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Updated: October 1st, 2013 4:00pm
Wild provide a sampling of local foods available game nights this year

Wild provide a sampling of local foods available game nights this year

by Jess Myers
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Don't fret, blue-collar hockey fans. The concept of catching a Minnesota Wild game in person, with a hot dog and a beer in-hand, still exists. But if your taste buds run to the more sophisticated side, you're in luck at Xcel Energy Center this season.

With their first official faceoff of the 2013-14 season still more than 48 hours away, the Wild were open for business on Tuesday. More accurately, they were open for lunch, welcoming a few dozen members of the media to try the fare they'll have on hand for fans this season at their "Taste of the Wild" event.

For starters, there are still plenty of varieties of sausage on the menu, after executive chef Jason Steidle spent a good chunk of his first few months on the job working closely with the folks at Husnik's in South St. Paul to find the perfect wurst for Wild fans.

"They worked with us the whole summer to perfect these things," Steidle said, perusing selections of pork and chicken sausage, and one called the "loon sausage" which is assuredly not made from actual loons. "They'd send one to me and it wasn't quite right. I'd send it back, and they'd make it better. It's good to use local, and the sausages are great."

Among the offerings available on Tuesday, and available at various spots throughout the rink this season, were a Reuben sausage complete with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing, a walleye BLT sandwich that served as a perfect tribute to Minnesota's state fish, an amazing beef brisket sandwich with mac & cheese, a chicken parmesan sandwich, a jalapeno and bacon burger and a pork torta that tastes similar to the Mexican specialties found on St. Paul's West Side. That's not by accident, as the chef admits sampling Twin Cities favorites, then replicating them for the hockey crowd.

"I don't go on that many vacations. So, you go out and get inspired by the things around you," Steidle said. "You might go to a nice restaurant just on the other side of the river and maybe they have a torta there that tastes really nice. I bring it back here and put our own spin on it. You get local ingredients, local ideas, local heritage and you go from there."

And to wash it down, the Wild got some on-ice inspiration, offering a full line of wines from fourth-line forward Zenon Konopka's own vineyard, ZK28 Wines. Among the selections available there is a 2011 vintage bottle of white described as a "light and refreshing blend of Vidal, Riesling and Gewurztraminer" with "a hint of floral and citrus notes." It's called "The Wild One."

The Wild season opens Thursday evening at home versus the Los Angeles Kings.

Jess Myers covers the Wild and college hockey for He is a member of the editorial advisory board for USA Hockey Magazine.
Email Jess | @JessRMyers
In this story: Zenon Konopka