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5 Things: June 28th, 2019

So many Things™ this week, so little time to discuss them.

Photo by Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com

Fortunately the Duluth News Tribune covered a big one for us—our beloved General Manager, and 18-year NWS staff member, Mary Tennis, is celebrating her last day being a central figure of Smokehaus life. Read about her next adventure here.

This week, we also had a planning meeting for our cookbook, which is currently in development. Mary has been central to the cookbook work that has gotten us so far, and I am personally grateful that she wants to continue working on the cookbook, because it means we’ll get to hang out, and she has an affinity for writing about food and NWS, which means future NWS cookbook owners are going to have some heartfelt reading in-store for them.

Grandma’s Marathon happened last weekend, and we survived the inundation of out-of-towners another year. We’re even doing pretty well at keeping all of our customer-favorite products in-stock. All of our salumi varieties are set to be available this weekend.

Honestly, none of these Things™ are what I want to write about this week. Maybe it’s the fact that, by the time this is posted, I will be in the midst of an 8-hour drive beginning a week of vacation, or maybe it’s just that, with all the heavy, beginning-of-a-new-chapter kind of stuff happening this week, I wanted to keep the blog nice and fluffy, but here it is—this week’s 5 Things™:

Our current best-sellers, by category (with brief commentary):

This information is based on our previous two weeks of sales. Take everything I say with a grain of salt. In the case of cured meats, several thousand grains of salt.

  1. Bent Hop is a winner. Bent Paddle Brewing Company has become a fine representative of our city’s craft brewing scene, and their Golden IPA is currently leading the beverage sales at our deli. It’s a perfect beer for Duluth summer weather, and by that, I mean it is versatile. Hot, sunny day? Crack open a crisp Bent Hop. Rainy, chilly, windy day? Enjoy that crispness indoors, and stimulate those blood vessels in your skin to a comforting simulacrum of warmth. Likewise, this beer goes well with just about every sandwich on our menu. Cheers to Bent Paddle.
  2. Carr Valley Apple Smoked Cheddar is almost the best selling cheese. Our little goat cheese medallions have outsold it, likely because of the ~$1 price point. The smoked cheddar, out of La Valle, WI, is a close second, which makes sense. It’s hard to punctuate a description of your store to include “smoked meats” and “cheese” without suggesting that the cheeses are also smoked, and beyond that, folks are frequently in the market for a good smoked cheese. The Apple Smoked Cheddar fills that role perfectly.
  3. Our top-selling baked good is Coconut Macaroons. Patricia, our CCO (chief cookie officer) can do no wrong. Somehow, since Patricia joined the team, cookies have become a top-seller in our deli. She even found a way to make coconut macaroons taste good—my own opinion, remember those salt grains. In addition to being sweet, and the perfect blend of chewy and crunchy, these cookies are also gluten free, which opens them up to a wider audience. They’re available for individual purchase, or make a great Box Lunch option.
  4. Big Jims are the current best-seller in meat sticks. They’ve outsold our Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks by a narrow margin, and our Smoked Salmon sticks by a sliiiightly less narrow margin. On top of that, they’re my personal favorite of our snack stick selection. Big Jim Hatch Chiles offer a mild, yet memorable, spice. The asterisk to this best-seller is that our Bison Buddies were out-of-stock the last two weeks. Bison Buddies still might be the one stick to rule them all. Only time will tell.
  5. “All Are Welcome” stickers are the best-seller in our swag selection. I love this because investing in the community is important and this item is about more than just the boundless accumulation of capital. Proceeds from the sale of these stickers go to Together For Youth, an organization that advocates for and provides support to LGBTQ youth in our community. I mean, the stickers look really cool too, but making an impact in the community makes them 100-times cooler in my mind. For more information about Together For Youth, follow this link.
  6. Here’s a bonus thing, which shouldn’t surprise you. Another tricky punctuation bit—should it not surprise you because, historically, I add bonus Things™ all the time, or should the fact itself not be surprising? Perhaps a bit of both. The Cajun Finn is still our number-one seller, selling 710 units in the last two weeks. I have been a part of at least one conversation about creating a specific “Cajun Finn-maker” shift to the deli roster.

Thanks for stopping by this week’s 5 Things™.

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5 Things: June 21st, 2019

Brace yourselves!

It’s Grandma’s Marathon weekend.

The weekend when the population of Duluth quadruples or quintuples (or something like that) and the place where it is most apparent is in Canal Park.

This 5 Things™ post is all about what to expect if you’re planning an excursion to the area this weekend.

Saturday of Grandma’s weekend is a historically chill day at NWS. I could list all of the reasons that I think factor into this, but the bottom line is that marathon Saturday is a great time to stop in for a weekend Smokehaus lunch. I can’t promise there won’t be a line, but it is typically much shorter wait on race day. That is, unless everyone reads this blog and gets the same idea. I can promise we’ll have our full beer and wine selection, and at least 90% of our sandwich menu, available.

