We are changing our shipping prices! After a good look at our shipping trends and optimized pricing, we found that our current system needed some updating. Rather than a single flat-rate price, we are moving to a tiered flat-rate system, based on distance. We believe this system more accurately reflects the cost of packaging and shipping, and will convince more of our neighbors in Minnesota to try our mail order service. The tiers are:
$18 MN only shipping
$24 “Midwest” shipping (We took some liberties deciding where the Midwest started and began – please refer to the map)
By the time any of you are reading this, I will be on a plane, leaving Minnesota. I don’t often travel to places I can’t drive to in under three hours, so I feel like my mind has left ahead of me in anticipation, trying to prepare itself for my body to arrive. As such, writing about life at the Smokehaus has been a trying task.
I won’t lie to you: I was unable to come up with anything substantive or cohesive that filled a whole 5 Things™ blog. I tried to write something about our catering department, examining more closely the different levels of service they are capable of offering, but as they are actively developing menus and service packages, everything I wrote seemed to merely parrot THIS POST.
Don’t misunderstand—there will be another post about our catering department, which is eagerly awaiting its chance to serve you a several-course meal of any genre of food—we’ve got plenty of dishes in our arsenal, and love a new challenge; prepare you an easy-to-transport, casual picnic-style meal, like pulled pork or chicken sandwiches with creamy coleslaw on the side—simple in execution, sufficient to feed a small army; execute a thoughtful buffet with multiple dishes, capable of feeding many folks of diverse palates and accounting for dietary concerns; assemble a piece of interactive living art in charcuterie board form, essentially a buffet, though less clinical in execution—great for events where good food is an attraction, but not the main event; or, a favorite, a smaller multi-course meal, served family-style (center of the table, serve yourself) for more intimate events.
I can’t wait to tell you more about our catering department, with concrete details, but right now it’s just beignets on my mind.
How about that weather? Beside being the #1 small talk topic in town, maybe even the whole state (whole Midwest? Whole country? Whole world?!), the weather impacts our business. On the Mail Order end of things, it means that the odd package might be held up in a snowstorm. In the deli it might mean that we start sending our coworkers home right after the lunch rush, and end up closing at four.
The weather is truly out of our hands. And while the temperature oscillating between thirty-degrees Fahrenheit above and below zero, with vigorously shaken snowglobe levels of frozen precipitation suddenly rolling in is certainly not the most boring thing I could be thinking about, I’m eager for the upper-sixties to mid-seventies, and have already written about the weather enough, and stretching the weather across five Things™feels like I’m cheating you.
My coworker sent me a text, that said they were discussing which sandwich they would be from our menu. Immediately, this resonated with my unintentional theme of having an unintentional theme. I’m not sure what the qualifiers were, but when I asked who was what, I got this response:
Tyler is The Hedonist
Patricia is The Tempest
Lucy is The Banh Faux Mi
Andy is The Cedar’s Secret
Michael is The Fuzzy Bunny
They asked which one I would be, and I said The Purple Range. If you’re still reading, thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
Then of course there was that busy weekend followed by a national holiday which resulted in major tip-outs to everyone in the deli (thank you to our very generous customers!), being so completely depleted of product that we are still catching up to restock the shop, selling a lot of our Smoked Lake Trout Chowder (which bodes well for it becoming a permanent fixture), and of course just a lot of pride that even in our slow season we can bust out days like that.
And it’s been a while since I’ve discussed our weekly Dungeons & Dragons session. The action has really been a bit too diffuse and contextual so far, and as low-level characters early on in a massive campaign, there’s still a lot of self-discovery going on. Only very recently was I even able to completely verbally express my character’s journey-defining revelation/vision to our DM, Harrison. Once we really know our characters, the stories will be more worthwhile.
But this week, we came face-to-face with our archenemy for the first time. We didn’t need to, but we never said we were the good guys, just helpful—so when the mission (to infiltrate the lair of the crime boss while they slept, and replace their pet goldfish with an Awakened goldfish spy) was complete, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab a few of the magical items laying right within our grasp on the table. How were we to know that the aforementioned crime boss would wake up, and get a solid look at our sheepish faces before we sprinted our way out of their lair. It looks like I’ll be investing in a mask.
