Tuesday, February 05, 2008

COLUMN: Spinach Dip

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't like to use my column to dole out free advertising to area businesses. Not that I don't love and support some of our local shops, because I certainly do. But giving a business a free plug -- even one that I adore and frequent -- creates an ethical grey area, and frankly, I've never looked good in grey.

If I were to mention Company A in a column, Company B might get upset. And what about Company C who drops a dime or two on print advertising in our papers? To be fair to all concerned, it's best to leave the advertising to the pros. Except this time.

One establishment in town has discovered the necessary trick to get me to step off my ethical high horse and shout their name from the rooftops. Well, maybe not the rooftop - it IS kinda cold out. Regardless, ethics (and editors with grouchy faces) be darned, for I'm making an endorsement right here and right now:

THE ROCK ISLAND BREWING COMPANY SERVES THE FINEST FOOD ON PLANET EARTH, IF NOT PERHAPS THE ENTIRE GALAXY. You should go there for lunch and/or dinner every day. Fold this newspaper up, put it under your arm, and strut on down to RIBCO where you can read the paper and enjoy the best meal of your life. Tell 'em Shane sent ya!

There ya go. A 100% unbiased, 100% unsolicited recommendation from yours truly. Trust me. The fact that I spend my weekends DJ'ing for RIBCO's sister club 2nd Ave. should be dismissed as mere coincidence. No, I'm speaking from the heart here. The food at RIBCO is oh-so-good. Especially, in fact, the spinach dip. To be honest, I was unaware of the wonder, majesty, and pallet-quenching joy of RIBCO's spinach dip until quite recently.

Well, until this very afternoon -- when I got a phone call from Debbie Tilka, who owns and manages RIBCO along with her husband Terry. I can safely say that it was the first phone call I've ever received from someone needing to urgently speak with me on the topic of spinach dip. As it happens, RIBCO has just redesigned their menu, adding and renaming many dishes.

Their spinach dip is now no mere spinach dip. It is, as of this writing, DJ SHANE'S SHOUT OUT SPIN DIP. That's right, mortals, I've officially arrived: I HAVE MY OWN MENU ITEM.

Accolades come few and far between in this business. Well, I suppose a successful newspaper columnist might yearn to one day win a Pulitzer Prize. Not me. For one, I bet the Pulitzer judges aren't progressive enough to recognize the esoteric genius of a column devoted to spinach dip. For two, have you seen a Pulitzer Prize? It's like an weird coin/medallion thing with a dude on it who appears, in my infinite knowledge, to be doing arm pulldowns on a Bowflex. It's not my scene.

Granted, I suppose the prestige of a Pulitzer Prize might outweigh the prestige of DJ Shane's Spin Dip. Still, the Pulitzer people need to face the harsh and ugly truth that, while their golden icon may be the pinnacle of journalistic success, it simply doesn't make a nice complement to whole wheat crackers or rye bread.

So I'm setting my sights on something higher than journalistic acclaim: world domination. Here's how it'll work: If you, dear reader, decide that you'd like to dine at RIBCO and try some of DJ Shane's Shout Out Spin Dip, when your waitress comes to the table, simply ask for "the Shane." Once enough people start getting used to calling spinach dip a Shane, perhaps it'll catch on at OTHER locations.

"Would you care for an appetizer?"
"Yes, please. I'd like a Shane."
"Coming right up. We make our Shane fresh!"

And so on and so forth, until one day my name will become synonymous with spinach dip everywhere and the world will bow before me. Don't believe me? Ask my friend, the Earl of Sandwich.

But I've got to be honest. There's one thing I need to do first before global conquest can ever possibly be mine. Over the past decade, I've eaten at RIBCO approximately a bajillion times. I've ravaged their menu -- there's not a dish I haven't tried. Except one.

That's right, DJ Shane has yet to try DJ Shane's Shout Out Spin Dip. I'm certain that it's quite tasty, don't get me wrong... but, well, it's green. And creamy. And being the world's most finicky eater, one of my devout rules is that things green and creamy are likely eccchy and hence should stay away from my mouth.

But as of right now, I am rescinding my rule. I simply refuse to have a food item named after me that I myself won't eat for fear of color and texture. And I swear to you all, I've watched my friends eat RIBCO's spinach dip and go on and on about how good it is. (And that's lucky for them, as DJ Shane's Shout Out Spin Dip shall henceforth be the expected mandatory order for all of my dining companions.)

As much as I tease, I really DO get a kick out of having my name on a menu, especially at a place like RIBCO with such great people as the Tilkas. And I'm honestly touched and warm-fuzzied by the sentiment, even if the menu DOES go on to say that "it's the only thing cheesier than our resident DJ!" I can live with cheesy. I've been called worse, trust me.

So go to RIBCO. Try the Shane, it's awesome. Then hang out and listen to me spin records next door. Then read all my columns, all our other columns, and support all of our fine advertisers. Even the ones who don't name stuff after me.

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