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5 Things: Product Features

Our marketing team has big plans for this new year and new decade, and among them is a goal to spotlight each of our various products on the blog. We hope you’ll enjoy deeper insights into our products—what makes them special and how best to enjoy them.

This week, we’ll direct you toward some of those product features we already have in circulation, beginning with the most recent.

Snack Sticks

From Bison Buddies to Smoked Salmon Buddies, the people love our snack sticks. At full stock, we’re pushing four varieties of these ideal grab-and-go snacks, but we’ve got plans to grow that list.

Eventually, the creative bug will hit Eric and the production team, and we’ll have new snack sticks joining the team, but until then, the above post has everything you need to know (and perhaps some question-fodder for things you want to know) about our sticks.

Natural Wines

The wine list in this blog is a bit out-of-date, given the new-ness of adult beverages in our deli (just barely over half a year), but in the above feature, you’ll find pertinent information about how and why we select our wine offerings. Natural wine is the key—organically and/or biodynamically produced wines with no added sulfites.

If last year is any indicator, you can expect a new line of seasonally-influenced wine choices every few months.

The Fish Basket

The fish basket isn’t all that complicated: your choice of Smokehaus fish in a basket with crackers and cream cheese.

It’s a winning combination, and one of the quickest items prepared by our deli staff—usually your fish basket is ready to serve by the time you’re finished paying for it. However, there are some clever workarounds and customization options that can help you get the fish basket (or smoked lake trout sandwich) of your dreams. Read the above feature to find out more.

Patricia’s Bakery

Patricia, once hired, quickly ascended into the role of baker-extraordinaire. Her sandwich-line skills are admirable (anyone who has enjoyed our Spring Roll sandwich has Patricia to thank), but once she began bringing in cookies, pastries and quick-breads, it was determined that her talents were misplaced.

We thought we had it good when longtime Smokehauser Jerry began making select batches of bread*—now all of the rye, white bread and ciabattas—but with Patricia joining the baking team, we’re now in the awesome position of having artisanal bread baked in-Haus, as well as amazing cookies, pasties, pizzas, scones, and much more available to us every day.

Check out the bakery blog, but really, just check out our selection of baked goods next time you’re in the deli, and ask anyone who’s working if you want to know more about any of the options: we have opinions, we have favorites, we will talk your ears off about which cookie to choose for any occasion.

*Jerry, I know you don’t read this blog, but I miss your rosemary potato rolls and cheddar-chive-chorizo biscuits.

The Adisalad

The Adisalad has been on the menu for just over a year. This ultra-flavorful vegan or pescatarian salad (‘kraut or kimchi, respectively) is the brainchild of Adison—dishwasher, baker, intellectual—who sought a healthier way to refuel at work, without sacrificing flavor. He brought it to Sandwich Lab, and it was so universally commended that we added it to the menu full-time.

We love carbs and fat—they’re our bread and butter—but they’re not always an option. With fresh greens, cabbage, our Haus pickled vegetable medley (daikon radish, carrot, garlic, onion, jalapeño, and more, with an exciting blend of spices), fresh cucumber slices, chopped Marcona almonds, and your choice of kimchi or sauerkraut, the Adisalad packs a punch of flavor and eating it feels like you’re doing your body a favor.


The Next Feature

Next Tuesday (1/21), we’ll have a lot to say in a feature of our newest deli case offering—smoked jerky! This week we snuck two awesome flavors of bison jerky into our meat case, and next week we’ll be adding sockeye salmon jerky to the mix. And that’s just the beginning.

Next 5 Things™, well, we’ll see—Patricia’s been up to a bunch of kitchen mischief with puff pastry dough and Country Pâté, we have impending remodeling of our office and storage spaces, we’ve got a tough-to-find(-in-Minnesota) cheese in our grab-and-go case, and our deli hours will be changing temporarily in February—that blog could go anywhere.

Until then, we love you forever.

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Product Feature: Snack Sticks

Snack sticks are great. NWS snack sticks are amazing. But don’t just take our word for it. Even with periodic availability issues (usually related to so many people wanting them!) they’re still among our top sellers. Around here, we call them Buddies.

Made by hand from the highest-quality regionally-sourced* meats, and thoughtfully selected seasonings and ingredients, these little buddies are great for sharing and snacking on-the-go. To the right recipient, a six-pack of these sticks is a perfect gift.

Need something quick and easy for a potluck gathering? Buddies. Heading out of town and searching for something travel-friendly? Buddies. Running out of cooler space, but craving that NWS fix? Pack a few buddies.

Currently, we have four snack stick offerings: Big Jims, Bison Buddies, Smoked Salmon Buddies, and Royale With Cheese. If (when?) we add more snack sticks to our roster, we’ll update this page.

*When possible. Sockeye and Atlantic salmon still live outside the Midwest.

Big Jims

Big Jim Hatch chiles are big peppers with big flavor! Growing 8-14 inches, and producing meaty pods with a mouthwatering sweetness and smoky medium heat, these peppers are the foundation of the adobada sauce that make these smoked beef and bacon sticks stand out.

