Posted on

5 Things That Happened at NWS

Days in the deli have slowed down, but life at the Smokehaus have not been boring.

  1. We’re making a whole lot of food! This week our production team roasted 500 lbs of porketta, prepared 120 each of pepperoni and saucisson sec for curing, and started 480 lbs of ham on a 5-7 day brine cycle. A great deal of that meat already has a home among our mail order queue, and what’s left of it will likely fly off our shelves by the end of December’s month-long grocery rush in the shop. Pigs fly at Northern Waters Smokehaus.
  2. Sandwich Lab! I already leaked one Sandwich Lab secret here, so I’m going to hold tight to the juicier details, but once all of the voting, calculating and deliberating is complete, y’all may be in for some fantastically mouthwatering experiences at our little deli.
  3. Our Winter catalog is complete! I had previously lied and referred to it as a Fall/Winter catalog and a Fall catalog. Whoops. Regardless, it is out and it looks great. Watching the design and marketing teams develop it was really cool. So much care and attention to detail went into presenting our awesome food and history to you. I am super proud of my coworkers. NWS cookbook, here we come! Catalogs are available upon request.
  4. Hidden Falls cheese is in season! Hidden Falls is a creamy sheep’s and cow’s milk cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms in Nerstrand, MN. It has citrus and wildflower qualities present in its flavor, and notes of woodsy mushrooms. Accompany it with honey and seasonal fruit, or pair it with our salumi, but whatever you do, do it quickly. Hidden Falls is only available between October and December.
  5. It’s our birthday month! Northern Waters Smokehaus is a Scorpio. Actually, our birthday might even be today. I’m like 90% certain it falls between November 8th and 12th. I really need to step up my research game. We have had a pretty great year as a company. We’ve had a segment filmed for the Travel Channel, we have an awesome staff, the books show growth from last year, we released our first official product catalog, we threw a sweet party/afterparty combo in September, and we have felt a ton of love from our community, our regulars, the tourists (food- and otherwise), and our online network. Eric, Lynn  and the rest of us are so darned proud of this 20-year old deli and we are so darned proud of them. Thank you, reader, customer, friend, for supporting this business.

That last sentence was a better closer than this one is.

Posted on

A Practical Guide to Northern Waters Smokehaus: Add-ons, part 1

Sandwiches, for us, are serious business. Each sandwich on our menu has hours of R&D associated with it, and there is no true B.Y.O. option on our menu. Preferences aside, let’s just say each sandwich is the perfect version of itself.

But perfection is an illusion. What use is the platonic ideal Pork Loin D-Luxx when your palate yearns to transcend? I’ll rephrase: Our sandwiches are really good, but when it comes to flavor, there is always room for strategic enhancement. Here are some tried-and-true NWS sandwich add-ons that have fun names.

Jean Jacket Cilantro and sriracha. The name comes from a dream about a gorilla wearing a denim coat. The flavor is bright and spicy. This will keep you warm on a crisp fall day. This is the classic Smokehaus add-on: So good, it is already on several of our sandwiches. Try it on the Cajun Finn, Cold Turkey, or Gorilla.

Woolrich — Basil and sriracha. Not just for those with cilantro aversion. This is an even brighter take on the Jean Jacket. Try it on a Salami Dewitt-Seitzer, MN Pulled Pork (Friday’s special), or anywhere Jean Jackets are good. My second-favorite part of this add-on (after the taste) is how it relates to the previous and following options.

The Full Bemidji — Cilantro, basil and sriracha. A Jean Jacket over a Woolrich. For those who want to fully awaken their sinuses while enjoying their sandwich. This goes on most sandwiches I make for myself. It’s important to layer in these Winter months. Try it on a Northern Bagel or a Purple Range.

Honey — No fancy name for this one. Ask for honey on your Hedonist or Gorilla. If we have it on the line, you shall have it on your sandwich. Honey compliments the sweetness of our ham and mustard quite well.

Split-Finger — Originating from a modification to the Clubhaus (formerly the Thursday special, now a full-time menu item) called the Split-Finger Fastball. If you order a sandwich “split-finger,” we’ll substitute a healthy swipe of crayo on one slice of bread, mayo on the other, and Jean Jacket for the standard condiments. Clubhauses and D-Luxxes revel in this substitution.

The Bret –– There’s no button in our P.O.S. that says “The Bret,” and neither Bret nor myself probably came up with this add-on, though I can’t specifically remember when it entered my life. Once, I told my friend Bret he should have his Cajun Finn with a Jean Jacket and pickled ginger, and afterward he told me it was the best sandwich he has ever had and orders it that way every time he comes to the Smokehaus, so I have decided to name a Cajun Finn with a Jean Jacket and pickled ginger “The Bret,” and you should definitely try it.