We are shutting down delivery on Saturday. Between the vehicle- and foot-traffic, the parking spots that fill up as soon as a car leaves them, and the five-billion (or so) extra people in town who might pass through our doors, it isn’t a weekend conducive with delivery. We do our best to double-down and provide top-notch service from our DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace headquarters.

With that said—

There is a way to bypass our line (regardless of length) on this hectic weekend, and that is to place a pick-up order. Call us at (218)724-7307 (ext. 1) or place an order online—through our website, under the “Local Delivery” then “Order Online” tabs, or the ChowNow app.

When you show up, you have our permission to enter through the door with the big, red “Exit” sign hanging above it, and let an available employee know that you’re here to pick up “[your name here]’s order” of “[whatever it is you ordered].” If it isn’t already waiting behind out sandwich line, we’ll make a quick call downstairs to run it up.

If you’re not running in—or affiliated with anyone running in—the race, you may feel like avoiding the rigmarole altogether, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Making your way down to Canal Park can be a totally pleasant experience, so long as you know that parking will be a challenge. Grandma’s takes over one parking lot with their tents, and Lake Avenue Café has tents set up in the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace parking lot. There are a number of paid parking lots, around Canal Park and downtown, and metered spots on South Lake Ave. Here’s the marathon’s route map:

Download or keep a tab open of that map here.

There’s two big concerts going on in the area. This is my favorite reason to head down to Canal Park during marathon weekend.

The line-up for the Grandma’s tent is available here.

Our neighbors at Lake Avenue Café also put on a great weekend of entertainment, food and drink. Check out this line-up:

It’s like a who’s-who of Twin Ports music, with some exceptional out-of-towners rounding out the nights. If you haven’t heard them or seen them live, GGOOLLDD is a band that has some great tunes and puts on an excellent show.


That just about covers the five Things™ I wanted to discuss with you. Wherever you may be this weekend, whatever you may be doing, I hope you stay safe and hydrated. If you’re in the Canal Park area, be patient with your fellow humans and plan ahead—giving yourself that extra fifteen-to-thirty minutes can make a huge difference in finding a parking spot and avoiding unwanted stress.

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5 Things: June 14th, 2019

A lot of Things™ happened this week at NWS. Here’s a handful of them.

Wine joined our beverage list.

We’re officially selling beer and wine in our deli. This is huge news for us, as people love to have a beer or a glass of wine—which we’ll be selling by the glass, or by the bottle with the option of corking it to-go—with a meal.

As soon as we received our buyer’s license, we had pallets of beer from our neighbors at Hoops at our door, ready to sell. Our other vendors quickly followed suit, and we were fully-stocked on beer by the evening.

The wine orders operate on a different schedule, so we went through the weekend without it, but as of yesterday, our wine selection has arrived.

Thought about describing our wines to you, but whoops!, I have not tried them & TK already knocked this one out of the park.

Each of our options falls into the category natural wines, or wines farmed organically and made without adding or removing anything during the fermentation . Like the production of our salumi, this is an ancient tradition. While I haven’t yet had a chance to try our wine selection (it’s only been a day—chill), TK has assured us each of them has something special to offer, and will pair well with just about any item on our menu.

The Spring Roll joined our sandwich menu.

Composed of smoked teriyaki tofu, cabbage, cucumber, pickled vegetables, lettuce, Marcona almonds, basil, cilantro, sriracha and sesame oil with rice vinegar all wrapped up in a naan (or on a hero roll, if you’re ISO a vegan option), this sandwich tickles the tongue, and is taking over a menu slot for The Tempest.

Patricia, who comes in at 5 a.m. to bake cookies and pasties before working in the deli, is an absolutely unstoppable force of creativity with food. Within weeks of her tenure at NWS, she already had folks abuzz about the prototype to this sandwich. Just a few short months later, it has arrived on the sandwich board. At the time, we were making variants with pork loin, gravlax, tofu and even skipping the prepped protein altogether—all of which had their strengths, and are available as substitutions for essential carnivores—but we’ve landed on tofu.

One final note on the Spring Roll: Unlike most of our sandwiches—which are best consumed immediately, or at least within the day if you—there is a strong undercurrent amongst our staff that the sandwich is best eaten after a short wait, or even chilled.

I usually can’t wait that long, but it is worth noting: this is a great picnic sandwich, for that reason.

Michael left for Bonnaroo.

Our co-worker Michael—who typically arrives at work with a ukulele in his hands and a song in his heart—left Tuesday to make his way to Tennessee for Bonnaroo Music Festival.

