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A Small Change in Our Shipping Department

All flat-rate continental shipping outside the Midwest is now $58. The secret is out—nationwide, people have recognized the excellent quality of our smoked fish and meats. For as long as we have been able to, we’ve offered the lowest possible flat-rate shipping prices we could—often less than the true cost of shipping the packages. The reality is, we’re not a large corporation, with shipping centers nationwide; we’re a small, family-owned company in the Midwest. In order to keep shipping our products coast to coast, we’ve adjusted our shipping rates to reflect the distance and means by which they must travel. As of October 14th, 2019 our flat-rate shipping rates are as follows:

Minnesota $18

‘Midwest’ $24

Continental $58

Hawaii, and Alaska $65

Non-perishable items $16

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5 Things: October 4th, 2019

This week has been one of triumph, of heartbreak, of new beginnings.

To get the heartbreak out of the way, I misinformed our readers last week, this Monday was not the return of D&D to the Smokehaus. I know you are all super invested in this, so I’m sorry for playing with your emotions like that.

Please accept this photo of assorted battle miniatures as an apology—

And some ketchup exploded in our dry storage. It fell, for unknown reasons, although there is some speculation that our former General Manager Mary’s visit—which eerily coincided with the fall and resulting explosion of the ketchup—dredged up feelings of abandonment from the DeWitt-Seitz ghost.

Messy as it was, it wasn’t an entirely bad occurrence—it inspired a deep clean of the affected area, which was probably due. A good deep-clean is rarely a bad idea.

Now on to the triumph and new beginnings!

We’ve come to the last leg of our 2019 Sandwich Lab Journey! The G.O.A.T. debuted on Wednesday, October 2nd. We’ve sold a grip of them already. For more words on this, check out the announcement post.

We also launched our Fall Wine List. Read more about our new wine offerings here. As someone who most often buys bottles of wine based on the aesthetic value of their labels, I would probably buy at least three of these. In the flavor category, however, these are all winners. TK is dedicated to bringing a unique selection of fine natural wines to the Smokehaus each season, so dedicated grapeheads (that’s what they’re called, right?) should take note.

Who made this salad? Whose salad is this?

Next Monday (10/7), we officially launch our New & Improved Happy Hour. Monday through Friday, from 4-7pm, we’re offering $2 Pabst Blue Ribbons and $1-off any craft brews, ciders, and adult-seltzers. Technically, you can grab a happy hour drink at those prices today, we’re just waiting until Monday, October 7th to go crazy on the cross-platform promotion.

Patricia made spicy cheddar crackers using Gochugaru chile flakes, a component of our kimchi recipe that offers a warm spice with fruity and smoky tones—The Smoky Tones is also the name of our in-Haus vocal jazz group, coming eventually to an orchestra hall near you. The heat of these crackers has a slow onset, with a lingering mild burn on the back of the tongue. Patricia is still cranking out plain cheddar crackers for our Study Buddy gift box, but has also been experimenting with bacon cheddar crackers, and now these. If you haven’t yet, give our haus-baked crackers a taste. As long as they keep flying off the shelves, we’ll presumably get more variations on the classic recipe.

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New Wine List 10/2/2019

Pay no attention to the byline. This primer to our new seasonal selection of natural wines is the work of TK, our wine guy, unfiltered, with no added sulfites.

La Patience, Blanc is a blend of grenache blanc, chardonnay, and vermentino grapes (all white grapes). It comes from the Rhone River Valley in the south of France, close to the Mediterranean Sea. This wine is certified organic in its farm and cellar practices. 2018 Vin de France.

Tasting notes of golden raisins, ripe pear, and honeysuckle, medium acidity.

Great with the Great Summer Caper, Saucisson Sec, Whitefish & Herring, Pork Lion, Big Dipper, Spring Roll, Comté cheese, Hidden Falls cheese, Prairie Breeze cheddar.

