This week has gone by in a blur, or maybe it’s just me. Between the unexpectedly busy lunches, self-imposing limited hours on my office days, running out of gas on the freeway and showing up an hour-plus late, and three separate band practices each falling directly after a full day of work, I’m not quite sure where the week went.
But there’s a handful of Things™ to freeze-frame within that blur, so let’s take a brief moment to slow down together.
Bison Buddies are back in stock!
Bison, sourced to our specifications, is expensive. We took a brief break from making Bison Buddies, relying instead on our Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, Big Jim hatch chili beef sticks, and Smoked Sockeye Salmon Buddies to sate your meat stick cravings, but Bison Buddies are back! All four of our snack sticks will be available all weekend (and beyond) in our deli.
We’ve got whole and half hams for sale!
We have slow-brined, slow-smoked, never frozen, locally sourced and processed whole and half Berkshire hams for $9.99/lb while supplies last. These hams—around 6-8 lbs/half and 12-16 lbs/whole—are perfect for a holiday roast or potluck, and great as leftovers.
This is a first-ever for NWS. Previously, DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace has closed its doors on Easter Sunday, but this year it’s staying open, and so are we. Our deli’s doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Unless they sell more quickly than anticipated, we’ll have the aforementioned hams for sale.
Speaking of sales: Wild-Caught Smoked Alaskan King Salmon is 20% off until it’s gone.
We launched the @NorthernWatersCatering Instagram account!
Although it has been live for about a month now, we finally feel like it is up-to-snuff, with comprehensive information about our catering philosophy, options, frequently asked questions, and beautiful images taken from actual catering events. Carefully crafted by our creative team, and approved by Catering Captain Hannah, it is, like our catering service itself, set up to expand elegantly in 2019.
For more information about catering, specific inquiries, or quotes, contact Hannah at email@example.com
We launched our Mother’s Day gift box!
Sure, it might be a bit early to announce this, but is showing gratitude to mothers ever out-of-fashion?
This year’s Mother’s Day gift box is simple, elegant, and affordable: A pairing of nourishing smoked sockeye salmon with sweet hausmade boursin cheese, alongside the subtle and steadfast support of Carr’s water crackers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
We hope to see you soon for a sandwich. Try the Cajun Finn! It’s the only option.
It’s in our motto—we’re always smoking something—but we’re not just a one-trick pony, and lately, it seems like something is always getting baked.
We have several bakers on staff—which I wouldn’t have been able to say a year ago*—but today we’re showcasing one of our recent hires, Patricia. If you’ve been reading the 5 Things™ blog the past few weeks, there have been several mentions of her work at the Smokehaus. It’s making waves.
Patricia has been baking off-and-on for the last fifteen years. At nineteen, she attended a six-month intensive baking course at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, British Columbia, which she described as, “pretty old-school. A lot of old French men yelling at me.” Eventually, she and her brother opened Elfvin’s Bakery, a wholesale bakery in Grand Marais, which they owned and operated for three years before selling it to new owners who rebranded it as the Gunflint Baking Company.
After a move to Duluth and several years of living it up on our end of the North Shore, she arrived at our deli, and immediately brightened it up with her easygoing and upbeat personality—and her baked goods.
In addition to cookies, she’s also been heating things up with a variety of savory pastries, including scones using the end-pieces (see: repurposed “waste,” a very exciting for our sustainability-oriented hearts and minds) of the snack sticks that we have begun cutting to exact sizes—Smoked Salmon Buddy & Scallion Cream Cheese Scones and Royale With Cheese Scones, by way of example—and rotating meat & cheese combo puff pastries. At press time, she is plotting Pastrami, Swiss & Red Onion Pastries for tomorrow. Croissants, she informed me, are coming soon, as well as crackers. The anticipation is real.
Patricia is brimming with ideas of new pastries and sweet treats to debut in the shop, and we’re grateful for it. As her coworkers, we are the first line of defense in testing these treats for proverbial “poison.” It’s not much, but it’s honest (and delicious) work.
