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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?

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Announcing: Smokehaus Happy Hour

Hey!

Time: Mondays through Thursdays, 5 to 7 pm, beginning Monday, March 11th.

Place: Northern Waters Smokehaus Deli→

Details: One of our new Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, toasted and topped with mustard, celery salt, tomatoes, pickles, and pepperoncini on a hausmade ciabatta roll with your choice of a bag of chips or a can of LaCroix. $6+tax. Only available in-store. Friendship and goodwill in abundance, for you to carry into the rest of the world. Probably good music.

The Haus-ki is here.

We debuted our spin on the Chicago dog last night at Bent Paddle Brewing Company’s tap room, but this dog is too good to save for pop-ups alone, so we’re bringing it to you four days a week, live from our deli.

The Haus-ki.

True happiness may come from within, but a Haus-ki couldn’t hurt.

We’re teaming this dog up with your choice the usual suspects—

—alongside the standard NWS accoutrements. For only $6 ($6.38 after tax)! There’s not much more to say than this is a tasty treat for a hot deal.

Whether you want to stay a while to socialize, or just long enough to grab a dog, join us, and let’s be happy together.

The first NWS Happy Hour is Monday, March 11th from 5 to 7pm. In the spirit of food bringing people together, this happy hour deal will not be available via delivery. We hope to see you there.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Spinderella

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:


It’s Monday, March 4th. That means our hottest new sandwich (which will be served cold) drops today. Peep the video below.

Press play. Sound “on” for best results.

Salt & Pepper alone do not a taste make. Essential seasonings though they may be, they’re at their best when they are tying-together and highlighting a mix of flavors.

This audacious new Sandwich Lab experiment is known as the Spinderella, and it’s a gustatory tribute to the DJ of the legendary hip-hop outfit Salt’n’Pepa—she who deftly mixes the soundscape that supports the MCs’ rhythms and rhymes. The ‘Wich’s blend of ingredients is eclectic—mayo, mustard, dill pickle, salumi mix, turkey, red onion, and cilantro on a hero roll, with scallion cream cheese (for dippin’)—but elegantly mixed to create something greater than the mere sum of its parts.

If you can’t make it to see Salt’n’Pepa on tour this spring/summer, or to any of DJ Spinderella’s upcoming solo shows, just can’t wait, or even if you can do any or all of those things, stop by our shop and try our culinary tribute to the classic hip-hop trio during the month of March. Each Sandwich Lab special purchased gets you two stamps on your sandwich card.

The Spinderella is available in our deli and via delivery for $13+tax.


WHAT IS SANDWICH LAB?
AT NORTHERN WATERS SMOKEHAUS, OUR WORK IS PLAYING WITH FOOD. THAT MEANS SOMETIMES, IN THE LINE OF DUTY, WE STUMBLE UPON AN AMAZING COMBINATION OF INGREDIENTS THAT EVOLVES OVER SEVERAL SHIFT-MEALS INTO A NOTEWORTHY NEW SANDWICH. OTHER TIMES WE UNCOVER A MORE EFFICIENT WAY TO BUILD A SANDWICH, OR WE SWAP AN INGREDIENT ON A CURRENT MENU ITEM.SANDWICH LAB IS AN ANNUAL GATHERING OF OUR STAFF TO REFINE OUR SANDWICH-LINE SKILLS, TO COME TO AGREEMENT ON ANY CONTROVERSIES, AND—THE BEST PART—TO INTRODUCE OUR PET SANDWICHES TO THE GREATER SMOKEHAUS COMMUNITY.
NOTABLE SANDWICH LAB FINDINGS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS INCLUDE THE CEDARS’S SECRET, THE PURPLE RANGE, THE PHOEBE, AND THE PORK LION. LAST YEAR’S SANDWICH LAB HAD SO MANY GOOD SANDWICHES THAT WE COULDN’T DECIDE ON JUST ONE OR TWO TO ADD TO THE MENU, SO WE DECIDED TO GIVE THEM ALL A CHANCE TO SHINE, AS MONTH-LONG SPECIALS.
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“5” Things: March 1st

Some love the crisp Minnesota winter air.

