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Would Walt’s version of “The Aristocats” have been a bigger hit for Disney Studios?

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The full-length animated features that Walt Disney Animation
Studios
has produced over the past 75 years can mostly be sorted into two distinctly
different piles: Those films that Walt personally had a hand in and those
movies which were produced after Disney passed away.

Please note that I said "mostly." Because the
jury's still out about which pile "The Aristocats" actually belongs
in.

Why For? Because prior to his death in December of 1966, Walt
spent five years working on & off on the development of this project. As he
and his storymen struggled to get "The Aristocats" in good enough
shape to shoot.


A Walt Disney Productions publicity piece from 1969 showing the work
that was still being done at that time on this animated feature
.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And — yes — I said "shoot," rather than animate. For much of the early 1960s, "The Aristocats"
was headed for television. Walt originally saw Tom McGowan & Tom Rowe's
story as perfect fodder for a fun live-action episode of "The Wonderful
World of Color
." So from December 1961 'til August 1963, that's where the
Company's efforts (at least as far as this individual project was concerned)
were concentrated. Breaking down "The Aristocats" 's story beats so
that this feline-driven tale could then be told as a two-part episode on this
hour-long anthology series for NBC.

But sometime in the late Summer / early Fall of 1963 (Just
as Walt was riding herd on the production of "Mary Poppins" as well
as zeroing in on the perfect piece of property to build Project Florida upon),
Woolie Reitherman somehow got ahold of the script for "The
Aristocats." Which he immediately saw as the possible follow-up project
for the animated feature that WDAS then had in production, "The Jungle
Book
."

Now this is where this story gets kind of murky. Given that
— from the Fall of 1964 through December of 1966 — Walt (when he sat in on
"Aristocats" story sessions. Which admittedly wasn't all that often)
always pushed for one particular version of this story. Which had Duchess obsessed with finding just the right owner/home for each of her three kittens. The perfect place where Berlioz, Marie and Toulouse's talents would then be allowed to
flourish.  More importantly, where her
children would be safe, happy and loved for the rest of their lives.


Ken Anderson once envisioned Duchess and her kittens meeting O'Malley on the
streets of Paris, rather than far out in the French countryside.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

That — to Walt's way of thinking, anyway — is what should
have driven the story of "The Aristocats." That by placing this
particular storyline front & center and then making the whole butler-and-maid-trying-to-dispose-of-this-quartet-of-cats-so-that-they-could-then-collect-Madame-Bonfamille's-fortune
idea a relatively minor comic subplot … Well, that then would have given "The Aristocats" 's plotline
a real sense of urgency. More importantly, that this mother-who-makes-sacrifices,-lets-her-children-go-so-that-they-can-then-go-on-to-lead-happy,-fulfilling-lives
angle is what would give this motion picture heart and allow the audience to
make a real emotional connection to these characters and this story. Because — as
you know — in all of the very best Walt Disney Studios productions — "
… for every laugh, there should be a tear."

But after Walt died in December of 1966, Woolie began making
significant changes to "The Aristocats" characters & storyline. To
be blunt, Reitherman wasn't all that interested in making an mushy and
emotional animated feature. What he had in mind was more of an action-adventure
/ comedy romp, something more along the lines of Walt Disney Productions' 1961
release, "101 Dalmatians."

More to the point, Woolie's main goal here was to make sure
that WDAS would actually be able to complete production of "The
Aristocats." With Walt now gone … Well, there were a lot of people at
the Studio who were questioning whether Walt Disney Productions should even keep
its feature animation unit up and running.


Please note that O'Malley the Alley Cat has a very different color scheme in this concept
painting that Ken Anderson did during "The Aristocats" 's early development phase.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"The Jungle Book" 's huge box office success
during the Summer of 1967 effectively tabled that discussion. For a while,
anyway. But Reitherman knew that — were "The Aristocats" to turn out
to be a particularly troubled production and/or a box office failure  … Well, Card Walker & his cronies would
then just use this as an excuse to shut feature animation down.

So whatever Woolie could do to make "The
Aristocats" easier to produce / keep this animated feature's overall
production costs down, he did. Take — for example — the two villains who used
to drive this film's story, Edgar the Butler and Elvira the Maid. In an effort
to simplify these proceedings / streamline production, Reitherman gave the maid
the boot and made the butler the singular villain of the piece.

