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5 Things™

Welcome back to my blog of many things.

I didn’t quite make it to the research phase of writing this blog this week. Things are busy, so some things take a sideline. Here’s some things off the top of my head.

  1. The special that started it all!
    I acquired this bit of information recently, and it has to be one of my favorites: During preliminary research for a piece about the history of our daily specials, I learned that the first NWS daily special was a polish sausage braised with Frostop root beer and “some [okay] sauerkraut we didn’t make.” I haven’t tried this yet, but when I get to it, I’ll share my findings.
  2. New sandwiches!
    Don’t we have enough sandwiches on our menu already? I don’t know. Probably not. In 2018, our Sandwich Lab was too good, so in 2019, we’re adding 9 sandwiches (and a salad) to our menu, for a limited time only. Sandwiches with names like “The Breakfast Club,” “The Spinderella,” and “The Bloody Mary” will be making their NWS debuts as month-long specials throughout the year. The salad (which I have eaten my last ten shift breaks) will have a permanent slot on the menu. There may be some sort of voting at the end of the year to find a new permanent addition to the menu. Again, I don’t know. We’re kind of playing this by ear and trying to have fun with it. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming promotion for this year-long event.
  3. The recipes are being gathered!
    We have barely come down from our catalog release high, and we’re already plotting another major endeavor into the printed medium. I cannot say too much, nor would I like to create any unnecessary expectations, but the near future (at the very least geologically speaking) holds an official Northern Waters Smokehaus cookbook. If you can’t hold in your excitement and need something like this in your life now, stop by our shop, pick up some of our complimentary recipe cards, write a few notecards of your own musings, observations, and anecdotes, then cleverly bind the stack with string to create your own Unofficial Northern Waters Smokehaus Cookbook.
  4. Bison is back!
    It’s been back for a while—both as our corned meat of choice (the ’06 with corned bison is unreal), and alongside our beef pastrami—albeit in limited quantities. We source our bison from North American Bison Cooperative. For our pastrami, we’ve switched from the eye of round cut to chuck roll, and in my humble opinion, it was a wonderful decision. The fat marbling and flavor in that large hunk of muscle is phenomenal, and is well-complemented by our haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye.
  5. Something smells fishy!
    If you have noticed that something seems to be afoot, or felt as though you may find a clue around our deli, it may be due to the Cedar Island Conservancy rainbow trout and brown trout we’ve had in our fish case. They’re smoked whole (like we do with whitefish and ciscos) and they’re beautiful to behold and delicious to taste.

    brown trout

    rainbow trout

Thanks for stopping in. Smell ya later.

Oh, and don’t forget that our new gift cards look awesome and for every $100 worth of gift cards you buy before the end of December, you’ll receive a bonus $20 gift card.

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5 Things December 7th

Today’s post will be a serious one. We’re already a week into December and there’s already been a post about “x things pertaining to mail order” on our blog, but the 5 Things™ this week are still going to pertain to mail ordering our products during the month of December. There’s so much to cover.

  1. Cutoffs for holidays!
    This is all I want in my stocking this year. Full-length jeans that have been turned into short jeans. Free the calf. I am kidding, and apologetic. This was supposed to be a serious post.What I’m really talking about is cutoffs for shipping our products based on holidays which affect shipping or might be your reason for ordering in the first place.
    Here are some relevant dates & times and how they pertain to shipping:Tuesday, December 18th @ noon: Cutoff for placing orders to be shipped nationwide before Christmas.
    Wednesday, December 19th @ noon: Cutoff for placing orders to be shipped within Minnesota before Christmas.Wednesday, December 19th: Last day of regular shipping before Christmas.
    Thursday, December 20th: Last day of MN-only shipping before Christmas. At this point, it is overnight shipping (not flat-rate) only for any last-minute nationwide orders.

    Wednesday, December 26th: Last day of regular shipping nationwide before the end of the year.
    Thursday, December 27th: Last day of MN-only shipping before the end of the year. Last day of overnight shipping nationwide.

