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5 Things: June 14th, 2019

A lot of Things™ happened this week at NWS. Here’s a handful of them.

Wine joined our beverage list.

We’re officially selling beer and wine in our deli. This is huge news for us, as people love to have a beer or a glass of wine—which we’ll be selling by the glass, or by the bottle with the option of corking it to-go—with a meal.

As soon as we received our buyer’s license, we had pallets of beer from our neighbors at Hoops at our door, ready to sell. Our other vendors quickly followed suit, and we were fully-stocked on beer by the evening.

The wine orders operate on a different schedule, so we went through the weekend without it, but as of yesterday, our wine selection has arrived.

Thought about describing our wines to you, but whoops!, I have not tried them & TK already knocked this one out of the park.

Each of our options falls into the category natural wines, or wines farmed organically and made without adding or removing anything during the fermentation . Like the production of our salumi, this is an ancient tradition. While I haven’t yet had a chance to try our wine selection (it’s only been a day—chill), TK has assured us each of them has something special to offer, and will pair well with just about any item on our menu.

The Spring Roll joined our sandwich menu.

Composed of smoked teriyaki tofu, cabbage, cucumber, pickled vegetables, lettuce, Marcona almonds, basil, cilantro, sriracha and sesame oil with rice vinegar all wrapped up in a naan (or on a hero roll, if you’re ISO a vegan option), this sandwich tickles the tongue, and is taking over a menu slot for The Tempest.

Patricia, who comes in at 5 a.m. to bake cookies and pasties before working in the deli, is an absolutely unstoppable force of creativity with food. Within weeks of her tenure at NWS, she already had folks abuzz about the prototype to this sandwich. Just a few short months later, it has arrived on the sandwich board. At the time, we were making variants with pork loin, gravlax, tofu and even skipping the prepped protein altogether—all of which had their strengths, and are available as substitutions for essential carnivores—but we’ve landed on tofu.

One final note on the Spring Roll: Unlike most of our sandwiches—which are best consumed immediately, or at least within the day if you—there is a strong undercurrent amongst our staff that the sandwich is best eaten after a short wait, or even chilled.

I usually can’t wait that long, but it is worth noting: this is a great picnic sandwich, for that reason.

Michael left for Bonnaroo.

Our co-worker Michael—who typically arrives at work with a ukulele in his hands and a song in his heart—left Tuesday to make his way to Tennessee for Bonnaroo Music Festival.

In addition to catching not one, but two Phish sets, he’s also decided he wants to be the Duluth, MN Bonnaroo Street Team. It sounds a lot more labor intensive than it actually is—he’s just taking a selection from several local breweries, and some NWS “buddies” & swag to the annual Craft Beer Exchange—but it is still awesome that he’s chosen to represent our city.

While I doubt most or any of our readership is currently in Great Stage Park, TN, at the festival, or reading this post in time if they are, check our Instagram later today to see how NWS’s first trip to Bonnaroo is going.

Final round of interviews for our Mail Order director position.

If you didn’t know that we’ve been operating sans-Mail Order Director for an undisclosed temporal span, that’s a good thing and doesn’t surprise me. Our team has a knack for filling-in the cracks when they appear. The marketing & media team have taken over the mail order phone calls, an we needed only list the job internally to find a handful of candidates.

The interview process came to a close this week, and next week, we should have a new director in-place. We’re only six months out from the wild, wild West that is late-November through the end of the year in mail order, so they’ll have a lot on their plate to manage in a short span of time.

Thank you for your patience in the meantime. Our mail order clientele are awesome, and a fundamental aspect of our success as a business, so not having someone specifically in-place to handle that job is not a state in which we ever hope to stay for long.

They asked me if I wanted to lead another scavenger hunt.

This was basically my reaction, I think, though I don’t know the context of this .gif.

Last July, we hid twenty sandwiches-worth of magnets around town in honor of our Twentieth Anniversary. With the exception of a few very thoughtful responses I received, the campaign went over well.

This year, we’ll be doing things a little bit differently. The stakes will be higher, it’s going to be more challenging, and it’s going to happen slightly later in the Summer (personal reasons, don’t worry about it), but believe me when I say I’m very excited to get any willing participants into the outdoors, getting their hands dirty—maybe literally—in pursuit of free NWS grub & swag.

Stay tuned for details in the very near future. Until next time, I am Ned, and these have been five things that happened this week at NWS.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Sebu-Chan

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:


The Sebu-Chan is an inspired reimagining of a classic NWS-style sandwich—composed of scallion cream cheese, gravlax, cucumber, tomato, onion, cilantro, lettuce, and sriracha on a hausmade ciabatta—but I’d invite you to think about it more poetically:

The Sebu-Chan, named for its creator, Sebastian—based on a nickname—is inspired by his love of cats. Like a cat, it is playful and bright, but it has a bite. It’s a perfect sandwich to showcase our delicious, buttery gravlax.

