Whether we’re popping up to sell smoked chicken wings at a local watering hole, dropping off a dozen platters of smoked fish, cheese and crackers, or serving cocktails* and several courses alongside table settings and décor, we take pride in our catering at Northern Waters Smokehaus.
Catering is a space in which we are able to refine what we already do well—making delicious, memorable food—and challenge ourselves. While we have plenty of tried and true dishes and hors d’oeuvres at our disposal, we pride ourselves in rising to the occasion for just about any style of food our customers request.
But these words on a screen hardly do our catering department justice. Even sporadic posts on our company’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages barely hold a flame to the magic and artistry that comes alongside NWS catering.
So we wondered, why not create a space strictly for our catering department?
And when we could find no reason, we set out working on @northernwaterscatering (hereafter NWC) on Instagram. Complete with story highlights outlining everything one should know about NWC, answers to frequently asked questions, contact information, and, of course, high-quality images of dishes and venues that look even better in person, we hope this page is a welcome supplement to our website’s catering page, and ideally a one-stop shop for any catering-curious customers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ll see you back here for more Things™ next week. Same Thing™ time, same Thing™ place.
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.
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:
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.
Catering at Northern Waters Smokehaus comes in many forms—as simple as an All-Season Atlantic Salmon Fillet on a platter with an assortment of crackers, a pop-up at your venue slinging an item or two tailored to the theme of your event, or enough pulled pork and slaw to feed a small army; or, depending on your needs, as complex as a fully-staffed overnight company retreats or weddings in conjunction with our partner Hemlock Preserve.
We believe that food has the potential to bring people together and define memories, so our catering service is aimed at those who value delicious, high-quality food and want it to be a part of the collective memory of their event. We use the same thoughtfully-sourced ingredients as you’d find in our deli, and whenever possible we use seasonal and regional produce.
Our service is highly customizable, and from the get-go we will work closely with you, giving you detailed quotes along the way. While we have a number of tried-and-true standard and favorite menus at our fingertips, your input is welcome and encouraged. We love the challenge of crafting an impactful menu based on our customer’s vision.
In 2018, we had the honor of catering the annual gala at the Glensheen mansion. The theme was “Secret Garden: Unlocked,” an allusion to an early 20th-century English children’s novel. The menu—which featured English hand pies with lamb, peas, mint, and potatoes; watercress finger-sandwiches with Devon butter on hausmade pullman white bread; gravlax and scallion cream cheese atop rye crisps; Stilton puffs with pancetta and candied walnuts; cucumber cups with fresh pea soup, crème fraîche, cured herring roe, and pea shoots; a selection of cheese with paired fruits and preserves; and a number of desserts, including lavender macaroons and raspberry trifle pies—was meticulously planned and strategically executed to guarantee that each bite could be enjoyed at peak flavor and freshness.
Sue Watt, from Hemlock Preserve, went above and beyond with gorgeous serviceware and memorable decorations. A favorite unexpected decoration was the moss-covered remains of a swinging-bench frame, found in an eroded section of a friend’s lakefront property. The piece suggested such nostalgia and history, it wove itself right into the fabric of the magical, overgrown English garden theme.
Even if you’re not working with a Glensheen mansion-sized budget, you don’t have to miss out on the variety and quality we can offer.
For smaller events, we have short menu of favorite platters, organized and priced around your estimated headcount, available for delivery or in-store pickup. Within this menu we are able to adjust items to accommodate dietary restrictions and specific preferences. For most catering orders that don’t require staffing or extensive planning, we ask for 24-hours’ notice. The more time we have to plan for it, the better.
For events that require minimal staffing, using our pre-planned menus with minimal deviations, a couple weeks to a month of advance notice should suffice. Think rounding out the food offerings at your company holiday party, or a pop-up bratwurst stand at your show.
For larger events and events with large staff & travel requirements, 6 months to a year is ideal. Typically, we try to meet face-to-face with you as soon as possible to ensure a mutual personal connection, with time for several meetings and correspondences along the way. Don’t limit your thinking to food and service alone, alongside Hemlock Preserve, we can take care of the venue, flowers, decorations, and settings too.
Ultimately, however, the best part about working with us for catering is our staff. We’re an eclectic and eccentric bunch of skilled folks who know that work doesn’t necessarily have to feel like work if you have fun doing it. On on top of all that, we all believe in the importance of the work we do, and we know how to throw a good party. Catering is a chance to show off our skills and abilities that aren’t necessarily apparent in the day-to-day work around the deli.