And now for something totally new:

The Wet-suit — Quick pickles and cheddar cheese. Slippery wet sweet and tangy quick pickle slices and a sharp cheddar barrier. This is the most recent sandwich slang we are trying to introduce to the world. In fact, the first time I heard about it was this previous Tuesday at our annual Sandwich Lab. Try this on a Pork Loin D-Luxx or a Clubhaus.

Conclusions are challenging, so I’ll keep it simple and conclude that you should try these additions out, if they sound good to you. I am so hungry.

Posted on

A Practical Guide to Northern Waters Smokehaus: Samples, Part 1

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.

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 That Happened This Week At NWS

Perhaps you’re a regular reader of this blog, or perhaps this is your first time. Either way, I’ll begin by saying that, by and large, most weeks at NWS end up being very similar—we work the grind. Exciting stuff happens around here so often that the extraordinary ends up feeling pretty ordinary. As such, I usually default to some sort of cheekiness in my introductions to this blog. It livens up the writing process for me. However, I’ve had a realization that some of these seemingly mundane happenings in my workplace might actually be more interesting than I had previously realized, and that maybe I take for granted working one of the coolest jobs I have had/one of the coolest jobs to be had. So, with that, here’s five things that are either pretty rad, or that I’m going to spin into radness, that happened on or around this week.

  1. We got a new POS! For the uninitiated, that’s point-of-sale, not piece of [excrement], though sometimes technology feels like that, doesn’t it? Xevious Stevenson, our awesome Client Success Manager (nabbed that title from his business card, since it seems very fitting, considering the work he put in on our transition day) spent a very full workday installing the system, fielding our plentiful (excessive?) questions, reprogramming the system to our specifications, and cracking jokes alongside us as if he had been a part of our team for years. Transitioning to the new system happened on a very busy Thursday, so we’re grateful to our customers for bearing with us. Our hope is this new system allows us to fully integrate all of our departments seamlessly, to limit the confusion between our several distinct departments we have recently come to know. As a nearly five-year employee, I have been amazed every year by our continuous growth and success. Hard work and commitment to quality appears to pay off, friends.
  2. We have new employees! I’m not sure how shy they are yet, so I’m not going to start dropping names to the masses, but it seems like we’re hiring the cream of the crop. New coworkers are great, because they tend to have very positive outlooks on what a jaded, bitter old soul like me considers tedious work. All jokes asidecough*where’s the joke?*cough—it’s great to have more hands on deck, because the workload has not slowed down for us here at Northern Waters. It’s also always exciting to add to the wall of heights.
  3. We have a tomato surplus! Inventory/ordering/production is a challenging speculative enterprise. Sometimes you’re slotted in a tight barrel of tomato-heavy salads, sauces, and sandwiches, and the next week you realize the weekend crew was totally skunked, and now there’s twelve full racks of tomatoes and nowhere to put half of them. Yes, I just googled surfing slang, and no, there will be no glossary at the back of the book. Anyway, I was very amused by my coworkers’ reactions when the order came in on Monday, doubling our tomato supply. Today, the prep department has been hard at work on a 160-sandwich pickup order, so hopefully that puts a dent in the inventory. And if it doesn’t, I’m crossing my fingers for the return of Meatball Mondays at NWS. Relevant to the topic, here’s a favorite song of mine. The only thing that’s wrong with it is its <2 minute duration.
  4. Olivia sliced a ton of bacon and was pretty excited about it! To be honest, there’s a few people I’ve met in my life who probably dream about slicing and handling this much bacon, so her excitement doesn’t surprise me. This is part of the Sisyphean preparation for the infamous Mail-Order Season, which never really ends, but has vague terminal points in the middle of November and the beginning of January. Back to the bacon—she even provided me with a photograph. Enjoy.
  5. We are on the cusp of two awesome weekends! As I have previously mentioned, this weekend we are heading down to Best of the Wurst, hosted by Sociable Ciderworks. That in itself is pretty cool, but I have no doubts the following weekend is going to top it. On September 29th, at Hoops Brewing and then at Rex Bar, we are throwing a big ol’ public hootenanny to celebrate twenty years of smoking something (mostly fish and meats). There will be free food (provided by us), free beer (provided by us in conjunction  with Hoops), and free music (provided by bands featuring members of our team—curated by myself, Greg the H.R. wizard, and dynamic design duo Jacob and Zac). We’ll be closing the shop’s doors at 4pm, so that all of our employees can party down with you. I didn’t know Eric when he began this business, but just a few moments of interacting him will give you an insight into how proud he is of this little deli.

