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5 Things: August 16th, 2019

Let’s get right to the meat of this week: There was an enormous rubber duck in town. It spent most of the time deflated, but at least we were graced with its presence, as a part of the Festival of Sail.

A handful of department managers received ServSafe training. In what sounds like an extremely grueling day of collectively leafing through an entire manual on food safety, followed by a comprehensive test on the subject, we hopefully have a slew of new food safety-certified individuals on our staff. We’re not sure yet—test results won’t come back for a few more days—but knowing what I know about my coworkers, I don’t doubt they passed.

Patricia prepared personal pizzas. Pro tip: If you’re interested in trying the latest of her creations, stop into our deli on Wednesday mornings. It seems like she likes to experiment with food on Tuesdays, and everything she makes is either solid gold or extensively gilded.

The latest item, as previously mentioned, is personal pizzas. Made with our own Smoked Bacon, and Hammarlund Nursery heirloom tomatoes, these pizzas are just the right size for one, and they taste great. As I prepare to publish this blog, I have to mention that the pizzas are currently sold out, but don’t worry! This won’t be the last of them.

A variety of pasties are back in stock as of this morning, and the Widmer 2-Year Cheddar Cheesy Crackers will be out later today. Thanks again, Patricia, for all that you do.

We launched a new loyalty program. We’ll still honor completed 10-stamped sandwich cards, and any incomplete sandwich card stamps will be transferrable to the new loyalty card. The way the new system is laid out, you’ll earn a reward (redeemable at your leisure) every six sandwiches/salads you purchase—up to three times per card. We’re calling this program the “Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire.”

Let’s take a look at the new card:

For a more detailed explanation of the new loyalty program, check out this blog post.

We’re hiring!

It always happens this time of year—we say goodbye to students and other seasonal employees, and we’re happy for them and their journeys, but we’re mildly concerned about filling out our schedules.

If any of the descriptions below sound like you, and you’re interested in making competitive wages at a pretty cool place, with pretty cool people, send a résumé to our H.R. champion, Gregory Conley, at

If you like working alone, at (basically) your own pace, and don’t mind getting a little bit wet, consider applying for our daytime disher position. We’re looking for someone to work daytimes Monday through Friday.

If you’re more people-oriented, and want to work alongside a hardworking team of unique and interesting individuals, we are also hiring in our deli and delivery departments.

Work with the cool kids; send in a résumé!

Finally, we’re running a Labor Day mail order special! 20% off your cart, online only, when you place your order between 8/26 and 9/2, and enter the discount code bluecollar at checkout. Some boring restrictions apply, but you can plan ahead and place your future holiday orders at this discount. It’s either a right-now special or an early-early-bird special, depending on your perspective!

Okay, that’s enough Things™ for now, I’ve got to get to work in the deli.

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Good news, everyone! We’ve finally depleted our inventory of sandwich cards, which means we’ve rolled out our NEW LOYALTY PROGRAM! One free sandwich/salad per ten sandwiches/salads was a pretty sweet deal, but we wanted to shake things up, so we devised a new system to give you more rewards, more frequently.

Introducing the Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card:

The former sandwich card worked as follows: Each sandwich/salad you purchase earned you one stamp on the card.* Ten stamps earned you one free sandwich/salad.

The new program works as follows: Twenty-one little fish; eighteen red, three blue. Each sandwich/salad you purchase earns you one hole punched red fish. Every six punches along the way, you earn earn the rights to a new prize, which can be redeemed immediately, or at your leisure. When you redeem your reward, we’ll punch a hole in the respective blue fish.

Once you have purchased 18 sandwiches/salads, you’ll have earned all three perks along the way. Maybe you used them as you got them, maybe you redeem all three at once after purchasing that eighteenth sandwich/salad. Maybe you redeem all three at once the next time you come in, or maybe you redeem them individually the next three times you come in. It’s entirely up to you.

We will still honor completed “old” sandwich cards!

If you have filled out a ten-stamped sandwich card during the course of our previous loyalty program, you still get that free sandwich—and the stamps of any incomplete sandwich cards are transferrable to the new loyalty card.

