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

Graduation Special

Spring is here for the season and we are excited to share our winter secrets. In the deep freeze, ideas come to us as we plan how to creatively share the delights of our snacks, sandwiches and proteins. We have had years of experience with our Deli in Canal Park and our Catering Department, throwing parties in the height of summer, supplying platters for gatherings and bringing sandwiches to the hungry office workers.
On May 2nd and on, we are looking forward to supply snacks, sandwiches and platters for any occasion regardless of size.
We are saying YES!
Yes, we will deliver you a sandwich in the middle of the week.
Yes, we will deliver you groceries.
Yes, you can finally enjoy some deck-side pick-up on your way to the beach.
Are you ready?

And with this new expansion of our Catering and Delivery Department, we are happy to announce new platters, a new upcoming Catering Menu, and new specials.
Our NEW Catering Menu, will be available starting on May 2nd. So, we just wanted to tease you a little. Just like Spring.

But before Summer warms the sand and the patios, we have to honor and congratulate all of the hardworking students. So for all those years of late nights, early mornings, and sleepless weekends, we are offering a Graduation Special. This Graduation Special includes a little bit of what we are the most proud of.
A delightful party-pleaser All Season Fillet Platter, rolled-up  decadent Smoked Berkshire Pork Loin, and creamy, herby Hausmade Boursin Cheese platter with a cracker basket.

Our Graduation Special can be picked up in our Canal Park Store or delivered to a home or party near you. Give us a 24 hour notice and we will create some stellar delights!
Give us a call (218) 724-7307 or place an order via catering@nwsmokehaus.com, Miss Fuhs will be delighted to help you!

Posted on

Our New Restaurant is Now Open!

We are super proud to announce that our newest baby, Northern Waters Restaurant, is now open for lunch, dinner, and good times! It took us 6 extra months, hundreds of hours, too many dollars, and a ton of heart and soul to open the restaurant – from recipe development to flatware finding to the very best staff-searching – but we are extremely happy with the result.

The restaurant has a unique identity – it offers a multitude of seating choices, has an eclectic menu, and also serves beer and wine. Simultaneously, it stays true to Northern Waters Smokehaus in terms of quality, creativity and its commitment to take care of its employees.

Menu favorites (yes, there already are a few) are the pork tacos (with scratch-made corn tortillas), The Iowa (a pounded, breaded pork tenderloin sandwich), and the almighty chowder (who knew such a traditionally mellow soup could be so arousing?). Lunch time is just as fast-paced as our deli in Canal Park, with a brand new selection of upscale sandwiches and salads served fresh and fast, but the added feature of our Bar Royale Menu, which features more warm options (including some mighty fine wings).

The staff is comprised of a good mixture of brand-newbies and veterans, all eager to learn our innovative approach to food and share it with the Minnesota (and beyond) food community. We are particularly proud of these hard-working people: it’s a challenge to open a restaurant, especially one as unique as ours. The fact that they have gone out on a collective limb with us is particularly poignant in terms of our non-tipping policy – we’ve had some criticism (not to mention skepticism) over this issue, and these folks are on the front lines.

So, if you’re in the area, come by and see us. We’re the place on the left with the fishy wallpaper and Elvis Costello soundtrack, right next to the dry cleaner’s.

 

IMG_6496

 

IMG_6399

 

IMG_6447

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6530

 

The Northern Waters Restaurant mascot

 

 

 

Posted on

Winter Gatherings, At Home, In the Office

a photo of eric goerdt, northern waters smokehaus, standing in front of his wood-fired pizza oven in the winter

Thinking of holiday food for gatherings? Northern Waters Smokehaus may be able to give you a leg up.

December is a natural month for gatherings – just cold enough to wet the appetite and light the fires, but not yet the prohibitive deep freeze of January. And what is better for a gathering than hand-made smoked fish and meats?

We at the Smokehaus love to roast ourselves and our meals together, defying the dark and the snow, in our garages and backyards. We have a long and passionate history with gatherings – providing them and participating!

What’s your company tradition? Do you love your company’s company like we do? Let us jump in: we are offering platters, gift boxes, and lunches all through the holiday season – from the coveted All Season Fillet of Smoked Salmon to our Small Sampler Gift Box, we are eager to please – and, between our mail order department, catering department, and our Duluth delivery, we can offer our stuff  pretty much anywhere.