  2. A note about receiving orders!
    Although “end of the day” for many businesses is somewhere around 5pm, for UPS deliveries, it is 9pm. How might this affect you? Let me break it down:•Orders placed with us before noon on a given day will be shipped out the next day.
    •Shipped orders arrive two shipping days later. (Orders shipped on Tuesday arrive on Thursday; orders shipped on Wednesday arrive on Friday).
    •Orders arrive based on UPS delivery schedules, which means anytime between X am and 9 pm. Unfortunately, we are unable to guarantee specific delivery times for our standard shipping orders.Say you want an All Season Fillet for your holiday party on Wednesday, December 19th, hypothetically speaking, at 7pm. If your order were shipped out on Monday, December 17th, it could arrive on Wednesday at 5pm, but it could also arrive as late as 9pm. Your party was probably still a hit, but the All Season Fillet arrived too late.The best way to circumvent this requires just a little bit of planning ahead: Have the order delivered the week prior.

    Imagine the same scenario, shipped ahead of time: You place your order at 11:55 am on Tuesday, December 11th. It is shipped on Wednesday, the 12th. It arrives Friday, the 14th—perhaps at a convenient time, but perhaps at 9 pm. You refrigerate your All Season all weekend, and into the next week. On the Wednesday, the 19th, at 6 pm, you lay out a gorgeous array of edible art, centered around our fillet and your party guests rave to their friends and family about the delicious food at the holiday party for months to come.

    TL;DR All of this more succinctly here.

  3. Keep up with the latest deals!
    Sign up for our newsletter. Any online or mail order deals will be tied to a coupon code, and our newsletter is the first place to receive those codes.When you subscribe to our newsletter, you will immediately receive a code for 15% off any order. Active subscribers (those of you who regularly open those newsletter links) receive additional deal offers. There’s a form to sign up for our email newsletter located at the bottom of our website homepage.

  4. A note about our staff!
    December is a hectic month around Northern Waters Smokehaus. The sheer volume of production that goes in our facilities, the sometimes Summerlike lines of patrons rounding out their holiday gift shopping, and the hundreds of orders that ship out each week between Monday and Wednesday. Sometimes it can all feel like a blur.If some error does occur with your order, or you aren’t totally satisfied with our product or service, let us know, be patient with us, and we’ll do what we can to make sure you are. We’re all in this together. Like High School Musical, but with more smoked fish.

    porketta
    here’s a lovely photograph of our porketta, to ease your weary eyes from this wall of text.

    5. We have been included in a number of holiday gift guides!Thank you, everyone who included us in their gift guides! Check them out below.

    Twin Cities Business Magazine 2018 Corporate Gift Guide

    Hemispheres Eat, Drink, & Be Merry

    City Pages Ultimate Minnesota Gift Guide For Foodies

Happy Friday, friends. Until next time.

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5 Things: December

December is the most exciting month (IMHO) to be at Northern Waters Smokehaus. Our mail order department swells with seasonal employees and processes hundreds of boxes each week; the smokers might process several hundred pounds of porketta or atlantic salmon in the same time; the line to our deli might look like a Summer day, if not for the heavy clothing; our deli staff has had a month to catch our breath and are in top form. December is a good month for our business.

Before we begin, a few tips for the busy month:

Skip the line, order delivery/pickup. Delivery and pickup hours are 10am-5pm daily. We deliver sandwiches as well as groceries and gift boxes. You can order online or over the phone, but online is easiest.
Place your mail orders early. This ensures that we have what you want in stock. In the late Fall, we incentivize early orders. Basically, as with most things, it is better to plan ahead.

Now, five more things for you.

  1. Catalog Launch Party! We finally did it! We assembled a highly-skilled team and created our first official product catalog, which some have called “beautiful” and others have remarked “looks like it was made by professionals,” which only stings a little bit, because we are so dang proud of ourselves. The catalog contains lovely descriptions of a large swath of the products we carry, charming anecdotes about life at Northern Waters Smokehaus, insights into the guiding principles and philosophy of our business, and abundant visual splendors. Oh, and prices. Sure, it’s a product catalog, but it is also something more than that, and we really hope you enjoy it. If you want to pick up or peruse one, stop into our deli and ask us.In honor of the catalog’s release, we put together a small gathering in our office on Wednesday night. I missed the first hour, but hear it was shoulder to shoulder. By the end it was almost entirely Smokehaus employees, just lingering and enjoying an opportunity to hang out off-the-clock and eat packing peanuts. This week, I learned that the packing peanuts we use for mail orders are basically popcorn.

