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The 5 Top Smokehaus Sandwiches of 2020 (So Far)

There will be no surprises in today’s blog—just a sober look at the eating preferences of our customers since January 1st of this year.

Take a guess which sandwich will be #1. If you find that you’re correct, give yourself a pat on the back, you savvy market analyst, you!

#5 The Great Summer Caper

The once Summertime special that proved too viable to restrict to one season. The Great Summer Caper consists of a toasted Lake Superior Bakehouse Bagel (or one of our new gluten-free bagels), scallion cream cheese, capers (duh!), tomato, red onion, lettuce, and the true star of the show, Black Pepper & Coriander smoked Atlantic salmon.

BP&C (as commonly* abbreviated) is a highly popular fish case offering which, before the Summer of 2018, didn’t show up on any sandwiches. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t requested on sandwiches. It was. Often.

Now, thanks to the Summer special that just wouldn’t quit, you can substitute BP&C on all your favorite fish sandwiches, or The Wagner, if you’re feeling bold and saucy.

*by me.

#4 The Pastrami Mommy

Of the sandwiches on this list, the Pastrami Mommy has evolved the most. Formerly an exclusively Bison Pastrami sandwich, served on a very dark rye bread, it is currently made on our lighter hausmade rye bread (thank you, Jerry!), typically with Beef Pastrami, though still intermittently with Bison Pastrami when the smokers have time or reason to make it.

For those who don’t know, the price of bison has skyrocketed since the Wild West-esque days when I began working at NWS—thus, we reserve the majority of our bison production for Corned Bison and Bison Buddies.

Back to the Pastrami Mommy: Changes aside, the popularity of this sandwich has remained consistent, likely due in part to Guy Fieri’s enthusiasm about it on our decade-old Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives spot, but ultimately due to the merit of this sandwich.

Hausmade rye, mayo, and hausmade mustard, piled high with a quarter-pound of pastrami, zesty pepperoncini, provolone cheese, and mixed greens. Sounds tasty, right?

#3 The Cold Turkey

The savory-sweet delight that’s nearly impossible to quit: Maple-Sage Smoked Ferndale Farms Turkey Breast cradled in a few ounces of Crayo, nestled alongside mixed greens and Swiss cheese, all on a hausmade ciabatta (thanks again, Jerry!).

Frankly, if our sandwich menu ever vexes you, the Cold Turkey is a great default. It’s a sandwich that many, even among our very sandwich-spoiled staff, view as comfort food. It’s the perennial, “nothing too exciting today, just the Cold Turkey.” Which is not a bad thing at all. Add a Jean Jacket if you want some excitement.

#2 The Northern Bagel

A simple foundation with an abundance of flavor is the secret of this sandwich. Our Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon already has a lot going for it, from its outer smoke-catching pellicle to it’s brown sugar-sweet, moist and flaky flesh. Marry that amazing flavor to hausmade scallion cream cheese and a Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel, and you’ve got a winning combination.

One major benefit of this simple setup is accessibility. You can eat this thing anywhere, and you’re probably not going to make a mess. It’s a great sandwich on-the-go, whether that’s the trailhead, the beach, or the car. And while the technical aspect of this sandwich may suffice, more importantly, it also tastes really good.

The Northern Bagel is even available from the comfort of your own home kitchen!

#1 The Cajun Finn

Honestly, did you imagine anything else would be in this spot?

The Cajun Finn’s reputation precedes it. The Cajun Finn has had such an impact upon our deli and our community that it has made its way onto a piece of our merchandise—which, by the way, is on sale for $15 during the month of March: That’s $5 off! And lifetime 10%-off your in-store purchases as long as you’re wearing the shirt-slash-any of our merch!—and at least a couple other menus in town *wink emoji*

This blog hasn’t featured any specific sales numbers for these sandwiches, but based on the sales records from which this content emerged, the Finn sold roughly as many units as the three sandwiches below it combined.

Having fond memories of your last Cajun Finn? Want to hit that high again? Have a kit shipped to your doorstep!


It’s looking like it will be a busy weekend in the Canal Park area, and with favorable winds and sunshine, that should hopefully carry over to our deli.

If you’re craving NWS sandwiches and smoked fish, but not craving the wait, try our Delivery/Pick-up service.

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5 Things: Leap Day Eve 2020

Welcome back, friends and foes alike, to our weekly dish. Due to some time mismanagement, this week’s 5 Things™ will be an exercise in speed-blogging, and is brought to you by fish oil capsules, two bags of this tea, and Patricia’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

You certainly have a busy Friday ahead of you, whether it’s a day at work, a promise you’ve made, or just 100% doing you, so without further ado, here’s the goods.

