It’s in our motto—we’re always smoking something—but we’re not just a one-trick pony, and lately, it seems like something is always getting baked.
We have several bakers on staff—which I wouldn’t have been able to say a year ago*—but today we’re showcasing one of our recent hires, Patricia. If you’ve been reading the 5 Things™ blog the past few weeks, there have been several mentions of her work at the Smokehaus. It’s making waves.
Patricia has been baking off-and-on for the last fifteen years. At nineteen, she attended a six-month intensive baking course at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, British Columbia, which she described as, “pretty old-school. A lot of old French men yelling at me.” Eventually, she and her brother opened Elfvin’s Bakery, a wholesale bakery in Grand Marais, which they owned and operated for three years before selling it to new owners who rebranded it as the Gunflint Baking Company.
After a move to Duluth and several years of living it up on our end of the North Shore, she arrived at our deli, and immediately brightened it up with her easygoing and upbeat personality—and her baked goods.
In addition to cookies, she’s also been heating things up with a variety of savory pastries, including scones using the end-pieces (see: repurposed “waste,” a very exciting for our sustainability-oriented hearts and minds) of the snack sticks that we have begun cutting to exact sizes—Smoked Salmon Buddy & Scallion Cream Cheese Scones and Royale With Cheese Scones, by way of example—and rotating meat & cheese combo puff pastries. At press time, she is plotting Pastrami, Swiss & Red Onion Pastries for tomorrow. Croissants, she informed me, are coming soon, as well as crackers. The anticipation is real.
Patricia is brimming with ideas of new pastries and sweet treats to debut in the shop, and we’re grateful for it. As her coworkers, we are the first line of defense in testing these treats for proverbial “poison.” It’s not much, but it’s honest (and delicious) work.
The savory pastries make for a quick and easy light lunch. Non-sandwiched cookies are also an option with your Box Lunch. Enjoy a few more photos of her work. Perhaps stop in and enjoy a few examples of her work in-person.
*My baker comment might be taken as fighting words amongst our talented staff. Surely, we have many talented bakers among our coworkers, but only recently have we utilized their talents in a large-scale commercial sense.
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.