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Why For: The Seas-and-desist edition

In one marathon-length response to a particular JHM reader's question about Epcot's soon-to-be-opening "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" attraction, Jim Hill asks Disneyana fans to please stop fretting about whether Disneyland's new "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" ride will actually be better than the radically revamped version of this Future World pavilion

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Will L. writes in to say:

Have you seen the concept art for Epcot's new "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" attraction yet?

Copyright Disney Enterprises LLC

Originally I was very excited when I saw all of this stuff.

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But then I got to see some of the concept art for Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage."

Copyright Disney Enterprises LLC

And these two attractions look virtually identical. Except for the fact that Disneyland now appears to be getting twice as many fish as Disney World will be getting.

Why does the Walt Disney Company keep doing this? First create a truly great attraction, then quickly throw together a half-ass clone of that same ride on the cheap. Don't they understand how doing something like really hurts Disney's reputation? Don't they realize that the public isn't stupid? That it's obvious to us when they cut corners on these things?

When is Disney finally going to start learning from the mistakes of its past? That what the theme-park-going public really wants aren't all of these clones but top-dollar quality attractions.

Dear Will L.

My, that was one very impressive anti-Disney rant you had going there. Do you feel better now? Did you get it all out of your system?

Good. I hope so. Because — to be blunt here, Will L. — you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

You see, Disneyland's new "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" ride and Epcot's "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" pavilion aren't clones. They're entirely different attractions. To be honest, these two couldn't be more dissimilar if they tried. Disney World's "Nemo" dark ride will basically serve as the new introduction for the Future World pavilion that WDW guests will encounter once they exit their "clamobiles." So the emphasis at this particular attraction is being placed on education.

Whereas Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" … This ride is a stand-alone that's just meant to be entertaining. So as you putter along below the surface of Tomorrowland Lagoon, you won't be hearing any annoying factoids about how many fish there supposedly are in the sea or how we have to work even harder at keeping the world's oceans pollution-free. This radically revamped version of the old "Voyage through Liquid Space" ride is deliberately not going to be educational.

The "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" is just meant to an exjoyable experience for Disneyland visitors. A chance to briefly get up-close-and-personal with the cast of this smash hit Pixar film. And nothing more.

So you see what I'm saying here, Will? We're talking education versus entertainment. More importantly, one attraction is basically a continuous-loading dark ride that pretends to take you under the water. While the other ride actually does take guests below the surface aboard a series of slow moving, small capacity vehicles. So — if you actually get cold-blooded here and start comparing storylines, overall themes, ride systems and THRC (Theoretical Hourly Ride Capacity) … You'll see that "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" and the "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" are not in fact clones.

I mean, sure. These two soon-to-be-opened attractions do share the same set of Pixar characters. And — yes — the same Imagineer (I.E. Chris Turner) did create pieces of concept art for both "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" and the "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage." And — yes — two of these concept paintings do look very much alike. But that coincidence doesn't then give you the right to play the clone card, Will. To get on your soapbox and then start ranting & raving about how Disney's cutting corners again.

Because (the way I hear it) the Imagineers are throwing an awful lot of money at this Future World redo. And that's all Disney dough, Will L. "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" doesn't have a corporate sponsor anymore. I mean, it's been years since United Technologies actually footed the bill for the operation of this Future World pavilion.

Copyright 1986 The Walt Disney Company

And — to be honest — maybe it's a good thing that UT is finally gone. From what the folks at WDI have told me, United Technologies management was pretty tight with a buck. Which meant — if you approached these guys with two plans for "The Living Seas" pavilion — and one of these plans was ground-breaking but expensive while the other was uninspired but inexpensive … The money guys at UT would invariably go for the cheaper plan.

Which is why this Future Word pavilion eventually wound up with the underwhelming pre-show that it got (I.E. That introductory film, a quick trip "below the surface" in a hydrolator, followed by a 3-minute-long ride in a sea cab to Seabase Alpha) …

Copyright 1986 The Walt Disney Company

… rather than the truly impressive introduction that the Imagineers had originally designed for "The Living Seas" pavilion. Where guests would have initially encountered an oversized Audio Animatronic version of Poseidon, the God of the Sea. Who — after railing at the humans in the pre-show area for daring to enter his realm — would have then pulled back a curtain of water.