It can be invigorating (I’ve heard). Jackets piled over sweaters sound cozy (in theory). Perhaps the most salient justification I can come up with is that the contrast of winter makes the balmy air of summer more meaningful.

All I know is that within minutes of touching down in Minnesota after my vacation, I was struck by a terrible cold, which kept me away from work, and still has me feeling like my head is stuck inside a fishbowl. Which wouldn’t really be so bad, if I didn’t want to provide you with a thoughtful 5 Things™ blog this week. Today’s blog is largely based on what sort of information I could gather in about two hours, while maintaining several arm’s lengths of distance between myself and all of my co-workers.

It is said that February is the cruelest month of the year, in terms of weather and temperature. I don’t know if any such things are said about March, but not “the cruelest month of the year” is good news to me.

Other good news this week includes:

A NWS Staff Party! We’re finally having our holiday party, and it is hosted by Pizza Lucé. Others may party more heartily, but nobody gets down quite like the Smokehaus. Our last party was the public 20th Anniversary party we threw back in September 2018, so it’ll be good to get back to basics and have a shindig for the team. I’m crossing all my fingers and toes, and I’m holding my breath as long as I can before the coughing fit is triggered, that I am back in good health in time for this party, since “free” Pizza Lucé pizza is a very exciting proposition.

Regardless of whether I am there, it is sure to be an excellent display of Smokehausers in the wild, gathered around the watering-hole, if we have any urban documentarians in our readership, that’s a free tip.

The Buddy System is not the official name of this new package deal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it should be*. Our grab&go case now features six-packs of Buddies—two each of our New Mexican hatch chile Big Jims, the bacon-cheeseburger-in-a-casing goodness of our Royale With Cheese, and the NWS classic, Bison Buddies. These six-packs are on sale for $12 each and make great gifts to yourself or others.

Same general appearance, vastly different flavor profile.

Smoked Salmon Buddies are the real deal as well. The smokers assure me the recipe—which includes a blend of Atlantic and Sockeye salmon as well as ginger and coriander (a couple of my favorite flavors)—is perfected. The Salmon Buds are available from our fish case for $3/stick.

Patricia continues to innovate with her cookies and pastries. This week, she took cues from authentic Jewish delis and whipped up a small batch of deli rolls: mini puff-pastries stuffed with turkey, pastrami and mustard, and topped with sesame seeds. This blog will almost always be posted on Friday, and yet so many of these exciting new small-batch items hit our shelves on Thursdays.

Heed this suggestion: if you want to be on the cutting-edge of new NWS specials and experiments, don’t wait for the announcement—just stop on in (or check our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages) and ask if there’s anything new and exciting to try.

On the cookie front, she basically hit my flavor preferences right on the nose with peanut butter & curry cookies. Thank you, Patricia.

Speaking of special things:

This is the last weekend that we’re serving the Sandwich Lab experiment known as The Wagner.

The Wagner is one heck of a sandwich. For those who haven’t tried it yet, it is your choice of Maple-Sage Smoked Turkey or Smoked Pastrami atop a mayonnaise-, Misty Mountain Mustard-, and sriracha-adorned hero roll, and topped with healthy portions of sweet’n’sour quick pickles and cilantro. This sandwich has the sauce, and if you’re keeping track of your sandwiches, it and the other monthly Sandwich Lab specials get you two stamps.

Catch it while you can. Sunday’s the last day.

Beginning Monday, March 4th, we’ll be serving up the next Sandwich Lab special: The Spinderella. Official announcement forthcoming.

I think, after like 8 Things™, that it is time for me to go back to sleep. It’s been real. I hope you grace us with your presence in the deli, or order some delivery/mail order so we can grace you with ours.

*It occurs to me we have used this name in a Homegrown Music Festival-related campaign. Please forgive any confusion I may have caused.

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5 Blogs I Tried To Write This Week

By the time any of you are reading this, I will be on a plane, leaving Minnesota. I don’t often travel to places I can’t drive to in under three hours, so I feel like my mind has left ahead of me in anticipation, trying to prepare itself for my body to arrive. As such, writing about life at the Smokehaus has been a trying task.

