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What We Eat

For all the years leading up to my time at the Smokehaus, I ate the Cajun Finn. Exclusively. My only deviation was if I was lucky enough to show up on Taco Tuesday. Once I started working here, I knew I needed to explore the very expansive menu for no other reason than product knowledge. While doing research under the cloak of product testing, I learned what I’ve always known: we make some ridiculously good food. If you’ve ever come to the deli and asked the person working what their favorite sandwich is and saw them hesitate, hmm and haw… it’s for good reason. There’s much to choose from and rarely is it a bad choice. While I still love The Finn, I have yet to go wrong deviating from my old standby.

I took an informal poll of some staff (okay, I drug them aside and demanded an answer), veteran and new-ish and everything in-between. Here are the results: 

Nic P: “Italiensk. I love it because it features our salamundos (large diameter salamis) and the mortadella which are some of my favorite products we make here.”

Cho: “Probably The ‘06 because I really like our bison pastrami. Our meats are so quality and you can really taste it in the pastrami. And who doesn’t love a toasty sandwich?”

Tyler: “The ‘06 or a Phoebe for a good food coma. If I need to go light: Sitka Sushi for the win. Or, a pizza on a naan”.  Author’s notes: I had to inform Tyler that pizza, indeed, is not on our menu. No, really, we can’t make you a pizza.

Emma: “Spring Roll on a Square (vegan mode!). I love the pickled veg, it has such a unique flavor profile. The almonds? DEVINE. So good! They give it the crunch. God bless Patricia.” Author’s Note: Our Spring Roll used to be served on a Naan (thus, the “roll”) but moving forward it will be served on a square ciabatta which makes this solid vegetarian option a vegan sandwich too!

Cal: “D-Luxxx with Turkey. Always the turkey. Or, a Cold Turkey or, a Cedar’s Secret. The turkey is so good.” Author’s note: Cal’s been working here since he’s been in the womb. So if he says the turkey’s good, it’s good.

Nicholas Matthew Ruszat Klee: “For years I’ve ordered the Cold Turkey, now I make the Cold Turkey, thus the circle of life continues.” When asked what he would do if we were out of Crayo, a critical ingredient in this second best selling sandwich, Nick responded, mournfully, that he “would simply weep”. 

Taylor P: “Big Dipper. The porketta here is so good and it feels like the regional favorite that I grew up eating is less common. Plus, people generally wouldn’t think of making a sandwich with this as the key ingredient.”

Brian: “Hedonist or Bahn Faux Mi. Both feature the country pâté which has such a great, complex flavor. I see people who have worked here for a very long time regularly eat the country pâté which is an indicator that a product is good and has lasting power.”

Justin: “Bahn Faux Mi.” Author’s notes: Justin is a man of few words.

Ben: “I worked in the pizza industry for a long time. When I go to a place that specializes in pizza, I get the most basic thing they have, a cheese pizza. If their crust and their sauce aren’t great, their pizza won’t be great. So here, I would recommend some of our most basic sandwiches like the The Northern Bagel with Smoked Salmon or Gravlax. You’ll get to taste what we do best and guaranteed, it will be delicious.”

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Reflection- A Year at NWS, Pandemic Edition

These days, it’s not uncommon for any of us to reflect on the past year and be wide-eyed and possibly fatigued at how much has changed in our worlds. The past year at Northern Waters certainly wasn’t anything we could have anticipated nor did we have a map to navigate what would come to be a new way of doing business for the foreseeable future. On March 11, we shut our doors to in-deli customers but remained open for pickup and delivery orders. “It was the slow season”, we said. “We’ll be okay”, we said. “We’ll make it work.” While our internal affirming statements came true, we really had no idea what was in store and the challenges we would collectively overcome. 

“The business coming in, it’s not going to last,” we said, as people stayed home and we watched our favorite eating establishments forced to close up. We were so wrong. Suddenly it was summer. And it lasted. And it lasted and it lasted some more. Our customers all showed up by supporting our business with local pickups for our smoked salmon or deliveries of sandwiches to new home offices and socially-distant cubicles.

