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5 Things: November 15th, 2019

Mail Order season is suddenly upon us. The third-floor DeWitt-Seitz office is already primed for near-optimal success is preparing hundreds of skillfully packed boxes. You know what? This is my first Thing™ this week. Let’s play it again.

Mail Order season is suddenly upon us.

The third-floor DeWitt-Seitz office is already primed for near-optimal success is preparing hundreds of skillfully packed boxes. Any surface that could possibly be repurposed as a work surface is or soon will be.

Storage space is at an all-time premium—we’ve even rented spaces in Proctor, MN and Superior, WI to keep from overburdening our DeWitt-Seitz location.

We’ve brought in seasonal reinforcements, who will be training in on Sunday the 17th, and making our Mail Order Director, Andy’s life way less stressful. It’s a whole thing.

We’ve updated our shipping policies and providers so that we’ll hopefully be turning a profit (albeit small) on each package shipped, rather than losing a little bit of money on each. For our small, family-owned, community-oriented business, this is great news.

We met with our publisher.

On Tuesday, a cohort of those of us involved in producing the first Northern Waters Smokehaus cookbook took a field trip to the University of Minnesota Press‘s office in Minneapolis. We’re honored and excited to be working with the press, and the feeling seems to be mutual. Icing on the cake: the building in which they’re located has very comfortable conference room chairs.

In the wake of that meeting, we’ve developed a plan to methodically comb through the rest of the recipe testing, while polishing the text into something worthy of telling the story of NWS, DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, and our beloved City and Lake.

While the cookbook itself won’t be hitting shelves any time soon, it’s been 20+ years coming at this point, and it will be a great accomplishment to kick off the next two decades of NWS.

Rush Creek Reserve has returned.

For the uninitiated: RCR is Uplands Cheese Company’s (Dodgeville, WI) Autumn-exclusive, washed rind, raw cow’s milk cheese made with the rich and silky milk that emerges when the cows’ diets shift from Summer pastures to Fall and Winter hay.

The extremely seasonal, small batch cheese is sold in 12oz wheels ($35/wheel) that are intended to be served at room temperature in a single serving. (No worries if you and yours can’t manage that: Just re-package it in its breathable wrap and tuck it in the coldest part of the fridge.)

Maker Andy Hatch has described the cheese as a “savory custard, [which] exudes a very soft, delicate texture with a savory, rich finish likened to cured meat.”

Each wheel of the cheese is hand-wrapped with spruce bark, then aged 60 days before it is shipped off to distributors. For more information on serving—beyond the obvious: serve it on a fine cracker alongside a sparkling or dry white wine—chat with our deli staff.

You don’t want to miss out on this exceptional cheese, and the rest of the delicious offerings—including my personal favorite, the Shepherd’s Way Sogn Tomme—in our grab’n’go case, this holiday season.

The 127th Annual Sandwich Lab is this Sunday night!

On Sunday night at 7 p.m., the best of the best will be assembling to brush up our sandwich-making skills, pitch new sandwich ideas, and just generally have a good time.

Unlike our most recent Sunday night meeting, we’ll be open full business hours (all the way to 6pm) on Sunday. I didn’t realize that there had been so many until we received this official notice from our HR director, Greg:

We’ve smoked a few batches of North Road salmon.

The global salmon market is currently in flux—with causes and effects that extend outside of the purview of this particular blog post—and as a substantial importer of salmon, we strive to continue to bring you responsibly and sustainably sourced Atlantic salmon.

North Road provides huge (we’re talking five-pound filets!) , beautifully marbled salmon sourced from sustainable farms off the coasts of Norway and Scotland, and within the Faroe Islands. The smoked product is melt-in-your-mouth tender and has taken especially well to our brown sugar & salt cure, resulting in some of the best smoked salmon I’ve had the pleasure of eating, even by our stringent standards—especially with dill seasoning.

Currently, we’re only smoking it in small batches and selling it in our deli, alongside our other smoked salmon options. Next time you stop in the deli, ask for a sample and see for yourself, or just buy a big ol’ slab and show all your friends and family.

Thanks for tuning in!