I won’t lie to you: I was unable to come up with anything substantive or cohesive that filled a whole 5 Things™ blog. I tried to write something about our catering department, examining more closely the different levels of service they are capable of offering, but as they are actively developing menus and service packages, everything I wrote seemed to merely parrot THIS POST.

Don’t misunderstand—there will be another post about our catering department, which is eagerly awaiting its chance to serve you a several-course meal of any genre of food—we’ve got plenty of dishes in our arsenal, and love a new challenge; prepare you an easy-to-transport, casual picnic-style meal, like pulled pork or chicken sandwiches with creamy coleslaw on the side—simple in execution, sufficient to feed a small army; execute a thoughtful buffet with multiple dishes, capable of feeding many folks of diverse palates and accounting for dietary concerns; assemble a piece of interactive living art in charcuterie board form, essentially a buffet, though less clinical in execution—great for events where good food is an attraction, but not the main event; or, a favorite, a smaller multi-course meal, served family-style (center of the table, serve yourself) for more intimate events.

A classic charcuterie board for a wedding reception.
The barn at Hemlock Preserve (Esko, MN), a favorite venue of ours.

I can’t wait to tell you more about our catering department, with concrete details, but right now it’s just beignets on my mind.

How about that weather? Beside being the #1 small talk topic in town, maybe even the whole state (whole Midwest? Whole country? Whole world?!), the weather impacts our business. On the Mail Order end of things, it means that the odd package might be held up in a snowstorm. In the deli it might mean that we start sending our coworkers home right after the lunch rush, and end up closing at four.

The weather is truly out of our hands. And while the temperature oscillating between thirty-degrees Fahrenheit above and below zero, with vigorously shaken snowglobe levels of frozen precipitation suddenly rolling in is certainly not the most boring thing I could be thinking about, I’m eager for the upper-sixties to mid-seventies, and have already written about the weather enough, and stretching the weather across five Things™feels like I’m cheating you.

My coworker sent me a text, that said they were discussing which sandwich they would be from our menu. Immediately, this resonated with my unintentional theme of having an unintentional theme. I’m not sure what the qualifiers were, but when I asked who was what, I got this response:

  • Tyler is The Hedonist
  • Patricia is The Tempest
  • Lucy is The Banh Faux Mi
  • Andy is The Cedar’s Secret
  • Michael is The Fuzzy Bunny

They asked which one I would be, and I said The Purple Range. If you’re still reading, thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

Then of course there was that busy weekend followed by a national holiday which resulted in major tip-outs to everyone in the deli (thank you to our very generous customers!), being so completely depleted of product that we are still catching up to restock the shop, selling a lot of our Smoked Lake Trout Chowder (which bodes well for it becoming a permanent fixture), and of course just a lot of pride that even in our slow season we can bust out days like that.

And it’s been a while since I’ve discussed our weekly Dungeons & Dragons session. The action has really been a bit too diffuse and contextual so far, and as low-level characters early on in a massive campaign, there’s still a lot of self-discovery going on. Only very recently was I even able to completely verbally express my character’s journey-defining revelation/vision to our DM, Harrison. Once we really know our characters, the stories will be more worthwhile.

But this week, we came face-to-face with our archenemy for the first time. We didn’t need to, but we never said we were the good guys, just helpful—so when the mission (to infiltrate the lair of the crime boss while they slept, and replace their pet goldfish with an Awakened goldfish spy) was complete, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab a few of the magical items laying right within our grasp on the table. How were we to know that the aforementioned crime boss would wake up, and get a solid look at our sheepish faces before we sprinted our way out of their lair. It looks like I’ll be investing in a mask.

The journey, as usual, was just as, if not more satisfying than the destination. The lair itself offered a number of challenges, including solving high-stakes, colorful puzzles while battling a handful of animated stone replicas of the big-boss, figuring out how to ration the gold that we need to pay back the loans we took to open The Malt Solstice at Trollskull Manor, our tavern/base of operations/secret alchemy lab/spiritual healing center, while solving pay-to-play puzzles, and my druid figuring out how to proceed after having all of their possessions, save for their actively enchanted-quarterstaff, disintegrated after being thrown onto a trap.