So, what are the prizes?!

After six punches: One free snack stick (“buddy”), based on availability. Whether it’s a Big Jim hatch chile beef stick, a Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger stick, a Smokehaus classic Bison Buddy, or a Smoked Salmon Buddy, you’re in for a treat.

After twelve punches: One free sandwich/salad. We’ve got a handful of options.

After eighteen punches: One free half-pound chunk of Smoked Atlantic Salmon—traditional, cajun, dill, or black pepper & coriander.

Why are you waiting? Start a Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card today and begin reaping the rewards!

*Sandwich Lab specials—such as the Lake Trout Situation we’re currently running—earn you two punches per unit purchased.

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5 Things: August 9th, 2019

There’s a whole bunch of things going on at the tip of Lake Superior this weekend. Before I get into discussing the week and weekend to come, I’d like to remind you that our pickup and delivery services are a great way to skip the line (except August 11th through 13th), and that Cajun-seasoned cheese curds are back in-stock in our grab & go case.

The Festival of Sail arrives this weekend. The tall ships and an enormous rubber duck will begin showing up today, and will remain in our harbor through Tuesday, August 13th. The Festival officially kicks off on Sunday morning, with a grand parade from 9-11 a.m. In previous years, the draw of this event has effectively doubled the population of our city. And that’s not the only festival taking place this weekend. Friday and Saturday, the 31st annual Bayfront Blues Festival will take up residence in—you guessed it—Bayfront Festival Park. The Blues Fest draws around twenty thousand attendees each year, and consistently features high-caliber blues artists from around the world.

Another Sandwich Lab creation debuted in our deli. The Lake Trout Situation is Jacob’s homage to the classic New England lobster roll and the Jersey Shore. Featuring a smoky, sweet lake trout salad, sliced red cabbage, and wasabi mayo atop a slice of buttery, toasted white bread, this sandwich is served open-faced (for hotdog-style consumption) and garnished with cilantro and crispy smoked pancetta crumbles. It’s available for $10+tax in our deli & via delivery.

The Scavenger Hunt continues. The first week, a participant found the magnet within hours—next to the Observation Park dog park. This week, it was found on the second day—on the back of a sign at the Duluth Farmer’s Market. With three weeks to go, and 7 superfluous clues written so far, I have something special planned for next week, so stay on your toes. The next clue comes out on Monday, August 12th. Follow us on our social media pages and check out the rules here to participate.

Patricia is at it again! This time with vegetarian tofu pasties, in addition to her standard array of cookies, crackers, and pasties. Our baking department, which also boasts two skilled breadmakers in Jerry and Adison (whom I don’t praise enough on this blog, as they have supplied all of our rye, white bread, and ciabatta needs through the Summer), have developed a brilliant selection of high-quality hausmade breads and sweets. I don’t ever want to go back to a world before the Smokehaus had dedicated bakers on-staff.

Did someone say “party?”

We’re having a fish fry! The summer season is hardly coming to a close, but we’re already starting to say goodbye to the seasonal hands on deck, and a handful of other coworkers/friends leaving for school, adventures in new cities, and at least one dream job opportunity. So we’re taking an evening to celebrate, this Sunday, with a small gathering for our staff. Fried whitefish, smoked chicken wings, coleslaw, and crinkle-cut fries are on the menu, and my mouth is already watering two days in advance. Hopefully, the Sunday closing staff will be able to make it out of Canal Park! The deli will be open normal hours—10 a.m. to 6 p.m.—on Sunday.

Now that you’ve read this week’s 5 Things™, go out and have a good rest of your day.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Lake Trout Situation


Jacob’s Lake Trout Situation

Like a flavor flash-mob, this sandwich is incoming to shake up your everyday life. 

A minute ago the Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout was hanging around some lemons and scallions, having an impassioned conversation; but the crispy Smoked Pancetta, wasabi mayo, cucumbers, cilantro and thin-sliced cabbage were just scrolling on their phones, minding their business. Next thing you know, the buttered, toasted, white bread shows up, and suddenly the courtyard (where I imagine this is all happening) comes alive, and onlookers are astounded as these seemingly separate entities come together in a meticulously choreographed song-and-dance.

