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“5” Things: May 24th 2019

Last Friday, I sure tried to post a 5 Things™ blog. I came in a half-hour early for my deli shift, sat down to post it, and saw nothing but this:

What can you do?

So I kept my laptop open and in-sight all day, on our in-haus WiFi, and my own personal mobile hotspot, and even Lake Avenue Café’s WiFi (thanks, Lake Ave!).

To no avail.

So I headed home, and gave it a shot on my own WiFi.

I gave up on periodically pressing ‘Publish’ at 6pm, and resigned myself to enjoying my weekend, blog be damned.

If you are reading this, this 5 Things™ blog was successfully posted.

This week we had many meetings!

Sunday night, we had a long overdue ALL STAFF MEETING in which we discussed the impending Summer rush, our future in offering beer & wine, plans for our patio, and much more. Afterward, pizza and carbonated beverages were consumed.

Then on Monday night, those of us who will be in a position to sell the aforementioned beer & wine attended a scintillating alcohol service training.

After the alcohol service training, the D&D group entered the Pit of Blood and Fortune in a battle royale that thrust us into direct combat against each other, and ended up imprisoned by an Illithid in the service of a Beholder. That seemed like an adequately depressing place to end after learning the harsh potential consequences of alcohol over-service, so we’ll see what happens next week.

How about some exciting news?

Smoked ribs are back in stock!

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the commencement of grilling season! Ribs sell for $10.99/lb in whole (~2 lb) and half racks.

Perfectly seasoned and smoky.

Today we have have racks coming fresh out of the smoker, which really is the best way to have any smoked meats. Place your pickup order over the phone on ChowNow for $9 half racks and $16 whole racks. All the convenience of skipping the deli line, with a little bit of savings on the sale as well. This fresh-smoked rib special will be happening through Monday (Memorial Day) or until we run out.

Order online here

We don’t talk about our ribs that much, outside of pop-ups, so consider this our way-too-late Smoked Ribs Product Launch™. Starting on Memorial Day, smoked ribs will be our Monday special.

Ribs and kimchi is a haus favorite!

Kenspeckle Letterpress shirts are returning soon!

Our classic shirts, long only in-stock in the sizes nobody was looking for, are returning soon, in all sizes! Designed by master printmaker Rick Allen at Kenspeckle Letterpress, these shirts are one of our oldest pieces of inedible brand merchandise, and we’re looking forward to restocking them. Now in softer, more breathable cotton!

Spicy Tales of Charcuterie!


We took our last trip out to Hemlock Preserve!

Not our last trip ever, of course. Just the final installation of our extended/postponed/multiply rescheduled catering photo shoot series.

This particular trip featured two charming friends of NWS in a mock breakfast-picnic-slash-Jay-Cooke-hike scenario.

When we present the final product of these photo shoots, you’re getting the cream of the crop—maybe 15-25 photographs—but a ton of work goes into finding those perfect couple dozen images. Here’s a tribute to all the surprisingly hard work that goes into making dozens of artful plates of food, transporting them between multiple buildings (rain or shine), finding the best light, positioning the plates, capturing their best angles, and so on, and so forth:

Northern Waters Catering news!

Our Northern Waters Catering menu has been in development for the past several months, and I’ve finally begun to put the first draft that hit my desk last week into a solid second draft. It’s only a (brief) matter of time until the menu will be in your hands. While the menu is full of our favorite and most requested dishes, it is not exhaustive of our capabilities.

And now, the crowning segment of this blog.

I am pleased to announce:

So pleased!

Hannah/Northern Waters Catering got a new cooler! It is not only quite stylish and large, but also has wheels and evidently a ruler etched into it! You’ll likely spot it any time we are out around the town, and on our patio this Summer.T

We’re at the halfway point of Sandwich Lab specials!

The Breakfast Club, The Wagner, The Spinderella, The Bloody Mary, and now The Wallaby comprise the first wave of our Sandwich Lab specials.

Sandwich Lab is an annual meeting where we brush up on our sandwich making skills and have the opportunity to share our favorite personal sandwich creations for review by the staff and potential inclusion on the menu. And it is typically a lot of fun. Last year, there were too many good entries to pick just one or two, so we decided to run ten of them as monthlong specials, and add one (the Adisalad) to our permanent menu.

The Adisalad

We’ve begun keeping a running tally of our Sandwich Lab specials and how they’ve sold against total sandwiches sold during their tenure.