In addition to catching not one, but two Phish sets, he’s also decided he wants to be the Duluth, MN Bonnaroo Street Team. It sounds a lot more labor intensive than it actually is—he’s just taking a selection from several local breweries, and some NWS “buddies” & swag to the annual Craft Beer Exchange—but it is still awesome that he’s chosen to represent our city.

While I doubt most or any of our readership is currently in Great Stage Park, TN, at the festival, or reading this post in time if they are, check our Instagram later today to see how NWS’s first trip to Bonnaroo is going.

Final round of interviews for our Mail Order director position.

If you didn’t know that we’ve been operating sans-Mail Order Director for an undisclosed temporal span, that’s a good thing and doesn’t surprise me. Our team has a knack for filling-in the cracks when they appear. The marketing & media team have taken over the mail order phone calls, an we needed only list the job internally to find a handful of candidates.

The interview process came to a close this week, and next week, we should have a new director in-place. We’re only six months out from the wild, wild West that is late-November through the end of the year in mail order, so they’ll have a lot on their plate to manage in a short span of time.

Thank you for your patience in the meantime. Our mail order clientele are awesome, and a fundamental aspect of our success as a business, so not having someone specifically in-place to handle that job is not a state in which we ever hope to stay for long.

They asked me if I wanted to lead another scavenger hunt.

This was basically my reaction, I think, though I don’t know the context of this .gif.

Last July, we hid twenty sandwiches-worth of magnets around town in honor of our Twentieth Anniversary. With the exception of a few very thoughtful responses I received, the campaign went over well.

This year, we’ll be doing things a little bit differently. The stakes will be higher, it’s going to be more challenging, and it’s going to happen slightly later in the Summer (personal reasons, don’t worry about it), but believe me when I say I’m very excited to get any willing participants into the outdoors, getting their hands dirty—maybe literally—in pursuit of free NWS grub & swag.

Stay tuned for details in the very near future. Until next time, I am Ned, and these have been five things that happened this week at NWS.

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5 Things: May 31st, 2019

This week on 5 Things™, we delve into the surprising success of a new side, the never-ending fluctuations of our deli’s interior, the timely return of a classic piece of NWS swag (and what NWS swag can do for you), some comings-and-goings, and previews of what’s to come from our Sandwich Lab and our shop in-general.

Kale caesar salad.

You likely already have an inkling that NWS is good at smoking fish and other meats. You probably also know that we’ve garnered some acclaim for our sandwiches. You might even know that we have a smartly curated selection of olives and local cheeses. You might not know that we regularly introduce new side options to our menu. While some of them hide behind the sandwich line and signs on our menu board, we’ve begun displaying others in the deli case, next to our smoked meat selection.

It has paid off. Not only do our sides taste great, they are also aesthetically pleasing. Being able to see them (and buy them in whatever weight quantity you choose) helps sell them—meaning you’ll continue to see them. To that end, we’ll continue stocking the meat case with our tried-and-true and latest sides, as well as pasties and pre-sliced/pre-packaged meats.

This week we tested a roasted kale caesar salad, and sold it all within the day. Which pleases me, because the salad is good, and I want it to stick around. Don’t believe me? Try it.

Sass aside, if you ask, you can definitely try it.

A shortened wall.

If you’ve been following us for the last half-decade, you’ll have an idea what I mean when I say the shop is always in flux. For example, when I started at NWS, our workspace was literally half the size it is now, and the line ran the opposite direction. Working at NWS is at times reminiscent of a game of Tetris or Jenga—constant rotation and reconfiguration and treacherous pulling and replacing.

The wall between our seating area and the sandwich line is an important boundary. Watching us work really isn’t the best use of anyone’s time—many of us are self-conscious individuals, who work less efficiently when observed, and you don’t really want to be watched while you eat, do you?

Joking aside, the barrier does have one glaring limitation—it is very tall. When it was first installed, I called it the “Wilson Wall.”

So Oneida, ahead of schedule (thank your local Oneida employee for their steadfast work immediately), cut down a segment of the wall and moved the counter top down with it. This means patrons and staff under 5’7″ will finally be able to make eye contact and just generally communicate when handing out and picking up orders.

As with many small changes we make to our workspace, the benefits may not be immediately obvious—force of habit has made me place orders on the higher segment of counter even with the lowered counter in place—but over the Summer, this will undoubtedly result in a smoother interface when picking up your food.

With the impending arrival of beer and wine, there is more reconfiguration to come. Nothing too world shattering, though you might notice some different stainless steel and glass making its way into the shop over the next month or so.

Kenspeckle Letterpress shirts went to print.

These shirts are great. They showcase the brilliant, meticulous, and clever work of local printmaking legend Rick Allen, whose studio (the aforementioned Kenspeckle Letterpress) is located on the second floor of the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, and for whose dedication to the Split-finger Fastball variant of the Clubhaus sandwich we are forever grateful.

