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Product Feature: Smoked Jerky

“Do you have any jerky?”

The above has been a common refrain while acquainting our customers with the deli cases. And now we can finally answer in the affirmative.

Jerky is here! Our beloved owner, Eric, always eager to listen to what the people want, then give them a better version than they expected, spent some serious one-on-one time with his home smoker developing these recipes, and is finally ready to present his work to the world!

Right now, we’re offering three flavors of Haus-smoked jerky, with plans to grow that list. Like all products at NWS, our jerky is made with the highest-quality—locally-sourced where applicable—meats, perfectly seasoned and processed by skilled hands.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the flavors:

Maple Bourbon Bison Jerky

Sometimes simple is better.

Our Smoked Maple Bourbon Bison Jerky follows that philosophy, letting mouthwatering strands of North American Bison Eye of Round speak for themselves, with just the right amount of maple syrup and bourbon, and a healthy dose of salt and pepper.

Maple Bourbon Bison Jerky is available in our deli for $35/lb

Umami Tsunami Bison Jerky

Ride the savory wave!

Experience another side of bison, packed with a palate-awakening blend of flavors—Tamari, Worcestershire sauce, Sambal, Shio Koji, ketchup, and, of course, black pepper—and smoke-finished to perfection.

And it’s fun to say aloud.

Umami Tsunami Bison Jerky is available in our deli for $35/lb

Wild Sockeye Salmon Jerky

Our savory-sweet Wild Sockeye Salmon Jerky will make your mouth water!

Flavored with a blend of ingredients that will remind longtime Smokehaus fans of our old sockeye gravlax—fresh ginger, fresh garlic, and lemon juice—and tied-together with sugar, and the potent umami combo of Sambal Oelek and Shio Koji, this sockeye salmon jerky is destined to be a hit.

There’s nothing fishy about it, except the Wild Sockeye flavor you love.

Wild Sockeye Salmon Jerky is available in our deli for $40/lb


Our smoked jerky is a perfect answer to hunger right out of the deli case, or saved for later on. It’s smoked and dehydrated, so you can take it with you on the trails, on a plane, or in the car. We’ve priced it out to sell by weight, and rest assured, even a quarter-pound goes a long way.

Expect more flavors coming soon. Rumor has it Eric’s got Turkey Jerky on his mind.

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Product Feature: Snack Sticks

Snack sticks are great. NWS snack sticks are amazing. But don’t just take our word for it. Even with periodic availability issues (usually related to so many people wanting them!) they’re still among our top sellers. Around here, we call them Buddies.

Made by hand from the highest-quality regionally-sourced* meats, and thoughtfully selected seasonings and ingredients, these little buddies are great for sharing and snacking on-the-go. To the right recipient, a six-pack of these sticks is a perfect gift.

Need something quick and easy for a potluck gathering? Buddies. Heading out of town and searching for something travel-friendly? Buddies. Running out of cooler space, but craving that NWS fix? Pack a few buddies.

Currently, we have four snack stick offerings: Big Jims, Bison Buddies, Smoked Salmon Buddies, and Royale With Cheese. If (when?) we add more snack sticks to our roster, we’ll update this page.

*When possible. Sockeye and Atlantic salmon still live outside the Midwest.

Big Jims

Big Jim Hatch chiles are big peppers with big flavor! Growing 8-14 inches, and producing meaty pods with a mouthwatering sweetness and smoky medium heat, these peppers are the foundation of the adobada sauce that make these smoked beef and bacon sticks stand out.

Big Jims remind me of hanging around the kitchen while my mother sautéed pounds of ground beef and chopped onions with a packet of taco seasoning, sneaking spoonfuls whenever she stepped away from the stove. They’re great for any palate, with plenty of interesting spice, but a mild heat that won’t leave you sweating.

We like to serve Big Jims alongside Cajun-seasoned cheese curds and our hausmade cheddar crackers, but they wouldn’t be out of place on any snack platter. I’m dreaming of bites of Big Jims alongside crisp, sweet apple slices.

Bison Buddies 

Bison is the original North American meat source, and it’s on an upswing. It’s lean, mean, and green—environmentally speaking. Our premier snack stick features a 5:1 ratio of sustainably-raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free North American Bison, LLC chuck roast and Heritage Berkshire pork. 