Meticulously choreographed.

Yes, it has been choreographed, and meticulously. Abs are out and fists are pumping. This Situation of a sandwich required extensive development, but has turned into something quite special. Inspired by the Jersey Shore and classic New England Lobster rolls, with that particular NWS flair, this just might be the smoked lake trout sandwich we’ve been waiting our whole lives for.

Try it during the month of August, and receive not only a scintillating gustatory experience, but two stamps on your sandwich card. This is the cutting-edge of Smokehaus sandwiches. The Lake Trout Situation costs $10 + tax.

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5 Things: August 2nd, 2019

Welcome back to 5 Things™. It’s been a lovely week in town, with a handful of conferences at the DECC keeping our lunch rushes busy. If you find yourself with a bit of a wait for your lunch today (Friday), Jacob will be out on the patio selling beer. What better way to enjoy your pre-sandwich time than an ice-cold regional beer?

Now, to the Things™—

First of all, I am sorry that the first week of the Summer Scavenger Hunt ended so quickly. The first round lasted about four hours. I really thought the hiding spot—tucked behind foliage on a fence-post at the Observation Dog Park—was more difficult. This coming Monday (August 5th), I will do better.

This was a practice round.

We have a new wine in the deli. The late-Spring flavor of vinho verde is leaving our shelves to make room for Trollinger, a wine by Andi Knauss, a German winemaker associated with a collective of natural winemakers known as La Boutanche. Trollinger is a versatile table wine named after the grapes it’s made of, which have moderate acidity and tend to produce light-bodied wines with strawberry, cherry, nutmeg, and smoky notes. It’s available by the glass for $7 and by the (1 liter!) bottle for $42.

If you’re into wine, you’re definitely going to want to see the wine profile project our media team has been working on. Here are a few of the images they created:

As part of our ongoing cookbook project, we tested a few recipes at Wisconsin Point on Tuesday.

While the day began with some prep and packing of gear, things really got started once we hit the beach, when we dug a trench, found a couple of large-but-portable logs to mount our grates, and set driftwood ablaze en masse, until we had enough coals to shovel into the trench.

The first recipe was a grilled summer vegetable salad with a light soy sauce and mirin dressing. I’m talking about beautifully charred and caramelized kale, broccoli, zucchini, portobello mushrooms, summer squash, fennel, and sweet corn, tossed with a simple, high-impact dressing.

Coarse-chopped gremolata gave an herbaceous, citrus-infused flavor to the tender river trout meat.

Once the veggies were finished, we grilled a grip of Cedar Island Hatchery brown and rainbow trout, stuffed with a zesty coarse-chopped gremolata, and later topped with puréed gremolata, for aesthetic as well as flavor reasons.

Our hausmade sausages look fantastic cooked over a beach fire too.

Italian-style sausage, Classic German sausage, smoked Andouille sausage, and smoked Polish sausage—in concentrated powder form.

All of this cooking was done with a couple of simple grill grates, over coals from a fire made entirely of driftwood found at the beach. A few lessons solidified during this field trip—you don’t need a ton of fancy equipment to make a high-caliber meal, and cooking is always better with good company.

The Fish Schtick enters its final weekend. Maybe it’s just the time of the year, but the Fish Schtick has been selling like crazy. Combining the salty, smoky goodness of our Traditional Atlantic Salmon with sweet & tangy Cornichon pickles, tomato, lemon pepper, lettuce, and a swipe of mayo on a hausmade ciabatta, this sandwich is a flavor palette to reckon with, and people are loving it.

We’ve got a situation incoming. A Lake Trout Situation. Jacob’s Lake Trout Situation, to be specific. Inspired by a New England Lobster Roll, this is the Sandwich Lab creation for the month of August.

Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout salad, crispy Smoked Pancetta, cucumber, wasabi mayo, cilantro, and thin-sliced cabbage will come together and make a scene atop buttered and toasted hausmade white bread.

Like the Fish Schtick, and the other Sandwich Lab creations, this flavor bomb will also earn you two stamps on your sandwich card.