On Thursday, our friends at On The Limit, let us know that they had begun printing the shirts. That means that, soon enough, these shirts will be available in all sizes, on softer, more breathable cotton.

Speaking of NWS swag: If you’re spotted (or if you politely point out to us) wearing our gear/carrying our totes/etc., you’ll get 10% off your order. Every. Single. Time.

The Wallaby leaves us.

Our first-ever avocado sandwich, which came to us via our annual Sandwich Lab, is entering its last weekend.

If you haven’t yet tried this avocado, lemon pepper, balsamic, locally-sourced ramps, and tomato sandwich, on our hausmade Prince Myshkin Rye, this weekend is your last chance. If you’re feeling a bit more carnivorous, try it with crispy smoked pancetta.

When the Wallaby leaves us, another Sandwich Lab special takes its place: The Sebu-Chan.

The name comes from a nickname for its creator, Sebastian, and the sandwich is a playful variation on the classic salmon & cream cheese sandwich.

The Sebu-Chan—gravlax, scallion cream cheese, tomato, cucumber, onion, lettuce, cilantro and sriracha on a hausmade ciabatta—will be available Monday, June 3rd through Sunday, June 30th.

A few things I’m looking forward to at NWS.

I tried to fit a few different Things™ in this slot, but came up short each time. So, in lieu of anything better, here’s a short list of things that I’m looking forward to in my own personal life at Northern Waters Smokehaus, that might also be interesting to you:

  • The Cookbook. It’s happening, and though the public will have to wait some time before it is in their hands, a good deal of my near future is set to be entangled with the text.
  • Another Hemlock Preserve event. The first time I was involved with a Smokehaus event at Hemlock Preserve—the charming barn on the edge of Jay Cooke State Park in Esko, MN—I played music for five hours, essentially nonstop. It was a strange feat that I don’t know I could repeat. I’m not sure how involved I will be with the event, but I will certainly have some words to write about it as it draws nearer. The event is still in development, but based on previous experience, it will happen toward the end of Summer, feature an awesome menu, good music, and an optional party bus to get to and from the location.
  • Grilling NWS brats & sausages. Our Maple Breakfast Sausage is my favorite sausage, period, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not sure whether the Beer Brat (made with Grain Belt Premium), Apple Brat or Classic German Brat is my top choice for the grill, but I will say that white onion (raw, grilled, or sautéed), NWS Kimchi and Sauerkraut are great toppings respectively. We’ve got Jalapeño Bacon Brats and Italian Sausage too, for those seeking a bit more bite in their brat. Tucked away in a corner, these products often go unnoticed. The time to grill is nigh. Don’t sleep on these sausages.
  • Honorable mention to our Smoked Ribs. They’re back in stock, available weekly as our Monday special, and great for any BYO grilling events or potlucks. Or just as any ol’ meal. $10.99/lb in 2 lb racks or half-racks for these beauties is a steal!
  • Northern Waters Catering. Though we’ve been at the catering business quite a while, this year we’ve really decided to get our act together, putting in a lot of creative work, developing an extensive menu that showcases our best abilities and depth, making an Instagram profile specifically for our catering department, and putting Hannah’s capable hands in charge of the operation.
    I love catering events because they showcase different shades of NWS not found in the deli, both in terms of food served and the service offered. It’s a bit more refined, and less of a grind. It’s a breath of fresh air, reminiscent of a childhood field trip, traveling to an offsite location and not making six to eight sandwiches per ten minute increment. And the catering pay rate is great for the staff. My Nintendo Switch isn’t paying for its own games, so I am into that.
  • More Sandwich Lab specials. With fun official and working titles like Jacob’s Lake Trout Situation, The Perfect Fall Sandwich, and The Fish Stick, they’ve clearly got a lot to offer the imagination, and it’ll be a satisfying mystery to resolve once you can finally taste them. And honestly, the ads our marketing team has been creating for them get more fun every month.

Well, I think I’ve said quite enough. Happy Friday, or whichever day you might be reading this.

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“5” Things: May 24th 2019

Last Friday, I sure tried to post a 5 Things™ blog. I came in a half-hour early for my deli shift, sat down to post it, and saw nothing but this:

What can you do?

So I kept my laptop open and in-sight all day, on our in-haus WiFi, and my own personal mobile hotspot, and even Lake Avenue Café’s WiFi (thanks, Lake Ave!).

To no avail.

So I headed home, and gave it a shot on my own WiFi.

I gave up on periodically pressing ‘Publish’ at 6pm, and resigned myself to enjoying my weekend, blog be damned.

If you are reading this, this 5 Things™ blog was successfully posted.

This week we had many meetings!

Sunday night, we had a long overdue ALL STAFF MEETING in which we discussed the impending Summer rush, our future in offering beer & wine, plans for our patio, and much more. Afterward, pizza and carbonated beverages were consumed.