They’re a NWS classic, with the perfect amount of snap, and a complex flavor that begins with a sweetness at the tip of the tongue, developing into a mild spice and the complementary tastes of bison and Berkshire pork dancing on the middle tastebuds, finishing with a light burn at the back of the mouth—thank you, paprika, cayenne, and red pepper flakes. All the while, you’ll enjoy hints of black pepper, coriander, garlic, and ground mustard.

Bison Buddies are perhaps best served as they come, eaten within moments of us handing them over to you, but their spicier side comes alive after some time under heat, which activates the various dehydrated peppers in their recipe. Or, if you’re feeling cute, buy yourself a can of Pillsbury puff pastry, cut the Buddies into thirds, and make yourself some Blanket Buddies.

Smoked Salmon Buddies

Save the deep-fried ground cod sticks for the kids. Our Smoked Salmon Buddies aren’t your average fish stick. Wild sockeye salmon (with just a touch of Atlantic salmon, for fat content) seasoned with ginger, black pepper, and coriander, make these a rare, but unforgettable, treat.

These salmon sticks shine alongside cream cheese or our hausmade Boursin cheese, and while they pique interest just as often for their peculiarity as their flavor, they’ve captivated the hearts and taste buds of many skeptics.

Royale With Cheese

Named after what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in France: It’s a bacon-cheeseburger in a stick! Ground beef, smoked bacon, and high temperature cheddar cheese form the base of this stick, highlighted by the savory combination of caramelized onion, pickle juice, ketchup, and mustard—smoked to perfection.

These rich and delicious sticks are great cold and on-the-go, but give them a few minutes on the grill or skillet, and wrap them in a large leaf of crispy lettuce, and you’ve got yourself the ultimate easy bun-free burger experience. We’ve done the math, and that equals more room for french fries!


All of our snack sticks are available as often as we can keep up with the demand in our deli fish and meat cases. Big Jims and Royales are $2/stick. Bison Buddies are $3/stick. Smoked Salmon Buddies are $28/lb.

Trimmings from the ends of the sticks are mixed up in 1-pound containers we call “Little Pals” and are available from our Grab & Go case whenever we have time to package them up.

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5 Customer Favorites

Another lap ’round the sun is complete! To start off this blogging year, we’re going to linger a while longer in the previous year, looking at our all-around bestselling items—which to some might be quite obvious. To avoid clinging too dearly to the past, I will then attempt to work a preview of what to expect in the upcoming year into each section.

#1 — The Cajun Finn

No question here. Whether by sheer virtue of its flavor, or the potency of word-of-mouth advertising, this sandwich sells roughly as many units as the bottom half of the sandwich menu combined (a point for W.o.M.), and has repeat—and three-peat, and onward—customers (a major point for V.o.F.).

Fish sandwiches are among our most popular items overall, and come Spring of 2020, we’ll have a new one making a stop on our menu. Last year, for the Friends of the Boundary Waters Fundraiser, we auctioned off future naming rights for a limited-run fish sandwich to be featured on our menu.

So, right now, it’s in development and unnamed, but it’s highly likely to be a hit. A percentage of proceeds from each sandwich sold will be donated to Friends of the Boundary Waters efforts to protect one of Minnesota’s greatest natural treasures. With that in mind, perhaps all of the Cajun Fanns* could work together and turn the Untitled Fish Sandwich into our new bestseller. Delicious activism.

The Cajun Finn sold just under 15,000 units in 2019.

*Came up with this one on the spot, and now it’s canon. Y’all are henceforth Cajun Fanns.

#2 — Chips

Chips are a highly visible, relatively inexpensive side dish, and a great companion to a sandwich. Do you ever just mess around and throw chips right on your sandwich? I sure do.

The future of chips at NWS is exciting. At the end of 2019, a few boxes of new chips showed up at our proverbial doorstep for sampling. I can tell you from first- and secondhand experience that we Smokehausers enjoyed the new chips, and one particular flavor enjoyed a short run in our deli (perhaps with a longer stay to come). Beyond that, we’ve begun making moves to develop our own line of NWS chips. Ah, future goals—so uncertain, but so exciting.