Meanwhile up on the third floor, our usually-sleepy-in-spring mail order department started looking more like the holiday season. Boxes of smoked goodness lined our hallways waiting for the big brown truck to come. Was this December all over again? What is happening? 

We adapted by the second. We expanded our delivery zones. Our HR manager and owner would run deliveries. The culinary crew in the smokehuas proper would grab a delivery going to Gary or Deep Congdon. We juggled the phones and the online orders. The response from our customers was incredible.

The small eating area inside our deli transformed into a staging area for pickups and deliveries in March of 2020. Photo courtesy of Derek Montgomery Photography

We tried to plan for the time being only to discover we needed to tweak the plan. And then make a new plan. And then another. And maybe some more adjustments here… or there. And suddenly we are over a year into life in a pandemic world. And guess what? We are still adapting. It’s not a reflection of our inability to commit, rather, learning from all of our customers on the best way to deliver our products and quality service. The Smokehaus is a place of a constant effort to get it right. 

I write this post with much gratitude for all our customers who helped keep The Smokehaus open for business. I would be remiss if I also didn’t acknowledge the incredible group of people I get to work with everyday. They took on the challenges in such admirable, whatever-it-takes attitudes. It was remarkable.

There have been times over the last year where I would pause and wonder what the magic was that helped us come together to accomplish what we have this past year. A lifelong student of studying team and workplace cultures, it was fascinating. Some of my coworkers nerd out about music, some over fishing, some over food. I nerd out about what makes people come together to do remarkable things. We have great people with great character that work here. They are people committed to their craft and each other. But we have something a lot of places don’t: Eric Goerdt.

Eric, our founder and owner, is responsible for this magic. He is the secret sauce. He brings a relentless level of energy and positivity to each department– every. single.day. It is difficult for me to eloquently describe Eric’s effect on this business and after trashing five paragraphs trying to describe this, I realized someone much more skilled with pen and paper has already done so. Steve Hoffman wrote a piece on The Smokehaus back in 2018 for The Growler. He says:

In Eric Goerdt’s vision, we live in a world where it is possible for a tiny deli counter, with next to no seating, in a mixed-use warehouse building in Duluth, to sell enough carefully made, world-class salumi, smoked fish, and cured meats each year to reliably employ 43 Minnesotans on an ongoing basis. All it takes is virtue.

What that virtue consists of, in Eric’s case, is a relentlessly cheerful insistence that employees be treated well, so that they are content in their jobs, so that, in turn, they stay around long enough to become knowledgeable, so that they will take informed and attentive care of their customers. As a result, those customers keep coming back, because they never get a single hint from the other side of the counter of rote, fast-food sullenness.

Eric Goerdt (right) and employee Steve Mann (left) decide on what orders they were going to be delivering Wednesday, March 18, 2020 in Duluth, Minn. as our regular dining area was converted to a space to organize delivery and carryout orders. The previous day, on orders from governor Tim Walz, all restaurants were ordered to cease dine-in services as part of efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Immediately, Northern Waters Smokehaus owner Eric Goerdt went to work on a new business model to reflect the new reality facing the business with the goal of continuing to employ every worker who would normally be working. Photo courtesy of Derek Montgomery Photography.

As we prepare for the busy summer season ahead, we know we are not past the challenges we’ve faced this past year. If we’ve learned anything, we know there will be more. But we know that we have a crew of people ready to find ways to make sure you can still experience The Smokehaus with the same enthusiasm and attention that you received when you used to be able to walk through our front doors and gaze into our deli cases full of products we are so proud of— because behind all of us is a guy named Eric who humbly and enthusiastically gives us the best of himself everyday.

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5 Things: Leap Day Eve 2020

Welcome back, friends and foes alike, to our weekly dish. Due to some time mismanagement, this week’s 5 Things™ will be an exercise in speed-blogging, and is brought to you by fish oil capsules, two bags of this tea, and Patricia’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

You certainly have a busy Friday ahead of you, whether it’s a day at work, a promise you’ve made, or just 100% doing you, so without further ado, here’s the goods.

We’re hiring again.