Catering is nothing new to us, but it is always exciting. Join in on the excitement. See how we can help you make your event a hit.
For catering inquiries, call (218)724-7307 and ask for Hannah, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
5 things that happened this week at Northern Waters Smokehaus
Is it cold where you’re reading this? It’s very cold where I am writing it. Let’s just go ahead and make that a sub-theme for the week. Coldness. Sure, there’ll be other stuff too, but it’s easier to write about your passions, and I am passionate about warmth. If you’re like me, you’re in luck.
We have winter hats!Whether you call it a beanie, toque, stocking cap, or watch cap, it keeps your head warm and it looks cool. I purchased one of these hats for research purposes, and my experience wearing it so far has been favorable. The hat feels and looks good, and kept my head properly warm in 1º Fahrenheit weather. We’ve dabbled here and there in other apparel, but this is our first winter hat, and we found a great company to work with. Brist Custom Apparel & Design is committed to “creating sustainable supply chains. By committing to quick turnaround times and low minimum orders [they] reduce excess waste allowing [them] to focus on high customization and private label design while at the same time giving companies what they need when they need it.”Making great food is our first priority and our primary market, so working with a textile company that can work with our specific needs and is committed to sustainability is a win all around.The hats are available in our shop, with your pickup or delivery order, and via mail-order for $24. You’ve let us warm your heart with our food, now let us keep you warm with our hats.
Delivery has been busy!I’m not necessarily saying the cold weather is to blame (or to thank), but while our deli hasn’t had a noteworthy lunch rush all week, the basement (where our prep/pickup/delivery department is hidden) has been ploughing through large tickets at high speeds. It seems like many folks around town are trying their best to avoid leaving the comfort of their homes and offices. I do not blame them.The 10-day forecast is looking bleak, so here’s your reminder that we deliver all your favorite sandwiches & salads (groceries & apparel too) with no delivery charge (though it is very kind and very acceptable to tip your delivery driver) from 10am-5pm daily, and you can place your order over the phone @ 218-724-7307 (ext. 1) or online at our website (I’d link you, but you’re already here—check our homepage and follow the lead of the image below).
We catered the gubernatorial inauguration! More precisely, we were selected alongside a number of other awesome vendors to provide food for the event. For the event, we assembled a crack squad of our staff to develop a couple of meaningful culinary treats that showcase our heritage and our commitment to exploring the flavor palate.They ended up settling on bison Wellingtons with fromage fort (“strong cheese,” a blend of cheeses with white wine, garlic, & other spices) & mushroom powder, and potato crisps topped with whitefish pâté,* radish sprouts, & brown/rainbow trout roe (from the Brule River).
We are honored to have been selected, and hope anyone who got a chance to try our hors d’oeuvres enjoyed them.*Whitefish pâté is available in our deli, etc. for $5 per 8 oz. tub for the foreseeable future, and coming from someone who doesn’t especially favor whitefish, it is delicious.
We participated in Food for Thought! Any opportunity we have to give back to our community is an affirmation of what our company stands for. Last night, we took part in Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College Foundation’s Food for Thought event, which is an annual food tasting event to raise scholarship funds for deserving students.We brought Finnish rye crackers topped with greek yogurt, dill, lake trout and Brule River brown/rainbow trout roe. More information about the event can be found here. Keep an eye out for this event next year!
We are hiring in the deli!If you have ever wanted to be a member of our team, right now is an opportunity to fulfill that dream. Exciting life changes have our shop manager leaving us at the end of the month, and a new shop manager stepping up around the same time, so we have an opening in our deli staff. We offer a competitive pay rate, benefits for those who stick around, and a lot of opportunities to pick up additional responsibilities. As an employee of five-ish years, I can confirm that life around here is never boring and often quite compelling, and you’ll get the strong impression that your employer cares about you (because they do!). If this sounds good to you, drop off a résumé at our deli.
That’s all, folks. Stay warm out there—unless you’re already somewhere warm. In that case, hydrate and regulate your body temperature accordingly.
Days in the deli have slowed down, but life at the Smokehaus have not been boring.
We’re making a whole lot of food! This week our production team roasted 500 lbs of porketta, prepared 120 each of pepperoni and saucisson sec for curing, and started 480 lbs of ham on a 5-7 day brine cycle. A great deal of that meat already has a home among our mail order queue, and what’s left of it will likely fly off our shelves by the end of December’s month-long grocery rush in the shop. Pigs fly at Northern Waters Smokehaus.
