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5 Things: August 23rd, 2019

Summer isn’t over yet, but the morning air is crisper, and the pace of life is slowing down. The tall ships have come and gone, the flood of students is just beginning to trickle into town. Walking past our deli, it may not always appear this way, but life is on the calmer side, at least for a few weeks.

But that doesn’t mean life at the Smokehaus is any less interesting.

We have new faces in the deli.

Faces.

For those keeping score, over the past few weeks we’ve steadily mentioned that we’re hiring, and as a result, we already have a handful of new staff training in. I’d caution the world to be patient with and/or kind to them, since they are new and the pace of our little deli can be overwhelming, but they’re already performing like seasoned veterans.

Labor Day Mail Order Sale.

Labor Daybor

Beginning August 26th, we’re running a mail order special: 20% off your cart (online only) when you enter the discount code bluecollar. The sale runs through Labor Day (9/2). However, if you want your food to arrive in time for Labor Day weekend celebrations, place your order by Tuesday, August 27th—those orders will be shipped on Wednesday (8/28) and arrive by Friday (8/30). Otherwise, you can schedule your shipping date for whenever you’d like. Pro-tip: this is the best mail order sale of the year, so if you know exactly what you want to order for Fall and Winter holidays, this is a good time to do it.

Speaking of Mail Order, here’s our updated holiday shipping schedule.

Bookmark this page as an easy reference when ordering for holidays, and you’ll be guaranteed to get your orders at the perfect interval for gifting or entertaining. Become the master of your own destiny; know for yourself exactly when to place orders, and when to have them shipped for best results.

Monday night D&D returns to The Midnight Axe.

Images unrelated.

The Summer season of our unofficial office Dungeons and Dragons crew is coming to a close with a short adventure tying us back into our ongoing campaign, right before our DM heads on an extended vacation, leaving us to fend for ourselves.

This Summer, we set our main campaign to the side, in order to focus on a handful of smaller, unconnected adventures. Not only did this allow each of us to test out a number of character ideas, and novel settings, but it also gave us time to miss our main characters, as distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

“The Midnight Axe” is the name—generated by rolling percentile dice against a chart of fantasy party names—of our primary party. When we’re not embroiled in a scavenger hunt for a cache of money embezzled long ago from the treasury of the Manhattan-esque city of Waterdeep, and avoiding/averting the frequent pitfalls of gangs whose rivalry we earned incidentally, we’re just trying to earn a mostly-honest living running a tavern called The Malt Solstice. However, some way or another, we’ve gained some notoriety as adventurers—and it’s drawn some public interest.

In our session on Monday, Harrison (our Dungeon Master) presented each of us with three characters (shout out to Harrison for developing fifteen character concepts in a single weekend) who are looking, for one reason or another, to join our ranks. This coming session, we’ll be embarking on a mission with our chosen secondary characters to discover their strengths, and how they’ll fit into our adventuring party. Perhaps they’ll join us on the front lines, perhaps they’ll stick around headquarters and craft potions nonstop, perhaps they’ll alternate between venturing into the Undermountain (where our campaign has us heading) and providing security at the Malt Solstice. Only time will tell.

Character biographies forthcoming.

Patricia’s corner.

Let’s get personal.

Let’s get one thing straight: Any week that there are not five immediately obvious other Things™ to talk about, Patricia is going to get a nod. Ever since she moved to full-time baking, we’ve become accustomed to carrying an assortment of cookies—chocolate chip, ginger, peanut butter curry, carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese, coconut macaroons (which are gluten-free*), and most recently chocolate walnut flourless cookies (also gluten-free**)—pasties, cheddar crackers, savory scones, and even personal pizzas. This week’s pizza featured smoked bacon, blackberries, and chèvre, and her pizza sauce, in general, is composed of the odds-and-ends bits of tomato from the morning’s prep.

That’s honestly one of the best things about Patricia’s approach to baking for NWS—by utilizing more parts of the foods we use, we generate substantially less waste as a business, which improves our model of sustainability (not to mention profitability) overall, and in the process, we end up with these delicious, fan-favorite items in our deli

*/**: It’s worth noting that these are not baked in a completely gluten-free environment. In terms of ingredients, they are entirely gluten-free, but those at serious risk should be aware of the chance of cross-contamination.

