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Why (For) Disney doesn’t feel all that bad about missing out on the theme park rights to “Harry Potter” ?

Jim Hill’s back with even more answers to your Disney-related questions. This time around, Jim talks about why the Mouse was willing to abandon its negotiations with J.K. Rowling, what rethemed rides you can expect to find when you visit the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” as well as what Disney’s response to IOA’s new addition might be



As you might expect, I got an awful lot of e-mail yesterday concerning that “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” project that Universal Studios just announced. That $500 million re-theming of the “Lost Continent” section of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park.

First up, Kurt G. wrote in to say:

 Boy, Disney is going to regret passing this one up !

Dear Kurt G.

Actually, I don’t honestly think that this is really the case here. You have to remember that Disney was trying to make a deal with J.K. Rowling back in late 2004 / early 2005. During those dark, depressing days when Steve Jobs & Michael Eisner were openly sniping at one another and it genuinely looked like WDFA & Pixar weren’t going to renew their highly successful co-production pact.

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling
 Photo courtesy of Google Images

At that point in the company’s history, Disney was eager to acquire the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters because

A) It would give the Imagineers a very popular franchise to build new rides, shows and attractions around, and …

B) This theme park rights acquisition could then also serve as a future distraction.

That way, whenever anyone in the press and/or the financial community would begin complaining about how Disney had let Pixar slip away … Well, Disney officials could then just point to the Potter deal and say: “Look, we don’t need Pixar anymore. We’ve got the theme park rights to J.K. Rowling’s characters now. Don’t worry about Disney. We’re going to be just fine.”

Of course, the plan that I’ve described above is a Michael Eisner-era scheme. Once Bob Iger came to power at the Walt Disney Company … Well, Bob is really more of a pragmatist. And Iger figured that — in the long run — it would be far better for the Mouse if the company were to remain in business with Pixar. Rather than allow that CG studio to go off on its own and then emerge as additional competition for WDFA.

Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

So Bob made pursuing a new deal with Pixar his top priority, rather than pushing WDI to do whatever it had to in order to make J.K. happy. So that Disney could then close a deal with this rather demanding author and acquire all of the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters.

So then … When word came back from Glendale that Rowling was making unrealistic demands, that the various items that she was insisting on including as part of Phase One of Disney’s Harry Potter park would just make this project fiscally irresponsible as well as an operational nightmare … It was Iger who then reportedly made the decision that the company shouldn’t continue to pursue this deal. That it would be far better for all parties involved — if they couldn’t agree on what show elements should be included in the Potter project — that Disney & Rowling just abandon this negotiation.

Which is why — in late 2005 — J.K. began talking with the folks over at Universal. Whereas Bob … He then had Disney redouble its efforts to renew that studio’s co-production pact with Pixar. Never dreaming that Steve Jobs might ever agree to sell his animation studio outright to the Mouse for some $7.4 billion.

So if you were to press senior Disney officials on this matter … Yeah, I’m sure that they’d express some regret that the company wasn’t ultimately able to acquire the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters. But then when you compare that lost opportunity with being able to own Pixar (More importantly, to own all of the merchandising rights to every single one of the characters that John Lasseter & his talented team have created and/or will create) … It’s really not a contest.

Next up, Mickey_Morse_Code writes in to ask:

So what do you think of Universal’s plans for that Harry Potter addition to IOA ? Those concept paintings look just amazing. I just wonder if that, once built, this part of the park is really going to deliver on the depicted level of detail.

 Copyright 2007 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved

Dear Mickey_Morse_Code,

I’ll say this much. It’s a very, very clever re-theming of the “Lost Continent” section of Islands of Adventure.

I mean, if you take a close look at that owl’s-eye-view of the proposed retheming of this side of that theme park, you’ll notice that IOA’s extremely popular “Dueling Dragons” racing coasters is still one of the featured attractions for this part of the park. Only — in this incarnation — it’s be re-imagined as part of the Tri Wizard Tournament. Where brave wizards do battle with fierce dragons. With the hope that they’ll be able to win the Goblet of Fire.