Then on Monday night, those of us who will be in a position to sell the aforementioned beer & wine attended a scintillating alcohol service training.

After the alcohol service training, the D&D group entered the Pit of Blood and Fortune in a battle royale that thrust us into direct combat against each other, and ended up imprisoned by an Illithid in the service of a Beholder. That seemed like an adequately depressing place to end after learning the harsh potential consequences of alcohol over-service, so we’ll see what happens next week.

How about some exciting news?

Smoked ribs are back in stock!

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the commencement of grilling season! Ribs sell for $10.99/lb in whole (~2 lb) and half racks.

Perfectly seasoned and smoky.

Today we have have racks coming fresh out of the smoker, which really is the best way to have any smoked meats. Place your pickup order over the phone on ChowNow for $9 half racks and $16 whole racks. All the convenience of skipping the deli line, with a little bit of savings on the sale as well. This fresh-smoked rib special will be happening through Monday (Memorial Day) or until we run out.

Order online here

We don’t talk about our ribs that much, outside of pop-ups, so consider this our way-too-late Smoked Ribs Product Launch™. Starting on Memorial Day, smoked ribs will be our Monday special.

Ribs and kimchi is a haus favorite!

Kenspeckle Letterpress shirts are returning soon!

Our classic shirts, long only in-stock in the sizes nobody was looking for, are returning soon, in all sizes! Designed by master printmaker Rick Allen at Kenspeckle Letterpress, these shirts are one of our oldest pieces of inedible brand merchandise, and we’re looking forward to restocking them. Now in softer, more breathable cotton!

Spicy Tales of Charcuterie!


We took our last trip out to Hemlock Preserve!

Not our last trip ever, of course. Just the final installation of our extended/postponed/multiply rescheduled catering photo shoot series.

This particular trip featured two charming friends of NWS in a mock breakfast-picnic-slash-Jay-Cooke-hike scenario.

When we present the final product of these photo shoots, you’re getting the cream of the crop—maybe 15-25 photographs—but a ton of work goes into finding those perfect couple dozen images. Here’s a tribute to all the surprisingly hard work that goes into making dozens of artful plates of food, transporting them between multiple buildings (rain or shine), finding the best light, positioning the plates, capturing their best angles, and so on, and so forth:

Northern Waters Catering news!

Our Northern Waters Catering menu has been in development for the past several months, and I’ve finally begun to put the first draft that hit my desk last week into a solid second draft. It’s only a (brief) matter of time until the menu will be in your hands. While the menu is full of our favorite and most requested dishes, it is not exhaustive of our capabilities.

And now, the crowning segment of this blog.

I am pleased to announce:

So pleased!

Hannah/Northern Waters Catering got a new cooler! It is not only quite stylish and large, but also has wheels and evidently a ruler etched into it! You’ll likely spot it any time we are out around the town, and on our patio this Summer.T

We’re at the halfway point of Sandwich Lab specials!

The Breakfast Club, The Wagner, The Spinderella, The Bloody Mary, and now The Wallaby comprise the first wave of our Sandwich Lab specials.

Sandwich Lab is an annual meeting where we brush up on our sandwich making skills and have the opportunity to share our favorite personal sandwich creations for review by the staff and potential inclusion on the menu. And it is typically a lot of fun. Last year, there were too many good entries to pick just one or two, so we decided to run ten of them as monthlong specials, and add one (the Adisalad) to our permanent menu.

The Adisalad

We’ve begun keeping a running tally of our Sandwich Lab specials and how they’ve sold against total sandwiches sold during their tenure.

Hannah is 66.5% certain that these statistics will factor into future Sandwich Lab discussions.

How many Sandwich Lab creations have you tried? Which was your favorite? Do you have any advice for escaping the clutches of a mind flayer? Let us know in the comments.

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5 Things: May 10th, 2019

The Wallaby.

Avocado has finally arrived at Northern Waters Smokehaus, for a limited time, on a brand new sandwich called The Wallaby—haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye topped with half an avocado, tomato, lemon pepper, balsamic reduction and locally-sourced ramps.

Flo makes great signs

While supplies last, you can add avocado to any sandwich for an additional $2.30. Clubhaus with avocado? Yum. Pork Loin D-Luxx with avocado? Decadent. Hedonist with avocado? I wouldn’t, but you do you.

The Wallaby is available in our deli and via delivery for $6+tax (or $9+tax with crispy smoked pancetta) through June 3rd, and like all Sandwich Lab specials, earns you two stamps on your sandwich card.

Homegrown Music Festival came to a close.

The eight day-long local music festival is hard to avoid, if you’re living in Duluth. Thousands of individuals attend shows throughout the week. Hundreds of local artists and supporters of the arts take part in putting it on. Dozens of local businesses participate in some capacity, whether they’re a full-fledged venue, hosting a concurrent unofficial show, or offering sales & specials to participating artists. Typically there is some variety of controversy in the news (link pig head).