#3 — Bison Buddies

The original Smokehaus snack stick reigns supreme. Bison Buddies are sweetly smoky, with a gentle kick of heat to the back of the tongue (a little less gentle if they spend some time on a skillet), and convenient to purchase and enjoy.

Bison is the better version of beef: leaner, more nutritious—high in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and zinc—and, in most cases, raised without antibiotics and hormones.

Though our Bison Pastrami is now only made intermittently in small batches, the Great American Mammal still has its presence in our deli in the form of these snack sticks, and Corned Bison, one of our sandwich line meat options (and the superior choice for The ’06 sandwich).

The Pack Lunch—the launch item of an upcoming collaboration with our neighbors Duluth Pack—is a Corned Bison sandwich with a daring-yet-dependable cohort of flavors to enhance it. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting collaboration.

#4 — Big Jims/Royale With Cheese

Bison may be the better version of beef, but these beef sticks are not something you want to ignore.

The Big Jims (named after the Hatch Chiles that give them their distinct flavor) are my favorite snack sticks we currently offer.

Royale(s) With Cheese are our bacon cheeseburger-themed snack sticks. They’re replete with the flavors of beef and bacon (obviously), onion, pickle juice, and cheese (again, quite obviously).

Despite each of these snack sticks spending only slightly more than six months in our deli, the numbers don’t lie: they share the spotlight with heavy-hitters like the Cajun Finn and Traditional Atlantic Salmon, which had a full Sun Cycle to earn their place on this list. In their half-year of availability, each sold around 9,000 units. That positions them to outsell even the legendary Cajun Finn, if given a whole year.

Which is why I’m delighted to announce that Bison Jerky and Turkey Jerky should be hitting the shelves soon, with plans to experiment with other varieties after the initial launch.

Jerky has been a glaring omission in our deli for long enough, and given the recent success of our line of snack sticks—Smoked Salmon Buddies didn’t make Top 5/6 bestsellers, but they’re up there, and the smokers just finished a new batch!—Eric spent some time with his home smoker developing jerky recipes. Our social media pages are great places to stay updated on the launch of these new items.

#5 — Traditional Atlantic Salmon

Smoked fish is the reason we’re here, so it makes a lot of sense that it occupies a third of this list.

smoked atlantic salmon traditional style

Our Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon has a short and sweet ingredients list: Atlantic salmon, salt, and brown sugar. Alongside our signature kippering technique of smoking, which through a gradual increase of temperature throughout the process, forms a pellicle that locks in moisture, this simple combination of ingredients lets the delicious, buttery taste and tender consistency of Atlantic salmon shine through.

Uncertain quite how to tie in this final preview, the blogger proceeds as follows:

Last year’s monthly Sandwich Lab specials were a fun diversion, with varying levels of popularity and success. This year, we want to let the winners have a bit more time to shine.

In November of 2019, we came together yet again, sharing our pet sandwiches for peer review. Four have been selected to represent a new era of the NWS sandwich menu, and they will all join the menu together, for a handful of months. In addition, the overall favorites from last year’s cycle of monthlong specials—The Sebu-Chan and The Wagner—will be joining the menu full-time.

We know what you’re thinking: How will we fit seven-ish new sandwiches on that already packed board?

We’re working on it.

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My Favorite Things™ (December 27th, 2019)

Here it is.

The final 5 Things™ of the year.

We’re going to do something special this time around.

But first, I’m going to mess around with the headings for a bit.

Okay, that’s enough.

Here are My Favorite Things™ that happened this year at NWS. I took a deep dive, noting the moments in this blog that sparked the most joy in me, then tried to whittle it down to five, but was unable. What can I say? I’m a sentimental person. Hopefully, uncut as it is, this list gives you a hint at the sort of year we’ve had at the Smokehaus.

The Adisalad joined our menu.

The Adisalad is New Year’s resolution food: Haus kimchi or sauerkraut, a delicious assortment of pickled vegetables, with fresh cucumber slices, and chopped Marcona almonds over mixed greens and thin-sliced cabbage.

The salad joined the menu in January, and quickly became my lunch break of choice for somewhere around three months—after which I began transposing it into sandwich form, because carbs are great. Among its other noteworthy attributes are its position on our menu as a middle ground between the Ensaladita and the two-meals-in-one-package NWS Salad (in both size and price) and its status as vegan-friendly option (choosing ‘kraut over kimchi).

