Xcel Center now serving a fake loon sausage and Zenon Konopka's wine

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Dawn Brodey
New and improved brats from Husnik's Sausage.

While you're reading this week's cover story about the Minnesota Wild's controversial new arrival, Matt Cooke, you may find yourself wondering what kinds of tasty foods will be available at the Xcel Energy Center this year. Indeed, there will be quite a few new menu options for sports fans and concert-goers.

Executive chef Jason Steidle tells Hot Dish that people are going to find improved cuisine with a focus on local foods and local inspiration. For example, among the many new foods being offered is a "Loon Sausage," made by South St. Paul's own Husnik's Sausage. The brat-style sandwich comes stuffed with cheese, wild rice, and -- no, not our state bird -- pork.

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Jake's Wayback Burgers brings nine-patty cheeseburger to Twin Cities

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Dawn Brodey
The Walleye BLT

Other delicious locally sourced and inspired delicacies include a walleye BLT: crispy fried walleye topped with bacon, lettuce, and tomato jam.

The irony of serving up a beloved state icon like the loon or the walleye is not lost on Steidle. So, if one feels it is blasphemy to eat even an implied loon on Minnesota territory, fear not.

"We'll also be rolling out a rotating 'rival sandwich'," Steidle says.

For the opening game tonight against the L.A. Kings, for example, guests will be able to devour the opposition by ordering that game's "rival sandwich," the torta. Next week, when the Wild face off against the Nashville Predators, there will be (what else) the "Predator Burger" -- a burger heaping with "everything," says Steidle.

For those who have longtime favorite culinary treats at the Xcel, you needn't worry. The always popular prime rib sandwich and good old-fashioned hot dog aren't going anywhere.

"If they're popular, we don't mess with them," Steidle says.

But food isn't all that's new. Current center for the Minnesota Wild, Zenon Konopka, is a part-time winemaker and is debuting his new wine, the Wild One, at the Xcel this season. A portion of the proceeds from sales of his wine go to support Konopka's favorite charities including www.stopconcussions.com.

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Dawn Brodey
Zenon Konopka's wine, the Wild One

If you're looking to try some of the new foods being featured at the Xcel, even non-ticket holders are welcome at the Bud Lite Fan Zone on the main level where a majority of the menu is served. Other items, such as the slow-braised pork with creamy polenta and the chicken and green chili sausage, are available only on the Executive Level.

For those who are wondering what to try first, Hot Dish recommends the brisket with mac n' cheese and, of course, the loon sausage. Mmmm, blasphemy.

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