The savory pastries make for a quick and easy light lunch. Non-sandwiched cookies are also an option with your Box Lunch. Enjoy a few more photos of her work. Perhaps stop in and enjoy a few examples of her work in-person.
*My baker comment might be taken as fighting words amongst our talented staff. Surely, we have many talented bakers among our coworkers, but only recently have we utilized their talents in a large-scale commercial sense.
It can be invigorating (I’ve heard). Jackets piled over sweaters sound cozy (in theory). Perhaps the most salient justification I can come up with is that the contrast of winter makes the balmy air of summer more meaningful.
All I know is that within minutes of touching down in Minnesota after my vacation, I was struck by a terrible cold, which kept me away from work, and still has me feeling like my head is stuck inside a fishbowl. Which wouldn’t really be so bad, if I didn’t want to provide you with a thoughtful 5 Things™ blog this week. Today’s blog is largely based on what sort of information I could gather in about two hours, while maintaining several arm’s lengths of distance between myself and all of my co-workers.
It is said that February is the cruelest month of the year, in terms of weather and temperature. I don’t know if any such things are said about March, but not “the cruelest month of the year” is good news to me.
Other good news this week includes:
A NWS Staff Party! We’re finally having our holiday party, and it is hosted by Pizza Lucé. Others may party more heartily, but nobody gets down quite like the Smokehaus. Our last party was the public 20th Anniversary party we threw back in September 2018, so it’ll be good to get back to basics and have a shindig for the team. I’m crossing all my fingers and toes, and I’m holding my breath as long as I can before the coughing fit is triggered, that I am back in good health in time for this party, since “free” Pizza Lucé pizza is a very exciting proposition.
Regardless of whether I am there, it is sure to be an excellent display of Smokehausers in the wild, gathered around the watering-hole, if we have any urban documentarians in our readership, that’s a free tip.
The Buddy System is not the official name of this new package deal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it should be*. Our grab&go case now features six-packs of Buddies—two each of our New Mexican hatch chile Big Jims, the bacon-cheeseburger-in-a-casing goodness of our Royale With Cheese, and the NWS classic, Bison Buddies. These six-packs are on sale for $12 each and make great gifts to yourself or others.
Smoked Salmon Buddies are the real deal as well. The smokers assure me the recipe—which includes a blend of Atlantic and Sockeye salmon as well as ginger and coriander (a couple of my favorite flavors)—is perfected. The Salmon Buds are available from our fish case for $3/stick.
Patricia continues to innovate with her cookies and pastries. This week, she took cues from authentic Jewish delis and whipped up a small batch of deli rolls: mini puff-pastries stuffed with turkey, pastrami and mustard, and topped with sesame seeds. This blog will almost always be posted on Friday, and yet so many of these exciting new small-batch items hit our shelves on Thursdays.
Heed this suggestion: if you want to be on the cutting-edge of new NWS specials and experiments, don’t wait for the announcement—just stop on in (or check our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages) and ask if there’s anything new and exciting to try.
On the cookie front, she basically hit my flavor preferences right on the nose with peanut butter & curry cookies. Thank you, Patricia.
Speaking of special things:
This is the last weekend that we’re serving the Sandwich Lab experiment known as The Wagner.
The Wagner is one heck of a sandwich. For those who haven’t tried it yet, it is your choice of Maple-Sage Smoked Turkey or Smoked Pastrami atop a mayonnaise-, Misty Mountain Mustard-, and sriracha-adorned hero roll, and topped with healthy portions of sweet’n’sour quick pickles and cilantro. This sandwich has the sauce, and if you’re keeping track of your sandwiches, it and the other monthly Sandwich Lab specials get you two stamps.
Beginning Monday, March 4th, we’ll be serving up the next Sandwich Lab special: The Spinderella. Official announcement forthcoming.
I think, after like 8 Things™, that it is time for me to go back to sleep. It’s been real. I hope you grace us with your presence in the deli, or order some delivery/mail order so we can grace you with ours.
*It occurs to me we have used this name in a Homegrown Music Festival-related campaign. Please forgive any confusion I may have caused.