Copyright 2007 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved

FYI : As you wander through the significantly overhauled queue for “Dueling Dragons” (Which will have 90% of its skeletons removed, so I hear), you’ll actually get a chance to get a close-up look at the Goblet. Which — just as it appeared in the “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” film — will be displayed on an ornate pedestal with magical blue flames licking out of its top.

The key to making this project affordable (Which — given the enormous licensing fees that both J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. are demanding as well as that huge cut of this area’s merchandising money that Universal allegedly had to surrender — is a real challenge) is that Universal Creative already had the good strong bones of IOA’s “Lost Continent” area to build upon.

Take — for example — that area’s “Flying Unicorn” kiddie coaster. According to what I hear, Universal plans on retheming this area so that you first queue up in the garden outside of Hagrid’s cottage. Then — after wandering through the Care of Magical Creatures teacher’s home — you then get the chance to board the now re-themed “Flying Hippogriff” kiddie coaster.

 Copyright 2007 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved

By clever reuse of pre-existing facilities, Universal is then able to concentrate most of its money on things that the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will really need. Which are:

  • The incredible level of detail that Harry Potter fans have now come to expect from all of Warner Bros. films. Which is why it’s very fortunate that Universal was able to persuade Stuart Craig (I.E. Production designer of all of the “Harry Potter” pictures that Warners has produced to date) to come ride herd on this project. So that there’ll then be some artistic consistency between the “Wizarding World” that one sees in the “Harry Potter” films and the one people will soon be able to visit in Central Florida.

  • A big “E” Ticket attraction. Which — as you may have already heard — will be a state-of-the-art family-friendly thrill ride that will then allow IOA guests to first soar through the trees of the Forbidden Forest and then fly high above the grounds of Hogwarts inside of the Weasley family’s Ford Anglia. (FYI : This attraction will reportedly be housed inside of the soon-to-be-closed-and-gutted “Eighth Voyage of Sindbad” stunt show theater).

Copyright 2002 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved

As I said earlier, this is a very, very clever retheming of IOA’s “Lost Continent” section. One that — provided that Universal Creative is actually able to deliver on J.K. Rowling’s incredibly rich source material — will then make this Central Florida theme park a “must see” for all Harry Potter fans worldwide.

Which then brings us to today’s final “Why For” question. Which comes from Lucas A. Who wrote in to say;

Disney’s not going to leave this challenge unanswered, right ? Tell me that the Imagineers have some great new theme park or huge new attraction up their sleeve that Disney can use to lure tourists away from the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” ?

Dear Lucas A.

You know how you’re supposed to fight fire with fire ? Well, when it comes to theme parks, you fight franchise with franchise.

Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Please forgive that I can’t be more definitive here. But — obviously — given that WDI has just undergone a pretty significant management change, a lot of that division’s plans are now very much in flux. As Bruce Vaughn & Craig Russell review many of the plans that Tom Fitzgerald originally hatched for the company’s Florida parks and then see how many of these projects Walt Disney Imagineering still wants to implement.

I’ll say this much : One of the more intriguing ideas that’s currently on the table is a total revamp of the theming of the Magic Kingdom‘s Adventureland section. Where this part of that theme park would basically become Pirate Land. And the Swiss Family Treehouse would be ripped out & replaced by a full-sized version of the Black Pearl that you could explore. And the long-empty Adventureland Veranda would then be changed into this Pirates-themed tavern that featured interactive entertainment. Where even the “Enchanted Tiki Room” would be reworked so that this Audio-Animatronic show would star pirate parrots.

Of course, the really big draw for this side of the Magic Kingdom would be an “E” Ticket. A brand-new thrill ride that (Keying off the proposed storyline of “Pirates of the Caribbean 4.” I.E. Captain Jack Sparrow & Barbossa’s search for the Fountain of Youth) would then take WDW guests through this long-abandoned, over-grown temple that is just loaded with booby traps.

