Welcome back to 5 Things™. This week we have a very important announcement: December 16th-18th are the final days of mail order shipping until next year. January 6th, to be precise, is when mail order shipping resumes. The last day to place an order to be shipped is Tuesday, the 17th.
Between writing a company newsletter and continuing to work on the cookbook, I’ve become a bit exhausted of words this week. The rest of this week’s Things™ will be mostly photographs. If there are words describing them, it is because I couldn’t help myself.
Duluth Winter Village.
Participating in the Duluth Winter Village at Glensheen is always a joy.
I got to work at my favorite desk this week. Here’s the view right up against the glass.
And from a few feet back.
Deli Life: Cheesy.
Our deli is stocked to the brim with amazing cheeses, like this trio from Jasper Hill Farms. I eagerly await the next shipment, since setting out a sample of the newly-arrived cheeses for employees to sample is common practice at the Smokehaus.
Carrot Cake Cookies are back!
In case you hadn’t noticed in that last photo—I get it: I’m not a great photographer and there’s a lot of glare/reflection—Patricia’s amazing cookie sandwiches are back in-stock.
Thanks for stopping by 5 Things™! See you next week!
Sandwiches, smoked fish and smoked meats aren’t the only things we do here at Northern Waters Smokehaus: We’re also purveyors of fine cheeses, olives, sweet and savory baked goods, and variations on fermented cabbage—and that’s just the short list.
The holidays are a great time for cheese (though what isn’t?), so this week we’re going all-in on “the adult form of milk.” When I asked TK, the brains and the brawn of our cheese operation, for a list of his five favorite cheeses we’re carrying this holiday season, he went above and beyond with detailed notes on each. What follows is a sort of mind-meld between TK and myself.
Rush Creek Reserve
This time of year, the hyper-regional, hyper-limited release, hyper-delicious Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese Co. is already on everyone’s mind—and may as well be on everyone’s tables too.
Rush Creek Reserve is made in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. It’s a washed rind, raw cow’s milk cheese that is a late autumn and winter exclusive. Don’t let “raw milk” cheese freak you out—after 60 days of aging, raw milk cheese passes the FDA’s raw milk laws.
In late autumn and leading into winter the cows diet changes from the fresh pastures of summer to the fall and winter hay, making their milk extremely rich and silky.
Rush Creek Reserve is made to show off this change in the cow’s diet. Made in the French & Swiss Alpine-style of Vacherin cheese, Rush Creek Reserve is wrapped in a hand-harvested piece of spruce bark. This helps the cheese keep its shape—due to its runny texture at peak ripeness—as well as adding tannins to its flavor.. The combination of the spruce and rich milk creates a rich custard texture with a very soft, delicate texture and a savory, rich finish.
Rush Creek Reserve is an absolute must at holiday gatherings. Simply cut the top of the rind off and heap spoonfuls onto crackers, charcuterie, or just eat it on its own! This miraculous wheel pairs perfectly with a fruity Beaujolais wine. TK recommends with a glass of La Boutanche Gamay, which is available by the (re-corked) bottle in our deli.
Shepherd’s Way Farmstead cheese is made in Nerstrand, MN by Jodi Ohlsen Read. This Asiago-style cheese is a natural-rind semi-aged sheep’s milk cheese. It’s semi-dense in texture and has an amazing grassy nuttiness to it. This cheese is extremely versatile for cooking: a perfect addition to pasta and TK’s favorite substitute for parmesan in a Caesar salad.
And TK isn’t the only one excited about it.
Friesago is a multiple time award-winning cheese by the ACS (American Cheese Society) in the Farmstead Sheep Cheese category.
Friesago pairs well with wines that have hints of salinity to them. “Salty wines?,” you may be thinking? No, winemakers never add salt to wines, ever. Think of it as a soil composition. Vineyards that are near salty bodies of water or grown in volcanic soil will bring salty notes to the wine. Think Sicilian wines. Grab a hunk of Friesago and a glass of Adrianna Occhipinti’s Sicilian made wine, Tami, sold right here at the Smokehaus.
Sakatah is a Dakota word meaning “Singing Hills”. It’s also the name of the Minnesota State Park between Mankato and Faribault, near Alemar Cheese Co.’s home.
This soft ripened cow’s milk cheese is seasonally made and is a great representation of an artisanal product. Wrapped in a Marquette grape leaf (a cold weather wine grape grafted by the U of M) Alemar is paying homage to the Banon and Le Mothais cheeses of Europe, using cow’s milk rather than goat’s milk.