I got to observe production of Country Pâté.

Observe.

Compiling recipes for the cookbook is great fun, but not without its challenges. In addition to needing to massively scale down some recipes—we’re operating under the assumption you’ll never need to make one-hundred pounds of Smoked Whitefish at home—other recipes in our own workbooks lack, well, instruction.

Country pâté, for example, is just a list of ingredients, which our skilled production crew understands how to massage—eh, grind—into the savory loaves we all love. Brandt happened to catch me during a fresh air break yesterday to let me know he was making it.

Seeing that static list of ingredients—browned bacon and onion; Berkshire liver, pork and back fat; brandy; cure; rosemary and thyme; etc.—ground once and then half again (to achieve the preferred inconsistent consistency), mixed with what could reasonably pass as TLC, and packaged to chill overnight before being packed into loaf pans and slow-cooked, was enlightening, and proof that someone needs to write down those steps, because there’s a lot of them. If not for our own benefit, certainly for the book.

Once again, I’d like to give a public shout-out to the smokers for the sheer volume of high-quality product they consistently churn out.

I’ve done it again. Yesterday, I stared at my week’s notes and wondered, “which five Things™ am I going to write about? Are there five Things™ that may intrigue or inspire our readership(?),” and here I am, writing Thing™ six-and-a-half. I hope you’re happy.

We hope to see you in our deli this weekend—whether you wait in line, or skip the line via pickup —or your name and address in our delivery system. If you’re going to be near Canal Park/Downtown, make sure you bring ear protection, because the Tribute Fest will be rocking hard.

Stay tuned in the next handful of weeks for some new sandwich options—including your blogger’s own contribution to the Sandwich Lab specials—and exciting collaborations.

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Product Feature: Natural Wines

If you hadn’t already heard: We have wine, available by the glass or by the bottle (which we can re-cork to take with you). Always seeking to provide you with the highest quality options, we took especial care to bring you a diverse and delicious selection of high-quality natural wines.

Natural wines are those wines produced with grapes grown organically or biodynamically, fermented and transformed into wine without any addition or subtraction of any ingredients. Oftentimes these wines are produced entirely with grapes from a single farm. This method of creation allows biodiversity to thrive within the wine, creating a product that is literally living. They’ve been called the “un-photoshopped” version of wine.

In addition to their complex flavor palettes, and the feeling that you are drinking something closer to a work of art than just a mere beverage, another benefit of this process is the absence of additional sulfites.

Sulfites naturally occur in all wines, as a byproduct of fermentation, but many conventional winemakers use additional sulfites to stop the fermentation process and prevent oxidation—however, adding them is not strictly necessary to the winemaking process. Additional sulfites are an element that can leave folks with headaches, or scratchiness of the throat. As much as one-percent of the population may be allergic to sulfites.

The wines we have come from small wineries, with grapes grown in small regions, produced by winemakers who have dedicated themselves to creating wine in its purest and most traditional form. Most importantly, they taste great.

Our wine list will evolve over time, but let’s take a look at the wines we currently have on-hand at Northern Waters Smokehaus:


Trollinger (both the grape variety, brought to Germany by the Romans, as well as the name of the wine), is produced by Andi Knauss, who is part of a wine collective called La Boutanche.

Trollinger is a versatile table wine that has moderate acidity, with fruity strawberry, cherry, nutmeg, and subtle smoky notes. 

Trollinger pairs especially well with the Cold Turkey, Cedar’s Secret, Hardhat, Big Dipper, and Silence of the Lambwich.

Sold by the glass (BTG) for $7 and by the bottle BTB (1 L) for $42.


Le P’tit Blanc “or Vin Blanc,” literally “white wine,” comes from producer Clos du Tue-Boeuf.

The Loire Valley area of western France, from which this wine comes, was planted in the middle ages, and is revered for its organic, biodynamic and natural winemaking. This white is composed of Sauvignon Blanc grapes with a hint of Chardonnay, and has complex flavors of stone fruit, mineral, and citrus.

Enjoy it with the Phoebe, the Pork Lion, and the Northern Bagel. As a white wine, it pairs very naturally with smoked fish and white meats, such as turkey breast, but offers complex flavors that will bring dimension to any pairing.

$7 BTG / $30 BTB


La Grume, Beaujolais-Villages, or “La Grume” is our red wine, produced by Domaine de la Grume.

