Posted on

5 Things: May 3rd, 2019

It’s a big week in town: Homegrown Music Festival is in full-effect.

But this isn’t a music blog, so let’s stay on-track.

A changing of the guard.

We’re going to bloody miss this one.

Another month has gone by, and that means it’s time for a new Sandwich Lab special. On Monday, May 6th, the warm, buttery aroma and savory goodness of the Bloody Mary is leaving our deli to make way for our first ever avocado sandwich, the Wallaby.

Enjoy some different angles of the Wallaby.

Framed with our haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye, the Wallaby also features fresh tomato slices, ramps, lemon pepper, and a balsamic reduction.

Ironically brought to our collective attention by Michael, who is allergic to avocados, the sandwich is inspired by the best-selling sandwich at Creekside Coffee in Sedona, AZ, where he worked for a time.

The Wallaby’s run will span from May 6th to June 3rd.

Beer and wine.

If all goes as planned—which seems to be the case—come Summer, we’ll be licensed to serve beer and wine. This is big news for us. As a company forever growing in our hearts, expanding our business to accommodate such a popular commodity can only be a good thing. While nothing is set in stone, the conversation has revolved around a curated selection of beer in cans and boxed wines.

We hope you’ll join us on our patio this Summer and enjoy an appropriate amount of buzz with your sandwich.

We packaged 150 lbs of smoked bacon.

In individual pounds, to boot!

An online food retail service—which I’m not going to name, since I believe there is an amount of surprise/secrecy implied—has selected our smoked bacon to be a part of its monthly subscription box that may or may not be called “The Best of the Best.” We’re honored that our bacon has been recognized as such, just as we’re stoked every time anyone tells us (or their friends) that one of our offerings is their favorite.

Lamb taco pasties.

Tuesday’s tacos were in a class of their own. Taylor whipped up some Lamb Birria—an adobo sauce originating in Jalisco, Mexico, traditionally served in a soup form, but adopted as a style of taco—which we served on corn soft-shells with pickled red onion, cotija cheese, cilantro, and salsa verde. This savory and mildly spicy delight blends guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, garlic, cinnamon, Mexican oregano and bay leaf, and slow-cooks all those flavors into tender shredded lamb shank.

Patricia, never missing a beat, apportioned some of the special for a limited run of pasties.

Yes, imagine all of the above ingredients packaged together inside a folded and rolled masa pastry, available to be heated in our deli, or taken home and prepared on your own time.

If you love or even casually enjoy stuffed pastries, check our meat case when you stop in for the latest pasty selection.

Workplace drama.

Work. I don’t know who invented work, but I’d like to have a word with them. It typically makes up anywhere from a quarter to just over a third of the hours in the day—unless I’m really out of touch with whom is reading this blog—and oftentimes you’re seeing the same rotation of people when you work. It’s sort of like a family. Needless to say, things can get a bit tense, and even blow up, as they did in this case.

When I sat down at Leif’s desk—which is my favorite place to write the 5 Things™ blog, due not only to the fantastic natural light and eclectic decorations, but equally to the risk of needing to move all of my mess when Leif needs to write a schedule or print a sign—I was appalled, though not surprised to find this remnant of an interpersonal clash.

I’m gone one day and this happens.

Please remember that every person you meet and each of your coworkers is following their own personal path, and struggling with all of their own issues which are not only valid, but also impossible to fully comprehend unless that person is you, and even then those struggles may not be fully comprehensible. Look for the goodness in others and be a mirror to reflect back that goodness. And lay off the demerits.

Bonus Things™.

Mother’s Day is coming up soon and we have a great Mother’s Day Box at a nice price. It features our Smoked Sockeye Salmon and Hausmade Boursin Cheese.


Happy Homegrown.

Bruno says, “Happy Homegrown from Hemlock Preserve!”
Posted on

An Important Announcement About the Future of Northern Waters Smokehaus

Over the past year, we at Northern Waters Smokehaus have taken a serious look at our history and our present business model, as a way to plan for our future success.

At the beginning, we were just a small smoked fish shop somewhere in Superior, WI. After a great deal of hand-wringing, Eric gave in and came up with a few new options to satiate the customers who craved something more. Eventually the demand for something new built up again and Eric yielded, as he did again and again, and finally arrived at something beginning to look like the diverse lineup of products we offer. Frankly, it has gotten out of hand.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, we will still be offering a wide assortment of smoked fish & meats, cheese, olives, etc.

Sandwiches were originally just a marketing ploy. A chunk of baguette, cut and butter-spackled, is a perfect vessel upon which to sample out a few slices of saucisson sec. But, as the old saying goes, if you give a customer a sample sandwich, they’re going to want a sandwich menu.