Sakatah has balanced earthiness, provided by the tannins from the grape leaves, finishing with creamy, peppery notes.
Before serving, let the cheese sit out for 30-minutes to come to room temperature for its aroma and texture to be at its peak—this is a good practice with most soft and creamy cheeses.
Eat this cheese with wine that has a higher acidity, perhaps an unoaked Chardonnay, crisp Riesling—or if you are into ciders, try it with a French Brittany-made cider. La Brun is a delicious natural cider that pairs perfectly with Sakatah. If you’re in our deli and want to snack on a piece of Sakatah, it’s a must-try with the Pullus Pinot Grigio wine, made in Slovenia.
Jasper Hill Farm, in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, leads the US in artisanal cheese-making while being at the forefront of environmental impact & research of their farms. They are driven to be the standard bearer of quality and innovation in US cheese-making.
Alpha Tolman is a brand new cheese to our deli (and to TK’s knowledge, we are the only shop in Duluth selling Jasper Hill Farm cheese). It is made from raw cow’s milk with 100% of the milk coming from a single herd. This herd happily roams the pasture right onsite at the Jasper Hill Creamery and Cellars.
Alpha Tolman is inspired by French & Swiss cheeses like Appenzeller & Raclette. It has a buttery, fruity & nutty flavor when young, developing a bold, meaty, caramelized onion character as it matures. The texture is dense and pliant, easily portioned and ideal for melting.
The texture, aesthetic, and flavor make Alpha Tolman an ideal choice for fans of Appenzeller (or fondue!). TK strongly recommends pairing Alpha Tolman with Smokehaus ham. Using your oven’s broiler, heap thin cuts of Alpha Tolman onto thick-cut Smokehaus ham until the cheese starts to blister and caramelize. Next take a healthy wad of butter and slowly brown it on your stove top. Drizzle the brown butter all over the ham and cheese then serve (on a roll or on its own). Absolute perfection!
Try pairing Alpha Tolman with a robust ale, such as Hoops #21 Ale (sold here in our deli!) or a Belgium-style farmhouse ale.
Lucky Linda is Redhead Creamery’s clothbound cow’s milk farmstead cheddar. Made in the little town of Brooten in west central Minnesota, this six-plus-month aged cheddar has gained notoriety in its relatively young existence (Redhead’s first wheel of cheese being made in 2014). Each wheel of cheese is aged right under the creamery in their cellars, allowing natural molds to create their ridiculously terroir-driven cheese.
Rustic-looking in style, this clothbound cheddar has notes of bold mushroom, with sharp creaminess, nuttiness, and a balanced lactic finish.
Pairing Lucky Linda with a dry cider is a no-brainer, especially Sociable Cider’s Freewheeler—guess where you can find it. Not a cider person? Try it with Fulton’s Standard Lager. The caramel notes of Lucky Linda and the maltiness of the Standard Lager deliciously compliment each other.
Cheese is a sophisticated addition to whatever snack you’re planning, and can add dimension to many an entree. It’s an easy gift—easier if you have any inclination as to your giftee’s preferred flavor palate. Cheese, the scientific community tells us, is like a drug. These, and many more reasons, are why we’re so excited about our carefully curated lineup of (mostly) local/regional cheeses. We do our best to offer a unique selection of handmade cheeses. This isn’t American Cheese Product: This is the real deal. Every cheese in our inventory has a story—the kind you’ll be glad to share with your friends and loved ones.
I have been waiting for this cheese & this moment since last spring…. Let me cordially invite your life into the life of foraged perfection – Morcella.
Handmade by our great friends at Shepherd’s Way Farms, Morcella is a seasonal, soft-ripened sheep milk cheese with local morel mushrooms. Made in small batches with only spring and summer milk, Morcella is a creamy, earthy cheese with a mottled bloomy rind. Like the morel mushrooms it is named for, Morcella is only around for a limited time… this is seriously something you do not want to go with out.
From Penterman Farms out of Thorp, Wisconsin, I introduce Marieke Gouda. This gouda is classified as a “young” gouda and is aged in the traditional Dutch fashion. Aged only for 2-4 months, this cheese made from raw cow’s milk, salt, enzymes, and cultures.
Creamy, buttery and mild with slightly sweet notes. Pair with peach preserves and toasted almonds, buttery Chardonnay or any farmhouse ale.