Big Jims remind me of hanging around the kitchen while my mother sautéed pounds of ground beef and chopped onions with a packet of taco seasoning, sneaking spoonfuls whenever she stepped away from the stove. They’re great for any palate, with plenty of interesting spice, but a mild heat that won’t leave you sweating.

We like to serve Big Jims alongside Cajun-seasoned cheese curds and our hausmade cheddar crackers, but they wouldn’t be out of place on any snack platter. I’m dreaming of bites of Big Jims alongside crisp, sweet apple slices.

Bison Buddies 

Bison is the original North American meat source, and it’s on an upswing. It’s lean, mean, and green—environmentally speaking. Our premier snack stick features a 5:1 ratio of sustainably-raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free North American Bison, LLC chuck roast and Heritage Berkshire pork. 

They’re a NWS classic, with the perfect amount of snap, and a complex flavor that begins with a sweetness at the tip of the tongue, developing into a mild spice and the complementary tastes of bison and Berkshire pork dancing on the middle tastebuds, finishing with a light burn at the back of the mouth—thank you, paprika, cayenne, and red pepper flakes. All the while, you’ll enjoy hints of black pepper, coriander, garlic, and ground mustard.

Bison Buddies are perhaps best served as they come, eaten within moments of us handing them over to you, but their spicier side comes alive after some time under heat, which activates the various dehydrated peppers in their recipe. Or, if you’re feeling cute, buy yourself a can of Pillsbury puff pastry, cut the Buddies into thirds, and make yourself some Blanket Buddies.

Smoked Salmon Buddies

Save the deep-fried ground cod sticks for the kids. Our Smoked Salmon Buddies aren’t your average fish stick. Wild sockeye salmon (with just a touch of Atlantic salmon, for fat content) seasoned with ginger, black pepper, and coriander, make these a rare, but unforgettable, treat.

These salmon sticks shine alongside cream cheese or our hausmade Boursin cheese, and while they pique interest just as often for their peculiarity as their flavor, they’ve captivated the hearts and taste buds of many skeptics.

Royale With Cheese

Named after what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in France: It’s a bacon-cheeseburger in a stick! Ground beef, smoked bacon, and high temperature cheddar cheese form the base of this stick, highlighted by the savory combination of caramelized onion, pickle juice, ketchup, and mustard—smoked to perfection.

These rich and delicious sticks are great cold and on-the-go, but give them a few minutes on the grill or skillet, and wrap them in a large leaf of crispy lettuce, and you’ve got yourself the ultimate easy bun-free burger experience. We’ve done the math, and that equals more room for french fries!


All of our snack sticks are available as often as we can keep up with the demand in our deli fish and meat cases. Big Jims and Royales are $2/stick. Bison Buddies are $3/stick. Smoked Salmon Buddies are $28/lb.

Trimmings from the ends of the sticks are mixed up in 1-pound containers we call “Little Pals” and are available from our Grab & Go case whenever we have time to package them up.

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5 Things In The 2020 Hygge Gift Box

We could all use a bit more hygge in our lives. Hygge is a useful, if tricky to translate, Danish term describing “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being,” and it’s the central principle guiding our midwinter gift box.

At NWS, we believe that feeling of contentment and well-being can be found by reveling in the good things that surround us in our Northern home. We also believe that, in this workaday world, sometimes embracing hygge requires a little inspiration—just the gentlest push. That’s why we’ve curated this year’s box of local goodness aimed at providing you and your loved ones with the means for a cozy evening in.

This weeks 5 Things will take a closer look at exactly what makes up the 2020 edition of the Hygge Gift Box!

NWS Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon

Our Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon is buttery, sweet, and smoky. To many in our loyal customer-base, this smoked salmon is the taste of Northern Waters Smokehaus, and they’ll make a pit-stop in Duluth on their way North (or South) just to procure a piece. The centerpiece of every Hygge Gift Box is a half-pound slab of this delicious smoked fish.

Local Midwestern Cheese

Cheese is literally calming—it’s been scientifically proven! Beyond that, cheese just tastes good. We choose our cheeses with love and care, and you’ll feel it. Each Hygge Gift Box comes with a selection of one of our favorite regional cheeses, just like we sell in our deli.

Snooty Fox Tea

Nothing evokes “comfortable conviviality and … well-being” quite like tea. Local tea artisans Snooty Fox Tea Shop have provided us with an assortment of their most calming and convivial tea blends. Each Hygge Gift Box contains seven sachets of Gold Spice Rooibos, Boreal Forest Herbal Blend, or Sauna Steamer Black Blend. Enjoy life like you enjoy tea—sip by sip.