And just like the smoked meats, the demand grew and grew, and so did the menu.

Offering a dazzlingly wide variety of options on our sandwich menu eventually became a point of pride. Silly protein-related puns turned into top-down designs of new sandwiches. Sometimes an employee would slap together a few random ingredients, obsess about it, start calling it a particular name over and over until it forcibly caught on. Sandwiches even came to folks in dreams, which is a sentence I never imagined I’d be able to write in a professional setting.

So we put them on the menu, gave them glorious painstakingly crafted signage, memorized how to make them, recommended them and observed people’s reactions to the clever names…then sighed as they ordered—yet again—the Cajun Finn sandwich.

cajun finn

The Cajun Finn: Scallion cream cheese, cajun-seasoned smoked Atlantic salmon, pepperoncinis, roasted red peppers, and lettuce on a ciabatta roll. Sure, it’s good. It may even be great. Heck, it’s probably exceptional. But every time?

In its nearly two decades of existence, the Cajun Finn has earned a cult-like following, and has become nearly synonymous with the name Northern Waters Smokehaus.

We’ve listened to the people, and are giving them what they want. So, without further ado, effective today, we are truncating our sandwich menu, and only offering the Cajun Finn. In the wise words of one employee, “choice is really just a burden.”

This is it.

Gone are the days of struggling to find a spot on the sandwich line to make a Hedonist, a Sitka Sushi, or a Northern Bagel. Gone are the days of the right-hand sandwich maker joking, “time to ride ‘the Finn Train,'” because, from here on out, it’s all Finn Train all day.

Our updated sandwich menu

We hope to see you soon for a sandwich. Try the Cajun Finn! It’s the only option.

Posted on

“5” Things

Welcome back. We’re gathered here to address some things. There are more than five this week, since I realized halfway into a drive to Chicago that I hadn’t yet drafted the 5 Things™ post last Friday.

  1. Fall hours! For those who have not yet stopped in for a late-evening sandwich to be met with closed doors, we have moved to our Winter hours: 10am-8pm Monday through Saturday, still 10am-6pm Sunday.
  2. Our “library” is up and running! What is more important: Knowledge or Imagination? I don’t have a conclusive answer, but here at Northern Waters Smokehaus we be
    lieve in a combination of both. Our recipes and business practices are rooted in tradition, but cultivated by that special something that only we, as individuals, can bring to the table. I’m supposed to be talking about a bookshelf here. Bookshelves are exciting enough, easy enough to understand their purpose, but the worlds they can contain are infinite and wonderful and complicated and complex. I think, in a way, that Northern Waters Smokehaus is like a well-stocked bookcase. I’m losing track of this metaphor. Here are some photographs.

  3. Coach visited us! John, aka Coach, a gosh-darn Smokehaus legend, came into town for a friend’s wedding, and we had the joy of serving him and his our Hot Pastrami special. In addition to years of dedicated service and top-notch joking, Coach was also an early tester of our mail order Sandwich Kit initiative after his time at NWS. Thanks for being you, Coach.
  4. We placed an order for 3,000 boxes! Mail Order season is a wild world, and it is almost upon us. To the uninitiated, three thousand boxes likely sounds like a lot. It turns out, the uninitiated are absolutely correct, as it doesn’t take a genius to recognize the masochism to which we subject ourselves each winter. Our boxes come from All Boxes Direct, and are additionally packaged with recycled denim insulation (we add a Jean Jacket to every order).
  5. The Hygge Collection is available! I took a semester of Norwegian in college, but I still struggle with the pronunciation of this word. Fortunately, I’m a pretty good Googler, so I found out the word is Danish and denotes a sense of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of contentment and well-being. This collaborative Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace picnic basket—featuring products from NWS, Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, Blue Heron Trading Company, and Amazing Grace Bakery & Café—might bring a little hygge to you or someone you hold dear.
  6. We’re getting another slicer! It’s no secret that a huge part of our business’s success is our mail order market, but we’re not just slinging whole hams, porkettas, and turkey breasts. Previously, a good portion of the M.O. department’s days would be spent on one or both of the slicers downstairs, but now they will never have to leave the comfort of their very hygge office—even to slice their meats.
  7. The afternoons & evenings have slowed down (temporarily)! Obviously we’re grateful that our business experiences a bunch of endlessly busy days, but from time to time it is enjoyable for those of us on the ground floor to have some shifts to unwind, mess around and convince the restaurant across the hall to deep fry a couple of maple sage turkey & cottage bacon Monte Cristos, tell stories, share favorite music, and give curious customers a little extra attention. It might surprise you, but many humans seek personal enrichment and rewarding experiences, even on the clock. Smokehausers are artists, intellectuals, parents, activists, comedians, scientists, and just genuinely good people, and during the slow season, we have the opportunity to cultivate our own personalities within the context of our workplace.
  8. Sandwich Lab is coming up soon! I’ll write more about this in a future post, but plans are already being laid and sandwich experiments are being refined for our new tradition, the Sandwich Lab, in which we re-learn and re-analyze our techniques, pitch and vote on new potential menu items, and eat a lot of food, and which will be held this year on November 6th. We’ll be closing the shop a little early that day, so we have some space to innovate.

