Adventurous eaters who can snag tickets, will enjoy the Taste of the NFL next year in Minnesota.
Founded by Twin Cities restaurateur Wayne Kostroski in 1992, the event has become a fixture of Super Bowl festivities on the eve of the game. The purpose is to raise money for food shelves with auctions.
Each of the 32 NFL cities is represented by a chef and a former player who signs autographs. In the lead up to next year's game in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Vikings also will host a new event June: Taste of the Minnesota Vikings. Details to be determined.
I was there last night to sample the food and the scene. Representing Minnesota again this year were Thomas Boemer and Nick Rancone, the guys behind Corner Table and Revival in Minneapolis and (now!) Revival in St. Paul. Last year, they served up pork jowl. This year, they dished out fabulous fried chicken livers that, sadly, are not available in their restaurants.
Every food station featured a wine pairing with the generous portions of food. The tastings aren't for the timid or vegetarians. The most mainstream offering: Veal meatballs and a cheesy pasta with truffles.
My favorite - improbably - was the clam chowder from Miami with a side of Nueske's bacon. Best clam chowder ever.
Each city is paired with an NFL player. Minnesota had Randall McDaniel again this year. Some players have longer lines for autographs than others and McDaniel's line was steady all night, but he kept it up with his easy charm.
Today's game day. Media shuttle buses started at noon. For the first 30 minutes, the buses get police escorts. The last bus leaves at 5 p.m. The first bus back leaves immediately after the game.
Security is intense for the event - as you can imagine. Media go through multiple checkpoints, bags are opened and equipment laid out on tables. There are separate lines for print reporters and camera crews.
The security and entertainment for the game requires lots of space around the stadium so I wouldn't expect the tailgating lots to be open in Minneapolis.