Photo by Leif Hinkel

Among our staff, I count (at least) eight people who played some type of role in the week. Flo painted the Chicken Shack (HGMF HQ) mural; the Prøve Gallery (co-operated by our own Flo & TK, among others) was a venue for one of the shows; between Jacob, Cedar, Tyler, Brian, Leif, and myself, we touted at least eight performances throughout the week, official or otherwise.

Look at this picture Emily took of the Latelys

And now that it’s over, I hope everyone has taken a few nights to stay in and get some sleep. I know I needed it.

Ribwiches and chocolate chip bacon cookies.

We love to snack here. It’s where we find many of our best ideas. It’s how we test recipes in development. All opinions are considered, and anyone who wants to contribute gets a taste.

I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a major perk of the job.

On Wednesday, Patricia left behind a stack of chocolate chip bacon cookies after an early baking shift. Since she joined our team, we’ve grown accustomed to finding new varieties of cookies waiting for us on a weekly basis. It’s a new territory that we’re happy to be exploring.

*not actually a photo of the bacon cookies pictured.

Wednesday in the deli featured a smoked rib special in the deli, with baked beans on the side. This special did not come as a sandwich, but we’re an odd bunch, so a handful of us made rib&beanwiches—on white bread with butter, and on Johnson’s Bakery rolls without butter. The rib special was a surprise to those of us working in the deli, but not an unwelcome one. It is, however, a great teaser to an upcoming (circa-Memorial Day) never-frozen smoked rib sale. Keep your eyes and your tastebuds peeled for that announcement.

It snowed.

And then the sleet began to pack itself onto vertical surfaces. Really what did we expect? The bit about April showers and May flowers rarely applies in Duluth. Sometimes there are still ice cubes in Lake Superior come June.

Snowball and snowperson enthusiasts had a lot to be excited about. The rest of us, not so much.

The snow doesn’t bother Tyler Much

We almost went back to Hemlock Preserve.

Then the weather happened. While Hemlock Preserve is a lovely place all through the year, we’re trying to catch it on a sunny day full of bustling foliage and flora—and not tear apart the wet ground with our idle steps. Here’s a gallery of some smartphone camera-quality photos I took during one of our recent excursions.

Hemlock Preserve is a magical place full of beautifully curated vignettes of landscaping and design that is best observed in person, but still photographs charmingly. Everywhere your eyes may fall, there is something that begs a closer look.

We’re looking forward to catering events in this space during the Summer and Fall (exciting announcements forthcoming!). If you can’t wait, get in contact with our Catering Captain, Hannah ((218)724-7307 and ask for Hannah, or e-mail catering@nwsmokehaus.com) and book your own event!

One more Thing™ before you go.

We just stocked the deli with Salamini, Spanish-style Chorizo, and Saucisson Sec. As far as dry-cured salted meats go, this is about as fresh as it gets. For those who prefer salumi on the softer side, this weekend is a great time to grab some. If you’re in a hurry and want to bypass the line, place your order for pick-up.

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5 Things: May 3rd, 2019

It’s a big week in town: Homegrown Music Festival is in full-effect.

But this isn’t a music blog, so let’s stay on-track.

A changing of the guard.

We’re going to bloody miss this one.

Another month has gone by, and that means it’s time for a new Sandwich Lab special. On Monday, May 6th, the warm, buttery aroma and savory goodness of the Bloody Mary is leaving our deli to make way for our first ever avocado sandwich, the Wallaby.

Enjoy some different angles of the Wallaby.

Framed with our haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye, the Wallaby also features fresh tomato slices, ramps, lemon pepper, and a balsamic reduction.

Ironically brought to our collective attention by Michael, who is allergic to avocados, the sandwich is inspired by the best-selling sandwich at Creekside Coffee in Sedona, AZ, where he worked for a time.

The Wallaby’s run will span from May 6th to June 3rd.

Beer and wine.

If all goes as planned—which seems to be the case—come Summer, we’ll be licensed to serve beer and wine. This is big news for us. As a company forever growing in our hearts, expanding our business to accommodate such a popular commodity can only be a good thing. While nothing is set in stone, the conversation has revolved around a curated selection of beer in cans and boxed wines.

We hope you’ll join us on our patio this Summer and enjoy an appropriate amount of buzz with your sandwich.

We packaged 150 lbs of smoked bacon.

In individual pounds, to boot!

An online food retail service—which I’m not going to name, since I believe there is an amount of surprise/secrecy implied—has selected our smoked bacon to be a part of its monthly subscription box that may or may not be called “The Best of the Best.” We’re honored that our bacon has been recognized as such, just as we’re stoked every time anyone tells us (or their friends) that one of our offerings is their favorite.