Which would have revealed the load area of the "Living Seas" main attraction. Where Epcot visitors would have boarded large clear-plastic bubbles and then gone off on this 10-minute long journey through wet-for-dry recreations of some of the wonders of the deep. Before finally exiting the attraction and then exploring the slightly-futuristic wonders to be found at Seabase Alpha.

Copyright 1982 Walt Disney Productions

But — as you might have guessed — because over-sized AA figures & clear-plastic bubble-shaped ride vehicles were expensive … The folks at United Technologies eventually took a pass on the Poseidon-themed pre-show idea. Opting instead to spend their money on exhibits that would then talk up UT's own cutting-edge inventions, like this deep sea diving suit.

Copyright 1986 The Walt Disney Company

Realizing that — as a direct result of United Technologies going the cheap route with "The Living Seas" — that this water-filled Future World pavilion wound up being rather dry & academic … The Imagineers did what they could to liven the place up. Bringing in characters like Diver Mickey …

Copyright 1986 The Walt Disney Company

… wherever they could. With the hope that that might then make "The Living Seas" that much more palatable to people vacationing at Walt Disney World.

Speaking of which … For those of you who continually complain about how the Walt Disney Company nows seems determined to shoehorn characters into each & every new ride & attraction that they build for the parks … Let me tell you that Epcot's managers actively campaign to get shows for their theme park that prominently feature the Disney & Pixar characters.

Why For? Because these guys know that it's the public's relationship with these characters that factors heavily into their decisions about which theme park they will visit during their next Disney World vacation. Which is why these folks were absolutely thrilled to first land that "Turtle Talk with Crush" show for "The Living Seas," and then to follow that up with a complete "Finding Nemo" -themed redo of this entire Future World pavilion.

Anyway … Getting back to Will L.'s original complaint about how "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" will allegedly just be a half-assed clone of Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" …

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… To be fair, I guess that I should acknowledge that these two attractions will be sharing some techology (I.E. That innovative digital projection system that WDI is still trying hard to keep under wraps. Which will make it appear as if photo-realistic versions of your favorite "Finding Nemo" characters are alive & well, frolicking just outside your porthole window). More importantly, there will some animated footage that will be shown at both "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" and Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage."

FYI: This footage is not being farmed out to some outside firm. It's actually the folks at Pixar who will be animating Marlin, Dory & Co. Just like they did for the original animated feature. Though (I probably shouldn't be saying this, but … ) I hear that these animators who are working on this project aren't all that happy with WDI is asking them to do.

Why For? Well, you see, these animators think that the Imagineers who are in charge of these two projects have written some awfully lame dialogue for the "Finding Nemo" characters. And that — given their druthers — the folks at Pixar would prefer to have written their own scripts for these two attractions. So that these characters would then look, sound and behave just as they did back in the Summer of 2003. Back when "Finding Nemo" was first released to theaters.

Mind you, I don't mean to say that every single show scene that the Imagineers have written for Disneyland's new "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" ride is absolutely awful. I mean, how can you not love an attraction that shows Gill & the Tank Gang (Who for years held initiation ceremonies at the top of their tiny fake aquarium volcano, Mount Wanna-hock-a-loogie) …

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… finally getting the chance to throw a party at the base of an active underwater volcano?

So I guess what I'm saying here, Will L., is … This time around, you were wrong. Epcot's new "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" is not going to be some cheap, half-assed clone of Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage." If you don't believe me … Then fine. Go see for yourself.

The way I hear it, all of the major construction on this new Future World attraction will be completed by late July / early August. So — with any amount of luck — the Imagineers will then be able to begin holding "soft openings" of this dark ride in late August / early September. Just so they can then make sure that the ride portion of "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" will actually be ready in time for this for this Future World pavilion's grand re-opening during the first week of October. Where I hear that this new Epcot attraction is supposed to be one of the real high points of this year's WDW press event.

As for Disneyland's "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" …

Copyright Disney Enterprises LLC

… Given that John Lasseter has supposedly asked that some small changes be made to several show scenes & that additional effects be added to this radically revamped Tomorrowland ride … No one wants to go on record just yet about when the official opening date for this new Disneyland attraction might be. Other than to say that the "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" will undoubtedly probably be open to the public sometime in the Spring of 2007.

There. Is that vague enough for you?