A few folks moved to Seattle, a handful of us have enjoyed vacations, and the weekends (plus select weekdays) have been busier than anticipated, and as such, we’ve come to find some spots that need filling in our fairly barebones operation.

If you’re looking for part time deli or dishing work (12-20 hours to week, which will grow into more hours closer to Summer) at the coolest spot in Duluth, shoot Greg (our H.R. guy) a résumé at greg@nwsmokehaus.com or drop one off in the deli. We’re especially looking for weekend availability at this time.

Benefits include competitive wages with annual raises, a free meal with every shift*, a sweet employee discount, cool coworkers, lots of snacks (y’know how I’m always talking about the fun new food I get to eat—this blog barely scratches the surface), and much more that doesn’t fit into my speed-writing regimen.

*Easily one of the best parts of working for this company, as you may come to discover.

The All Things Traditional sale is coming to a close.

Tomorrow (2/29/20) is the final day of our 10% off mail order sale on any item featuring Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon.

The discount is applied to your pre-shipping cart, and is not tied to orders shipped during the sale dates. Plan ahead for your Trad-loving friend’s birthday, or a holiday of your choice, and save money by placing your order before midnight on Saturday.

Cajun Finn shirts are going on sale!

For the entirety of March, our Cajun Finn t-shirts are $15! That’s $5 off! Best purchased in multiples, so you and the squad can match, these shirts (and all of our merchandise) get you a lifetime 10%-off when you shop in our deli while wearing them.

You read that correctly—stroll into our deli carrying an NWS tote, wearing a hat or T-shirt, and get 10%-off at the register. Forever. Word of mouth advertising (and the odd television spot, and magazine feature) built our deli into what it is, so consider it a token of our gratitude for your marketing help.

A handful of designs that live right by my “desk”

New merchandise is in development.

This coming Monday, the marketing team and any staff who have ideas, are meeting to design and pitch the next wave of Smokehaus swag. From what I’ve heard, people have already put in a bunch of work on their designs and ideas, and within the next few months, we’ll be seeing some awesome new merch in the deli. That’s in addition to an awesome piece of Duluth Pack-made Smokehaus gear that we’ll be introducing to the world right before Summer.

New and exciting ways to snatch that 10%-off discount are forthcoming.

What type of NWS apparel have you always wanted? Let us know in the comments.

New meat snacks are also forthcoming!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sampling a tester batch of Maple Bacon Jerky and Hot Dogs (I don’t know how we’re branding them yet, so I just capitalized the first letters).

For now, I will just say that both of those meat snacks were already quite tasty—even in these early stages—so I can’t wait for the rest of you carnivores to try them.

Keep your eyes on our social media platforms and we’ll let you know the day they appear in the deli.


Speaking of the deli, I’m just about due for an opening shift there. Enjoy the photos that Zac adds to this blog, and have a pleasant rest of your day.

We love you forever.

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5 Things: February 14th, 2020

Welcome back to 5 Things™! We have so much to tell you about.

Everyone is sick, injured, or on vacation.

Business slows down in the post-holiday winter season. This makes it an excellent time for our staff to plan vacations, and most who do have no trouble getting that time-off approved.

But what happens during all those overlapping vacations when the remaining folks start dropping due to midwinter illness and injuries?

This is the photo I use when I’m not sure what kind of photo I should use.

Apparently, we handle it just fine. The 3rd-floor office-dwellers swoop in to run deliveries. The delivery and deli staff chip in to make sure prep is complete on time. The sandwich makers flip that switch that turns them from sandwich-making humans into sandwich-making machines.

This is a public shoutout to our staff, who rock even in the most barebones arrangements!

Turkey jerky is now available.

We’re at the height of our experimentation phase, and I’m loving it. The latest in our line of jerky is made with Ferndale Farms turkey, seasoned with Tamari soy sauce, maple syrup, and Sambal Oelek. It’s simple in execution, but has great complexity in its flavor.

It’s just a little bit sweet at first, with a growing heat that gently lights up your whole mouth, and while that is setting, the smoky flavor and the inimitable taste of turkey set in—it’s a comparable experience to the pleasure of eating the Cedar’s Secret sandwich. It’s just tough enough to trigger your carnivorous tearing and gnawing instincts, but easily chewed.