    The catalog is also available as a PDF
  2. Waterdeep! Well, we’ve done it. Dino-Force Five has saved Faerûn from the terror of the giants and gone it’s separate ways. I wasn’t sure if our weekly D&D sessions merited another Thing™, but the end of one campaign and the beginning of another feels noteworthy enough, and our group has added on two new members. The new cast of characters is an ex-cop half-orc barbarian with anger issues, a rock gnome rogue and a wood-elf druid who have been BFFs for about a hundred years and who specialize in cultivating, refining and distributing herbal *ahem* medicine throughout the city, an eladrin wizard who is a friendly rival to the druid, and mysterious and gregarious tiefling bard who aims to please but seems to have a hidden agenda all residing in the coastal city of Waterdeep,. The scenario seems to be leading toward a heist, but for now I am suspending all assumptions. We meet most Monday nights in the Smokehaus office, though realistically we’re going to have to relocate while the mail order department utilizes that space.
  3. Terrine! Smoked duck breast terrines will be available in our grab&go case this weekend. A terrine is a layered preparation of meat/vegetable/fruit/et cetera contained within aspic or another gelatinous solution. Our smoked duck terrines are set with duck confit, red wine cranberry jam (with hints of anise, clove and black pepper) and sliced candied orange as a garnish, set with agar-agar. The flavor is reminiscent of a holiday meal. Serve alongside dry red wine, a very soft cheese (like Rush Creek Reserve) and a nice crusty bread or cracker.

    Sorry, I didn’t have a photo of the smoked duck terrines.
  4. Winter Village! This weekend, we’ll be at the Glensheen Winter Village, selling salumi, cheese, and cracker bento boxes, salumi, swag (t-shirts, posters, stickers, and such), and gift certificates. The Winter Village is a magical event, and one of three of its ilk going on in the area, alongside the Julebyen in Knife River and the Washington Artists’ Co-op craft sale. I am told there will also be llamas and a sauna on the premises at Glensheen. We’ll be running a gift certificate special in the month of December: buy $100 worth of gift cards, and get a bonus $20 gift card. Once, I helped a customer purchase $900 of gift cards, and receive $180 in bonus gift cards. It felt epic.Also in December: If you have purchased one of our tote bags, bring it with when you come to our shop in December and receive 10% off your order, all month long. If you don’t have a tote already, purchase one and receive 10% off your order. We’ll be running tote specials in the future.
    smokehaus tote bag
  5. Record-breaking Pigs In Space!!! We had a successful Cyber Monday here at Northern Waters Smokehaus. Our second annual Pigs In Space promotion left us with 75 new orders to fill. Pigs in Space, for those who just walked into the room, is our promotion run every Monday-after-the-fourth-Thursday-in-November which offers free shipping on online orders over $150.

 

 

That’s all, folks. Happy Friday.

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5 Things: Extra Concise Edition

I hope all of you had a great time being thankful and eating turkey. I just got over a day-long bout of stomach flu that precluded me from such festivities, and I am still quite disoriented, but the work we’re doing here is important, so I must go on.

Looking outside felt like being inside a snow globe this day.

Alright. Here we go. Five things—

Smokehaus smear campaign! The election season is over, but our smear campaign continues. Through November, any delivery or pickup order of $100 or more comes with a free Spread the Love platter (boursin cheese or salmon pâté).

We shipped out 85 orders on Monday! That’s a lot of boxes, especially this early in the mail order season. We sent out a lot of holiday hams.

Final days of our MN Early Bird Special! Ends this Sunday, November 25th, at 11:59:59 PM. 15% off orders to be shipped within Minnesota. This special applies to orders placed before this date. Shipping date is still up to you.

Cyber Monday: Pigs in Space! Just as our early bird special ends, our Cyber Monday special begins. Pigs in Space begins at 12am on Monday, November 26th and ends at 11:59:59pm — Free shipping for online orders of $150 or more. One day only; online orders only.

I need a fifth thing! This tower of boxes is a thing.
This is the first time my readability assessment has been “Good,” so perhaps groggy, reserved Ned is onto something.

Until we meet again.

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From TK’s Desk: Rush Creek Reserve

When we get new, exciting cheeses in the shop, TK writes us a memo detailing how to describe it to customers. These write-ups have frequently inspired me to serve and experiment with these cheeses. Here are his notes:

Uplands Cheese Company’s Rush Creek Reserve, is a washed-rind, raw, cow’s milk cheese that is an Autumn exclusive.

As the cows begin to change their diet from the fresh pastures of Summer to the Fall and Winter hay, their milk becomes rich and silky.