Served chilled. $7 BTG / $30 BTB—750 mL bottle

Pullus is made from 100% pinot gris grape and is a dry wine. Pullus is a skin-contact white wine, meaning that during maceration (the crushing of the grapes while the juices start to ferment) the skin of the grapes are left in with the juice for up to 72 hours, giving the wine a hue ranging from copper to hay. This process is characteristic of central Europe and over the past few years has seen a resurgence in the natural wine world. Pullus is produced in the oldest winery in Slovenia, Ptujska Klet winery, in the city of Ptuj. Wine produced in this region dates back to the Romans. 2018 vintage.

Tasting notes of crisp citrus, pear, dry minerality and complexity coming from the extended skin contact of the grapes.  

Great with the Cold Turkey, Clubhaus, NWS Salad, Fuzzy Bunny, Gorilla, any of our dry cured salumi, Whitefish & Herring, dill salmon, Bent River Camembert, Sogn Tomme.

Serve chilled. $6.5 BTG / $28 BTB—750 mL bottle

La Boutanche Gamay. You may be familiar withLa Boutanche from the Trollinger, a wine we carried from August into the early Fall. Welcome—from the Beaujolais region in the Rhone River Valley of west central France (just north of Lyon)—La Boutanche’s Gamay . This is a 100% gamay grape and very much an all-day drinker (glou glou). Each winemaker from the La Boutanche collective has their own animal “deity” as their labels. The Hawaiian shirt wearing-sweaty pig belongs to French winemaker Olivier Minot. 2018.

Tasting notes that are light to medium bodied, tart fruit forward cherries, while soft tannins of black tea round out this delicious gem.  

Pairs excellently with the Sitka Sushi, Spring Roll, Fuzzy Bunny, Slammin’ Gordon, Bahn Faux Mi, Big Dipper, and the Hedonist. Also fantastic with all of our salumi, especially the pepperoni and chorizo. As for cheese, goes great with our Blue Earth Brie, Hidden Falls, Friesago, Camembert, Comté. 

$7 BTG / $43 BTB—1 L Bottle

Tamí is 100% Nero d’Avola, an idigenous grape from Sicily, Italy. 2017. Where to start with this one? Arianna Occhipinti made her first vintage in 2006 at age 24. She debuted at a wine expo in Italy and blew everyone away. Super long and great story short, she graduated from university then went back to study viticulture and found herself arguing against all her professors. At this time in the early 2000’s, it was very common practice to use pesticides and non-indigenous grapes in the wine world. Rewind a few years back, her uncle had been making wine the natural way for his whole life and when she was 16 she helped him during harvest and since then, she understood that growing grapes naturally and being in-sync with nature, the grapes would produce the most reflective terroir possible. 

Arianna has become a prominent figure for a new generation of winemakers in Sicily and furthermore globally.

Tasting notes of juicy, cooked black cherry and berries with a little bit of woodsiness. Refreshing and medium bodied with nice acidity, salinity, and soft but prominent tannins.

Pairs extremely well with the Big Dipper, Italianesk, salamini & all dry cured meats, Black Pepper and Coriander salmon, Great Summer Caper, Pastrami Mommy, Purple Range, King candy. Cheeses it would complement include Sogn Tome, Camembert, and Friesago. 

  $7.5 BTG / $34 BTB—750 ml bottle

Looking for natural wine in liquor stores in Duluth? Check the bottles for one of these three importers: Selection Massale, Jenny & Francois, & Louis/Dressner. 

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The greatest season has arrived, and we’ve got a great Fall sandwich for you: creamy chèvre, smoky and peppery toasted andouille sausage, crispy local apple slices, and lettuce, on a toasted Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel.

Pitched at the Sandwich Lab without a name, it first became known as the Perfect Fall Sandwich. Realizing that was a mouthful to say for a sandwich that should be enjoyed in small, thoughtful, well-chewed bites, it evolved into the G.O.A.T. (the Greatest of All Time. At what? Try it and tell us!). One grandiose name for another, this time a cheesy pun.