This red comes from a tiny winery in central France. The soft and versatile wine is made of 100% Gamay Noir grapes, with a core of blackberry fruit laced with bright cherry and minerality.

Pair this red with The Hardhat, Squealy Dan, or DeWitt-Seitzer, or alongside a charcuterie platter or Salami Basket.

$6 BTG / $23 BTB


Réserve de la Saurine, a rosé by Lauduan Chusclan.

Grown on the gravelly banks of the Ceze River in Southern France, this rosé is made with a blend of Grenache and Cinsault. It is light, crisp and dry with bright crushed berry fruit. 

Try it with our Cajun Finn, Fuzzy Bunny, or Silence of Lambwich.

$5 BTG / $20 BTB


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Labor Day Sale

We’re running a mail order special—receive 20% off your cart Monday, August 26th through Monday, September 2nd (Labor Day), when you enter the discount code bluecollar at checkout—to ensure that you can treat yourself at the best rate possible.

  • Receive 20% off store-wide. Discount does not apply to shipping cost. 
  • Coupon code can not be used multiple times.
  • Offer is limited to stock on hand; offer is non-transferable and is not redeemable for cash. 
  • Coupon code may not be combined wth any other discount, offer or coupon code. 
  • Coupon code applies to our online Mail Order shop.
  • Coupon code is valid from 8/26- 9/02. 
  • This coupon code can not be used for the purchase of online e-gift certificates or in-store gift cards. 

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5 Things: August 16th, 2019

Let’s get right to the meat of this week: There was an enormous rubber duck in town. It spent most of the time deflated, but at least we were graced with its presence, as a part of the Festival of Sail.

A handful of department managers received ServSafe training. In what sounds like an extremely grueling day of collectively leafing through an entire manual on food safety, followed by a comprehensive test on the subject, we hopefully have a slew of new food safety-certified individuals on our staff. We’re not sure yet—test results won’t come back for a few more days—but knowing what I know about my coworkers, I don’t doubt they passed.

Patricia prepared personal pizzas. Pro tip: If you’re interested in trying the latest of her creations, stop into our deli on Wednesday mornings. It seems like she likes to experiment with food on Tuesdays, and everything she makes is either solid gold or extensively gilded.

The latest item, as previously mentioned, is personal pizzas. Made with our own Smoked Bacon, and Hammarlund Nursery heirloom tomatoes, these pizzas are just the right size for one, and they taste great. As I prepare to publish this blog, I have to mention that the pizzas are currently sold out, but don’t worry! This won’t be the last of them.

A variety of pasties are back in stock as of this morning, and the Widmer 2-Year Cheddar Cheesy Crackers will be out later today. Thanks again, Patricia, for all that you do.

We launched a new loyalty program. We’ll still honor completed 10-stamped sandwich cards, and any incomplete sandwich card stamps will be transferrable to the new loyalty card. The way the new system is laid out, you’ll earn a reward (redeemable at your leisure) every six sandwiches/salads you purchase—up to three times per card. We’re calling this program the “Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire.”

Let’s take a look at the new card:

For a more detailed explanation of the new loyalty program, check out this blog post.

We’re hiring!

It always happens this time of year—we say goodbye to students and other seasonal employees, and we’re happy for them and their journeys, but we’re mildly concerned about filling out our schedules.

If any of the descriptions below sound like you, and you’re interested in making competitive wages at a pretty cool place, with pretty cool people, send a résumé to our H.R. champion, Gregory Conley, at greg@nwsmokehaus.com

If you like working alone, at (basically) your own pace, and don’t mind getting a little bit wet, consider applying for our daytime disher position. We’re looking for someone to work daytimes Monday through Friday.

If you’re more people-oriented, and want to work alongside a hardworking team of unique and interesting individuals, we are also hiring in our deli and delivery departments.

Work with the cool kids; send in a résumé!

Finally, we’re running a Labor Day mail order special! 20% off your cart, online only, when you place your order between 8/26 and 9/2, and enter the discount code bluecollar at checkout. Some boring restrictions apply, but you can plan ahead and place your future holiday orders at this discount. It’s either a right-now special or an early-early-bird special, depending on your perspective!

Okay, that’s enough Things™ for now, I’ve got to get to work in the deli.

