What a week it’s been! Spring is finally here. The temperature as I’m writing this is in the mid-forties. The sky is blue and Canal Park is teeming with cars and pedestrians.
Let’s take a look at the week here at NWS.
Tonight, we’re at the 25th annual Taste at Fitger’s event. From the website: “From 6-9 pm, over forty of the area’s finest local restaurants and beverage vendors will be serving up their tastiest culinary masterpieces, beers and most exquisite wines…100% of the proceeds will go to the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.” Tickets are $45, and you are sure to leave satisfied.
We opened up our patio. Not that it was ever really closed, per se. It just consisted mostly of snow piles and had no furniture. Last weekend, in anticipation of warmer weather, we put out a couple of tables and benches. This weekend, we’re returning it to its former glory. All of the tables and benches and umbrellas will be there. Lake Avenue Café’s liquor license still extends out there, so you can enjoy a local craft brew or cocktail with your Smokehaus digs. You can/should even bring your dog(s).
We rearranged our shop. Don’t worry. It’s nothing too drastic, though anyone who has been a repeat customer with us over the past decade knows that our shop has undergone some radical changes. This new shift is meant to highlight our inedible merchandise. T-Shirts, hats, totes, etc. Before, it was just tucked away almost out of sight, but now it is a fixture of our deli. We love seeing folks in our gear.
There are more Box Lunch cookie options. In addition to Lake Superior Bakehouse Chocolate Chip cookies, you can now opt for a Peanut Butter Curry cookie, Ginger cookie, or whatever flavor-of-the-month cookie Patricia may have come up with for no additional charge, or a Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich with Honey Cream Cheese for an extra dollar.
This is the last weekend to eat the Spinderella. Turkey, salami mix, mayo, mustard, dill pickle, onion, and cilantro on a hero roll, with a side of scallion cream cheese for dippin’. This Sandwich Lab special has been quite popular during its run, and like the rest of the Sandwich Lab specials, gets you double stamps on your punch card. Catch it while you can. We’re not going to Push It much longer. Beginning April 2nd, we’re offering a new Sandwich Lab creation, the Bloody Mary, just in time for patio brunch season.
Last week’s 5 Things™ was a disaster. It quickly devolved into another “I am not sure what to write about, so I’m going to write about not knowing what to write about” post, and as a result, it failed to launch, but it had some great images. Here they are, without explanation:
As this 5 Things™ post comes to a close, I’d like to share my favorite photo of our Friday special, the Minnesota Pulled Pork. It is my favorite because it reminds me of a Kraken breaching the water’s surface to ruin your day. Open your mind, then squint at it a bit, and let me know afterward if my imagination is too unhinged.
NEW TO US from the redheaded cheesemaker at Redhead Creamery, out of Brooten Minnesota, welcome their French-inspired-with-an-American-twist, North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster!
This American-style Munster is a soft ripened cow’s milk cheese with a washed rind of local whiskey—Panther Distillery’s “Minnesota 14 Whiskey” out of Osakis, Minnesota. This collaborative cheese experience found itself winning 4th place at the Minnesota State Fair in 2017.
Looking past the local achievement and publicity, to the cheese itself, this French-inspired munster has a russet-colored rind with a chalky-white interior. Like many other soft ripened cheeses, this Munster will become more oozy, develop a stronger aroma, and the rind will darken with age.
This farmstead cheese has notes that will remind you of the barnyard it is made in. Creamy, rich, and pungent this cheese pairs well with an array of food: Sweet fruits, such as cherries, pears, plums, and many other stone fruits, as well as rustic breads, such as rye bread with flavors of anise, fennel, and licorice.
This cheese pairs well with many lagers or pilsners, and juicy red wines: pinot noir and Beaujolais (my personal favorite red) as well as sweet white wines: chardonnay, pinot gris, and riesling.
This cheese is best served at room temperature. Leave it out for 20 minutes before diving in!
We have become familiar with Shepherd’s Way Cheese these last few weeks, most recently the Shepherd’s Hope fresh sheep cheese. Welcome to the case Shepherd’s Hope with garlic & herbs!
Shepherd’s Hope is a unique mild, fresh sheep’s milk cheese with a gentle citrus note at the finish. Another multiple award-winning cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms. Shepherd’s Hope is exceptional with a crisp Chardonnay and a fresh baguette or in a tomato basil salad… now with the added flavors of fresh garlic & herbs!
This week, though still classically slow-season Smokehaus, was full of excitement.
1- For starters, we launched our first official NWS Happy Hour, which runs Mondays through Thursdays from 5-7pm and features our new Chicago-ish Haus-ki Dog. Happy Hour specials and hours may change seasonally, but we’re excited about our current lineup.
