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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.

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Announcing: Smokehaus Happy Hour

Hey!

Time: Mondays through Thursdays, 5 to 7 pm, beginning Monday, March 11th.

Place: Northern Waters Smokehaus Deli→

Details: One of our new Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, toasted and topped with mustard, celery salt, tomatoes, pickles, and pepperoncini on a hausmade ciabatta roll with your choice of a bag of chips or a can of LaCroix. $6+tax. Only available in-store. Friendship and goodwill in abundance, for you to carry into the rest of the world. Probably good music.

The Haus-ki is here.

We debuted our spin on the Chicago dog last night at Bent Paddle Brewing Company’s tap room, but this dog is too good to save for pop-ups alone, so we’re bringing it to you four days a week, live from our deli.

The Haus-ki.

True happiness may come from within, but a Haus-ki couldn’t hurt.

We’re teaming this dog up with your choice the usual suspects—

—alongside the standard NWS accoutrements. For only $6 ($6.38 after tax)! There’s not much more to say than this is a tasty treat for a hot deal.

Whether you want to stay a while to socialize, or just long enough to grab a dog, join us, and let’s be happy together.

The first NWS Happy Hour is Monday, March 11th from 5 to 7pm. In the spirit of food bringing people together, this happy hour deal will not be available via delivery. We hope to see you there.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Spinderella

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:


It’s Monday, March 4th. That means our hottest new sandwich (which will be served cold) drops today. Peep the video below.

Press play. Sound “on” for best results.

Salt & Pepper alone do not a taste make. Essential seasonings though they may be, they’re at their best when they are tying-together and highlighting a mix of flavors.

This audacious new Sandwich Lab experiment is known as the Spinderella, and it’s a gustatory tribute to the DJ of the legendary hip-hop outfit Salt’n’Pepa—she who deftly mixes the soundscape that supports the MCs’ rhythms and rhymes. The ‘Wich’s blend of ingredients is eclectic—mayo, mustard, dill pickle, salumi mix, turkey, red onion, and cilantro on a hero roll, with scallion cream cheese (for dippin’)—but elegantly mixed to create something greater than the mere sum of its parts.

If you can’t make it to see Salt’n’Pepa on tour this spring/summer, or to any of DJ Spinderella’s upcoming solo shows, just can’t wait, or even if you can do any or all of those things, stop by our shop and try our culinary tribute to the classic hip-hop trio during the month of March. Each Sandwich Lab special purchased gets you two stamps on your sandwich card.

The Spinderella is available in our deli and via delivery for $13+tax.


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: February 8th, 2019

UPDATE: CAKE PHOTOS ADDED!!

We’re in the middle of the cruelest month of the year—in terms of weather—but February is a notoriously sweet month as well. Rather than focus on harsh weather, let’s focus on the sugar.

The Sugar Plum Gift Box!

In conjunction with our DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace neighbors, Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, we have assembled an extra-sweet treat for two: The Sugar Plum gift box features dark chocolate malted milk balls & sugar plums from Hepzibah’s, and we supply a stick of salamini, Rosemary Croccantini crackers, and a jar of Fabbri Amarena cherries. All of this comes with a NWS tote bag in which to carry your picnic.

#cute

Make it sweet!

Want to do something special for someone sweet leading up to V-Day? Spread some kindness to someone whom you love, like, or want to show some serious appreciation by sending them a sandwich through our delivery department, and for an extra $2 we’ll Make it Sweet—with a handwritten card and some Swedish Fish tied to the order.
Not to be confused with the “Hey, Sweetie!” gift box.

Patricia’s cookies (and more)!

It might just be my coworkers and I buying all of them (because they are so good), but Patricia’s cookies are continually flying off the shelves.

So far, she has blessed us with carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese, the quadruple-ginger cookies (pictured below), and gluten-free coconut macaroons.

Quadruple-ginger cookies

And this morning, she surprised us again. When I began opening the shop this morning, Patricia was nowhere to be found. Admittedly, I did not put forth much effort to find her. Then, after I disappeared for a minute, I returned and there she was.

I didn’t notice the donuts at first. A few minutes passed before my eyes wandered to the cake pan just a few feet away.

Unexpected Friday special by Patricia

“Patricia, did you make those donuts?”
“Yes.”
“Where?”
“At my house.”
“Why?”
“I thought it might be good to make a Donut Cuban sandwich with the pulled pork.”

Thank you, Patricia, for all you do.

Here’s another surprise by Patricia, available for the first time today:

Ham & Swiss Puff Pastries

Pine Cones & Royale With Cheese!

There’s not much need to pack our deli-cases full of unsliced meats in the Winter. We prefer to focus on sandwich specials and prepared items that highlight our products, so that when the grocery sales pick back up, folks know exactly which smoked meats they want and have some ideas for what to do with them.

But an empty-ish case isn’t great to look at. Our solution? Come up with some “easy” items that customers can pick up and snack on with minimal effort.