Me waking up from cookbook stress dreams.

That’s the way the news goes this week. There’s a whole bunch of events in-town this weekend, including the City on the Hill Music Festival, a biking festival, Spirit Valley Days, and the opening celebration for Casket Quarry Park in Spirit Valley. The forecast is looking great, with sunny days above 70-degrees all weekend. If you want your NWS fix, but feel like surpassing the line, place a pickup order (online, or over the phone at (218)724-7307 (ext. 1)) or catch us via delivery through Food Dudes or Bite Squad.

Next time you’re in the area, please enjoy Flo’s steady takeover of the wall space around and within our deli.
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5 Things: July 26th, 2019

We had a big weekend (7/19-7/21), and we didn’t run out of anything we planned on having in-stock.

That’s all. We have evidently found our stride. As always, if you’d like to ensure we have what you’re looking for, give us a call before you stop in @ (218)724-7307. You can even place a pick-up order, then skip the line when you arrive.

The D&D Summer Season.

While our epic, levels one-through-twenty—for the uninitiated, that is all the levels—campaign is on hold through the summer, it doesn’t mean we haven’t been rolling dice and speaking in funny voices. With new characters and varying levels of seriousness, we have taken to a ghostly sea as a cohort of debt collectors-become-zombie-hunters, taken up arms as an elite unit of kobolds to punish another group of kobolds for their crimes against the Dragon Queen, Tiamat—namely stealing magical artifacts from the Queen’s hoard—by stealing powerful magical artifacts from the Queen’s hoard, and a handful of other brief adventures to come, before we return to our dubious heroes’ adventures in Waterdeep.

Good cheese weekend.

Taylor, our resident cheese connoisseur, announced at our morning meeting that this is a great weekend for cheese lovers at the Smokehaus. Primarily, it’s the Comté (or Gruyère de Comté) that just arrived at our deli. The flavor of this semi-soft, unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the Franche-Comté region of France is heavily influenced by the natural pastures and strenuous guidelines for a cheese to carry the name.

My personal favorite cheese that we’ve ever carried, Shepherd’s Way’s Sogn Tomme, will also be a regular fixture in our grab and go case until at least the end of summer. It’s a buttery and crumbly sheep’s milk cheese, with a slightly higher fat content, and it is too good for mere words when drizzled with local honey and decorated with a blueberry, if that sounds good, but slightly lacking, put that combo on top of a cracker and add a bite of smoked salmon to the mix.

A number of other great cheeses are in-stock as well, including Marieke Young Gouda and Carr Valley Apple Smoked Cheddar.

Our current cheese selection has even me, a lactose intolerant individual, drooling.

All Pints North this weekend.

More than 120 MN breweries gather at this enormous Bayfront Festival Park gathering each year, and attendees make their way through the offerings two ounces at a time. Lovers of beer travel hundreds of miles to attend this event (which is listed on the website as “Sold Out”), so expect a busy weekend in Canal Park and downtown, with ancillary events at local breweries and restaurants all weekend.

For more information about All Pints North, follow that hyperlink.

We’ll be serving beer on our patio.

In honor of All Pints North, and our newly minted selection of adult beverages, Eric Goerdt himself will be slinging beers on our patio today (Friday) from noon until sometime after noon—weather permitting—to try to cater to the influx of beer enthusiasts and test out the viability of “refilling” beverages on the deck. Hopefully no one has to wait in a summer Smokehaus line just to grab another beer.

Next week on 5 Things™: It’s August! Whoa! Where did the summer go?

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5 Things: July 19th, 2019

We’re in the dog days of summer—or we might not be—and life at NWS is heating up. Our first Thing™ offers an option for cooling down:

We’ve got White Claw!

I still haven’t tried it*, but this low-calorie, gluten-free, slightly boozy seltzer water has become iconic of Summer 2019. One-hundred percent of planned beach expeditions I have attended this year have featured a cooler half full of White Claw cans. It’s reported to be refreshing and taste quite good. I may or may not have “liked” a meme featuring a can of Hidden Valley Ranch White Claw this morning on the ‘Gram.

