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5 Things In The 2020 Hygge Gift Box

We could all use a bit more hygge in our lives. Hygge is a useful, if tricky to translate, Danish term describing “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being,” and it’s the central principle guiding our midwinter gift box.

At NWS, we believe that feeling of contentment and well-being can be found by reveling in the good things that surround us in our Northern home. We also believe that, in this workaday world, sometimes embracing hygge requires a little inspiration—just the gentlest push. That’s why we’ve curated this year’s box of local goodness aimed at providing you and your loved ones with the means for a cozy evening in.

This weeks 5 Things will take a closer look at exactly what makes up the 2020 edition of the Hygge Gift Box!

NWS Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon

Our Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon is buttery, sweet, and smoky. To many in our loyal customer-base, this smoked salmon is the taste of Northern Waters Smokehaus, and they’ll make a pit-stop in Duluth on their way North (or South) just to procure a piece. The centerpiece of every Hygge Gift Box is a half-pound slab of this delicious smoked fish.

Local Midwestern Cheese

Cheese is literally calming—it’s been scientifically proven! Beyond that, cheese just tastes good. We choose our cheeses with love and care, and you’ll feel it. Each Hygge Gift Box comes with a selection of one of our favorite regional cheeses, just like we sell in our deli.

Snooty Fox Tea

Nothing evokes “comfortable conviviality and … well-being” quite like tea. Local tea artisans Snooty Fox Tea Shop have provided us with an assortment of their most calming and convivial tea blends. Each Hygge Gift Box contains seven sachets of Gold Spice Rooibos, Boreal Forest Herbal Blend, or Sauna Steamer Black Blend. Enjoy life like you enjoy tea—sip by sip.

Epicurean Cutting Board

Epicurean produces top-quality cutting boards and kitchenware right out of our neck-of-the-woods. Our friends at the Epicurean Factory Outlet in Superior, WI provided the perfect utility tool for your curated hygge experience: A compact walnut woodgrain cutting board. This beautifully-crafted walnut board is the perfect size for a mini charcuterie platter featuring your smoked salmon and local cheese, and it will ingratiate itself as a favorite piece of kitchenware.

Blue Heron Trading Co. Dish Towel

For the final contribution from our local friends, we just walked down the hall to the Blue Heron Trading Company. This beloved kitchen store is not just our #1 source for replacement vegetable peelers and fantastic $1 cups of coffee, but also provided the final touch to your hygge experience—a hand towel! Whether you use it as a table-cover under your charcuterie platter, use it for clean-up, or both, this Blue Heron-branded towel will serve you well for years to come.

(Bonus Thing: Raincoast Crisps from Patricia’s Pantry)

A bonus for purposes of this blog’s allocated number of Things™, our resident baker savant Patricia has crafted these wonderful crackers especially for the Hygge Gift Box. Blending nuts, seeds, and dehydrated fruits with herbs and just a touch of brown sugar, the Raincoast Crisps are the ideal compliment to the included smoked salmon, cheese, and tea, and, with their nutritious ingredients-list, are virtually guilt-free snacking.


The Hygge Gift Box is now available exclusively online! Each box is tastefully assembled per order.

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5 Things About NWS Mail Order in 2019

The Holiday Mail Order season at Northern Waters Smokehaus has officially come to a close! Writing this summary post, it seems like barely a heartbeat has passed, but to the dedicated seasonal and All-Season staff working long hours—the M.O. workdays often extended from as early as 5 a.m. to as late as midnight, divided between a few shifts of amorphous length—it must feel like the conclusion to an epic journey.

Much has changed for us in the previous year of the department. In the late Spring, Andy took over as mail order director. In the Summer and Fall months, we designated cut-off days for the various holiday shipping schedules, solidified communication channels between the mail order department and the production team (aka the smokehouse), re-assessed our shipping rates and carriers to accurately reflect the material cost of shipping throughout the nation, and, for basically the first time in the department’s history, are now not losing money on the cost of shipping.

All of these changes have helped our small-scale operation provide exquisite smoked fish, meats, and other treats to an enormous amount of people this season, and to do so in a profitable manner: huge news for any small business!

This week, we’ll look at a few data points—I’d guess about five—that might provide some insight into the season and what it entails.

Ten (plus one) people.

Andy, six other year-round NWS employees, three seasonal laborers, and former M.O. director, Annemarie—also former author of this blog—taking care of outreach for corporate orders remotely: That’s the size of the crew who spent the last month and some change packaging and shipping out several literal tons of product to as close as Southern Minnesota and as far as Hawaii.