The journey, as usual, was just as, if not more satisfying than the destination. The lair itself offered a number of challenges, including solving high-stakes, colorful puzzles while battling a handful of animated stone replicas of the big-boss, figuring out how to ration the gold that we need to pay back the loans we took to open The Malt Solstice at Trollskull Manor, our tavern/base of operations/secret alchemy lab/spiritual healing center, while solving pay-to-play puzzles, and my druid figuring out how to proceed after having all of their possessions, save for their actively enchanted-quarterstaff, disintegrated after being thrown onto a trap.
And of course their are all the spoils of our victory, like the stolen Bag of Holding; the pilfered wines & spirits from parallel planes that we’re going to carelessly put on our establishment’s shelves; the pleasure that comes with successfully routing an opponent on the battlefield of a booby-trapped disco floor, with a magical gnomish reflective spinning orb floating above us; and knowing that my druid truly only needs themself and their magical quarterstaff, not even their potions of healing or their clothing, to bravely face down a powerful antagonist…and wisely decide to dash and Misty Step away as expediently as possible.
Yes, there is plenty I could say about our most recent Dungeons & Diners & Dragons & Drive-ins & Dives session, but is that what you came here to read? Again, I honestly am not sure. Let me know if I need to increase the D&D play-by-play content.
Anyway, before I head off on vacation, I’ll just leave you with this final list of honorable mentions for this post:
1. I’ve been spending a reasonable non-zero portion of my paycheck on the Quadruple-Ginger Cookies we’ve recently begun selling. That’s raw ginger, ground ginger, crystallized ginger and pickled ginger in the mix. Oh, and honey. These cookies slap. They’re moist, but lightly crispy, and a perfect follow-up to my other current obsession, the Adisalad.
2. We recently started offering these Pine Cones in our deli. They’re $8 each and contain a portion of sliced salami mix, a few buttery olives, and a mix of assorted charcuterie, dealer’s choice.
3. Look out for upcoming announcements about NWS Happy Hour! There will be deals and happy hour-only specials.
I’m sitting in the airport, waiting to board my flight, so I’m going to let you go. Have a good weekend. Try a Quadruple-Ginger Cookie or something.
For one of the slower weeks we’ve had in recent months, and for a week that I spent mostly off-duty as a Smokehauser, I’ve got a lot more than expected to tell you.
For example—and this isn’t even going to be one of the Things™—I just had the opportunity to proofread the introduction to a mock-up chapter for our cookbook proposal, written by our should-be poet general manager, Mary, and it was beautiful. The chapter is titled “Winter”—which is all the teaser you’re getting, for now—and her introduction, in classic Midwestern form, bundles up, grits its teeth, and takes a long, hard stare at and past the blankness and bleakness, to uncover the poetry of our longest season.
Personally, I’d still rather be hibernating, but Mary may have just sown in me the seeds of a new appreciation, and someday, you might get a chance to read what she’s written.
So what about these Things™, eh?
I hear you on that, friends. This week, the Things™ sort of speak for themselves, and I have some pictures, which are worth ~1,000 words, so I’ve also come to consider what I’m even doing here. Why even bother churning out these nouns and verbs, when a brief title and an image would suffice?
Because I care.
Also not one of the Things™. Just thought you’d like to know. Someone cares—me, specifically—about entertaining you. Which may not be much, but may be just enough.
We’re getting a new sink. I am not certain whether the events that brought this replacement into effect were exciting and explosive, or if we just took the wise path and replaced it before it snapped off, but I can tell you that this sink was hanging on for dear life, and the replacement is welcome.
We tried grease pencils as a substitute, we tried mindfulness about taking them out of our pockets, we used string to anchor them to their area of use, and time and time again, we were left with unsatisfactory results. Sharpie permanent markers are pricy little buggers, and yet they remain so important to how our business functions. White sharpie on butcher paper is just so legible (ungh!) and ballpoint pens stab holes in our wrap-jobs like it’s their job. But this time, we think we’ve got it right. We have lighter leashes for our markers. Here’s to saving some money on writing utensils this year!
