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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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5 Things: April 5th

On Monday, April 1st, we cut our menu down to just the Cajun Finn. It is our most popular sandwich by a wide margin, so we figured we’d do everyone a favor and eliminate the paralysis that comes from too many good option. Streamlining our sandwich menu received mixed reviews on our social media.

By popular request, we brought everything back. After just one day, we realized that sandwich menu diversity has always been a core part of our identity (at least since we started serving sandwiches, several million minutes before I began working here), and we restored the menu to its full glory, with a new sandwich, to boot——

We added The Bloody Mary to our sandwich menu. Usually all it takes is saying “Bloody Mary sandwich” and people salivate and groan with desire, but for anyone unconvinced, allow me to describe the process by which we make it:

It starts with a Kaiser roll from Johnson’s Bakery. For those of you who have spent any time in Duluth and have not checked out Johnson’s Bakery: Why not? They have a fantastic assortment of baked goods, including my favorite donuts and quick breads in the area, and NWS uses their rolls for several specials—BBQ Brisket on Wednesdays, Hot Pastrami occasionally on Wednesdays, Hot Porketta on Thursdays, and the Kaiser roll for our MN Pulled Pork on Fridays—and now for our April Sandwich Lab special.

We top the bottom slice of the roll with sliced green olives and dill pickle, then lay a slice of cheddar cheese on each side of the roll. We toast this for a couple of minutes alongside some smoked pancetta. It all gets nice and hot and crispy. Once it’s toasted, we throw four thick slices of beef and pork summer sausage over the melted cheese, olives, and pickles, then cover that with the pancetta. The pancetta is doused in a hausmade spicy tomato Bloody Mary sauce, then we finish it off with a cold slice of tomato, thin-cut red onion and a cilantro garnish.

The Bloody Mary costs $12.50+tax. Try it this weekend on our patio with a liquid Bloody Mary from Lake Avenue Café, if you’re feeling extra saucy.

Like all of our Sandwich Lab specials, this sandwich is only available for a month. It comes off the menu on May 6th. It also earns you two stamps on your punch card, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Perfect for brunch on the patio.

We are popping up all over town. We’re taking our small catering game to the next level with regular pop-ups at some of our favorite local watering holes. Our tentative (but nearing on fixed) monthly pop-up schedule looks something like this:

  • First Wednesday of the month: Bent Paddle Brewing Co. Taproom 5-8 p.m.
  • First Friday of the month: Hoops Brewing Company 5-8 p.m.
  • Alternating Thursdays: Cedar Lounge (April 4th) & Duluth Cider (April 11th) 5-8 p.m.

Next Friday, April 12th, we’re making a special appearance at the Cedar Lounge from 4-7 p.m.

(Tonight we’ll be at Hoops from 5-8 p.m.)

What we’re serving is bound to change at some point, but for now we’re really vibing on smoked chicken wings, sauced to order with maple sambal, soy ginger, or buffalo, and served with a delicious hausmade bleu cheese dipping sauce.

Our resident pickler/fermenter, TK, threw together some spicy zucchini kimchi for these pop-ups as well, and we keep a grip of smoked sockeye buddies and an assortment of our latest baked goods on hand.

To keep up on our poppings-up, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Patricia is just rude. I kid, of course, but she keeps making all of these cookies that make me want to spend all my money. It bears repeating that all of our cookies are available as Box Lunch options.

Her latest creation is a savory potato chip cookie sandwich with a sweet date filling.

She’s been making pasties with ingredients from our daily specials as well. So far, she’s made MN Pulled Pork and Maple Breakfast Sausage and Gravy (like finger-food biscuits and gravy) varieties. Look for them in our deli this weekend, and ask around if you don’t see any.

Forgive me my unskilled smartphone photography.

I’ll see you back here for more Things™ next week. Same Thing™ time, same Thing™ place.

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NWS Delivery Update

Hungry for NWS, but stuck at home/the office/the beach, or hesitant to head into Canal Park? Try our delivery service!

Check the link above for more detailed information on our renovated delivery service. What follows is the most important details.

Our in-haus delivery team delivers our full menu, including apparel and grocery orders within a limited range daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.*

And we’ve recently teamed up with Food Dudes Delivery to extend our delivery hours and range! Food Dudes delivers our sandwiches and sides 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily.

Minimum delivery cost is $15, and we apply a $3.50 delivery fee. Food Dudes assesses a separate delivery fee. The delivery fees do not stack.

*Some exceptions, such as catering and sandwich platter orders, may apply. If you have any questions, call us at (218) 724-7307 during regular delivery hours and see how we can help.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Bloody Mary

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:


You’re inside a house. Everything around you is cast in shadow, and cold seeps through the cracked windows. You see a flight of stairs take a right turn, disappearing into foreboding darkness. You creep up the stairs and find yourself in a hallway. A faint glow radiates under a door at the end of the hallway, and soon you are in front of it. There’s a thumping sound so close that you cannot determine whether it is, in fact your heartbeat, or some ominous being right behind you. As you reach for the door handle, you realize you’ve been holding a brass chamberstick with an unlit red candle.

You find yourself in a room bare of furniture, save for a single mirror—about exactly your height—standing in the center. Hickory chips cover the floor and a string hangs from a light above the mirror.

