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Northern Comfort – A Barn Dinner with Northern Waters Smokehaus

On July 22, 2017, we welcome you to another Smokehaus/Hemlock Preserve collaboration at the barn in Esko.

We can’t help but reminisce.

It’s August 2015, a heady day amid a heady summer, and I am slogging through piles of prep in the Smokehouse. There are smokers, dishwashers, managers, prep people, and miscellaneous fishermen who need their fish custom-smoked endlessly pouring in and out of the long oblong space, slipping on the moist bricks of the kitchen floor and talking as loud as they can in order to be heard above the clamber of our industrial fans and Daft Punk. Fresh smoke is in the air from a recent truck (a large, rolling cart that has little shelves to load perforated racks for smoking) of smoked pork shoulder, which is cooling magnificently in the center of the room, a white-handled Dexter knife placed on the top rack beside a chunk that has been hacked off and savored. I’m “supervising” cornbread: Eric’s recipe, which includes lovely fresh corn off the cob and lovelier butter and cream, needs to be backed in batches and served while still warm to guests 45 miles and 2 hours away. We have heirloom tomatoes to delicately dismantle, Octo-Vin (fresh and unashamedly from the pages of the Momofuku cookbook) to make, herbs to pick, pasta salad to season, servers to wrangle, and the almighty “gather” list to attend to. I’ve got an empty stomach, a torn t-shirt and filthy apron, and it’s about time to load up.
On the way to Esko, just as we crest Thompson Hill, I get a frantic call from my partner in crime, April. She can’t account for the Octo-Vin – and neither can I, so I scramble to the back of my Volvo as my husband continues speeding towards our destination, and I’m digging through towels and warm (read:hot) cast iron skillets of cornbread and adorable menu cards that Flo magically whipped up and I touch a mystery Cambro, extract it from its nesting place – and voila! – our not-so-secret sauce. “Good news,” I tell April over the Volvo’s failing muffler, “I found the Octo-Vin.” “We need ice!” April laughs. We’re pretty used to these situations – we kind of live for them.
There’s a little cloud of dust as we turn down the dirt road toward Hemlock Preserve, obscuring the brambly ditch weeds and meandering path for a few minutes, but we make the turn toward Sue Watt’s estate and everything becomes clear. Two straight rows of pale pebbles guides our tire, a manicured strip of hyperactive green grass down the center. Our kitchen – a ten-by-ten foot tent that we use during farmers markets along with a propane-powered set of turkey fryers and a few folding tables smartly lined with Epicurean cutting boards – is pretty much ready for action and we pull up to unload. I leave the Volvo empty handed in order to get the lay of the land and walk toward the barn.
The barn – white, stately, adorned with Rhododendrons – I haven’t seen it for a few months, when it was closed off for the season. Now it is in full blossom. It is elegant and country, mismatched and perfectly appointed, it is the Henri Matisse of barns – it is natural but it is secretly, expertly organized. Every nook and cranny is a still life. The sunlight is somehow captured in the vaulted holiness of the barn’s wooden ceiling arches, and I get the feeling I am smelling hay from pre-war Minnesota. There is twinkling from the silverware and creaking from the floorboards. Ned has started to tune up his guitar and starts playing a Pavement song gently to himself. This is perfect. I think this to myself, but I’m saying it out loud, and everyone else is saying it too.
The food that follows has no choice – it is also perfect, as are the guests, the drinks, the wacky chauffeur, the soft ice cream, the distant lightening. This place is like that – inexplicably, effortlessly glorious. The day’s preparations, anxieties, arguments and oversights have vanished into the evening, drifting down the meadow into the St. Louis River Valley with the embers of our bonfire, soaked up and overturned by our guests and their laughter.
We invite you to join us once again to Hemlock Preserve. Dinner will be served – fried chicken and fixings – as well as drinks and dessert. We figure we all deserve a little Northern Comfort.

Hemlock Preserve barn with table by Sue Watt, dinner by Northern Waters Smokehaus, and menu cards by Flo.

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Northern Bagel Sandwich Kit

Some food bites transport you.