We received our first shipment of Grapefruit White Claw this week. Lightly-flavored effervescent beverages (affectionately known as “day beers”) are a longtime staple of life at NWS—a former deli manager once challenged herself to drink twelve cans of LaCroix in a shift, and the grapefruit and lime varieties of Topo Chico sparkling water have become a fast favorite for staff and patrons alike—so it follows quite naturally that our early forays into hard beverages would include what I am now exclusively calling “nighttime day beers” in my head.

*By the time this blog is posted, I may have consumed at least one can of White Claw.**

**Leif and I drank our first nighttime day beers together on the patio after work.

Heirloom tomato season is in full effect!

Every July, we purchase a beautiful bounty of locally-grown heirloom tomatoes from Hammarlund Nursery in Esko, MN. Ken Hammarlund himself brings us dozens of pounds of these delectable tomatoes in weekly increments when the season is in full-swing.

These ‘matos are not only exceptional on the palate, but also come in beautiful colors—bright greens, yellows, and purples, and swirls of all three—so they are remarkably pleasant to prep for the day.

If you’ve ever been on-the-fence about sandwiches with tomatoes, July into the first few weeks of August is a great time to try them.

Waiting for your order on the patio is easier than ever!

We love our small storefront and our home in DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, but it’s not without its shortcomings. The hallway we share with Lake Avenue Café can become crowded whenever the sandwich queue is even a little backed up.

“Stick around. We’ll call your name when your food is ready,” was essentially the script. Those who wanted to establish themselves at a table on the patio were also given the annoying task of periodically sending an emissary inside to check on the status of their food.

But this has all changed now that we have added a public address system to our patio. We’ll default to calling out names un-amplified in the deli, but if no one comes running, we’ll double-down on the PA.

Grab that spot outside, catch some extra rays of sunshine, experience a bit of leisure while we make your order.

A little bit of Smokehaus lore.

Research and development for our first cookbook has provided a wellspring of insights into the growth of the Smokehaus. A bunch of these tidbits will make their way into the pages of the book, and some of them are going to pop into the 5 Things™ blog now and again.

During a rapid-fire meeting Tuesday morning on our patio, the topic of our salmon seasonings came up. Dill is a no-brainer when it comes to salmon, and a blend of black pepper and coriander bears a strong resemblance to another popular preparation of meat, but what of cajun seasoning?

Our cajun-seasoned smoked Atlantic salmon is a fairly popular item of its own, but unless you arrived at this web address accidentally and have no idea how you got here or how to navigate away from this page, you have probably heard of the Cajun Finn. The sandwich that outsells half of the rest of our menu. 40% of the sentence “I’ll have a Cajun Finn,” which is sometimes 40% of all words said by an individual ordering as part of a group.

Cajun-seasoned smoked salmon, it turns out, was an experiment with a current trend that ended up wildly successful.

Paraphrasing Eric: “People were putting cajun seasoning on everything, so we tried the same thing with smoked salmon, and people loved it.”

That’s a pretty wild innovation to just stumble into, and serendipitous. Who knows where the Smokehaus would be without the cult success of the Cajun Finn? I like to imagine the excellent quality of our food would have carried us to similar heights, but it’s impossible to say.

Two new product features on our blog!

They put me to work this week—alongside work on the cookbook, a handful of press releases, and some updates of our online swag descriptions, I also whipped up a couple of posts about our selection of natural wines with suggested food pairings, and an often overlooked menu item, the fish basket. Since you’re already here, think about checking them out.

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Product Feature: The Fish Basket

I’d like to borrow a little of your time to talk about an underrated item on our menu—the Fish Basket.

The Fish Basket exists in a liminal space between our deli/grocery service and the prepared lunch items side of our operation.

It’s simple in execution—you select a piece (or several pieces) of fish, we put it in a basket with a side of scallion cream cheese, soda crackers (or your choice of crackers for a small additional charge), and an appropriate amount of utensils—but complex in application.

The Fish Basket is perfect for those on a tight schedule.

