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5 Things: Explosive Cyclogenesis Edition

Welcome back to the 5 Things™ series.

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

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

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

Have a ginger ale with your Slammin’ Gordon.

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

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

The Italiensk pairs exceedingly well with Lemon LaCroix.

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

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

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

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

The Pork Lion makes me crave cola.

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

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

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

The Motherlover deserves some extra love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t forget to drink that glass of water.

One Thing™ that happened this week.

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

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

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

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

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5 Things: April 5th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect for brunch on the patio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forgive me my unskilled smartphone photography.

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

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5 Things: March 29th

What a week it’s been! Spring is finally here. The temperature as I’m writing this is in the mid-forties. The sky is blue and Canal Park is teeming with cars and pedestrians.

Let’s take a look at the week here at NWS.

Tonight, we’re at the 25th annual Taste at Fitger’s event. From the website: “From 6-9 pm, over forty of the area’s finest local restaurants and beverage vendors will be serving up their tastiest culinary masterpieces, beers and most exquisite wines…100% of the proceeds will go to the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.” Tickets are $45, and you are sure to leave satisfied.

Patio season is here.

We opened up our patio. Not that it was ever really closed, per se. It just consisted mostly of snow piles and had no furniture. Last weekend, in anticipation of warmer weather, we put out a couple of tables and benches. This weekend, we’re returning it to its former glory. All of the tables and benches and umbrellas will be there. Lake Avenue Café’s liquor license still extends out there, so you can enjoy a local craft brew or cocktail with your Smokehaus digs. You can/should even bring your dog(s).

We rearranged our shop. Don’t worry. It’s nothing too drastic, though anyone who has been a repeat customer with us over the past decade knows that our shop has undergone some radical changes. This new shift is meant to highlight our inedible merchandise. T-Shirts, hats, totes, etc. Before, it was just tucked away almost out of sight, but now it is a fixture of our deli. We love seeing folks in our gear.

There are more Box Lunch cookie options. In addition to Lake Superior Bakehouse Chocolate Chip cookies, you can now opt for a Peanut Butter Curry cookie, Ginger cookie, or whatever flavor-of-the-month cookie Patricia may have come up with for no additional charge, or a Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich with Honey Cream Cheese for an extra dollar.

This is the last weekend to eat the Spinderella. Turkey, salami mix, mayo, mustard, dill pickle, onion, and cilantro on a hero roll, with a side of scallion cream cheese for dippin’. This Sandwich Lab special has been quite popular during its run, and like the rest of the Sandwich Lab specials, gets you double stamps on your punch card. Catch it while you can. We’re not going to Push It much longer. Beginning April 2nd, we’re offering a new Sandwich Lab creation, the Bloody Mary, just in time for patio brunch season.

Last week’s 5 Things™ was a disaster. It quickly devolved into another “I am not sure what to write about, so I’m going to write about not knowing what to write about” post, and as a result, it failed to launch, but it had some great images. Here they are, without explanation:

What was Liv doing?!

As this 5 Things™ post comes to a close, I’d like to share my favorite photo of our Friday special, the Minnesota Pulled Pork. It is my favorite because it reminds me of a Kraken breaching the water’s surface to ruin your day. Open your mind, then squint at it a bit, and let me know afterward if my imagination is too unhinged.

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5 Things: March 15th

This week, though still classically slow-season Smokehaus, was full of excitement.

1- For starters, we launched our first official NWS Happy Hour, which runs Mondays through Thursdays from 5-7pm and features our new Chicago-ish Haus-ki Dog. Happy Hour specials and hours may change seasonally, but we’re excited about our current lineup.

2- Many of our employees have skills and backstories worth highlighting, if only there were enough hours in the day to interview and write about all of them. But we’re making a start. In honor of her swift and popularly-heralded rise to NWS excellence through phenomenal baked goods, we published a profile of new deli employee & baker, Patricia.

3- Our cookbook dreams are coming to fruition. While specific details aren’t yet available, we’ve been producing a ton of content. Our vision is intact, we’ve already produced a mock-up of an entire chapter, and last weekend we took care of one how-to photo shoot about porketta.

Enjoy some behind-the-scenes photos while you wait for the finished product.