Sockeye Buddies are now available.
I got to taste one fresh out of the smoker, and they are fantastic.
They’re made up of our wild-caught Smoked Sockeye Salmon, Smoked Atlantic Salmon, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and coriander, contained within a lamb casing.
The sockeye sticks come as part of a push from our owner, Eric, to stock our shop with more grab&go items that showcase our smoked fish and meats.
Meat sticks are a great way to do that, and are always well-received. Currently, we are rocking beef & pork adobada sticks (Big Jims), bacon-cheeseburger sticks (Royale With Cheese), Sockeye Buddies, and, of course, our classic Bison Buddies.
Sockeye Buddies are $3/stick. Big Jims & Royales are $2/stick. At time of press, Bison Buddies are still being sold by weight, at $25.99/lb, but that will be changing to a per-stick price in the next few weeks.
We want to run too many different specials.
So we’re just going to run them all, in a rotation, specifically on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Wednesday’s special will rotate between the classic Hot Pastrami sandwich, Smoked Ribs, and a Brisket sandwich. Thursdays will feature a Hot Porketta sandwich, and will be a flex day for various other specials that we want to try out.
Check out our Twitter & Instagram profiles on those mornings to stay in the loop.
A 5 Things sub-list: my five favorite menu signs
So, Thing™ number five, is another list. I promise the recursion ends here. Flo, our powerhouse of paint, our fountain of font, our doodler-in-chief, has done it again and begun revitalizing our epic sandwich menu. Some love it, some don’t love it, some have a hard time reading it and I’m not going to make any assumptions either way about why that is, but regardless of where you stand on it, you will fall, because it is mounted on a wall and gravity.
What follows is my current favorite five menu boards. These are not necessarily my favorite sides or sandwiches, mind you, but they are all damned fine stacks of bread, meat, vegetables, and/or sauces in their own way.
Come check out the signs yourself. Until the next 5 Things™.
We’re in the middle of the cruelest month of the year—in terms of weather—but February is a notoriously sweet month as well. Rather than focus on harsh weather, let’s focus on the sugar.
The Sugar Plum Gift Box!
In conjunction with our DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace neighbors, Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, we have assembled an extra-sweet treat for two: The Sugar Plum gift box features dark chocolate malted milk balls & sugar plums from Hepzibah’s, and we supply a stick of salamini, Rosemary Croccantini crackers, and a jar of Fabbri Amarena cherries. All of this comes with a NWS tote bag in which to carry your picnic.
Make it sweet!
Want to do something special for someone sweet leading up to V-Day? Spread some kindness to someone whom you love, like, or want to show some serious appreciation by sending them a sandwich through our delivery department, and for an extra $2 we’ll Make it Sweet—with a handwritten card and some Swedish Fish tied to the order. Not to be confused with the “Hey, Sweetie!” gift box.
Patricia’s cookies (and more)!
It might just be my coworkers and I buying all of them (because they are so good), but Patricia’s cookies are continually flying off the shelves.
So far, she has blessed us with carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese, the quadruple-ginger cookies (pictured below), and gluten-free coconut macaroons.
And this morning, she surprised us again. When I began opening the shop this morning, Patricia was nowhere to be found. Admittedly, I did not put forth much effort to find her. Then, after I disappeared for a minute, I returned and there she was.
I didn’t notice the donuts at first. A few minutes passed before my eyes wandered to the cake pan just a few feet away.
“Patricia, did you make those donuts?” “Yes.” “Where?” “At my house.” “Why?” “I thought it might be good to make a Donut Cuban sandwich with the pulled pork.”
Thank you, Patricia, for all you do.
Here’s another surprise by Patricia, available for the first time today:
Pine Cones & Royale With Cheese!
There’s not much need to pack our deli-cases full of unsliced meats in the Winter. We prefer to focus on sandwich specials and prepared items that highlight our products, so that when the grocery sales pick back up, folks know exactly which smoked meats they want and have some ideas for what to do with them.
But an empty-ish case isn’t great to look at. Our solution? Come up with some “easy” items that customers can pick up and snack on with minimal effort.