Expert, licensed cheesemaker, Marieke Penterman and her team, handcraft traditional Dutch Goudas using the time-tested, Old World, cheesemaking methods Marieke brought with her when she emigrated from the Netherlands. Marieke transforms farmstead-fresh, raw, cow’s milk from her family farm into award-winning cheese, which is then carefully cured on imported Dutch pine planks in temperature and humidity-controlled aging cellars.
Back by popular demand – CHEESE CURDS!
Eichten’s Hidden Acres cheese curds are sold in 8oz containers for ONLY $4!
NEW TO US from the redheaded cheesemaker at Redhead Creamery, out of Brooten Minnesota, welcome their French-inspired-with-an-American-twist, North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster!
This American-style Munster is a soft ripened cow’s milk cheese with a washed rind of local whiskey—Panther Distillery’s “Minnesota 14 Whiskey” out of Osakis, Minnesota. This collaborative cheese experience found itself winning 4th place at the Minnesota State Fair in 2017.
Looking past the local achievement and publicity, to the cheese itself, this French-inspired munster has a russet-colored rind with a chalky-white interior. Like many other soft ripened cheeses, this Munster will become more oozy, develop a stronger aroma, and the rind will darken with age.
This farmstead cheese has notes that will remind you of the barnyard it is made in. Creamy, rich, and pungent this cheese pairs well with an array of food: Sweet fruits, such as cherries, pears, plums, and many other stone fruits, as well as rustic breads, such as rye bread with flavors of anise, fennel, and licorice.
This cheese pairs well with many lagers or pilsners, and juicy red wines: pinot noir and Beaujolais (my personal favorite red) as well as sweet white wines: chardonnay, pinot gris, and riesling.
This cheese is best served at room temperature. Leave it out for 20 minutes before diving in!
We have become familiar with Shepherd’s Way Cheese these last few weeks, most recently the Shepherd’s Hope fresh sheep cheese. Welcome to the case Shepherd’s Hope with garlic & herbs!
Shepherd’s Hope is a unique mild, fresh sheep’s milk cheese with a gentle citrus note at the finish. Another multiple award-winning cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms. Shepherd’s Hope is exceptional with a crisp Chardonnay and a fresh baguette or in a tomato basil salad… now with the added flavors of fresh garlic & herbs!
Back again from our friends in Nerstrand, MN, Shepherd’s Way Farms, I reintroduce to you:
Shepherd’s Hope is a unique mild, fresh sheep’s milk cheese with a gentle citrus note at the finish. Another multiple award-winning cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms. Shepherd’s Hope is exceptional with a crisp Chardonnay and a fresh baguette, or in a tomato basil salad.
But wait… haven’t we had this cheese before? YES! AND IT’S AMAZING.
However, there is something a little extra special about this specific batch of Shepherd’s Hope.. You may recall from my last cheese update that I went down to the farm and spent the afternoon learning about Shepherd’s Hope. More specifically about the drop in barometric pressure caused all the mama sheep to give birth to baby lambs all at once. 120 lambs to be precise! After a mammal is born, it is extremely important that they have their mother’s milk. This first milking is hyper packed with nutrients and protein and is called colostrum. This cheese IS NOT colostrum milk. Rather it is the first batch of cheese made from the mother sheep’s milk after the baby lambs have had their fill.
Last weekend, Nic and I had the pleasure to travel down to God’s Country, southern Minnesota, where we spent the afternoon at Shepherd’s Way Farm, a sheep & cheese farm. Jodi Ohlsen Read, the Master Cheesemaker, is a master of her craft and a badass person. For her, cheese and raising animals isn’t her job, it’s her life and passion…. And just as the barometric pressure dropped (when we got that big snowstorm) ALL of their pregnant sheep gave birth, AT ONCE! This can be a common phenomenon in the animal world.
Shepherd’s Way cheese is classified as farmstead cheese – meaning that the animals are raised and milked—and the cheese is made—right on site. Not a very typical practice in this day and age.
From the farm, I present to you, FRIESAGO (free sah go) $28/LB –
A 2017 First Place American Cheese Society winner for Farmstead Sheep Milk, Friesago is a natural-rind semi-aged sheep milk cheese with a dense texture, pleasant mild flavor, and a slightly nutty finish. A multiple award-winner, Friesago is versatile as a table cheese and as a cooking cheese.