And of course their are all the spoils of our victory, like the stolen Bag of Holding; the pilfered wines & spirits from parallel planes that we’re going to carelessly put on our establishment’s shelves; the pleasure that comes with successfully routing an opponent on the battlefield of a booby-trapped disco floor, with a magical gnomish reflective spinning orb floating above us; and knowing that my druid truly only needs themself and their magical quarterstaff, not even their potions of healing or their clothing, to bravely face down a powerful antagonist…and wisely decide to dash and Misty Step away as expediently as possible.

Yes, there is plenty I could say about our most recent Dungeons & Diners & Dragons & Drive-ins & Dives session, but is that what you came here to read? Again, I honestly am not sure. Let me know if I need to increase the D&D play-by-play content.


Anyway, before I head off on vacation, I’ll just leave you with this final list of honorable mentions for this post:

1. I’ve been spending a reasonable non-zero portion of my paycheck on the Quadruple-Ginger Cookies we’ve recently begun selling. That’s raw ginger, ground ginger, crystallized ginger and pickled ginger in the mix. Oh, and honey. These cookies slap. They’re moist, but lightly crispy, and a perfect follow-up to my other current obsession, the Adisalad.


2. We recently started offering these Pine Cones in our deli. They’re $8 each and contain a portion of sliced salami mix, a few buttery olives, and a mix of assorted charcuterie, dealer’s choice.

Like a charcuterie platter for one.

3. Look out for upcoming announcements about NWS Happy Hour! There will be deals and happy hour-only specials.

I’m sitting in the airport, waiting to board my flight, so I’m going to let you go. Have a good weekend. Try a Quadruple-Ginger Cookie or something.

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5 Things: February 15th, 2019

For one of the slower weeks we’ve had in recent months, and for a week that I spent mostly off-duty as a Smokehauser, I’ve got a lot more than expected to tell you.

For example—and this isn’t even going to be one of the Things™—I just had the opportunity to proofread the introduction to a mock-up chapter for our cookbook proposal, written by our should-be poet general manager, Mary, and it was beautiful. The chapter is titled “Winter”—which is all the teaser you’re getting, for now—and her introduction, in classic Midwestern form, bundles up, grits its teeth, and takes a long, hard stare at and past the blankness and bleakness, to uncover the poetry of our longest season.

Personally, I’d still rather be hibernating, but Mary may have just sown in me the seeds of a new appreciation, and someday, you might get a chance to read what she’s written.

So what about these Things™, eh?

I hear you on that, friends. This week, the Things™ sort of speak for themselves, and I have some pictures, which are worth ~1,000 words, so I’ve also come to consider what I’m even doing here. Why even bother churning out these nouns and verbs, when a brief title and an image would suffice?

Because I care.

Also not one of the Things™. Just thought you’d like to know. Someone cares—me, specifically—about entertaining you. Which may not be much, but may be just enough.

Here’s a Thing™

We’re getting a new sink. I am not certain whether the events that brought this replacement into effect were exciting and explosive, or if we just took the wise path and replaced it before it snapped off, but I can tell you that this sink was hanging on for dear life, and the replacement is welcome.

And another Thing™–Hint: It is not my hand.

We tried grease pencils as a substitute, we tried mindfulness about taking them out of our pockets, we used string to anchor them to their area of use, and time and time again, we were left with unsatisfactory results. Sharpie permanent markers are pricy little buggers, and yet they remain so important to how our business functions. White sharpie on butcher paper is just so legible (ungh!) and ballpoint pens stab holes in our wrap-jobs like it’s their job. But this time, we think we’ve got it right. We have lighter leashes for our markers. Here’s to saving some money on writing utensils this year!

Sockeye Buddies are now available.

I got to taste one fresh out of the smoker, and they are fantastic.

Mmm…sockeye buddies

They’re made up of our wild-caught Smoked Sockeye Salmon, Smoked Atlantic Salmon, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and coriander, contained within a lamb casing.

The sockeye sticks come as part of a push from our owner, Eric, to stock our shop with more grab&go items that showcase our smoked fish and meats.

