a seldom-used chunk of the studio’s parking lot (To be specific, the northwest corner of the lot. By the back entrance to Disney-MGM. Near Buena Vista Drive) and turn that into a brand new night-time entertainment venue for the park.

“And what was that venue supposed to be?,” you query. A recreation of a classic old 1950s drive-in.

                                                                        Copyright 1995 The Walt Disney Company

Ah, it was going to be great, folks. Two huge screens that would have been built at the points of this diamond-shaped piece of property. In the middle, there would have been a projection booth as well as a snackbar loaded with chrome and neon. And each night, the WDW Drive-In would show (what else?) classic Disney films from the 1950s & 1960s.

The best part of this plan is not only would it have allowed turned that seldom-used piece of the Disney-MGM parking lot into a money-maker. But it would have also allowed the studio theme park to pay tribute to another part of the American movie-going experience: a family night out  at the drive-in.

So why didn’t this get built? I’m told that AMC executives (I.E. The folks who built that state-of-the-art movie theater right next door to Pleasure Island) weren’t all that thrilled with the idea of the Mouse going into the movie business just up the street from their multiplex. They saw the WDW Drive-In as direct competition for their PI facility. Which made the project a violation of the exclusivity deal that AMC had initially cut with the Mouse back in the early 1980s, when they agreed to take part in the Pleasure Island expansion project.

So — seeing as Disney didn’t want to be sued by AMC — the Imagineers reluctantly tabled their plans for a really-for-real outdoor Drive-In. Here’s hoping that someday WDI gets around to reviving this project.

And — finally — CrumbBum writes in to say:

       Jim —

       Am I the only one out here who’s upset that Disney has decided to cancel “Kim Possible”?

       CrumbBum

Dear CrumbBum —

No, you’re not the only one. I too have to admit that I’m kind of bummed that this witty Disney Channel series has finally come to the end of its run. But I’ll say this much: The Mouse has at least allowed Ms. Possible to go out with a little style.

To explain: Tonight at 8 p.m., a special 75-minute-long episode entitled “So the Drama” airs on the Disney Channel. And I’m told that the show’s creators — Bob Schooley & Mark McCorkle — have used this TV movie to put a fitting cap on their series. To tie up some of KP’s loose ends as well as give some of the show’s best characters (Including my own personal favorite: The inept super-villain, Dr. Drakken) one last chance to stand in the spotlight.

And — this being television & all — just because Disney has officially wrapped production of the “Kim Possible” TV series doesn’t mean that KP is actually going away. In fact, this acclaimed show makes its Toon Disney debut later this month.

But I know, I know. That particular piece of news can’t be of much comfort to the true “Kim Possible” die-hards like CrumbBum. They want a much more tangible way to cap off their KP viewing experience.

Well, would it help if I told you that — on Tuesday, May 10th — Buena Vista Home Entertainment is releasing “So the Drama” on DVD? And — given that this version of the TV movie is dubbed the “Top Secret Extended Version” — it will actually feature scenes that will not be shown as part of tonight’s airing. And  — as an extra added bonus — this DVD will also include a never-before-aired episode of the series.

So take heart, CrumbBum. Your KP viewing experience isn’t actually over yet. Not at least until you pick up that “So the Drama” DVD and get to see that unaired episode.

And — speaking of fun pieces of media — Jeff Lange wants me to remind you all that we’re still taking names of those JHM readers who’d like to be notified when my Disneyland History CD becomes available. So — if you’d like to be among the first to get your hands on this sure-to-be-fun disc — please send your name and your e-mail address along to jim@jimhillmedia.com.

Okay. That’s it for this week, folks. I hope you enjoyed the assortment of stories that JHM foisted on you over the past five days and that you’ll be back for more come next Monday morning.

Til then, you take care, okay?

jrh

 

<HA>

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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