Anyway … That's all the news that I have (to date) about these two new Disney theme park attractions. So — for the time being — can we just seas-and-desist with all this negative talk about these "Finding Nemo" -based shows?

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  ExpertGriller.com prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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

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Some people travel halfway ‘around the planet so that they can then experience the excitement of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. If you’re more of a Slow Living enthusiast (as I am), then perhaps you should amble to Brattleboro, VT. Where – over the first weekend in June – you can then join a herd of cow enthusiasts at the annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Now in its 16th year, this three-day long event typically gets underway on Friday night in June with a combination block party / gallery walk. But then – come Saturday morning – Main Street in Brattleboro is lined with thousands of bovine fans.

Photo by Jim Hill

They’ve staked out primo viewing spots and set up camp chairs hours ahead of time. Just so these folks can then have a front row seat as this year’s crop of calves (which all come from local farms & 4-H clubs) are paraded through the streets.

Photo by Jim Hill

Viewed from curbside, Strolling of the Heifers is kind of this weird melding of a sincere small town celebration and Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade. Meaning that – for every entry that actually acknowledged this year’s theme (i.e. “Dance to the Moosic”) — …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something completely random, like this parade’s synchronized shopping cart unit.

Photo by Jim Hill

And for every piece of authentic Americana (EX: That collection of antique John Deere tractors that came chugging through the city) …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something silly. Like – say – a woman dressed as a Holstein pushing a baby stroller through the streets. And riding in that stroller was a pig dressed in a tutu.

Photo by Jim Hill

And given that this event was being staged in the Green Mountain State & all … Well, does it really surprise you to learn that — among the groups that marched in this year’s Strolling of the Heifers – was a group of eco-friendly folks who, with their  chants of “We’re Number One !,” tried to persuade people along the parade route not to flush the toilet after they pee. Because – as it turns out – urine can be turned into fertilizer.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of fertilizer … At the tail end of the parade, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who were dealing with what came out of the tail end of all those cows.

Photo by Jim Hill

This year’s Strolling of the Heifers concluded at the Brattleboro town common. Where event attendees could then get a closer look at some of the featured units in this year’s parade…

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

But as for the 90+ calves who took part in the 2017 edition of Strolling of the Heifers, once they reached the town common, it was now time for a nosh or a nap.

Photo by Jim Hill

Elsewhere on the common, keeping with this year’s “Dance to the Moosic” theme, various musical groups performed in & around the gazebo throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Jim Hill

While just across the way – keeping with Brattleboro’s tradition of showcasing the various artisans who live & work in the local community – some pretty funky pieces were on display at the Slow Living Exposition.

Photo by Jim Hill

All in all, attending Strolling of the Heifers is a somewhat surreal but still very pleasant way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont. And that’s no bull.

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, that could be a bull. To be honest, what with the wig & all, it’s kind of hard to tell. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sunday, June 4, 2017

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Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick’s Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage

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Let’s at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon – the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food – loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th.

“I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That’s terrific,” Kevin said.

But then when it comes to what many Americans eat & drink on St. Paddy’s Day (i.e., a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Which is then washed down with a mug of green beer) … Well, that’s where Dundon has to draw the line.

Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon displays a traditional Irish loin of bacon with Colcannon potatoes and a Dunbrody Kiss chocolate dessert. Photo by Tom Burton. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Green beer? No real Irishman would be caught dead drinking that stuff,” Kevin insists. “And as for eating corned beef & cabbage … That’s not actually authentic Irish fare either. Bacon and cabbage? Sure. But corned beef & cabbage was something that the Irish only began eating after they’d come to the States to escape the Famine. And even then these Irish-Americans only began serving corned beef & cabbage to their friends & family because they had to make do with the ingredients that were available to them at that time.”

And thus begins the strange tale of how corned beef & cabbage came to be associated with the North American celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Because – according to Dundon – beef just wasn’t all that big a part of the Irish diet back in the 19th century.

To explain: Back in the Old Country, cattle – while they were obviously highly prized for the milk & cheese that they produced – were also beasts of burden. Meaning that they were often used for ploughing the fields or for hauling heavy loads. Which is why – back then — these animals were rarely slaughtered when they were still young & healthy. If anything, land owners liked to put a herd of cattle on display out in one of their pastures because that was then a sign to their neighbors that this farm was prosperous.

