Connect with us

General

Why For?

Once again, Jim Hill provides answers to your Disney-related questions. This time around, Jim provides an update on DCA’s “Superstar Limo” attraction, what’s been going on this week with the Disney/Muppet deal as well as offering a defense for some recent controversial JHM articles.

Published

on

First up, Larry C. of Orange, N.J. writes in to ask:

Dear Jim –

I’m confused. On April 6th, you posted a story which said that DCA’s “Superstar Limo” attraction would definitely be re-opening (at least for a little while) in May. But — on that same day — Al Lutz posts an article over on Miceage saying that Disneyland management has decided not to re-open “Superstar Limo.” Now you can’t both be right. So which of you guys got this story wrong?

Larry C.

Dear Larry C. –

Would you believe neither? Don’t get me wrong. Al — in his April 6th article — definitely had more up-to-date information than I did. But only by a day or so.

The fact of the matter is — back when I was initially writing my “Ready or not, here comes Superstar Limo … again!” article — the folks at Disney’s California Adventure WERE still getting this Hollywood Pictures Backlot dark ride ready for re-opening. The limos had all already been over to maintenance for their safety and operational checks. DCA management had begun prepping “Superstar Limo”‘s new training manuals (which would have been handed out to the unfortunate California Adventure cast members who’d been assigned to rework the re-opening attraction). And Disneyland’s Costuming department had even been told to pull “Limo”‘s old uniforms out of storage and get them ready for the ride’s “soft opening” in early May.

But then — just about the time that I sent that article off to David Gasior (JHM’s tech guy) for formatting — Matt Ouimet, President of Disneyland, reportedly had a change of heart. Even though Matt had allegedly initially agreed with Greg Emmer, Disneyland’s senior VP of Operations, that — what with the record crowds that DCA is expecting following next month’s grand opening of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror — that re-opening “Superstar Limo” (at least for a couple of months) made seen … Ouimet suddenly reversed himself during the first week of April.

Supposedly what Matt is saying now is: “Think of Superstar Limo as a fire extinguisher. Something that we only want to use in case of an emergency.” So if DCA were to have two or three weeks of capacity crowds, real body-to-body conditions this summer … or one of the theme park’s other major attractions were to suddenly pull a “Big Thunder” and have to be out of service for several months … then (and only then) would “Superstar Limo” be pressed back into service.

What reportedly brought about this abrupt change of heart? The story that I hear is that — earlier this month — Matt Ouimet finally got around to riding “Superstar Limo” and he saw for himself what a truly awful attraction it was. Allegedly, his main concern was then that — by having “TZTOT” and “SL” open at the very same time — that the two rides would effectively cancel each other out. To explain: That a guest who rode “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” (which is a great ride) would then go and experience “Superstar Limo” (which is a terrible attraction). The end result would be that this DCA visitor would then exit the theme park thinking that they’d just had an average time.

Obviously, Ouimet doesn’t want that. Matt wants people to go away from Disney’s California Adventure thinking “That’s a great theme park. I want to go back there again soon.” To do that, he wants to make sure that DCA visitors have the best possible time during their day in the park. And — in order to deliver on that — that means that they have to keep lackluster rides like “Superstar Limo” closed. In order to keep people from getting the wrong impression about the “new, improved Disney’s California Adventure.”

So technically, my “Ready or Not, Here Comes Superstar Limo … Again!” article was correct. At least while I was writing it. But — in the time that it took to get this piece posted on the site — the story changed. So kudos to Mr. Lutz for getting the revised version of the “Superstar Limo” saga right. (I’d still kill to have Al’s sources inside the Team Disney Anaheim building. The people who work there regularly feed Lutz some pretty amazing info.)

And — just to clarify here — DCA’s “Superstar Limo” could still re-open IF the crowds coming to California Adventure to try and ride “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” are large enough for a long enough period of time. But — if TZTOT” only gives DCA a momentary attendance jump — look for “Superstar Limo” to remain shuttered forever … or at least until the Imagineers finally figure out what they’re going to do to fix this attraction. Bring the Muppets in. Whatever …

And — speaking of the Muppets — Maskette just sent me an e-mail to ask:

Jim –

What’s going on with Disney and the Muppets? I had thought that the acquisition would be all wrapped up by now. But friends who work at the old Chaplin Studio complex are now telling me that Disney has begun dragging its feet. Which is making a lot of people who work for the Jim Henson Company very nervous. Given your connections inside both of these companies, Jim, can you give me some sort of update about what’s going on.

Thanks,

Maskette

Dear Maskette –

Boy, I wish I had better news for you here, Maskette. But it does seem like the Walt Disney Company’s planned acquisition of the Muppets has hit a bit of a snag. Though both sides are currently remaining mum about what the exact cause of the hold-up may be, there has been a hold-up. Which has supposedly been frustrating the folks at Henson no end.

Said one unnamed Henson employee:

“We’ve got 20-25 potential Muppet appearances lined up for the Spring and Summer. ‘Hollywood Squares” tapings, talk show appearances. Things that would help keep the Muppets out in the public eye. Help revive the brand. And all we need is for the people at Disney to do is say: ‘Yes, the characters can do this’ or ‘No, the Muppets can’t do that.’ But — though the folks over in Burbank have had these appearance requests for over two weeks now — they haven’t gotten back to us yet.

Our concern right now is — what with everyone over at Disney being preoccupied with what’s happening with Eisner — that a lot of obvious opportunities for the Muppets are going to be overlooked. We want to get things going right now. Not wait ’til the Mouse House gets its internal power struggles all straightened out.”

