This week, though still classically slow-season Smokehaus, was full of excitement.
1- For starters, we launched our first official NWS Happy Hour, which runs Mondays through Thursdays from 5-7pm and features our new Chicago-ish Haus-ki Dog. Happy Hour specials and hours may change seasonally, but we’re excited about our current lineup.
2- Many of our employees have skills and backstories worth highlighting, if only there were enough hours in the day to interview and write about all of them. But we’re making a start. In honor of her swift and popularly-heralded rise to NWS excellence through phenomenal baked goods, we published a profile of new deli employee & baker, Patricia.
3- Our cookbook dreams are coming to fruition. While specific details aren’t yet available, we’ve been producing a ton of content. Our vision is intact, we’ve already produced a mock-up of an entire chapter, and last weekend we took care of one how-to photo shoot about porketta.
Enjoy some behind-the-scenes photos while you wait for the finished product.
4- Tonight (March 15th) we’ll be popped-up at Hoops Brewing, selling smoked chicken wings, sauced to order with a variety of Northern Waters Restaurant sauces—maple sambal, soy ginger, and hausmade buffalo, to be specific. NWR may no longer exist with us on the Material Plane, but its legacy survives through the Smokehaus.
As far as I know, smoked chicken wings are a rarity in the Twin Ports, not to mention our particular variety, which are brined, “dried” to help form the crispy outer layer, kippered, then hit with a lot of smoke to finish them off.
5- I know the weather comes up frequently, but the battle between dwindling Winter and impending Spring rages on, and alongside the standard freezing rain, we also had a day of one of my favorite weather phenomena: creepy, heavy fog. Inevitably, we’ll get a blizzard in mid-April, but for now, it appears the thaw is on its way.
Here are some more photos by Jacob in our media department, in lieu of pretty words. See you here again next week.
Glad to see you. The sun is shining where I’m writing, and this week had several discrete events worthy of the title “Thing™.” Let us not tarry long on introductions, but hasten to the investigation of these Things™.
A couple of auspicious visits:
Northern Waters Smokehaus is pretty well accustomed to high-status visits. We’ve had the privilege of appearing on a few national cablenetwork programs in the past decade, and while I’m not going to name-drop, there are a number of well-known individuals with local roots who join the masses and wait in line for our food when they happen into town.
Secretly, many of us behind the counter recognize them and get excited when they stop into the shop, but, consummate professionals that we are, we play it cool.
This week, however, I couldn’t contain myself. I was working my first deli shift in what felt like several weeks, so my filter of professional boundaries was perhaps off-kilter, when I received a call from my dear friend, Flo, in the marketing department. The Pitchfork Music Festival had just announced its line-up, which featured, among other exciting acts, local global music legends, Low.
Flo and I have attended the festival together on more than one occasion, so I was excited to hear that the lineup had been announced, but I was doubly-excited to see none other than a member of Low—and co-creator of our famous Cajun Finn sandwich—waiting for a sandwich from our deli. This individual’s identity will be kept vague, since I didn’t ask permission to tell this story in a public forum, and even beloved artists deserve privacy, but they were quite understanding and played-along generously when I held the phone to my chest and shouted,
“Hey, you’re playing Pitchfork [Music Festival](?),”
and again, slightly louder, when they didn’t hear the first time.
It was a moment that has subsequently been described to me as “very Duluth.” And that is the story of how I finally lost my cool and shouted details about someone’s life to them while on-the-clock.
Listen to my favorite Low record below:
Another visit came from someone who, like it or not, has chosen a path that puts them right in the public eye: the 41st Governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz. Truth be told, I probably would not have known about this had I not chosen to unburden the office’s Wi-Fi, and blog out of the deli.
As I typed away in a corner of our small seating area, Minnesota’s public servant-in-chief enjoyed a sandwich—maybe a salad, I didn’t ask—behind me. It wasn’t until the hunger hit me, and I stepped behind the sandwich line to make myself some lunch, that he revealed himself.