Meat sticks are a great way to do that, and are always well-received. Currently, we are rocking beef & pork adobada sticks (Big Jims), bacon-cheeseburger sticks (Royale With Cheese), Sockeye Buddies, and, of course, our classic Bison Buddies.

Sockeye Buddies are $3/stick. Big Jims & Royales are $2/stick. At time of press, Bison Buddies are still being sold by weight, at $25.99/lb, but that will be changing to a per-stick price in the next few weeks.

We want to run too many different specials.

So we’re just going to run them all, in a rotation, specifically on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Wednesday’s special will rotate between the classic Hot Pastrami sandwich, Smoked Ribs, and a Brisket sandwich.
Thursdays will feature a Hot Porketta sandwich, and will be a flex day for various other specials that we want to try out.

Check out our Twitter & Instagram profiles on those mornings to stay in the loop.

A 5 Things sub-list: my five favorite menu signs

So, Thing™ number five, is another list. I promise the recursion ends here. Flo, our powerhouse of paint, our fountain of font, our doodler-in-chief, has done it again and begun revitalizing our epic sandwich menu. Some love it, some don’t love it, some have a hard time reading it and I’m not going to make any assumptions either way about why that is, but regardless of where you stand on it, you will fall, because it is mounted on a wall and gravity.

What follows is my current favorite five menu boards. These are not necessarily my favorite sides or sandwiches, mind you, but they are all damned fine stacks of bread, meat, vegetables, and/or sauces in their own way.

Come check out the signs yourself. Until the next 5 Things™.

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5 Things: February 8th, 2019

UPDATE: CAKE PHOTOS ADDED!!

We’re in the middle of the cruelest month of the year—in terms of weather—but February is a notoriously sweet month as well. Rather than focus on harsh weather, let’s focus on the sugar.

The Sugar Plum Gift Box!

In conjunction with our DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace neighbors, Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, we have assembled an extra-sweet treat for two: The Sugar Plum gift box features dark chocolate malted milk balls & sugar plums from Hepzibah’s, and we supply a stick of salamini, Rosemary Croccantini crackers, and a jar of Fabbri Amarena cherries. All of this comes with a NWS tote bag in which to carry your picnic.

#cute

Make it sweet!

Want to do something special for someone sweet leading up to V-Day? Spread some kindness to someone whom you love, like, or want to show some serious appreciation by sending them a sandwich through our delivery department, and for an extra $2 we’ll Make it Sweet—with a handwritten card and some Swedish Fish tied to the order.
Not to be confused with the “Hey, Sweetie!” gift box.

Patricia’s cookies (and more)!

It might just be my coworkers and I buying all of them (because they are so good), but Patricia’s cookies are continually flying off the shelves.

So far, she has blessed us with carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese, the quadruple-ginger cookies (pictured below), and gluten-free coconut macaroons.

Quadruple-ginger cookies

And this morning, she surprised us again. When I began opening the shop this morning, Patricia was nowhere to be found. Admittedly, I did not put forth much effort to find her. Then, after I disappeared for a minute, I returned and there she was.

I didn’t notice the donuts at first. A few minutes passed before my eyes wandered to the cake pan just a few feet away.

Unexpected Friday special by Patricia

“Patricia, did you make those donuts?”
“Yes.”
“Where?”
“At my house.”
“Why?”
“I thought it might be good to make a Donut Cuban sandwich with the pulled pork.”

Thank you, Patricia, for all you do.

Here’s another surprise by Patricia, available for the first time today:

Ham & Swiss Puff Pastries

Pine Cones & Royale With Cheese!

There’s not much need to pack our deli-cases full of unsliced meats in the Winter. We prefer to focus on sandwich specials and prepared items that highlight our products, so that when the grocery sales pick back up, folks know exactly which smoked meats they want and have some ideas for what to do with them.

But an empty-ish case isn’t great to look at. Our solution? Come up with some “easy” items that customers can pick up and snack on with minimal effort.

When the phrase “meat cone” started getting thrown around, I was thoroughly perplexed, but now I’ve seen the light. In adorable cones made of pine, we’ve assembled little personal charcuterie boards, with salumi, pork loin, Castel Vetrano olives, cheese, and assorted smoked meats (dealer’s choice). It’s sort of like a Salami Basket for one. They’re available in our deli for $8.