When the phrase “meat cone” started getting thrown around, I was thoroughly perplexed, but now I’ve seen the light. In adorable cones made of pine, we’ve assembled little personal charcuterie boards, with salumi, pork loin, Castel Vetrano olives, cheese, and assorted smoked meats (dealer’s choice). It’s sort of like a Salami Basket for one. They’re available in our deli for $8.
We’re also on a snack stick kick. Bison Buddies have consistently been a bestseller. If I had a nickel for every time I crushed a customer’s soul by letting them know we’d sold the last Bison Buddies of the day, I would be floating around on a mid-range pontoon boat, drinking cheap sparkling white wine and working one day a week, just to keep a little structure in my life. But here we are.
Last weekend the smokers made Big Jim Buddies—beef and pork adobada sticks made with New Mexican Big Jim chiles. They sold out over the weekend, but the smokers are already making more.
After the Big Jims, there were some early experiments with Sockeye Buddies, which need a bit more tweaking, but will be coming to a Northern Waters Smokehaus near you very soon.
The most recent installment in the Snack Stick Saga is the Royale With Cheese: ground beef, bacon & melted cheese in a lamb casing. If you get the reference, you get the reference, but I think these ingredients speak for themselves. They’re currently in-stock, and we plan on keeping them coming. Never again, we hope, will you have to suffer a NWS shopping experience without Buddies.
Sam’s last day…
This last one’s a tad bittersweet: Our former shop manager, Samantha (or Sam, or Salm, if you have caught the pun on her Dickie’s work shirt) is finally parting ways with us to follow the next great adventure in her life. Sam had been splitting her years between Scagway, Alaska and Duluth, Minnesota for as long as I’ve been at the Smokehaus, then took on the position of front-of-house manager at our briefly lived but beloved Northern Waters Restaurant, before stepping in as our shop manager here at NWS.
Sam is, among other things, hilarious, compassionate, driven, and highly-intelligent, and although I’m going to let her keep her life plans to reveal for herself, I am convinced she’s going to thrive in this next adventure.
Her successor, Leif is thoroughly trained-in and shares all the above qualities, but that’s enough about Leif in this post about Sam.
Sam, if you’re reading this, don’t forget to come visit us from time to time, and bring Brewster.
To offset the bitter in this bittersweet cocktail, and accentuate the sweet, Mary got an ice cream cake from DQ to honor the occasion. The cake photo is coming. We won’t leave you hanging.
There you have it. I’m sending you all warm & fuzzy vibes from this 5 Things post. Until next week…
We’ve had a polar vortex, multiple Snowpocalypse(s), and still have maybe four more months worth of chatting about weather left to go. Maybe you’ve had a snow-angel dig you out, help you carry groceries or give you a ride up the hill. Say, “Damn! I appreciate you so much for existing and showing extra kindness in this bleak weather. Here’s a sandwich that screams love and gratitude. Thank you.” This sure-do-appreciate-you season, you can send your sweetie(s) a Northern Waters Sandwich and make it sweet (for + $2). Our Make it Sweet includes your favorite NWS sandwich neatly wrapped, tied with a bow and Swedish Fish.
In the delicatessen scene, never shaking up your sandwich menu is considered especially heinous. At Northern Waters Smokehaus, the dedicated deli employees who innovate on sandwich menu are members of an elite squad known as the Sandwich Lab. These are their stories:
It starts with a hero roll—I’m talking about bread here, but imagine tuck-and-rolling out of a speeding car hurtling toward the cliff’s edge—dressed with mayo and mustard, laden with your choice of smoked turkey or pastrami (heavy as the burden of a life of adventure), decorated with sweet & sour quick pickles, cilantro and sriracha. It ends with you, satisfied, wondering when you can eat another.
The Wagner is now available in our deli and for delivery for $10.75 + tax, and gets you two stamps on your sandwich card. We’ll be making it for a month, then pretending we forgot it ever happened, so don’t miss your chance. Take your palate on a wild ride with the Valkyries and order The Wagner.
What is Sandwich Lab?
At Northern Waters Smokehaus, our work is playing with food. That means sometimes, in the line of duty, we stumble upon an amazing combination of ingredients that evolves over several shift-meals into a noteworthy new sandwich. Other times we uncover a more efficient way to build a sandwich, or we swap an ingredient on a current menu item.
