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5 Things: February 15th, 2019

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

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

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

So what about these Things™, eh?

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

Because I care.

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

Here’s a Thing™

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

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

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

Sockeye Buddies are now available.

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

Mmm…sockeye buddies

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

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

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

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

We want to run too many different specials.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Things: February 8th, 2019

UPDATE: CAKE PHOTOS ADDED!!

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

The Sugar Plum Gift Box!

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

#cute

Make it sweet!

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

Patricia’s cookies (and more)!

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

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

Quadruple-ginger cookies

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

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

Unexpected Friday special by Patricia

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

Thank you, Patricia, for all you do.

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

Ham & Swiss Puff Pastries

Pine Cones & Royale With Cheese!

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

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

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

Is Somethin’

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

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

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

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

Sam’s last day…

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

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

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

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

Sweet, sweet Brewster

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

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

In the delicatessen scene, never shaking up your sandwich menu is considered especially heinous. At Northern Waters Smokehaus, the dedicated deli employees who innovate on sandwich menu are members of an elite squad known as the Sandwich Lab. These are their stories:


The Wagner is not about subtlety.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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5 Things: February 1st, 2019

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

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

    Adobada spices

    partial Sockeye Buddy recipe

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

  3. Porketta special and soup/chowder specials!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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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.

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5 Things

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

  4. 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!
  5. 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.

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Introducing the Adisalad

 

 

It’s a new year, and we’ve added a new salad to the menu—the Adisalad.

Named after its creator, and pronounced very closely to “add a salad,” this salad completes our trifecta of salads, rounding out the trio in several ways. The Adisalad is a size perfectly positioned between the side salad-sized Ensaladita and the takes-me-two-sittings-to-finish NWS Salad. Depending on how you choose your own salad adventure, it can also be gluten-free and vegan-friendly without any omissions, additions, or substitutions.

The Adisalad is composed of a bed of mixed greens and thinly-sliced cabbage, topped with a pickled vegetable medley, chopped Marcona almonds, fresh sliced cucumber, and your choice of Hausmade kimchi or sauerkraut. This salad needs no dressing, as the moisture from the kimchi/kraut and pickled vegetables combines with the oil from the almonds to create a complex incidental dressing. If you want to have the salad gluten-free and vegan, opt for sauerkraut over kimchi. Personally, I prefer the sauerkraut for its more pronounced flavor, but it is great both ways: with kimchi you get some extra vegetables and spice-heat.

Adison first threw together this salad to give his body some honest-to-goodness fuel. Not only is it an energizing blend of ingredients, but eating it feels like you’ve done something kind for yourself, without sacrificing flavor. Adison felt the salad would highlight the pickling and fermentation processes we have cultivated, so he brought it to our annual Sandwich Lab.

When I have the Adisalad, I like to add pickled ginger for extra spicy-sweetness, and quick pickles if they’re looking especially slippery.

The Adisalad is available in our deli & via delivery for $10+tax and is a delicious pick-me-up at any time of the day.

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5 Things That Happened This Week at NWS

The Breakfast Club. 

On Monday, we launched our Sandwich Lab campaign.

The Breakfast Club is a fresh new take on the Clubhaus, and the first of nine monthlong specials we’ll be running this year. Visit the event page for more details.

The Adisalad.

For those of you resolving to eat healthier this year, we’re with you. So we’re adding a new salad to our menu: The Adisalad. Named after Adison, it’s creator, and inevitably a confusing pun, this salad is something I look forward to every shift. Yes, your dear blogging friend is hooked. We’re in the process of training our staff to make it, but the official launch will be soon. Allow these unedited photos tide you over.

More box liners.


I am full of regret for forgetting to snap a few photos, but on Monday we had an awesome time moving nine(-ish?) boxes of box liners. Each box of liners is about 6′ x 4′ x 3′ (source: my subjective memory) so they are obviously quite maneuverable and really more of a job for one person, but we all chipped in anyway. Here’s a throwback photo of the room in which we store them. It is not so full anymore.

This sky over the canal. 

Sometimes the Sun comes out and makes early winter mornings not so bleak.

 

Kimchi. 

Here’s a visual of the size of a kimchi batch. This pile is just about finished. It will ferment for a week before it is packaged. The Adisalad features our kimchi and sauerkraut.

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From TK’s Desk: Raclette

Its Alpine cheese season.

Welcome this magnificently melty cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland: Raclette!!

Raclette is the cheese of legend, based on the story of a man from Valais by the name of Leon. One cold day, with food scarce in the open pastures, Leon heated up a piece of cheese on the open fire to ease his hunger and keep warm. He found the melted cheese had a transcendent flavor. It not only complemented other foods – it made a great, satisfying meal for his family. Popular since the Middle Ages, Raclette is still produced with milk from cows that are fed fresh grass in the summer and meadow hay in the winter.

The word raclette stems from the French verb racler, or “to scrape.” This cheese is a staple in the Swiss & French Alpine culinary culture and has to follow strict regulations from the cows to the creamery to the finishing process (the affinage). Each raclette has to have an official quality mark AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protegée) which is reserved for traditional products with long-standing regional origins.

Melt this cheese and serve it on top of anything from bread to cured meats, potatoes, pickles, or just about anything else.

Enjoy raclette with a glass of Alpine wines, such as the Swiss Fendant, French Savoy, rieslings, or pinot gris. Not into wine? Try it with warm tea or other warm beverages.  

Sold in our deli for $23/lb.

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From TK’s Desk: Rush Creek Reserve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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