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Why For: The Disney Princess royal processional that you almost got to see



In honor of William & Kate’s wedding today, I thought that it might be fun to circle back on a royal-related story that I briefly mentioned on this site back in November of last year. As part of a Why For column that  talked about a sequence that was originally considered for “Fantasia 2000” which was to have starred ALL of the Disney Princesses.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve talked with a number of folks who had been actively involved in this project, among them Disney Legends Marc Davis & Ward Kimball. But to get the definitive account of this abandoned “Fantasia 2000” sequence, I recently reached out to David A. Bossert. Who’s currently the Creative Director for Special Projects at Disney Animation. But back in the early 1990s, David was the artistic coordinator and special effects supervisor of what was then known as “Fantasia Continued.”

Now before we get to Bossert’s portion of today’s story … You first need a crucial piece of this puzzle. Which is that it was then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner who initially came up with the idea that Sir Edward Elgar‘s “Pomp and Circumstance” should be included in the Studio’s revamped version of “Fantasia.”

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Why For? As animation historian John Culhane explains in his excellent making-of book, “Fantasia 2000 : Visions of Hope” (Disney Editions, January 2000), it was ..

… a college graduation ceremony (that inspired)  the choice of music (for this sequence in the film). The Walt Disney Company Chairman Michael Eisner listened as graduates received their degrees. ” ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ probably has more pleasant associations in people’s minds than any other piece of music, because it is always being played when you or someone you love are achieving something,” reflects Eisner.

So obviously when Disney’s Big Cheese comes in and says “I think that you should consider using ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ as part of ‘Fantasia Continued,’ ‘ the people who were then working on this ambitious animated feature immediately gave Eisner’s suggestion some very serious thought. Because – as an employee of a massive multi-national corporation – it always pays to try & make the guy who signs your paycheck happy.

Michael Eisner and the Disney Princess that started it all, Snow White.
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But that said … It was the second half of Eisner’s “Pomp and Circumstance” suggestion (i.e. that this number in “Fantasia Continued” be built around a stately procession of Disney Princesses and their princes) that gave this film’s production team pause.

“You have to understand that every other sequence that we were considering for ‘Fantasia Continued’ at that time was art for art’s sake. We were always looking to marry a great piece of music with stunning visuals to then create this memorable movie-going experience,” Bossert explained. “And what Michael was asking us to do with ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ was kind of out of step with the rest of this film. His Disney Princess procession idea was almost nakedly commercial.”

But – again — because it was their then-Boss who suggested this idea, the “Fantasia Continued” production team gave it the old college try. George Scribner (best known as the director of Disney’s 1988 animated feature, “Oliver and Company“) was assigned to develop a story of the Disney Princess version of “Pomp and Circumstance.” And from what David tells me, George did the very best that he could with this concept. Creating a pretty entertaining storyreel.

Disney Animation veteran George Scribner

“As I recall, this sequence was set outside. And the Disney Princesses that were supposed to appear in ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ started with Snow White and then went all the way up to Princess Jasmine in ‘Aladdin (Disney Special Platinum Edition) ,’ ” Bossert continued. “And as they all marched along with their princes and their children, you’d then get these quick cameo appearances by other famous Disney characters.”

Which brings us to the other gimmick that was supposed to have been associated with this Disney Princess-based version of “Pomp and Circumstance.” In that this proposed sequence was going to be the part of “Fantasia Continued” which would have featured scenes that were animated by genuine Disney Legends.

To be specific, Disney wanted to recruit the surviving members of the Nine Old Men (which – at that time – were Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Ward Kimball and Frank Thomas) to come work on “Pomp and Circumstance.” With the idea that each of these legendary animators would animate one short scene which starred their signature Disney character.

Ward Kimball draws Jiminy Cricket during the production of “Pinocchio.”
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“As I recall, Marc was going to animate a scene featuring Tinker Bell. Ward was supposed to animate a scene with Jiminy Cricket. They wanted Frank to do something with the Fairies from ‘Sleeping Beauty.  And I don’t remember what Ollie was supposed to have done,” Dave continued.

Now these scenes that were to be animated by the surviving Nine Old Men were then supposed to be folded in with footage that had been created by the modern masters of Disney hand-drawn animation. We’re talking about super-talented people like Glen Keane and Andreas Deja, who’d create cameos for the most famous Disney characters that they’d ever worked on, like Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” and Scar from “The Lion King.”

“A lot of the comedy in this version of ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ was to have come from Donald Duck. Who was wreaking havoc behind-the-scenes because he was attempting to get his hands on that magic hat that Mickey wears in ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,’ ” Bossert said. “But if I’m remembering this storyreel correctly, there was a quick scene where you got to see the Fab Five all standing together. And another one where you saw a number of the Villains observing this Disney Princess processional from a distance.”

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Now you have to admit that the idea of a musical number — which was supposed to be animated by the very best animators, past and present — that featured every animated Disney character ever created does sound kind of cool. So why didn’t this version of “Pomp and Circumstance” actually go into production?