I have been mulling over the concept of a “Practical Guide to the Smokehaus” for a few months now. The task is daunting. It requires a vastness and depth of focus that could end up too vague or underdeveloped, and a precision of information that could lead us to conclusions that are not necessarily earned—a bunch of disconnected data gathered from anecdotes and opinions, leaving everyone wondering “why should I care about this?” As the weaver of this web, I find the task of creating a concise and comprehensive guide to your Northern Waters Smokehaus experience beyond my present resources and abilities. So, a thought occurred to me: I could save myself a great deal of concern over quality of output, I could generate a steady stream of content in digestible morsels, I could use this marketing-based writing as a means to connect with my co-workers and fellow human-beings; I could make it a weekly column, and I could get real answers to a variety of frequently asked questions from my esteemed colleagues. What follows is my first attempt:
“What goes well with this?” “Could you make a sample platter with the best stuff?” “What should I get?”
These are but a few of the daunting questions my co-workers and I engage with every day in the deli. I usually default to asking customers what they tend to like, then customizing my recommendations based on their response and my knowledge of our products. This doesn’t always work out. I am human and sometimes my preferences don’t line up with the customer’s. Sometimes the customer just wants someone else to do the thinking for them (which is very valid, and to which I often relate). And sometimes it is best just to judge by taste.
Today’s topic: The ideal sample-platter. (Note: complex sample platters at Northern Waters Smokehaus will still be made primarily at our employees’ discretion, but you are always welcome to sample individual finished products.)
“What would be on your ideal sample platter?” This is the question I asked my co-workers. Given the time and resources to prepare an inspiring combination of flavors or a greatest hits-style spread to share with our customers, what end result would we see, by each deli employee.
Leif — “Pork loin Squealy Dan samples. No, wait. That sounds like a lot of work. I don’t want everyone to come in expecting me to have those prepared,” At this time, I assured him that this is just a thought-experiment, and that he wouldn’t be required to make these, though we discuss whether to make them as sandwiches that are then slivered into samples, individually assembled/toasted open-face sandwich bites, or topped saltine crackers. We also discuss deep-fried saltine crackers—unrelated. “Oh, and I changed my mind: They’d be porketta Squealy Dans.”
Michael — Michael had just finished telling me about why salmon tails are his favorite product we carry, when I sprung this second question on him: “Tails, pancetta, a mix of the salumi, and a Jerry bread [Jerry bakes several of our breads in-haus],” Which kind of Jerry bread? “Definitely the rye.”
Hyland — “Saucisson sec with slices of pear or apple or cucumber. And a really nutty Brie.” Cele: You’re a really nutty brie. “Your mom’s a really nutty Brie,” Cele: No she’s not. She’s a really nutty T—. “I’d also put out castel vetrano olives.”
Cele — “Olivada, chèvre, pork loin, salamini, cajun salmon and black pepper salmon,” Any crackers? “Yea. Ritz. Because we’re fancy.”
Lucy — “Probably ham, pepperoni, saucisson, traditional [salmon] and bread.” Lucy grew up around Northern Waters Smokehaus food, and offered that the glue of this hypothetical sample platter is nostalgia for her childhood. She didn’t say that exactly. I am just trying to paraphrase her poetically.
Jacob — As I described my task, a light brightened behind Jacob’s eyes: “I already know what I’d make. ‘Lutheran Sushi’ — Is that offensive?” For those who don’t already know, Lutheran Sushi is a term which I am not going to research the origin of at this moment, but which I have come to understand as sliced meat, spackled with a binding condiment and wrapped around a pickle spear. When pressed on his preferred variety, he replied, “Pork loin, for sure. With mayo.”
Sam — “Hedonist bites. Saltine crackers spread with a bite of country pâté, a dab of mayo and mustard, a slice of onion, and a cornichon pickle slice. They’re great for tipping people who are on the fence about country pâté or the hedonist.”
In the spirit of not making my co-workers bear the entire burden of producing content, I’ll give my take on the week’s subject at the end:
Ned — “I sure hope we continue carrying our Sogn Tomme cheese,” This is my inner-monologue. “I had no idea what it was before we started selling it,” It’s a fatty, crumbly sheep’s milk cheese. “But I sure enjoyed the time I served it with smoked Alaskan King Salmon and blueberries, drizzled in honey, atop Carr’s water crackers.” This inner monologue is extrapolated from my frenzied mental short-hand.