That’s all for this week. I hope none of you lost sleep last week over the missed post. I had sustained no debilitating injuries that kept me from writing, just a bunch of gigs in a row that distracted my simple mind. I’m 99.9% sure I’ll be back here with more Things™ next week, same-ish time.

Oh, and about that Monte Cristo: We made it on our haus-made white bread with swiss and cheddar cheese, and they covered it with French toast batter and graham cracker crumbles before they fried it. We enjoyed it, at their request, with our crayo. The marketing meeting notes inform me our delicious crayo—delicious is an understatement, by the way—will be part of an upcoming mail-order special, so stay tuned for more updates about that.

And finally, Happy Halloweekend, ya ghouls!

Posted on

5 things – volume 9

5 Things – Volume 9

Here’s some stuff that occurred this past week at The Smokehaus. In chronological order this time:

#1. Sunday night Staff Meeting! We crammed ourselves into the common area of our small office. We ran down the agenda, we chatted and laughed. No shortage of laughter in this place. Then the newbies got their height marked on the wall. It’s tradition. And it’s a mirror into the past of all the beautiful humans that have made their mark (hehe) on the Smokehaus in years past.

 

#2. Order Up! So…. There’s been some confusion. When sandwiches are shouted out to shop patrons they are set under a sign that once read “Pickup.” This was, however, not where one would pick up an order they called in to our Pickup department. Pickup patrons can conveniently skip the line and our Pickup staff will bring your order right out to you in the alley way on the North side of the building. That all makes sense, right?! ☺ So, we think our new signage might help alleviate some of the confusion… what do you think? More custom lettering by the one and only Flo.

 

#3. The titan among sandwiches is released on the nation. It’s been a long time coming, but as we dipped our toes into the trending world of Sandwich Kits it was only natural that our best-selling sandwich be one of the competitors. You can read more about how this sandwich came into being in this post. If you ever find yourself staring longingly in the direction of the Smokehaus, you know how to bring it home now. Get ‘yer Cajun Finns sent to your doorstep.

#4. PIXIES! A favorite band for at least 2 Smokehausers (Mary and Nick C), the Pixies were in St Paul this week and Steve-man, Mary, Greg, and Jeremy all went down to see them. They were awesome! They played everything from Caribou to Motorway to Roswell. After the show, we headed to a bar around the corner and were utterly amazed to see Black Francis and Joey Santiago in the next booth over. Magic!

 

#5. Birthdays and a tweet. A few fine folks celebrated birthdays this week including Eric, Jeremy, Jacob, and Ned. If you’re a local you probably know and love them. Plus extra love from the fine peeps behind the Homegrown twitter handle. Well that was nice! Thanks @dhgmf

Posted on

Cajun Finn – The Inside Story

The humble beginnings of a Titan among sandwiches

The Cajun Finn is our most popular sandwich by far – we outsell our second most popular sandwich (The Cold Turkey) by nearly double the amount of Cajun Finns. Invented early on in our deli life – around 2004 – the sandwich began as many of recipes did – with the help of customers and the use of ingredients that happened to be around.

Regular customer, dream pop superstar, and all around cool guy Al Sparhawk happened to be in the shop to purchase his favorite at the time, Smoked Atlantic Cajun Salmon. Eric asked if Al wanted to try a sandwich, and Al and Eric basically improvised until they came up with a fairly cohesive mish-mash of the ingredients we had for the purpose of experimentation, including pepperoncini (Eric had a huge hot pepper faze), roasted red peppers (because ripe tomato season is too damn short in Northeast MN), and wild leek cream cheese (I wish we could still make this, but we’d have to hire a team of licensed foragers to bag up an airplane-hanger’s worth every season to keep up with demand).  A sprinkling of greens and a freshly-baked stirato later and before you could say “The Great Destroyer” a wonderful sandwich was born.

Variations on the sandwich have included double cream cheese, no cream cheese/add mustard, add bison pastrami (Affectionately called “The Big Diaper”) and of course the celebrated jean jacket – adding Sriracha and cilantro. But the original recipe, invented on the fly to please a regular, is still a peppery, smoky, sweet, and spicy sandwich that is hard to beat.

