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5 Things: May 3rd, 2019

It’s a big week in town: Homegrown Music Festival is in full-effect.

But this isn’t a music blog, so let’s stay on-track.

A changing of the guard.

We’re going to bloody miss this one.

Another month has gone by, and that means it’s time for a new Sandwich Lab special. On Monday, May 6th, the warm, buttery aroma and savory goodness of the Bloody Mary is leaving our deli to make way for our first ever avocado sandwich, the Wallaby.

Enjoy some different angles of the Wallaby.

Framed with our haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye, the Wallaby also features fresh tomato slices, ramps, lemon pepper, and a balsamic reduction.

Ironically brought to our collective attention by Michael, who is allergic to avocados, the sandwich is inspired by the best-selling sandwich at Creekside Coffee in Sedona, AZ, where he worked for a time.

The Wallaby’s run will span from May 6th to June 3rd.

Beer and wine.

If all goes as planned—which seems to be the case—come Summer, we’ll be licensed to serve beer and wine. This is big news for us. As a company forever growing in our hearts, expanding our business to accommodate such a popular commodity can only be a good thing. While nothing is set in stone, the conversation has revolved around a curated selection of beer in cans and boxed wines.

We hope you’ll join us on our patio this Summer and enjoy an appropriate amount of buzz with your sandwich.

We packaged 150 lbs of smoked bacon.

In individual pounds, to boot!

An online food retail service—which I’m not going to name, since I believe there is an amount of surprise/secrecy implied—has selected our smoked bacon to be a part of its monthly subscription box that may or may not be called “The Best of the Best.” We’re honored that our bacon has been recognized as such, just as we’re stoked every time anyone tells us (or their friends) that one of our offerings is their favorite.

Lamb taco pasties.

Tuesday’s tacos were in a class of their own. Taylor whipped up some Lamb Birria—an adobo sauce originating in Jalisco, Mexico, traditionally served in a soup form, but adopted as a style of taco—which we served on corn soft-shells with pickled red onion, cotija cheese, cilantro, and salsa verde. This savory and mildly spicy delight blends guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, garlic, cinnamon, Mexican oregano and bay leaf, and slow-cooks all those flavors into tender shredded lamb shank.

Patricia, never missing a beat, apportioned some of the special for a limited run of pasties.

Yes, imagine all of the above ingredients packaged together inside a folded and rolled masa pastry, available to be heated in our deli, or taken home and prepared on your own time.

If you love or even casually enjoy stuffed pastries, check our meat case when you stop in for the latest pasty selection.

Workplace drama.

Work. I don’t know who invented work, but I’d like to have a word with them. It typically makes up anywhere from a quarter to just over a third of the hours in the day—unless I’m really out of touch with whom is reading this blog—and oftentimes you’re seeing the same rotation of people when you work. It’s sort of like a family. Needless to say, things can get a bit tense, and even blow up, as they did in this case.

When I sat down at Leif’s desk—which is my favorite place to write the 5 Things™ blog, due not only to the fantastic natural light and eclectic decorations, but equally to the risk of needing to move all of my mess when Leif needs to write a schedule or print a sign—I was appalled, though not surprised to find this remnant of an interpersonal clash.

I’m gone one day and this happens.

Please remember that every person you meet and each of your coworkers is following their own personal path, and struggling with all of their own issues which are not only valid, but also impossible to fully comprehend unless that person is you, and even then those struggles may not be fully comprehensible. Look for the goodness in others and be a mirror to reflect back that goodness. And lay off the demerits.

Bonus Things™.

Mother’s Day is coming up soon and we have a great Mother’s Day Box at a nice price. It features our Smoked Sockeye Salmon and Hausmade Boursin Cheese.


Happy Homegrown.

Bruno says, “Happy Homegrown from Hemlock Preserve!”
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5 Things: April 5th

On Monday, April 1st, we cut our menu down to just the Cajun Finn. It is our most popular sandwich by a wide margin, so we figured we’d do everyone a favor and eliminate the paralysis that comes from too many good option. Streamlining our sandwich menu received mixed reviews on our social media.