The reality of our deli during peak season, or even right around lunch time, is that there is going to be some amount of a wait. When you order a fish basket, it is almost always ready to go by the time you reach the register to pay. If you’re craving that Smokehaus fix, but don’t have many moments to spare, think of the Fish Basket.

Maybe you’d just like an appetizer while your group waits for their sandwiches. The Fish Basket is an elegant option that features our flagship product. It’s about as Smokehaus as it gets.

The Fish Basket is perfect for a wide array of budgets and appetites.

I want candy…

The only limit on your Fish Basket is the fish we have available. Our Atlantic salmon slabs sit around a half-pound on average, Lake Superior whitefish baskets are made with a half-whitefish—somewhere between a half-pound and a pound depending on how big those suckers get—and Lake Superior lake trout chunks average about one-third of a pound.

But our candied Alaskan king salmon, Atlantic salmon tails, ciscos, and sockeye sticks come in much smaller weights, and are fair game for Fish Baskets.

You don’t even have to limit your basket to one piece of fish. A chunk of lake trout alongside a small handful of tails and a salmon stick is a quick, easy, and affordable variety basket, perfect for one, but easily adjusted to feed more.

Depending on how you assemble it, a Fish Basket could run you anywhere from $5-30, though they tend to average $10-12.

The Fish Basket will never go out of style.

Whatever reason you’re considering a Fish Basket—saving time, getting a quick snack, impressing your guests, or just trying to steadily try all of our options— the combination of our smoked fish and scallion cream cheese on top of a soda cracker is a winner. It’s sweet and savory, with just the right amount of crunch, and a fundamental flavor combination found throughout our menu.

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Product Feature: Beer, cider, and wine. Oh my!

We’ve added beer, cider, and wine to our menu. It only took us just about twenty-one years to do it—fitting, given the federal minimum age limit for purchasing alcohol.

All of our beer inventory is locally and regionally sourced, seasonally appropriate, and reasonably priced ($10 for Hoops Brewing crowlers, $6 for 16 oz craft beer/cider, $4 for PBR pounders). Whatever you’re getting to eat, any of these beers and ciders is going to be a great match.

We’ve carefully curated a tight selection of four natural wines—organically farmed and crafted without additives—available by the glass and by the bottle, with recorking service available.

Since folks are perennially interested in pairing advice, here’s a primer of our suggested pairings for each of the wines. However, beverage pairing is subjective, and any of these will go well with whatever sandwich/salad/salami basket sounds good to you.

Vinho Verde – Vale do Homem, Quintas do Homem, 2017.

This green-hued (hence the name) estate-bottled wine comes from a family-owned winery in northern Portugal and features a blend of Loureiro and Arinto, the two best indigenous grapes of the region.

Light bodied, with citrus and green apple notes and a slight effervescence, it is great alongside the Cold Turkey, Sitka Sushi, Slammin’ Gordon, and the NWS Salad, or with our dry-cured pepperoni or Spanish-style chorizo.

$5 BTG / $20 BTB

Rosé – Réserve de la Saurine, Lauduan Chusclan, 2018.

Grown on the gravelly banks of the Ceze River in southern France, this blend of Grenache and Cinsault grapes is light, crisp, and dry, with bright, crushed berry fruit. 

We suggest this wine alongside the savory flavor palates of our flagship Cajun Finn and Silence of the Lambwich sandwiches, as well as our mainstay veggie sandwich, the Fuzzy Bunny. Try it with our smoked ham and porketta as well.

$5 BTG / $20 BTB

White – Le P’tit Blanc, Clos du Tue-Boeuf, 2017.

The Loire Valley, where this vineyard is situated, has been a seat of wine production since the 1st century CE. Winemakers in this region are esteemed for their organic, biodynamic and natural winemaking processes. This white features a blend of Sauvignon Blanc with a little Chardonnay, and a complex palate of stone fruit, mineral, and citrus.

This wine is a perfect pair with just about everything we make and retail, but we recommend it especially with the Phoebe, Pork Lion, and Hedonist sandwiches, and alongside our smoked lake trout and salmon. Though it is perhaps a bit too on-the-nose, this wine also highlights the notes of Chardonnay in our Saucisson Sec.

