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:
It’s Monday, March 4th. That means our hottest new sandwich (which will be served cold) drops today. Peep the video below.
Salt & Pepper alone do not a taste make. Essential seasonings though they may be, they’re at their best when they are tying-together and highlighting a mix of flavors.
This audacious new Sandwich Lab experiment is known as the Spinderella, and it’s a gustatory tribute to the DJ of the legendary hip-hop outfit Salt’n’Pepa—she who deftly mixes the soundscape that supports the MCs’ rhythms and rhymes. The ‘Wich’s blend of ingredients is eclectic—mayo, mustard, dill pickle, salumi mix, turkey, red onion, and cilantro on a hero roll, with scallion cream cheese (for dippin’)—but elegantly mixed to create something greater than the mere sum of its parts.
If you can’t make it to see Salt’n’Pepa on tour this spring/summer, or to any of DJ Spinderella’s upcoming solo shows, just can’t wait, or even if you can do any or all of those things, stop by our shop and try our culinary tribute to the classic hip-hop trio during the month of March. Each Sandwich Lab special purchased gets you two stamps on your sandwich card.
The Spinderella is available in our deli and via delivery for $13+tax.
WHAT IS SANDWICH LAB?
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, THE PHOEBE, 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.
It can be invigorating (I’ve heard). Jackets piled over sweaters sound cozy (in theory). Perhaps the most salient justification I can come up with is that the contrast of winter makes the balmy air of summer more meaningful.
All I know is that within minutes of touching down in Minnesota after my vacation, I was struck by a terrible cold, which kept me away from work, and still has me feeling like my head is stuck inside a fishbowl. Which wouldn’t really be so bad, if I didn’t want to provide you with a thoughtful 5 Things™ blog this week. Today’s blog is largely based on what sort of information I could gather in about two hours, while maintaining several arm’s lengths of distance between myself and all of my co-workers.
It is said that February is the cruelest month of the year, in terms of weather and temperature. I don’t know if any such things are said about March, but not “the cruelest month of the year” is good news to me.
Other good news this week includes:
A NWS Staff Party! We’re finally having our holiday party, and it is hosted by Pizza Lucé. Others may party more heartily, but nobody gets down quite like the Smokehaus. Our last party was the public 20th Anniversary party we threw back in September 2018, so it’ll be good to get back to basics and have a shindig for the team. I’m crossing all my fingers and toes, and I’m holding my breath as long as I can before the coughing fit is triggered, that I am back in good health in time for this party, since “free” Pizza Lucé pizza is a very exciting proposition.
Regardless of whether I am there, it is sure to be an excellent display of Smokehausers in the wild, gathered around the watering-hole, if we have any urban documentarians in our readership, that’s a free tip.
The Buddy System is not the official name of this new package deal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it should be*. Our grab&go case now features six-packs of Buddies—two each of our New Mexican hatch chile Big Jims, the bacon-cheeseburger-in-a-casing goodness of our Royale With Cheese, and the NWS classic, Bison Buddies. These six-packs are on sale for $12 each and make great gifts to yourself or others.
Smoked Salmon Buddies are the real deal as well. The smokers assure me the recipe—which includes a blend of Atlantic and Sockeye salmon as well as ginger and coriander (a couple of my favorite flavors)—is perfected. The Salmon Buds are available from our fish case for $3/stick.
Patricia continues to innovate with her cookies and pastries. This week, she took cues from authentic Jewish delis and whipped up a small batch of deli rolls: mini puff-pastries stuffed with turkey, pastrami and mustard, and topped with sesame seeds. This blog will almost always be posted on Friday, and yet so many of these exciting new small-batch items hit our shelves on Thursdays.
Heed this suggestion: if you want to be on the cutting-edge of new NWS specials and experiments, don’t wait for the announcement—just stop on in (or check our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages) and ask if there’s anything new and exciting to try.
On the cookie front, she basically hit my flavor preferences right on the nose with peanut butter & curry cookies. Thank you, Patricia.
Speaking of special things:
This is the last weekend that we’re serving the Sandwich Lab experiment known as The Wagner.
The Wagner is one heck of a sandwich. For those who haven’t tried it yet, it is your choice of Maple-Sage Smoked Turkey or Smoked Pastrami atop a mayonnaise-, Misty Mountain Mustard-, and sriracha-adorned hero roll, and topped with healthy portions of sweet’n’sour quick pickles and cilantro. This sandwich has the sauce, and if you’re keeping track of your sandwiches, it and the other monthly Sandwich Lab specials get you two stamps.
Beginning Monday, March 4th, we’ll be serving up the next Sandwich Lab special: The Spinderella. Official announcement forthcoming.
I think, after like 8 Things™, that it is time for me to go back to sleep. It’s been real. I hope you grace us with your presence in the deli, or order some delivery/mail order so we can grace you with ours.
*It occurs to me we have used this name in a Homegrown Music Festival-related campaign. Please forgive any confusion I may have caused.
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 sandwich menu are members of an elite squad known as the Sandwich Lab. These are their stories:
It starts with a hero roll—I’m talking about bread here, but imagine tuck-and-rolling out of a speeding car hurtling toward the cliff’s edge—dressed with mayo and mustard, laden with your choice of smoked turkey or pastrami (heavy as the burden of a life of adventure), decorated with sweet & sour quick pickles, cilantro and sriracha. It ends with you, satisfied, wondering when you can eat another.
The Wagner is now available in our deli and for delivery for $10.75 + tax, and gets you two stamps on your sandwich card. We’ll be making it for a month, then pretending we forgot it ever happened, so don’t miss your chance. Take your palate on a wild ride with the Valkyries and order The Wagner.