By popular request, we brought everything back. After just one day, we realized that sandwich menu diversity has always been a core part of our identity (at least since we started serving sandwiches, several million minutes before I began working here), and we restored the menu to its full glory, with a new sandwich, to boot——

We added The Bloody Mary to our sandwich menu. Usually all it takes is saying “Bloody Mary sandwich” and people salivate and groan with desire, but for anyone unconvinced, allow me to describe the process by which we make it:

It starts with a Kaiser roll from Johnson’s Bakery. For those of you who have spent any time in Duluth and have not checked out Johnson’s Bakery: Why not? They have a fantastic assortment of baked goods, including my favorite donuts and quick breads in the area, and NWS uses their rolls for several specials—BBQ Brisket on Wednesdays, Hot Pastrami occasionally on Wednesdays, Hot Porketta on Thursdays, and the Kaiser roll for our MN Pulled Pork on Fridays—and now for our April Sandwich Lab special.

We top the bottom slice of the roll with sliced green olives and dill pickle, then lay a slice of cheddar cheese on each side of the roll. We toast this for a couple of minutes alongside some smoked pancetta. It all gets nice and hot and crispy. Once it’s toasted, we throw four thick slices of beef and pork summer sausage over the melted cheese, olives, and pickles, then cover that with the pancetta. The pancetta is doused in a hausmade spicy tomato Bloody Mary sauce, then we finish it off with a cold slice of tomato, thin-cut red onion and a cilantro garnish.

The Bloody Mary costs $12.50+tax. Try it this weekend on our patio with a liquid Bloody Mary from Lake Avenue Café, if you’re feeling extra saucy.

Like all of our Sandwich Lab specials, this sandwich is only available for a month. It comes off the menu on May 6th. It also earns you two stamps on your punch card, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Perfect for brunch on the patio.

We are popping up all over town. We’re taking our small catering game to the next level with regular pop-ups at some of our favorite local watering holes. Our tentative (but nearing on fixed) monthly pop-up schedule looks something like this:

  • First Wednesday of the month: Bent Paddle Brewing Co. Taproom 5-8 p.m.
  • First Friday of the month: Hoops Brewing Company 5-8 p.m.
  • Alternating Thursdays: Cedar Lounge (April 4th) & Duluth Cider (April 11th) 5-8 p.m.

Next Friday, April 12th, we’re making a special appearance at the Cedar Lounge from 4-7 p.m.

(Tonight we’ll be at Hoops from 5-8 p.m.)

What we’re serving is bound to change at some point, but for now we’re really vibing on smoked chicken wings, sauced to order with maple sambal, soy ginger, or buffalo, and served with a delicious hausmade bleu cheese dipping sauce.

Our resident pickler/fermenter, TK, threw together some spicy zucchini kimchi for these pop-ups as well, and we keep a grip of smoked sockeye buddies and an assortment of our latest baked goods on hand.

To keep up on our poppings-up, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Patricia is just rude. I kid, of course, but she keeps making all of these cookies that make me want to spend all my money. It bears repeating that all of our cookies are available as Box Lunch options.

Her latest creation is a savory potato chip cookie sandwich with a sweet date filling.

She’s been making pasties with ingredients from our daily specials as well. So far, she’s made MN Pulled Pork and Maple Breakfast Sausage and Gravy (like finger-food biscuits and gravy) varieties. Look for them in our deli this weekend, and ask around if you don’t see any.

Forgive me my unskilled smartphone photography.

I’ll see you back here for more Things™ next week. Same Thing™ time, same Thing™ place.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Bloody Mary

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:


You’re inside a house. Everything around you is cast in shadow, and cold seeps through the cracked windows. You see a flight of stairs take a right turn, disappearing into foreboding darkness. You creep up the stairs and find yourself in a hallway. A faint glow radiates under a door at the end of the hallway, and soon you are in front of it. There’s a thumping sound so close that you cannot determine whether it is, in fact your heartbeat, or some ominous being right behind you. As you reach for the door handle, you realize you’ve been holding a brass chamberstick with an unlit red candle.

You find yourself in a room bare of furniture, save for a single mirror—about exactly your height—standing in the center. Hickory chips cover the floor and a string hangs from a light above the mirror.

You close the door and turn off the lights. The candle’s wick ignites in a tiny fireball, barely illuminating the mirror, yet offering no salvation from the pervasive darkness. You look in the mirror and whisper, “crispy pancetta and summer sausage” three times.