Sandwich Lab! I already leaked one Sandwich Lab secret here, so I’m going to hold tight to the juicier details, but once all of the voting, calculating and deliberating is complete, y’all may be in for some fantastically mouthwatering experiences at our little deli.
Our Winter catalog is complete! I had previously lied and referred to it as a Fall/Winter catalog and a Fall catalog. Whoops. Regardless, it is out and it looks great. Watching the design and marketing teams develop it was really cool. So much care and attention to detail went into presenting our awesome food and history to you. I am super proud of my coworkers. NWS cookbook, here we come! Catalogs are available upon request.
Hidden Falls cheese is in season! Hidden Falls is a creamy sheep’s and cow’s milk cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms in Nerstrand, MN. It has citrus and wildflower qualities present in its flavor, and notes of woodsy mushrooms. Accompany it with honey and seasonal fruit, or pair it with our salumi, but whatever you do, do it quickly. Hidden Falls is only available between October and December.
It’s our birthday month! Northern Waters Smokehaus is a Scorpio. Actually, our birthday might even be today. I’m like 90% certain it falls between November 8th and 12th. I really need to step up my research game. We have had a pretty great year as a company. We’ve had a segment filmed for the Travel Channel, we have an awesome staff, the books show growth from last year, we released our first official product catalog, we threw a sweet party/afterparty combo in September, and we have felt a ton of love from our community, our regulars, the tourists (food- and otherwise), and our online network. Eric, Lynnand the rest of us are so darned proud of this 20-year old deli and we are so darned proud of them. Thank you, reader, customer, friend, for supporting this business.
That last sentence was a better closer than this one is.
Happy Friday, everyone (and Happy Birthday, Eric Goerdt!), though I’m writing this on a Wednesday, since tomorrow/yesterday is/was my birthday, and I’m really trying to take some time for myself, for once.
I’m here, in the past of your current present, at Amazing Grace Bakery and Café, at 7am, sipping on dark roasted coffee, slowly picking apart a chocolate espresso muffin which we’ll call my birthday cake (I don’t particularly enjoy cake–hold your pitchforks, please! Preferences are allowed), watching a red-tailed black shark bully or maybe just play tag with the rest of the aquarium; and you’re existing sometime in my new future, reading this blog post, thinking where is Ned going with this, is this setting of the scene really necessary for a blog post about five things that happened this week at Northern Waters Smokehaus; though you might have had a realization like I have, on occasion, that often some of these five things of which I write happened on another week, or are happening over a span of time that includes previous weeks, this selfsame moment, and will continue on into the future weeks, and furthermore that reading a piece of written language often involves a detachment of oneself from the standard temporal flow in which we have entrenched ourselves; and that, in reality, every week we have found ourselves in this wibbly-wobbly, time-wimey ebb-and-flow of thoughts expressed and received.
(I realize in this moment, after having written that sentence, that I must go back and change a number of those commas to semicolons.)
Folks, it’s my birthday week, so I’m not holding back. You’re going to get the trains of thought that I normally reserve for the quiet aloneness of floating downward from the waking world into the valley of dreams—yes, for me, it’s a valley; and last night there was a robin hatchling for whom I tried and failed to find some seed, dice that I mistook for my own that belonged to my very disappointed therapist, and thousands of resplendently beautiful and terrifying spiders in that valley—and in some ways, you already have.
What was I going on about? Oh, yes—
Here are the five things we came up with to share with you. Hopefully nothing too noteworthy or exciting has happened, because it is out of my hands.
Birthdays! October is a birthday-heavy month for us. I’m sure to miss one, in addition to me and Eric, we also have Nic, Jeremy, and Jacob finishing their lap around the Sun this month. What else is there to say? A birthday is really just like any other day, except certain people might treat you a little differently if you’re friends on electronic social media and they happen to notice your name next to a birthday cake icon. For a fun time, try wishing everyone you encounter at the Smokehaus this month a happy belated birthday. You can wish someone a belated happy birthday all but one day of the year and be right on the money. Them’s good odds.
We’re going to The Wedding Fair! This year, we have refocused no insignificant sum of our energy into the catering side of our business. From weddings upon weddings, to the Glensheen gala, to Best of the Wurst, and so many pop-ups—not to mention (but hey, here I am mentioning it) our 20th Anniversary Party—we have had a heck of a year outside the charming confines of our deli storefront. The Wedding Fair, this Sunday (October 14th) at the Minneapolis Convention Center, is an exciting opportunity for us, since it will put us face-to-face with a large audience that potentially isn’t already following our business, and perhaps has never heard of us. We’re bringing a modest sampling of what we can offer—ham and pimiento bites, salmon and scallion cream cheese bites, a sweet brochure whipped up by our design team—and preparing ourselves to discuss virtually anything anybody wants to talk about (related to our food and catering services). Those who have experienced events we’ve catered know that our culinary skills extend far beyond what we offer in the deli.