Substitute Asiago cheese with this local Friesago and you will thank yourself. Grate this over your pasta, soups, salads or try this: Brown some butter, drizzle it over thinly sliced smoked ham, then with a mandoline, thinly slice the cheese over it… man, oh man, I’m making this at my next dinner party. Woof. Or put it on your charcuterie plate.
A little tidbit about sheep’s milk & cheese… sheep don’t produce the same volume of milk as cows do (sheep yield about 1 qt of milk a day where a cow can be milked twice a day getting 8 qts). Sheep’s milk has almost double the amount of protein in it (as well as double the amount of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, Vit. B6 and B12, and Vit. D, and the 10 essential amino acids) – meaning there is almost double the amount of solids in it, allowing you to produce the same amount of curds with significantly less the amount of milk. Wild, isn’t it? And sheep’s milk tends to be easier on the stomach for folks who cannot digest cow’s milk.
Here are some photos I took of the farm & creamery:
OH! AND WE HAVE CHEESE CURDS FROM EICHTEN’S (out of Center City, Minnesota). We’ll let you know!
Welcome this magnificently melty cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland: Raclette!!
Raclette is the cheese of legend, based on the story of a man from Valais by the name of Leon. One cold day, with food scarce in the open pastures, Leon heated up a piece of cheese on the open fire to ease his hunger and keep warm. He found the melted cheese had a transcendent flavor. It not only complemented other foods – it made a great, satisfying meal for his family. Popular since the Middle Ages, Raclette is still produced with milk from cows that are fed fresh grass in the summer and meadow hay in the winter.
The word raclette stems from the French verb racler, or “to scrape.” This cheese is a staple in the Swiss & French Alpine culinary culture and has to follow strict regulations from the cows to the creamery to the finishing process (the affinage). Each raclette has to have an official quality mark AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protegée) which is reserved for traditional products with long-standing regional origins.
Melt this cheese and serve it on top of anything from bread to cured meats, potatoes, pickles, or just about anything else.
Enjoy raclette with a glass of Alpine wines, such as the Swiss Fendant, French Savoy, rieslings, or pinot gris. Not into wine? Try it with warm tea or other warm beverages. Sold in our deli for $23/lb.
When we get new, exciting cheeses in the shop, TK writes us a memo detailing how to describe it to customers. These write-ups have frequently inspired me to serve and experiment with these cheeses. Here are his notes:
Uplands Cheese Company’s Rush Creek Reserve, is a washed-rind, raw, cow’s milk cheese that is an Autumn exclusive.
As the cows begin to change their diet from the fresh pastures of Summer to the Fall and Winter hay, their milk becomes rich and silky.
Rush Creek Reserve is made to show off the rich, unctuous texture of his hay-fed milk. This delicate, soft and seductive cheese is beautifully hand-wrapped with spruce bark, then aged 60 days.
Rush Creek Reserve is made in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Each wheel is 12oz and is retailed for $35/wheel. They will not be cut into smaller portions.
We are fortunate to bring in this extremely seasonal and small batch cheese.. We will be getting only 16 of these wheels in from now until December. A few words from its maker, Andy Hatch, “…savory custard, as it exudes a very soft, delicate texture with a savory, rich finish likened to cured meat…”
Since the cheese is produced in the fall and only available in November and December, it is typically served during one sitting and not stored for any extended period of time. If you do not finish the cheese in one serving, shame on you. Just kidding… Simply wrap it up in its breathable wrap and store in the coolest part of the fridge.
To properly eat this cheese, let it settle to room temperature (approximately 30 minutes of sitting out), then slice off the top rind, exposing the custard-like, soft center that has a paste-like consistency. This can be scooped out with a spoon and applied in healthy-sized portions onto a cracker, slice of bread, or any other face-stuffing vehicle.
Pair with sparkling or dry white wine (think Sauvignon Blanc, chardonnay, or a flowery riesling (German rieslings are a perfect seasonal fit). Rush Creek’s flavor also complements stone fruits, braised red meats, pates, and Smokehaus salumi (saucisson is my favorite with this, but pepperoni is also amazing).
Thanks, TK. Rush Creek Reserve is available in the deli now until it’s gone.