NEXT WEEK ON 5 THINGS™: More about mail order season, a follow-up on Sandwich Lab, an in-depth look at our new enormous standing mixer (described to me as “something out of War of the Worlds”), and more!

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5 Takeaways From This Year’s Sandwich Lab Cycle

We’ve got a lot to talk about this week. WordPress’s “readability” analysis is going to hate this post, but I hope you can find some joy while reading it. Brace yourself for an especially long-winded 5 Things™. Take care that your limbs don’t fall asleep.

Sandwich Lab—we won’t stop talking about it, but what is it?

  • *BUM BUM* 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.
  • A place where dreams come true. Every Northern Waters Smokehaus employee gets a free shift meal each shift. This is an essential part of the Smokehaus business model: Well-nourished employees who feel valued are likely to work better. Newcomers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the entire menu, so that is where their meals usually begin; however, there are dreamers and seekers among us. Eventually, there are those who travel through the looking glass, then down the rabbit hole, often there and back again, discovering obscured and forbidden combinations of flavor, and discerning the likes of which are their favorites. Colloquially, we refer to them as pet sandwiches, which is a very tender way to describe something that you obliterate with your mouth and hands, but that’s beside the point. These Seekers of the New Flavor wear their desire paths until they settle upon the True Recipe, and Sandwich Lab is the place where they may enter their creation in a fateful test against the gauntlet of their co-workers’ palates. And among those entrants, only the most Supreme earn their place upon the Sandwich Menu, some for a short time—more on this in a jiffy!—and some for good.

    Having your creation up on the menu at a beloved deli feels good. The current permanent-menu sandwiches that came from this recent NWS tradition are the Cedar’s Secret, the Pork Lion, the Purple Range, the Hardhat, and the Adisalad—a rare salad entry that became the most recent Lab’s only permanent-menu addition.
  • A place where heretical beliefs are crushed! Sometimes—most often with our toasted sandwiches—steps in the preparation of sandwiches give way to shortcuts discovered in trying times, like the midst of an especially grueling 5-hour Summer rush; or to alternate arrangements of ingredients, like a Cajun Finn where all the vegetable elements are below the Cajun Smoked Salmon (the horror!). Imprecise amounts of condiments can make or break the overall experience of a sandwich. There’s a million-and-one things our sandwich makers have to juggle in their, ultimately and tragically limited, human brains while churning out those stacks of bread, meat, cheese, sauce and veg, and sometimes things just go astray.

    Until Sandwich Lab, whereupon these heretical ideals are brought to heel, though not without the opportunity for fair trial. While a select panel of experts prepares its own case in the name of getting us back on course, there is also opportunity to determine if the old way really is the right way. A few examples of changes brought forth by Sandwich Lab include shifting the Big Dipper from a cold sandwich on a square roll, cut in thirds, to a hot sandwich on a hero roll, cut in fourths; and the admittedly very-involved multi-cycle toasting of ingredients—first separately, then stacked together—of the ’06.
  • A fun time. This blog is really playing up the drama of Sandwich Lab, but ultimately, it’s mostly a lot of laughter and snacking, with some demonstrations going on throughout the time. It’s a paid meeting and it’s only mandatory to those of us embroiled in the sandwich arts.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to these Things™, which will be a mixture of stone cold statistics and subjective observations.

A recap of Sandwich Lab 2019.

The dates of the nine monthlong specials had somewhat arbitrary beginnings and endings, based roughly around the first Monday of each month. For the sake of this retrospective, we’ll just note the month in which each ran. For the sake of your time, I’ll just include brief notes for each sandwich.

January—The Breakfast Club

Turkey & Pancetta roughly equals a club sandwich. Bagel & cream cheese roughly equals breakfast sandwich. This sandwich is not groundbreaking, but it sure tastes good.

The blog post announcing this sandwich was fun to write, and almost entirely synthesized from material Wesley, the sandwich’s creator, wrote down for me.

Later Sandwich Lab announcements began to follow a semi-consistent format.

February—The Wagner

Probably my favorite of the sandwich lab specials, and that’s including my own contribution to the cycle. This is a very sauce-driven sandwich, including mayo, mustard and sriracha. While Turkey & Pastrami were the two meat options, the secret third option—Black Pepper & Coriander Atlantic Salmon—also made for a great savory & spicy sandwich.