Lamb taco pasties.

Tuesday’s tacos were in a class of their own. Taylor whipped up some Lamb Birria—an adobo sauce originating in Jalisco, Mexico, traditionally served in a soup form, but adopted as a style of taco—which we served on corn soft-shells with pickled red onion, cotija cheese, cilantro, and salsa verde. This savory and mildly spicy delight blends guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, garlic, cinnamon, Mexican oregano and bay leaf, and slow-cooks all those flavors into tender shredded lamb shank.

Patricia, never missing a beat, apportioned some of the special for a limited run of pasties.

Yes, imagine all of the above ingredients packaged together inside a folded and rolled masa pastry, available to be heated in our deli, or taken home and prepared on your own time.

If you love or even casually enjoy stuffed pastries, check our meat case when you stop in for the latest pasty selection.

Workplace drama.

Work. I don’t know who invented work, but I’d like to have a word with them. It typically makes up anywhere from a quarter to just over a third of the hours in the day—unless I’m really out of touch with whom is reading this blog—and oftentimes you’re seeing the same rotation of people when you work. It’s sort of like a family. Needless to say, things can get a bit tense, and even blow up, as they did in this case.

When I sat down at Leif’s desk—which is my favorite place to write the 5 Things™ blog, due not only to the fantastic natural light and eclectic decorations, but equally to the risk of needing to move all of my mess when Leif needs to write a schedule or print a sign—I was appalled, though not surprised to find this remnant of an interpersonal clash.

I’m gone one day and this happens.

Please remember that every person you meet and each of your coworkers is following their own personal path, and struggling with all of their own issues which are not only valid, but also impossible to fully comprehend unless that person is you, and even then those struggles may not be fully comprehensible. Look for the goodness in others and be a mirror to reflect back that goodness. And lay off the demerits.

Bonus Things™.

Mother’s Day is coming up soon and we have a great Mother’s Day Box at a nice price. It features our Smoked Sockeye Salmon and Hausmade Boursin Cheese.


Happy Homegrown.

Bruno says, “Happy Homegrown from Hemlock Preserve!”
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5 Things: April 26th, 2019

On Monday, we headed to Hemlock Preserve in Esko, MN for a photoshoot.

In pursuit of showing off our catering department, we headed to one of our favorite spots to serve (and photograph) food: Hemlock Preserve.

Although the weather was not in our favor, it was still quite a productive day. To start, we set up base camp in the log cabin. From there, we generated around a dozen curated plates of food to showcase our standard offerings—smoked salmon, cold cuts, dry-cured salumi, and locally-sourced cheese—as well as our versatility—handmade candies, fresh and dried fruits, and artful settings & plating.

The day largely consisted of assembling plates & floral arrangements, getting our feet wet running plates back and forth between the log cabin and the various settings within the barn, and brainstorming ways to utilize the outdoor gathering spaces in future shoots, and eating a bunch of Peanut M&Ms, but our team was able to encapsulate some transcendent moments. The spread of food, once it was all assembled on our signature Douglas fir board, was breathtaking, and to top it off, no one caught a cold, despite the weather.

We’re so excited to be working with Sue at Hemlock Grove. Wandering around the property, you can see the love she puts into this place. Even among the bare remains of a winter that overstayed its welcome and the rigging of ongoing renovations, it is the curated installations of antique signage, furniture, and table settings, the open bureau acting like a frame for vintage camping & outdoors gear, the subtle humor of the “No Gathering Firewood” sign above the woodshed, the seemingly endless hidden shelves of extra glasses & dishes suggesting that there’s always room for one more person to join the party, and the lamps (Oh! The multitude of eclectic and beautiful lamps!) that catch the eye. It’s sort of like a wonderful uncluttered antique marketplace that hosts parties. You could get lost in conversation, get lost in a self-guided tour of the décor, or get lost in Jay Cooke State Park, all with a beverage in one hand and a small plate of food in the other.

Hemlock Preserve, which is situated just far enough from the city to feel like a getaway, and just close enough to make the travel go by  quickly, is situated just on the edge of Jay Cooke State Park—there are trails from the property right into the park—features two elevated yurts (on their own isolated tracts of land), and is an ideal location for all scales of gatherings: an intimate anniversary celebration, a weekend corporate retreat, an elaborate dinner, a family reunion, or a wedding & reception. We at Northern Waters Smokehaus rejoice in any opportunity to collaborate with Sue.

Patricia made smoked brisket and bleu cheese pasties.