Epicurean Cutting Board

Epicurean produces top-quality cutting boards and kitchenware right out of our neck-of-the-woods. Our friends at the Epicurean Factory Outlet in Superior, WI provided the perfect utility tool for your curated hygge experience: A compact walnut woodgrain cutting board. This beautifully-crafted walnut board is the perfect size for a mini charcuterie platter featuring your smoked salmon and local cheese, and it will ingratiate itself as a favorite piece of kitchenware.

Blue Heron Trading Co. Dish Towel

For the final contribution from our local friends, we just walked down the hall to the Blue Heron Trading Company. This beloved kitchen store is not just our #1 source for replacement vegetable peelers and fantastic $1 cups of coffee, but also provided the final touch to your hygge experience—a hand towel! Whether you use it as a table-cover under your charcuterie platter, use it for clean-up, or both, this Blue Heron-branded towel will serve you well for years to come.

(Bonus Thing: Raincoast Crisps from Patricia’s Pantry)

A bonus for purposes of this blog’s allocated number of Things™, our resident baker savant Patricia has crafted these wonderful crackers especially for the Hygge Gift Box. Blending nuts, seeds, and dehydrated fruits with herbs and just a touch of brown sugar, the Raincoast Crisps are the ideal compliment to the included smoked salmon, cheese, and tea, and, with their nutritious ingredients-list, are virtually guilt-free snacking.


The Hygge Gift Box is now available exclusively online! Each box is tastefully assembled per order.

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5 Customer Favorites

Another lap ’round the sun is complete! To start off this blogging year, we’re going to linger a while longer in the previous year, looking at our all-around bestselling items—which to some might be quite obvious. To avoid clinging too dearly to the past, I will then attempt to work a preview of what to expect in the upcoming year into each section.

#1 — The Cajun Finn

No question here. Whether by sheer virtue of its flavor, or the potency of word-of-mouth advertising, this sandwich sells roughly as many units as the bottom half of the sandwich menu combined (a point for W.o.M.), and has repeat—and three-peat, and onward—customers (a major point for V.o.F.).

Fish sandwiches are among our most popular items overall, and come Spring of 2020, we’ll have a new one making a stop on our menu. Last year, for the Friends of the Boundary Waters Fundraiser, we auctioned off future naming rights for a limited-run fish sandwich to be featured on our menu.

So, right now, it’s in development and unnamed, but it’s highly likely to be a hit. A percentage of proceeds from each sandwich sold will be donated to Friends of the Boundary Waters efforts to protect one of Minnesota’s greatest natural treasures. With that in mind, perhaps all of the Cajun Fanns* could work together and turn the Untitled Fish Sandwich into our new bestseller. Delicious activism.

The Cajun Finn sold just under 15,000 units in 2019.

*Came up with this one on the spot, and now it’s canon. Y’all are henceforth Cajun Fanns.

#2 — Chips

Chips are a highly visible, relatively inexpensive side dish, and a great companion to a sandwich. Do you ever just mess around and throw chips right on your sandwich? I sure do.

The future of chips at NWS is exciting. At the end of 2019, a few boxes of new chips showed up at our proverbial doorstep for sampling. I can tell you from first- and secondhand experience that we Smokehausers enjoyed the new chips, and one particular flavor enjoyed a short run in our deli (perhaps with a longer stay to come). Beyond that, we’ve begun making moves to develop our own line of NWS chips. Ah, future goals—so uncertain, but so exciting.

#3 — Bison Buddies

The original Smokehaus snack stick reigns supreme. Bison Buddies are sweetly smoky, with a gentle kick of heat to the back of the tongue (a little less gentle if they spend some time on a skillet), and convenient to purchase and enjoy.

Bison is the better version of beef: leaner, more nutritious—high in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and zinc—and, in most cases, raised without antibiotics and hormones.

Though our Bison Pastrami is now only made intermittently in small batches, the Great American Mammal still has its presence in our deli in the form of these snack sticks, and Corned Bison, one of our sandwich line meat options (and the superior choice for The ’06 sandwich).

The Pack Lunch—the launch item of an upcoming collaboration with our neighbors Duluth Pack—is a Corned Bison sandwich with a daring-yet-dependable cohort of flavors to enhance it. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting collaboration.

#4 — Big Jims/Royale With Cheese

Bison may be the better version of beef, but these beef sticks are not something you want to ignore.

The Big Jims (named after the Hatch Chiles that give them their distinct flavor) are my favorite snack sticks we currently offer.

Royale(s) With Cheese are our bacon cheeseburger-themed snack sticks. They’re replete with the flavors of beef and bacon (obviously), onion, pickle juice, and cheese (again, quite obviously).

Despite each of these snack sticks spending only slightly more than six months in our deli, the numbers don’t lie: they share the spotlight with heavy-hitters like the Cajun Finn and Traditional Atlantic Salmon, which had a full Sun Cycle to earn their place on this list. In their half-year of availability, each sold around 9,000 units. That positions them to outsell even the legendary Cajun Finn, if given a whole year.

Which is why I’m delighted to announce that Bison Jerky and Turkey Jerky should be hitting the shelves soon, with plans to experiment with other varieties after the initial launch.