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NWS HAS A NEW LOYALTY PROGRAM!

Good news, everyone! We’ve finally depleted our inventory of sandwich cards, which means we’ve rolled out our NEW LOYALTY PROGRAM! One free sandwich/salad per ten sandwiches/salads was a pretty sweet deal, but we wanted to shake things up, so we devised a new system to give you more rewards, more frequently.

Introducing the Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card:

The former sandwich card worked as follows: Each sandwich/salad you purchase earned you one stamp on the card.* Ten stamps earned you one free sandwich/salad.

The new program works as follows: Twenty-one little fish; eighteen red, three blue. Each sandwich/salad you purchase earns you one hole punched red fish. Every six punches along the way, you earn earn the rights to a new prize, which can be redeemed immediately, or at your leisure. When you redeem your reward, we’ll punch a hole in the respective blue fish.

Once you have purchased 18 sandwiches/salads, you’ll have earned all three perks along the way. Maybe you used them as you got them, maybe you redeem all three at once after purchasing that eighteenth sandwich/salad. Maybe you redeem all three at once the next time you come in, or maybe you redeem them individually the next three times you come in. It’s entirely up to you.

We will still honor completed “old” sandwich cards!

If you have filled out a ten-stamped sandwich card during the course of our previous loyalty program, you still get that free sandwich—and the stamps of any incomplete sandwich cards are transferrable to the new loyalty card.

So, what are the prizes?!

After six punches: One free snack stick (“buddy”), based on availability. Whether it’s a Big Jim hatch chile beef stick, a Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger stick, a Smokehaus classic Bison Buddy, or a Smoked Salmon Buddy, you’re in for a treat.

After twelve punches: One free sandwich/salad. We’ve got a handful of options.

After eighteen punches: One free half-pound chunk of Smoked Atlantic Salmon—traditional, cajun, dill, or black pepper & coriander.

Why are you waiting? Start a Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card today and begin reaping the rewards!

*Sandwich Lab specials—such as the Lake Trout Situation we’re currently running—earn you two punches per unit purchased.

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5 Things: August 9th, 2019

There’s a whole bunch of things going on at the tip of Lake Superior this weekend. Before I get into discussing the week and weekend to come, I’d like to remind you that our pickup and delivery services are a great way to skip the line (except August 11th through 13th), and that Cajun-seasoned cheese curds are back in-stock in our grab & go case.

The Festival of Sail arrives this weekend. The tall ships and an enormous rubber duck will begin showing up today, and will remain in our harbor through Tuesday, August 13th. The Festival officially kicks off on Sunday morning, with a grand parade from 9-11 a.m. In previous years, the draw of this event has effectively doubled the population of our city. And that’s not the only festival taking place this weekend. Friday and Saturday, the 31st annual Bayfront Blues Festival will take up residence in—you guessed it—Bayfront Festival Park. The Blues Fest draws around twenty thousand attendees each year, and consistently features high-caliber blues artists from around the world.

Another Sandwich Lab creation debuted in our deli. The Lake Trout Situation is Jacob’s homage to the classic New England lobster roll and the Jersey Shore. Featuring a smoky, sweet lake trout salad, sliced red cabbage, and wasabi mayo atop a slice of buttery, toasted white bread, this sandwich is served open-faced (for hotdog-style consumption) and garnished with cilantro and crispy smoked pancetta crumbles. It’s available for $10+tax in our deli & via delivery.

The Scavenger Hunt continues. The first week, a participant found the magnet within hours—next to the Observation Park dog park. This week, it was found on the second day—on the back of a sign at the Duluth Farmer’s Market. With three weeks to go, and 7 superfluous clues written so far, I have something special planned for next week, so stay on your toes. The next clue comes out on Monday, August 12th. Follow us on our social media pages and check out the rules here to participate.

Patricia is at it again! This time with vegetarian tofu pasties, in addition to her standard array of cookies, crackers, and pasties. Our baking department, which also boasts two skilled breadmakers in Jerry and Adison (whom I don’t praise enough on this blog, as they have supplied all of our rye, white bread, and ciabatta needs through the Summer), have developed a brilliant selection of high-quality hausmade breads and sweets. I don’t ever want to go back to a world before the Smokehaus had dedicated bakers on-staff.

Did someone say “party?”