If you haven’t stopped in for a Wednesday lunch lately, you may not know that we’ve been rocking a BBQ Brisket Sandwich as our daily special—you can settle for the buttery goodness and BBQ tang of the brisket sandwich alone, or you can go big and add a side of smoked pork & beans and/or hausmade potato salad. But I digress. On days that we have a little bit of the special left over, Patricia swings in and makes pasties. This This week, she whipped up some enormous and delicious pasties with brisket, potato, rutabaga, and crumbled bleu cheese. Look for the day’s variety of pasties in the meat case. We’ll even heat them up for you, if you want to enjoy one in the deli. All varieties of pasties are $10.

On Thursday, we headed back to Hemlock Preserve.

Despite the productivity of our first day, there was more to be done. For instance, we had to get some outdoor shots, and to document the landscape around us. On our second day out in Esko, we had plenty of sun. This meant that Bruno, the 12-year old ball of pug-love who runs the whole operation, joined us in the field. While Bruno oversaw the day’s work, we created several scenes, including two different outdoor picnics, a buffet-style dinner in the barn, and various small plates lounging around the remarkable array of sitting areas. It seems like everywhere you look, there is a place to sit (or stand), take a breather, and spark up a conversation. 

On Friday (today) we went back to Hemlock Preserve once again.

As soon as this 5 Things™ blog is posted, I’m heading down to our deli for an opening shift, so I am not attending this particular field trip. From what I gather, this is a clean-up day.

If I were there, it would be a pet Bruno day as well. I hope they also carry that spirit with them.

Also on Friday (today) we are at the annual Raise the Roof One Roof Community Housing fundraiser.

One Roof is an institution that gives so much to our community, in terms of creating affordable housing opportunities, educating renters, cultivating neighborhoods, helping first-time home buyers, and much more.

It has been our privilege to take part in their annual fundraiser for many years. Not only do we get to share our food, but we also get to share our passion for it, our stories, and knowledge of the process that goes into making our food, all to a receptive audience (anyone who stops by our table and asks), and in the name of a good cause.

This year we’ll be serving Traditional Atlantic Salmon & Scallion Cream Cheese bites; Hedonist bites (with Country Pâté, onion, cornichon pickles, and a dot of mayo & mustard); and olivada, chevre & pepperoncini bites. The tasting segment of the fundraiser is 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, check the event page on their website. Olivia, our mail order director, and I will be behind the table. Stop by, enjoy a few bites, and keep us entertained.

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5 Things: April 19th, 2019

This week has gone by in a blur, or maybe it’s just me. Between the unexpectedly busy lunches, self-imposing limited hours on my office days, running out of gas on the freeway and showing up an hour-plus late, and three separate band practices each falling directly after a full day of work, I’m not quite sure where the week went.

But there’s a handful of Things™ to freeze-frame within that blur, so let’s take a brief moment to slow down together.

Bison Buddies are back in stock!

Bison, sourced to our specifications, is expensive. We took a brief break from making Bison Buddies, relying instead on our Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, Big Jim hatch chili beef sticks, and Smoked Sockeye Salmon Buddies to sate your meat stick cravings, but Bison Buddies are back! All four of our snack sticks will be available all weekend (and beyond) in our deli.

We’ve got whole and half hams for sale!

We have slow-brined, slow-smoked, never frozen, locally sourced and processed whole and half Berkshire hams for $9.99/lb while supplies last. These hams—around 6-8 lbs/half and 12-16 lbs/whole—are perfect for a holiday roast or potluck, and great as leftovers.

Check out some ideas for Smokehaus ham here.

We’ll be open this Sunday!

This is a first-ever for NWS. Previously, DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace has closed its doors on Easter Sunday, but this year it’s staying open, and so are we. Our deli’s doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Unless they sell more quickly than anticipated, we’ll have the aforementioned hams for sale.

Speaking of sales: Wild-Caught Smoked Alaskan King Salmon is 20% off until it’s gone.

We launched the @NorthernWatersCatering Instagram account!

Although it has been live for about a month now, we finally feel like it is up-to-snuff, with comprehensive information about our catering philosophy, options, frequently asked questions, and beautiful images taken from actual catering events. Carefully crafted by our creative team, and approved by Catering Captain Hannah, it is, like our catering service itself, set up to expand elegantly in 2019.

For more information about catering, specific inquiries, or quotes, contact Hannah at catering@nwsmokehaus.com

We launched our Mother’s Day gift box!

Sure, it might be a bit early to announce this, but is showing gratitude to mothers ever out-of-fashion?

This year’s Mother’s Day gift box is simple, elegant, and affordable: A pairing of nourishing smoked sockeye salmon with sweet hausmade boursin cheese, alongside the subtle and steadfast support of Carr’s water crackers.

This gift box is available here for mail order, and is easily assembled in our deli, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

AND A BONUS THING™!!

We’ve made a batch of Candied King Salmon & another batch of RedHot Candied King Salmon. It makes a fantastic small snack and would be great on any charcuterie platter. Get it while it’s here!

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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.