“crispy pancetta and summer sausage, crispy pancetta and summer sausage, crispy pancetta and summer sausage”

In the mirror, you see of a spectral image yourself, but it is not your reflection. You’re standing at a counter, handing money to someone you don’t know, but no!, you’re here in this room with the wood chips on the floor.

Your heart begins to race and your palms grow sweaty, your knees weak, your arms heavy, and suddenly it seems impossible to keep a grip on the candle holder any longer and the flames are igniting the hickory at your feet, and then the room is entirely ablaze. You are choking on a thick simulacrum of air as you are smoked alive.

In the mirror, you see someone handing you a sandwich, and then you see yourself holding the sandwich: summer sausage, crispy pancetta, cheddar, tomato, olives, pickles, onion, and cilantro, dripping hausmade Bloody Mary mix and assembled on a toasted kaiser roll.

You gasp for any semblance of breathable air. You close your eyes, and hold them shut. A floating sensation calms you momentarily, until the final terror sets in. The smoke is taking you and you will not face the end with your eye closed.

When you open your eyes. You’re standing in a brightly lit deli. A throng of people buzzes around you—laughter, conversation, audible groans of culinary pleasure. The house, the stairs, the hallway, the mirror, the candlestick, and the great conflagration were all in your head, and you were simply waiting for your Bloody Mary, the latest NWS Sandwich Lab special. You take in a deep, sudden breath, but the crowd hardly takes notice.

The Hunger must have gotten to you.

Bloody good.

The Bloody Mary costs $12.50 plus tax and is available in our deli now through May 6th.


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: March 29th

What a week it’s been! Spring is finally here. The temperature as I’m writing this is in the mid-forties. The sky is blue and Canal Park is teeming with cars and pedestrians.

Let’s take a look at the week here at NWS.

Tonight, we’re at the 25th annual Taste at Fitger’s event. From the website: “From 6-9 pm, over forty of the area’s finest local restaurants and beverage vendors will be serving up their tastiest culinary masterpieces, beers and most exquisite wines…100% of the proceeds will go to the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.” Tickets are $45, and you are sure to leave satisfied.

Patio season is here.

We opened up our patio. Not that it was ever really closed, per se. It just consisted mostly of snow piles and had no furniture. Last weekend, in anticipation of warmer weather, we put out a couple of tables and benches. This weekend, we’re returning it to its former glory. All of the tables and benches and umbrellas will be there. Lake Avenue Café’s liquor license still extends out there, so you can enjoy a local craft brew or cocktail with your Smokehaus digs. You can/should even bring your dog(s).

We rearranged our shop. Don’t worry. It’s nothing too drastic, though anyone who has been a repeat customer with us over the past decade knows that our shop has undergone some radical changes. This new shift is meant to highlight our inedible merchandise. T-Shirts, hats, totes, etc. Before, it was just tucked away almost out of sight, but now it is a fixture of our deli. We love seeing folks in our gear.

There are more Box Lunch cookie options. In addition to Lake Superior Bakehouse Chocolate Chip cookies, you can now opt for a Peanut Butter Curry cookie, Ginger cookie, or whatever flavor-of-the-month cookie Patricia may have come up with for no additional charge, or a Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich with Honey Cream Cheese for an extra dollar.

This is the last weekend to eat the Spinderella. Turkey, salami mix, mayo, mustard, dill pickle, onion, and cilantro on a hero roll, with a side of scallion cream cheese for dippin’. This Sandwich Lab special has been quite popular during its run, and like the rest of the Sandwich Lab specials, gets you double stamps on your punch card. Catch it while you can. We’re not going to Push It much longer. Beginning April 2nd, we’re offering a new Sandwich Lab creation, the Bloody Mary, just in time for patio brunch season.

Last week’s 5 Things™ was a disaster. It quickly devolved into another “I am not sure what to write about, so I’m going to write about not knowing what to write about” post, and as a result, it failed to launch, but it had some great images. Here they are, without explanation:

What was Liv doing?!

As this 5 Things™ post comes to a close, I’d like to share my favorite photo of our Friday special, the Minnesota Pulled Pork. It is my favorite because it reminds me of a Kraken breaching the water’s surface to ruin your day. Open your mind, then squint at it a bit, and let me know afterward if my imagination is too unhinged.