March—The Spinderella

Before this sandwich entered our lives, I had never really thought of cream cheese as a dipping sauce. After this sandwich, the recipe of which called for “A side of cream cheese, for dippin’,” I now recognize it as such. Smokehaus sandwiches with multiple meats are few and far between, so Turkey & Salami-mix as a double protein was certainly a treat. Hip-hop trio Salt’n’Pepa—after the DJ of which this sandwich was named—also toured this Spring, so the name was an apt tribute, mostly by accident.

April—The Bloody Mary

So many Smokehaus products lend themselves easily to Bloody Mary construction. Originally, the plan for this sandwich was to have Bison Buddies as the main protein, however, due to prohibitive food costs and fluctuations in bison availability, we settled on our Beef & Pork Summer Sausage and Smoked Pancetta.

The early Sandwich Lab specials received a ton of marketing support (before we realized that it wouldn’t be sustainable in the busy months and dropped the hilarious video/audio clips), and the Bloody Mary got some of the best: breaking mirrors, smoke, and a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic butchering of The Shining (seriously, read the book).

This sandwich’s downfall was an ongoing struggle with the “bloody mary mixer” sauce, which was often unavailable, due to other prepping priorities. Its upside was its beautiful mess personality.

May—The Wallaby

Michael brought this sandwich from a small coffee shop and deli in Sedona, AZ. Its name comes from the Australian owner, whose voice and accent is stuck in Michael’s head even to this day, whenever he smashes an avocado. The Wallaby marked the Smokehaus’s first-ever inclusion of avocado on the menu, and the sandwich itself was on the low-end of our price range. Additionally, it was a vegan sandwich, which is still new territory to a lot of our customer base—hence our recommended inclusion (for a slight upcharge) of Smoked Pancetta.

Our sincere apologies if associating the proud people of Australia with wallabies is at all insensitive. The name played into a Rocko’s Modern Life marketing sub-theme, and we thought it was cute.

June—The Sebu-chan

The marketing of this sandwich was a bit erratic. The name comes from one of Sebastian’s nicknames, his suggested marketing notes were to include cats, because he loves cats, and it’s a great sandwich that elides the best parts of a handful of our other fish sandwiches—the Cajun Finn, the Sitka Sushi, and the Great Summer Caper—into one sleek package. All things considered, the Sebu-chan was available at the beginning of our busy Summer season, and it was a fish sandwich, [WHICH HAS PROVEN TO BE A SUCCESSFUL MODEL ON ITS OWN], so it sold quite a few units, and we received no bad reviews. I’d call this Sandwich Lab Special a success.

July—The Fish Schtick

Another entry in the line of successful fish sandwiches that emerged from Sandwich Lab. In terms of percentage of units sold (the category we’ll be using to rate an aspect of the sandwich’s success in a later Thing™) the Schtick was on-par with the rest of the sandwiches, but in terms of how many it actually sold, this one is the winner.

The average (mean) number of units sold overall was 119.222222222, and the Schtick sold 229 units during its tenure. These numbers don’t account for factors such as how slow or fast business was at the time, but they’re still interesting enough to note. The next largest seller of individual units was the Wagner, at 133 sandwiches sold.

Harrison, its creator, is a proponent of bombastic flavor profiles, and this sandwich is no exception. Between pepperoncinis, lemon pepper, and cornichon pickles, this sandwich has a lot of flavor going on.

August—The Lake Trout Situation

Jacob accurately assessed our need for a Smoked Lake Trout sandwich, and offered up this NWS spin on a New England Lobster Roll. The hurdle this sandwich had to struggle with was a general shortage of Lake Trout during the month of August. Fortunately, this delicious Lake Trout Salad and Smoked Pancetta sandwich (on our haus-baked Pullman white bread) only sold a modest amount of units—enough that it was worth the effort invested, but was still able to stay within the demand for it.

September—NO SPECIAL

We took a break from Sandwich Lab specials, in hopes of finding the best local apples for the final sandwich.

Read about last year’s permanent menu addition: The Adisalad.

October—The G.O.A.T.

