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In Remembrance of 5 Things Past; or, Searching for Lost Things

Happy Friday, everyone (and Happy Birthday, Eric Goerdt!), though I’m writing this on a Wednesday, since tomorrow/yesterday is/was my birthday, and I’m really trying to take some time for myself, for once.

Mother Superior is angry.

I’m here, in the past of your current present, at Amazing Grace Bakery and Café, at 7am, sipping on dark roasted coffee, slowly picking apart a chocolate espresso muffin which we’ll call my birthday cake (I don’t particularly enjoy cake–hold your pitchforks, please! Preferences are allowed), watching a red-tailed black shark bully or maybe just play tag with the rest of the aquarium; and you’re existing sometime in my new future, reading this blog post, thinking where is Ned going with this, is this setting of the scene really necessary for a blog post about five things that happened this week at Northern Waters Smokehaus; though you might have had a realization like I have, on occasion, that often some of these five things of which I write happened on another week, or are happening over a span of time that includes previous weeks, this selfsame moment, and will continue on into the future weeks, and furthermore that reading a piece of written language often involves a detachment of oneself from the standard temporal flow in which we have entrenched ourselves; and that, in reality, every week we have found ourselves in this wibbly-wobbly, time-wimey ebb-and-flow of thoughts expressed and received.

(I realize in this moment, after having written that sentence, that I must go back and change a number of those commas to semicolons.)

Folks, it’s my birthday week, so I’m not holding back. You’re going to get the trains of thought that I normally reserve for the quiet aloneness of floating downward from the waking world into the valley of dreams—yes, for me, it’s a valley; and last night there was a robin hatchling for whom I tried and failed to find some seed, dice that I mistook for my own that belonged to my very disappointed therapist, and thousands of resplendently beautiful and terrifying spiders in that valley—and in some ways, you already have.

What was I going on about? Oh, yes—
Here are the five things we came up with to share with you. Hopefully nothing too noteworthy or exciting has happened, because it is out of my hands.

  1. Birthdays! October is a birthday-heavy month for us. I’m sure to miss one, in addition to me and Eric, we also have Nic, Jeremy, and Jacob finishing their lap around the Sun this month. What else is there to say? A birthday is really just like any other day, except certain people might treat you a little differently if you’re friends on electronic social media and they happen to notice your name next to a birthday cake icon. For a fun time, try wishing everyone you encounter at the Smokehaus this month a happy belated birthday. You can wish someone a belated happy birthday all but one day of the year and be right on the money. Them’s good odds.
  2. We’re going to The Wedding Fair! This year, we have refocused no insignificant sum of our energy into the catering side of our business. From weddings upon weddings, to the Glensheen gala, to Best of the Wurst, and so many pop-ups—not to mention (but hey, here I am mentioning it) our 20th Anniversary Party—we have had a heck of a year outside the charming confines of our deli storefront. The Wedding Fair, this Sunday (October 14th) at the Minneapolis Convention Center, is an exciting opportunity for us, since it will put us face-to-face with a large audience that potentially isn’t already following our business, and perhaps has never heard of us. We’re bringing a modest sampling of what we can offer—ham and pimiento bites, salmon and scallion cream cheese bites, a sweet brochure whipped up by our design team—and preparing ourselves to discuss virtually anything anybody wants to talk about (related to our food and catering services). Those who have experienced events we’ve catered know that our culinary skills extend far beyond what we offer in the deli.
  3. We got a new power outlet! Another installment in the Series of Capital Improvements. We needed more power, and we got it. Bonus Thing™: We’ve cleared out the design/mail order office in preparation for what I believe is our final reflooring of the capital improvements season. Perhaps whomever I can convince to edit this post post-reflooring will supply a photo of the new floor, and if they don’t, this is a fun and awkward sentence for you to have read.

    Check out that new outlet on the left!
  4. We smoked chickens! This past weekend, we catered Hoops Brewing’s Okoberfest celebration, and as Eric just informed me is traditional for Oktoberfest, we served smoked chicken alongside our brats and sauerkraut. If you’re bummed that you missed out on this opportunity, don’t worry: The chicken was evidently so good that we’re working to bring it onto our menu in the near future, as a half-chicken basket special for two.
  5. Hummus! Our prep team made eight quarts of smoked poblano and ancho hummus, just to see how it would turn out. We had an extensive tasting session at our weekly Dungeons & Dragons gathering, and I can say that the hummus turned out quite well. It has a very gentle bite and rich, smoky undertones, and pairs extremely well with fragments of hot naan, and a cold pilsner lager. There is still some room for perfecting the recipe, but soon enough it will be available from our grab-and-go case and might make its way onto our sandwich line—perhaps as a vegan substitute for the cream cheese on our Fuzzy Bunny sandwich.

That’s all for this week. This has been a wild Wednesday, which you’re reading about on Friday, with high-speed winds, a murderous Lake Superior battering the shore and flooding large segments of our basement and forcing our delivery/prep department home, and somehow still a steady stream of customers—who must love to suffer in the cold wetness of it all—gracing our shop with their presence. I’ll catch you, dear reader, next week as I pull a similar write-early-in-the-week-so-I-can-take-Friday-off stunt. Hopefully—and totally within my control—with fewer trips through my self-created wormhole, because I have re-read this piece a dozen times, and am still not sure where or when I have ended up.

#imaginecanalparkunderwater
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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.