From here on out, y’all can expect these practical guides on a variety of subjects, returning to some topics (like this) to eventually document all of my co-workers’ suggestions, and musing on new ideas as they occur. Hopefully, you’ll receive sagely advice from myself and my co-workers to guide you through your NWS experience, inspire you to try something new, or enhance your old favorites.
We don’t actually commit crimes, so cool it! Unless you consider the delicious products that we produce out of our tiny space here in Canal Park’s Dewitt Seitz building to be criminally good? Understandable! But I would posit that it would be a crime NOT to enjoy our amazing, hand-made delicacies and to nourish your loved ones with them. Perhaps it is YOU who is skirting legality? Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with us. If you can live with what you’ve done, so be it.
So, now that we’ve established that it’s completely legal for us to delight your palate with smoky and savory treats. But what happens when we partner with other fantastic businesses to bring you new ways to enjoy our products? Could this possibly be legal? Is it even ethical to bring this much pleasure and happiness to people in our community? Do we have any sense of propriety at all? We don’t know. But if you want to dive into this ethical quandary yourself, here’s a list of a few of our partners in the community who are not only doing wonderful things on their own, but also doing wonderful things with our products. We’re incredibly lucky to live in a community in which people take immense pride in the work that they do, and we feel honored that they think highly enough of us to include us in their schemes.
The New Scenic Cafe– Owner and Executive Chef Scott Graden took over operations at this by now legendary North Shore restaurant in 1999. Graden and crew quickly garnered a reputation for doing upscale food that was approachable, but undeniably elevated. The region really had never really seen a restaurant that combined The New Scenic’s funky and bohemian space with food that was far-thinking and forward-reaching. Nestled just North of Duluth on Highway 61, the Scenic offers breathtaking views of Lake Superior, as well as carefully appointed outdoor spaces for special events or just to relax with a drink. They even have a yurt! Graden and our own Eric Goerdt have been friends for years, and their mutual admiration/friendly rivalry have taken food at both of our establishments to new heights. The New Scenic has featured several of the Smokehaus’ production items, from our German-style bratwurst to smoked whitefish- and whatever Graden does with our outstanding products elevates them considerably. The menu at The New Scenic is ever changing and seasonally geared, but there are some items so good that they make the menu year-round. One of my personal favorites, the Tuna Sashimi Taco, has been on the menu for several years, but still seems fresh and innovative. The New Scenic is at the head of the pack for a Duluth fine dining experience, and is not to be missed.
Lake Superior Beach Club– This is the newest venture dreamed up by the staff at Duluth’s Glensheen Mansion. Lake Superior Beach Club will be just east of the existing pier, and this area will have lawn games, board games on picnic tables, menus for food delivery (hint hint) and a cash bar with beer and wine. Glensheen is partnering with Northern Waters Smokehaus for a special event this summer (can’t reveal too many details just yet) and hopefully continuing on into the infinite future. Whether you are meeting new friends at the long community table, enjoying a bonfire (the only place that you can have a fire on the beach in Duluth), or walking the estate to take in the gardens- this pristine spot right on the shores of Lake Superior is not to be missed. If the spectacular sunset that I saw there last night is any indication, this spot will soon be jumpin’ for the rest of the summer.
Zeitgeist Arts Cafe– Here’s an insider tip: Chef Taylor Peterson, Head Chef at Zeitgeist, used to be the chef at the Smokehaus’ short-lived Northern Waters Restaurant. Taylor also spent several years in the heart of the Smokehaus’ production crew, cranking out the delicious sundries that fuel our sandwich empire. Chef Taylor specializes in classic fare with a twist, but never denigrates his menus into the played-out ‘modern comfort food’ trap. Taylor is a master at execution who demands top-quality ingredients, and his time here at the Smokehaus is credited with informing his palate, along with bringing his culinary creativity to new heights. You can find a smattering of Smokehaus products throughout Zeitgeist’s menu (a few of which may have migrated from Northern Waters Restaurant’s menu), but the place that they really shine is in their weekend brunch menu. Smokehaus Mexican Chorizo really sings in the sublime Chorizo and Eggs; with pickled red onion, cilantro, crispy tortilla and beans & rice. With a full and carefully appointed bar at your disposal and a menu of forward-thinking yet classic dishes, you can really make brunch a worthy occasion. But, no matter the time of day you dine at Zeitgeist, the order of the day is always great ingredients prepared simply.