October is a much better time for apples. By waiting until this month, we were able to a.) get amazing Cortland apples from Washburn, WI (the remainder of which Patricia has been using in apple hand pies. So yum!) and b.) run my sandwich during my favorite month. While I consider this sandwich the Greatest of All Time, hence the name, others did not share my fervor. Points against this sandwich: neither Smoked Andouille (toasted, to boot), chèvre, nor apples are a regular part of our sandwich line. Additionally, the construction of this sandwich is rather involved—the andouille required several cycles in the oven to achieve perfect toastiness.

All things considered, I’ll still be bringing in my own apples and making this sandwich all the time.

Monthlong specials are tough.

Between training the workforce, developing marketing ideas, putting marketing ideas into practice, sourcing ingredients not ordinarily found at NWS, perfecting sauce recipes, keeping new ingredients in-stock, cultivating demand among our customers, and Flo creating detailed and accurate individual signs(!), a lot of resources went into these specials, which deserved more time to shine than we could practically allot them.

This is just to say, the upcoming Sandwich Lab probably won’t turn out the same way. We’re leaving our options open, and making no promises.

These are the actual numbers.

Your blogger is neither a statistics- nor a mathematics-oriented individual, but I have access to one particular set of data which offers a small insight into the relative success of each sandwich: percentage of units sold. Basically, during the Special’s time on the menu, how many were sold versus how many sandwiches/salads were sold overall. Since I don’t have access to the whole year’s data at this time, I won’t be “sharing my work.” You’re just going to have to trust me. Early results seem to be skewed to the nearest percent, while later results are slightly more accurate.

The Breakfast Club: 56 sold / 1%

The Wagner: 132 sold / 3%

The Spinderella: 128 sold / 2%

The Bloody Mary: 117 sold / 2%

The Wallaby: 86 sold / 1%

The Sebu-chan: 110 sold / 1.5%

The Fish Schtick: 229 sold / 1.7%

The Lake Trout Situation: 92 sold / 0.96%

The G.O.A.T.: 100 sold / 1.46%

We find this percentage useful in determining the relative success of the sandwich since each one had a slightly different price (making total sales less useful) and we have definite slow and busy seasons, in which our overall sandwich sales drop and increase drastically. A “fun” “game” you can play with the numbers I’ve given you is to calculate how many sandwiches/salads we sold in a given month. I’ll leave that up to you, and move on, because I’m finishing up this blog on my day off and want to wrap things up.

Sandwich Lab is coming soon.

At our November 3rd All-Staff Meeting, we determined that the next Sandwich Lab will take place on Sunday, November 17th at 7pm. Goals for this Lab: get new employees and veterans on the same page for our entire huge sandwich menu, perhaps find a couple new sandwiches for the board, and begin development of the sandwich whose naming rights we put up for auction on behalf of Friends of the Boundary Waters. Yes, an individual has earned the right to name an as-of-yet-undeveloped smoked fish sandwich, which will be available in our deli during Spring 2020.

I don’t always ask for feedback…

…but when I do, I make a big deal out of it.

If you’ve had any/all of our 2019 Sandwich Lab specials, and you have any critiques/complaints/compliments that you’d like to share with us, or if you think that any of the specials deserves a victory lap or a slot on our permanent menu, shoot me an email at ned@nwsmokehaus.com

I can’t make any promises about what we’ll do with the information (though if I want to quote you in any future media, I will 100% ask your permission).

Thanks for reading. See you next week.

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5 Things: November 1st, 2019

Diet season is over. Between the leftover Halloween candy all but the most popular houses are holding onto, and the numerous impending holiday feasts you’ll attend, there’s going to be a lot to eat about these next few months. If you live in the cold North like we do, you can choose to view it as a matter of pragmatism: adding an extra layer of insulation to survive the harsh Winter.

Clearly food is on my mind, so it is convenient that I write for a deli’s blog. Today, I’ll tell you about some new food (and beverage) items at the Smokehaus, and if I run out of new foods to talk about, I’ll just wing it the rest of the way.

One more reminder, before we get into the juicy selection of Things™ that await: We’re in the midst of our MN Early Bird mail order sale:

Order now for the holidays and enjoy 15% off any order heading to Minnesota! Smoked turkey, ham, porketta, salmon, and more.