2- Many of our employees have skills and backstories worth highlighting, if only there were enough hours in the day to interview and write about all of them. But we’re making a start. In honor of her swift and popularly-heralded rise to NWS excellence through phenomenal baked goods, we published a profile of new deli employee & baker, Patricia.
3- Our cookbook dreams are coming to fruition. While specific details aren’t yet available, we’ve been producing a ton of content. Our vision is intact, we’ve already produced a mock-up of an entire chapter, and last weekend we took care of one how-to photo shoot about porketta.
Enjoy some behind-the-scenes photos while you wait for the finished product.
4- Tonight (March 15th) we’ll be popped-up at Hoops Brewing, selling smoked chicken wings, sauced to order with a variety of Northern Waters Restaurant sauces—maple sambal, soy ginger, and hausmade buffalo, to be specific. NWR may no longer exist with us on the Material Plane, but its legacy survives through the Smokehaus.
As far as I know, smoked chicken wings are a rarity in the Twin Ports, not to mention our particular variety, which are brined, “dried” to help form the crispy outer layer, kippered, then hit with a lot of smoke to finish them off.
5- I know the weather comes up frequently, but the battle between dwindling Winter and impending Spring rages on, and alongside the standard freezing rain, we also had a day of one of my favorite weather phenomena: creepy, heavy fog. Inevitably, we’ll get a blizzard in mid-April, but for now, it appears the thaw is on its way.
Here are some more photos by Jacob in our media department, in lieu of pretty words. See you here again next week.
It’s in our motto—we’re always smoking something—but we’re not just a one-trick pony, and lately, it seems like something is always getting baked.
We have several bakers on staff—which I wouldn’t have been able to say a year ago*—but today we’re showcasing one of our recent hires, Patricia. If you’ve been reading the 5 Things™ blog the past few weeks, there have been several mentions of her work at the Smokehaus. It’s making waves.
Patricia has been baking off-and-on for the last fifteen years. At nineteen, she attended a six-month intensive baking course at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, British Columbia, which she described as, “pretty old-school. A lot of old French men yelling at me.” Eventually, she and her brother opened Elfvin’s Bakery, a wholesale bakery in Grand Marais, which they owned and operated for three years before selling it to new owners who rebranded it as the Gunflint Baking Company.
After a move to Duluth and several years of living it up on our end of the North Shore, she arrived at our deli, and immediately brightened it up with her easygoing and upbeat personality—and her baked goods.
In addition to cookies, she’s also been heating things up with a variety of savory pastries, including scones using the end-pieces (see: repurposed “waste,” a very exciting for our sustainability-oriented hearts and minds) of the snack sticks that we have begun cutting to exact sizes—Smoked Salmon Buddy & Scallion Cream Cheese Scones and Royale With Cheese Scones, by way of example—and rotating meat & cheese combo puff pastries. At press time, she is plotting Pastrami, Swiss & Red Onion Pastries for tomorrow. Croissants, she informed me, are coming soon, as well as crackers. The anticipation is real.
Patricia is brimming with ideas of new pastries and sweet treats to debut in the shop, and we’re grateful for it. As her coworkers, we are the first line of defense in testing these treats for proverbial “poison.” It’s not much, but it’s honest (and delicious) work.
The savory pastries make for a quick and easy light lunch. Non-sandwiched cookies are also an option with your Box Lunch. Enjoy a few more photos of her work. Perhaps stop in and enjoy a few examples of her work in-person.
*My baker comment might be taken as fighting words amongst our talented staff. Surely, we have many talented bakers among our coworkers, but only recently have we utilized their talents in a large-scale commercial sense.
Back again from our friends in Nerstrand, MN, Shepherd’s Way Farms, I reintroduce to you:
Shepherd’s Hope is a unique mild, fresh sheep’s milk cheese with a gentle citrus note at the finish. Another multiple award-winning cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms. Shepherd’s Hope is exceptional with a crisp Chardonnay and a fresh baguette, or in a tomato basil salad.
But wait… haven’t we had this cheese before? YES! AND IT’S AMAZING.
However, there is something a little extra special about this specific batch of Shepherd’s Hope.. You may recall from my last cheese update that I went down to the farm and spent the afternoon learning about Shepherd’s Hope. More specifically about the drop in barometric pressure caused all the mama sheep to give birth to baby lambs all at once. 120 lambs to be precise! After a mammal is born, it is extremely important that they have their mother’s milk. This first milking is hyper packed with nutrients and protein and is called colostrum. This cheese IS NOT colostrum milk. Rather it is the first batch of cheese made from the mother sheep’s milk after the baby lambs have had their fill.