Grassroots Gourmet- Located in Minneapolis’ Midtown Neighborhood (and right inside of the Midtown Global Market (!), a deep discussion topic for another time), Grassroots Gourmet has the distinction of being the first place in the Twin Cities Metro area that offered Smokehaus products to our rabid (and rapidly growing) fan base there. Grassroots Gourmet is a locally sourced grocery store and deli with grab and go lunch items, ranging from fresh produce to preserved items. I can tell you from experience that the selection in their cases is a revelation in local cheese- and what a locality to draw from! The quantity (and quality) of Minnesotan, Wisconsin and Iowan cheese in the last 5 years has absolutely exploded, and Grass Roots patrons definitely benefit from this. We have been humbled by the amount of people in the Twin Cities that have let us know how happy they are to buy our smoked salmon so close to their home. It feels great to know that people a couple of hours south can enjoy a taste of the North Shore whenever they want to. Even if you’re not getting Smokehaus salmon at the market, you will be sure to find something locally sourced and loved with which to make any meal truly special.
Brew Dogs– Is there anyplace in the US that is experiencing a bigger explosion of local breweries than Minnesota? Not only is there a new place opening up seemingly every month, but the quality of the beer being produced is really second to none. Duluth is no exception, with the amazing Hoops and Earth Rider (technically across the bridge in WI, but whatever) opening just within the last year, along with market powerhouses Bent Paddle and Castle Danger, the niche-and-loving-it Blacklist Brewing downtown and the far flung Lake Superior Brewing simultaneously holding court in West End while also holding down the distinction of being Minnesota’s oldest microbrewery. I’m a beer loving man through and through, tried and true, so you can imagine what a paradise this is for someone like me. But what could make sucking down cold suds even better? Snacks! NWS is at the forefront of delivering smoked fish, charcuterie, cheese, sandwiches… whatever you would like, to select breweries. The only criteria is that they have to be close enough to make delivery feasible AND they have to make delicious beer. All of these breweries currently make delicious beer, but proximity-wise Lake Superior Brewing, Hoops Brewing, Bent Paddle, Earth Rider and Blacklist make the cut. Beer heads from all over are raving about these breweries, so if you’re in Duluth and are hungry and thirsty, you could be completely dialed with a one stop shop.
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.
By Ned Netzel, Frontline Force, Musician, Sandwich Inventor
Dig, if you will, a picture of yourself entering Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace for the first time. It is a sunny, hot summer day, and you have just spent the last fifteen minutes searching for a parking spot or “bridged.” Your GPS has sent you on what seems like a wild goose- *ahem* salmon-chase, but finally you arrive at our shop—perhaps you first heard of us while watching our segment on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (filmed during our more idle days)—and after entering through the modestly-labelled “exit” door (appropriate only while wearing a raspberry beret) are asked to head to the back of what appears to be a line all the way through the building. Trust me: Those of us making sandwiches behind the counter are just as terrified as you. And those of us behind the deli cases feel for you. Now that we’ve acknowledged the mutual trepidation, I would like to lay out a (fingers crossed) concise guide to improving your experience, and that of your fellow patrons, at our establishment.