We got a new power outlet! Another installment in the Series of Capital Improvements. We needed more power, and we got it. Bonus Thing™: We’ve cleared out the design/mail order office in preparation for what I believe is our final reflooring of the capital improvements season. Perhaps whomever I can convince to edit this post post-reflooring will supply a photo of the new floor, and if they don’t, this is a fun and awkward sentence for you to have read.
We smoked chickens! This past weekend, we catered Hoops Brewing’s Okoberfest celebration, and as Eric just informed me is traditional for Oktoberfest, we served smoked chicken alongside our brats and sauerkraut. If you’re bummed that you missed out on this opportunity, don’t worry: The chicken was evidently so good that we’re working to bring it onto our menu in the near future, as a half-chicken basket special for two.
Hummus! Our prep team made eight quarts of smoked poblano and ancho hummus, just to see how it would turn out. We had an extensive tasting session at our weekly Dungeons & Dragons gathering, and I can say that the hummus turned out quite well. It has a very gentle bite and rich, smoky undertones, and pairs extremely well with fragments of hot naan, and a cold pilsner lager. There is still some room for perfecting the recipe, but soon enough it will be available from our grab-and-go case and might make its way onto our sandwich line—perhaps as a vegan substitute for the cream cheese on our Fuzzy Bunny sandwich.
That’s all for this week. This has been a wild Wednesday, which you’re reading about on Friday, with high-speed winds, a murderous Lake Superior battering the shore and flooding large segments of our basement and forcing our delivery/prep department home, and somehow still a steady stream of customers—who must love to suffer in the cold wetness of it all—gracing our shop with their presence. I’ll catch you, dear reader, next week as I pull a similar write-early-in-the-week-so-I-can-take-Friday-off stunt. Hopefully—and totally within my control—with fewer trips through my self-created wormhole, because I have re-read this piece a dozen times, and am still not sure where or when I have ended up.
Focusing on Glensheens’s twelve acre estate and gorgeous gardens, this year’s theme is Secret Garden Party. Gala guests will have the opportunity to explore the grounds, newly opened spaces, and, of course, the mansion.
SATURDAY, 8-18-18 | 7PM – 10PM
Cost: $100 per person
Time travel to Duluth’s best lake party and enjoy the revelry throughout our historic, 12-acre estate. We’re unlocking the mansion for Gala guests to experience what’s behind closed doors.
In a mere week and a half, our amazing catering crew are going to pack two vans, four coolers, our 6-foot-long Douglas fir serving board, and around 100 pounds of smoked goodness and head to Minneapolis to cater (along with several other folks) the Official Super Bowl Tailgate Party. It’s the biggest crowd we’ve ever catered, but we feel like all our years of catering have been great training for an event like the Superbowl.
We were thrilled to get an email from a company that organizes the Superbowl village vendors: it was a huge logistical challenge but in typical Smokehaus fashion we rapidly decided to do it and figure out how later. I filled out the application, answered some follow-up questions, and left it on the horizon for the better part of December. To participate, we would need to essentially staff a condensed version of our already-condensed deli in Duluth: sandwich coolers, prep areas, abridged menus, and (most troublingly) a staff who a) could find an affordable place to stay in the Twin Cities for a week during the Superbowl inundation and b) would not leave a hole in the schedule with their absence.
I was in the middle of loosely sorting this out and fielding plenty of interest from all corners of the Smokehaus when we got the congratulatory email, and above all the logistical concerns I knew we were in for a great adventure. About a half an hour after that the second email came in explaining that the first missive was sent by mistake – but congratulations, we were first on the waiting list. Annoyance was mixed with a splash of relief, but every time the Superbowl came up, I felt a little baby kick of rejection.
A few weeks later, Eric was contacted through an old friend from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and was asked to participate in a different Superbowl event: as a caterer at the 2018 Players Tailgate Party. This was a BIG deal – 2,000 people – by far our largest headcount, kitty-corner to a major event in Minnesota, with plenty of opportunities to share our smoked fish, charcuterie, and years of food styling trial and error with a brand new group of customers. We once again assumed the formation, said yes, and figured it out. Staffed, condo’d (thanks to a staffer’s parents), prep listed, and fully stoked, we’re going to the Superbowl(!), and once again, we’re in for a great adventure.