Likewise remembering all of the extra time, effort &
money that went into making sure that Shere Khan's stripes were always in the
right place (not to mention all of those spots on the puppies in "101 Dalmatians") …
Well, that's why Woolie decided to rethink the look that the Studio's development
team had originally come up with for O'Malley the Alley Cat.  Changing this sweet-talking tabby from an
orange-colored calico with all sorts of stripes on him to a far
simpler-to-paint-and-draw, brown-and-white alley cat.


Here's an image capture from an early animation test for "The Aristocats." Back when
O'Malley the Alley Cat still had his stripes. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

Mind you, not everyone at the Studio was happy with what
Woolie Reitherman was doing. When I spoke with Disney Legend Richard Sherman on
the phone last week (he was doing publicity for the Blu-ray version of
"The Aristocats." Which — FYI — is out in stores today), he talked
about how all of these cuts & changes that Woolie was making wound up
impacting many of the songs that he and his brother Robert had written for this
film.

"As you'll discover when you watch the 'The Lost Open'
portion of the Special Features on this Blu-ray & DVD, we had this whole different
opening sequence for 'The Aristocats' written and storyboarded. One where we used
a comic song to introduce the audience to Edgar & Elvira," Sherman
explained. "But once Elvira was cut out of the picture, that song had to
go. Along with a bunch of other numbers that — I think, anyway — cost this story
some emotional heft. Made this material seem far more lightweight than it really
needed to."

Richard was quick to point out that he's still a big fan of the
finished version of this film. He also acknowledged that "The
Aristocats" did exactly what it was supposed to. Because this animated
feature was a box office success when it was initially released to theaters in December
of 1970 … Well, that then prevented Disney's board of directors from having
an excuse  to shut down the Studio's
feature animation unit. Which is why 1973's "Robin Hood" (and the two full-length animated features
which followed that film, 1977's "The Rescuers" and 1981's "The
Fox and the Hound
") were then allowed to go into production.


Among the sequences that got cut from "The Aristocats" during its early-early production
phase was a scene where O'Malley tricked Edgar into following him down into the sewers
of Paris. Woolie Reitherman spiked this sequence supposedly out of concern that all
of the water & lightning effects necessary to properly pull off this scene would
significantly increase "The Aristocats" production budget. Copyright
Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But even so, Sherman still misses some of the more-heartfelt
numbers that he and his brother wrote for this motion picture: "Pourquoi"
(which was supposed to have been a cute duet between Madame Bonfamille and
Duchess) and " She Never Felt Alone" (which would have been the
musical number that Duchess used to explain to O'Malley why she & her
kittens couldn't stay with him, why they had to hurry back home to Madame
Bonfamille'). Not to mention "Le Jazz Hot," the Sherman-written song
which was eventually replaced by "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat."

"That song was actually cut out of the picture because
the producers were worried that 'The Aristocats' was getting too French,"
Sherman laughed. "Which is kind of a strange concern to have when your
movie is set in and around Paris."

It's this somewhat schizophrenic production history that often
makes it difficult for Disneyphiles & animation historians to decide how exactly to
categorize "The Aristocats." After all, Walt Disney did in fact help
shape the story for this film back in the early 1960s. Only to then have Woolie Reitherman
toss out many of the Ol' Mousetro's ideas. All because Woolie wasn't looking to
necessarily make the greatest full-length animated feature of all time. But —
rather — just make a movie that the Studio's feature animation team could actually
deliver on time and (more importantly) on budget.


Another way that Woolie Reitherman kept down "The Aristocats" production costs is by
changing Duchess and her kittens from fluffy, long-haired Persian cats to American
shorthairs. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

That said, me personally, I still think that there's a lot
to like about "The Aristocats." Especially those two slapstick-heavy sequences
where Edgar encounters Napoleon & Lafayette, those two hound dogs who are
guarding that farm out in the French countryside. But now after having talked with
Richard Sherman as well as having seen the Special Features on this new Walt
Disney Studios Home Entertainment release, I wonder if — by going the
lighthearted romp route, rather than exploring the more emotional potential
that Walt originally saw in this material — Woolie didn't cost the Company a
classic. A film more along the lines of "Lady and the Tramp," which
— thanks to its strong storyline and deeper, far more complex characters — still
resonates with audiences today in a way that "The Aristocats" just
doesn't.

But what do you folks think of this 1970 Walt Disney
Productions release? Is "The Aristocats" purr-fection to you or the
animation equivalent of a hairball … er … airball?

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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