Boursin is a versatile, flavorful, creamy addition to many meals. We started making Boursin at Northern Waters Smokehaus on a whim and it has now become one of our most popular cheese case items. Over the years, we’ve learned to concoct some simple dishes with our Boursin, adding an herbal, lemony lift to veggies and meats alike. Our Mother’s Day Gift Box is a favorite – the combination of smoked Sockeye salmon, crispy crackers, and fluffy cheese is an elegant, binge-worthy snack. Here are the top 5 Boursin recipe ideas (so far) for you. For more exact recipes, email creative [@] nwsmokehaus.com and we’ll do our best to get you cooking with Boursin to mathematical perfection!
Five time-tested, Smokehaus-approved recipe ideas for our Boursin:
#5: Boursin and Endive Bites
Belgian endive is almost always available at the grocery store, even here in the Great White North. These delicate little torpedoes of green are crisp, sweet, and very slightly bitter – a perfect foil for creamy, citric, floral Boursin. Simply trim the endive ends and gently separate the leaves. You will find a delicate little shovel – a great conduit for many mediums, and excellent for a dollop of Boursin. Use a teaspoon to smear the Boursin or get fancy and pipe it (with a pastry bag or clipped plastic one – up to you). We garnish ours with jolly little Sweetie Drops, or pickled Peruvian peppers, but feel free to use your own favorite garnish – paprika, parsley, anything pickled – or go au naturale and let the bite speak for itself.
#4: Steak and Boursin
What can we say? Compound butter + grilled beef = heaven on earth. Useful on any cut, but especially the fatty, interesting ones, like New York strip, Boursin will be the equivalent of a Valentino gown on Sophia Loren: it will cling to it in all the right places. Salt and pepper your steak, let it get to room temperature, cook it over or under hot flame for your desired temperature, let it rest for 5 minutes, dollop with a Tablespoon of Boursin, and let rest for at least another 5 minutes. Devour, with or without starch to sop up the resulting incredible juices.
#3 Chicken and Boursin Surprise
The real surprise here is that this doesn’t exist at every fast-casual American eatery on the planet. This is a simple yet luxurious meal that is quick to construct, satisfying, and actually makes great leftovers for sandwiches. Pound chicken breasts to a ½ inch thickness, spread an even layer of Boursin approximately ¼ inch thick, and add a layer of cured muscle meat, like prosciutto, jamon serrano, or copa (if you live near the Smokehaus deli or are a member of our Smokehaus of the Month Club, we recommend asking for our Speck or Lonzino). Roll the cutlets into wheels, secure with toothpicks, sprinkle with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and fry in good oil until golden and cooked through (165 degrees). Great with buttered, Parmiganno’d pasta, roasted asparagus, or sliced after cooling and served on a leafy green salad.
#2 Boursin Toast
Inspired by a local business that boldly decided to exclusively offer coffee and toast (we miss you, JPH!), we salute the simplicity of a crusty, magnificent slab of Duluth sourdough stuffed into the nearest (and most accommodating) toaster, grilled to pedal-to-the-metal blackish-brownish, and smeared with enough Boursin that it qualifies as a “barge.” Extra points for those who first slather their toast with butter, but enough Boursin will certainly do the trick. Top with sun-ripened tomatoes, crumbled bacon or pancetta, a raisin smiley face (probably gross, but pretty kitschy, no?), or nothing at all.
#1 Boursin and Smoked Turkey Sandwiches
At the risk of redundancy, we here at the Smokehaus are really into sandwiches. We live sandwiches from the moment we flick on our meat case lights and start cutting cucumbers in the morning to the end of the day when Jerry ushers out the last stray customer with a flourish of his vest and stamp on their sandwich card. We fully realize that many would place a steak at #1 on this list, especially considering that a lowly turkey sandwich had secured the top ranking. But we are not many. We are sandwich people. Our original intent for Boursin was on a turkey sandwich, but we quickly realized the delicious nature of said sandwich would backfire and we would have to hire a whole separate person in the summers to exclusively make Boursin to keep up with demand. So here is the catalyst for the hundreds of cute little medicine jars of Boursin we sell, revealed at last, The Green Meanie: buy or make some naan (we use Stonefire, and it’s really good), and warm it in the oven. Slather liberally with Boursin. Aim the point of your naan to the left to orient the sandwich. In a vertical line down the center, place an even row of cucumber slices, basil leaves, pickled jalapenos, and as much smoked turkey as you like (but don’t get crazy, you need to roll this up). Starting at the wide end, roll the sandwich, tucking stray ingredients as you go. Slice in half and savor a Smokehaus secret.