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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™.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Fish Schtick

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:


The Fish Schtick

Remember fish sticks? Breaded some-kind-of-whitefish, fried, frozen, reheated (perhaps in a microwave, or for the more patient among us, in the oven) and dipped in tartar sauce. Simple, delicious, nostalgic.

I sure do. I ate so many of those things in my youth that I had to take an extended break from fish.

Now imagine that experience, but more sophisticated, and with 100-percent less burnout. That’s what we’re channeling with The Fish Schtick.

Mayonnaise, lemon pepper, tomato, cornichon pickles, and lettuce on a Haus ciabatta roll form the flavor-framework of this sandwich, and our brown sugar-brined and perfectly-smoked Traditional Atlantic Salmon fills out the body.

It’s not deep-fried and it doesn’t come from a bag in your freezer, but it still hits like a blast from the past, and that’s the way Harrison (the sandwich’s inventor) planned it.

Beginning on Wednesday, July 3rd and running through Monday, August 5th, the Fish Schtick will be available for your consumption, and I strongly recommend you jump on this opportunity. Not only is this sandwich surprisingly delicious, but each one earns you two stamps on your loyalty card.


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.