Enter code earlybird19 at checkout and specify when you would like your order to arrive in the order notes. You can use this code on as many individual transactions as you see fit.

This offer is effective through November 14th, 2019. Some boring restrictions may apply.

Learn more about the MN Early Bird sale.

A new beer joins the roster.

Since we began carrying beer, wine, cider, and hard seltzer earlier this year, Fulton’s Lonely Blonde has been a customer favorite. But seasons change, and beer menus do too, so once we run out o our stock of Lonely Blonde*, we’ll begin serving Fulton’s Standard Lager, a very sessionable all-malt lager that clocks in at a respectable 4.5% abv and is a perfect fit for the colder part of the year.

Smoked Molasses Cookies.

The newest addition to our lineup of baked goods is a hot topic in this increasingly colder season. Patricia has been talking about smoked molasses cookies since she started working at our deli, and the dream has finally come true. Made with a 50/50 blend of haus-smoked and unsmoked butter, and the perfect amount of haus-smoked molasses, these cookies are a great follow-up to any of our sandwiches, but to me they sound (err…taste?) like a great follow-up to a straightforward sandwich, like the Cold Turkey or Gorilla. They will be regularly available for $2 in the deli, on their own or in a Box Lunch.

Thanksgiving Dinner Pasties.

On Wednesday, I caught Patricia in the middle of baking off a huge tray of bread cubes. When I asked why prep had her making croutons, she gave me the best news I’d received all week, which you can likely guess from the preceding emboldened text: these bread cubes will become stuffing. That stuffing will be combined with Smoked Turkey Breast, gravy, craisins, and root vegetables to form ~*THANKSGIVING DINNER PASTIES*~

Be the first* to know when they’re available. Keep your eyes on our social media pages.

Grab Thanksgiving Dinner by the crust and enjoy!

*After Patricia, whomever is working with Patricia, and whomever is available to post the news to our social media feed.

Our All-Staff Meeting is this Sunday at 6pm, and Sandwich Lab is just around the corner.

This seems like it should be two Things™, but it’s happening as one. On Sunday, November 3rd, we’ll be closing our doors at 5 p.m.—just a little bit earlier than usual—for an All-Staff Meeting. Please forgive us in advance if you were planning on stopping into our deli between 5 and 6 p.m. on your way out of town. (Perhaps you could just skip town an hour earlier to beat our closing time. It’s cold and snowing here now—there’s nothing for you anymore.)

And just a few short weeks after, many of us Smokehausers will meet for our annual Sandwich Lab.

Sandwich Lab is an event that emerged a few years back to calibrate our evolving/rotating cast of sandwich makers, to ensure that we’re making sandwiches consistently, and of the utmost quality. The Summer rush is not the ideal scenario in which to learn the subtle art of NWS sandwich-making, and yet that is when so many among us must cut their teeth.

Sandwich Lab also offers us an opportunity to share our favorite personal sandwiches, to have them graded and analyzed (and ideally enjoyed). Last year’s Sandwich Lab featured so many good candidates that we released them as monthly specials, beginning with the Breakfast Club, and ending with the G.O.A.T., which saw its last official day on the menu yesterday.

Who knows what will happen this year(?), but however it goes, it always ends up being fun.

ACTUAL SANDWICH LAB FOOTAGE

ALL-DAY SLIDERS!

In conjunction with our new-and-improved Happy Hour, we’ve added Smokehaus Sliders to the menu. Monday through Friday 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., 16oz cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Hamm’s are $2, and all other craft brews are $1-off.

The sliders feature half-portions of your favorite NWS meats, and butter, on a cute little slider bun, and are available for $3 (or two for $5). HOWEVER, if you can’t make it in between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., you can still get sliders all day at the low, low cost of $3 for one/$6 for two.

They’re the perfect size for kids of all ages, and those who want to try a variety of our products without breaking belt loops or billfolds.


Thanks for stopping by 5 Things™. We at the Smokehaus hope you have a good rest of your day and stay hydrated. We love you forever.

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SANDWICH LAB: The G.O.A.T.

