When fans of the Washington Redskins hit the Metrodome for Super Bowl next weekend, they'll find out that Minneapolis is more than a hot-dog town.
The standard hot-dog will be $2 to spectators and much in evidence during the big game. But the Twin Cities are sausage towns, places where a whole repertoire of sausage-based snacks culminate.
"Our vendors carry unique products," explains Ron Price, manager of Volume Services, contractor for the stadium.
"We have the brew and bratwurst. It's a sausage sauteed in beer. Then there's the 'Cheddarbrat.' It's a similar product made with sausage and Cheddar. Both are $3.25 and so is our Louisiana Hot Polish, a spicy hot-dog. We also carry a Chicago-style hot-dog. That one has a coarse-ground interior."
The final exotic is a $3.25 snack called the bagel Cheddarwurst. It's cheese wurst baked in bagel dough, and very popular locally. "I don't know how it will go with visitors," says Mr. Price.
With all those options, Metrodome managers estimate they will sell only about 50,000 hot-dogs to the 65,000 spectators during the NFL epic Sunday between Washington and Buffalo. Stadium hawkers will also unload about 10,000 tubs of popcorn and 15,00 servings of soda in various sizes, starting at $2. Pizza and burgers are widely available at Metrodome stops. The bacon cheeseburger ($3.25) has a third of a pound of meat.
For Super Bowl dessert, Minneapolitans always pick a classic. "The one thing we really sell by the ton is ice cream cones, whether it's hot or cold weather," says Bill Lester, of the Metrodome staff.
It's beer only in the park, no liquor, and it's available in two sizes, one a souvenir cup with both the Washington and Buffalo helmet logos ($3.75) and one a smaller, simple paper cup beginning at $3. (Three brands are served, Strohs, Bud and Coors. The Minneapolis Metrodome, alas, does not sell the beer that made St. Paul famous, Hamm's.)
More formal fare will be served in the Metrodome's 110 skybox suites. "We're featuring chili in the NFL owner suites," says George Kuhl, president and general manager of Minnesota Viking Food Service, caterer to all the private suites in the dome. Chili, along with Minnesota chicken and wild rice soup, are favorite choices there. The Metrodome suites feature group orders, sandwich trays, and buffet items. A layout of roast beef, corned beef, pastrami and ham salad with American cheese for 123 runs $97.
On a slightly fancier note, for a gourmet gala called "Taste of the NFL" to be staged the night before the Super Bowl game, party planners have rounded up 28 chefs from NFL cities and gridiron greats from each franchise town to represent NFL teams. Rick Volk, an interception genius on great Baltimore Colt teams in the late '60s and early '70s, will represent the current Indianapolis franchise. Rick's booth will be staffed by Susan Goss, chef of the Indiana capital's Something Different restaurant, and the menu is sassafras smoked duck with shiitake mushrooms. The sold-out, $75-a-plate benefit party at the Minneapolis International Center will be attended by about 1,500. About $90,000 is expected to be raised from the event to support food-for-the-needy programs.
Smoked San Francisco sturgeon garnished with anchovies, an alligator piccata from Florida, duck tamales with cilantro from Phoenix and smoked whitetail venison on Indian bread from Jack's Firehouse restaurant, Philadelphia, are among the more exotic specialties planned. The Washington Skins will be represented by NFL alumni Bobby Mitchell, with chef Robert Kinkead Jr. of the capital city's 21 Federal restaurant preparing wild mushroom strudels.
The "land of sky blue waters" has diversified food strains. The area is especially rich in ethnic European foods because of 19th century immigration into the northwest. The Minneapolis-St. Paul corridor serves as headquarters for national marketing of some of these traditional foods. Included are oblaten, a traditional paper-thin almond wafer served for hundreds of years as an Austrian specialty at the ancient spa of Carlsbad; potica, a creamy, rolled walnut cake originating in the Balkans; and American editions of famed Gouda cheese and Polish ham sausage (krakowska).
Here is a recipe for the traditional Minnesota chicken and wild rice soup as served at skyboxes in the Minneapolis Metrodome. The original recipe, for 50, has been scaled down with for a large dinner party the help of Rita Krakow, Viking Service chef.
Minnesota chicken and wild rice soup
Makes about 12 servings
FOR THE SOUP:
4 cups half and half
1 1/2 ounces of chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon unsalted garlic or chopped, dried garlic
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
1/2 tablespoon of parsley flakes
2 tablespoons sherry
4 ounces wild rice, uncooked
4 ounces chopped onion
4 ounces diced carrots
4 ounces diced celery
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
8 ounces diced chicken, turkey or ham (or combination to taste)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
FOR THE ROUX
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cups flour
Combine all soup ingredients except the roux and heat slowly to a simmer. Add a little hot liquid to the roux and mix; then add roux mixture into soup. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, reduce to a simmer until needed. Rice tends to absorb more liquid as it is held, so add more water if the soup becomes too thick.