Jerky has been a glaring omission in our deli for long enough, and given the recent success of our line of snack sticks—Smoked Salmon Buddies didn’t make Top 5/6 bestsellers, but they’re up there, and the smokers just finished a new batch!—Eric spent some time with his home smoker developing jerky recipes. Our social media pages are great places to stay updated on the launch of these new items.

#5 — Traditional Atlantic Salmon

Smoked fish is the reason we’re here, so it makes a lot of sense that it occupies a third of this list.

smoked atlantic salmon traditional style

Our Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon has a short and sweet ingredients list: Atlantic salmon, salt, and brown sugar. Alongside our signature kippering technique of smoking, which through a gradual increase of temperature throughout the process, forms a pellicle that locks in moisture, this simple combination of ingredients lets the delicious, buttery taste and tender consistency of Atlantic salmon shine through.

Uncertain quite how to tie in this final preview, the blogger proceeds as follows:

Last year’s monthly Sandwich Lab specials were a fun diversion, with varying levels of popularity and success. This year, we want to let the winners have a bit more time to shine.

In November of 2019, we came together yet again, sharing our pet sandwiches for peer review. Four have been selected to represent a new era of the NWS sandwich menu, and they will all join the menu together, for a handful of months. In addition, the overall favorites from last year’s cycle of monthlong specials—The Sebu-Chan and The Wagner—will be joining the menu full-time.

We know what you’re thinking: How will we fit seven-ish new sandwiches on that already packed board?

We’re working on it.

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My Favorite Things™ (December 27th, 2019)

Here it is.

The final 5 Things™ of the year.

We’re going to do something special this time around.

But first, I’m going to mess around with the headings for a bit.

Okay, that’s enough.

Here are My Favorite Things™ that happened this year at NWS. I took a deep dive, noting the moments in this blog that sparked the most joy in me, then tried to whittle it down to five, but was unable. What can I say? I’m a sentimental person. Hopefully, uncut as it is, this list gives you a hint at the sort of year we’ve had at the Smokehaus.

The Adisalad joined our menu.

The Adisalad is New Year’s resolution food: Haus kimchi or sauerkraut, a delicious assortment of pickled vegetables, with fresh cucumber slices, and chopped Marcona almonds over mixed greens and thin-sliced cabbage.

The salad joined the menu in January, and quickly became my lunch break of choice for somewhere around three months—after which I began transposing it into sandwich form, because carbs are great. Among its other noteworthy attributes are its position on our menu as a middle ground between the Ensaladita and the two-meals-in-one-package NWS Salad (in both size and price) and its status as vegan-friendly option (choosing ‘kraut over kimchi).

New Sticks.

When they’re in-stock, Bison Buddies are one of our top-selling items. Eric and the Smokers (not Eric’s band name, but could be) caught wise to this trend and whipped up an assortment of new snack sticks—with future plans to develop more—to please our constituents in search of something quick, easy, and flavorful. The current selection (at full capacity) features Big Jim Hatch Chile beef sticks, Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, and Smoked Sockeye Salmon Buddies alongside the Bison Buddies. Everyone loves snack sticks!

Smoked Sockeye Sticks aka Salmon Buddies

Patricia made donuts and brought them in to share.

Working at NWS in the Patricia era has been a joy for a handful of reasons—new and exciting cookies, cheddar crackers, pasties, and samples of each new item as they emerge—but the day she brought in a tray of cake donuts she’d made that morning was a favorite of mine. Yes, our dear Patricia just whipped up some cake donuts in her kitchen on a whim.

Patricia’s initial plan was to try a donut Cuban sandwich with our Minnesota Pulled Pork. Though I do not know whether she succeeded in that goal, I do recall making a Northern Donut—yes: a donut with scallion cream cheese and smoked Atlantic salmon. It was not good enough for the menu (and would’ve been far better with our Atlantic salmon gravlax), but I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t enjoy it.

The Sandwich Lab Series.

I can’t believe it took me this long to get to this Thing™. Sandwich Lab (our annual pedantic and artistic gathering in the pursuit of sandwich excellence) easily got a nod in over 50% of the blog content this year. For good reason, too. Last year’s Lab had so many high-quality offerings that we elected to feature them all (in roughly one-month intervals) on the menu.

Since a great deal has already been said about these sandwiches, here’s a list of their names and their ingredients to sate you. And of course you can always follow that hyperlink I just provided if you care to read more.