But as much as I have to say about it, you’re just going to have to find out for yourself.

The smoked Ferndale Farms turkey jerky is available for $16/half-pound in our deli. Why price it by the half-pound? Because a half-pound goes a long way!

Smoked salmon jerky is a success!

People are loving our sockeye jerky. Even during this slower time of the year, the batches we make are selling out at a steady pace, and we’ve received glowing reviews from the folks who have sampled and/or purchased it. Do yourself a favor and—at the very least—ask us for a sample next time you’re in. We’re steadily upgrading our jerky production equipment as we go, so it now comes in larger, more even strips, but here’s some eye candy of the early sockeye jerky.

Our sockeye jerky is seasoned with fresh ginger, fresh garlic, lemon juice, Tamari soy sauce, Sambal Oelek chili paste and Shio Koji. Yum.

Smoked sockeye jerky is available in our deli for $20/half pound.

NWS smoked fish coming to Coastal Seafoods!

Twin Cities and Metro Area folks, this news is directed right at you: Coastal Seafoods, in Minneapolis and St. Paul, will be carrying a selection of our Smoked Atlantic Salmon—Traditional, Dill, Black Pepper & Coriander, and All-Season Fillets!

Our excitement over this is two-fold: First, we’re happy to extend our influence to the Twin Cities, and second, we’re really into what Coastal Seafoods is doing.

There’s probably a few more folds and facets to our excitement—including the Minneapolis location’s proximity to United Noodles, another of our favorite food markets—but let’s not go overboard.

If you’re reading this blog on the day it was published, definitely call either location to check on availability, but it should be in stock as of this weekend.

Lola, the hibiscus, is thriving!

Lola—who was only recently named—joined the cast of DeWitt-Seitz marketplace characters in Summer 2018, flowering beautifully on our patio seating area. After that, however, all bets were off: Duluth’s climate is not ideal for hibiscus, hardy as they are.

We all rooted for Lola as she continued to struggle through the following year-and-some-change, but it wasn’t until Flo began rigorous, regimented care of our dear hibiscus—naming her in the process—that she truly began to thrive.

Now Lola is spritzed with water three times a week, and has a prime sunlight location in our office, which will only improve in our new office.


Happy Valentine’s Day! We love you forever!

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5 Things: All Things Traditional

All of February, we’re running a 10%-off mail order sale on all Smoked Traditional Atlantic Salmon products, including A Hygge Box.

Instead of regaling the release of four new sandwiches, and the return of two sandwiches, or blathering about the ongoing emptying of our office, we’ll let this week be a self-guided tour. Follow the links to explore the world of Smoked Traditional Atlantic Salmon—an item that consistently hangs at the top of our bestsellers list.


In other news: Yesterday, your friendly neighborhood blogger had his first bite of The Pack Lunch—the premier sandwich of our upcoming collaborative relationship with our own friendly neighbors at Duluth Pack—and it is really good! Haus rye, with horseradish mayo, a quarter-pound of Corned Bison, cornichon pickles, red onion, maple syrup, and lettuce comprise this perfect trailside sandwich, which will be launched alongside an awesome new Duluth Pack-designed Smokehaus tote bag. Expect a launch date sometime shortly after the ides of March.

In similar fashion, an as-of-yet unnamed smoked fish sandwich will be arriving around the same time. A lovely supporter of the Boundary Waters won the naming rights in the Friends of the Boundary Waters auction last year. We can’t wait to see what sort of name they come up with!

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Sandwich Lab: Returning Sandwiches—The Wagner and the Sebu-Chan

In 2019, we shared nine unique Sandwich Lab creations with you, as monthlong specials. In November, when the Lab reconvened, everyone in attendance ranked those nine sandwiches—after which, the rankings were compared by the sales percentages of each sandwich in what I like to imagine was a highly scientific process.

After all the results were calculated, there were two outliers—sandwiches that excelled in the eyes of our staff just as much as in their popularity amongst our patrons.

