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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 26th, 2019

On Monday, we headed to Hemlock Preserve in Esko, MN for a photoshoot.

In pursuit of showing off our catering department, we headed to one of our favorite spots to serve (and photograph) food: Hemlock Preserve.

Although the weather was not in our favor, it was still quite a productive day. To start, we set up base camp in the log cabin. From there, we generated around a dozen curated plates of food to showcase our standard offerings—smoked salmon, cold cuts, dry-cured salumi, and locally-sourced cheese—as well as our versatility—handmade candies, fresh and dried fruits, and artful settings & plating.

The day largely consisted of assembling plates & floral arrangements, getting our feet wet running plates back and forth between the log cabin and the various settings within the barn, and brainstorming ways to utilize the outdoor gathering spaces in future shoots, and eating a bunch of Peanut M&Ms, but our team was able to encapsulate some transcendent moments. The spread of food, once it was all assembled on our signature Douglas fir board, was breathtaking, and to top it off, no one caught a cold, despite the weather.

We’re so excited to be working with Sue at Hemlock Grove. Wandering around the property, you can see the love she puts into this place. Even among the bare remains of a winter that overstayed its welcome and the rigging of ongoing renovations, it is the curated installations of antique signage, furniture, and table settings, the open bureau acting like a frame for vintage camping & outdoors gear, the subtle humor of the “No Gathering Firewood” sign above the woodshed, the seemingly endless hidden shelves of extra glasses & dishes suggesting that there’s always room for one more person to join the party, and the lamps (Oh! The multitude of eclectic and beautiful lamps!) that catch the eye. It’s sort of like a wonderful uncluttered antique marketplace that hosts parties. You could get lost in conversation, get lost in a self-guided tour of the décor, or get lost in Jay Cooke State Park, all with a beverage in one hand and a small plate of food in the other.

Hemlock Preserve, which is situated just far enough from the city to feel like a getaway, and just close enough to make the travel go by  quickly, is situated just on the edge of Jay Cooke State Park—there are trails from the property right into the park—features two elevated yurts (on their own isolated tracts of land), and is an ideal location for all scales of gatherings: an intimate anniversary celebration, a weekend corporate retreat, an elaborate dinner, a family reunion, or a wedding & reception. We at Northern Waters Smokehaus rejoice in any opportunity to collaborate with Sue.

Patricia made smoked brisket and bleu cheese pasties.

If you haven’t stopped in for a Wednesday lunch lately, you may not know that we’ve been rocking a BBQ Brisket Sandwich as our daily special—you can settle for the buttery goodness and BBQ tang of the brisket sandwich alone, or you can go big and add a side of smoked pork & beans and/or hausmade potato salad. But I digress. On days that we have a little bit of the special left over, Patricia swings in and makes pasties. This This week, she whipped up some enormous and delicious pasties with brisket, potato, rutabaga, and crumbled bleu cheese. Look for the day’s variety of pasties in the meat case. We’ll even heat them up for you, if you want to enjoy one in the deli. All varieties of pasties are $10.

On Thursday, we headed back to Hemlock Preserve.

Despite the productivity of our first day, there was more to be done. For instance, we had to get some outdoor shots, and to document the landscape around us. On our second day out in Esko, we had plenty of sun. This meant that Bruno, the 12-year old ball of pug-love who runs the whole operation, joined us in the field. While Bruno oversaw the day’s work, we created several scenes, including two different outdoor picnics, a buffet-style dinner in the barn, and various small plates lounging around the remarkable array of sitting areas. It seems like everywhere you look, there is a place to sit (or stand), take a breather, and spark up a conversation. 

On Friday (today) we went back to Hemlock Preserve once again.

As soon as this 5 Things™ blog is posted, I’m heading down to our deli for an opening shift, so I am not attending this particular field trip. From what I gather, this is a clean-up day.

If I were there, it would be a pet Bruno day as well. I hope they also carry that spirit with them.

Also on Friday (today) we are at the annual Raise the Roof One Roof Community Housing fundraiser.

One Roof is an institution that gives so much to our community, in terms of creating affordable housing opportunities, educating renters, cultivating neighborhoods, helping first-time home buyers, and much more.

It has been our privilege to take part in their annual fundraiser for many years. Not only do we get to share our food, but we also get to share our passion for it, our stories, and knowledge of the process that goes into making our food, all to a receptive audience (anyone who stops by our table and asks), and in the name of a good cause.

This year we’ll be serving Traditional Atlantic Salmon & Scallion Cream Cheese bites; Hedonist bites (with Country Pâté, onion, cornichon pickles, and a dot of mayo & mustard); and olivada, chevre & pepperoncini bites. The tasting segment of the fundraiser is 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, check the event page on their website. Olivia, our mail order director, and I will be behind the table. Stop by, enjoy a few bites, and keep us entertained.

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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.