Hannah is 66.5% certain that these statistics will factor into future Sandwich Lab discussions.

How many Sandwich Lab creations have you tried? Which was your favorite? Do you have any advice for escaping the clutches of a mind flayer? Let us know in the comments.

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5 Things: May 10th, 2019

The Wallaby.

Avocado has finally arrived at Northern Waters Smokehaus, for a limited time, on a brand new sandwich called The Wallaby—haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye topped with half an avocado, tomato, lemon pepper, balsamic reduction and locally-sourced ramps.

Flo makes great signs

While supplies last, you can add avocado to any sandwich for an additional $2.30. Clubhaus with avocado? Yum. Pork Loin D-Luxx with avocado? Decadent. Hedonist with avocado? I wouldn’t, but you do you.

The Wallaby is available in our deli and via delivery for $6+tax (or $9+tax with crispy smoked pancetta) through June 3rd, and like all Sandwich Lab specials, earns you two stamps on your sandwich card.

Homegrown Music Festival came to a close.

The eight day-long local music festival is hard to avoid, if you’re living in Duluth. Thousands of individuals attend shows throughout the week. Hundreds of local artists and supporters of the arts take part in putting it on. Dozens of local businesses participate in some capacity, whether they’re a full-fledged venue, hosting a concurrent unofficial show, or offering sales & specials to participating artists. Typically there is some variety of controversy in the news (link pig head).

Photo by Leif Hinkel

Among our staff, I count (at least) eight people who played some type of role in the week. Flo painted the Chicken Shack (HGMF HQ) mural; the Prøve Gallery (co-operated by our own Flo & TK, among others) was a venue for one of the shows; between Jacob, Cedar, Tyler, Brian, Leif, and myself, we touted at least eight performances throughout the week, official or otherwise.

Look at this picture Emily took of the Latelys

And now that it’s over, I hope everyone has taken a few nights to stay in and get some sleep. I know I needed it.

Ribwiches and chocolate chip bacon cookies.

We love to snack here. It’s where we find many of our best ideas. It’s how we test recipes in development. All opinions are considered, and anyone who wants to contribute gets a taste.

I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a major perk of the job.

On Wednesday, Patricia left behind a stack of chocolate chip bacon cookies after an early baking shift. Since she joined our team, we’ve grown accustomed to finding new varieties of cookies waiting for us on a weekly basis. It’s a new territory that we’re happy to be exploring.

*not actually a photo of the bacon cookies pictured.

Wednesday in the deli featured a smoked rib special in the deli, with baked beans on the side. This special did not come as a sandwich, but we’re an odd bunch, so a handful of us made rib&beanwiches—on white bread with butter, and on Johnson’s Bakery rolls without butter. The rib special was a surprise to those of us working in the deli, but not an unwelcome one. It is, however, a great teaser to an upcoming (circa-Memorial Day) never-frozen smoked rib sale. Keep your eyes and your tastebuds peeled for that announcement.

It snowed.

And then the sleet began to pack itself onto vertical surfaces. Really what did we expect? The bit about April showers and May flowers rarely applies in Duluth. Sometimes there are still ice cubes in Lake Superior come June.

Snowball and snowperson enthusiasts had a lot to be excited about. The rest of us, not so much.

The snow doesn’t bother Tyler Much

We almost went back to Hemlock Preserve.

Then the weather happened. While Hemlock Preserve is a lovely place all through the year, we’re trying to catch it on a sunny day full of bustling foliage and flora—and not tear apart the wet ground with our idle steps. Here’s a gallery of some smartphone camera-quality photos I took during one of our recent excursions.

Hemlock Preserve is a magical place full of beautifully curated vignettes of landscaping and design that is best observed in person, but still photographs charmingly. Everywhere your eyes may fall, there is something that begs a closer look.

We’re looking forward to catering events in this space during the Summer and Fall (exciting announcements forthcoming!). If you can’t wait, get in contact with our Catering Captain, Hannah ((218)724-7307 and ask for Hannah, or e-mail catering@nwsmokehaus.com) and book your own event!

One more Thing™ before you go.

We just stocked the deli with Salamini, Spanish-style Chorizo, and Saucisson Sec. As far as dry-cured salted meats go, this is about as fresh as it gets. For those who prefer salumi on the softer side, this weekend is a great time to grab some. If you’re in a hurry and want to bypass the line, place your order for pick-up.