So we thought, “Hey! Let’s bring them back for a victory lap.”

I present to you: The Wagner and The Sebu-Chan, with brief commentary from their creators.

The Wagner

Read the full-story here.

Leif says: “The Wagner is a very saucy sandwich in every way! It’s kind of a condiment explosion.”

Ned says: “Try it with Black Pepper & Coriander salmon for extra style-points.”

The Wagner with Beef Pastrami—not pictured: the Wagner with Smoked Turkey

The Sebu-Chan

Read the full story here.

Sebastian says: “I don’t know what to say about it, just make something up!”

Ned says: “Share a bite of the gravlax with your cat! Cat’s can have a little cured salmon* as a treat.”

*Your blogger advises against sharing the onion and scallion cream cheese with your cat due to their toxicity to cats, and against sharing the cucumber because cats are terrified of them.


The Wagner and The Sebu-Chan rejoin our menu Monday, February 3rd, alongside the four new Sandwich Lab specials: Alþings Considered, the Salmon Melt, the Sorta-Torta, and the Catbus. Are you excited? We sure are!

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5 Things: January 31st, 2020

Here we are, already one-twelfth of the way through 2020. It’s going by so quickly. Let’s not tarry: Here’s a snapshot of our week:

Eric’s been out of town (and will be for a bit longer).

Beyond being a great boss/leader/guru, Eric is a family man. While he’s been down in Iowa, helping out with family things, we’ve been doing our best to just hold it together. Eric, if you’re reading this, we miss you!

In his element; in his favorite shirt.

We’re rearranging our sandwich menu.

The sandwich menu is verging on out of control—and we’re adding eight sandwiches to it within the next two months, including six next week. With that in-mind, our amazing illustrator and creative director, Flo, has been out of the (extremely distracting) office all week, re-hand-painting (and color-coding) a large portion of the menu.

The Smokehaus wouldn’t be the same without Flo’s amazing eye for food-styling, design and illustration. Thank you, Flo, for everything you do!

A few Flo fishes

Hannah and Andy have been emptying out the 3rd-floor office.

All the walls on the left hand side (pictured below) are coming down, and being replaced with more cooler space—and maybe a desk for Andy—while the rest of us cram into the new office space, at least until the renovation is complete and equilibrium is attainable.

Here’s a short pictorial tribute to this office:

Walkie-talkie codenames.

Apologies to everyone else who has to live with us in the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace—we are the weirdos walking around the building with walkie-talkies, making up codenames like “Cougar,” “Meltdown!,” “1225,” and “Hot Snake,” to communicate with each other while we transition between office spaces.

If you run into us in a crowded elevator, it’s okay to look away and pretend we’re not there. We understand.

Codename: Leify Greenz

Sub-list: What I would bring to the game day celebration.

Maybe you love the sport and maybe you just love the food—Either way, enjoying time with friends and family is never a bad thing. You’re spending your time on a deli and smokehouse’s blog, so you likely have a decent handle on setting up a snack table, but you might be looking for something special (or easy—or both) to take your game day snack table to the next level. Well, we’ve got options.

My recommendations, based on what we currently have in-stock:

All-Season Fillet

Let’s face it: smoked salmon is what we’re known for. The All-Season is our ultimate party favor—all the flavors so no-one feels left out; easy to prep (we’ve even got card with helpful instructions in our deli); food for fingers, forks, or your favorite crackers. One fillet is probably enough for everyone at the party to get a chance to enjoy it.

Salumi

Thin-sliced dry-cured meat—packs a lot of flavor into each bite and goes a long way. Right now we have Salamini, Saucisson Sec, and Spanish-style Chorizo in spades.

Snack Sticks

Whether you keep them full-length or cut them up into itty-bits, these snack sticks are guaranteed to please, for any palate—Bison Buddies have a little bit of kick, Big Jims remind me of ground beef and taco seasoning browning on the stovetop, Royale With Cheese are a bacon-cheeseburger in a stick, and Smoked Salmon Sticks are made with delicious sockeye salmon and tied together with buttery goodness.