Rush Creek Reserve is made to show off the rich, unctuous texture of his hay-fed milk. This delicate, soft and seductive cheese is beautifully hand-wrapped with spruce bark, then aged 60 days.

Rush Creek Reserve is made in Dodgeville, Wisconsin.
Each wheel is 12oz and is retailed for $35/wheel. They will not be cut into smaller portions.

We are fortunate to bring in this extremely seasonal and small batch cheese.. We will be getting only 16 of these wheels in from now until December.
A few words from its maker, Andy Hatch, “…savory custard, as it exudes a very soft, delicate texture with a savory, rich finish likened to cured meat…”

Since the cheese is produced in the fall and only available in November and December, it is typically served during one sitting and not stored for any extended period of time. If you do not finish the cheese in one serving, shame on you. Just kidding… Simply wrap it up in its breathable wrap and store in the coolest part of the fridge.

To properly eat this cheese, let it settle to room temperature (approximately 30 minutes of sitting out), then slice off the top rind, exposing the custard-like, soft center that has a paste-like consistency. This can be scooped out with a spoon and applied in healthy-sized portions onto a cracker, slice of bread, or any other face-stuffing vehicle.

Pair with sparkling or dry white wine (think Sauvignon Blanc, chardonnay, or a flowery riesling (German rieslings are a perfect seasonal fit). Rush Creek’s flavor also complements stone fruits, braised red meats, pates, and Smokehaus salumi (saucisson is my favorite with this, but pepperoni is also amazing).

Thanks, TK. Rush Creek Reserve is available in the deli now until it’s gone.

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5 Things

Today I feel as though a veil has been lifted from my eyes. As I wandered the three levels of NWS HQ, observing and probing my co-workers with questions about the tasks at their hands, I realized that the small company I began working for nearly five years ago, and the small spaces I have haunted for the same amount of time are expansive and dynamic and chaotic enough that they can still surprise me. Today, I’d like to talk about my impressions and interactions while floating about pestering my co-workers, then hit you with some good ol’ advertisement. Let’s go floor by floor:

  1. 3rd floor: I entered the office and immediately saw two new faces hard at work. I haven’t even caught their names yet, they were so embroiled in their work, digging out items from the deep freeze, vacuum-sealing chunks of salmon, and taping shut fully packed boxes. The mail order department processed 87 orders this week alone, and they are still just at the foot of the mountain that is our holiday mail order season.
    Frozen bison buddies destined for insulated boxes

    The surroundings toe the line of order and chaos. Zip-tied bundles of flattened boxes are piled high in canted and zigzagging stacks top a labyrinthine arrangement of shelves. The wall of product label sticker spools is functional, if disorganized.

    This week, twenty pallets of recycled denim box-liners were delivered to DeWitt-Seitz and our off-site storage area. 4ish- by 3ish- by 6ish-foot boxes of them are stacked in the office, and various corners of the floor. We have even requisitioned a room down a winding path of hallways that I had not travelled before I began researching this week’s blog to stack our boxes and liners, which is filled to the ceiling/skylight.

    This is not my first Winter here. I know what to expect. It still struggle to imagine the extent of the activity that will occur in this small office suite over the next month-point-five.

  2. 1st floor: Upon entering the deli, I was asked to join a mini-band. Unsure exactly what that entailed, I withheld my decision and awaited their explanation. A mini-band, it turns out, is a band of individuals of any size which specializes in small instruments: mandolin, “tiny drums,” jaw harp, ukulele, kazoo etc. I was recruited as the hypothetical toy piano specialist. We probably would have had a song written within minutes had a line of customers not appeared. The future of the band is unclear, but it feels good to be exposed to these sorts of ideas on a regular basis.
  3. Loading dock: Pine bough is easily one of the best scents in the entirety of olfactory stimulus, and this week is the transition time into Winter decorations at DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, so walking through the loading dock behind our shop (a roughly one-hundred times a day occurrence) has gone from mundane task to repeated entanglement with the Sublime. Right outside of our backdoor there is a stack of wreaths. I hope they hold off on hanging those wreaths a few days longer at least, because I don’t want to be the weird guy sniffing them once they have been hung.
  4. Basement: When I made it down to the basement, the production team was setting up to handle a massive volume of cabbage. In less than two hours, they told me, they’d have begun the pickling of 150 lbs of sauerkraut. Three of them divided up into one cleaner and two cutters.
    Cutters cut, cleaners clean.