The “Flow” of our shop
This section is not about our talented designer, “Flo;” it is about the best way to navigate our tiny shop. A somewhat superficially confusing interior design element of our shop is that the checkout register is directly next to the exit door. Allow me to explain why this works best for everyone in three short points: First, it allows us to direct our line down through the building in such a manner that it neither clogs the hallway, nor blocks the entrance to our amazing neighbors, Lake Avenue Café . Secondly, it allows us to divide our tiny (even at two-times the size it was just 3 years ago) shop into an initial grocery/deliberation section, an ordering/payment section, and a final waiting/dining section. If this path is followed, the line will move steadily and your likeliness of feeling stuck in line will decrease greatly. Order grocery items, ask questions, and contemplate your sandwich order before the register; place sandwich orders at the register; prepare to be amazed after the register. My awesome (see: helpful, hilarious) coworkers and I are always there to help with the process, but you, dear reader, shall no longer be dependent on them. Pro-tip: If you know exactly what you want, try ordering from our pickup/delivery department. You can even order online!
Interacting with Our Staff
Everyone in our shop is either human or service animal, so miscommunication is inevitable, but our staff is trained to do everything in our power to provide you with excellent service. Here are a few things you should feel free to ask of us, if we haven’t already offered them:
• Menus. 99%* of the time we have them available for our deli & catering department. You can take them with you or leave them once you’re finished. If you have your smartphone or tablet with you, all of the menus are available on our website. *This is one of 85% of all statistics made up on-the-spot for the purposes of this article. • Samples. In an ideal world, we have curated samples for you already. In reality, sometimes the line and the long hours have us focused on figuring out what you want and getting it to you in a timely manner. This is your invitation to ask for samples. You have graced our shop with your patronage (or, in other words, waited in a long line to get there), so we would like you to leave with zero surprises about whether you’re getting what you want. With a few exceptions – mostly frozen goods – our products are available for sampling. All we ask is that you are respectful of your fellow customers. More on this in the next section, but as always, we are available to help guide the procession. • Advice. Listen, our shop may be very small, but it can be overwhelming. The staff at NWS will never take for granted that you share our detailed knowledge of our products (shout out to the repeat customers and regulars who do, but there’s no expectation). The sandwich board alone merits hours of analysis (and aesthetic appreciation, shout out again to the phenomenal Flo). Ask us about our favorite sandwiches/deli items, customer favorites, pro-tips, and pairing recommendations. My coworkers and I are not robots, but due to the nature of the work, we often find ourselves repeating actions and phrases throughout the day. When engaged in a friendly manner, we at NWS are among the most thoughtful, funny, and helpful customer service representatives you’ll ever meet, and we love the food we prepare. It bears repeating that we feel for those of you who wait in long lines to experience our amazing products.
Interacting with your fellow customers
Please allow me to editorialize for a minute: So many of us walk through the world in fear of those around us, or plagued by our own anxieties and problems. Have you ever found yourself feeling lost or alone in a sea of people? Humans are social creatures, yet so much that goes on in the world can isolate us, alienate us, or upset our carefully crafted and protected comfort zones. This isn’t wrong, by any means, but it is sad. Human existence is a strange and beautiful thing, and each person has a unique perspective on the world, yet it can be very easy to allow our joy and wonderment at our environment to become anger and annoyance. With that said, the best advice I can offer you for surviving the long summer lines at NWS is to engage your fellow customers. Perhaps the person in front of you is ordering a month’s worth of deli items and you only want to order a few sandwiches: ask them if it’s alright to pass them and order. Our staff is used to facilitating these interactions, but we are not always able to. Perhaps you are new to our establishment and the person in front of you is a veteran Smokehauser: ask them if they have any recommendations. Take a look at our Trip Advisor reviews to find that we have passionate and knowledgeable customers. If I know anything about humans, it is that we love to talk about the things we like (guilty as charged: ask me about my favorite music sometime—probably not in the NWS line, although I have occasionally jotted down music recommendations for customers when I thought they would be valued. Maybe I’ll write a future blog post about music culture at NWS. I’ll have to check with my superiors first). Share your light with your fellow customers, and be a mirror to reflect theirs. We’re all in this together.