To answer that part of the question … I must now launch into a somewhat adult story. Which I want to stress that I DID NOT hear from David Bossert. But – rather – from someone who was actually in the room when the Disney Princess version of ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ hit the skids.

To explain: When the folks at Walt Disney Animation Studios decided that they seriously wanted to pursue this idea of having the surviving Nine Old Men come in & work on “Fantasia Continued,” they then staged this elaborate pitch meeting. Where Marc, Ollie, Ward and Frank were all limoed onto the Disney Lot and then taken into this room that was loaded with concept art for the “Fantasia” follow-up.

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And given that Michael Eisner had come up with the original Disney Princess / “Pomp and Circumstance” concept … Well, he made a point of sitting in on this particular pitch meeting as well.

Anyway … After everyone was served a light lunch, the formal pitch for this proposed “Fantasia Continued” sequence began. And at some point, the lights were turned down and the Disney Princess “Pomp and Circumstance” storyreel was shown. Afterwards, the room was deadly silent. Marc, Frank and Ollie shot each other sidelong glances, wondering what they should say.

But leave it to the always bombastic Ward Kimball to break the silence. Who reportedly said to the entire room: “That’s the stupidest f*cking idea I’ve ever heard.”

Ward Kimball and his train collection. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

Needless to say, the idea of bringing the surviving Nine Old Men back on the Lot to work on this project died that afternoon. And shortly after this infamous story pitch, the “Fantasia Continued” production team began casting around for an entirely new story concept for this film’s “Pomp and Circumstance” sequence.

“But you have to understand that this is how the development process at Disney Animation works. Not every idea that we come up with works. But we keep refining things, trying different ideas, different combinations of characters until we eventually do come up with something that works,” Bossert stated. “I honestly don’t know if we would have come up with the idea of making Donald Duck Noah’s assistant – which is the concept that we eventually used for ‘Pomp and Circumstance” in the final version of ‘Fantasia 2000’ – if we hadn’t first explored that idea of Donald being the character who was causing all of those problems behind-the-scenes during the Disney Princess processional version of this sequence.”

The other thing that’s great about Disney is that – while an idea may not always work out for feature animation – it can eventually find new life in another part of the Company. Do you recall that Donald-trying-to-get-his-hands-on-the-magic-hat-from-the-Sorcerer’s-Apprentice story thread? Does that concept sound familiar? It should. WDI took that idea and ran with it while it was developing “Mickey’s PhilharMagic” for the Parks in the early 2000s.

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And – yes – just in case you’re wondering. It was George Scribner who not only developed the storyreel for “Mickey’s PhilharMagic,” but he also wound up directing this 3D Theme Park Productions  film.

So – in the end – things all worked out. Michael Eisner got what he wanted. Which was “Pomp and Circumstances” in “Fantasia 2000.” And Bossert & the production team of this ambitious animated feature got what they wanted. Which was a version of “Pomp and Circumstance” that was much more in sync with all of the other new sequences that WDFA had created for this “Fantasia” follow-up. Which weren’t crassly commercial. But — rather — married stunning visuals with memorable music to create a truly memorable movie-going experience.

But that said … You still have to wonder how this Disney Princess processional sequence would have been received by the public. Well, David actually found out. Sort of. You see, as part of a “Fantasia” – themed presentation that Bossert gave on the Disney Cruise Line back in 2009, he screened this version of the “Pomp and Circumstance” storyreel. And the results were … Well, mixed.

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“Some people in the audience laughed because they were really enjoying what they were watching. But then there were these laughs that came in very weird places. Which meant that there were people out in the audience who were laughing AT the movie. Rather than laughing with it,” David said.

But this is why you should always go out of your way to try & catch a David Bossert presentation. He always screens the most amazing things. Which David usually uncovers while digging deep down into the vaunted Disney Vault.

Speaking of which … This Sunday night at 7:30 p.m., David Bossert and Don Hahn will be presenting their fourth annual Disney Rarities screening at the Newport Beach Film Festival. And if you’re an animation history buff, then you really owe it to yourself to get to the Lido Theatre. Where you can then enjoy a 90-minute-long presentation where David & Don will be screening some of the stranger animated featurettes that Walt Disney Productions created back in the 1940s, 1950s & 1960s.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Anyway … That’s the story of the Disney Princess royal processional that hit the skids. Mostly because Ward Kimball supposedly told Michael Eisner & Co. that he thought this proposed “Fantasia” addition was ” … the stupidest f*cking idea that I ever heard.”

But even so … As you sit there later today and watch the hours & hours of coverage coming out of Westminster Abbey, I bet you’ll be wondering: Instead of William & Kate, would it have been more entertaining to watch Snow White & her prince, Cinderella & her prince, Aurora & her prince, Ariel & her prince, Belle & her prince as well as Jasmine & Aladdin – along with all of their royal offspring – strolling down the aisle in an animated royal procession.

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.

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“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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