Is Somethin’

We’re also on a snack stick kick. Bison Buddies have consistently been a bestseller. If I had a nickel for every time I crushed a customer’s soul by letting them know we’d sold the last Bison Buddies of the day, I would be floating around on a mid-range pontoon boat, drinking cheap sparkling white wine and working one day a week, just to keep a little structure in my life. But here we are.

Last weekend the smokers made Big Jim Buddies—beef and pork adobada sticks made with New Mexican Big Jim chiles. They sold out over the weekend, but the smokers are already making more.

After the Big Jims, there were some early experiments with Sockeye Buddies, which need a bit more tweaking, but will be coming to a Northern Waters Smokehaus near you very soon.

The most recent installment in the Snack Stick Saga is the Royale With Cheese: ground beef, bacon & melted cheese in a lamb casing. If you get the reference, you get the reference, but I think these ingredients speak for themselves. They’re currently in-stock, and we plan on keeping them coming. Never again, we hope, will you have to suffer a NWS shopping experience without Buddies.

Sam’s last day…

This last one’s a tad bittersweet: Our former shop manager, Samantha (or Sam, or Salm, if you have caught the pun on her Dickie’s work shirt) is finally parting ways with us to follow the next great adventure in her life. Sam had been splitting her years between Scagway, Alaska and Duluth, Minnesota for as long as I’ve been at the Smokehaus, then took on the position of front-of-house manager at our briefly lived but beloved Northern Waters Restaurant, before stepping in as our shop manager here at NWS.

Sam is, among other things, hilarious, compassionate, driven, and highly-intelligent, and although I’m going to let her keep her life plans to reveal for herself, I am convinced she’s going to thrive in this next adventure.

Her successor, Leif is thoroughly trained-in and shares all the above qualities, but that’s enough about Leif in this post about Sam.

Sam, if you’re reading this, don’t forget to come visit us from time to time, and bring Brewster.

Sweet, sweet Brewster

To offset the bitter in this bittersweet cocktail, and accentuate the sweet, Mary got an ice cream cake from DQ to honor the occasion. The cake photo is coming. We won’t leave you hanging.

There you have it. I’m sending you all warm & fuzzy vibes from this 5 Things post. Until next week…
One more photograph of the bacon-cheeseburger buddies we’ve affectionately dubbed “Royale With Cheese”
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SANDWICH LAB: THE WAGNER

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 sandwich menu are members of an elite squad known as the Sandwich Lab. These are their stories:


The Wagner is not about subtlety.

The Wagner is about climbing an El Capitan of flavor without ropes or safety gear.

It starts with a hero roll—I’m talking about bread here, but imagine tuck-and-rolling out of a speeding car hurtling toward the cliff’s edge—dressed with mayo and mustard, laden with your choice of smoked turkey or pastrami (heavy as the burden of a life of adventure), decorated with sweet & sour quick pickles, cilantro and sriracha. It ends with you, satisfied, wondering when you can eat another.

The Wagner is now available in our deli and for delivery for $10.75 + tax, and gets you two stamps on your sandwich card. We’ll be making it for a month, then pretending we forgot it ever happened, so don’t miss your chance. Take your palate on a wild ride with the Valkyries and order The Wagner.


What is Sandwich Lab?
At Northern Waters Smokehaus, our work is playing with food. That means sometimes, in the line of duty, we stumble upon an amazing combination of ingredients that evolves over several shift-meals into a noteworthy new sandwich. Other times we uncover a more efficient way to build a sandwich, or we swap an ingredient on a current menu item.

Sandwich Lab is an annual gathering of our staff to refine our sandwich-line skills, to come to agreement on any controversies, and—the best part—to introduce our pet sandwiches to the greater Smokehaus community.

Notable Sandwich Lab findings from previous years include the Cedars’s Secret, the Purple Range, the Phoebe, and the Pork Lion.

Last year’s Sandwich Lab had so many good sandwiches that we couldn’t decide on just one or two to add to the menu, so we decided to give them all a chance to shine, as month-long specials.