Glad to see you. The sun is shining where I’m writing, and this week had several discrete events worthy of the title “Thing™.” Let us not tarry long on introductions, but hasten to the investigation of these Things™.
A couple of auspicious visits:
Northern Waters Smokehaus is pretty well accustomed to high-status visits. We’ve had the privilege of appearing on a few national cablenetwork programs in the past decade, and while I’m not going to name-drop, there are a number of well-known individuals with local roots who join the masses and wait in line for our food when they happen into town.
Secretly, many of us behind the counter recognize them and get excited when they stop into the shop, but, consummate professionals that we are, we play it cool.
This week, however, I couldn’t contain myself. I was working my first deli shift in what felt like several weeks, so my filter of professional boundaries was perhaps off-kilter, when I received a call from my dear friend, Flo, in the marketing department. The Pitchfork Music Festival had just announced its line-up, which featured, among other exciting acts, local global music legends, Low.
Flo and I have attended the festival together on more than one occasion, so I was excited to hear that the lineup had been announced, but I was doubly-excited to see none other than a member of Low—and co-creator of our famous Cajun Finn sandwich—waiting for a sandwich from our deli. This individual’s identity will be kept vague, since I didn’t ask permission to tell this story in a public forum, and even beloved artists deserve privacy, but they were quite understanding and played-along generously when I held the phone to my chest and shouted,
“Hey, you’re playing Pitchfork [Music Festival](?),”
and again, slightly louder, when they didn’t hear the first time.
It was a moment that has subsequently been described to me as “very Duluth.” And that is the story of how I finally lost my cool and shouted details about someone’s life to them while on-the-clock.
Listen to my favorite Low record below:
Another visit came from someone who, like it or not, has chosen a path that puts them right in the public eye: the 41st Governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz. Truth be told, I probably would not have known about this had I not chosen to unburden the office’s Wi-Fi, and blog out of the deli.
As I typed away in a corner of our small seating area, Minnesota’s public servant-in-chief enjoyed a sandwich—maybe a salad, I didn’t ask—behind me. It wasn’t until the hunger hit me, and I stepped behind the sandwich line to make myself some lunch, that he revealed himself.
Yes, I participated in an electoral process that prominently featured him, but I did not recognize him less than five feet away from me. Is this a tale of his humility, or of my obliviousness, or of something else altogether? The jury is out. The jury, in fact, has neither been consulted, nor even informed of the known facts.
He thanked us for the delicious food, introduced himself to us, and engaged with a few customers who overheard him. The details get hazy from there. Honestly, I checked out at that point because preparing my lunch was of greater urgency to me at that time.
I’m not going to take any political stances on the company blog, fear not, except that being kind and showing gratitude to service industry employees is good praxis.
A pop-up and a new event:
On Wednesday, we had a pop-up at Bent Paddle Brewing Company’s tap room in the Lincoln Park Craft District. Such pop-ups are pretty old-hat by now. NWS setting up shop for a night at a local tap room wouldn’t be much to write about—rather, I and others have written about it so many times that it seems unfair to count that among the Things™—however, we debuted a new item at this pop-up: The Haus-ki, our very tangential take on the Chicago dog. More about the Haus-ki, and our new Happy Hour, which is when we’ll be selling it, is available here.
Some cookbook content fun:
This morning, a handful of the marketing & design staff are taking a break from their typical workday to prepare for a photo-shoot. It should be no secret that we have dreams of releasing a cookbook in the near future, and though we have a wealth of photography related to our business and products, there will never be enough.
This particular photo-shoot pertains to producing a porketta in a backyard smoking apparatus. Today’s tasks are a lot of shoveling, creating the mise en scene for the shoot, and rolling the porketta. Tomorrow, we’ll be enacting and documenting the rest of the process. It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, which could undermine our work, or result in some pretty cool action shots.
Volumes could and will be written about the impact that our recently-establish Baking Department has had on our business, but I’ll keep it brief:
Jerry’s White Bread, Prince Myshkin Rye, Chorizo-Cheddar-Chive Biscuits, Rosemary Potato Rolls, and Ciabattas have further increased our pride of ownership in the food we make. I’ve always liked the bread we’ve used at NWS, and there are certainly some baked items we’re still buying from outside vendors, but being able to say, “on a hausmade [bread of whatever variety]” feels good, and to top it off, it is high-quality product they’re baking down there.
If you’ve noticed some bright yellow pasty-looking items during your recent forays into our shop, and been confused or intrigued, those are Lucy’s Jamaican Hand-Pies, made with our fresh chorizo, and yes, they are a very delicious, filling, easy to eat (with one hand!) item that you should definitely not pass up.