Our smoked fish and meats are perfect for entertaining – they are  ready to eat, luxurious, local and unique. We provide wooden platters brimming with slices of smoked pork loin, salami, olives, and cheeses for the boardroom or break room; we ship insulated boxes full of carefully packaged and impeccably smoked salmon, whitefish, and lake trout (or anything else your heart desires) straight to the office, the home, or the nearest campfire (if has a physical address, FedEx will find it!).

So, go on – get toasty, eat well, laugh together, and enjoy a little holiday spirit. We all deserve it a little, right?

smoked whitefish on a platter from northern waters smokehaus  bonfire for a winter gathering at northern waters smokehaus  a bowl of red onions for a gathering at northern waters smokehaus

 

Posted on

Are We Busy? Never Too Busy For You … Except Maybe Next Weekend.

Hello out there, blog-o-philes! We’ve been having a blast this summer, slinging sandwiches, remodeling our store, biking out goodies to denizens of downtown Duluth, concocting fantasies of feasts all over the North and South Shores of Lake Superior with our catering crew, and selling a few choice items at the Mill City Farmer’s Market and Kingfield Farmer’s Market. Unfortunately, this weekend’s scheduled markets are canceled due to a staffing issue. Apologies! We will be back on October 24th and 25th, though with bells on!

Posted on

We’re Headed South

We are headed down to the big city this weekend to sell our salami and – for the very first time – smoked fish! Come see us at Bachman’s Garden Center for the Kingfield/Fulton Farmers Market.

We are genuinely delighted to bring our fish to Minneapolis! Last summer, our new customers at Kingfield were loving the salami but begging for our unique smoked fish. So, we worked on logistics, bought a NSF milk cooler, a trailer, and an extra vacuum packer;  activated the mail order department (April is AMAZING, for real), the smoking department (those dudes, equally amazing – but I reserve all caps for April because we’re close like that), and the marketing department (that’s me, I went to a Google seminar and got a You Tube mug); and made very bizarre arrangements with an Airbnb host.

All this falderal is for a mere four and a half hours of commerce, and we’re dying to see how it goes – come say hi, hopefully we’ll be the booth with the peaceful frenzy enveloping it.

We will be at Bachman’s Garden Center at 6010 Lyndale Ave South from 9-1:30 on Saturday, March 28th.

We will be selling Salamini, Pepperoni, Chorizo, Saucisson Sec, Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout, Smoked Atlantic Salmon, Smoked Atlantic Salmon with Black Pepper and Coriander, All-Season Fillets of Smoked Atlantic Salmon, and Smoked Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon. 

Posted on

Christmas Ordering Cutoff

Due to an AMAZING amount of business from an AMAZING amount of customers, our shipping cutoff is Sunday, December 21st at 12:00 PM, CST. New Year’s gifts are still available – so orders placed after the cutoff will be processed in time for the kick-off to 2015!
Thanks to all of you, and happiest of holidays!

Posted on

A Very Special Event

We are really excited to announce our very first Smokehaus Dinner!

It will be a limited-seating, ticket-holding, belly-stuffing extravaganza at the absolutely exquisite Hemlock Preserve in Esko, Minnesota.
We will be frying up the finest Minnesota chicken and serving it with heaps of Hausmade sides – our spin on late summer comfort food. We will also serve beer and wine, dessert, and entertainment. The event starts at 5PM on Thursday, August 21st and will surely go long enough to get the bonfire blazing.

Tickets will be available Thursday, July 31st in the shop and we also can mail them to you if you give us a ring: (218) 724-7307.

For images of Hemlock Preserve, click here and here and here.

Hope to see you there!

Posted on

Kingfield Farmers Market Dates

Well, we finally took the plunge and decided to take our show on the road. Minneapolis has long beckoned us to its metal and glass banks, and we realized that we could accomplish this (and meet a lot of great food people) by sticking a toe in the Farmers Market scene.
Once a month, we will be at the beautiful and friendly Kingfield Farmers Market at 4310 Nicollet Ave. in Minneapolis to sell (for now) our salami: up for grabs will be Salamini, Pepperoni, Saucisson Sec, and Chorizo.

Further on down the line, we very well might bring other goodies, such as our smoked fish and smoked meats – as long as we figure out how to keep it cold! 
The upcoming dates this year are: 
June 22
July 20
August 24
September 21 Cancelled
October 12
See you there …





Posted on

Bike Delivery Map

It’s on! Our delivery service is up and running … er, biking – all over downtown, Canal Park, and Park Point. We’ve been delivering an array of sandwiches, specials, and groceries for the past several weeks and it’s working out beautifully: no traffic, no searching for a parking spot, and calves of STEEL.
Give us a call and we will make your Smokehaus dreams come true – on wheels.