New Sticks.

When they’re in-stock, Bison Buddies are one of our top-selling items. Eric and the Smokers (not Eric’s band name, but could be) caught wise to this trend and whipped up an assortment of new snack sticks—with future plans to develop more—to please our constituents in search of something quick, easy, and flavorful. The current selection (at full capacity) features Big Jim Hatch Chile beef sticks, Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, and Smoked Sockeye Salmon Buddies alongside the Bison Buddies. Everyone loves snack sticks!

Smoked Sockeye Sticks aka Salmon Buddies

Patricia made donuts and brought them in to share.

Working at NWS in the Patricia era has been a joy for a handful of reasons—new and exciting cookies, cheddar crackers, pasties, and samples of each new item as they emerge—but the day she brought in a tray of cake donuts she’d made that morning was a favorite of mine. Yes, our dear Patricia just whipped up some cake donuts in her kitchen on a whim.

Patricia’s initial plan was to try a donut Cuban sandwich with our Minnesota Pulled Pork. Though I do not know whether she succeeded in that goal, I do recall making a Northern Donut—yes: a donut with scallion cream cheese and smoked Atlantic salmon. It was not good enough for the menu (and would’ve been far better with our Atlantic salmon gravlax), but I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t enjoy it.

The Sandwich Lab Series.

I can’t believe it took me this long to get to this Thing™. Sandwich Lab (our annual pedantic and artistic gathering in the pursuit of sandwich excellence) easily got a nod in over 50% of the blog content this year. For good reason, too. Last year’s Lab had so many high-quality offerings that we elected to feature them all (in roughly one-month intervals) on the menu.

Since a great deal has already been said about these sandwiches, here’s a list of their names and their ingredients to sate you. And of course you can always follow that hyperlink I just provided if you care to read more.

  • The Breakfast Club – Bagel, scallion cream cheese, smoked turkey, smoked pancetta (crispy), red onion, cilantro.
  • The Wagner – Hero roll, mayo, mustard, smoked turkey or smoked pastrami (unofficial 3rd option: black pepper and coriander salmon), quick pickles, cilantro, sriracha.
  • The Spinderella – Hero roll, mayo, mustard, dill pickle, smoked turkey, salami, red onion, cilantro. Side of scallion cream cheese, for dippin’.
  • The Bloody Mary – Johnson’s Bakery kaiser roll, green olives, chopped dill pickle, summer sausage, smoked pancetta, cheddar cheese, Haus bloody mary mix, tomato, red onion, cilantro.
  • The Wallaby – Haus-baked Prince Myshkin Rye, smashed avocado, lemon pepper, tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar.
  • The Sebu-chan – Haus-baked ciabatta, scallion cream cheese, gravlax, cucumber, tomato, red onion, cilantro, sriracha, lettuce.
  • The Fish Schtick – Haus-baked ciabatta, mayo, lemon pepper, traditional Atlantic salmon, Cornichon pickles, tomato, red onion, lettuce.
  • The Lake Trout Situation – Haus-baked pullman white bread (buttered and toasted), smoked lake trout salad, smoked pancetta crumbles, cilantro. Served open-faced—our take on a New England lobster roll.
  • The G.O.A.T. – Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel, chèvre, crispy sliced smoked andouille, sliced Cortland apple, lettuce.

This porketta photo shoot.

Right around the time we began working in earnest on the cookbook, our creative team had the bright idea of trying to capture the heart of backyard smoking. This behind-the-scenes look at that shoot was one of my favorite Things™ largely because of the captions, but in no small part due to Greg’s rustic charm and bright attire.

This workplace drama.

Posing by porkettas isn’t the only thing Greg-with-two-Gs is good for. He and Leif have had an ongoing struggle for office dominance that has provided high-quality entertainment to anyone who might tune in.

An update:

This corrupted image of Smoked Ribs and Beans.

What better way to commemorate this delicious though short-lived daily special than this odd photograph? Designers, take note: You can now easily extract the exact color palette of our Smoked Ribs free of charge.

Working on the NWS Cookbook.

Bubbling below the surface of everything else going on this year—the strategic expansion and retraction of our menu, the addition of beer and wine (and cider, and alcoholic seltzer) to our deli, all of the new baked goods, and changes in leadership roles—has been a lot of work on the first-ever Northern Waters Smokehaus cookbook.