    In my assumed mode of fascination, I asked, “what do cutters do?”
    “They cut,” was the curt response. “Would you like to know what the cleaners do,” they followed up.
    I bit.
    “They cut too.”

    After a good laugh at my foolishness, I learned that before the cabbage is cut, salted and left to pickle, the heads are thoroughly cleaned so that there are no contaminants in the mix or on the cutting boards. Sauerkraut pickles for a month before it hits our shelves and sandwich line. Our kimchi ferments for a week before we package it.

    Also in the basement, I found the mop closet still under construction, and snapped a photo.

    There are many lessons to be learned in the smokehouse proper, as the folks working down there have countless hours of hands-on experience creating the amazing food we sell.

    I also found a few purple tomatoes among the heirlooms. Purple is my favorite color, so this pleased me.

  5. Good ol’ advertisin’: There is a new mail order porketta option available this season. Previously, our porketta was available online in whole 4 lbs increments. Now it is available in 3 and 4 lbs increments. This is great for those who are shopping with a budget, or simply don’t have quite as many mouths to feed. Our porketta has been featured in Bon Appetit magazine and has been featured on many of my daily sandwich creations lately. It is simple to work with but highly versatile, made with the highest quality berkshire pork, seasoned to perfection and slow-roasted in the smoker.For a very limited time, we have smoked ciscos in stock. If you’ve been craving them, stop in this weekend, because they go fast.

    One final note before you go: Monday, November 19th is the last day of our mail-order turkey special. Any purchase of a whole turkey breast made by Monday will come with a free 8oz tub of crayo.

Catch you next week, Thingerinos.

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5 Things That Happened at NWS

Days in the deli have slowed down, but life at the Smokehaus have not been boring.

  1. We’re making a whole lot of food! This week our production team roasted 500 lbs of porketta, prepared 120 each of pepperoni and saucisson sec for curing, and started 480 lbs of ham on a 5-7 day brine cycle. A great deal of that meat already has a home among our mail order queue, and what’s left of it will likely fly off our shelves by the end of December’s month-long grocery rush in the shop. Pigs fly at Northern Waters Smokehaus.
  2. Sandwich Lab! I already leaked one Sandwich Lab secret here, so I’m going to hold tight to the juicier details, but once all of the voting, calculating and deliberating is complete, y’all may be in for some fantastically mouthwatering experiences at our little deli.
  3. Our Winter catalog is complete! I had previously lied and referred to it as a Fall/Winter catalog and a Fall catalog. Whoops. Regardless, it is out and it looks great. Watching the design and marketing teams develop it was really cool. So much care and attention to detail went into presenting our awesome food and history to you. I am super proud of my coworkers. NWS cookbook, here we come! Catalogs are available upon request.
  4. Hidden Falls cheese is in season! Hidden Falls is a creamy sheep’s and cow’s milk cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms in Nerstrand, MN. It has citrus and wildflower qualities present in its flavor, and notes of woodsy mushrooms. Accompany it with honey and seasonal fruit, or pair it with our salumi, but whatever you do, do it quickly. Hidden Falls is only available between October and December.
  5. It’s our birthday month! Northern Waters Smokehaus is a Scorpio. Actually, our birthday might even be today. I’m like 90% certain it falls between November 8th and 12th. I really need to step up my research game. We have had a pretty great year as a company. We’ve had a segment filmed for the Travel Channel, we have an awesome staff, the books show growth from last year, we released our first official product catalog, we threw a sweet party/afterparty combo in September, and we have felt a ton of love from our community, our regulars, the tourists (food- and otherwise), and our online network. Eric, Lynn  and the rest of us are so darned proud of this 20-year old deli and we are so darned proud of them. Thank you, reader, customer, friend, for supporting this business.

That last sentence was a better closer than this one is.

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A Practical Guide to Northern Waters Smokehaus: Add-ons, part 1

Sandwiches, for us, are serious business. Each sandwich on our menu has hours of R&D associated with it, and there is no true B.Y.O. option on our menu. Preferences aside, let’s just say each sandwich is the perfect version of itself.

But perfection is an illusion. What use is the platonic ideal Pork Loin D-Luxx when your palate yearns to transcend? I’ll rephrase: Our sandwiches are really good, but when it comes to flavor, there is always room for strategic enhancement. Here are some tried-and-true NWS sandwich add-ons that have fun names.