One month, one week.

That’s the length of the “season” as we measured it this year. Mail order happens, to varying degrees, year round at NWS, but for the sake of this blog post (and our own internal reckoning), the holiday shipping season began on November 11th and ended on December 18th, with the cutoff for orders shipped in 2019 on December 16th.

One thousand seven hundred sixty three.

That is how many individual boxes were shipped during the official season. 1,576 orders taken in-store, over the phone, or online, with an additional 187 through Goldbelly. Though it is never quite so cut-and-dried, that works out to just under 180 boxes per mail order staff member during this short stint.

A look at the most popular items.

While researching this tidbit, or, more accurately, asking Flo to help me uncover these statistics, the initial report was mistakenly only for the final week of the season. Upon second inspection, with proper dates in-place, we got a nearly identical list. Since I’ve mentioned both of them, I’ll provide both. Here’s the top sellers for the final week of 2019 mail order, followed by the top sellers the whole season:

And overall:

Clearly, our smoked fish is the overall winner of the season, which is not a huge surprise, given how popular it, and fish sandwiches, are in our deli.

Peak dates.

I’ll spare you the very boring-looking graph, but five days stood out (with steep peaks) for orders placed—a perfect number for the overarching theme of this blog. The significance of these dates may be partially arbitrary, but I’ll try to wager a guess as to why each day was so successful. What follows is a blend of fact and intuition:

  • 11/18 – This date reeks to me of “final day to place orders that will arrive before Thanksgiving” territory.
  • 11/29 – This was Black Friday, right? All of the calendars in the room are flipped to December, so I cannot be bothered to verify this claim.
  • 12/2 – Cyber Monday, also known ’round these parts as Pigs in Space, a day when many folks are compelled by deals to shop online. Our particular variety of deal is free (or reduced) shipping on orders between $150 and $350 placed on this day.
  • 12/9 – I have barely the slightest clue as to the significance of this date. Shot in the dark: Folks want their food available for the holidays, early enough that there is no concern about it arriving on time, but not so early as to be on its last legs of freshness when served.
  • 12/15 – The penultimate day to place orders for shipping in 2019.

Sincerest thanks for reading this week, and for whatever part you may have played in our Holiday Mail Order Season! Shipping resumes January 6th, 2020!

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How to Survive a Summer Line at Northern Waters Smokehaus

By Ned Netzel, Frontline Force, Musician, Sandwich Inventor

Dig, if you will, a picture of yourself entering Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace for the first time. It is a sunny, hot summer day, and you have just spent the last fifteen minutes searching for a parking spot or “bridged.” Your GPS has sent you on what seems like a wild goose- *ahem* salmon-chase, but finally you arrive at our shop—perhaps you first heard of us while watching our segment on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (filmed during our more idle days)—and after entering through the modestly-labelled “exit” door (appropriate only while wearing a raspberry beret) are asked to head to the back of what appears to be a line all the way through the building. Trust me: Those of us making sandwiches behind the counter are just as terrified as you. And those of us behind the deli cases feel for you. Now that we’ve acknowledged the mutual trepidation, I would like to lay out a (fingers crossed) concise guide to improving your experience, and that of your fellow patrons, at our establishment.

The “Flow” of our shop

This section is not about our talented designer, “Flo;” it is about the best way to navigate our tiny shop. A somewhat superficially confusing interior design element of our shop is that the checkout register is directly next to the exit door. Allow me to explain why this works best for everyone in three short points: First, it allows us to direct our line down through the building in such a manner that it neither clogs the hallway, nor blocks the entrance to our amazing neighbors, Lake Avenue Café . Secondly, it allows us to divide our tiny (even at two-times the size it was just 3 years ago) shop into an initial grocery/deliberation section, an ordering/payment section, and a final waiting/dining section. If this path is followed, the line will move steadily and your likeliness of feeling stuck in line will decrease greatly. Order grocery items, ask questions, and contemplate your sandwich order before the register; place sandwich orders at the register; prepare to be amazed after the register. My awesome (see: helpful, hilarious) coworkers and I are always there to help with the process, but you, dear reader, shall no longer be dependent on them.
Pro-tip: If you know exactly what you want, try ordering from our pickup/delivery department. You can even order online!