When the phrase “meat cone” started getting thrown around, I was thoroughly perplexed, but now I’ve seen the light. In adorable cones made of pine, we’ve assembled little personal charcuterie boards, with salumi, pork loin, Castel Vetrano olives, cheese, and assorted smoked meats (dealer’s choice). It’s sort of like a Salami Basket for one. They’re available in our deli for $8.

Is Somethin’

We’re also on a snack stick kick. Bison Buddies have consistently been a bestseller. If I had a nickel for every time I crushed a customer’s soul by letting them know we’d sold the last Bison Buddies of the day, I would be floating around on a mid-range pontoon boat, drinking cheap sparkling white wine and working one day a week, just to keep a little structure in my life. But here we are.

Last weekend the smokers made Big Jim Buddies—beef and pork adobada sticks made with New Mexican Big Jim chiles. They sold out over the weekend, but the smokers are already making more.

After the Big Jims, there were some early experiments with Sockeye Buddies, which need a bit more tweaking, but will be coming to a Northern Waters Smokehaus near you very soon.

The most recent installment in the Snack Stick Saga is the Royale With Cheese: ground beef, bacon & melted cheese in a lamb casing. If you get the reference, you get the reference, but I think these ingredients speak for themselves. They’re currently in-stock, and we plan on keeping them coming. Never again, we hope, will you have to suffer a NWS shopping experience without Buddies.

Sam’s last day…

This last one’s a tad bittersweet: Our former shop manager, Samantha (or Sam, or Salm, if you have caught the pun on her Dickie’s work shirt) is finally parting ways with us to follow the next great adventure in her life. Sam had been splitting her years between Scagway, Alaska and Duluth, Minnesota for as long as I’ve been at the Smokehaus, then took on the position of front-of-house manager at our briefly lived but beloved Northern Waters Restaurant, before stepping in as our shop manager here at NWS.

Sam is, among other things, hilarious, compassionate, driven, and highly-intelligent, and although I’m going to let her keep her life plans to reveal for herself, I am convinced she’s going to thrive in this next adventure.

Her successor, Leif is thoroughly trained-in and shares all the above qualities, but that’s enough about Leif in this post about Sam.

Sam, if you’re reading this, don’t forget to come visit us from time to time, and bring Brewster.

Sweet, sweet Brewster

To offset the bitter in this bittersweet cocktail, and accentuate the sweet, Mary got an ice cream cake from DQ to honor the occasion. The cake photo is coming. We won’t leave you hanging.

There you have it. I’m sending you all warm & fuzzy vibes from this 5 Things post. Until next week…
One more photograph of the bacon-cheeseburger buddies we’ve affectionately dubbed “Royale With Cheese”
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5 Things That Happened This Week At NWS

  1. A new shop manager!

    Our current deli manager, Sam, will soon be leaving us to pursue a new and exciting chapter of her life. While she will be dearly missed, we are pleased that Leif will be stepping up to fill her shoes. Leif has been with us for around four years, and has previously demonstrated his mettle as an assistant deli manager. He is one of the funniest people I know, and I’m looking forward to this new era under his iron rule.

    Leif playing music at our 20th Anniversary Party

    Oh, and by the way—Leif and another Smokehaus team alumnus, Sonja Bjordal (from Feeding Leroy) are sharing the stage tomorrow night (January 26th) at Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake. There is no cover charge, and music starts at 9pm.

  2. Winterfest!

    The Minnesota Craft Brewers’ Guild has invited us to participate in their Winterfest event today (January 25th) at 7pm at Union Depot in St. Paul. From the Winterfest page:

    “Minnesota’s craft breweries are partnering with more than 20 restaurants to pair high-end beers with high-class bites at the 2019 Winterfest craft beer festival. The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild event gives craft beer fans a one-of-a-kind new format to enjoy the beers they love alongside specifically designed small plates to highlight the state’s craft beer industry and top chefs.”

    So, yea. As always, we’re honored that people think so well of us and what we’re doing up here in Duluth. We’re bringing some wild tacos to Winterfest. Picture this: Fried potato shell, topped with porketta, fennel, onion, haus-made hot-sauce, and lemon vinaigrette. I am jealous of all of those who get to taste this, rather than simply write about it.

    Tickets for the event are still available. $90/person, or $50/sober driver (food & non-alcoholic beverages included). I imagine no one will leave unsatisfied.

  3. Hoops pop-up!

    It feels like it has been forever, but we’re back on our pop-up game. Tonight, from 5 until we run out of food, we’ll be serving up brats at Hoops Brewing. On the menu, we have Italian sausage with roasted red peppers and onion and beer brats with sauerkraut, with potato salad and creamy Koolslaw available as sides.
  4. Carrot cake cookies!

    This was the best I could do with the resources available, but it still looks pretty tasty, no?