*Have a locally crafted beer with your meal. Our shop can’t sell alcohol, but our neighbors at Lake Avenue Café have a wonderful bar (a staff favorite post-shift haunt) and a liquor license that extends to the front deck and the tables in the hallway. Get your sandwich wrapped to-go or in a basket (which we trust you will return to us), grab a drink from Lake Avenue Café, and enjoy an exquisite meal in the sunshine of our shared patio. • Feel as if you have waited long enough in line? Get something from our grab’n’go case and skip the wait for your sandwich, or have the deli staff make you a fish basket, which is typically ready by the time you get to the register. And of course, if lines aren’t your thing, here’s another reminder that you can place delivery and pickup orders online. • Take it all in. Since we expanded our shop in 2014, we have put a ton of work into making NWS an aesthetically pleasing experience, from the smell and taste of smoked meats, fish and charcuterie, to the visual splendor of the hand-designed sandwich menu, to the serve-yourself nature of a number of our available grocery items, even to the music playing to keep our staff and guests dancing and smiling through the workday. • Our pickup department has their own door, located in the alleyway between our building and Duluth Pack. Our phone number is painted on the door next to it, and all you have to do to skip our voice menu and reach the pickup department is press 1. Unfortunately, due to the heavy volume of customers in our shop, if you want to order additional items once you arrive, you’ll have to wait in line. If you find yourself in this position, please refer to our wonderful How to Survive a Summer Line at Northern Waters Smokehausguide.
If you have any further questions about the best way to experience our shop, I’m not surprised. I have worked at NWS for a few years, and I still learn things about our shop and sandwiches every shift. Just know that we’re happy you’re here for us, and we’ll do our best to be there for you.
P.S. If you noticed the Prince allusions at the beginning of this guide, I love you and you are part of what is right with this world. Try the Purple Range sandwich: A quarter pound of pastrami, cabbage, pepperoncini and red onion on a Crayo-spackled hero roll.
What could be more appropriate to the weather tug-of-war that is Springtime in Duluth, MN than an ample plate of pasta festooned with smoked salmon? Recently, while filtering through an inbox of email nonsense (due Friday? How about next Monday?) a thrilling word was on a subject line: *( and Rosé) – and we knew a new smoked salmon recipe was in order.
Humans, we made it through another winter. There’s something in the air — maybe it’s the sudden sunlight and early storms? Maybe it’s the oomph in people’s steps? Let’s just say we are starting to dream about Rosé.
Whatever your reason might be, we are eager to sip, cook with friends and relax.
The cocktail recipe inspired us to make something light and citrusy. We paired our favorite Haus-smoked salmon with an affordable, fresh and fruity Rosé (we substituted a bottle of sparkling Rosé for La Vieille Ferme 2015 ).
* If you don’t have a bottle of St. Germain liqueur just laying around in your house, the chilled Rosé is still quite the treat.
However, that liquor is like liquid gold. Use it today, use it tomorrow, use it forever.
½ lb Smoked Alaskan sockeye salmon, cubed
1/2 Shallot, diced
4 Cloves of garlic, diced
1 T Cracked black pepper
1/2 Lemon, zested and juiced
1 C Fresh parsley, chopped
10 Asparagus stalks
228 g (two servings worth) Dry angel hair pasta
Canola oil or olive oil for cooking
Salt to taste
3 T Butter
4 T (¼ cup) of White wine (Sauvignon Blanc works great. It’s light, dry, herbal & floral, which will create a nice dimension).
After getting your mise en place all ready (aka prepping your ingredients), get salted water boiling and cook pasta al dente, strain, toss in 1 T (or so – enough to prevent sticking) olive oil. Save 2 Tablespoons of pasta water – the gluten will be useful for the sauce.
Heat 1 T of oil and 1 T of butter over medium-high heat. Lightly salt and cook the asparagus until they are nearly tender, 4-5 minutes. Remove the asparagus and set them aside for later. We want the asparagus to be a little undercooked here because we will be adding them back in later.
If the pan seems dry, add a little bit of olive oil to the same pan and sweat shallots over medium heat until they are nearly translucent. Add another 1 T of butter and add the garlic and salmon. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes to combine flavors.
Add wine and the pasta water you saved. Add the rest of your ingredients (black pepper, lemon zest and juice). Toss in the asparagus and add another tablespoon of butter. Let your ingredients simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the sauce reduces and becomes slightly thickened and reduced.
Toss in the pasta and add the fresh parsley. Mix and serve!