Posted on

5 Things Volume 4

Volume 4

The backpack kids are back in town. School is back in session and with a new season comes its ups and downs.

  1. Our co-workers have less time for us! Some of our really hilarious and youthful souls are back in the world of academia. Study hard: Cedar, Asher, Keira, Jake, Cy, Cal, Ian, Kjell, Lucy and Thomas. On a very, very exciting note- Penti (our summer spunky basement daredevil) is studying abroad in India and we wish him all the luck and encouragement on his grand adventure overseas.

Pictured above is the Mr. Deli Manager TK — not going back to school — who’s been keeping his nose in books while researching more and more about fermentation but that’s for another 5 things.

 

2. We have been joined by a local jean-vest-wearing-rockstar Jacob. When he’s not slaying sandwiches, Jacob’s a multi-media working artist in Duluth. He makes short films, shoots video and plays in several bands in town. Welcome to the island of food weirdos!

Ok… So if you add the look, the knife and the t-shirt… You might get the wrong impression of him. He’s actually an incredible sweetheart. We just wanted him to be fierce for the internet. 

 

3. Earlier this summer our assistant manager JT (read: Coach) took a leap of faith and moved across the country to Montana. We were heartbroken to lose him as he brought in a stellar sense of humor to the workplace, but we knew that he had a different scenery calling his name. So since we’re in the middle of testing our new sandwich kit, we sent JT the first four person Cajun Finn Kit! Reports say it arrived safely and made for a sentimental meal with a piece of home. We miss you, JT!!!

This could be you. Stay tuned as we will announce the Cajun Finn Kit this fall!!

 

Barn dinner. Barn dinner. Barn dinner. Those two words have been on everyone’s mind for the last month here at the Smokehaus! So we are happy that tomorrow is finally the day that we will be sharing and making a wonderful experience with 50 guests and co-workers. Eric Goerdt sure knows how to throw a damn party!

4. Stephen and Mary made Mozzarella from scratch for our antipasto platters that we are serving at “Boot in the Barn” this Saturday at Hemlock Preserve. To make Mozzarella you have to bring up your curd mixture to 105 F. There was talk about double gloves, hot hands and other phrases that confirms that love and labor went into the making of the Mozzarella. 

 

5. Three large Porchettas will be smoked, roasted and fire licked as the main event for our “Boot in the Barn” dinner. This week Eric and TK rolled Berkshire pork loin and bellies together. Each Porchetta was massaged and slathered with white wine, lemon, rosemary, sage, garlic and olive oil and will be cooked until tender-perfection. Each Porchetta weighs about 20 lbs!!!! That’s a lot of mouth-watering Berkshire pork.

 

Excuse our raw image, processing isn’t always glamorous but the outcomes are worth the mess. 
Posted on

The Art of Gift Giving

Let’s face it, not everyone is good at giving gifts. Remember that Seinfeld episode? The one where Jerry gives Elaine 182 dollars to her snarky response, but then weeps when given a beautiful wooden bench she asked for, complete with a Yeats-quoted card (from Kramer, of all people).  Now, there’s the art of gift giving.

“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends and say my glory was I had such a friend.” – Yeats

At the Smokehaus, we appreciate fine and thoughtful things, and pairing certain items together for special gift boxes throughout the year brings us great joy. We know many of our mail order customers have been to the Canal Park deli on a special trip to Duluth. They have fond memories of being in our small shop, of traipsing around the Northland for summer fun and whimsy, all coupled with the mouth-watering goodness that filled their bellies and their memories. And perhaps, you’ve thought about how to bring the feelings of the Smokehaus into your own dining room.

We do understand giving the gift of specialty food mailed right to your door is a luxury, and that’s why we send the freshest product, handle and package each item with care and respect, and are sure to email or call you with any questions about your order or desired delivery time. (We even accept custom gift box orders.) We hope you feel giddy when you receive these special boxes of smoked delicacies. And we hope you will send a gift box to a friend someday, or a mother, for a special occasion, or to share together over beers on the deck, recounting all the hilarity and inside jokes from that last trip up the shore.

Gift Boxes Courtesy of the Smokehaus

Order Mother’s Day Gift Boxes by Wednesday, May 10th to ensure delivery before Mother’s Day.

Order Father’s Day Gift Boxes by Wednesday, June 14th, to ensure delivery before Father’s Day.

Order Northern Bagel Sandwich Kits anytime for that special someone, or special people. The Northern Bagel has been featured on our menu since 2001.

How many times have you been to the Canal Park deli? Who did you come with? Leave comments above.

Cheers, friends! And Happy Gift Giving!

Posted on

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