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5 Things: February 1st, 2019

This year already feels like it’s going by too quickly. Welcome to the first 5 Things of February.

  1. We closed early due to cold!We consider ourselves a pretty hearty bunch around here, but unsafe conditions and general lack of business due to the -100°F or whatever windchill (cold stories are not dissimilar to fishing stories), had us closing down the shop at 1pm on Wednesday.Generally, we try our best to be here for you in all forms of weather, but there comes a point where risking frozen appendages and cars breaking down in parking lots far from home just isn’t worth it.
  2. Experiments with snack sticks! 

    Adobada spices

    partial Sockeye Buddy recipe

    Bison buddies are one of our most popular items. People love snack sticks, it turns out. Presently, we have a lot of time on our hands, and a lot of space in our coolers, so the smokers are going buck wild in development. Today they’re smoking Beef & Bacon Adobada Buddies and Sockeye Salmon Buddies tomorrow. Next week, rumor has it they’ll be throwing together Bacon Cheeseburger Buddies. And I don’t think they have any plans of slowing down. They’re going to keep churning out these new flavor creations until something—please forgive me—sticks.

  3. Porketta special and soup/chowder specials!

    Northern Waters Restaurant Lake Superior Lake Trout Chowder w/ Brule River Brown & Rainbow Trout Roe

    We switched up our Thursday daily special this week. Using the same roll as our hot pastrami special, we topped it with thick-cut hot porketta, sliced cabbage, and fennel-garlic-herb aioli. We’re going to be running this special again, so if you’re sore about missing the first round, come down next Thursday.On Monday, we brought a favorite Northern Waters Restaurant recipe to our deli and offered Lake Superior Lake Trout chowder. The frigid weather seems to call for hot soup, so for the foreseeable future we’ll be offering $8 bowl/biscuit specials on Mondays, then $4 cups and $6 bowls until the week’s batch is gone.

    Porketta Stack – Thick-cut porketta, thin-sliced cabbage, and fennel-garlic-herb aioli on a roll. Available on Thursdays for the foreseeable future.

    On top of all that, it seems like every week there are new treats to try around here, whether they be cookies, meat sticks, soups, sandwich specials, sides or sauces.

    To stay on top of our daily experiments, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

  4. Last week of the Breakfast Club!The first installment of our Sandwich Lab monthly specials is nearing its end. The Breakfast Club, a Clubhaus variant described by its creator as “unctuous and balanced,” will be available through the weekend, and relinquishes its spot on our menu for the next installation in the Sandwich Lab series: The Wagner.While the Breakfast Club might yet make future appearances in our deli, we will undoubtedly pretend to forget about it after Sunday. If you haven’t tried it yet, don’t let the opportunity slip. I’ve heard this Sunday is supposed to be “warm,” and a great day to try something new.
  5. Sugar Plum & Hey Sweetie gift boxes!V-Day is just around the corner, and we’ve got some special gift boxes designed especially for the lovers out there. These boxes are also available for pick-up and delivery in town.“Hey Sweetie!” — $48 + standard shipping. From the product page:
    Let us help you appreciate your sweetie. A little goes a long way. That’s what we’ve learned. Little moments, small gestures grandly received, extraordinary or mundane, they all make up the choreography of your sweet life as two. Send something made slowly, with love and appreciation for the process. Our “Hey, Sweetie” box includes Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout, Black Pepper & Coriander Smoked Salmon, regional cheese and Croccantini crackers.

    Sugar Plum — $50 + nonperishable shipping. From the product page:

    Our favorites packed together for your delight and convenience. This box features our own Hausmade delicacies, as well as local favorites, for your loved one.

    Here is a lovely photo of an unboxed Hey, Sweetie box

    And here is an adequate photo of a Sugar Plum box, taken by Yours Truly, and not by our skilled visual media team.

    Gosh! That last one was a little vague. Let me tell you a bit more. The Sugar Plum comes with Dark Chocolate Malted Milk Balls & Sugar Plums from Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, Fabbri Amarena cherries, Rosemary Croccantini crackers, and a salamini, all packed up in one of our red Smokehaus totes.

     

    They’ll probably update that product page while I’m working in the deli today. Don’t @ me.