You close the door and turn off the lights. The candle’s wick ignites in a tiny fireball, barely illuminating the mirror, yet offering no salvation from the pervasive darkness. You look in the mirror and whisper, “crispy pancetta and summer sausage” three times.

“crispy pancetta and summer sausage, crispy pancetta and summer sausage, crispy pancetta and summer sausage”

In the mirror, you see of a spectral image yourself, but it is not your reflection. You’re standing at a counter, handing money to someone you don’t know, but no!, you’re here in this room with the wood chips on the floor.

Your heart begins to race and your palms grow sweaty, your knees weak, your arms heavy, and suddenly it seems impossible to keep a grip on the candle holder any longer and the flames are igniting the hickory at your feet, and then the room is entirely ablaze. You are choking on a thick simulacrum of air as you are smoked alive.

In the mirror, you see someone handing you a sandwich, and then you see yourself holding the sandwich: summer sausage, crispy pancetta, cheddar, tomato, olives, pickles, onion, and cilantro, dripping hausmade Bloody Mary mix and assembled on a toasted kaiser roll.

You gasp for any semblance of breathable air. You close your eyes, and hold them shut. A floating sensation calms you momentarily, until the final terror sets in. The smoke is taking you and you will not face the end with your eye closed.

When you open your eyes. You’re standing in a brightly lit deli. A throng of people buzzes around you—laughter, conversation, audible groans of culinary pleasure. The house, the stairs, the hallway, the mirror, the candlestick, and the great conflagration were all in your head, and you were simply waiting for your Bloody Mary, the latest NWS Sandwich Lab special. You take in a deep, sudden breath, but the crowd hardly takes notice.

The Hunger must have gotten to you.

Bloody good.

The Bloody Mary costs $12.50 plus tax and is available in our deli now through May 6th.


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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An Important Announcement About the Future of Northern Waters Smokehaus

Over the past year, we at Northern Waters Smokehaus have taken a serious look at our history and our present business model, as a way to plan for our future success.

At the beginning, we were just a small smoked fish shop somewhere in Superior, WI. After a great deal of hand-wringing, Eric gave in and came up with a few new options to satiate the customers who craved something more. Eventually the demand for something new built up again and Eric yielded, as he did again and again, and finally arrived at something beginning to look like the diverse lineup of products we offer. Frankly, it has gotten out of hand.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, we will still be offering a wide assortment of smoked fish & meats, cheese, olives, etc.

Sandwiches were originally just a marketing ploy. A chunk of baguette, cut and butter-spackled, is a perfect vessel upon which to sample out a few slices of saucisson sec. But, as the old saying goes, if you give a customer a sample sandwich, they’re going to want a sandwich menu.

And just like the smoked meats, the demand grew and grew, and so did the menu.

Offering a dazzlingly wide variety of options on our sandwich menu eventually became a point of pride. Silly protein-related puns turned into top-down designs of new sandwiches. Sometimes an employee would slap together a few random ingredients, obsess about it, start calling it a particular name over and over until it forcibly caught on. Sandwiches even came to folks in dreams, which is a sentence I never imagined I’d be able to write in a professional setting.

So we put them on the menu, gave them glorious painstakingly crafted signage, memorized how to make them, recommended them and observed people’s reactions to the clever names…then sighed as they ordered—yet again—the Cajun Finn sandwich.

cajun finn

The Cajun Finn: Scallion cream cheese, cajun-seasoned smoked Atlantic salmon, pepperoncinis, roasted red peppers, and lettuce on a ciabatta roll. Sure, it’s good. It may even be great. Heck, it’s probably exceptional. But every time?

In its nearly two decades of existence, the Cajun Finn has earned a cult-like following, and has become nearly synonymous with the name Northern Waters Smokehaus.

We’ve listened to the people, and are giving them what they want. So, without further ado, effective today, we are truncating our sandwich menu, and only offering the Cajun Finn. In the wise words of one employee, “choice is really just a burden.”

This is it.

Gone are the days of struggling to find a spot on the sandwich line to make a Hedonist, a Sitka Sushi, or a Northern Bagel. Gone are the days of the right-hand sandwich maker joking, “time to ride ‘the Finn Train,'” because, from here on out, it’s all Finn Train all day.

Our updated sandwich menu

We hope to see you soon for a sandwich. Try the Cajun Finn! It’s the only option.

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5 Things: March 29th

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.

Patio season is here.

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:

What was Liv doing?!

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.

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5 Things: March 15th

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.

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Patricia’s Baked Goods

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.

Carrot cake cream cheese cookies, peanut butter curry cookies, triple ginger cookies. Ugh.

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.

Stack these decadent cookie sandwiches high.

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.

Triple- (sometimes quadruple-) ginger cookies.

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.

Sweet peanut butter cookies with a complex chord of curry.

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.

Scones by Patricia, Cheddar Chive Chorizo Biscuits by Jerry.
This one looks like a map. I like that.
Helpful diagram.

*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.

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5 Things: March 8th, 2019

Welcome back, friends.

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 cable network 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.

The marketing department is all out on a project I’m about to tell you about, so here is a placeholder Haus-ki until I receive pop-up photos.

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.


A New ‘Wich:

The Spinderella is in full-effect until April 1st! Worth trying at least once, worth double stamps on your sandwich card.


Baker appreciation:

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.


Closing thoughts:

We have a new sink! The other one was falling off the wall from years of overuse.

Fresh.

Do I even keep track of my Thing™-count anymore?