    Patricia, a new member of our team, has been blowing our minds with a variety of cookies and pastries, and we threw a dozen of them in the grab & go case this week: carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese.

    They went fast, but I doubt this is the last we’ll see of them. See, part of the vetting process is that we all have to test them. And, um, we’re going to want to test them again pretty soon here, I’d imagine.

    Basically, here is your reminder that stopping into our deli and seeing what kind of new flavor-of-the-day/week/month specials and deals we have for you is not a terrible idea. We’re always coming up with something new.

  5. We got a new coffee maker! 

    It turns out that when a large part of your business is conducted through FedEx, they want to hook you up with cool stuff. We had a lot of what I heard colloquially referred to as “FedEx Points” and a perennial problem of our high-quality Duluth Coffee Company coffee turning out as burnt, acidic death water.So we cashed in those FEPs and nabbed this new robot friend on the left:

    Left to right: box of scratch paper pads, new coffee maker (lovingly named “Leonardo DaCapresso”), old coffee maker, deep-freeze

    After we “Office Space” the old one, we’ll have all of that extra room for coffee accoutrement, or donut platters or whatever else they come up with.

Here we are again, at the end of our 5 Things. I hope you feel better informed about life around the Smokehaus, or that you’re at least mildly entertained.

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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.

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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.

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“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!

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5 Things™ First Week of October Edition

October is here. It’s my favorite month of the year. Despite the gloomy forecasts every day so far, I’m still pleasantly surprised by the gradual slowing-down of life, the turning of the trees, and the shifting priorities around the Smokehaus. And on top of all that, our company D&D cohort is back on track to the primary campaign, and had an excitement-laden October 1st session that leveled us up. I’ll leave the details up to your imagination, but thanks to a dragonborn paladin, an Aussie-accented dwarf bard, a tabaxi arcane archer, and an efreet trapped in the physical form of an iron golem who lives to serve those who know his true name (and as such, ended up doing a lot of damage for both sides), the fire giant nation is less a king and queen, and Faerun is a little bit safer. Now, on to the five things that I came here to write—

  1. We have yet another new floor! This is becoming a bit of a theme, isn’t it. While it seems like our business has no ceilings, we have plenty of floors, and we’re trying to remove the carpet from all of them, to further increase our workable, food-safe areas. This has led to a lot of comically-placed desks, and really more heavy-lifting than any of us signed on for. All’s well that ends well, however, and the floors are turning out beautifully. Enjoy some smartphone photographs.
  2. Our party and afterparty were a blast! Truth be told, I’m a bit socially anxious, so I didn’t last long at the party, but from the moment the party officially began, there was a line wrapped around Hoops Brewing to cash in on our panoply of free food. About forty-five minutes in, Eric had to run over to the Smokehaus to re-up the All Season Fillet stock. A few unsuspecting Hoops patrons were even overheard saying, “we should really hire them to cater [our upcoming event].” Everybody won, it seems. The afterparty, which featured several Smokehaus-affiliated bands, was also a blast. Folks bought a grip of raffle tickets for Together for Youth, and good times were had by all.
  3. We attended the Minnesota Hospitality Expo! Ever seeking to be more hospitable to our awesome customers (and coworkers), we sent a battalion of desk-jockeys*, owners, and managers to the Minnesota Hospitality Expo. Ari Weinzweig, co-owner and founding partner of the legendary Zingerman’s, was the keynote speaker, and I know Eric and the others have taken a lot of inspiration from the ethos of that business. If I had been there myself, I could perhaps tell you more about their experience and lessons learned, but suffice it to say that you can expect a lot of it to be put into practice in our own business. Stop by (or continue to stop by) in the next few months to enjoy an extra-specially hospitable Northern Waters Smokehaus.
    *(See: awesome H.R. legend, Greg, and design aficionado, Flo.)
  4. Eric made prepped chorizo with Nick! For the first time in a long, undisclosed amount of time, Eric rolled up his sleeves for the task of Spanish-style Chorizo prep with smoker Nick. While photographing part of the process, I was able to glean some terse, very Eric-style lessons about our history, the tricks of the trade for cultivating various wursts and salumi, and what processes we use to give ourselves an edge over your standard mass-produced meat products. Eric is a gem and a true expert of his craft, and alongside Nick’s skilled hands, they made quick work of processing the chorizo. That reminds me: Do you know why the scarecrow became world-renowned? Because it was outstanding in its field.
  5. Our offices are forever evolving! I know, I know! I have already mentioned the floors being redone, but more importantly, I want you to know about the new jungle corner that has taken hold of our marketing and design office. These plants came from our patio, but the encroaching cold weather had made them very sad. We took them inside, and put them by a window, and now they are alive and well and doing their part to purify our air. Thanks, plants!

    Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Rihanna

Thanks for tuning in. Have a great week, or if you never return to the 5 Things™ blog, a great life.

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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.