You know ? Something similar to Tokyo DisneySea’s new “Raging Spirits” coaster ? Only with a more piratical twist ?

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc. / Oriental Land Company.
All Rights Reserved

Now please keep in mind that this “Pirates of the Caribbean” -based retheming of the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland section is — of course — conditional on Bruce & Craig actually liking Tom’s original concept and then deciding to move this rather elaborate & expensive redo through WDI’s extremely convoluted approval process. And then Bob Iger would have to agree to put up all of the money necessary to tackle a retheming project of this size. (And — no — I don’t have any answers yet as to how this proposed Adventureland revamp might then impact “The Jungle Cruise” and/or “The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.” Whether these two Magic Kingdom favorites would be left alone, rethemed to reflect this area’s new “Pirates” -based theming and/or removed entirely).

Obviously, there are a lot of “ifs” involved in the Adventureland retheming scenario that I’ve described above. Which is just one of the many possible ways that the Imagineers may choose to answer the challenge of IOA’s new “Wizarding World” addition. In essence sending Captain Jack Sparrow out to do battle with Harry Potter for your theme park dollars.

So which franchise do you folks think would come out on top in a big budget brawl like that ? Your thoughts ?

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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



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Sure, for some folks, the Fourth of July is all about fireworks. But for the 75% of all Americans who own a grill or a smoker, the Fourth is our Nation’s No. 1 holiday when it comes to grilling. Which is why 3 out of 4 of those folks will spend some time outside today working over a fire.

But here’s the thing: Though 14 million Americans can cook a steak with confidence because they actually grill something every week, the rest of us – because we use our grill or smoker so infrequently … Well, let’s just say that we have no chops when it comes to dealing with chops (pork, veal or otherwise).

So what’s a backyard chef supposed to in a situation like this when there’s so much at steak … er … stake? Turn to someone who really knows their way around a grill for advice. People like Jens Dahlmann, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Darden Restaurant’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.

Given that Jens’ father & grandfather were chefs, this is a guy who literally grew up in a kitchen. In his teens & twenties, Dahlmann worked in hotels & restaurants all over Switzerland & Germany. Once he was classically trained in the culinary arts, Jens then  jumped ship. Well, started working on cruise ships, I mean.

Anyway … While working on Cunard’s Sea Goddess, Dahlmann met Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque 2000. Sirio was so impressed with Jens’ skills in the kitchen that he offered him the opportunity to become sous-chef at this New York landmark. After four years of working in Manhattan, Dahlmann then headed south to become executive chef at Palm Beach’s prestigious Café L’Europe.

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

And once Jens began wowing foodies in Florida, it wasn’t all that long ’til the Mouse came a-calling. Mickey wanted Dahlmann to shake things up in the kitchen over at WDW’s Flying Fish Café. And he did such a good job with that Disney’s Boardwalk eatery the next thing Jens knew, he was then being asked to work his magic with the menu at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.

From there, Dahlmann had a relatively meteoric rise at the Mouse House. Once he became Epcot’s Food & Beverage general manager, it was only a matter of time before he wound up as the executive chef in charge of this theme park’s annual International Food & Wine Festival. Which – under Jens’ guidance – experienced some truly explosive growth.

“When I took on Food & Wine, that festival was only 35 days long and had gross revenues of just $5.5 million. When I left Disney in 2016, Food & Wine was now over 50 days long and that festival had gross revenues of $22 million,” Dahlmann admitted during a recent sit-down. “I honestly loved those 13 years I spent at Disney. When I was working there, I learned so much because I was really cooking for America.”

And it was exactly that sort of experience & expertise that Darden wanted to tap into when they lured Jens away from Mickey last year to become LongHorn Steakhouse’s new Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef. But today … Well, Dahlmann is offering tips to those of us who are thinking about cooking steak tips for the Fourth.

