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Sandwich Lab: The Catbus and The Sorta-Torta

The two Sandwich Lab specials we’ll be talking about today share a common thread—attempts at encapsulating favorite food experiences using the ingredients readily available at our deli. One to a savory Japanese pancake, the other to a staple of Mexican lunch menus.

Emma and Patricia have each come up with creations that blend components we’ve had all along into sandwiches that stand out from our other offerings. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at The Catbus and The Sorta-Torta.

The Catbus

The Catbus is an okonomiyaki-inspired sandwich that’s named after an iconic Studio Ghibli character, and as such, it is pure Smokehaus sandwich menu in intention and execution: an attempt to recreate a favorite food experience with ingredients we have on-hand, paired with a pop-cultural reference for a name.

Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake sometimes referred to as “Japanese pizza,” translates to “grilled as you like it.” Haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye bread, toasted alongside red onion and kimchi, dressed with mayo and sriracha, and garnished with cilantro is undeniably how we like it: simple, savory (prepare to come face-to-face with the subtle power of fish sauce), and just a little spicy.

The Catbus joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside Alᚦings Considered, the Sorta-Torta, and the Salmon Melt.

The Sorta-Torta

The Sorta-Torta is a bright new addition to our sandwich menu. Between the slices of Spanish-style Chorizo, fresh jalapeño, sriracha, and black pepper, there’s plenty of spice to wake up your taste buds, with hausmade cumin slaw, mayo and cheddar cheese to balance the scale.

This sandwich is like no other on our menu, and that’s just how Patricia planned it.

Spending many of her years on this planet in the Twin Cities, around plenty of places that offered fantastic tortas, she wanted to see what she could use around the Smokehaus to recreate that experience. A few standard torta ingredients are absent or remixed—aficionados will notice the lack of refried beans, and choosing a hero roll over pan francés—hence, the “sorta,” but there’s no need to dwell on what this sandwich isn’t, because it’s tasty as heck.

The Sorta-Torta joins our menu on Monday, February 3rd, alongside Alᚦings Considered, the Catbus, and the Salmon Melt.


Thanks for tuning-in yet again to this series about the upcoming additions to our sandwich menu. We hope you are too—whether you’ll be visiting our deli tomorrow or in a few months, they’ll be here for you.

We’re so dang excited to share all these new sandwiches with you next week, but let’s not forget about the returning favorites from last year’s Sandwich Lab cycle—the Wagner and the Sebu-Chan

WHAT IS SANDWICH LAB?

A STORY PILFERED FROM PAST BLOGS.

*Bum bum*

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:

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, 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™ First Week of October Edition

October is here. It’s my favorite month of the year. Despite the gloomy forecasts every day so far, I’m still pleasantly surprised by the gradual slowing-down of life, the turning of the trees, and the shifting priorities around the Smokehaus. And on top of all that, our company D&D cohort is back on track to the primary campaign, and had an excitement-laden October 1st session that leveled us up. I’ll leave the details up to your imagination, but thanks to a dragonborn paladin, an Aussie-accented dwarf bard, a tabaxi arcane archer, and an efreet trapped in the physical form of an iron golem who lives to serve those who know his true name (and as such, ended up doing a lot of damage for both sides), the fire giant nation is less a king and queen, and Faerun is a little bit safer. Now, on to the five things that I came here to write—

  1. We have yet another new floor! This is becoming a bit of a theme, isn’t it. While it seems like our business has no ceilings, we have plenty of floors, and we’re trying to remove the carpet from all of them, to further increase our workable, food-safe areas. This has led to a lot of comically-placed desks, and really more heavy-lifting than any of us signed on for. All’s well that ends well, however, and the floors are turning out beautifully. Enjoy some smartphone photographs.
  2. Our party and afterparty were a blast! Truth be told, I’m a bit socially anxious, so I didn’t last long at the party, but from the moment the party officially began, there was a line wrapped around Hoops Brewing to cash in on our panoply of free food. About forty-five minutes in, Eric had to run over to the Smokehaus to re-up the All Season Fillet stock. A few unsuspecting Hoops patrons were even overheard saying, “we should really hire them to cater [our upcoming event].” Everybody won, it seems. The afterparty, which featured several Smokehaus-affiliated bands, was also a blast. Folks bought a grip of raffle tickets for Together for Youth, and good times were had by all.
  3. We attended the Minnesota Hospitality Expo! Ever seeking to be more hospitable to our awesome customers (and coworkers), we sent a battalion of desk-jockeys*, owners, and managers to the Minnesota Hospitality Expo. Ari Weinzweig, co-owner and founding partner of the legendary Zingerman’s, was the keynote speaker, and I know Eric and the others have taken a lot of inspiration from the ethos of that business. If I had been there myself, I could perhaps tell you more about their experience and lessons learned, but suffice it to say that you can expect a lot of it to be put into practice in our own business. Stop by (or continue to stop by) in the next few months to enjoy an extra-specially hospitable Northern Waters Smokehaus.
    *(See: awesome H.R. legend, Greg, and design aficionado, Flo.)
  4. Eric made prepped chorizo with Nick! For the first time in a long, undisclosed amount of time, Eric rolled up his sleeves for the task of Spanish-style Chorizo prep with smoker Nick. While photographing part of the process, I was able to glean some terse, very Eric-style lessons about our history, the tricks of the trade for cultivating various wursts and salumi, and what processes we use to give ourselves an edge over your standard mass-produced meat products. Eric is a gem and a true expert of his craft, and alongside Nick’s skilled hands, they made quick work of processing the chorizo. That reminds me: Do you know why the scarecrow became world-renowned? Because it was outstanding in its field.
  5. Our offices are forever evolving! I know, I know! I have already mentioned the floors being redone, but more importantly, I want you to know about the new jungle corner that has taken hold of our marketing and design office. These plants came from our patio, but the encroaching cold weather had made them very sad. We took them inside, and put them by a window, and now they are alive and well and doing their part to purify our air. Thanks, plants!

    Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Rihanna

Thanks for tuning in. Have a great week, or if you never return to the 5 Things™ blog, a great life.