So, there you have it. Count ‘em up, because you just got six things (and some slick anecdotes) for the price of five. That’s what they call extra value. See you at next week’s five things blog, unless my in-progress exposé on bison pastrami, or the first installation upcoming Practical Guide to Northern Waters Smokehaus series hits the web first, or if you come in and talk to me while I’m working in the deli. Anything is possible if you follow your dreams.

Posted on

A Brief History of Northern Waters Smokehaus

1998 Eric and Lynn Goerdt, having met and married in Sitka Alaska, found Northern Waters Smokehaus in Superior Wisconsin. Eric had been experimenting with the craft of smoked fish for many years at this point – he used to smoke fish and meats in his homestate of Iowa, even – but perfected his unique kippering style in Alaska.

Eric initially smoked fish in small batches out of a business incubator (The Superior Business Center) and sold exclusively via mail order and to wholesale clients such as Allouez Marine (run by Jim Banks and Bill Rogers), The Park Bench, and Twin Ports Brewery (now Thirsty Pagan Brewery).

2001 – 2002 Eric and Lynn open a retail location in the Dewitt Seitz building. Offering smoked fish, picnic bags, crackers, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and a world-class cheese case, the store was a hit for gourmands. Two sandwich prototypes were offered: a bagel with cream cheese (no toaster, Lender-style bagel, plain cream cheese, and a scoop of flaked smoked salmon) and a salmon wrap (salmon pate, diced peppers and cucumber in a vinaigrette, wrapped in a giant tortilla). Employee Count: 7

2003 The smokehouse moves production to the basement of Dewitt Seitz. The move to Minnesota enables the Smokehaus to start producing meat products and sell them in the retail area. Early examples include Polish, andouille, and ham.

2004 A small sandwich menu is developed – The Gorilla, Cajun Finn, and Pastrami Mommy are all offered, as is the Dewitt Setzer (for $4!). It’s a year of trial and error – many free sandwiches are given, meat and fish are sliced to order, there isn’t a sandwich line, and orders aren’t even written on tickets.

2005 The idea of the special is introduced – featuring a Polish sausage on Mondays, bison brisket on Wednesdays, and a gigantic bison burrito on Tuesdays. Mail order continues to be the busiest time for the Smokehaus, with December offering one third of the overall yearly revenue of the company.

2006-2009 The sandwich menu begins to take off. After many years, the Duluth News Tribune runs a story on our sandwiches and we start to see a spike in business, with the spike going off the charts when the Star Tribune writes a glowing essay about the business. The first Tall Ships event also lends a dramatic amount of business to the Smokehaus. Innovations include: moving the cheese case to accommodate a sandwich line, writing sandwich orders down for sandwich makers, developing portions of protein, making prep and stock lists, and hiring extra people to work during busy times.

Other developments include:

  • Boxed lunches and platters are also offered at this time, and Eric makes deliveries.
  • Mail order becomes an orphaned department, moving to many locations during December and staffed by smokers, Eric, and deli staff alike.
  • Catering begins to take off, with salmon platters and cheese boards custom-built by customer request.
  • Eric begins to experiment with dry-cured salami, enters the Salamini in a contest sponsored by Seattle’s esteemed deli Salumi, and wins first place in the professional challenge.

2010 A defining year for the Smokehaus. National exposure from Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives gives the company a huge boost – sales of sandwiches, salumi, and whitefish (the products featured on the show) are up 50%. The staff doubles, and the triage formation assumes the position for the next several years.

2011 Working fast and furious!

2012 We are forced to prep after-hours in the Smokehaus!

2013 We renovate the former Taste of Saigon storage space into a prep/delivery room and rent out the third floor office, where we foolishly plan on lavishly entertaining (instead, it becomes storage for mail order and dry stock).

2014 We put a massive freezer on the third floor and begin to renovate the Smokehouse.

2015 The shop undergoes a major renovation, bumping into the loading dock, removing the sinks, and separating the sandwich line from the deli line.

Posted on

Great Moments in the Smokehaus Lexicon: The Story of The Gorilla

Every business has their unique jargon. The restaurant industry in general is fraught with code – a hold-over from expediting short orders coupled with the Tower of Babel-scale mix of languages that populate many American eateries, there are general terms we all seem to know: “86,” “all-day,” “to fly,” “slammed,” etc., but each place usually creates its own set of slang over time and the Smokehaus isn’t an exception. Today we shall reveal the story of one of our most mystifying sandwich titles: The Gorilla.