The Usual Suspects

Two delicious hausmade cheese spreads and an exquisite salmon spread—just dip in your knife or cracker, then place immediately in mouth.

Cheese Spread

Honestly, our entire cheese selection is a fairly safe bet, but this spreadable cheddar is guaranteed to appeal to everyone.


That’s all for now! See you next week. If you’re still itching for more NWS content to imbibe, check out this week’s series of Sandwich Lab blogs.

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Sandwich Lab: The Catbus and The Sorta-Torta

The two Sandwich Lab specials we’ll be talking about today share a common thread—attempts at encapsulating favorite food experiences using the ingredients readily available at our deli. One to a savory Japanese pancake, the other to a staple of Mexican lunch menus.

Emma and Patricia have each come up with creations that blend components we’ve had all along into sandwiches that stand out from our other offerings. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at The Catbus and The Sorta-Torta.

The Catbus

The Catbus is an okonomiyaki-inspired sandwich that’s named after an iconic Studio Ghibli character, and as such, it is pure Smokehaus sandwich menu in intention and execution: an attempt to recreate a favorite food experience with ingredients we have on-hand, paired with a pop-cultural reference for a name.

Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake sometimes referred to as “Japanese pizza,” translates to “grilled as you like it.” Haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye bread, toasted alongside red onion and kimchi, dressed with mayo and sriracha, and garnished with cilantro is undeniably how we like it: simple, savory (prepare to come face-to-face with the subtle power of fish sauce), and just a little spicy.

The Catbus joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside Alᚦings Considered, the Sorta-Torta, and the Salmon Melt.

The Sorta-Torta

The Sorta-Torta is a bright new addition to our sandwich menu. Between the slices of Spanish-style Chorizo, fresh jalapeño, sriracha, and black pepper, there’s plenty of spice to wake up your taste buds, with hausmade cumin slaw, mayo and cheddar cheese to balance the scale.

This sandwich is like no other on our menu, and that’s just how Patricia planned it.

Spending many of her years on this planet in the Twin Cities, around plenty of places that offered fantastic tortas, she wanted to see what she could use around the Smokehaus to recreate that experience. A few standard torta ingredients are absent or remixed—aficionados will notice the lack of refried beans, and choosing a hero roll over pan francés—hence, the “sorta,” but there’s no need to dwell on what this sandwich isn’t, because it’s tasty as heck.

The Sorta-Torta joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside Alᚦings Considered, the Catbus, and the Salmon Melt.


Thanks for tuning-in yet again to this series about the upcoming additions to our sandwich menu. We hope you are too—whether you’ll be visiting our deli tomorrow or in a few months, they’ll be here for you.

We’re so dang excited to share all these new sandwiches with you next week, but let’s not forget about the returning favorites from last year’s Sandwich Lab cycle—the Wagner and the Sebu-Chan

WHAT IS SANDWICH LAB?

A STORY PILFERED FROM PAST BLOGS.

*Bum bum*

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:

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, 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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Sandwich Lab: Alþings Considered and The Salmon Melt

Sandwich Lab Specials are back! Rather than running monthlong specials like last year, we’re going to bring all the new sandwiches to you at the same time, and keep them around for a while longer. Each one of our sandwiches eventually develops some degree of cult-following, and we want to give these staff-favorite newbies the same opportunity.

Today, we’ll be talking about two sandwiches that share something in common with each other, and with our most successful sandwich model: fish sandwiches. This is the first installment in a series of blogs about the eight sandwiches set to grace our menu before summer, including six new sandwiches—four from the most recent Sandwich Lab, and two collaborations—and two returning favorites from last year’s Sandwich Lab.

Not your average matpakke.

Alþings Considered is based on the open-faced sandwiches Andrew beheld at his bestemor‘s 90th birthday in Stavagner, Norway: rye bread, brushed with cream cheese and topped with gravlax, capers, lemon slices, fresh dill, and other fixings.

After Andrew joined the Smokehaus team, he began trying to recapture the majesty of de smørbrødene, finding the necessary ingredients readily available on our sandwich line and in the prep kitchen.