“Whereas pork … Well, everybody raised pigs back then. Which is why pork was a staple of the Irish diet rather than beef,” Dundon continued.

So if that’s what people actually ate back in the Old Country, how then did corned beef & cabbage come to be so strongly associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the States.? That largely had to do with where the Irish wound up living after they arrived in the New World.

“When the Irish first arrived in America following the Great Famine, a lot of them wound up living in the inner city right alongside the Germans & the Jews, who were also recent immigrants to the States. And while that farm-fresh pork that the Irish loved wasn’t readily available, there was brisket. Which the Irish could then cure by first covering this piece of meat with corn kernel-sized pieces of rock salt – that’s how it came to be called corned beef. Because of the sizes of the pieces of rock salt that were used in the curing process – and then placing all that in a pot of water with other spices to soak for a few days.”

And as for the cabbage portion of corned beef & cabbage … Well, according to Kevin, in addition to buying their meat from the kosher delis in their neighborhood, the Irish would also frequent the stores that the German community shopped in. Where – thanks to their love of sauerkraut (i.e., pickled cabbage) – there was always a ready supply of cabbage to be had.

“So when you get right down to it, it was the American melting pot that led to corned beef & cabbage being found in the Irish-American cooking pot,” Dundon continued. “Since they couldn’t find or didn’t have easy access to the exact same ingredients that they had back in Ireland, Irish-Americans made do with what they could find in the immediate vicinity. And what they made was admittedly tasty. But it’s not actually authentic Irish fare.”

Mind you, what Kevin serves at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs (which – FYI – Orlando Magazine voted as the area’s best restaurant back in 2014) is nothing if not authentic. Dundon and his team at this acclaimed gastropub pride themselves on making traditional Irish fare and then contemporized it.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Take – for example – what we serve here instead of corned beef & cabbage. Again, because it was pork – rather than beef – that was the true staple of the Irish diet back then, what we offer instead is a loin of bacon that has been glazed with Irish Mist. That then comes with colcannon potatoes. Which is this traditional Irish dish that’s made up of mashed potato that have had some cabbage & bacon mixed through it,” Kevin enthused. “This heavenly ham – that’s what we actually call this traditional Irish dish at Raglan Road, Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – also includes some savory cabbage with a parsley cream sauce as well as a raisin cider jus. It’s simple food. But because of the basic ingredients – and that’s the real secret of Irish cuisine. That our ingredients are so strong – the flavors just pop off the plate.”

Which brings us to the real challenge that Dundon and the Raglan Road team face every day. Making sure that they actually have all of the ingredients necessary to make this traditional-yet-contemporized Irish fare to those folks who frequent this Walt Disney World favorite.

“Take – for example – the fish we serve here. We only used cold water fish. Salmon, mussels and haddock that have been hauled out of the Atlantic, the ocean that America and Ireland share,” Kevin stated. “Not that there’s anything wrong with warm water fish. It’s just that … Well, it doesn’t have the same structure. It’s a softer fish, which doesn’t really fit the parameters of Irish cuisine. And if you’re going to serve authentic food, you have to be this dedicated when it comes to sourcing your ingredients.

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

And if you’re thinking of perhaps trying to serve an authentic Irish meal this year, rather than once again serving corned beef & cabbage at your Saint Patrick’s Day Feast … Well, back in September of last year, Mitchell Beazley published “The Raglan Road Cookbook: Inside America’s Favorite Irish Pub.” This 296-page hardcover not only includes the recipe for Kevin’s Heavenly Ham but also it tells the tale of how this now-world-renown restaurant wound up being built in Orlando.

On the other hand, if you happen to have to the luck of the Irish and are actually down at The Walt Disney World Resort right now, it’s worth noting that Raglan Road is right in the middle of its Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This four day-long event – which includes Irish bands and professional dancers – stretches through Sunday night. And in addition to all that authentic Irish fare that Dundon and his team are cooking up, you also sample the fine selection of beers & cocktails that this establishment’s four distinct antique bars (each of which are more than 130 years old and were imported directly from Ireland) will be serving. Just – As ucht Dé (That’s “For God’s Sake” in Gaelic) – don’t make the mistake of asking the bartender there for a mug of green beer.

“Why would anyone willingly drink something like that?,” Dundon laughed. “I mean, just imagine what their washroom will look like the morning after.”

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 17, 2017

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