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:


The greatest season has arrived, and we’ve got a great Fall sandwich for you: creamy chèvre, smoky and peppery toasted andouille sausage, crispy local apple slices, and lettuce, on a toasted Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel.

Pitched at the Sandwich Lab without a name, it first became known as the Perfect Fall Sandwich. Realizing that was a mouthful to say for a sandwich that should be enjoyed in small, thoughtful, well-chewed bites, it evolved into the G.O.A.T. (the Greatest of All Time. At what? Try it and tell us!). One grandiose name for another, this time a cheesy pun.

This final installment in the 2019 Sandwich Lab series comes to you courtesy of its creator: uh…me! I could go on about the sandwich’s origin story, weaving an epic tale of my frequent lunch-break searches for the Fruit of Knowledge itself (thank you, Canal Park Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, for your un-dipped apples), describing the culinary ballet of this food parcel’s individual components, but I don’t want anyone to overthink it.

To say it’s a good Fall sandwich would be an understatement.

Try it today (10/2) through the end of the month in our deli, via pickup, or delivered for $9.50+tax, and earn an extra punch on your Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card.

This concludes the 2019 cycle of Sandwich Lab Specials.


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.
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5 Things: July 12th, 2019

5 Things™ is back from vacation. I had the best steak of my life (please pound your steaks thin and marinate them overnight before you ever consider cooking them), my very first experience with escargot, watched a Chicago-sized storm cloud travel over Chicago from a balcony at the epicenter of the cloudburst, and even got a wicked sunburn at a crowded beach, but didn’t manage to churn out a blog. Hopefully you just went about your lives and didn’t miss it too much.

Here’s a handful of things that I’ve learned about life at NWS since I’ve returned.

Andy has stepped into his role as Mail Order director.

I already knew about this one, but you may not have. Shipping our hand-crafted products around the nation is part of the foundation of our business, but the department has been without a leader for a couple months. In practice, perhaps you didn’t even notice, due to our staff’s ability to fill in the gaps.

We interviewed several candidates within our existing staff, and selected Andy to guide the future of this department. Training in as the director of this massive endeavor—December is one of our most profitable months, and that is in large part due to mail order—is no small, short, or easy task, so we wish Andy the best.

Tyler has evolved into his delivery/pickup assistant manager-form.

Tyler, who once told me he didn’t want any responsibility beyond being a good dishwasher—I’m paraphrasing—has now taken on more responsibility, seemingly of his own accord.

The delivery/pickup department, which has been going through its own evolution lately—simultaneously contracting its in-haus delivery hours and range, and expanding its hours and range through third-party delivery services Food Dudes and Bite Squad—welcomes Tyler’s affable leadership.

The Fish Schtick.

“Sandwich Lab” may be one of the most-oft repeated phrases in my blogging life. This month’s Sandwich Lab special (temporary addition to the sandwich menu) is a curious sandwich called the Fish Schtick.

Assembled on a haus ciabatta roll, it is composed of Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon, tomato, cornichon pickle, lettuce, mayo, and lemon pepper. It has a bright, complex, yet cohesive harmony of flavors tied together by the smoky goodness of our salmon.

The Fish Schtick accounts for about 2% of our sandwich sales during its time on the menu, which is nothing to shake a schtick at.

The months ahead will feature a Lake Superior Lake Trout-salad sandwich, and a smoked Andouille sausage, chevre, and green apple sandwich. Stay hungry, because all of these Sandwich Lab specials get you two stamps on your sandwich card. Now that’s value!

We have the hardest working production crew in town!

Okay, this may not be strictly true—I didn’t do any research—but hear me out: I checked in with our team of roughly five smokers about their life in the basement, and found out that they’ve been putting in hours—working double shifts, sometimes triples, and the occasional overnight—but that was only after some prying on my part.

Their first answer to my inquiry about life in the basement: “It’s pretty chill!”

How’s that for a winning attitude? This is the energy we need to take with us into the rest of 2019.

We had a span of 11 days that would have blown my mind when I started at NWS.

And I was on vacation the whole time.

When I began working at our humble deli, there was tangible excitement any time our daily sales were above $5,000. I’m pretty sure $9,000 in sales would have merited a pizza party, popping Champagne corks (or vigorously-shaken LaCroix cans), and maybe even some light screaming.