We’re hiring again.

A few folks moved to Seattle, a handful of us have enjoyed vacations, and the weekends (plus select weekdays) have been busier than anticipated, and as such, we’ve come to find some spots that need filling in our fairly barebones operation.

If you’re looking for part time deli or dishing work (12-20 hours to week, which will grow into more hours closer to Summer) at the coolest spot in Duluth, shoot Greg (our H.R. guy) a résumé at greg@nwsmokehaus.com or drop one off in the deli. We’re especially looking for weekend availability at this time.

Benefits include competitive wages with annual raises, a free meal with every shift*, a sweet employee discount, cool coworkers, lots of snacks (y’know how I’m always talking about the fun new food I get to eat—this blog barely scratches the surface), and much more that doesn’t fit into my speed-writing regimen.

*Easily one of the best parts of working for this company, as you may come to discover.

The All Things Traditional sale is coming to a close.

Tomorrow (2/29/20) is the final day of our 10% off mail order sale on any item featuring Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon.

The discount is applied to your pre-shipping cart, and is not tied to orders shipped during the sale dates. Plan ahead for your Trad-loving friend’s birthday, or a holiday of your choice, and save money by placing your order before midnight on Saturday.

Cajun Finn shirts are going on sale!

For the entirety of March, our Cajun Finn t-shirts are $15! That’s $5 off! Best purchased in multiples, so you and the squad can match, these shirts (and all of our merchandise) get you a lifetime 10%-off when you shop in our deli while wearing them.

You read that correctly—stroll into our deli carrying an NWS tote, wearing a hat or T-shirt, and get 10%-off at the register. Forever. Word of mouth advertising (and the odd television spot, and magazine feature) built our deli into what it is, so consider it a token of our gratitude for your marketing help.

A handful of designs that live right by my “desk”

New merchandise is in development.

This coming Monday, the marketing team and any staff who have ideas, are meeting to design and pitch the next wave of Smokehaus swag. From what I’ve heard, people have already put in a bunch of work on their designs and ideas, and within the next few months, we’ll be seeing some awesome new merch in the deli. That’s in addition to an awesome piece of Duluth Pack-made Smokehaus gear that we’ll be introducing to the world right before Summer.

New and exciting ways to snatch that 10%-off discount are forthcoming.

What type of NWS apparel have you always wanted? Let us know in the comments.

New meat snacks are also forthcoming!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sampling a tester batch of Maple Bacon Jerky and Hot Dogs (I don’t know how we’re branding them yet, so I just capitalized the first letters).

For now, I will just say that both of those meat snacks were already quite tasty—even in these early stages—so I can’t wait for the rest of you carnivores to try them.

Keep your eyes on our social media platforms and we’ll let you know the day they appear in the deli.


Speaking of the deli, I’m just about due for an opening shift there. Enjoy the photos that Zac adds to this blog, and have a pleasant rest of your day.

We love you forever.

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Sandwich Lab: Alþings Considered and The Salmon Melt

Sandwich Lab Specials are back! Rather than running monthlong specials like last year, we’re going to bring all the new sandwiches to you at the same time, and keep them around for a while longer. Each one of our sandwiches eventually develops some degree of cult-following, and we want to give these staff-favorite newbies the same opportunity.

Today, we’ll be talking about two sandwiches that share something in common with each other, and with our most successful sandwich model: fish sandwiches. This is the first installment in a series of blogs about the eight sandwiches set to grace our menu before summer, including six new sandwiches—four from the most recent Sandwich Lab, and two collaborations—and two returning favorites from last year’s Sandwich Lab.

Not your average matpakke.

Alþings Considered is based on the open-faced sandwiches Andrew beheld at his bestemor‘s 90th birthday in Stavagner, Norway: rye bread, brushed with cream cheese and topped with gravlax, capers, lemon slices, fresh dill, and other fixings.

After Andrew joined the Smokehaus team, he began trying to recapture the majesty of de smørbrødene, finding the necessary ingredients readily available on our sandwich line and in the prep kitchen.

Andrew’s take on this sandwich begins with two slices of our haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye bread, a few generous swipes of scallion cream cheese, capers, Atlantic salmon gravlax, tomato slices, hausmade quick pickles, and a hausmade Nordic slaw developed just for this sandwich, featuring thinly-sliced cabbage, radish, and lemon, dressed with vinegar and dill.

At the very least, this smørbrød is a reminder that gravlax is amazing. At best, well, you’ll just have to try it for yourself and find out.