Sandwich Lab is an annual gathering of our staff to refine our sandwich-line skills, to come to agreement on any controversies, and—the best part—to introduce our pet sandwiches to the greater Smokehaus community.
Notable Sandwich Lab findings from previous years include the Cedars’s Secret, the Purple Range, the Phoebe, and the Pork Lion.
Last year’s Sandwich Lab had so many good sandwiches that we couldn’t decide on just one or two to add to the menu, so we decided to give them all a chance to shine, as month-long specials.
This year already feels like it’s going by too quickly. Welcome to the first 5 Things of February.
We closed early due to cold!We consider ourselves a pretty hearty bunch around here, but unsafe conditions and general lack of business due to the -100°F or whatever windchill (cold stories are not dissimilar to fishing stories), had us closing down the shop at 1pm on Wednesday.Generally, we try our best to be here for you in all forms of weather, but there comes a point where risking frozen appendages and cars breaking down in parking lots far from home just isn’t worth it.
Experiments with snack sticks!
Bison buddies are one of our most popular items. People love snack sticks, it turns out. Presently, we have a lot of time on our hands, and a lot of space in our coolers, so the smokers are going buck wild in development. Today they’re smoking Beef & Bacon Adobada Buddies and Sockeye Salmon Buddies tomorrow. Next week, rumor has it they’ll be throwing together Bacon Cheeseburger Buddies. And I don’t think they have any plans of slowing down. They’re going to keep churning out these new flavor creations until something—please forgive me—sticks.
Porketta special and soup/chowder specials!
We switched up our Thursday daily special this week. Using the same roll as our hot pastrami special, we topped it with thick-cut hot porketta, sliced cabbage, and fennel-garlic-herb aioli. We’re going to be running this special again, so if you’re sore about missing the first round, come down next Thursday.On Monday, we brought a favorite Northern Waters Restaurant recipe to our deli and offered Lake Superior Lake Trout chowder. The frigid weather seems to call for hot soup, so for the foreseeable future we’ll be offering $8 bowl/biscuit specials on Mondays, then $4 cups and $6 bowls until the week’s batch is gone.
On top of all that, it seems like every week there are new treats to try around here, whether they be cookies, meat sticks, soups, sandwich specials, sides or sauces.
Last week of the Breakfast Club!The first installment of our Sandwich Lab monthly specials is nearing its end. The Breakfast Club, a Clubhaus variant described by its creator as “unctuous and balanced,” will be available through the weekend, and relinquishes its spot on our menu for the next installation in the Sandwich Lab series: The Wagner.While the Breakfast Club might yet make future appearances in our deli, we will undoubtedly pretend to forget about it after Sunday. If you haven’t tried it yet, don’t let the opportunity slip. I’ve heard this Sunday is supposed to be “warm,” and a great day to try something new.
Sugar Plum & Hey Sweetie gift boxes!V-Day is just around the corner, and we’ve got some special gift boxes designed especially for the lovers out there. These boxes are also available for pick-up and delivery in town.“Hey Sweetie!” — $48 + standard shipping. From the product page:
Let us help you appreciate your sweetie. A little goes a long way. That’s what we’ve learned. Little moments, small gestures grandly received, extraordinary or mundane, they all make up the choreography of your sweet life as two. Send something made slowly, with love and appreciation for the process. Our “Hey, Sweetie” box includes Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout, Black Pepper & Coriander Smoked Salmon, regional cheese and Croccantini crackers.
Sugar Plum — $50 + nonperishable shipping. From the product page:
Our favorites packed together for your delight and convenience. This box features our own Hausmade delicacies, as well as local favorites, for your loved one.
Gosh! That last one was a little vague. Let me tell you a bit more. The Sugar Plum comes with Dark Chocolate Malted Milk Balls & Sugar Plums from Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, Fabbri Amarena cherries, Rosemary Croccantini crackers, and a salamini, all packed up in one of our red Smokehaus totes.
They’ll probably update that product page while I’m working in the deli today. Don’t @ me.