It’s whimsical in design—like a rainbow strawberry pop-tart cat flying through space at high speeds to the beat of its own song—but every bite is dead serious delicious sandwich artistry. Like a cat, it is quite pretty to look at, and you might find yourself suddenly compelled to squeeze the heck out of it/take a big bite out of it. It’s called “cute aggression,” and it is totally normal. Fortunately, this is not your pet, so that would be totally okay and appropriate.

The Sebu-Chan will be available in our deli, and via pickup and delivery, Wednesday, June 5th through Sunday, June 30th for $10.25 and like all Sandwich Lab creations, it gets you double stamps on your loyalty card.


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: 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: May 10th, 2019

The Wallaby.

Avocado has finally arrived at Northern Waters Smokehaus, for a limited time, on a brand new sandwich called The Wallaby—haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye topped with half an avocado, tomato, lemon pepper, balsamic reduction and locally-sourced ramps.

Flo makes great signs

While supplies last, you can add avocado to any sandwich for an additional $2.30. Clubhaus with avocado? Yum. Pork Loin D-Luxx with avocado? Decadent. Hedonist with avocado? I wouldn’t, but you do you.

The Wallaby is available in our deli and via delivery for $6+tax (or $9+tax with crispy smoked pancetta) through June 3rd, and like all Sandwich Lab specials, earns you two stamps on your sandwich card.

Homegrown Music Festival came to a close.

The eight day-long local music festival is hard to avoid, if you’re living in Duluth. Thousands of individuals attend shows throughout the week. Hundreds of local artists and supporters of the arts take part in putting it on. Dozens of local businesses participate in some capacity, whether they’re a full-fledged venue, hosting a concurrent unofficial show, or offering sales & specials to participating artists. Typically there is some variety of controversy in the news (link pig head).

Photo by Leif Hinkel

Among our staff, I count (at least) eight people who played some type of role in the week. Flo painted the Chicken Shack (HGMF HQ) mural; the Prøve Gallery (co-operated by our own Flo & TK, among others) was a venue for one of the shows; between Jacob, Cedar, Tyler, Brian, Leif, and myself, we touted at least eight performances throughout the week, official or otherwise.

Look at this picture Emily took of the Latelys

And now that it’s over, I hope everyone has taken a few nights to stay in and get some sleep. I know I needed it.

Ribwiches and chocolate chip bacon cookies.

We love to snack here. It’s where we find many of our best ideas. It’s how we test recipes in development. All opinions are considered, and anyone who wants to contribute gets a taste.

I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a major perk of the job.

On Wednesday, Patricia left behind a stack of chocolate chip bacon cookies after an early baking shift. Since she joined our team, we’ve grown accustomed to finding new varieties of cookies waiting for us on a weekly basis. It’s a new territory that we’re happy to be exploring.

*not actually a photo of the bacon cookies pictured.

Wednesday in the deli featured a smoked rib special in the deli, with baked beans on the side. This special did not come as a sandwich, but we’re an odd bunch, so a handful of us made rib&beanwiches—on white bread with butter, and on Johnson’s Bakery rolls without butter. The rib special was a surprise to those of us working in the deli, but not an unwelcome one. It is, however, a great teaser to an upcoming (circa-Memorial Day) never-frozen smoked rib sale. Keep your eyes and your tastebuds peeled for that announcement.

It snowed.

And then the sleet began to pack itself onto vertical surfaces. Really what did we expect? The bit about April showers and May flowers rarely applies in Duluth. Sometimes there are still ice cubes in Lake Superior come June.

Snowball and snowperson enthusiasts had a lot to be excited about. The rest of us, not so much.

The snow doesn’t bother Tyler Much

We almost went back to Hemlock Preserve.

Then the weather happened. While Hemlock Preserve is a lovely place all through the year, we’re trying to catch it on a sunny day full of bustling foliage and flora—and not tear apart the wet ground with our idle steps. Here’s a gallery of some smartphone camera-quality photos I took during one of our recent excursions.

Hemlock Preserve is a magical place full of beautifully curated vignettes of landscaping and design that is best observed in person, but still photographs charmingly. Everywhere your eyes may fall, there is something that begs a closer look.

We’re looking forward to catering events in this space during the Summer and Fall (exciting announcements forthcoming!). If you can’t wait, get in contact with our Catering Captain, Hannah ((218)724-7307 and ask for Hannah, or e-mail catering@nwsmokehaus.com) and book your own event!

One more Thing™ before you go.

