For six decades, the Shamrock Inn in Cordova, Ill., kept diners coming back for a taste of something special. Owned by Floyd and Vida Guinn, the eatery opened in 1941 in an old street car. Over time, the restaurant and its reputation grew. The business was sold in 1974, and then purchased in 1988 by Doyle Guinn, son of Floyd and Vida, and his wife, Pat. They continued to operate the family business until 1995, when it was sold to new owners.|
In all that time, the restaurant became something more than a place to grab a bite to eat--it was a community landmark. Now, Cordova residents who hanker for a taste of the past (and perhaps their children and grandchildren who have heard tell of the Shamrock Inn) have a chance to eat the cheese spread once served at the restaurant.
For years, sisters Vicki Elgersma and Tama King--granddaughters of Floyd and Vida Guinn--used the Shamrock Inn recipe to make the cheese spread for friends and family on special occasions. "We had people tell us over and over, 'You should go into business and sell this,' " said Ms. Elgersma.
Last year they did exactly that, launching Guinn Special Recipes. The brand currently offers three different flavors: cheddar cheese spread, garlic cheese spread and garlic chipotle cheese spread. The response so far has been very positive.
"We do demos periodically at different stores, and every time we run into someone who says, 'Oh my gosh, I remember that!' " said Ms. Elgersma.
When asked if she has a personal favorite among the three flavors, Ms. Elgersma said it's impossible to choose. She likes them all. "I suppose I'm partial to the garlic because that was the original recipe that I grew up on, but they are all good," she said, noting the chipotle has "nice spice" and the cheddar spread is "very versatile," easily eaten on a cracker or used in one of the many recipes listed on the company website, guinnspecialrecipes.com
Cheese spreads put to a taste test
To see how the cheese spreads stack up, we assembled a panel of taste testers drawn from The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus staff. Would one of the spreads rise to the top as a favorite?
Cheddar cheese spread: Our taste testers made many positive notes, describing the spread as having a "creamy, light texture," and "smooth, not sharp" taste. They noted it would be good served with sausage and probably was best on a very plain cracker that would complement the creamy taste.
Garlic cheese spread: The bold garlic flavor of this spread really came through for all of our taste testers, who noted it was "good, not too overpowering," and that its "pungent garlic flavor" was balanced by the "smoothness" of the spread. It was a clear hit.
Garlic chipotle cheese spread: Our taste testers were really enthusiastic about this spread. "If you're a garlic fan, this is your cheese spread. A nice bite to it," wrote one tester, while several others noted it had a pleasing "kick." Others gave the smoky flavor of the spread high marks, saying it was "very nice."
Overall, our taste testers felt the airy texture of the spreads was a big part of their appeal. Recalling experiences with other spreadable cheeses that were anything but, our panel noted how easy it was to scoop cheese from the tubs of spread just using the crackers--none of which broke when dipped in the cheese.
Perhaps the best sign of pleased eaters? Even after the taste test was completed, our panel continued snacking on the spreads. It wasn't until the crackers ran out that our taste testers stopped nibbling.
As the company grows, Ms. Elgersma said they hope to expand their product line to include new cheese spread flavors and a liver pate that was served alongside the spread at the Shamrock Inn. When they do, we have taste testers who will happily sample the wares.
Not just for crackers!
Looking for another way to enjoy the cheese spreads from Guinn Special Recipes? Try this concoction, one of several listed in the recipe section of guinnspecialrecipes.com
Cheesy Guinn beer dog
1 large onion, sliced
1 package of hot dogs
1/2 can or bottle of beer (approximately)
Guinn Special Recipes cheese spread (flavor of your choice)
Hot dog buns
In frying pan, saute onion slices in small amount of oil until caramelized. Pour beer into pan, add hot dogs, and cook until beer is absorbed (not much beer left). In a microwave, melt any flavor of cheese spread for a few seconds, then drizzle into a hot dog bun. Over cheese spread, place cooked hot dog and onions, and drizzle with additional melted cheese spread. Optionally, serve topped with guacamole and jalenpeno slices.
Where to find Guinn Special Recipes cheese spreads
The spreads are available through Hy-Vee in all eight states served by the grocery chain, including Iowa Hy-Vee stores in Davenport, Bettendorf, Clinton and Muscatine, and Illinois stores in Moline, Rock Island, Silvis and Galesburg, among others.
Other Illinois locations selling the spreads include:
Cattlemen's Meat Market, East Moline and Rock Island
Fulton Meat Market, Fulton
Great River Mart, Cordova
Highland Packing Company, Colona
Meatheads Meat Market, Milan
Shaheen's Village Market, Erie