We’re having a fish fry! The summer season is hardly coming to a close, but we’re already starting to say goodbye to the seasonal hands on deck, and a handful of other coworkers/friends leaving for school, adventures in new cities, and at least one dream job opportunity. So we’re taking an evening to celebrate, this Sunday, with a small gathering for our staff. Fried whitefish, smoked chicken wings, coleslaw, and crinkle-cut fries are on the menu, and my mouth is already watering two days in advance. Hopefully, the Sunday closing staff will be able to make it out of Canal Park! The deli will be open normal hours—10 a.m. to 6 p.m.—on Sunday.


Now that you’ve read this week’s 5 Things™, go out and have a good rest of your day.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Lake Trout Situation

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:


Jacob’s Lake Trout Situation

Like a flavor flash-mob, this sandwich is incoming to shake up your everyday life. 

A minute ago the Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout was hanging around some lemons and scallions, having an impassioned conversation; but the crispy Smoked Pancetta, wasabi mayo, cucumbers, cilantro and thin-sliced cabbage were just scrolling on their phones, minding their business. Next thing you know, the buttered, toasted, white bread shows up, and suddenly the courtyard (where I imagine this is all happening) comes alive, and onlookers are astounded as these seemingly separate entities come together in a meticulously choreographed song-and-dance.

Meticulously choreographed.

Yes, it has been choreographed, and meticulously. Abs are out and fists are pumping. This Situation of a sandwich required extensive development, but has turned into something quite special. Inspired by the Jersey Shore and classic New England Lobster rolls, with that particular NWS flair, this just might be the smoked lake trout sandwich we’ve been waiting our whole lives for.

Try it during the month of August, and receive not only a scintillating gustatory experience, but two stamps on your sandwich card. This is the cutting-edge of Smokehaus sandwiches. The Lake Trout Situation costs $10 + 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: August 2nd, 2019

Welcome back to 5 Things™. It’s been a lovely week in town, with a handful of conferences at the DECC keeping our lunch rushes busy. If you find yourself with a bit of a wait for your lunch today (Friday), Jacob will be out on the patio selling beer. What better way to enjoy your pre-sandwich time than an ice-cold regional beer?

Now, to the Things™—

First of all, I am sorry that the first week of the Summer Scavenger Hunt ended so quickly. The first round lasted about four hours. I really thought the hiding spot—tucked behind foliage on a fence-post at the Observation Dog Park—was more difficult. This coming Monday (August 5th), I will do better.

This was a practice round.

We have a new wine in the deli. The late-Spring flavor of vinho verde is leaving our shelves to make room for Trollinger, a wine by Andi Knauss, a German winemaker associated with a collective of natural winemakers known as La Boutanche. Trollinger is a versatile table wine named after the grapes it’s made of, which have moderate acidity and tend to produce light-bodied wines with strawberry, cherry, nutmeg, and smoky notes. It’s available by the glass for $7 and by the (1 liter!) bottle for $42.

If you’re into wine, you’re definitely going to want to see the wine profile project our media team has been working on. Here are a few of the images they created:

As part of our ongoing cookbook project, we tested a few recipes at Wisconsin Point on Tuesday.

While the day began with some prep and packing of gear, things really got started once we hit the beach, when we dug a trench, found a couple of large-but-portable logs to mount our grates, and set driftwood ablaze en masse, until we had enough coals to shovel into the trench.

The first recipe was a grilled summer vegetable salad with a light soy sauce and mirin dressing. I’m talking about beautifully charred and caramelized kale, broccoli, zucchini, portobello mushrooms, summer squash, fennel, and sweet corn, tossed with a simple, high-impact dressing.

Coarse-chopped gremolata gave an herbaceous, citrus-infused flavor to the tender river trout meat.

Once the veggies were finished, we grilled a grip of Cedar Island Hatchery brown and rainbow trout, stuffed with a zesty coarse-chopped gremolata, and later topped with puréed gremolata, for aesthetic as well as flavor reasons.

Our hausmade sausages look fantastic cooked over a beach fire too.

Italian-style sausage, Classic German sausage, smoked Andouille sausage, and smoked Polish sausage—in concentrated powder form.

All of this cooking was done with a couple of simple grill grates, over coals from a fire made entirely of driftwood found at the beach. A few lessons solidified during this field trip—you don’t need a ton of fancy equipment to make a high-caliber meal, and cooking is always better with good company.