Andrew’s take on this sandwich begins with two slices of our haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye bread, a few generous swipes of scallion cream cheese, capers, Atlantic salmon gravlax, tomato slices, hausmade quick pickles, and a hausmade Nordic slaw developed just for this sandwich, featuring thinly-sliced cabbage, radish, and lemon, dressed with vinegar and dill.

At the very least, this smørbrød is a reminder that gravlax is amazing. At best, well, you’ll just have to try it for yourself and find out.

And what about that name? How are you meant to pronounce that non-Roman character? I’ll spare you the cursory linguistic and historical lessons, and skip ahead to the answer—it’s a voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative consonant. If that’s not helpful, think of NPR. If that’s still not helpful, there are some clues in this paragraph for you to follow in pursuit of the origin of this name.

Alþings Considered joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside the Catbus, the Sorta-Torta, and the Salmon Melt.

Speaking of the Salmon Melt

TK, our beloved inventory expert and wine connoisseur, sought to fill an obvious gap on our menu.

In TK’s words, “The tuna melt is one of the best deli sandwiches ever.” While we’ve never been a tuna joint, we have something that compares quite favorably to the average tuna salad: Smoked Salmon Pâté.

TK’s Salmon Melt is a essentially a classic tuna melt, with a hearty portion of our Smoked Salmon Pâté substituted for the tuna salad: Two slices of buttered haus-baked Pullman white bread, toasted alongside cheddar cheese-topped salmon pâté, assembled with a chunky dill pickle/red onion/celery relish.

The Salmon Melt gives our Smoked Salmon Pâté—which itself features the bright and exciting blend of such flavors as lemon juice, horseradish, Cajun seasoning, dill, scallions, and parsley—another context in which to shine, and in unexpected circumstances: served hot.

The Salmon Melt joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside the Catbus, the Sorta-Torta, and the aforementioned Alᚦings Considered.


Thanks for tuning in to this latest series of product features. Scandinavian fans, please forgive my sloppy attempts at Norwegian linguistic and cultural analysis: I took one semester of Norwegian at St. Olaf College, and my best friend moved to Norway a decade ago—we’re just pretending that makes me qualified.

For more information about Sandwich Lab, please read the copy-pasted details below:

What is Sandwich Lab?

A story pilfered from past blogs.

*Bum bum*

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:

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, 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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My Favorite Things™ (December 27th, 2019)

Here it is.

The final 5 Things™ of the year.

We’re going to do something special this time around.

But first, I’m going to mess around with the headings for a bit.

Okay, that’s enough.

Here are My Favorite Things™ that happened this year at NWS. I took a deep dive, noting the moments in this blog that sparked the most joy in me, then tried to whittle it down to five, but was unable. What can I say? I’m a sentimental person. Hopefully, uncut as it is, this list gives you a hint at the sort of year we’ve had at the Smokehaus.

The Adisalad joined our menu.

The Adisalad is New Year’s resolution food: Haus kimchi or sauerkraut, a delicious assortment of pickled vegetables, with fresh cucumber slices, and chopped Marcona almonds over mixed greens and thin-sliced cabbage.

The salad joined the menu in January, and quickly became my lunch break of choice for somewhere around three months—after which I began transposing it into sandwich form, because carbs are great. Among its other noteworthy attributes are its position on our menu as a middle ground between the Ensaladita and the two-meals-in-one-package NWS Salad (in both size and price) and its status as vegan-friendly option (choosing ‘kraut over kimchi).

New Sticks.

When they’re in-stock, Bison Buddies are one of our top-selling items. Eric and the Smokers (not Eric’s band name, but could be) caught wise to this trend and whipped up an assortment of new snack sticks—with future plans to develop more—to please our constituents in search of something quick, easy, and flavorful. The current selection (at full capacity) features Big Jim Hatch Chile beef sticks, Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, and Smoked Sockeye Salmon Buddies alongside the Bison Buddies. Everyone loves snack sticks!

Smoked Sockeye Sticks aka Salmon Buddies

Patricia made donuts and brought them in to share.