This final installment in the 2019 Sandwich Lab series comes to you courtesy of its creator: uh…me! I could go on about the sandwich’s origin story, weaving an epic tale of my frequent lunch-break searches for the Fruit of Knowledge itself (thank you, Canal Park Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, for your un-dipped apples), describing the culinary ballet of this food parcel’s individual components, but I don’t want anyone to overthink it.

To say it’s a good Fall sandwich would be an understatement.

Try it today (10/2) through the end of the month in our deli, via pickup, or delivered for $9.50+tax, and earn an extra punch on your Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card.

This concludes the 2019 cycle of Sandwich Lab Specials.

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Want to show us what you do with your Smokehaus products?  We want to show off what you do with your Smokehaus goodies. 

If you follow us on Instagram, share your photos via your story or post them on your grid, tagging us @northernwaterssmokehaus and using the hashtag #nwsmadeitfancy. We will be sharing our favorites and raffling out a limited edition NWS red tote (printed by our great friends at the Medium Control) within then next couple of months. 

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5 Things: September 27th, 2019

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m ready for September to step aside and make way for October: the best time of the year. There’s a whole lot of good things coming to Northern Waters Smokehaus in October. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The G.O.A.T. arrives on October 2nd. Yes, next Wednesday you’ll be able to feast upon this toasted bagel, dressed in creamy chèvre, toasted Smoked Andouille Sausage slices, local apple slices, and crispy lettuce for $9.50+tax. Catch me eating The G.O.A.T. during every one of my lunch breaks.

Enjoy these photographs of The G.O.A.T.

Next week, our new wine list hits the deli. Keep your eyes on our social media platforms for updates and product profiles.

Are you a creative, yet unpretentious eater? Or a college student on a budget with a knack for maximizing flavor? Do you enjoy zhuzhing-up a grocery store frozen pizza with special ingredients; instant ramen, with a little bit of extra love from the produce section? So do we. And we’re glad to work at a place like Northern Waters Smokehaus, where there’s plenty of potently flavorful ingredients to bring to our home kitchens.

That’s why we’re launching #NWSMadeItFancy — the hashtag dedicated to documenting your culinary ingenuity under the influence of Northern Waters Smokehaus. Playing the game is simple: grab some NWS ingredients, find creative uses for them in your favorite “un-fancy” foods—frozen pizza, instant ramen, macaroni and cheese, instant stuffing, cornbread mix, you name it—document it, and share it with the aforementioned hashtag, and…profit?

We’ll be keeping an eye on the hashtag and sharing our favorites. Join in with our staff and followers to create a whole lot of fun community content, featuring your favorite items from our deli. Will you be famous? No promises. Will you make our followers feel happy and inspired? It’s probable!

Glensheen gave us a ton of basil! Imagine a literal ton of basil. That would be a very large pile of basil. Back to business: At the end of the season, the folks at Glensheen have a ton of produce and not much to do with it, so they donate it to the community. Basil tastes great, but it doesn’t exactly feed people, so it isn’t high on the priority list for the handful of local organizations feeding the marginalized populations of our community. We’re grateful to make use of this windfall, and look forward to providing you with the finest Glensheen-tinged Italiensks, Silence of the Lambwiches—that’s how you pluralize it: you’re welcome—and Spring Rolls.

A ton of Basil (Rathbone)

There’s a ton of other exciting Things™ coming up this Autumn at NWS, but I need to hold onto some content for future 5 Thingses—there’s another useful pluralization for you. So I’ll leave you with the best news I’ve heard all week—Our DM is returning from vacation, and D&D starts again this Monday! Back to Waterdeep, and into the Undermountain—home of the Mad Mage—we go. Will we return? Who could know? Prepare yourselves for session-recaps for which you never asked, and tidbits of the hijinks of the Midnight Axe, which will have doubled its ranks. That sounds like easily double the hijinks.