Jean Jacket Cilantro and sriracha. The name comes from a dream about a gorilla wearing a denim coat. The flavor is bright and spicy. This will keep you warm on a crisp fall day. This is the classic Smokehaus add-on: So good, it is already on several of our sandwiches. Try it on the Cajun Finn, Cold Turkey, or Gorilla.

Woolrich — Basil and sriracha. Not just for those with cilantro aversion. This is an even brighter take on the Jean Jacket. Try it on a Salami Dewitt-Seitzer, MN Pulled Pork (Friday’s special), or anywhere Jean Jackets are good. My second-favorite part of this add-on (after the taste) is how it relates to the previous and following options.

The Full Bemidji — Cilantro, basil and sriracha. A Jean Jacket over a Woolrich. For those who want to fully awaken their sinuses while enjoying their sandwich. This goes on most sandwiches I make for myself. It’s important to layer in these Winter months. Try it on a Northern Bagel or a Purple Range.

Honey — No fancy name for this one. Ask for honey on your Hedonist or Gorilla. If we have it on the line, you shall have it on your sandwich. Honey compliments the sweetness of our ham and mustard quite well.

Split-Finger — Originating from a modification to the Clubhaus (formerly the Thursday special, now a full-time menu item) called the Split-Finger Fastball. If you order a sandwich “split-finger,” we’ll substitute a healthy swipe of crayo on one slice of bread, mayo on the other, and Jean Jacket for the standard condiments. Clubhauses and D-Luxxes revel in this substitution.

The Bret –– There’s no button in our P.O.S. that says “The Bret,” and neither Bret nor myself probably came up with this add-on, though I can’t specifically remember when it entered my life. Once, I told my friend Bret he should have his Cajun Finn with a Jean Jacket and pickled ginger, and afterward he told me it was the best sandwich he has ever had and orders it that way every time he comes to the Smokehaus, so I have decided to name a Cajun Finn with a Jean Jacket and pickled ginger “The Bret,” and you should definitely try it.

And now for something totally new:

The Wet-suit — Quick pickles and cheddar cheese. Slippery wet sweet and tangy quick pickle slices and a sharp cheddar barrier. This is the most recent sandwich slang we are trying to introduce to the world. In fact, the first time I heard about it was this previous Tuesday at our annual Sandwich Lab. Try this on a Pork Loin D-Luxx or a Clubhaus.

Conclusions are challenging, so I’ll keep it simple and conclude that you should try these additions out, if they sound good to you. I am so hungry.

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5 Things

  1. Mail order crayo special! Are you a fan of our maple sage smoked turkey? How about our crayo? November 1st through 19th, any mail orders including a full turkey breast will receive a free 8oz tub of crayo. Perfect for all of your leftover turkey needs.crayo sandwich
  2. More pop-ups are upon us! We love doing pop-ups and sharing our food at our favorite local businesses. Last night we were at Bent Paddle serving Italian sausage with peppers and beer brats with kimchi, hoisin and sriracha. Wow. Writing that just made my mouth water.
  3. Sandwich Lab! Sandwich Lab is taking place Tuesday, November 6th. Sandwich Lab is a yearly meeting in which we refine our sandwich making techniques and share our personal creations for review and possible inclusion on the menu. We encourage our full staff to attend, so we’ll be closing the shop at 5pm on that day.
  4. New mop closet! Just when I thought I could stop writing about our series of renovations, we decided to tear down our mop closet and build a new one from the ground up.
  5. My favorite breakfast! Positively 3rd Street Bakery
    Oatmeal Day Bagels, ripe avocado, and NWS Maple BreakfastSausage. Cook the sausage however you prefer—I do mine at medium heat on a cast-iron pan and let the sides of the links caramelize. Toast the bagel. Spread avocado on the bagel. Cut the sausage lengthwise and form as many open-face sandwiches as you can manage. Total prep time is under 10 minutes. 1 avocado, 2 bagels and 4 links of sausage make breakfast for two. Serve with a glass of orange juice, raspberries and blackberries, because that’s what I would do.
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A Practical Guide to Northern Waters Smokehaus: Samples, Part 1

I have been mulling over the concept of a “Practical Guide to the Smokehaus” for a few months now. The task is daunting. It requires a vastness and depth of focus that could end up too vague or underdeveloped, and a precision of information that could lead us to conclusions that are not necessarily earned—a bunch of disconnected data gathered from anecdotes and opinions, leaving everyone wondering “why should I care about this?” As the weaver of this web, I find the task of creating a concise and comprehensive guide to your Northern Waters Smokehaus experience beyond my present resources and abilities. So, a thought occurred to me: I could save myself a great deal of concern over quality of output, I could generate a steady stream of content in digestible morsels, I could use this marketing-based writing as a means to connect with my co-workers and fellow human-beings; I could make it a weekly column, and I could get real answers to a variety of frequently asked questions from my esteemed colleagues. What follows is my first attempt:

“What goes well with this?” “Could you make a sample platter with the best stuff?” “What should I get?”