The Fish Schtick enters its final weekend. Maybe it’s just the time of the year, but the Fish Schtick has been selling like crazy. Combining the salty, smoky goodness of our Traditional Atlantic Salmon with sweet & tangy Cornichon pickles, tomato, lemon pepper, lettuce, and a swipe of mayo on a hausmade ciabatta, this sandwich is a flavor palette to reckon with, and people are loving it.

We’ve got a situation incoming. A Lake Trout Situation. Jacob’s Lake Trout Situation, to be specific. Inspired by a New England Lobster Roll, this is the Sandwich Lab creation for the month of August.

Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout salad, crispy Smoked Pancetta, cucumber, wasabi mayo, cilantro, and thin-sliced cabbage will come together and make a scene atop buttered and toasted hausmade white bread.

Like the Fish Schtick, and the other Sandwich Lab creations, this flavor bomb will also earn you two stamps on your sandwich card.

Me waking up from cookbook stress dreams.

That’s the way the news goes this week. There’s a whole bunch of events in-town this weekend, including the City on the Hill Music Festival, a biking festival, Spirit Valley Days, and the opening celebration for Casket Quarry Park in Spirit Valley. The forecast is looking great, with sunny days above 70-degrees all weekend. If you want your NWS fix, but feel like surpassing the line, place a pickup order (online, or over the phone at (218)724-7307 (ext. 1)) or catch us via delivery through Food Dudes or Bite Squad.

Next time you’re in the area, please enjoy Flo’s steady takeover of the wall space around and within our deli.
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5 Things: July 26th, 2019

We had a big weekend (7/19-7/21), and we didn’t run out of anything we planned on having in-stock.

That’s all. We have evidently found our stride. As always, if you’d like to ensure we have what you’re looking for, give us a call before you stop in @ (218)724-7307. You can even place a pick-up order, then skip the line when you arrive.

The D&D Summer Season.

While our epic, levels one-through-twenty—for the uninitiated, that is all the levels—campaign is on hold through the summer, it doesn’t mean we haven’t been rolling dice and speaking in funny voices. With new characters and varying levels of seriousness, we have taken to a ghostly sea as a cohort of debt collectors-become-zombie-hunters, taken up arms as an elite unit of kobolds to punish another group of kobolds for their crimes against the Dragon Queen, Tiamat—namely stealing magical artifacts from the Queen’s hoard—by stealing powerful magical artifacts from the Queen’s hoard, and a handful of other brief adventures to come, before we return to our dubious heroes’ adventures in Waterdeep.

Good cheese weekend.

Taylor, our resident cheese connoisseur, announced at our morning meeting that this is a great weekend for cheese lovers at the Smokehaus. Primarily, it’s the Comté (or Gruyère de Comté) that just arrived at our deli. The flavor of this semi-soft, unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the Franche-Comté region of France is heavily influenced by the natural pastures and strenuous guidelines for a cheese to carry the name.

My personal favorite cheese that we’ve ever carried, Shepherd’s Way’s Sogn Tomme, will also be a regular fixture in our grab and go case until at least the end of summer. It’s a buttery and crumbly sheep’s milk cheese, with a slightly higher fat content, and it is too good for mere words when drizzled with local honey and decorated with a blueberry, if that sounds good, but slightly lacking, put that combo on top of a cracker and add a bite of smoked salmon to the mix.

A number of other great cheeses are in-stock as well, including Marieke Young Gouda and Carr Valley Apple Smoked Cheddar.

Our current cheese selection has even me, a lactose intolerant individual, drooling.

All Pints North this weekend.

More than 120 MN breweries gather at this enormous Bayfront Festival Park gathering each year, and attendees make their way through the offerings two ounces at a time. Lovers of beer travel hundreds of miles to attend this event (which is listed on the website as “Sold Out”), so expect a busy weekend in Canal Park and downtown, with ancillary events at local breweries and restaurants all weekend.

For more information about All Pints North, follow that hyperlink.

We’ll be serving beer on our patio.

In honor of All Pints North, and our newly minted selection of adult beverages, Eric Goerdt himself will be slinging beers on our patio today (Friday) from noon until sometime after noon—weather permitting—to try to cater to the influx of beer enthusiasts and test out the viability of “refilling” beverages on the deck. Hopefully no one has to wait in a summer Smokehaus line just to grab another beer.