  • The Breakfast Club – Bagel, scallion cream cheese, smoked turkey, smoked pancetta (crispy), red onion, cilantro.
  • The Wagner – Hero roll, mayo, mustard, smoked turkey or smoked pastrami (unofficial 3rd option: black pepper and coriander salmon), quick pickles, cilantro, sriracha.
  • The Spinderella – Hero roll, mayo, mustard, dill pickle, smoked turkey, salami, red onion, cilantro. Side of scallion cream cheese, for dippin’.
  • The Bloody Mary – Johnson’s Bakery kaiser roll, green olives, chopped dill pickle, summer sausage, smoked pancetta, cheddar cheese, Haus bloody mary mix, tomato, red onion, cilantro.
  • The Wallaby – Haus-baked Prince Myshkin Rye, smashed avocado, lemon pepper, tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar.
  • The Sebu-chan – Haus-baked ciabatta, scallion cream cheese, gravlax, cucumber, tomato, red onion, cilantro, sriracha, lettuce.
  • The Fish Schtick – Haus-baked ciabatta, mayo, lemon pepper, traditional Atlantic salmon, Cornichon pickles, tomato, red onion, lettuce.
  • The Lake Trout Situation – Haus-baked pullman white bread (buttered and toasted), smoked lake trout salad, smoked pancetta crumbles, cilantro. Served open-faced—our take on a New England lobster roll.
  • The G.O.A.T. – Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel, chèvre, crispy sliced smoked andouille, sliced Cortland apple, lettuce.

This porketta photo shoot.

Right around the time we began working in earnest on the cookbook, our creative team had the bright idea of trying to capture the heart of backyard smoking. This behind-the-scenes look at that shoot was one of my favorite Things™ largely because of the captions, but in no small part due to Greg’s rustic charm and bright attire.

This workplace drama.

Posing by porkettas isn’t the only thing Greg-with-two-Gs is good for. He and Leif have had an ongoing struggle for office dominance that has provided high-quality entertainment to anyone who might tune in.

An update:

This corrupted image of Smoked Ribs and Beans.

What better way to commemorate this delicious though short-lived daily special than this odd photograph? Designers, take note: You can now easily extract the exact color palette of our Smoked Ribs free of charge.

Working on the NWS Cookbook.

Bubbling below the surface of everything else going on this year—the strategic expansion and retraction of our menu, the addition of beer and wine (and cider, and alcoholic seltzer) to our deli, all of the new baked goods, and changes in leadership roles—has been a lot of work on the first-ever Northern Waters Smokehaus cookbook.

While there’s still quite a bit of work ahead of us, and the anticipated release date falls somewhere no sooner than Summer 2021, these past ten months of work on the book have been an exciting, sometimes nerve-wracking, ultimately very fulfilling ride.

These new faces.

The new folks who have joined our team have been pretty alright this year.

That’s all for 5 Things™ in 2019! See you next year!

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5 Things About NWS Mail Order in 2019

The Holiday Mail Order season at Northern Waters Smokehaus has officially come to a close! Writing this summary post, it seems like barely a heartbeat has passed, but to the dedicated seasonal and All-Season staff working long hours—the M.O. workdays often extended from as early as 5 a.m. to as late as midnight, divided between a few shifts of amorphous length—it must feel like the conclusion to an epic journey.

Much has changed for us in the previous year of the department. In the late Spring, Andy took over as mail order director. In the Summer and Fall months, we designated cut-off days for the various holiday shipping schedules, solidified communication channels between the mail order department and the production team (aka the smokehouse), re-assessed our shipping rates and carriers to accurately reflect the material cost of shipping throughout the nation, and, for basically the first time in the department’s history, are now not losing money on the cost of shipping.

All of these changes have helped our small-scale operation provide exquisite smoked fish, meats, and other treats to an enormous amount of people this season, and to do so in a profitable manner: huge news for any small business!

This week, we’ll look at a few data points—I’d guess about five—that might provide some insight into the season and what it entails.

Ten (plus one) people.

Andy, six other year-round NWS employees, three seasonal laborers, and former M.O. director, Annemarie—also former author of this blog—taking care of outreach for corporate orders remotely: That’s the size of the crew who spent the last month and some change packaging and shipping out several literal tons of product to as close as Southern Minnesota and as far as Hawaii.

One month, one week.

That’s the length of the “season” as we measured it this year. Mail order happens, to varying degrees, year round at NWS, but for the sake of this blog post (and our own internal reckoning), the holiday shipping season began on November 11th and ended on December 18th, with the cutoff for orders shipped in 2019 on December 16th.

One thousand seven hundred sixty three.

That is how many individual boxes were shipped during the official season. 1,576 orders taken in-store, over the phone, or online, with an additional 187 through Goldbelly. Though it is never quite so cut-and-dried, that works out to just under 180 boxes per mail order staff member during this short stint.

A look at the most popular items.

While researching this tidbit, or, more accurately, asking Flo to help me uncover these statistics, the initial report was mistakenly only for the final week of the season. Upon second inspection, with proper dates in-place, we got a nearly identical list. Since I’ve mentioned both of them, I’ll provide both. Here’s the top sellers for the final week of 2019 mail order, followed by the top sellers the whole season:

And overall:

Clearly, our smoked fish is the overall winner of the season, which is not a huge surprise, given how popular it, and fish sandwiches, are in our deli.

Peak dates.

