By Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
Consider Super Bowl LII decided: This year’s big winner is a buzz-worthy dessert inspired by late-night street food in Hong Kong. Bubble Waffle Shoppes, a Milwaukee-based company, makes a high-maintenance ice cream treat that looks like it belongs on a Candy Land board.
The highly-photographable food was a big draw at a pre-Super Bowl menu tasting for media that was held last week at TCF Stadium in Minneapolis. Various vendors showed off the football-shaped cookies, AFC vs. NFC-themed sandwiches, and the over-the-top, on-a-stick fare last seen at the Great Minnesota Get Together, that will be available for Sunday’s game-goers.
It was Bubble Waffle that had tasters watching the performance involved in creating a hot-off-the-grill waffle cone.
Here are some of the foods-of-note that will be available at U.S. Bank Stadium.
ONE TO WATCH
Bubble Waffle, Section 111
The bubble waffles, which included a blue unicorn ice cream option and the chance to mix clever ice cream toppings such as Fruity Pebbles and Pop Rocks, were a process that was as fun to watch being made as it was to eat.
Cut to cone-maker Albert Yee using a mini blow torch to toast a skewer of marshmallows.
Ice cream aficionados drawn to the concession stand — located in Section 111 — get three options of ice cream, a whipped cream option, toppings like Reese’s Pieces, Sprinkles, Brownie Bites, strawberries, and sauces ranging from espresso to bubble gum sauce.
And, for added sculptural effect, a stick of Pocky.
Word on the street is that the bottom of the cone, where all the ice cream puddles, is the best bite. Getting that far is tricky.
GOLF BALL-SIZE FOOTBALL FARE
Jalapeno cheese curd bucket
The signature look of the Curds&Cakes cheese curd comes from an unlikely source: An ice cream scoop. According to the lore, curd keeper Darin Kjaer kept burning his hands on the fryer with conventionally-sized cheese curds. So he went bigger, and in the meantime has achieved a golf ball-size cheese curd — potentially the best in the biz. The jalapeno flavored curd contains whole, juicy slices of spice. It’s a relatively new addition to the menu. The Minnesota State Fair regulars also have a Blue Moon bacon cheese curd. No two are the same, Tonja Kjaer said. “They’re like snowflakes.”
SANDWICH VS. SANDWICH
New England clam roll
South Philly pork roast sandwich
House Divided, Section 118
James Mehne, the senior executive chef for Aramark, the venue’s exclusive food and beverage partner, took cues from the teams’ regions to create AFC-NFC tribute items — New England clam roll and South Philly roast pork sandwich, respectively.
The clams are crusted with kettle chips and come with house-made tangy tartar sauce and shredded lettuce on a griddled roll.
The pork roast sandwich is stuffed with loose shredded meat and thin slices of sharp provolone. Sauteed broccoli rabe gives it a touch of fresh, green crunch.
As far as sandwiches go, Philly gets the win.
Creamy frozen hot chocolate
Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen, Section 121, suites
This celebrity chef might travel around in search of bizarre foods, but his super conventional cold take on a hot drink is off-the-map. The cold, creamy chocolate is the chocolate-iest of chocolates, like the kind of chocolate you find inside of chocolate. It’s topped with tiny white balls — a nod to marshmallows, maybe, that add crunch.
MESSING WITH MAC
Mac N Cheese
Sections 116, 310, 337
Because you must mess with mac: This unconventional trio of cheeses — goat, boursin, white American — makes for a slightly sweet and herb-y sauce for the spiral noodles. The comfort food is topped with shredded chicken and dusted with a mix of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Cool Ranch Doritos.
Be Graceful Bakery & Catering
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t take advantage of a Super Bowl to eat fried, beer-battered and Cheeto-dusted fare, there is a safe haven. The stackwich is a sandwich of roasted turkey, garlic aioli and bacon jam served on a cranberry wild rice bread. It’s a nice, no-nonsense reprieve from the excesses.
GRAB AND GO
T-Rex cookies, Hyundai, Medtronic and FMP clubs
T-Rex Cookie & Coffee Cafe is known for its larger-than-life cookies — including a 5-pounder — served up super huge, grab-n-go cookies individually wrapped and still soft days later, thankfully since it takes a few days to conquer. The super-delicious peanut butter cookie has a liberal dusting of white sugar.
The Minnesota Vikings’ might have been ix-nayed, but there are plenty of Minnesota flavors repping at the stadium. Walleye chowder (Hyundai and FMP clubs) has diced tomatoes and wild rice and is seasoned with dill and has a subtle, sweet touch of vermouth. Kramarczuk’s — the Minneapolis-based biz behind the go-to sausage at Target Field — have an extra-thick wild rice bratwurst with caramelized onions and a nice Scandinavian surprise: lingonberry chutney. (Hyundai and FMP clubs). Sota Dog (Prairie Dogs, Section 122) is a Vienna all-beef dog topped with tater tots and chive sour cream in the style of Top the Tater. Also seen, but not tested: a pork chop on stick. Because it’s Minnesota and there must be an on-the-stick.