$7 BTG / $30 BTB

Red – La Grume Beaujolais-Villages, or “La Grume”, Domaine de la Grume, 2016.

This soft and versatile red comes from a tiny winery in central France. It’s made from 100% Gamay Noir grapes and has a core of blackberry fruit, laced with bright cherry and minerality.

Pair it with buttery, savory sandwiches like the Banh Faux Mi, Squealy Dan and DeWitt-Seitzer. It’s truly a delight alongside our country pâté, smoked Berkshire ham, and any of our dry-cured salumi.

$6 BTG / $23 BTB

Have you tried any of our beers, ciders, or wines alongside our foods? Have any favorite pairings to share? Let us know in the comments, or tag us in a post on your social media. This is all new and exciting for us, and we’re dying to hear about your experience!

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5 Things: July 12th, 2019

5 Things™ is back from vacation. I had the best steak of my life (please pound your steaks thin and marinate them overnight before you ever consider cooking them), my very first experience with escargot, watched a Chicago-sized storm cloud travel over Chicago from a balcony at the epicenter of the cloudburst, and even got a wicked sunburn at a crowded beach, but didn’t manage to churn out a blog. Hopefully you just went about your lives and didn’t miss it too much.

Here’s a handful of things that I’ve learned about life at NWS since I’ve returned.

Andy has stepped into his role as Mail Order director.

I already knew about this one, but you may not have. Shipping our hand-crafted products around the nation is part of the foundation of our business, but the department has been without a leader for a couple months. In practice, perhaps you didn’t even notice, due to our staff’s ability to fill in the gaps.

We interviewed several candidates within our existing staff, and selected Andy to guide the future of this department. Training in as the director of this massive endeavor—December is one of our most profitable months, and that is in large part due to mail order—is no small, short, or easy task, so we wish Andy the best.

Tyler has evolved into his delivery/pickup assistant manager-form.

Tyler, who once told me he didn’t want any responsibility beyond being a good dishwasher—I’m paraphrasing—has now taken on more responsibility, seemingly of his own accord.

The delivery/pickup department, which has been going through its own evolution lately—simultaneously contracting its in-haus delivery hours and range, and expanding its hours and range through third-party delivery services Food Dudes and Bite Squad—welcomes Tyler’s affable leadership.

The Fish Schtick.

“Sandwich Lab” may be one of the most-oft repeated phrases in my blogging life. This month’s Sandwich Lab special (temporary addition to the sandwich menu) is a curious sandwich called the Fish Schtick.

Assembled on a haus ciabatta roll, it is composed of Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon, tomato, cornichon pickle, lettuce, mayo, and lemon pepper. It has a bright, complex, yet cohesive harmony of flavors tied together by the smoky goodness of our salmon.

The Fish Schtick accounts for about 2% of our sandwich sales during its time on the menu, which is nothing to shake a schtick at.

The months ahead will feature a Lake Superior Lake Trout-salad sandwich, and a smoked Andouille sausage, chevre, and green apple sandwich. Stay hungry, because all of these Sandwich Lab specials get you two stamps on your sandwich card. Now that’s value!

We have the hardest working production crew in town!

Okay, this may not be strictly true—I didn’t do any research—but hear me out: I checked in with our team of roughly five smokers about their life in the basement, and found out that they’ve been putting in hours—working double shifts, sometimes triples, and the occasional overnight—but that was only after some prying on my part.

Their first answer to my inquiry about life in the basement: “It’s pretty chill!”

How’s that for a winning attitude? This is the energy we need to take with us into the rest of 2019.

We had a span of 11 days that would have blown my mind when I started at NWS.

And I was on vacation the whole time.

When I began working at our humble deli, there was tangible excitement any time our daily sales were above $5,000. I’m pretty sure $9,000 in sales would have merited a pizza party, popping Champagne corks (or vigorously-shaken LaCroix cans), and maybe even some light screaming.

While I was out of town, our average daily sales were closing in on $10,000, even on days that we closed early, due to holidays and our Sunday hours. For eleven days.

We’re really glad you all like us so much.

We love you forever!

See you next time on 5 Things™.