I’ll spare you the very boring-looking graph, but five days stood out (with steep peaks) for orders placed—a perfect number for the overarching theme of this blog. The significance of these dates may be partially arbitrary, but I’ll try to wager a guess as to why each day was so successful. What follows is a blend of fact and intuition:

  • 11/18 – This date reeks to me of “final day to place orders that will arrive before Thanksgiving” territory.
  • 11/29 – This was Black Friday, right? All of the calendars in the room are flipped to December, so I cannot be bothered to verify this claim.
  • 12/2 – Cyber Monday, also known ’round these parts as Pigs in Space, a day when many folks are compelled by deals to shop online. Our particular variety of deal is free (or reduced) shipping on orders between $150 and $350 placed on this day.
  • 12/9 – I have barely the slightest clue as to the significance of this date. Shot in the dark: Folks want their food available for the holidays, early enough that there is no concern about it arriving on time, but not so early as to be on its last legs of freshness when served.
  • 12/15 – The penultimate day to place orders for shipping in 2019.

Sincerest thanks for reading this week, and for whatever part you may have played in our Holiday Mail Order Season! Shipping resumes January 6th, 2020!

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5 Things: December 13th, 2019

It’s the final Friday the 13th of the decade!

Welcome back to 5 Things™. This week we have a very important announcement: December 16th-18th are the final days of mail order shipping until next year. January 6th, to be precise, is when mail order shipping resumes. The last day to place an order to be shipped is Tuesday, the 17th.

This isn’t a good photo, but I hope it is useful.

Between writing a company newsletter and continuing to work on the cookbook, I’ve become a bit exhausted of words this week. The rest of this week’s Things™ will be mostly photographs. If there are words describing them, it is because I couldn’t help myself.

Duluth Winter Village.

Participating in the Duluth Winter Village at Glensheen is always a joy.

Photos by Sharon McMahon of Three Irish Girls Photography

Flo is a beacon of goodness in this world.
Everybody’s looking warm as heck out here.

One Window: Two Views.

I got to work at my favorite desk this week. Here’s the view right up against the glass.

And from a few feet back.

Art by Leif and his daughter.

Deli Life: Cheesy.

Our deli is stocked to the brim with amazing cheeses, like this trio from Jasper Hill Farms. I eagerly await the next shipment, since setting out a sample of the newly-arrived cheeses for employees to sample is common practice at the Smokehaus.

Carrot Cake Cookies are back!

In case you hadn’t noticed in that last photo—I get it: I’m not a great photographer and there’s a lot of glare/reflection—Patricia’s amazing cookie sandwiches are back in-stock.


Thanks for stopping by 5 Things™! See you next week!

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5 Cheeses We’re Crazy About

Sandwiches, smoked fish and smoked meats aren’t the only things we do here at Northern Waters Smokehaus: We’re also purveyors of fine cheeses, olives, sweet and savory baked goods, and variations on fermented cabbage—and that’s just the short list.

The holidays are a great time for cheese (though what isn’t?), so this week we’re going all-in on “the adult form of milk.” When I asked TK, the brains and the brawn of our cheese operation, for a list of his five favorite cheeses we’re carrying this holiday season, he went above and beyond with detailed notes on each. What follows is a sort of mind-meld between TK and myself.

Rush Creek Reserve

This time of year, the hyper-regional, hyper-limited release, hyper-delicious Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese Co. is already on everyone’s mind—and may as well be on everyone’s tables too.

Rush Creek Reserve is made in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. It’s a washed rind, raw cow’s milk cheese that is a late autumn and winter exclusive. Don’t let “raw milk” cheese freak you out—after 60 days of aging, raw milk cheese passes the FDA’s raw milk laws.

In late autumn and leading into winter the cows diet changes from the fresh pastures of summer to the fall and winter hay, making their milk extremely rich and silky.

Rush Creek Reserve is made to show off this change in the cow’s diet. Made in the French & Swiss Alpine-style of Vacherin cheese, Rush Creek Reserve is wrapped in a hand-harvested piece of spruce bark. This helps the cheese keep its shape—due to its runny texture at peak ripeness—as well as adding tannins to its flavor.. The combination of the spruce and rich milk creates a rich custard texture with a very soft, delicate texture and a savory, rich finish. 

Rush Creek Reserve is an absolute must at holiday gatherings. Simply cut the top of the rind off and heap spoonfuls onto crackers, charcuterie, or just eat it on its own! This miraculous wheel pairs perfectly with a fruity Beaujolais wine. TK recommends with a glass of La Boutanche Gamay, which is available by the (re-corked) bottle in our deli.

Friesago

Shepherd’s Way Farmstead cheese is made in Nerstrand, MN by Jodi Ohlsen Read. This Asiago-style cheese is a natural-rind semi-aged sheep’s milk cheese. It’s semi-dense in texture and has an amazing grassy nuttiness to it. This cheese is extremely versatile for cooking: a perfect addition to pasta and TK’s favorite substitute for parmesan in a Caesar salad.

And TK isn’t the only one excited about it.