And what about that name? How are you meant to pronounce that non-Roman character? I’ll spare you the cursory linguistic and historical lessons, and skip ahead to the answer—it’s a voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative consonant. If that’s not helpful, think of NPR. If that’s still not helpful, there are some clues in this paragraph for you to follow in pursuit of the origin of this name.

Alþings Considered joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside the Catbus, the Sorta-Torta, and the Salmon Melt.

Speaking of the Salmon Melt

TK, our beloved inventory expert and wine connoisseur, sought to fill an obvious gap on our menu.

In TK’s words, “The tuna melt is one of the best deli sandwiches ever.” While we’ve never been a tuna joint, we have something that compares quite favorably to the average tuna salad: Smoked Salmon Pâté.

TK’s Salmon Melt is a essentially a classic tuna melt, with a hearty portion of our Smoked Salmon Pâté substituted for the tuna salad: Two slices of buttered haus-baked Pullman white bread, toasted alongside cheddar cheese-topped salmon pâté, assembled with a chunky dill pickle/red onion/celery relish.

The Salmon Melt gives our Smoked Salmon Pâté—which itself features the bright and exciting blend of such flavors as lemon juice, horseradish, Cajun seasoning, dill, scallions, and parsley—another context in which to shine, and in unexpected circumstances: served hot.

The Salmon Melt joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside the Catbus, the Sorta-Torta, and the aforementioned Alᚦings Considered.


Thanks for tuning in to this latest series of product features. Scandinavian fans, please forgive my sloppy attempts at Norwegian linguistic and cultural analysis: I took one semester of Norwegian at St. Olaf College, and my best friend moved to Norway a decade ago—we’re just pretending that makes me qualified.

For more information about Sandwich Lab, please read the copy-pasted details below:

What is Sandwich Lab?

A story pilfered from past blogs.

*Bum bum*

IN THE DELICATESSEN SCENE, NEVER SHAKING UP YOUR SANDWICH MENU IS CONSIDERED ESPECIALLY HEINOUS. AT NORTHERN WATERS SMOKEHAUS, THE DEDICATED DELI EMPLOYEES WHO INNOVATE ON THE SANDWICH MENU ARE MEMBERS OF AN ELITE SQUAD KNOWN AS THE SANDWICH LAB. THESE ARE THEIR STORIES:

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, 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: August 9th, 2019

There’s a whole bunch of things going on at the tip of Lake Superior this weekend. Before I get into discussing the week and weekend to come, I’d like to remind you that our pickup and delivery services are a great way to skip the line (except August 11th through 13th), and that Cajun-seasoned cheese curds are back in-stock in our grab & go case.

The Festival of Sail arrives this weekend. The tall ships and an enormous rubber duck will begin showing up today, and will remain in our harbor through Tuesday, August 13th. The Festival officially kicks off on Sunday morning, with a grand parade from 9-11 a.m. In previous years, the draw of this event has effectively doubled the population of our city. And that’s not the only festival taking place this weekend. Friday and Saturday, the 31st annual Bayfront Blues Festival will take up residence in—you guessed it—Bayfront Festival Park. The Blues Fest draws around twenty thousand attendees each year, and consistently features high-caliber blues artists from around the world.

Another Sandwich Lab creation debuted in our deli. The Lake Trout Situation is Jacob’s homage to the classic New England lobster roll and the Jersey Shore. Featuring a smoky, sweet lake trout salad, sliced red cabbage, and wasabi mayo atop a slice of buttery, toasted white bread, this sandwich is served open-faced (for hotdog-style consumption) and garnished with cilantro and crispy smoked pancetta crumbles. It’s available for $10+tax in our deli & via delivery.

The Scavenger Hunt continues. The first week, a participant found the magnet within hours—next to the Observation Park dog park. This week, it was found on the second day—on the back of a sign at the Duluth Farmer’s Market. With three weeks to go, and 7 superfluous clues written so far, I have something special planned for next week, so stay on your toes. The next clue comes out on Monday, August 12th. Follow us on our social media pages and check out the rules here to participate.

Patricia is at it again! This time with vegetarian tofu pasties, in addition to her standard array of cookies, crackers, and pasties. Our baking department, which also boasts two skilled breadmakers in Jerry and Adison (whom I don’t praise enough on this blog, as they have supplied all of our rye, white bread, and ciabatta needs through the Summer), have developed a brilliant selection of high-quality hausmade breads and sweets. I don’t ever want to go back to a world before the Smokehaus had dedicated bakers on-staff.

Did someone say “party?”

