For the eight years he’s been publishing the Asbury Park-based triCity News, Dan Jacobson has been angling for a dinner invite from Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna.

As readers of redbankgreen know, Menna is a foodie who has his own chef’s smock with his first name emblazoned in red over the breast.

Jacobson has been aware of Menna’s cooking jones longer than we have, and has gotten miles of copy out of it, too.

In print, Jacobson rarely mentions Menna without including an open, rather shameless plea for an invitation to one of Menna’s dinner parties. In particular, he pines a forkful of Menna’s broccoli orecchiette.

It’s embarassing, really, an exercise in groveling that never ends.

So given his infatuation with Menna’s vaunted culinary skills (which we at redbankgreen can attest to, as can a bunch of kids at the Red Bank Primary School), it’s easy to see how Jacobson allowed himself to be deceived, as he apparently was this week, into thinking that he was making progress with his campaign.

The latest triCity reports that someone sent the newspaper, anonymously, a recipe for orecchiette with broccoli rabe and spicy sausage.

Jacobson ran the full recipe (“Bring a large pot of water to a boil with the salt…”) and a headshot of Menna. And in couple of lines of text pounded out at the triCity’s Red Bank bureau — a worn leather chair at Zebu Forno — Jacobson speculates on who sent it.

“We’ve written about the famed dinner parties of Red Bank Mayor Pasquale ‘Pat’ Menna, where Orecchiette with Broccoli is a specialty. But we’ve never been invited! Did the mayor send us a Christmas gift… or did some reader take pity on our taste buds? We prefer the former… we do believe, we do believe…

Of course, actually contacting Menna to ask him whether it was his recipe and if he’d sent it isn’t Jacobson’s style. Thought it’s printed on newsprint, the triCity is essentially a blog — by which we mean a running opinion piece — that’s only vaguely aware that the Internet exists. Actual reporting only gets in the way of publishing deadlines and Jacobson’s trips to the bank.

So we called Menna ourselves.

“I have no idea what’s he’s talking about,” Menna said, adding that he hadn’t seen this week’s triCity and wasn’t aware of the item.

“All I know is that it didn’t come from me,” he said of the recipe. “I’ve been concerned about more important things.”

He alluded to the recent shootings and other crimes on the West Side, as well as to the political confusion in Matawan, where he serves as the borough attorney. (Last month’s mayoral election there resulted in a dead-even tie between the incumbent — and occasional Menna dinner companion — Mary Aufseeser and Republican challenger Paul Buccellato, resulting in the need for a do-over. The election has been scheduled for Jan. 15, two weeks after the borough is obligated by law to do it’s annual government reorganization, leaving open not only the question of who’ll be in charge in the interim, but also who gets to vote — all registered voters, or only those who voted the first time around?)

He’s been so busy, Menna tells us, “that I haven’t even been cooking.”

Of course, we’re just teasing Jacobson here. While all of the foregoing is true, it’s really no more than a Jacobsonian pretext to get readers to pick up the triCity this week.

Why? Because it contains an excellent cover story about redbankgreen — well reported and tasty, too.

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