Friesago is a multiple time award-winning cheese by the ACS (American Cheese Society) in the Farmstead Sheep Cheese category.

Friesago pairs well with wines that have hints of salinity to them. “Salty wines?,” you may be thinking? No, winemakers never add salt to wines, ever. Think of it as a soil composition. Vineyards that are near salty bodies of water or grown in volcanic soil will bring salty notes to the wine. Think Sicilian wines. Grab a hunk of Friesago and a glass of Adrianna Occhipinti’s Sicilian made wine, Tami, sold right here at the Smokehaus.

Sakatah

Sakatah is a Dakota word meaning “Singing Hills”. It’s also the name of the Minnesota State Park between Mankato and Faribault, near Alemar Cheese Co.’s home.

This soft ripened cow’s milk cheese is seasonally made and is a great representation of an artisanal product. Wrapped in a Marquette grape leaf (a cold weather wine grape grafted by the U of M) Alemar is paying homage to the Banon and Le Mothais cheeses of Europe, using cow’s milk rather than goat’s milk.

Sakatah has balanced earthiness, provided by the tannins from the grape leaves, finishing with creamy, peppery notes.

Before serving, let the cheese sit out for 30-minutes to come to room temperature for its aroma and texture to be at its peak—this is a good practice with most soft and creamy cheeses.

Eat this cheese with wine that has a higher acidity, perhaps an unoaked Chardonnay, crisp Riesling—or if you are into ciders, try it with a French Brittany-made cider. La Brun is a delicious natural cider that pairs perfectly with Sakatah. If you’re in our deli and want to snack on a piece of Sakatah, it’s a must-try with the Pullus Pinot Grigio wine, made in Slovenia. 

Alpha Tolman

Jasper Hill Farm, in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, leads the US in artisanal cheese-making while being at the forefront of environmental impact & research of their farms. They are driven to be the standard bearer of quality and innovation in US cheese-making. 

Alpha Tolman is a brand new cheese to our deli (and to TK’s knowledge, we are the only shop in Duluth selling Jasper Hill Farm cheese). It is made from raw cow’s milk with 100% of the milk coming from a single herd. This herd happily roams the pasture right onsite at the Jasper Hill Creamery and Cellars.

Alpha Tolman is inspired by French & Swiss cheeses like Appenzeller & Raclette. It has a buttery, fruity & nutty flavor when young, developing a bold, meaty, caramelized onion character as it matures. The texture is dense and pliant, easily portioned and ideal for melting.

The texture, aesthetic, and flavor make Alpha Tolman an ideal choice for fans of Appenzeller (or fondue!). TK strongly recommends pairing Alpha Tolman with Smokehaus ham. Using your oven’s broiler, heap thin cuts of Alpha Tolman onto thick-cut Smokehaus ham until the cheese starts to blister and caramelize. Next take a healthy wad of butter and slowly brown it on your stove top. Drizzle the brown butter all over the ham and cheese then serve (on a roll or on its own). Absolute perfection!

Try pairing Alpha Tolman with a robust ale, such as Hoops #21 Ale (sold here in our deli!) or a Belgium-style farmhouse ale.       

Lucky Linda

Lucky Linda is Redhead Creamery’s clothbound cow’s milk farmstead cheddar. Made in the little town of Brooten in west central Minnesota, this six-plus-month aged cheddar has gained notoriety in its relatively young existence (Redhead’s first wheel of cheese being made in 2014). Each wheel of cheese is aged right under the creamery in their cellars, allowing natural molds to create their ridiculously terroir-driven cheese. 

Rustic-looking in style, this clothbound cheddar has notes of bold mushroom, with sharp creaminess, nuttiness, and a balanced lactic finish. 

Pairing Lucky Linda with a dry cider is a no-brainer, especially Sociable Cider’s Freewheeler—guess where you can find it. Not a cider person? Try it with Fulton’s Standard Lager. The caramel notes of Lucky Linda and the maltiness of the Standard Lager deliciously compliment each other.   


Cheese is a sophisticated addition to whatever snack you’re planning, and can add dimension to many an entree. It’s an easy gift—easier if you have any inclination as to your giftee’s preferred flavor palate. Cheese, the scientific community tells us, is like a drug. These, and many more reasons, are why we’re so excited about our carefully curated lineup of (mostly) local/regional cheeses. We do our best to offer a unique selection of handmade cheeses. This isn’t American Cheese Product: This is the real deal. Every cheese in our inventory has a story—the kind you’ll be glad to share with your friends and loved ones.

You’ll taste the difference.

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5 Things: November 29th, 2019

Happy Black Friday! We’ll keep this 5 Things™ short and sweet, so you can maximize your flat-screen TV-buying time today.

Duluth is covered in snow! November was a month of coldsnaps and rain, all a tease to the snow-covered winters to which we are accustomed.

The first Big Snow™ of the year began with slush sometime around 6 p.m. on Tuesday (I was inside, and not watching the radar), then accumulated overnight, continuing through the early afternoon on Wednesday.