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Cheese Wiz: Cabrie

Cabrie from Montchevre in Preston, WI

Montchevre Cabrie cheese, a goat milk Brie Cheese, has a rind made of a white penicillium often referred to as “fleurie.” The white velvet-like exterior protects a soft, oozing, and creamy inside that has a smooth and delicate taste. Like many soft-ripened cheeses, the taste and flavor profile evolves through an aging process called “lipolise.” The cheese will develop stronger earthy accents and becomes softer and creamier as it slowly ages from the outside in. The perfect cheese to serve as part of a cheese board or as an appetizer.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Wallaby

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:


Modern life can be so monotonous. You wake up, probably earlier or later than you intended to; you make yourself the same cup of coffee, or exchange your hard-earned coin and sidelong glances with a glazed-eyed barista to order your same ol’ cup of coffee; you go to work; maybe you catch a happy hour with some acquaintances with whom you’re not sure where you stand, maybe with some close friends with whom you share your day’s gripes; you go home; you think briefly about working on your novel, but then decide you’re not in the right headspace today (just like yesterday, and probably like tomorrow); you fall asleep watching your soaps; you awaken in a cold sweat, for a moment not remembering where you are, then realize you’re in the recliner; you barely find the strength to pull yourself to bed, maybe you didn’t even change your clothes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Life is full of surprising beauty. Life itself could easily be defined as a propensity for change and growth. Life…uh…finds a way. Life can be a hoot, if you choose to see it that way.

Seize opportunities to try something new, like the Wallaby. It’s the Smokehaus’s first-ever avocado sandwich, brought to us by Michael, our coworker who is allergic to avocados. I’ll let that sink in.

Michael brought us the Wallaby because he correctly identified that our customers have been wanting avocado on the line for a while, thought we could increase our vegan-friendly options, and because a sandwich quite a bit like it was the best-selling sandwich at Creekside Coffee in Sedona, AZ, while he worked there. When he makes it, he can recall the owner explaining the sandwich step-by-step in their Australian accent, hence the name.

And speaking of making it, here’s what you can expect when you order the Wallaby. Haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye bread, sliced avocado, juicy tomato slices, locally-sourced ramps, lemon pepper, and a balsamic reduction. It’s a sandwich you’d expect, sure, but if you really attend to it—notice the song & dance of the flavors and textures, relish in the tomato juice dripping down your hands and forearms, imagine the love with which it was made—it could be transcendent.

The Wallaby is available in our deli and via delivery from May 6th through June 3rd for $6 + tax (or $9 + tax with crispy smoked pancetta).


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.
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5 Things: May 3rd, 2019

It’s a big week in town: Homegrown Music Festival is in full-effect.

But this isn’t a music blog, so let’s stay on-track.

A changing of the guard.

We’re going to bloody miss this one.

Another month has gone by, and that means it’s time for a new Sandwich Lab special. On Monday, May 6th, the warm, buttery aroma and savory goodness of the Bloody Mary is leaving our deli to make way for our first ever avocado sandwich, the Wallaby.

Enjoy some different angles of the Wallaby.

Framed with our haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye, the Wallaby also features fresh tomato slices, ramps, lemon pepper, and a balsamic reduction.

Ironically brought to our collective attention by Michael, who is allergic to avocados, the sandwich is inspired by the best-selling sandwich at Creekside Coffee in Sedona, AZ, where he worked for a time.

The Wallaby’s run will span from May 6th to June 3rd.

Beer and wine.

If all goes as planned—which seems to be the case—come Summer, we’ll be licensed to serve beer and wine. This is big news for us. As a company forever growing in our hearts, expanding our business to accommodate such a popular commodity can only be a good thing. While nothing is set in stone, the conversation has revolved around a curated selection of beer in cans and boxed wines.

We hope you’ll join us on our patio this Summer and enjoy an appropriate amount of buzz with your sandwich.

We packaged 150 lbs of smoked bacon.

In individual pounds, to boot!

An online food retail service—which I’m not going to name, since I believe there is an amount of surprise/secrecy implied—has selected our smoked bacon to be a part of its monthly subscription box that may or may not be called “The Best of the Best.” We’re honored that our bacon has been recognized as such, just as we’re stoked every time anyone tells us (or their friends) that one of our offerings is their favorite.

Lamb taco pasties.