We didn’t always smoke meat. We started off sticking to fish – Eric had one smallish smoker off-site in a commercial kitchen and a license that allowed him to smoke and sell it but forbade him to distribute anything that had hooves, fur, or mammary glands (like fish versus swine, the FDA and USDA are also two different animals, and one has deeper pockets and some pretty outstanding long-term relationships with big ag that pretty much eliminates small-time processors like us from selling to anyone, anywhere except our own storefront, but that’s a story for another time). Eventually, we moved our operation to Dewitt Seitz, directly under our retail space. This enabled us to start smoking sausage, pastrami, ham, and pork loin. Eric would tinker around with backyard-smoker recipe favorites, adapting them to the more formal demands of our commercial Vortron units, and we the few employees at the time would reap the rewards. What a time to be alive and carnivorous!

Eventually, like so many crossroads in life, it came down to perfecting the simplest recipe: the ham.

The first perfect batch was glorious – rosy, glistening mounds of promise, made even more pristine by the charred unholy walls of the smoker. Like Aphrodite in the lap of Hephaestus, the natural beauty of the ham was elevated to irresistible by its company, and we sawed off pieces straight from the rack, surrounding the smoker and taking turns with the knife. There is nothing like meat from the smoker. Smoky, yes, and tender and salty and sweet – but there is a delicacy when it is newly made that wears off after it has been cooled and stored. Even more heavy-handed items like pastrami or andouille are touched with this grace note when the smoke clears and we open the big stainless door. Ham is perhaps most demonstrative of this phenomenon, and this first batch was a revelation to us all.

Eric’s best childhood friend Dan was in town, and was among the few to enjoy this singular experience. The two had grown up together in Iowa, Dan was currently living in New York City, and they still keep in touch. As the silence that fell over our greasy mouths began to dissipate with the mumblings and exclamations of pleasure, Dan began to tell us a tale.

“I had the craziest dream last night. I don’t know if it’s because I was sleeping in Eric’s basement where it’s extra dark, extra quiet and extra cold? Anyway, I dreamt like all night last night, but all I remember is this one part. I was in my parents’ house back in Iowa, it was at night, I was alone. There was a sliding glass door off the living room, and the deck was lit up. There was this enormous gorilla pounding on the door to get in, and it was terrifying. He pounded and pounded, and would pace back and forth in between poundings. I didn’t know what to do – the thing must have weighed a ton and there was just this thin layer of glass between us, but I couldn’t run away. It just kept taunting me, rattling the glass. It was one of those full-grown silverback types you see on PBS, with smart, shiny eyes and big yellow teeth.  But the thing is, the gorilla was wearing a jean jacket.”

Urban worldliness mixed with childhood fantasy? Wilderness anxiety? Brain flush? We didn’t know what Dan’s psyche was up to, but we did know that we thought it was hilarious. The image coupled with the meat high was enough to send us into cry-laughter for several minutes. It was a wonderful feeling. Eventually, when we calmed down, we started to talk sandwiches. We knew this basic but beautiful meat deserved the same on the menu, and settled for a simple ham, Swiss, lettuce, mustard, and mayo sandwich on rye. Name-wise, we half-heartedly tossed a few around. I particularly wanted it to be called the Bukowski, but we all knew that it really could only be The Gorilla.

Later, when we discovered that our most popular two sandwiches (The Cajun Finn and Cold Turkey) were significantly boosted by the addition of cilantro and Sriracha, we found a place to hang the Jean Jacket – a secret menu addition that delights many customers to this day, though few know the origin. In fact, you can add a Jean Jacket to nearly anything on the menu, though I still think the Gorilla is best au natural. So, the next time you order a Gorilla, or add a jean jacket, remember that it comes from a very honest ether – and you are having a taste of Smokehaus history.

Posted on

A Day in the Life of a Fish Smoker Part 2: The Rack

After the fish has been brined, Tyson rinses the excess salt and sugar off the salmon. Now comes the racking process: pretty simple except it is important to leave just enough room between the salmon pieces to prevent them sticking together during the smoking. This would be very simple if we didn’t have to stuff the smoker every time we smoke – so we try to squeeze every millimeter of space to accommodate as much fish as possible.

As the fish is racked, Tyson spices some and leaves others bare – our Traditional smoked salmon. The spices – Black Pepper and Coriander; Dill; and Cajun – are evenly sprinkled (or perhaps doused) over the salmon pieces. Once the salmon is sufficiently gussied up, the fish will chill in a constantly-circulating cooler. This creates a kippering affect, sealing in moisture and simultaneously fostering a thin bark around each slice.

salmon_rinsing

salmon rinsing

 

salmon racksalmon rack

salmon rack

salmon spice

 

salmon spicing trio
Atlantic Salmon, set to be smoked