We’re having a fish fry! The summer season is hardly coming to a close, but we’re already starting to say goodbye to the seasonal hands on deck, and a handful of other coworkers/friends leaving for school, adventures in new cities, and at least one dream job opportunity. So we’re taking an evening to celebrate, this Sunday, with a small gathering for our staff. Fried whitefish, smoked chicken wings, coleslaw, and crinkle-cut fries are on the menu, and my mouth is already watering two days in advance. Hopefully, the Sunday closing staff will be able to make it out of Canal Park! The deli will be open normal hours—10 a.m. to 6 p.m.—on Sunday.


Now that you’ve read this week’s 5 Things™, go out and have a good rest of your day.

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5 Things: July 12th, 2019

5 Things™ is back from vacation. I had the best steak of my life (please pound your steaks thin and marinate them overnight before you ever consider cooking them), my very first experience with escargot, watched a Chicago-sized storm cloud travel over Chicago from a balcony at the epicenter of the cloudburst, and even got a wicked sunburn at a crowded beach, but didn’t manage to churn out a blog. Hopefully you just went about your lives and didn’t miss it too much.

Here’s a handful of things that I’ve learned about life at NWS since I’ve returned.

Andy has stepped into his role as Mail Order director.

I already knew about this one, but you may not have. Shipping our hand-crafted products around the nation is part of the foundation of our business, but the department has been without a leader for a couple months. In practice, perhaps you didn’t even notice, due to our staff’s ability to fill in the gaps.

We interviewed several candidates within our existing staff, and selected Andy to guide the future of this department. Training in as the director of this massive endeavor—December is one of our most profitable months, and that is in large part due to mail order—is no small, short, or easy task, so we wish Andy the best.

Tyler has evolved into his delivery/pickup assistant manager-form.

Tyler, who once told me he didn’t want any responsibility beyond being a good dishwasher—I’m paraphrasing—has now taken on more responsibility, seemingly of his own accord.

The delivery/pickup department, which has been going through its own evolution lately—simultaneously contracting its in-haus delivery hours and range, and expanding its hours and range through third-party delivery services Food Dudes and Bite Squad—welcomes Tyler’s affable leadership.

The Fish Schtick.

“Sandwich Lab” may be one of the most-oft repeated phrases in my blogging life. This month’s Sandwich Lab special (temporary addition to the sandwich menu) is a curious sandwich called the Fish Schtick.

Assembled on a haus ciabatta roll, it is composed of Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon, tomato, cornichon pickle, lettuce, mayo, and lemon pepper. It has a bright, complex, yet cohesive harmony of flavors tied together by the smoky goodness of our salmon.

The Fish Schtick accounts for about 2% of our sandwich sales during its time on the menu, which is nothing to shake a schtick at.

The months ahead will feature a Lake Superior Lake Trout-salad sandwich, and a smoked Andouille sausage, chevre, and green apple sandwich. Stay hungry, because all of these Sandwich Lab specials get you two stamps on your sandwich card. Now that’s value!

We have the hardest working production crew in town!

Okay, this may not be strictly true—I didn’t do any research—but hear me out: I checked in with our team of roughly five smokers about their life in the basement, and found out that they’ve been putting in hours—working double shifts, sometimes triples, and the occasional overnight—but that was only after some prying on my part.

Their first answer to my inquiry about life in the basement: “It’s pretty chill!”

How’s that for a winning attitude? This is the energy we need to take with us into the rest of 2019.

We had a span of 11 days that would have blown my mind when I started at NWS.

And I was on vacation the whole time.

When I began working at our humble deli, there was tangible excitement any time our daily sales were above $5,000. I’m pretty sure $9,000 in sales would have merited a pizza party, popping Champagne corks (or vigorously-shaken LaCroix cans), and maybe even some light screaming.

While I was out of town, our average daily sales were closing in on $10,000, even on days that we closed early, due to holidays and our Sunday hours. For eleven days.

We’re really glad you all like us so much.

We love you forever!

See you next time on 5 Things™.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Spinderella

IN THE DELICATESSEN SCENE, NEVER SHAKING UP YOUR SANDWICH MENU IS CONSIDERED ESPECIALLY HEINOUS. AT NORTHERN WATERS SMOKEHAUS, THE DEDICATED DELI EMPLOYEES WHO INNOVATE ON THE SANDWICH MENU ARE MEMBERS OF AN ELITE SQUAD KNOWN AS THE SANDWICH LAB. THESE ARE THEIR STORIES:


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

Press play. Sound “on” for best results.

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

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

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

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


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

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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In Remembrance of 5 Things Past; or, Searching for Lost Things

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.

Mother Superior is angry.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

    Check out that new outlet on the left!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

#imaginecanalparkunderwater