Photo by Jim Hill

“When you’re planning on grilling this holiday, if you’re looking for a successful result, the obvious place to start is with the quality of the meat you plan on cooking for your friends & family. If you want the best results here, don’t be cheap when you go shopping. Spend the money necessary for a fresh filet or a New York strip. Better yet a Ribeye, a nice thick one with good marbling. Because when you look at the marbling on a steak, that’s where all the flavor happens,” Jens explained. “That said, you always have to remember that — the higher you go with the quality of your meat — the less time you’re going to want that piece of meat to spend on the grill.”

And speaking of cooking … Before you even get started here, Jens suggests that you first take the time to check over all of your grilling equipment. Making sure that the grill itself is first scraped clean & then properly oiled before you then turn up the heat.

“If you’re working with a dirty grill, when you go to turn your meat, it may wind up sticking to the grill. Or maybe those spices that you’ve just so carefully coated your steak with will wind up sticking to the grill, rather than your meat,” Dahlmann continued. “Which is why it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes prior to firing up your grill properly cleaning & oiling it.”

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of heat … Again, before you officially get started grilling here, Jens says that it’s crucial to check your temperature gauges. Make sure that your char grill is set at 550 (so that it can then properly handle the thicker cuts of meat) and your flattop is set at 425 (so it can properly sear thinner pieces of meat).

Okay. Once you’ve bought the right cuts of quality meat, properly cleaned & oiled your grill, and then made sure that everything’s set at the right temperature (“If you can only stand to hold your hand directly over the grill for two or three seconds, that’s the right amount of heat,” Dahlmann said), it’s now time to season your steaks.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold here. You can’t be shy when it comes to seasoning your meat. You want to give it a nice coating. Largely because — if you’re using a char grill — a lot of that seasoning is just going to fall off anyway,” Jens stated. “It’s up to you to decide what sort of seasoning you want to use here. Even just some salt & pepper will enhance a steak’s flavor.”

Then – according to Dahlmann – comes the really tough part. Which is placing your meat on the grill and then fighting the urge to flip it too early or too often.

“The biggest mistake that a lot of amateur cooks make is that they flip the steak too many times. The real key to a well-cooked piece of meat is just let it be, “Jens insisted. “Of course, if you’re serving different cuts of meat at your Fourth of July feast, you always want to put your biggest thickest steak on the grill first. If you’re also cooking a New York Strip, you want to put that one on a few minutes later. But after that, just let the grill do its job and flip your meat a total of three or four times, once every three minutes or so.”

Of course, the last thing you want to do is overcook a quality piece of meat. Which is why Dahlmann suggests that – when it comes to grilling steaks – if you’re going to err, err on the side of undercooking.

“You can always put a piece of meat back on the grill if it’s slightly undercooked. When you over-cook something, all you can do then is start over with a brand-new piece of meat,” Jens said. “Just be sure that you’re using the correct cut of meat for the cooking result you’re aiming for. If someone wants a rare or medium rare steak, you should go with a thicker cut of steak. If one of your guests wants their steak cooked medium or well, it’s best to start with a thinner cut of meat.”

Photo by Jim Hill

As you can see, the folks at Longhorn take grilling steaks seriously. How seriously? Just last week at Darden Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, seven of these brand’s top grill masters (who – after weeks of regional competitions – had been culled from the 491 restaurants that make up this chain) competed for a $10,000 prize in the Company’s second annual Steak Master Series. And Dahlmann was one of the people who stood in Darden’s test kitchens, watching like a hawk as each of the contestants struggled to prepare six different dishes in just 20 minutes according to Longhorn Steakhouse’s exacting standards.

“I love that Darden does this. Recognizing the best of the best who work this restaurant,” Jens concluded. “We have a lot of people here who are incredibly knowledgeable & passionate when it comes to grilling.”

Speaking of which … If today’s story doesn’t include the exact piece of info that you need to properly grill that T-bone, just whip out your iPhone & text GRILL to 55702. Or – better yet – visit 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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