Yes, I participated in an electoral process that prominently featured him, but I did not recognize him less than five feet away from me. Is this a tale of his humility, or of my obliviousness, or of something else altogether? The jury is out. The jury, in fact, has neither been consulted, nor even informed of the known facts.
He thanked us for the delicious food, introduced himself to us, and engaged with a few customers who overheard him. The details get hazy from there. Honestly, I checked out at that point because preparing my lunch was of greater urgency to me at that time.
I’m not going to take any political stances on the company blog, fear not, except that being kind and showing gratitude to service industry employees is good praxis.
A pop-up and a new event:
On Wednesday, we had a pop-up at Bent Paddle Brewing Company’s tap room in the Lincoln Park Craft District. Such pop-ups are pretty old-hat by now. NWS setting up shop for a night at a local tap room wouldn’t be much to write about—rather, I and others have written about it so many times that it seems unfair to count that among the Things™—however, we debuted a new item at this pop-up: The Haus-ki, our very tangential take on the Chicago dog. More about the Haus-ki, and our new Happy Hour, which is when we’ll be selling it, is available here.
Some cookbook content fun:
This morning, a handful of the marketing & design staff are taking a break from their typical workday to prepare for a photo-shoot. It should be no secret that we have dreams of releasing a cookbook in the near future, and though we have a wealth of photography related to our business and products, there will never be enough.
This particular photo-shoot pertains to producing a porketta in a backyard smoking apparatus. Today’s tasks are a lot of shoveling, creating the mise en scene for the shoot, and rolling the porketta. Tomorrow, we’ll be enacting and documenting the rest of the process. It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, which could undermine our work, or result in some pretty cool action shots.
Volumes could and will be written about the impact that our recently-establish Baking Department has had on our business, but I’ll keep it brief:
Jerry’s White Bread, Prince Myshkin Rye, Chorizo-Cheddar-Chive Biscuits, Rosemary Potato Rolls, and Ciabattas have further increased our pride of ownership in the food we make. I’ve always liked the bread we’ve used at NWS, and there are certainly some baked items we’re still buying from outside vendors, but being able to say, “on a hausmade [bread of whatever variety]” feels good, and to top it off, it is high-quality product they’re baking down there.
If you’ve noticed some bright yellow pasty-looking items during your recent forays into our shop, and been confused or intrigued, those are Lucy’s Jamaican Hand-Pies, made with our fresh chorizo, and yes, they are a very delicious, filling, easy to eat (with one hand!) item that you should definitely not pass up.
And, of course, what would a 5 Things™ post be without a shoutout to Patricia, who used up all of the Royale With Cheese trimmings we’ve accumulated—since we began cutting our Buddies to a specific cost rather than selling them by weight—to make savory bacon-cheeseburger snack stick and tomato scones.
We have a new sink! The other one was falling off the wall from years of overuse.
Time: Mondays through Thursdays, 5 to 7 pm, beginning Monday, March 11th.
Place: Northern Waters Smokehaus Deli→
Details: One of our new Royale With Cheese bacon-cheeseburger sticks, toasted and topped with mustard, celery salt, tomatoes, pickles, and pepperoncini on a hausmade ciabatta roll with your choice of a bag of chips or a can of LaCroix. $6+tax. Only available in-store. Friendship and goodwill in abundance, for you to carry into the rest of the world. Probably good music.
The Haus-ki is here.
We debuted our spin on the Chicago dog last night at Bent Paddle Brewing Company’s tap room, but this dog is too good to save for pop-ups alone, so we’re bringing it to you four days a week, live from our deli.
True happiness may come from within, but a Haus-ki couldn’t hurt.
We’re teaming this dog up with your choice the usual suspects—
—alongside the standard NWS accoutrements. For only $6 ($6.38 after tax)! There’s not much more to say than this is a tasty treat for a hot deal.
Whether you want to stay a while to socialize, or just long enough to grab a dog, join us, and let’s be happy together.