Waking up Wednesday morning to let my dog outside, watching her hop and sprint around, struggling to pack down the tall snow just enough to do her business, the large snowflakes falling and slowly dancing in a mild breeze like the inside of a snow globe, I experienced one of those rare (for me) Winter moments during which I feel tranquil—not shrugging and squinting against the bitter cold, or cooped up inside longing for the warmth of sunshine. In that moment, with the insulation of a fresh coat of snow and the glow of dawn reflecting off the undamaged ‘flakes, I thought, “this isn’t so bad. I could survive this.”

Where did I go? I got lost for a minute. Back to business.

Flo will be stationed at Hucklebeary’s 2nd Birthday & Small Business Saturday Bash!

Alongside a host of great local merchants, NWS will have various swag (T-Shirts, hats, and tote bags), salumi (Salamini, Saucisson Sec and Pepperoni), bento boxes—with Castel Vetrano olives, local cheese, and sliced salumi—and gift cards available.

This marks the beginning of our annual holiday gift card sale: November 30th through December 31st, for every $100 worth of gift cards purchased, receive a ~*bonus*~ $20 gift card.

This offer is only available in-store, at the SBS bash, and the Duluth Winter Village, and does not extend to online gift cards. The $100 can be arranged in any increments, but please don’t ask for 100x$1 gift cards.

Speaking of the Duluth Winter Village—it’s next week.

December 7th & 8th, we’ll be slinging the same wares as Small Business Saturday from a modestly heated shipping crate on the Glensheen Mansion grounds. It’s a lot cuter and cozier than I’m making it sound, and this year the Village will have a glorious lights display, making it all the more magical.

Cross your fingers and your toes for more dreamy snow globe snowfall next weekend.

Mail Order has a busy Monday ahead of them.

Monday kicks off with the packing of 300+ boxes for a single corporate order. The crew will be here bright and early carefully arranging four slabs of assorted Atlantic salmon in each box (which they assembled and lined with insulation on Wednesday of this week) to be shipped ASAP.

All of this will happen whilst they navigate the assorted private orders shipping out the same day, and the incoming Pigs in Space orders.

Which brings us to this week’s final Thing™:

Pigs in Space III (or MMXIX) takes place 24 hours only on C•Y•B•E•R Monday, December 2nd.

Pigs in Space is that special time of year when MN/Midwest shipping for orders between $150 and $350 is free and Continental shipping for like orders is 50% off.

From 00:00:01 to 23:59:59, use the discount code pigsinspace19 to receive free shipping on all eligible MN/Midwest orders and pigsinspacecont19 for 50% off shipping on eligible Continental orders. And we’ll ship them whenever you like.

Some boring restrictions may apply.


That’s all for today. See you next week on 5 Things™(-ings™ -ings™ ings™)

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Smoked Meat Gift Guide 2019

We’re back with another gift guide for the upcoming holidays (or any time). Our smoked meat products are darn close to guaranteed hits, whomever is receiving them, but we’ve got some idea fuel for you:

For the bon vivant.

Country Pâté.

Frequently found on charcuterie boards and our Hedonist sandwich, this rich and savory, slow-roasted loaf of pork liver, bacon, brandy and spices is the perfect reminder that it’s good to treat yourself.

For the one who’s always in a hurry.

Snack Sticks.

Cured and seasoned meat—in a stick! What’s not to love?

Send your nomadic friend some fuel on-the-go. Whether it’s our flagship Bison Buddy (with bison and pork), Big Jim hatch chile beef sticks, or the Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger stick, it’s reliable nutrition and a memorable flavor experience.

These are very popular in our deli, so availability varies. Get in touch with us to find out what’s in stock, or to plan ahead.

For the Grill Master.

Smoked Polish Sausage.

One of our oldest products. While this sausage is fully-cooked and ready to eat from cold, it soars when re-cooked over a grill or open flame. Whether its served sliced up cold beside cheese and crackers, or crackling hot and caramelized on a roll with sauerkraut, our Smoked Polish Sausage is exquisite.

For the sports enthusiast.

Summer Sausage.

You either are someone who believes that Sunday is for sports, or you know someone. Our Summer Sausage makes a fantastic snack for the weekly sports gathering, providing tangy, smoky beef and bacon excitement during those interminable commercial breaks. You know the play—send some Summer Sausage to your favorite Sunday sports fan.

For the weekend bruncher.

Smoked Bacon.

The sunshine pouring over you and your loved ones. The boundless conversations and laughter. The endless coffee and mimosas pouring over you and your loved ones. The smell and sound of salty, smoky, thick-sliced pork belly sizzling on your stovetop. Eggs! Oh, the eggs! And potatoes. And more mimosas. Bloody Marys garnished with pickles and cheese cubes and a slice of crispy bacon. (Make sure you’re drinking water too.)

Brunch is power, and there are some people who are destined to wield it. Send that someone in your life some NWS Smoked Bacon and elevate them to the next level.