Connect with us


Why For did Sony Pictures decide not to go forward with production of “Spider-Man 4” ?

Jim Hill is back with even more answers to your Disney-related questions. This time around, he talks about the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster clone that was almost built at DCA, the “Treasure Planet” –themed attraction that WDI toyed with making as well as the part that The Walt Disney Company played in Sony’s decision this week to reboot its Spider-Man film franchise.



Ask and ye shall receive. When I asked you guys for some new Why For questions last week, I had hoped that I might get a few. But given the dozens of great Disney-related questions that have come pouring over the past seven days, it’s clear that you folks really missed this particular JHM column.

Thanks again for sending in all of those thoughtful, very challenging queries. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be setting aside every Friday here at this site so that I can then try & answer as many JHM reader questions as possible.

Soooo … Why don’t I start things off by pulling three e-mails right out of the middle of the stack? Question No. 1 comes from Ephraim. Who asks about an entertainment news story that broke this past Monday:

Copyright 2009 Columbia Pictures, Inc. and MARVEL. All Rights Reserved

Hiya Jim,

Sony just today announced that they’re going to re-boot Spider-Man in 2012 – no Raimi, no Maguire, no Dunst. Does this mean anything for Disney? Could it be possible for them to somehow buy the rights back from Sony and then let Marvel Studios do a new film?



Ephraim –

Nope. Not at this point, anyway. Though — from what I hear — one of the main reasons that Sony moved so quickly to announce their reboot of this film franchise after Sam Raimi said that “Spider-Man 4” couldn’t possibly make its previously-locked-in May 5th, 2011 release date was this Studio’s very real fear that – if they dawdled – Disney’s lawyers might then find some loophole in Sony’s original licensing agreement with Marvel that Mickey could then exploit. Which would then allow the Mouse House to reclaim the motion picture rights for this particular superhero from Sony / Columbia Pictures prematurely.

Entrance to the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, CA.

As a Sony Pictures insider explained this situation to me
earlier this week:

For over 10 years now, we’ve had a good working relationship with Marvel. But now that the Mouse owns Marvel, no one’s entirely sure how aggressive The Walt Disney Company is going to be when it comes to regaining the rights to these characters. Which is why management here felt that it was crucial that this film franchise maintain forward momentum. So that Disney’s attorneys would have as few opportunities as possible to probe for weakness in our licensing agreement with Marvel.

Which is why – come the Summer of 2012 – Peter Parker is headed back to high school. This Spider-Man reboot will be written by James Vanderbilt (Who – oddly enough – was one of the first very writers that Sony Pictures hired to work with Sam Raimi on Spider-Man 4). As for who will direct & star in this 2012 tentpole … Studio officials promise that all of this information will be revealed in the coming months.

Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

As for Disney … They’re really just getting started on figuring out how to recover that $4.3 billion that they paid out for Marvel Entertainment, Inc. The Company’s short-term plans involve piggybacking on some of the Marvel-related projects that other studios will be releasing over the
next year or so. EX: On or about May 7th of this year – which is when Paramount Pictures will be releasing “Iron Man 2” to theaters – Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is expected to put out a DVD that will then showcase selected episodes of the Iron Man animated TV series.

Beyond that … As expected, Disney’s attorneys will spend the next few years reviewing all of the licensing deals that Marvel Entertainment, Inc. has signed over the years. And – just as Sony officials feared – they will continually review these contracts, making sure that every single
previously-agreed-upon term & condition is being met and/or honored. And if not … Well, you can bet that Mickey’s lawyers will then move at warp speed to sever these arrangements. Which would then allow control of the Marvel characters in question to revert back to The Walt Disney Company.

Long story short: This is going to be a long, involved process that will probably include a couple of lawsuits. But by 2017, Disney hopes to regain control of most if not all of Marvel Entertainment, Inc. characters. And that’s when the real fun (read that as “serious profit taking”) begins.

Photo by Scott Brinegar. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Question No. 2 comes from Tim D. Who writes in to ask about some DCA attractions that have yet to make it off of WDI’s drawing board:

Hey Jim,

Love Disney and love your site. So what happened to that E ticket Incredibles
ride I heard you mention a few times a while back that was supposed to on into the new California Adventure.

And also did they ever discuss bringing Rock and Roller Coaster to Cal Adventure. it feels like perfect fit with the park and the California theme.

All the best,

Tim D.

Dear Tim,

That Incredibles E Ticket that WDI proposed a few years back has been tabled for the foreseeable future. Thanks – in large part – to the deal that Universal Studios made with Kuka. Which gave NBC Universal semi-exclusive rights to use that company’s robotic arm technology in a theme park setting. Which Universal Creative will then use to power the cutting-edge attraction that it hopes will be the highpoint / centerpiece of IOA’s new Wizarding World area, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.”