What is Sandwich Lab?
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, the Phoebe, 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.
This year already feels like it’s going by too quickly. Welcome to the first 5 Things of February.
We closed early due to cold!We consider ourselves a pretty hearty bunch around here, but unsafe conditions and general lack of business due to the -100°F or whatever windchill (cold stories are not dissimilar to fishing stories), had us closing down the shop at 1pm on Wednesday.Generally, we try our best to be here for you in all forms of weather, but there comes a point where risking frozen appendages and cars breaking down in parking lots far from home just isn’t worth it.
Experiments with snack sticks!
Bison buddies are one of our most popular items. People love snack sticks, it turns out. Presently, we have a lot of time on our hands, and a lot of space in our coolers, so the smokers are going buck wild in development. Today they’re smoking Beef & Bacon Adobada Buddies and Sockeye Salmon Buddies tomorrow. Next week, rumor has it they’ll be throwing together Bacon Cheeseburger Buddies. And I don’t think they have any plans of slowing down. They’re going to keep churning out these new flavor creations until something—please forgive me—sticks.
Porketta special and soup/chowder specials!
We switched up our Thursday daily special this week. Using the same roll as our hot pastrami special, we topped it with thick-cut hot porketta, sliced cabbage, and fennel-garlic-herb aioli. We’re going to be running this special again, so if you’re sore about missing the first round, come down next Thursday.On Monday, we brought a favorite Northern Waters Restaurant recipe to our deli and offered Lake Superior Lake Trout chowder. The frigid weather seems to call for hot soup, so for the foreseeable future we’ll be offering $8 bowl/biscuit specials on Mondays, then $4 cups and $6 bowls until the week’s batch is gone.
On top of all that, it seems like every week there are new treats to try around here, whether they be cookies, meat sticks, soups, sandwich specials, sides or sauces.
Last week of the Breakfast Club!The first installment of our Sandwich Lab monthly specials is nearing its end. The Breakfast Club, a Clubhaus variant described by its creator as “unctuous and balanced,” will be available through the weekend, and relinquishes its spot on our menu for the next installation in the Sandwich Lab series: The Wagner.While the Breakfast Club might yet make future appearances in our deli, we will undoubtedly pretend to forget about it after Sunday. If you haven’t tried it yet, don’t let the opportunity slip. I’ve heard this Sunday is supposed to be “warm,” and a great day to try something new.
Sugar Plum & Hey Sweetie gift boxes!V-Day is just around the corner, and we’ve got some special gift boxes designed especially for the lovers out there. These boxes are also available for pick-up and delivery in town.“Hey Sweetie!” — $48 + standard shipping. From the product page:
Let us help you appreciate your sweetie. A little goes a long way. That’s what we’ve learned. Little moments, small gestures grandly received, extraordinary or mundane, they all make up the choreography of your sweet life as two. Send something made slowly, with love and appreciation for the process. Our “Hey, Sweetie” box includes Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout, Black Pepper & Coriander Smoked Salmon, regional cheese and Croccantini crackers.
Sugar Plum — $50 + nonperishable shipping. From the product page:
Our favorites packed together for your delight and convenience. This box features our own Hausmade delicacies, as well as local favorites, for your loved one.
Gosh! That last one was a little vague. Let me tell you a bit more. The Sugar Plum comes with Dark Chocolate Malted Milk Balls & Sugar Plums from Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, Fabbri Amarena cherries, Rosemary Croccantini crackers, and a salamini, all packed up in one of our red Smokehaus totes.
They’ll probably update that product page while I’m working in the deli today. Don’t @ me.
Days in the deli have slowed down, but life at the Smokehaus have not been boring.
We’re making a whole lot of food! This week our production team roasted 500 lbs of porketta, prepared 120 each of pepperoni and saucisson sec for curing, and started 480 lbs of ham on a 5-7 day brine cycle. A great deal of that meat already has a home among our mail order queue, and what’s left of it will likely fly off our shelves by the end of December’s month-long grocery rush in the shop. Pigs fly at Northern Waters Smokehaus.
Sandwich Lab! I already leaked one Sandwich Lab secret here, so I’m going to hold tight to the juicier details, but once all of the voting, calculating and deliberating is complete, y’all may be in for some fantastically mouthwatering experiences at our little deli.
Our Winter catalog is complete! I had previously lied and referred to it as a Fall/Winter catalog and a Fall catalog. Whoops. Regardless, it is out and it looks great. Watching the design and marketing teams develop it was really cool. So much care and attention to detail went into presenting our awesome food and history to you. I am super proud of my coworkers. NWS cookbook, here we come! Catalogs are available upon request.
Hidden Falls cheese is in season! Hidden Falls is a creamy sheep’s and cow’s milk cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms in Nerstrand, MN. It has citrus and wildflower qualities present in its flavor, and notes of woodsy mushrooms. Accompany it with honey and seasonal fruit, or pair it with our salumi, but whatever you do, do it quickly. Hidden Falls is only available between October and December.
It’s our birthday month! Northern Waters Smokehaus is a Scorpio. Actually, our birthday might even be today. I’m like 90% certain it falls between November 8th and 12th. I really need to step up my research game. We have had a pretty great year as a company. We’ve had a segment filmed for the Travel Channel, we have an awesome staff, the books show growth from last year, we released our first official product catalog, we threw a sweet party/afterparty combo in September, and we have felt a ton of love from our community, our regulars, the tourists (food- and otherwise), and our online network. Eric, Lynnand the rest of us are so darned proud of this 20-year old deli and we are so darned proud of them. Thank you, reader, customer, friend, for supporting this business.
That last sentence was a better closer than this one is.