Working at NWS in the Patricia era has been a joy for a handful of reasons—new and exciting cookies, cheddar crackers, pasties, and samples of each new item as they emerge—but the day she brought in a tray of cake donuts she’d made that morning was a favorite of mine. Yes, our dear Patricia just whipped up some cake donuts in her kitchen on a whim.

Patricia’s initial plan was to try a donut Cuban sandwich with our Minnesota Pulled Pork. Though I do not know whether she succeeded in that goal, I do recall making a Northern Donut—yes: a donut with scallion cream cheese and smoked Atlantic salmon. It was not good enough for the menu (and would’ve been far better with our Atlantic salmon gravlax), but I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t enjoy it.

The Sandwich Lab Series.

I can’t believe it took me this long to get to this Thing™. Sandwich Lab (our annual pedantic and artistic gathering in the pursuit of sandwich excellence) easily got a nod in over 50% of the blog content this year. For good reason, too. Last year’s Lab had so many high-quality offerings that we elected to feature them all (in roughly one-month intervals) on the menu.

Since a great deal has already been said about these sandwiches, here’s a list of their names and their ingredients to sate you. And of course you can always follow that hyperlink I just provided if you care to read more.

  • The Breakfast Club – Bagel, scallion cream cheese, smoked turkey, smoked pancetta (crispy), red onion, cilantro.
  • The Wagner – Hero roll, mayo, mustard, smoked turkey or smoked pastrami (unofficial 3rd option: black pepper and coriander salmon), quick pickles, cilantro, sriracha.
  • The Spinderella – Hero roll, mayo, mustard, dill pickle, smoked turkey, salami, red onion, cilantro. Side of scallion cream cheese, for dippin’.
  • The Bloody Mary – Johnson’s Bakery kaiser roll, green olives, chopped dill pickle, summer sausage, smoked pancetta, cheddar cheese, Haus bloody mary mix, tomato, red onion, cilantro.
  • The Wallaby – Haus-baked Prince Myshkin Rye, smashed avocado, lemon pepper, tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar.
  • The Sebu-chan – Haus-baked ciabatta, scallion cream cheese, gravlax, cucumber, tomato, red onion, cilantro, sriracha, lettuce.
  • The Fish Schtick – Haus-baked ciabatta, mayo, lemon pepper, traditional Atlantic salmon, Cornichon pickles, tomato, red onion, lettuce.
  • The Lake Trout Situation – Haus-baked pullman white bread (buttered and toasted), smoked lake trout salad, smoked pancetta crumbles, cilantro. Served open-faced—our take on a New England lobster roll.
  • The G.O.A.T. – Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel, chèvre, crispy sliced smoked andouille, sliced Cortland apple, lettuce.

This porketta photo shoot.

Right around the time we began working in earnest on the cookbook, our creative team had the bright idea of trying to capture the heart of backyard smoking. This behind-the-scenes look at that shoot was one of my favorite Things™ largely because of the captions, but in no small part due to Greg’s rustic charm and bright attire.

This workplace drama.

Posing by porkettas isn’t the only thing Greg-with-two-Gs is good for. He and Leif have had an ongoing struggle for office dominance that has provided high-quality entertainment to anyone who might tune in.

An update:

This corrupted image of Smoked Ribs and Beans.

What better way to commemorate this delicious though short-lived daily special than this odd photograph? Designers, take note: You can now easily extract the exact color palette of our Smoked Ribs free of charge.

Working on the NWS Cookbook.

Bubbling below the surface of everything else going on this year—the strategic expansion and retraction of our menu, the addition of beer and wine (and cider, and alcoholic seltzer) to our deli, all of the new baked goods, and changes in leadership roles—has been a lot of work on the first-ever Northern Waters Smokehaus cookbook.

While there’s still quite a bit of work ahead of us, and the anticipated release date falls somewhere no sooner than Summer 2021, these past ten months of work on the book have been an exciting, sometimes nerve-wracking, ultimately very fulfilling ride.

These new faces.

The new folks who have joined our team have been pretty alright this year.

That’s all for 5 Things™ in 2019! See you next year!