Copyright 2009 Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved

Oh, sure. Kuka arms have popped up here and there at the Disney Parks. Most notably in that recently opened “Sum of All Thrills” attraction at Epcot’s Innoventions as well as in the Angler Fish sequence over at that theme park’s “The Seas with Nemo and Friends” ride. But WDI’s license to use this technology (for the next few years, anyway) is extremely limited. Whereas Universal can really go to town with its own Kuka arms. Just wait ‘til you see how they use this technology to
make the magic seem real in “Forbidden Journey

As for DCA getting a copy of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster … As I understand it, there were plans a few years back to gut that theme park’s long-empty Hollywood & Dine restaurant and then build a clone of this popular DHS & WDS indoor coaster inside of that structure. The only problem with this scheme was … Well – in order to accommodate this thrill ride’s queue area, its post-show gift shop as well as all of the back-of-the-house maintenance / ops areas that you really need for a coaster of this size – that would have meant significantly expanding Hollywood & Dine’s footprint. Pushing out the boundaries of this structure ‘til it would have consumed much of the external queue area for “Monsters, Inc. Mikey and Sulley to the Rescue!

Photo by Scott Brinegar. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

And based on the fact that the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror didn’t really have the impact on DCA attendance levels that WDI had hoped it would, the Imagineers eventually abandoned their
plus-this-theme-park-one-attraction-at-a-time plan and opted instead to go for an Extreme Makeover of California Adventure. In essence hitting the reset button on this entire theme park and then slathering it with all sorts of detail & theming.

And since the Imagineers’ original vision for this theme park’s Hollywood Pictures Backlot area (i.e. that this part of the Park reflect the Hollywood of today and feature the sorts of buildings & facades that one wandered onto the backlot at Warners or Paramount) has now given way to Hollywoodland (Which will pay tribute to Tinsel Town of the late 1930s /
early 1940s) … Well, a thrill ride like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster — which is clearly set in today’s music world — doesn’t really fit in a part of DCA that’s supposed to celebrate old Hollywood. Which is why this idea has now formally been spiked.

Mind you, there’s still talk that a family-friendly coaster may someday be installed inside of DCA’s old Hollywood & Dine restaurant. But that would depend on how the public reacts to that Monsters, Inc. themed inverted coaster that was supposed to have begun construction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this year. So that this interactive thrill ride could have then been up
& running in time to become one of the new attractions that would have been hyped in 2011 as part of WDW’s 40th anniversary celebration.

Photo by Paul Hiffmeyer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Unfortunately, the dip in attendance levels that Disney World experienced on the heels of 2008’s financial crisis (not to mention the severe fall-off in Guest spending at the Resort) forced Mouse House management to put this project on hold. Though from what I hear – now that Pixar Animation Studios reportedly has a “Monsters, Inc. 2” in development – this inverted coaster (which was supposed to have sent theme park guests careening through that enormous Door Hangar building that we all saw in the original “Monsters, Inc.” movie ) could finally be coming off WDI’s drawing board in the not-so-distant future.

And if that’s the case and this family-friendly coaster proves to be a hit with DHS visitors … Is it really such a stretch to imagine that a clone of this attraction could be built right next door to “Mike and Sulley to the Rescue”? Thereby creating sort of a “Monsters, Inc.” –themed
mini-land in that backmost corner of DCA’s new Hollywoodland section.

And – finally – Question No. 3 comes from Wyatt M. Who writes in to ask about one of my favorite Disney films of the past decade, “Treasure Planet” :

Copyright 2002 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

I just re watched this movie recently and it got me thinking. I remember you saying that the Imagineers were planning Atlantis
rides but did they ever have any plans for Treasure Planet ones?

Wyatt M

Dear Wyatt –

Though most of The Walt Disney Company’s future plans for this November 2002 theatrical release were tied to a direct-to-video sequel as well as an animated TV series (which was to have chronicled the further swashbuckling adventures of Jim Hawkins & John Silver), I do recall that – for a time, anyway – the Imagineers were excited about the notion of marrying “Soarin’ Over
” ‘s ride system to “Treasure Planet” ‘s tall-ships-in-deep-space conceit.

To be honest, I don’t know how far down WDI’s development track this particular attraction concept made it. I have to assume that — once this Ron ‘n’ John movie proved to be a box office disappointment — the Imagineers eventually abandoned the idea of trying to use “Treasure Planet” ‘s worlds, vehicles & characters as inspiration for a new theme park ride.

Copyright 2002 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

But doesn’t that sound like a great concept for an attraction? To be strapped into a “Soarin’ “ –like ride system and then be lifted up into a sky full of stars. As an off-screen narrator sets the scene by saying “ … On the clearest of nights, when the winds of the Etherium were calm and peaceful, the great merchant ships with their cargoes of Arcturian Sura crystals felt safe and secure. Little did they suspect that they were being pursued by … PIRATES!”

Okay. That’s enough answers for this week. Thanks again for all of those great questions that you folks sent in over the past seven days. If you’d like to get in on the fun here at JHM with Why For Fridays, please send your Disney-related queries in to And I’ll then do what I can in order to get you an answer.

Have a great Martin Luther King 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.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Jens Dahlmann of LongHorn Steakhouse has lots of great tips when it comes to grilling



Listen to the Article

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

Continue Reading


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



Listen to the Article

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

Continue Reading


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



Listen to the Article

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

Continue Reading