Long before you walk through the door of Northern Waters Smokehaus in the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace in Duluth's Canal Park, you will smell the sweet scent of smoldering wood and the meats, fish, and cheeses that the smoke so vividly perfumes.
Eric Goerdt calls his place a micro-smokery, and the retail space is small indeed; but what he's talking about is the fact that his whitefish, salmon, pancetta, sausage, bacon, and bison pastrami are all produced in small batches and have a fresh, in-your-face flavor unlike anything mass-produced. While much business is by-the-pound for taking home, Eric offers such sandwiches as smoked bison shoulder braised in Schlitz and barbecue sauce on a bun, wild Alaskan sockeye gravlax with pickled ginger, vegetables, and wasabi mayonnaise on a baguette, and an insanely opulent gloss on the traditional reuben, this one made of hot bison pastrami, caramelized onions, pepperoncini, mayonnaise, and provolone on a crusty hard roll.
The items that wow me most are the smoked fish. Before he came down to Duluth, Eric was a fisherman in Sitka, Alaska, where he perfected his techniques for smoking fish as well as meats. When you listen to him talk about the firm luxury of a hunk of salmon that has been hand-trimmed, marinated, and smoked over Maple wood, you are hearing a man on a mission to make delicious fish.
Good news for those not soon planning to visit Duluth. Northern Waters Smokehaus is set up to ship its products. Just the other day I got a package of whitefish and smoked salmon, and have been eating nothing else for breakfast, lunch, and supper!
"Northern Waters offers varieties of smoked salmon: dilled, sprinkled with black pepper and coriander, Cajun spiced, and traditional. These beauteous hunks are traditional, seasoned only with salt and pepper and the indescribable sweetness of maple wood smoke. Poke a fork into this meat and it separates into big, pink hunks that are rich and delicious."
"Whitefish from Lake Superior is a favorite at most restaurants in the Duluth area. It is a mild and very moist fish, its delicacy enhanced by a long bath in wood smoke."
"Smokemaster Eric Goerdt shows a piece of his bison pastrami, which is at the heart of the every-Wednesday special sandwich. It is lean but full-flavored, and goes great with provolone and caramelized onions."
"Eric makes his pancetta from Minnesota-raised pork. It is super garlicky!"