Tuesday’s tacos were in a class of their own. Taylor whipped up some Lamb Birria—an adobo sauce originating in Jalisco, Mexico, traditionally served in a soup form, but adopted as a style of taco—which we served on corn soft-shells with pickled red onion, cotija cheese, cilantro, and salsa verde. This savory and mildly spicy delight blends guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, garlic, cinnamon, Mexican oregano and bay leaf, and slow-cooks all those flavors into tender shredded lamb shank.

Patricia, never missing a beat, apportioned some of the special for a limited run of pasties.

Yes, imagine all of the above ingredients packaged together inside a folded and rolled masa pastry, available to be heated in our deli, or taken home and prepared on your own time.

If you love or even casually enjoy stuffed pastries, check our meat case when you stop in for the latest pasty selection.

Workplace drama.

Work. I don’t know who invented work, but I’d like to have a word with them. It typically makes up anywhere from a quarter to just over a third of the hours in the day—unless I’m really out of touch with whom is reading this blog—and oftentimes you’re seeing the same rotation of people when you work. It’s sort of like a family. Needless to say, things can get a bit tense, and even blow up, as they did in this case.

When I sat down at Leif’s desk—which is my favorite place to write the 5 Things™ blog, due not only to the fantastic natural light and eclectic decorations, but equally to the risk of needing to move all of my mess when Leif needs to write a schedule or print a sign—I was appalled, though not surprised to find this remnant of an interpersonal clash.

I’m gone one day and this happens.

Please remember that every person you meet and each of your coworkers is following their own personal path, and struggling with all of their own issues which are not only valid, but also impossible to fully comprehend unless that person is you, and even then those struggles may not be fully comprehensible. Look for the goodness in others and be a mirror to reflect back that goodness. And lay off the demerits.

Bonus Things™.

Mother’s Day is coming up soon and we have a great Mother’s Day Box at a nice price. It features our Smoked Sockeye Salmon and Hausmade Boursin Cheese.


Happy Homegrown.

Bruno says, “Happy Homegrown from Hemlock Preserve!”
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5 Things: April 26th, 2019

On Monday, we headed to Hemlock Preserve in Esko, MN for a photoshoot.

In pursuit of showing off our catering department, we headed to one of our favorite spots to serve (and photograph) food: Hemlock Preserve.

Although the weather was not in our favor, it was still quite a productive day. To start, we set up base camp in the log cabin. From there, we generated around a dozen curated plates of food to showcase our standard offerings—smoked salmon, cold cuts, dry-cured salumi, and locally-sourced cheese—as well as our versatility—handmade candies, fresh and dried fruits, and artful settings & plating.

The day largely consisted of assembling plates & floral arrangements, getting our feet wet running plates back and forth between the log cabin and the various settings within the barn, and brainstorming ways to utilize the outdoor gathering spaces in future shoots, and eating a bunch of Peanut M&Ms, but our team was able to encapsulate some transcendent moments. The spread of food, once it was all assembled on our signature Douglas fir board, was breathtaking, and to top it off, no one caught a cold, despite the weather.

We’re so excited to be working with Sue at Hemlock Grove. Wandering around the property, you can see the love she puts into this place. Even among the bare remains of a winter that overstayed its welcome and the rigging of ongoing renovations, it is the curated installations of antique signage, furniture, and table settings, the open bureau acting like a frame for vintage camping & outdoors gear, the subtle humor of the “No Gathering Firewood” sign above the woodshed, the seemingly endless hidden shelves of extra glasses & dishes suggesting that there’s always room for one more person to join the party, and the lamps (Oh! The multitude of eclectic and beautiful lamps!) that catch the eye. It’s sort of like a wonderful uncluttered antique marketplace that hosts parties. You could get lost in conversation, get lost in a self-guided tour of the décor, or get lost in Jay Cooke State Park, all with a beverage in one hand and a small plate of food in the other.

Hemlock Preserve, which is situated just far enough from the city to feel like a getaway, and just close enough to make the travel go by  quickly, is situated just on the edge of Jay Cooke State Park—there are trails from the property right into the park—features two elevated yurts (on their own isolated tracts of land), and is an ideal location for all scales of gatherings: an intimate anniversary celebration, a weekend corporate retreat, an elaborate dinner, a family reunion, or a wedding & reception. We at Northern Waters Smokehaus rejoice in any opportunity to collaborate with Sue.

Patricia made smoked brisket and bleu cheese pasties.