These are but a few of the daunting questions my co-workers and I engage with every day in the deli. I usually default to asking customers what they tend to like, then customizing my recommendations based on their response and my knowledge of our products. This doesn’t always work out. I am human and sometimes my preferences don’t line up with the customer’s. Sometimes the customer just wants someone else to do the thinking for them (which is very valid, and to which I often relate). And sometimes it is best just to judge by taste.

Today’s topic: The ideal sample-platter. (Note: complex sample platters at Northern Waters Smokehaus will still be made primarily at our employees’ discretion, but you are always welcome to sample individual finished products.)

“What would be on your ideal sample platter?” This is the question I asked my co-workers. Given the time and resources to prepare an inspiring combination of flavors or a greatest hits-style spread to share with our customers, what end result would we see, by each deli employee.

Leif “Pork loin Squealy Dan samples. No, wait. That sounds like a lot of work. I don’t want everyone to come in expecting me to have those prepared,” At this time, I assured him that this is just a thought-experiment, and that he wouldn’t be required to make these, though we discuss whether to make them as sandwiches that are then slivered into samples, individually assembled/toasted open-face sandwich bites, or topped saltine crackers. We also discuss deep-fried saltine crackers—unrelated. “Oh, and I changed my mind: They’d be porketta Squealy Dans.”

Michael — Michael had just finished telling me about why salmon tails are his favorite product we carry, when I sprung this second question on him: “Tails, pancetta, a mix of the salumi, and a Jerry bread [Jerry bakes several of our breads in-haus],” Which kind of Jerry bread? “Definitely the rye.”

Hyland — “Saucisson sec with slices of pear or apple or cucumber. And a really nutty Brie.” Cele: You’re a really nutty brie. “Your mom’s a really nutty Brie,” Cele: No she’s not. She’s a really nutty T—. “I’d also put out castel vetrano olives.”

Cele — “Olivada, chèvre, pork loin, salamini, cajun salmon and black pepper salmon,” Any crackers? “Yea. Ritz. Because we’re fancy.”

Lucy — “Probably ham, pepperoni, saucisson, traditional [salmon] and bread.” Lucy grew up around Northern Waters Smokehaus food, and offered that the glue of this hypothetical sample platter is nostalgia for her childhood. She didn’t say that exactly. I am just trying to paraphrase her poetically.

Jacob — As I described my task, a light brightened behind Jacob’s eyes: “I already know what I’d make. ‘Lutheran Sushi’ — Is that offensive?” For those who don’t already know, Lutheran Sushi is a term which I am not going to research the origin of at this moment, but which I have come to understand as sliced meat, spackled with a binding condiment and wrapped around a pickle spear. When pressed on his preferred variety, he replied, “Pork loin, for sure. With mayo.”

Sam — “Hedonist bites. Saltine crackers spread with a bite of country pâté, a dab of mayo and mustard, a slice of onion, and a cornichon pickle slice. They’re great for tipping people who are on the fence about country pâté or the hedonist.”

In the spirit of not making my co-workers bear the entire burden of producing content, I’ll give my take on the week’s subject at the end:

Ned — “I sure hope we continue carrying our Sogn Tomme cheese,” This is my inner-monologue. “I had no idea what it was before we started selling it,” It’s a fatty, crumbly sheep’s milk cheese. “But I sure enjoyed the time I served it with smoked Alaskan King Salmon and blueberries, drizzled in honey, atop Carr’s water crackers.” This inner monologue is extrapolated from my frenzied mental short-hand.

From here on out, y’all can expect these practical guides on a variety of subjects, returning to some topics (like this) to eventually document all of my co-workers’ suggestions, and musing on new ideas as they occur. Hopefully, you’ll receive sagely advice from myself and my co-workers to guide you through your NWS experience, inspire you to try something new, or enhance your old favorites.