While I was out of town, our average daily sales were closing in on $10,000, even on days that we closed early, due to holidays and our Sunday hours. For eleven days.

We’re really glad you all like us so much.

We love you forever!

See you next time on 5 Things™.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Fish Schtick

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:


The Fish Schtick

Remember fish sticks? Breaded some-kind-of-whitefish, fried, frozen, reheated (perhaps in a microwave, or for the more patient among us, in the oven) and dipped in tartar sauce. Simple, delicious, nostalgic.

I sure do. I ate so many of those things in my youth that I had to take an extended break from fish.

Now imagine that experience, but more sophisticated, and with 100-percent less burnout. That’s what we’re channeling with The Fish Schtick.

Mayonnaise, lemon pepper, tomato, cornichon pickles, and lettuce on a Haus ciabatta roll form the flavor-framework of this sandwich, and our brown sugar-brined and perfectly-smoked Traditional Atlantic Salmon fills out the body.

It’s not deep-fried and it doesn’t come from a bag in your freezer, but it still hits like a blast from the past, and that’s the way Harrison (the sandwich’s inventor) planned it.

Beginning on Wednesday, July 3rd and running through Monday, August 5th, the Fish Schtick will be available for your consumption, and I strongly recommend you jump on this opportunity. Not only is this sandwich surprisingly delicious, but each one earns you two stamps on your loyalty card.


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.
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“5” Things: May 24th 2019

Last Friday, I sure tried to post a 5 Things™ blog. I came in a half-hour early for my deli shift, sat down to post it, and saw nothing but this:

What can you do?

So I kept my laptop open and in-sight all day, on our in-haus WiFi, and my own personal mobile hotspot, and even Lake Avenue Café’s WiFi (thanks, Lake Ave!).

To no avail.

So I headed home, and gave it a shot on my own WiFi.

I gave up on periodically pressing ‘Publish’ at 6pm, and resigned myself to enjoying my weekend, blog be damned.

If you are reading this, this 5 Things™ blog was successfully posted.

This week we had many meetings!

Sunday night, we had a long overdue ALL STAFF MEETING in which we discussed the impending Summer rush, our future in offering beer & wine, plans for our patio, and much more. Afterward, pizza and carbonated beverages were consumed.

Then on Monday night, those of us who will be in a position to sell the aforementioned beer & wine attended a scintillating alcohol service training.

After the alcohol service training, the D&D group entered the Pit of Blood and Fortune in a battle royale that thrust us into direct combat against each other, and ended up imprisoned by an Illithid in the service of a Beholder. That seemed like an adequately depressing place to end after learning the harsh potential consequences of alcohol over-service, so we’ll see what happens next week.

How about some exciting news?

Smoked ribs are back in stock!

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the commencement of grilling season! Ribs sell for $10.99/lb in whole (~2 lb) and half racks.

Perfectly seasoned and smoky.

Today we have have racks coming fresh out of the smoker, which really is the best way to have any smoked meats. Place your pickup order over the phone on ChowNow for $9 half racks and $16 whole racks. All the convenience of skipping the deli line, with a little bit of savings on the sale as well. This fresh-smoked rib special will be happening through Monday (Memorial Day) or until we run out.

Order online here

We don’t talk about our ribs that much, outside of pop-ups, so consider this our way-too-late Smoked Ribs Product Launch™. Starting on Memorial Day, smoked ribs will be our Monday special.

Ribs and kimchi is a haus favorite!

Kenspeckle Letterpress shirts are returning soon!

Our classic shirts, long only in-stock in the sizes nobody was looking for, are returning soon, in all sizes! Designed by master printmaker Rick Allen at Kenspeckle Letterpress, these shirts are one of our oldest pieces of inedible brand merchandise, and we’re looking forward to restocking them. Now in softer, more breathable cotton!

Spicy Tales of Charcuterie!


We took our last trip out to Hemlock Preserve!

Not our last trip ever, of course. Just the final installation of our extended/postponed/multiply rescheduled catering photo shoot series.

This particular trip featured two charming friends of NWS in a mock breakfast-picnic-slash-Jay-Cooke-hike scenario.