Before my words become
quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass

This is the way the blog ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

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5 Fish Sandwiches That Are Making Waves——5 Things: 9/20/19)

This week has been quite a ride, with Eric and a handful of others attending the Fortune Fish and Gourmet Expo on Monday, bringing back a whole heck of a lot of chocolate “samples,” which made a great Tuesday morning “breakfast”; a ton of huge delivery and pickup orders throughout the week (on Thursday, they made 130 box lunches by 11am in the basement); and a number of us took sick days this week—hopefully the days off do the trick and the illness ends there—so we were playing with a smaller team this week. And the ride isn’t over. This weekend, we’ll be catering the wedding of a beloved former coworker. Who says all the fun has to stay in Summer?

Last week, I mentioned that five of the top seven bestselling sandwiches at our deli are fish sandwiches, and since I’m approaching this week’s blog somewhat fatigued from making dozens of each of those fish sandwiches respectively this workweek, I have opted to tell you a little bit about each of them, in no particular order.

The Cajun Finn

The sandwich: Haus-baked ciabatta roll, scallion cream cheese, Cajun Smoked Atlantic Salmon, pepperoncini, roasted red pepper, lettuce.

There is not much to say about the Cajun Finn that hasn’t already been said. As a sandwich that easily outpaces the combined sales of half of the other sandwiches on our menu, it doesn’t really need any further advertising. I mean, our marketing department still occasionally invests some time into telling you about it—heck, I’m doing it right now—but the rolling snowball that became an avalanche that is this sandwich became that way primarily through word-of-mouth, both literally, and via its generous inclusion in peoples’ blog posts and social media chatter. A large percentage of our online reviews contain its name, sometimes even the negative reviews leave space for a caveat about the Cajun Finn being our saving grace (apologies to those reviewers for whatever happened to go wrong—likely our wait time on a busy day—but we’re glad you enjoyed the sandwich nonetheless).

The Cajun Finn is available as a sandwich kit.

The Sitka Sushi

The sandwich: Hero roll, wasabi mayo, sriracha, sliced cabbage, cucumber, gravlax, pickled ginger, cilantro, sesame oil & rice vinegar.

The Sitka Sushi: my first favorite Smokehaus sandwich and number-one recommendation. The name and contents are a nod to Eric’s time in Sitka, Alaska. Formerly, we made it with ginger- and lemon-cured Alaskan Sockeye gravlax, which was deeply flavorful, but a little tough and unwieldy. Recently we have switched over to a softer, more buttery, traditional Scandinavian style of gravlax, made with Atlantic salmon, but the sandwich still packs a punch.

Imagine a rich musical chord, composed of interwoven consonances (cabbage and gravlax, bread and oil, cucumber) and dissonances (wasabi mayo and sriracha, cilantro and pickled ginger), rolled from the bass up the highest note, then sustained, with hidden, aleatoric melodies discovering themselves and chiming out all the while. Then, transpose that chord into a flavor pallet, and imagine every bite—thoroughly savored—as a new re-rolling of that chord.

That’s how the Sitka Sushi hits.

The Slammin’ Gordon

The sandwich: Naan, Smoked Salmon Pâté, diced tomatoes & cucumbers, cilantro, lettuce, olive oil & rice vinegar.

When I began working at Northern Waters Smokehaus, there was a sandwich called the Salmon Garden. Within days (it seemed), the sign for that sandwich had two vowels scribbled over, and became the Salmon Gordon. A few months passed, and then we had the Slammin’ Gordon on our hands, and everyone just pretended like nothing happened. Here ends the very incomplete, abridged history of the sandwich formerly known as the Salmon Garden.

Smoked Salmon Pâté is delightful, due in part to the blend of our haus Salmon seasonings—dill, cajun, black pepper & coriander—working as a team to bring you this flavor, which is rounded out with garlic, lemon juice and horseradish. So if you spread it on our most decadent bread option—not only is the naan incredibly soft and pillowy, but also quite buttery—something good is bound to happen. The veggies and greens give enough of a nod to health-consciousness that it doesn’t just feel like dessert.