 

Creamy whipped scallion cream cheese, perfectly smoked, flakey Traditional Salmon and a golden (with a slight hint of sweetness) Lake Superior Bakehouse Bagel.

Can you remember the anticipation while waiting in line?

Can you remember the list of to-dos and must-sees while visiting the western tip of Lake Superior?

Do you remember avoiding making eye contact with the Seagulls (or lake birds)?

 

 

This May, we will help transport you to the unsalted sea. You can bring a friend along and share a Northern Bagel anywhere in the United States.
No luggage required. 

Coming Soon

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Attention Friends – Change is Happening!

Not all experiments work the first time — just ask Edison with his 1,000 attempts at inventing the light bulb. So while we’re grateful to our core of loyal customers who loved & supported our No Tipping policy as well as our employees who have embraced this model, it has become clear that many diners are not comfortable with it.  Out of the gate it’s also proven challenging to incorporate all of these personnel costs into the business model.

As a culture, we’ve been reading menus one way all our lives. When we rolled in the tip & tax into our competitive prices, it was easy to perceive that number as high.  So, as of January 12, 2017 Northern Waters will take on a typical tipping model.

What will change: You’ll see some lower priced items on the menu as well as the addition of some of our favorite sandwiches from our Smokehaus and Deli in Canal Park– like the Cajun Finn, Pastrami Mommy, Cold Turkey & Northern Bagel. We’re also going to make sure that our great daily specials and happy hour are out there on social media. Please tune in!

What WILL NOT change: We’re proud to continue with our paid sick and vacation time for employees — a rarity in our industry. And we assure you that will still have the same high quality, haus-made food you know and love. We’ll continue to use age-old methods to cure and smoke our own meats, support other local businesses by sourcing our ingredients, supporting our employees’ commitment to equity and create a beautiful dining environment.

Lastly, thanks for coming in to Northern Waters. We love making you some of the best food anywhere.

Best,

Eric, Lynn and our entire Northern Waters family

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Expanded Delivery & Catering Services

We at the island of food weirdos love any excuse to get together and eat good food. Creativity has its ways of blossoming relationships and inspiring co-workers to entice both themselves and customers. Late nights lead to planning other late nights. In this case, we kept it not-so-late, but we did combine a lot of our favorite things in one place.
We are excited to invite our fellow food lovers and Smokehaus friends to our “Delivery Debut & Catering Cotillion” (for the love of alliteration) at the Red Herring Lounge.
This is your opportunity (YES!) to come and sample some bites of our slow fast food. We can’t sample our whole *brand* new catering menu, but we can sample the cult-classics and party pleasers.
What can you expect?
A showcase of our talented, creative catering and delivery crew. They’re food lovers, musicians and entertainers. Our talented Seym0ur, Ned Netzel, will set the mood as you can delight yourself with small bites and participate in our raffle that includes tons of Smokehaus $wag. Our raffle has a small price ($1 per raffle tickets) and all of the funds that are raised will be donated to the Damiano Center located in Duluth.
What kind of $wag?
Anything from our classic Rick Allen Tees that are loved by Duluthians and transplants to free All Season Platters and sandwiches.

Here’s the low-down:
When? July 7th, 2016.
Where? 208 E 1st Street
Time? 7-9pm
Cost? Free. $1 Raffle tickets.

We can’t wait to share our love for food with you!

xoxo-
Team Smokehaus

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We’re Coming To Minneapolis

Once again, we will be visiting our beloved Minneapolis this summer!

Because of the busy summer we have planned, we are only able to make it to Mill City Farmer’s Market a few times this season, but if you are in town on one of the following Saturdays,  please stop by and say hello.

We will kick off the season this Saturday, June 25, and return on August 27 and October 29. The markets run from 8AM – 1PM and are located at 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN.

We will be bringing a selection of smoked Atlantic salmon, smoked Sockeye salmon, smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout along with dry-cured salamini, chorizo, saucisson sec, and pepperoni.

As usual, we will be offering samples, conversation, brochures, menus, and other Smokehaus ephemera.