4- Tonight (March 15th) we’ll be popped-up at Hoops Brewing, selling smoked chicken wings, sauced to order with a variety of Northern Waters Restaurant sauces—maple sambal, soy ginger, and hausmade buffalo, to be specific. NWR may no longer exist with us on the Material Plane, but its legacy survives through the Smokehaus.

As far as I know, smoked chicken wings are a rarity in the Twin Ports, not to mention our particular variety, which are brined, “dried” to help form the crispy outer layer, kippered, then hit with a lot of smoke to finish them off.

5- I know the weather comes up frequently, but the battle between dwindling Winter and impending Spring rages on, and alongside the standard freezing rain, we also had a day of one of my favorite weather phenomena: creepy, heavy fog. Inevitably, we’ll get a blizzard in mid-April, but for now, it appears the thaw is on its way.

Here are some more photos by Jacob in our media department, in lieu of pretty words. See you here again next week.

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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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“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 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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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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5 Things That Happened This Week At NWS

  1. A new shop manager!

    Our current deli manager, Sam, will soon be leaving us to pursue a new and exciting chapter of her life. While she will be dearly missed, we are pleased that Leif will be stepping up to fill her shoes. Leif has been with us for around four years, and has previously demonstrated his mettle as an assistant deli manager. He is one of the funniest people I know, and I’m looking forward to this new era under his iron rule.

    Leif playing music at our 20th Anniversary Party

    Oh, and by the way—Leif and another Smokehaus team alumnus, Sonja Bjordal (from Feeding Leroy) are sharing the stage tomorrow night (January 26th) at Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake. There is no cover charge, and music starts at 9pm.

  2. Winterfest!

    The Minnesota Craft Brewers’ Guild has invited us to participate in their Winterfest event today (January 25th) at 7pm at Union Depot in St. Paul. From the Winterfest page:

    “Minnesota’s craft breweries are partnering with more than 20 restaurants to pair high-end beers with high-class bites at the 2019 Winterfest craft beer festival. The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild event gives craft beer fans a one-of-a-kind new format to enjoy the beers they love alongside specifically designed small plates to highlight the state’s craft beer industry and top chefs.”

    So, yea. As always, we’re honored that people think so well of us and what we’re doing up here in Duluth. We’re bringing some wild tacos to Winterfest. Picture this: Fried potato shell, topped with porketta, fennel, onion, haus-made hot-sauce, and lemon vinaigrette. I am jealous of all of those who get to taste this, rather than simply write about it.

    Tickets for the event are still available. $90/person, or $50/sober driver (food & non-alcoholic beverages included). I imagine no one will leave unsatisfied.

  3. Hoops pop-up!

    It feels like it has been forever, but we’re back on our pop-up game. Tonight, from 5 until we run out of food, we’ll be serving up brats at Hoops Brewing. On the menu, we have Italian sausage with roasted red peppers and onion and beer brats with sauerkraut, with potato salad and creamy Koolslaw available as sides.
  4. Carrot cake cookies!

    This was the best I could do with the resources available, but it still looks pretty tasty, no?


    Patricia, a new member of our team, has been blowing our minds with a variety of cookies and pastries, and we threw a dozen of them in the grab & go case this week: carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese.

    They went fast, but I doubt this is the last we’ll see of them. See, part of the vetting process is that we all have to test them. And, um, we’re going to want to test them again pretty soon here, I’d imagine.

    Basically, here is your reminder that stopping into our deli and seeing what kind of new flavor-of-the-day/week/month specials and deals we have for you is not a terrible idea. We’re always coming up with something new.

  5. We got a new coffee maker! 

    It turns out that when a large part of your business is conducted through FedEx, they want to hook you up with cool stuff. We had a lot of what I heard colloquially referred to as “FedEx Points” and a perennial problem of our high-quality Duluth Coffee Company coffee turning out as burnt, acidic death water.So we cashed in those FEPs and nabbed this new robot friend on the left:

    Left to right: box of scratch paper pads, new coffee maker (lovingly named “Leonardo DaCapresso”), old coffee maker, deep-freeze

    After we “Office Space” the old one, we’ll have all of that extra room for coffee accoutrement, or donut platters or whatever else they come up with.

Here we are again, at the end of our 5 Things. I hope you feel better informed about life around the Smokehaus, or that you’re at least mildly entertained.