If you haven’t stopped in for a Wednesday lunch lately, you may not know that we’ve been rocking a BBQ Brisket Sandwich as our daily special—you can settle for the buttery goodness and BBQ tang of the brisket sandwich alone, or you can go big and add a side of smoked pork & beans and/or hausmade potato salad. But I digress. On days that we have a little bit of the special left over, Patricia swings in and makes pasties. This This week, she whipped up some enormous and delicious pasties with brisket, potato, rutabaga, and crumbled bleu cheese. Look for the day’s variety of pasties in the meat case. We’ll even heat them up for you, if you want to enjoy one in the deli. All varieties of pasties are $10.

On Thursday, we headed back to Hemlock Preserve.

Despite the productivity of our first day, there was more to be done. For instance, we had to get some outdoor shots, and to document the landscape around us. On our second day out in Esko, we had plenty of sun. This meant that Bruno, the 12-year old ball of pug-love who runs the whole operation, joined us in the field. While Bruno oversaw the day’s work, we created several scenes, including two different outdoor picnics, a buffet-style dinner in the barn, and various small plates lounging around the remarkable array of sitting areas. It seems like everywhere you look, there is a place to sit (or stand), take a breather, and spark up a conversation. 

On Friday (today) we went back to Hemlock Preserve once again.

As soon as this 5 Things™ blog is posted, I’m heading down to our deli for an opening shift, so I am not attending this particular field trip. From what I gather, this is a clean-up day.

If I were there, it would be a pet Bruno day as well. I hope they also carry that spirit with them.

Also on Friday (today) we are at the annual Raise the Roof One Roof Community Housing fundraiser.

One Roof is an institution that gives so much to our community, in terms of creating affordable housing opportunities, educating renters, cultivating neighborhoods, helping first-time home buyers, and much more.

It has been our privilege to take part in their annual fundraiser for many years. Not only do we get to share our food, but we also get to share our passion for it, our stories, and knowledge of the process that goes into making our food, all to a receptive audience (anyone who stops by our table and asks), and in the name of a good cause.

This year we’ll be serving Traditional Atlantic Salmon & Scallion Cream Cheese bites; Hedonist bites (with Country Pâté, onion, cornichon pickles, and a dot of mayo & mustard); and olivada, chevre & pepperoncini bites. The tasting segment of the fundraiser is 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, check the event page on their website. Olivia, our mail order director, and I will be behind the table. Stop by, enjoy a few bites, and keep us entertained.

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5 Things: April 19th, 2019

This week has gone by in a blur, or maybe it’s just me. Between the unexpectedly busy lunches, self-imposing limited hours on my office days, running out of gas on the freeway and showing up an hour-plus late, and three separate band practices each falling directly after a full day of work, I’m not quite sure where the week went.

But there’s a handful of Things™ to freeze-frame within that blur, so let’s take a brief moment to slow down together.

Bison Buddies are back in stock!

Bison, sourced to our specifications, is expensive. We took a brief break from making Bison Buddies, relying instead on our Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, Big Jim hatch chili beef sticks, and Smoked Sockeye Salmon Buddies to sate your meat stick cravings, but Bison Buddies are back! All four of our snack sticks will be available all weekend (and beyond) in our deli.

We’ve got whole and half hams for sale!

We have slow-brined, slow-smoked, never frozen, locally sourced and processed whole and half Berkshire hams for $9.99/lb while supplies last. These hams—around 6-8 lbs/half and 12-16 lbs/whole—are perfect for a holiday roast or potluck, and great as leftovers.

Check out some ideas for Smokehaus ham here.

We’ll be open this Sunday!

This is a first-ever for NWS. Previously, DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace has closed its doors on Easter Sunday, but this year it’s staying open, and so are we. Our deli’s doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Unless they sell more quickly than anticipated, we’ll have the aforementioned hams for sale.

Speaking of sales: Wild-Caught Smoked Alaskan King Salmon is 20% off until it’s gone.

We launched the @NorthernWatersCatering Instagram account!

Although it has been live for about a month now, we finally feel like it is up-to-snuff, with comprehensive information about our catering philosophy, options, frequently asked questions, and beautiful images taken from actual catering events. Carefully crafted by our creative team, and approved by Catering Captain Hannah, it is, like our catering service itself, set up to expand elegantly in 2019.

For more information about catering, specific inquiries, or quotes, contact Hannah at catering@nwsmokehaus.com

We launched our Mother’s Day gift box!

Sure, it might be a bit early to announce this, but is showing gratitude to mothers ever out-of-fashion?