While there’s still quite a bit of work ahead of us, and the anticipated release date falls somewhere no sooner than Summer 2021, these past ten months of work on the book have been an exciting, sometimes nerve-wracking, ultimately very fulfilling ride.

These new faces.

The new folks who have joined our team have been pretty alright this year.

That’s all for 5 Things™ in 2019! See you next year!

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5 Things: August 23rd, 2019

Summer isn’t over yet, but the morning air is crisper, and the pace of life is slowing down. The tall ships have come and gone, the flood of students is just beginning to trickle into town. Walking past our deli, it may not always appear this way, but life is on the calmer side, at least for a few weeks.

But that doesn’t mean life at the Smokehaus is any less interesting.

We have new faces in the deli.

Faces.

For those keeping score, over the past few weeks we’ve steadily mentioned that we’re hiring, and as a result, we already have a handful of new staff training in. I’d caution the world to be patient with and/or kind to them, since they are new and the pace of our little deli can be overwhelming, but they’re already performing like seasoned veterans.

Labor Day Mail Order Sale.

Labor Daybor

Beginning August 26th, we’re running a mail order special: 20% off your cart (online only) when you enter the discount code bluecollar. The sale runs through Labor Day (9/2). However, if you want your food to arrive in time for Labor Day weekend celebrations, place your order by Tuesday, August 27th—those orders will be shipped on Wednesday (8/28) and arrive by Friday (8/30). Otherwise, you can schedule your shipping date for whenever you’d like. Pro-tip: this is the best mail order sale of the year, so if you know exactly what you want to order for Fall and Winter holidays, this is a good time to do it.

Speaking of Mail Order, here’s our updated holiday shipping schedule.

Bookmark this page as an easy reference when ordering for holidays, and you’ll be guaranteed to get your orders at the perfect interval for gifting or entertaining. Become the master of your own destiny; know for yourself exactly when to place orders, and when to have them shipped for best results.

Monday night D&D returns to The Midnight Axe.

Images unrelated.

The Summer season of our unofficial office Dungeons and Dragons crew is coming to a close with a short adventure tying us back into our ongoing campaign, right before our DM heads on an extended vacation, leaving us to fend for ourselves.

This Summer, we set our main campaign to the side, in order to focus on a handful of smaller, unconnected adventures. Not only did this allow each of us to test out a number of character ideas, and novel settings, but it also gave us time to miss our main characters, as distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

“The Midnight Axe” is the name—generated by rolling percentile dice against a chart of fantasy party names—of our primary party. When we’re not embroiled in a scavenger hunt for a cache of money embezzled long ago from the treasury of the Manhattan-esque city of Waterdeep, and avoiding/averting the frequent pitfalls of gangs whose rivalry we earned incidentally, we’re just trying to earn a mostly-honest living running a tavern called The Malt Solstice. However, some way or another, we’ve gained some notoriety as adventurers—and it’s drawn some public interest.

In our session on Monday, Harrison (our Dungeon Master) presented each of us with three characters (shout out to Harrison for developing fifteen character concepts in a single weekend) who are looking, for one reason or another, to join our ranks. This coming session, we’ll be embarking on a mission with our chosen secondary characters to discover their strengths, and how they’ll fit into our adventuring party. Perhaps they’ll join us on the front lines, perhaps they’ll stick around headquarters and craft potions nonstop, perhaps they’ll alternate between venturing into the Undermountain (where our campaign has us heading) and providing security at the Malt Solstice. Only time will tell.

Character biographies forthcoming.

Patricia’s corner.

Let’s get personal.

Let’s get one thing straight: Any week that there are not five immediately obvious other Things™ to talk about, Patricia is going to get a nod. Ever since she moved to full-time baking, we’ve become accustomed to carrying an assortment of cookies—chocolate chip, ginger, peanut butter curry, carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese, coconut macaroons (which are gluten-free*), and most recently chocolate walnut flourless cookies (also gluten-free**)—pasties, cheddar crackers, savory scones, and even personal pizzas. This week’s pizza featured smoked bacon, blackberries, and chèvre, and her pizza sauce, in general, is composed of the odds-and-ends bits of tomato from the morning’s prep.