We just stocked the deli with Salamini, Spanish-style Chorizo, and Saucisson Sec. As far as dry-cured salted meats go, this is about as fresh as it gets. For those who prefer salumi on the softer side, this weekend is a great time to grab some. If you’re in a hurry and want to bypass the line, place your order for pick-up.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Wallaby

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:


Modern life can be so monotonous. You wake up, probably earlier or later than you intended to; you make yourself the same cup of coffee, or exchange your hard-earned coin and sidelong glances with a glazed-eyed barista to order your same ol’ cup of coffee; you go to work; maybe you catch a happy hour with some acquaintances with whom you’re not sure where you stand, maybe with some close friends with whom you share your day’s gripes; you go home; you think briefly about working on your novel, but then decide you’re not in the right headspace today (just like yesterday, and probably like tomorrow); you fall asleep watching your soaps; you awaken in a cold sweat, for a moment not remembering where you are, then realize you’re in the recliner; you barely find the strength to pull yourself to bed, maybe you didn’t even change your clothes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Life is full of surprising beauty. Life itself could easily be defined as a propensity for change and growth. Life…uh…finds a way. Life can be a hoot, if you choose to see it that way.

Seize opportunities to try something new, like the Wallaby. It’s the Smokehaus’s first-ever avocado sandwich, brought to us by Michael, our coworker who is allergic to avocados. I’ll let that sink in.

Michael brought us the Wallaby because he correctly identified that our customers have been wanting avocado on the line for a while, thought we could increase our vegan-friendly options, and because a sandwich quite a bit like it was the best-selling sandwich at Creekside Coffee in Sedona, AZ, while he worked there. When he makes it, he can recall the owner explaining the sandwich step-by-step in their Australian accent, hence the name.

And speaking of making it, here’s what you can expect when you order the Wallaby. Haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye bread, sliced avocado, juicy tomato slices, locally-sourced ramps, lemon pepper, and a balsamic reduction. It’s a sandwich you’d expect, sure, but if you really attend to it—notice the song & dance of the flavors and textures, relish in the tomato juice dripping down your hands and forearms, imagine the love with which it was made—it could be transcendent.

The Wallaby is available in our deli and via delivery from May 6th through June 3rd for $6 + tax (or $9 + tax with crispy smoked pancetta).


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: 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!”
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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.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Bloody Mary

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:


You’re inside a house. Everything around you is cast in shadow, and cold seeps through the cracked windows. You see a flight of stairs take a right turn, disappearing into foreboding darkness. You creep up the stairs and find yourself in a hallway. A faint glow radiates under a door at the end of the hallway, and soon you are in front of it. There’s a thumping sound so close that you cannot determine whether it is, in fact your heartbeat, or some ominous being right behind you. As you reach for the door handle, you realize you’ve been holding a brass chamberstick with an unlit red candle.

You find yourself in a room bare of furniture, save for a single mirror—about exactly your height—standing in the center. Hickory chips cover the floor and a string hangs from a light above the mirror.

You close the door and turn off the lights. The candle’s wick ignites in a tiny fireball, barely illuminating the mirror, yet offering no salvation from the pervasive darkness. You look in the mirror and whisper, “crispy pancetta and summer sausage” three times.

“crispy pancetta and summer sausage, crispy pancetta and summer sausage, crispy pancetta and summer sausage”

In the mirror, you see of a spectral image yourself, but it is not your reflection. You’re standing at a counter, handing money to someone you don’t know, but no!, you’re here in this room with the wood chips on the floor.

Your heart begins to race and your palms grow sweaty, your knees weak, your arms heavy, and suddenly it seems impossible to keep a grip on the candle holder any longer and the flames are igniting the hickory at your feet, and then the room is entirely ablaze. You are choking on a thick simulacrum of air as you are smoked alive.

In the mirror, you see someone handing you a sandwich, and then you see yourself holding the sandwich: summer sausage, crispy pancetta, cheddar, tomato, olives, pickles, onion, and cilantro, dripping hausmade Bloody Mary mix and assembled on a toasted kaiser roll.

You gasp for any semblance of breathable air. You close your eyes, and hold them shut. A floating sensation calms you momentarily, until the final terror sets in. The smoke is taking you and you will not face the end with your eye closed.

When you open your eyes. You’re standing in a brightly lit deli. A throng of people buzzes around you—laughter, conversation, audible groans of culinary pleasure. The house, the stairs, the hallway, the mirror, the candlestick, and the great conflagration were all in your head, and you were simply waiting for your Bloody Mary, the latest NWS Sandwich Lab special. You take in a deep, sudden breath, but the crowd hardly takes notice.

The Hunger must have gotten to you.

Bloody good.

The Bloody Mary costs $12.50 plus tax and is available in our deli now through May 6th.


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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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.