 

Interacting with Our Staff

Everyone in our shop is either human or service animal, so miscommunication is inevitable, but our staff is trained to do everything in our power to provide you with excellent service. Here are a few things you should feel free to ask of us, if we haven’t already offered them:

An Italiensk sandwich from Northern Waters Smokehaus
• Menus. 99%* of the time we have them available for our deli & catering department. You can take them with you or leave them once you’re finished. If you have your smartphone or tablet with you, all of the menus are available on our website. *This is one of  85% of all statistics made up on-the-spot for the purposes of this article.

• Samples. In an ideal world, we have curated samples for you already. In reality, sometimes the line and the long hours have us focused on figuring out what you want and getting it to you in a timely manner. This is your invitation to ask for samples. You have graced our shop with your patronage (or, in other words, waited in a long line to get there), so we would like you to leave with zero surprises about whether you’re getting what you want. With a few exceptions –  mostly frozen goods –  our products are available for sampling. All we ask is that you are respectful of your fellow customers. More on this in the next section, but as always, we are available to help guide the procession.
• Advice. Listen, our shop may be very small, but it can be overwhelming. The staff at NWS will never take for granted that you share our detailed knowledge of our products (shout out to the repeat customers and regulars who do, but there’s no expectation). The sandwich board alone merits hours of analysis (and aesthetic appreciation, shout out again to the phenomenal Flo). Ask us about our favorite sandwiches/deli items, customer favorites, pro-tips, and pairing recommendations. My coworkers and I are not robots, but due to the nature of the work, we often find ourselves repeating actions and phrases throughout the day. When engaged in a friendly manner, we at NWS are among the most thoughtful, funny, and helpful customer service representatives you’ll ever meet, and we love the food we prepare. It bears repeating that we feel for those of you who wait in long lines to experience our amazing products.

Interacting with your fellow customers

Please allow me to editorialize for a minute:
So many of us walk through the world in fear of those around us, or plagued by our own anxieties and problems. Have you ever found yourself feeling lost or alone in a sea of people? Humans are social creatures, yet so much that goes on in the world can isolate us, alienate us, or upset our carefully crafted and protected comfort zones. This isn’t wrong, by any means, but it is sad. Human existence is a strange and beautiful thing, and each person has a unique perspective on the world, yet it can be very easy to allow our joy and wonderment at our environment to become anger and annoyance.
With that said, the best advice I can offer you for surviving the long summer lines at NWS is to engage your fellow customers. Perhaps the person in front of you is ordering a month’s worth of deli items and you only want to order a few sandwiches: ask them if it’s alright to pass them and order. Our staff is used to facilitating these interactions, but we are not always able to. Perhaps you are new to our establishment and the person in front of you is a veteran Smokehauser: ask them if they have any recommendations. Take a look at our Trip Advisor reviews to find that we have passionate and knowledgeable customers. If I know anything about humans, it is that we love to talk about the things we like (guilty as charged: ask me about my favorite music sometime—probably not in the NWS line, although I have occasionally jotted down music recommendations for customers when I thought they would be valued. Maybe I’ll write a future blog post about music culture at NWS. I’ll have to check with my superiors first).
Share your light with your fellow customers, and be a mirror to reflect theirs. We’re all in this together.

Miscellaneous tips

*Have a locally crafted beer with your meal. Our shop can’t sell alcohol, but our neighbors at  Lake Avenue Café have a wonderful bar (a staff favorite post-shift haunt) and a liquor license that extends to the front deck and the tables in the hallway. Get your sandwich wrapped to-go or in a basket (which we trust you will return to us), grab a drink from Lake Avenue Café, and enjoy an exquisite meal in the sunshine of our shared patio.
• Feel as if you have waited long enough in line? Get something from our grab’n’go case and skip the wait for your sandwich, or have the deli staff make you a fish basket, which is typically ready by the time you get to the register. And of course, if lines aren’t your thing, here’s another reminder that you can place delivery and pickup orders online.
• Take it all in. Since we expanded our shop in 2014, we have put a ton of work into making NWS an aesthetically pleasing experience, from the smell and taste of smoked meats, fish and charcuterie, to the visual splendor of the hand-designed sandwich menu, to the serve-yourself nature of a number of our available grocery items, even to the music playing to keep our staff and guests dancing and smiling through the workday.
• Our pickup department has their own door, located in the alleyway between  our building and Duluth Pack. Our phone number is painted on the door next to it, and all you have to do to skip our voice menu and reach the pickup department is press 1. Unfortunately, due to the heavy volume of customers in our shop, if you want to order additional items once you arrive, you’ll have to wait in line. If you find yourself in this position, please refer to our wonderful How to Survive a Summer Line at Northern Waters Smokehaus guide.