That’s honestly one of the best things about Patricia’s approach to baking for NWS—by utilizing more parts of the foods we use, we generate substantially less waste as a business, which improves our model of sustainability (not to mention profitability) overall, and in the process, we end up with these delicious, fan-favorite items in our deli

*/**: It’s worth noting that these are not baked in a completely gluten-free environment. In terms of ingredients, they are entirely gluten-free, but those at serious risk should be aware of the chance of cross-contamination.

I got to observe production of Country Pâté.

Observe.

Compiling recipes for the cookbook is great fun, but not without its challenges. In addition to needing to massively scale down some recipes—we’re operating under the assumption you’ll never need to make one-hundred pounds of Smoked Whitefish at home—other recipes in our own workbooks lack, well, instruction.

Country pâté, for example, is just a list of ingredients, which our skilled production crew understands how to massage—eh, grind—into the savory loaves we all love. Brandt happened to catch me during a fresh air break yesterday to let me know he was making it.

Seeing that static list of ingredients—browned bacon and onion; Berkshire liver, pork and back fat; brandy; cure; rosemary and thyme; etc.—ground once and then half again (to achieve the preferred inconsistent consistency), mixed with what could reasonably pass as TLC, and packaged to chill overnight before being packed into loaf pans and slow-cooked, was enlightening, and proof that someone needs to write down those steps, because there’s a lot of them. If not for our own benefit, certainly for the book.

Once again, I’d like to give a public shout-out to the smokers for the sheer volume of high-quality product they consistently churn out.

I’ve done it again. Yesterday, I stared at my week’s notes and wondered, “which five Things™ am I going to write about? Are there five Things™ that may intrigue or inspire our readership(?),” and here I am, writing Thing™ six-and-a-half. I hope you’re happy.

We hope to see you in our deli this weekend—whether you wait in line, or skip the line via pickup —or your name and address in our delivery system. If you’re going to be near Canal Park/Downtown, make sure you bring ear protection, because the Tribute Fest will be rocking hard.

Stay tuned in the next handful of weeks for some new sandwich options—including your blogger’s own contribution to the Sandwich Lab specials—and exciting collaborations.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Lake Trout Situation

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:


Jacob’s Lake Trout Situation

Like a flavor flash-mob, this sandwich is incoming to shake up your everyday life. 

A minute ago the Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout was hanging around some lemons and scallions, having an impassioned conversation; but the crispy Smoked Pancetta, wasabi mayo, cucumbers, cilantro and thin-sliced cabbage were just scrolling on their phones, minding their business. Next thing you know, the buttered, toasted, white bread shows up, and suddenly the courtyard (where I imagine this is all happening) comes alive, and onlookers are astounded as these seemingly separate entities come together in a meticulously choreographed song-and-dance.

Meticulously choreographed.

Yes, it has been choreographed, and meticulously. Abs are out and fists are pumping. This Situation of a sandwich required extensive development, but has turned into something quite special. Inspired by the Jersey Shore and classic New England Lobster rolls, with that particular NWS flair, this just might be the smoked lake trout sandwich we’ve been waiting our whole lives for.

Try it during the month of August, and receive not only a scintillating gustatory experience, but two stamps on your sandwich card. This is the cutting-edge of Smokehaus sandwiches. The Lake Trout Situation costs $10 + 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: July 19th, 2019

We’re in the dog days of summer—or we might not be—and life at NWS is heating up. Our first Thing™ offers an option for cooling down:

We’ve got White Claw!

I still haven’t tried it*, but this low-calorie, gluten-free, slightly boozy seltzer water has become iconic of Summer 2019. One-hundred percent of planned beach expeditions I have attended this year have featured a cooler half full of White Claw cans. It’s reported to be refreshing and taste quite good. I may or may not have “liked” a meme featuring a can of Hidden Valley Ranch White Claw this morning on the ‘Gram.

We received our first shipment of Grapefruit White Claw this week. Lightly-flavored effervescent beverages (affectionately known as “day beers”) are a longtime staple of life at NWS—a former deli manager once challenged herself to drink twelve cans of LaCroix in a shift, and the grapefruit and lime varieties of Topo Chico sparkling water have become a fast favorite for staff and patrons alike—so it follows quite naturally that our early forays into hard beverages would include what I am now exclusively calling “nighttime day beers” in my head.