Certainly the Disney Company’s continuing power struggle has had a real impact on the speed at which things with the Muppets are currently being handled. Take — for example — what’s going on with the main Muppeteers (Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz et al). More than a month ago, these guys were told by Henson management that they had to get ready to fly out to Los Angeles to meet with Michael Eisner. But that meeting with Disney’s CEO keeps getting pushed back further and further … ’til now … well, no one knows when Eisner’s going to have time to meet with the main Muppeteers.

And — speaking of things getting pushed back — it’s now looking less and less likely that the “Muppet Wizard of Oz” will actually be ready to air on ABC by this November. So — quietly — the folks at Disney have begun referring to the “Oz” project as “… something that we hope to have ready for the February 2005 sweeps. Or maybe even the May 2005 sweeps.”

So where does that leave Kermit and Co. now? With only one guaranteed gig on the horizon. Based on the success of their appearance on this past Sunday’s “Nick and Jessica Variety Hour,” the Muppets have allegedly already been asked to take part in Lachey and Simpson’s next special for ABC. Which — due to Nick and Jessica’s extremely busy schedules — will be a holiday special. One that will possibly air in the slot that “The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz” was initially supposed to air in this coming November.

Speaking of the Muppets and all the stress and anxiety that Henson Company employees are supposedly dealing with right now, take a look at this article over at needcoffee.com. I’m not exactly sure who Widge is (And I apologize to those of you who are offended by adult language. This particular piece is loaded with stuff like that. But — given its subject matter — I still think that it’s worth reading), but clearly I’m not the only one who’s worried about the way the Disney / Henson deal is going. Check it out … and — in the weeks ahead, Maskette — I’ll be sure to keep a close watch on this whole strange situation. And — if there’s a break in the story — I’ll be sure to post something here at JHM.

And — speaking of posting things here at JimHillMedia.com — I thought I’d close with a piece of hate mail that I got this week.

Hey, Jerk!

Where do you get off criticizing Glen Keane? Here’s a guy who’s accomplished more than you ever will in your pathetic little lifetime. And yet you think that it’s okay to say that Keane lets all of his traditional animator buddies down for daring to try his hand at CG.

Shame on you, Jim Hill, for smearing the name of a truly great artist. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for running a story like that.

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous –

Look, here’s my problem. When I was out west last month and talking with traditional animators, invariably the conversation would turn to Glen Keane and how many people were still upset with Keane for his decision to go work in CG on “Rapunzel Unraveled.”

That — to my way of thinking, anyway — was a story. That this figure in the animation industry who had once been revered was now coming under fire. More importantly, it was a story that no one else had reported yet. Which is why I ran that piece this past Tuesday.

Not because I wanted to smear Glen’s name or because I wanted to enhance Andreas Deja’s reputation. But because I thought that this was news.

The e-mails I got in response to Tuesday’s “Can a few WDFA die-hards really make a difference?” article reminded me a lot of the nasty notes that I got following that recent series of stories that I wrote about Roy Disney and Stanley Gold’s “Save Disney” efforts. The ones where I dared to criticize what these two had been doing since Disney shareholders’ meeting last month in Philadelphia.

As that banner at the top of this webpage should remind you, I remain a supporter of Roy and Stanley’s efforts to oust Eisner. But doesn’t mean that I blindly support everything that “Save Disney” does. If these guys make a mistake, I feel it’s my duty to report on it.

That’s what I think you guys need to understand: I’m not here to make friends. To be buddy-buddy with Glen Keane or to cozy up with Roy and Stanley. I’m here to report the news. Both the good news AND the bad news.

And if you really have trouble hearing that people who work in the traditional animation field sometimes don’t get along OR that — even though Roy Disney and Stanley Gold may be brilliant businessmen — I still think that they may have already bobbled their one chance to remove Michael Eisner from power before his contract runs out in September 2006 … then maybe you’d better go find another web site to read. Someplace that steers clear of controversial subject matter. Where the toughest question you’ll ever deal with is “What’s your favorite Disney character?”

Over here at JimHillMedia.com … we’re still going to poke at the other parts of the Mouse House. Talk about subjects that the other websites might shy away from. Like Disney World’s College Program. (Which — like it or not — JHM is going to get back to writing about over the next few weeks.)

So — while I may feel bad if the stories that I write may sometimes offend people (particularly people that I genuinely respect, like Glen Keane) — that’s not going to stop me from writing them.

And — as for getting mad at me for writing stories like these — I just have one quick question for you: Do you also get mad at your local weatherman when he tells you that you’re in for a spot of bad weather.

Of course you don’t. And why not. Because he doesn’t control the weather. Anymore than I control the news.

The news is the news, folks. I just write it the way I see it. If you really don’t like what you read here, you’re free to post your comments on the JHM discussion boards or take me to task in an e-mail … but that’s not necessarily going to stop me from covering a particular story here at JimHillMedia.com.

I’m sorry if this comes across as somewhat belligerent. That’s really not my intent. I’m just out to clear the air a bit … before the next series of controversial stories pops up here at JHM.

Have a great weekend, okay?

jrh

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

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

General

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

Published

on

Listen to the Article

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

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

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

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

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

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

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

Continue Reading

General

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

Published

on

Listen to the Article

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

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

Photo by Jim Hill

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

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

Continue Reading

General

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

Published

on

Listen to the Article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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

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

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

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading

Trending