If you have any further questions about the best way to experience our shop, I’m not surprised. I have worked at NWS for a few years, and I still learn things about our shop and sandwiches every shift. Just know that we’re happy you’re here for us, and we’ll do our best to be there for you.



P.S. If you noticed the Prince allusions at the beginning of this guide, I love you and you are part of what is right with this world. Try the Purple Range sandwich: A quarter pound of pastrami, cabbage, pepperoncini and red onion on a Crayo-spackled hero roll.

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We’re Coming To Minneapolis

Once again, we will be visiting our beloved Minneapolis this summer!

Because of the busy summer we have planned, we are only able to make it to Mill City Farmer’s Market a few times this season, but if you are in town on one of the following Saturdays,  please stop by and say hello.

We will kick off the season this Saturday, June 25, and return on August 27 and October 29. The markets run from 8AM – 1PM and are located at 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN.

We will be bringing a selection of smoked Atlantic salmon, smoked Sockeye salmon, smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout along with dry-cured salamini, chorizo, saucisson sec, and pepperoni.

As usual, we will be offering samples, conversation, brochures, menus, and other Smokehaus ephemera.

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A New Bearing: Smokehaus Smoked Atlantic Salmon and True North

a piece of smoked Atlanitc salmon cut into slices on a wooden board

By Fiona O’Halloran-Johnson, NWSH Sustainability Chief and smoked Atlantic Salmon lover

Here at the Smokehaus we go through a lot of fish, specifically smoked Atlantic salmon. It goes on our sandwiches both at the deli and the restaurant, on catering platters, it’s shipped straight to your door, or goes home in your bag on your way out of Duluth.

For many years we have been committed to providing you with delicious smoked fish and smoked meats, while adhering to sustainable practices throughout the business – from composting to bike delivery. We have been working on creating programs to decrease our overall waste and impact here at home, but that’s not enough. We have a responsibility to know about our meat and fish, not just the process of how we make it so tasty, but where it comes from.

We are one of the largest buyers of Atlantic salmon in the United States. Yes, our humble little shop buys more Atlantic salmon than restaurants in New York, or huge resorts in California. With this, we have felt a responsibility to look for a sustainable source of salmon that could keep up with our high demands. Prior to the switch, we have been getting Atlantic salmon off the coast of Chile.  While there were many positive attributes to this salmon, simply the length of travel was enough for us to realize we needed a more sustainable source.

We began to look for an option closer to home, but we were not willing to compromise our commitment to sustainable aquatic farming. There is so much that can go wrong when farming fish, from assuring water is not permanently polluted, to making sure the fish are not carrying disease, such as sea lice, that can be transferred to the native populations of aquatic life. We also wanted product that was not full of chemicals, dyes and hormones. We had set our standards pretty high.

And then we found True North.

We are thrilled to announce that we are now selling  Smoked Atlantic Salmon made from True North Salmon Company, a family owned company based out of New Brunswick, Canada. This is exciting for us because we have been concerned about our environmental impact on aquatic life for some time now.   

True North is certified to the Best Aquaculture Practices and the British Retail Consortium Global Standard for Food Safety.

True North is the quintessential sustainable fish farm.

True North uses ocean pens, but rotates crops regularly and uses a fallowing system to ensure that the water and ocean floor rest in between crops. They also stock their salmon in pens at a rate of less than 2% percent of the volume of the pen, which means these salmon have plenty of room to swim around freely and develop healthy muscle tissues naturally.  Their fish also grow on a natural cycle, with no growth hormones, taking two years for the fish to make it to market.

True North is committed to finding fish food that is made sustainably. They use fish meal and oil that are byproducts of fish that is harvested for human consumption, maintaining equilibrium in the local aquatic life. True North has decreased its carbon footprint by using fuel-efficient trucks, and driving a little slower to reduce their carbon emissions when transporting their fish. With their commitment to preserving fresh water they also have a water recycling and filtration system at their freshwater hatcheries. They have also invested in shipping boxes that are made from 100% recycled material.

We are excited about our new Atlantic salmon provider, and we’re excited about taking another big step towards consuming smoked Atlantic  salmon responsibly so we can keep making all your delicious snacks for years to come.

For more information, please peruse:

True North Atlantic Salmon

BAP