This year’s Mother’s Day gift box is simple, elegant, and affordable: A pairing of nourishing smoked sockeye salmon with sweet hausmade boursin cheese, alongside the subtle and steadfast support of Carr’s water crackers.

This gift box is available here for mail order, and is easily assembled in our deli, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

AND A BONUS THING™!!

We’ve made a batch of Candied King Salmon & another batch of RedHot Candied King Salmon. It makes a fantastic small snack and would be great on any charcuterie platter. Get it while it’s here!

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Northern Waters Catering on Instagram

@northernwaterscatering

Whether we’re popping up to sell smoked chicken wings at a local watering hole, dropping off a dozen platters of smoked fish, cheese and crackers, or serving cocktails* and several courses alongside table settings and décor, we take pride in our catering at Northern Waters Smokehaus.

Catering is a space in which we are able to refine what we already do well—making delicious, memorable food—and challenge ourselves. While we have plenty of tried and true dishes and hors d’oeuvres at our disposal, we pride ourselves in rising to the occasion for just about any style of food our customers request.

But these words on a screen hardly do our catering department justice. Even sporadic posts on our company’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages barely hold a flame to the magic and artistry that comes alongside NWS catering.

So we wondered, why not create a space strictly for our catering department?

And when we could find no reason, we set out working on @northernwaterscatering (hereafter NWC) on Instagram. Complete with story highlights outlining everything one should know about NWC, answers to frequently asked questions, contact information, and, of course, high-quality images of dishes and venues that look even better in person, we hope this page is a welcome supplement to our website’s catering page, and ideally a one-stop shop for any catering-curious customers.

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5 Things: Explosive Cyclogenesis Edition

Welcome back to the 5 Things™ series.

If the title seems a bit esoteric, don’t worry too much. You have a couple of options: a.) type “explosive cyclogenesis” into your search engine of choice (step a2.) profit), or b.) wait for me to tell you it’s the technical terminology for the so-called “bomb cyclone” ravaging the Midwest.

If you’re still with me, I must confess that the extremely low barometric pressure is affecting my ability to weave the goings-on around the Smokehaus into an interesting narrative roughly describing the week.

Instead of reaching, I’ve decided to share some suggestions with you, based on my own personal experience and taste. Do with these suggestions what you will.

Have a ginger ale with your Slammin’ Gordon.

The Slammin’ Gordon is a fantastic sandwich as presented on the menu, but I rarely make one for myself without adding some pickled ginger. It is sweet and spicy, and it plays very well with the just about everything else in the sandwich, especially the diced cucumber and the horseradish in the salmon pâté.

However, all of our sandwiches are perfect the way they are, so if you’re a purist, why not try a beverage pairing that hits all the same notes? On the sweeter end, we offer Sprecher’s Ginger Ale in our deli. For something spicier, you could check out the selection down the hall from our deli at Blue Heron Trading Company.

The Italiensk pairs exceedingly well with Lemon LaCroix.

Unless you are vegetarian, vegan, or specifically tell me “anything but pork,” I will recommend the Italiensk to you. It always makes my short list of favorite sandwiches when prompted, and it goes well with just about any of our sides.

However, my preferred way to eat an Italiensk is alongside a lemon bubbly water. The sandwich itself is something of a paradox to me: There is enough food there to constitute a full meal, both in variety of ingredients and total caloric value of those ingredients, but it is so delicious and easy to scarf down quickly that eating it on its own leaves me wanting something. My greedy stomach yells at me to stuff more food into it, which sometimes ends up being the case—original kettle chips are my go-to in those moments—but my wise mind knows the truth: I just want to spend more time with my Italiensk.

Queue lemon bubbly water, which serves as a crisp and refreshing interlude between every bite, singing in tight two-part harmony with the basil near the top of the sandwich, and most importantly, extending the quality time I get to spend with one of my favorite Smokehaus sandwiches.

If you’re feeling bold, ask us for a single extra basil leaf on the side, tear it up with your bare hands, and put the basil confetti in your bubbly water. The benefits are twofold: an extra aromatic zip in your drink, and your hands will smell like basil, which is a great way to smell.

The Pork Lion makes me crave cola.

The Pork Lion is still a relatively young sandwich at NWS. It’s a hero roll with smoked pork loin, tomato, cumin slaw, lettuce, cilantro, mayo and red pepper flakes.

I’m no expert on cola flavoring, but I’m fairly certain at least two of the above flavors are present to some degree in most cola recipes.

