The Minnesota Wild menu for the upcoming season offers flavors from north and south of the U.S. border, the heartland and six new Minnesota wines with distinct flavors and irresitible homespun names.
At its Taste of the Minnesota Wild preview for the press Thursday at Xcel Energy Center, the team offered a flavor of what will be served during the home games this year, which starts Oct. 15. Some of the food previewed will only be the suites, but the best — my favorites — will be available to the general public. Prices generally weren’t available at this time.
What does Cuba have to do with hockey? Those flavors worked in the most memorable of the new foods, the Havana Hat Trick, with braised pork, smoked ham and melted Swiss cheese on a firm, flavorful roll. That sandwich goes well with the semi-dry wine from Carlos Creek Winery, near Alexandria, Minn., called “You Betcha Blush.” The label’s as cute as the name, showing two moose playing hockey. A bottle, which provides a glass and a half of wine, will sell for about $9.
The new Wild menu includes a couple twists on poutine, the Canadian concoction that usually includes French fries smothered in gravy and cheese. The Wild will sell a pulled pork version with Guinness gravy and cheese curds, as well as pork chile verde fries, with green chile and queso fresca. Both are available to the public.
There’s a breaded chicken patty and biscuit with a splash of hot sauce on the menu, though it’s nowhere near as good as Revival’s chicken at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Also new this year, a hot dog topped with taco meat and pico de gallo, which seems to be a twist on the chili dog. Pagoda Express will sell fried Asian standards of orange chicken, egg rolls and potstickers.
The chips and cheese on the menu took a turn from the irridescent orange shade that’s usually found in sports venues. The Wild’s were creamy in color and, as befits a hockey arena, the cheese has a Gruyère-like richness and a taste redolent of a robust apres ski fondue one might savor in the Alps. Some of my colleagues, however, preferred the street corn nachos available in the suites.
Beer may be the more common option at a hockey game, but that rich cheese would pair nicely with one of the new wines.
Michelle Bredeson, marketing director, said this is the first time Carlos Creek has sold its product in a major Minnesota venue.
The You Betcha and its siblings — the Wobegone White and the Hot Dish Red — are oak-free wines, with the white akin to a riesling, very sweet and fruity. The red is soft, drinkable and fruity, neither sweet nor sassy.
The winery also has two surprisingly soft oaky wines: Trinity — a blend of zinfandel, merlot and cabernet— and a chardonnay (no other name) is bolder than the other three wines.
Finally, there’s the “Minnescato,” a bubbly, fruity sweet wine with a map of Minnesota on the bottle.
The winery, open 24/7 for visitors, is so enamored of hockey, they’re hoping to flood an ice rink behind their headquarters as a place for workers to get together to take breaks and play in the winter.