Next week on 5 Things™: It’s August! Whoa! Where did the summer go?

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5 Things: July 19th, 2019

We’re in the dog days of summer—or we might not be—and life at NWS is heating up. Our first Thing™ offers an option for cooling down:

We’ve got White Claw!

I still haven’t tried it*, but this low-calorie, gluten-free, slightly boozy seltzer water has become iconic of Summer 2019. One-hundred percent of planned beach expeditions I have attended this year have featured a cooler half full of White Claw cans. It’s reported to be refreshing and taste quite good. I may or may not have “liked” a meme featuring a can of Hidden Valley Ranch White Claw this morning on the ‘Gram.

We received our first shipment of Grapefruit White Claw this week. Lightly-flavored effervescent beverages (affectionately known as “day beers”) are a longtime staple of life at NWS—a former deli manager once challenged herself to drink twelve cans of LaCroix in a shift, and the grapefruit and lime varieties of Topo Chico sparkling water have become a fast favorite for staff and patrons alike—so it follows quite naturally that our early forays into hard beverages would include what I am now exclusively calling “nighttime day beers” in my head.

*By the time this blog is posted, I may have consumed at least one can of White Claw.**

**Leif and I drank our first nighttime day beers together on the patio after work.

Heirloom tomato season is in full effect!

Every July, we purchase a beautiful bounty of locally-grown heirloom tomatoes from Hammarlund Nursery in Esko, MN. Ken Hammarlund himself brings us dozens of pounds of these delectable tomatoes in weekly increments when the season is in full-swing.

These ‘matos are not only exceptional on the palate, but also come in beautiful colors—bright greens, yellows, and purples, and swirls of all three—so they are remarkably pleasant to prep for the day.

If you’ve ever been on-the-fence about sandwiches with tomatoes, July into the first few weeks of August is a great time to try them.

Waiting for your order on the patio is easier than ever!

We love our small storefront and our home in DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, but it’s not without its shortcomings. The hallway we share with Lake Avenue Café can become crowded whenever the sandwich queue is even a little backed up.

“Stick around. We’ll call your name when your food is ready,” was essentially the script. Those who wanted to establish themselves at a table on the patio were also given the annoying task of periodically sending an emissary inside to check on the status of their food.

But this has all changed now that we have added a public address system to our patio. We’ll default to calling out names un-amplified in the deli, but if no one comes running, we’ll double-down on the PA.

Grab that spot outside, catch some extra rays of sunshine, experience a bit of leisure while we make your order.

A little bit of Smokehaus lore.

Research and development for our first cookbook has provided a wellspring of insights into the growth of the Smokehaus. A bunch of these tidbits will make their way into the pages of the book, and some of them are going to pop into the 5 Things™ blog now and again.

During a rapid-fire meeting Tuesday morning on our patio, the topic of our salmon seasonings came up. Dill is a no-brainer when it comes to salmon, and a blend of black pepper and coriander bears a strong resemblance to another popular preparation of meat, but what of cajun seasoning?

Our cajun-seasoned smoked Atlantic salmon is a fairly popular item of its own, but unless you arrived at this web address accidentally and have no idea how you got here or how to navigate away from this page, you have probably heard of the Cajun Finn. The sandwich that outsells half of the rest of our menu. 40% of the sentence “I’ll have a Cajun Finn,” which is sometimes 40% of all words said by an individual ordering as part of a group.

Cajun-seasoned smoked salmon, it turns out, was an experiment with a current trend that ended up wildly successful.

Paraphrasing Eric: “People were putting cajun seasoning on everything, so we tried the same thing with smoked salmon, and people loved it.”

That’s a pretty wild innovation to just stumble into, and serendipitous. Who knows where the Smokehaus would be without the cult success of the Cajun Finn? I like to imagine the excellent quality of our food would have carried us to similar heights, but it’s impossible to say.

Two new product features on our blog!

They put me to work this week—alongside work on the cookbook, a handful of press releases, and some updates of our online swag descriptions, I also whipped up a couple of posts about our selection of natural wines with suggested food pairings, and an often overlooked menu item, the fish basket. Since you’re already here, think about checking them out.