Don’t overthink it, just try it. We usually have Coca-Cola and Diet Coke on hand.

The Motherlover deserves some extra love.

Arguably our most basic sandwich—white bread, mayo, lettuce, protein—the Motherlover begs for personal experimentation. It is almost the BYO sandwich we will never put on our menu.

For marginal price increases per ingredient, you can add whatever the heck you want to this sandwich, and it’s probably going to taste good, but my personal favorite addition involves bending the rules of what is considered right and proper by the majority of parents and guardians: You get to play with your food.

Here’s the trick: purchase the sandwich and a bag of kettle chips (whatever your favorite flavor is). When you get them, remove the top piece of bread and move the lettuce to the side. Place whatever amount of the chips you find appealing on top of the protein—I usually use about a third of the bag. Replace the lettuce and the bread and smush the newly reformed sandwich together.

Really enjoy the crunching of the chips under your might. It’s part of the experience. Then continue to enjoy the crunch and flavor enhancement in every bite.

Having a Northern Bagel? Get a Duluth Coffee Company Cold Press.

This one comes with a special caveat—don’t enjoy them at the same time.

I’m trying to help you optimize your brain function here. Salmon is brain food. The Northern Bagel is a great way to start your day, a perfect pick-me-up for lunch, and even good in the evening. If you’re trying to kick your brain function into gear, enjoy it with a tall glass of hydrogen-dioxide.

Give your body a half-hour to begin processing all those awesome fatty acids—I am not a nutritionist, so this is more of a loose guideline than any sort of educated instruction—and cleanse your palate of the lingering smoked salmon and scallion taste, then crack open the cold press (which is available all around Duluth, but conveniently in our deli) and sip it slowly.

When the cold press hits you, every light will shine a bit brighter and the words and thoughts and feelings flowing through you may cause an overwhelming urge to finally finish your novel. Do that, or at least channel that exuberance into whatever the rest of your day holds. The fatty acids from the salmon have your back.

If you prefer a gentler caffeine buzz, and a flavor that pairs better with scallion cream cheese and smoked salmon, try one of our Honest Tea options. We carry lemon black tea and green tea.

Don’t forget to drink that glass of water.

One Thing™ that happened this week.

In preparation for our Summer and Fall catering seasons, we’re working with our longtime friend Sue Watt at Hemlock Preserve to market what we believe is a perfect venue for a Smokehaus-catered soirée—the aforementioned Hemlock Preserve.

A photo of Hemlock Preserve’s barn taken during greener days.
Inside the barn.

On Monday morning, Hannah, Flo and I traveled out to Esko to visit Sue, pick through some linens and table settings, absorb some stories about the renovations going on throughout the property (including the new log cabins, the raised-platform yurts, and the eclectic decorations), and scout photo opportunities.

We had a great time, and are looking forward to our upcoming photo shoots. Here are some of my favorite smartphone camera photos in the meantime.

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Cheese Wiz: Morcella

I have been waiting for this cheese & this moment since last spring…. Let me cordially invite your life into the life of foraged perfection – Morcella.

Handmade by our great friends at Shepherd’s Way Farms, Morcella is a seasonal, soft-ripened sheep milk cheese with local morel mushrooms. Made in small batches with only spring and summer milk, Morcella is a creamy, earthy cheese with a mottled bloomy rind. Like the morel mushrooms it is named for, Morcella is only around for a limited time… this is seriously something you do not want to go with out.

From Penterman Farms out of Thorp, Wisconsin, I introduce Marieke Gouda. This gouda is classified as a “young” gouda and is aged in the traditional Dutch fashion. Aged only for 2-4 months, this cheese made from raw cow’s milk, salt, enzymes, and cultures.  

Creamy, buttery and mild with slightly sweet notes. Pair with peach preserves and toasted almonds, buttery Chardonnay or any farmhouse ale.

Expert, licensed cheesemaker, Marieke Penterman and her team, handcraft traditional Dutch Goudas using the time-tested, Old World, cheesemaking methods Marieke brought with her when she emigrated from the Netherlands. Marieke transforms farmstead-fresh, raw, cow’s milk from her family farm into award-winning cheese, which is then carefully cured on imported Dutch pine planks in temperature and humidity-controlled aging cellars.

Back by popular demand – CHEESE CURDS!

Eichten’s Hidden Acres cheese curds are sold in 8oz containers for ONLY $4!