The Northern Bagel

The sandwich: Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel, scallion cream cheese, Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon or gravlax.

This sandwich is great because it its simplicity of form belies its complexity of flavor. Lake Superior Bakehouse Bagels are so good you could probably just take a bite out of an uncut, un-toasted one and have a decent time. Add to that the sweetness and pungency of Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon, or buttery, spice-infused gravlax, and round it off with the earthy umami of scallion cream cheese, and your mouth and olfactory system have some serious flavors to sort out. Furthermore, it reads as a breakfast sandwich, eats like lunch, and isn’t half bad at the end of the day either.

The Northern Bagel is also available as a Sandwich Kit.

The Great Summer Caper

The sandwich: Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel, scallion cream cheese, capers, Black Pepper & Coriander Smoked Atlantic Salmon, red onion, tomato, lettuce.

I have to say—delicious as this sandwich is, I still remain skeptical of it. For starters, it’s a very seasonal name, and yet—it persists on our board, due to sales. Secondly, it is a very tall stack of ingredients, which are very delicious together, but once stacked and cut in half, like to fall over—which is fine if presentation is unimportant, but ultimately a challenge in the middle of a rush. Still, this is a fantastic stack of ingredients. It’s the mature version of the Northern Bagel.

A final note:

Tomorrow (Saturday, September 21st) at the Friends of the Boundary Waters Fundraiser, they’ll be auctioning off a special NWS prize: the rights to name a new smoked salmon sandwich on our menu, which will run through Spring 2020. I can’t wait to see Fishy McFishface on the menu.

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5 Things: September 13th, 2019

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone. Duluth has been either raining or cold and dreary all week, and it shows no signs of letting up. EatingWell magazine dropped by for a follow-up photo shoot for an interview with Eric, and caught some iconic Duluth weather—a little bit of Mother Nature’s drama to frame our products. And this weekend we’re heading down to the Metro area to showcase our wares for Classic Provisions.

School is back in session! Duluth’s semi-permanent student population has entrenched itself, just as the final pushes of midweek tourism have come to a close. In honor of the students, and as an easy solution for the parents and guardians still hoping to send love and support, we’ve come up with the Study Buddy gift box. Fuel those late night night study sessions with a six-pack of select snack sticks, hausmade cheddar crackers, and haus-seasoned cheese curds.

The first week of September was supposed to see the launch of our final Sandwich Lab 2019 special, the G.O.A.T., but we’ve decided to push it back until the end of September to improve our options for locally-sourced apples. The G.O.A.T. is toasted strips of Smoked Andouille Sausage, creamy chèvre, apple slices, and lettuce, on a toasted Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel.

We have a cute merchandise area in our deli. This isn’t necessarily new, but it just might be newsworthy. Our storefront changes all the time, and our inedible swag often goes unnoticed. For those without the luxury of seeing the merch stand in-person, here’s our growing merch page on our website.

5 of our top 7 best-selling sandwiches are fish sandwiches. The official ranking, at the time of writing is:

#1 Cajun Finn
#2 Cold Turkey
#3 Northern Bagel
#4 Sitka Sushi
#5 Great Summer Caper
#6 Pastrami Mommy
#7 Slammin’ Gordon

This probably merits a closer look, for an in-depth analysis of our fish sandwiches next week.

It is looking up to be a steady-to-busy weekend due to the Northshore Inline Marathon and Duluth Oktoberfestival taking place this weekend, so I should get back to work in the deli. Salad dressing ramekins don’t fill themselves!

See you next time on 5 Things™!

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5 (or so) Reflections on the Summer Scavenger Hunt

The 2nd Annual NWS Summer Scavenger Hunt came to a close on Tuesday, August 27th, shortly after the following clue was published: “Kol’s Stand and the Field of the North.” This was, in retrospect, a very easy-to-decode clue.