*By the time this blog is posted, I may have consumed at least one can of White Claw.**

**Leif and I drank our first nighttime day beers together on the patio after work.

Heirloom tomato season is in full effect!

Every July, we purchase a beautiful bounty of locally-grown heirloom tomatoes from Hammarlund Nursery in Esko, MN. Ken Hammarlund himself brings us dozens of pounds of these delectable tomatoes in weekly increments when the season is in full-swing.

These ‘matos are not only exceptional on the palate, but also come in beautiful colors—bright greens, yellows, and purples, and swirls of all three—so they are remarkably pleasant to prep for the day.

If you’ve ever been on-the-fence about sandwiches with tomatoes, July into the first few weeks of August is a great time to try them.

Waiting for your order on the patio is easier than ever!

We love our small storefront and our home in DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, but it’s not without its shortcomings. The hallway we share with Lake Avenue Café can become crowded whenever the sandwich queue is even a little backed up.

“Stick around. We’ll call your name when your food is ready,” was essentially the script. Those who wanted to establish themselves at a table on the patio were also given the annoying task of periodically sending an emissary inside to check on the status of their food.

But this has all changed now that we have added a public address system to our patio. We’ll default to calling out names un-amplified in the deli, but if no one comes running, we’ll double-down on the PA.

Grab that spot outside, catch some extra rays of sunshine, experience a bit of leisure while we make your order.

A little bit of Smokehaus lore.

Research and development for our first cookbook has provided a wellspring of insights into the growth of the Smokehaus. A bunch of these tidbits will make their way into the pages of the book, and some of them are going to pop into the 5 Things™ blog now and again.

During a rapid-fire meeting Tuesday morning on our patio, the topic of our salmon seasonings came up. Dill is a no-brainer when it comes to salmon, and a blend of black pepper and coriander bears a strong resemblance to another popular preparation of meat, but what of cajun seasoning?

Our cajun-seasoned smoked Atlantic salmon is a fairly popular item of its own, but unless you arrived at this web address accidentally and have no idea how you got here or how to navigate away from this page, you have probably heard of the Cajun Finn. The sandwich that outsells half of the rest of our menu. 40% of the sentence “I’ll have a Cajun Finn,” which is sometimes 40% of all words said by an individual ordering as part of a group.

Cajun-seasoned smoked salmon, it turns out, was an experiment with a current trend that ended up wildly successful.

Paraphrasing Eric: “People were putting cajun seasoning on everything, so we tried the same thing with smoked salmon, and people loved it.”

That’s a pretty wild innovation to just stumble into, and serendipitous. Who knows where the Smokehaus would be without the cult success of the Cajun Finn? I like to imagine the excellent quality of our food would have carried us to similar heights, but it’s impossible to say.

Two new product features on our blog!

They put me to work this week—alongside work on the cookbook, a handful of press releases, and some updates of our online swag descriptions, I also whipped up a couple of posts about our selection of natural wines with suggested food pairings, and an often overlooked menu item, the fish basket. Since you’re already here, think about checking them out.

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“5” Things: May 24th 2019

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

What can you do?

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

To no avail.

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

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

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

This week we had many meetings!

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

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

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

How about some exciting news?

Smoked ribs are back in stock!

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

Perfectly seasoned and smoky.

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

Order online here

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

Ribs and kimchi is a haus favorite!

Kenspeckle Letterpress shirts are returning soon!

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

Spicy Tales of Charcuterie!


We took our last trip out to Hemlock Preserve!

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

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

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

Northern Waters Catering news!

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

And now, the crowning segment of this blog.

I am pleased to announce:

So pleased!

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

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

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

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

The Adisalad

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

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

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

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5 Things: Explosive Cyclogenesis Edition

Welcome back to the 5 Things™ series.

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

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

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

Have a ginger ale with your Slammin’ Gordon.

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

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

The Italiensk pairs exceedingly well with Lemon LaCroix.

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

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

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

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

The Pork Lion makes me crave cola.

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

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

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

The Motherlover deserves some extra love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t forget to drink that glass of water.

One Thing™ that happened this week.

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

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

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

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

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5 Things: April 5th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect for brunch on the patio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forgive me my unskilled smartphone photography.

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