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A Practical Guide to NWS: Intro to Catering

Catering at Northern Waters Smokehaus comes in many forms—as simple as an All-Season Atlantic Salmon Fillet on a platter with an assortment of crackers, a pop-up at your venue slinging an item or two tailored to the theme of your event, or enough pulled pork and slaw to feed a small army; or, depending on your needs, as complex as a fully-staffed overnight company retreats or weddings in conjunction with our partner Hemlock Preserve.

Hemlock Preserve barn

Inside the barn

We believe that food has the potential to bring people together and define memories, so our catering service is aimed at those who value delicious, high-quality food and want it to be a part of the collective memory of their event. We use the same thoughtfully-sourced ingredients as you’d find in our deli, and whenever possible we use seasonal and regional produce.

Our service is highly customizable, and from the get-go we will work closely with you, giving you detailed quotes along the way. While we have a number of tried-and-true standard and favorite menus at our fingertips, your input is welcome and encouraged. We love the challenge of crafting an impactful menu based on our customer’s vision.

Marble bench for aesthetic purposes only & unfortunately not included. NWS catering is strictly B.Y.O.M.B.

In 2018, we had the honor of catering the annual gala at the Glensheen mansion. The theme was “Secret Garden: Unlocked,” an allusion to an early 20th-century English children’s novel. The menu—which featured English hand pies with lamb, peas, mint, and potatoes; watercress finger-sandwiches with Devon butter on hausmade pullman white bread; gravlax and scallion cream cheese atop rye crisps; Stilton puffs with pancetta and candied walnuts; cucumber cups with fresh pea soup, crème fraîche, cured herring roe, and pea shoots; a selection of cheese with paired fruits and preserves; and a number of desserts, including lavender macaroons and raspberry trifle pies—was meticulously planned and strategically executed to guarantee that each bite could be enjoyed at peak flavor and freshness.

Various cheeses & paired fruits

Macaroons & trifle pies

Watercress & butter finger sandwiches garnished with pansies

Sue Watt, from Hemlock Preserve, went above and beyond with gorgeous serviceware and memorable decorations. A favorite unexpected decoration was the moss-covered remains of a swinging-bench frame, found in an eroded section of a friend’s lakefront property. The piece suggested such nostalgia and history, it wove itself right into the fabric of the magical, overgrown English garden theme. 

Even if you’re not working with a Glensheen mansion-sized budget, you don’t have to miss out on the variety and quality we can offer.

Antipasto platter

NWS salad

For smaller events, we have short menu of favorite platters, organized and priced around your estimated headcount, available for delivery or in-store pickup. Within this menu we are able to adjust items to accommodate dietary restrictions and specific preferences. For most catering orders that don’t require staffing or extensive planning, we ask for 24-hours’ notice. The more time we have to plan for it, the better.

Mary serving tacos at Hoops Brewing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For events that require minimal staffing, using our pre-planned menus with minimal deviations, a couple weeks to a month of advance notice should suffice. Think rounding out the food offerings at your company holiday party, or a pop-up bratwurst stand at your show. 

Fried chicken is never a bad idea

 

 

 

 

 

 

For larger events and events with large staff & travel requirements, 6 months to a year is ideal. Typically, we try to meet face-to-face with you as soon as possible to ensure a mutual personal connection, with time for several meetings and correspondences along the way. Don’t limit your thinking to food and service alone, alongside Hemlock Preserve, we can take care of the venue, flowers, decorations, and settings too.

The Hemlock Preserve barn is lit

All hands on deck at one of our staff parties

Ultimately, however, the best part about working with us for catering is our staff. We’re an eclectic and eccentric bunch of skilled folks who know that work doesn’t necessarily have to feel like work if you have fun doing it. On on top of all that, we all believe in the importance of the work we do, and we know how to throw a good party. Catering is a chance to show off our skills and abilities that aren’t necessarily apparent in the day-to-day work around the deli.

Catering is nothing new to us, but it is always exciting. Join in on the excitement. See how we can help you make your event a hit.

For catering inquiries, call (218)724-7307 and ask for Hannah, or email us at catering@nwsmokehaus.com