And, of course, what would a 5 Things™ post be without a shoutout to Patricia, who used up all of the Royale With Cheese trimmings we’ve accumulated—since we began cutting our Buddies to a specific cost rather than selling them by weight—to make savory bacon-cheeseburger snack stick and tomato scones.
We have a new sink! The other one was falling off the wall from years of overuse.
Time: Mondays through Thursdays, 5 to 7 pm, beginning Monday, March 11th.
Place: Northern Waters Smokehaus Deli→
Details: One of our new Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, toasted and topped with mustard, celery salt, tomatoes, pickles, and pepperoncini on a hausmade ciabatta roll with your choice of a bag of chips or a can of LaCroix. $6+tax. Only available in-store. Friendship and goodwill in abundance, for you to carry into the rest of the world. Probably good music.
The Haus-ki is here.
We debuted our spin on the Chicago dog last night at Bent Paddle Brewing Company’s tap room, but this dog is too good to save for pop-ups alone, so we’re bringing it to you four days a week, live from our deli.
True happiness may come from within, but a Haus-ki couldn’t hurt.
We’re teaming this dog up with your choice the usual suspects—
—alongside the standard NWS accoutrements. For only $6 ($6.38 after tax)! There’s not much more to say than this is a tasty treat for a hot deal.
Whether you want to stay a while to socialize, or just long enough to grab a dog, join us, and let’s be happy together.
Generously brought to Minnesota’s Iron Range by Italian immigrants, this boneless pork roast is a showstopper. Talk to any authentic Italian and they’ll tell you exactly how their grandma makes it—and how yours should too. There are endless varieties of porchetta, but ours has gained some serious recognition. High praises from longtime Iron Rangers and multiple features in Bon Appetit are among those regards.
It would be a crime to deprive you of our Berkshire Porketta, so for the month of March we’re sharing it with loyal customers like you! All of March, if you spend $150 you’ll receive one free Porketta Steak! Just fill up your cart with $150 worth of Smokehaus goodies and follow the checkout process to proceed.
Some Boring Details
Free Porketta Steak Offer valid for orders of $150 or more using the pop-up box on the check-out page. Must click YES! in box to receive the free Porketta Steak. Offer valid through the month of March and expires 3/30 at 11:59pm.
Exclusion Offer is limited to stock on hand; offer is nontransferable and is not redeemable for cash. This offer is extended to our MAIL ORDER customers. The free Porketta Steak offer is not valid for customers of our other departments (Canal Park Deli, Delivery, Pick Up or Catering). – Questions? Contact a Smokehauser at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us (218) 724-7307
Directions This recipe works well as a come-together-quick meal, as the heavily-spiced porketta does most of the flavor work for you. 1. Put a large pot of water on heat and heavily salt it. When it boils, cook pasta al dente. Reserve some of the pasta-cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over low heat and cook the onions slowly, adding a little salt, until they are golden. Toss in the porketta and increase the heat and stir the pan so that the onion and porketta are well combined and cook long enough to heat the porketta and render it a bit.
3. When it is browned, deglaze the pan with some of the starchy pasta water, lifting any of the glorious fond from the pan.
4. When the mixture is loosened, add cream and heat. Adjust salt and pepper. Turn heat down to low. Add pasta and toss to coat. If it seems too dry, add more starchy pasta water.
5. When the pasta is thoroughly combined and heated through, top with lemon zest and parsley and serve.
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 THE SANDWICH MENU ARE MEMBERS OF AN ELITE SQUAD KNOWN AS THE SANDWICH LAB. THESE ARE THEIR STORIES:
It’s Monday, March 4th. That means our hottest new sandwich (which will be served cold) drops today. Peep the video below.
Salt & Pepper alone do not a taste make. Essential seasonings though they may be, they’re at their best when they are tying-together and highlighting a mix of flavors.
This audacious new Sandwich Lab experiment is known as the Spinderella, and it’s a gustatory tribute to the DJ of the legendary hip-hop outfit Salt’n’Pepa—she who deftly mixes the soundscape that supports the MCs’ rhythms and rhymes. The ‘Wich’s blend of ingredients is eclectic—mayo, mustard, dill pickle, salumi mix, turkey, red onion, and cilantro on a hero roll, with scallion cream cheese (for dippin’)—but elegantly mixed to create something greater than the mere sum of its parts.
If you can’t make it to see Salt’n’Pepa on tour this spring/summer, or to any of DJ Spinderella’s upcoming solo shows, just can’t wait, or even if you can do any or all of those things, stop by our shop and try our culinary tribute to the classic hip-hop trio during the month of March. Each Sandwich Lab special purchased gets you two stamps on your sandwich card.
The Spinderella is available in our deli and via delivery for $13+tax.
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.