There were five prize-winning magnets hidden this year, as opposed to last year’s twenty (in honor of our twentieth anniversary), and that meant that each location had to be more challenging than the previous year. Whether we achieved that goal is debatable—week one, the magnet (hidden nearby Observation Dog Park) was discovered within hours; and week two, the hiding spot—near the Duluth Farmer’s Market—was uncovered by Tuesday, probably due to the heavy rain on Monday.

Week three, as an act of—I don’t know—vengeance(?), the first clue posted on our social media accounts led to the beginning of an extensive and forking path of clues throughout the Spirit Valley area. Then the first clue IRL went missing, and as the week progressed, we just handed out clues leading further down the path, until the magnet was discovered on Friday—within a block of the first real-world clue.

Personally, I—the Huntmaster—enjoyed that format the best, though with the small amount of time I could dedicate to following participants’ engagement, I’m not sure it was successful. Perhaps the amount of time, resources, and effort involved in that week’s hunt outweighed the value of the prize. Nevertheless, it was eventually discovered, and I took pleasure in the challenge—I had a starting point in mind, and a vague idea of an ending point, but had to come up with clues and locations to bulk up the middle in real time. So I deem it a partial success.

Week four’s magnet was hidden exactly where our social media accounts directed participants, in Gichi-Ode’ Akiing park, on the Lakewalk. With the massive construction project happening on Superior Street, it may have been an unappealing spot to check out, or participants may have just been worn-out and jaded from the previous week. However, the popularity of the Lakewalk and the Music in the HART series brought people to the area throughout the week.

That magnet was found on the final day of clues, though the previous week’s winner formally requested the ability to “find” it days earlier, since they knew the precise location. We said no, because we have principles, and we remembered to write “one magnet per participant” in the rules and guidelines this year. This particular individual is also a friend and an understanding and tactful individual, so no feelings were hurt. (If you’re reading this, Ryan, and your feelings were indeed hurt, I apologize for misrepresenting your emotional state.)

The final week, I got to revisit the neighborhood where I grew up. The neighborhood appears vibrant and well-loved, and my childhood home had been neither burned down nor demolished. It felt good. Except for when I immediately notice that the wooded area behind my childhood home—basically Narnia to me and my friends—is for sale for commercial development. That was a feel-bad moment, but that, I suppose is the price of progress. Let me know if you’d like to contribute to my Kickstarter to purchase it, turn it into my own druid grove, and defend it tooth-and-nail from the onslaught of ceaseless development.

Wow, that was a downer! If you have any thoughts on how to improve our Scavenger Hunt next year, share in the comments, or email me at

A few bonus things:

For the sake of advertising the business-side of our business, here’s a couple of noteworthy Things™:

The best mail order sale of the year ends at 23:59:59 on Labor Day. Or perhaps at 00:00:01 on Tuesday, September 3rd. I really couldn’t say. What I can say is the discount code bluecollar gets you % off your pre-shipping cart when ordering online only.


Patricia made another awesome pizza. This week’s combination was smoked Polish sausage, caramelized onions, and basil. Yum. I’m just waiting for her to do something wrong, so I can immediately let you know that she isn’t an infallible beacon of culinary hope—but that time has not yet come. If you want to be on the pizza-cutting edge at NWS, check out our deli on Wednesdays. That is typically when the small batch of pizzas hits the shelves.

This is the last weekend to try the Lake Trout Experience. Lake Trout sandwiches are not something we are able to offer year-round, so if you’ve been waiting for us to make a Lake Trout sandwich, in an official way, and not just a heavily modified Fish Basket that you have to assemble into sandwich form yourself, get it while it’s still here. Like all the other Sandwich Lab specials before it, you earn an extra punch on your Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card, per S.L. special ordered.

As the cartoon pig says, “That’s all, folks!”

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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.


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.


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.