When we present the final product of these photo shoots, you’re getting the cream of the crop—maybe 15-25 photographs—but a ton of work goes into finding those perfect couple dozen images. Here’s a tribute to all the surprisingly hard work that goes into making dozens of artful plates of food, transporting them between multiple buildings (rain or shine), finding the best light, positioning the plates, capturing their best angles, and so on, and so forth:

Northern Waters Catering news!

Our Northern Waters Catering menu has been in development for the past several months, and I’ve finally begun to put the first draft that hit my desk last week into a solid second draft. It’s only a (brief) matter of time until the menu will be in your hands. While the menu is full of our favorite and most requested dishes, it is not exhaustive of our capabilities.

And now, the crowning segment of this blog.

I am pleased to announce:

So pleased!

Hannah/Northern Waters Catering got a new cooler! It is not only quite stylish and large, but also has wheels and evidently a ruler etched into it! You’ll likely spot it any time we are out around the town, and on our patio this Summer.T

We’re at the halfway point of Sandwich Lab specials!

The Breakfast Club, The Wagner, The Spinderella, The Bloody Mary, and now The Wallaby comprise the first wave of our Sandwich Lab specials.

Sandwich Lab is an annual meeting where we brush up on our sandwich making skills and have the opportunity to share our favorite personal sandwich creations for review by the staff and potential inclusion on the menu. And it is typically a lot of fun. Last year, there were too many good entries to pick just one or two, so we decided to run ten of them as monthlong specials, and add one (the Adisalad) to our permanent menu.

The Adisalad

We’ve begun keeping a running tally of our Sandwich Lab specials and how they’ve sold against total sandwiches sold during their tenure.

Hannah is 66.5% certain that these statistics will factor into future Sandwich Lab discussions.

How many Sandwich Lab creations have you tried? Which was your favorite? Do you have any advice for escaping the clutches of a mind flayer? Let us know in the comments.

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SANDWICH LAB: The Wallaby

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:


Modern life can be so monotonous. You wake up, probably earlier or later than you intended to; you make yourself the same cup of coffee, or exchange your hard-earned coin and sidelong glances with a glazed-eyed barista to order your same ol’ cup of coffee; you go to work; maybe you catch a happy hour with some acquaintances with whom you’re not sure where you stand, maybe with some close friends with whom you share your day’s gripes; you go home; you think briefly about working on your novel, but then decide you’re not in the right headspace today (just like yesterday, and probably like tomorrow); you fall asleep watching your soaps; you awaken in a cold sweat, for a moment not remembering where you are, then realize you’re in the recliner; you barely find the strength to pull yourself to bed, maybe you didn’t even change your clothes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Life is full of surprising beauty. Life itself could easily be defined as a propensity for change and growth. Life…uh…finds a way. Life can be a hoot, if you choose to see it that way.

Seize opportunities to try something new, like the Wallaby. It’s the Smokehaus’s first-ever avocado sandwich, brought to us by Michael, our coworker who is allergic to avocados. I’ll let that sink in.

Michael brought us the Wallaby because he correctly identified that our customers have been wanting avocado on the line for a while, thought we could increase our vegan-friendly options, and because a sandwich quite a bit like it was the best-selling sandwich at Creekside Coffee in Sedona, AZ, while he worked there. When he makes it, he can recall the owner explaining the sandwich step-by-step in their Australian accent, hence the name.

And speaking of making it, here’s what you can expect when you order the Wallaby. Haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye bread, sliced avocado, juicy tomato slices, locally-sourced ramps, lemon pepper, and a balsamic reduction. It’s a sandwich you’d expect, sure, but if you really attend to it—notice the song & dance of the flavors and textures, relish in the tomato juice dripping down your hands and forearms, imagine the love with which it was made—it could be transcendent.

The Wallaby is available in our deli and via delivery from May 6th through June 3rd for $6 + tax (or $9 + tax with crispy smoked pancetta).


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.
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SANDWICH LAB: The Spinderella

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.

Press play. Sound “on” for best results.

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.
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“5” Things: March 1st

Some love the crisp Minnesota winter air.

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.

Same general appearance, vastly different flavor profile.

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.

Catch it while you can. Sunday’s the last day.

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.