Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Too for March, 2014
- Stout braised onions
- Potatoes, green and red bell peppers O’Brien
- Corned beef
- Whole grain honey mustard
- 10 oz. Beef patty
- Pretzel bun
Coinciding with the Irish-related festivities, the TOME was the doom and sludge metal-inspired burger for the month of March at Kuma’s Too, representing the full gamut of the cuisine spawned in the alternate, parallel Irish American universe that we all eventually learn to love at least once a year. And what better way to make an offering to this rapidly evolving and expanding Irish band than with a burger celebrating the most Irish of holidays in the city with the craziest St. Patrick’s parades? We dye an entire river and tens of thousands of pitchers of beer the color green, for Christ’s sake! At its core, the TOME is a simple, meat and potatoes burger that will win in the brawl with your taste buds by packing a savory left uppercut and a sweet right hook, which is not in any way referring to the stereotype of the fighting Irish, okay? The burger was topped with slivers and chunks of stout braised onions, which automatically made them better, because stouts make everything better, according to my astewed *groan* observation. The same were mixed in a hash-like collection of potatoes O’Brien, which was a hot mess of pan-fried potatoes and red and green bell peppers originating from good ole Boston, MA. This is a popular combination of ingredients that is sweeping the nation one college cafeteria breakfast burrito at a time and for a good reason – the diced potatoes are not only greatly complimented by the peppers, but their shape, taste and even al dente consistency are relatively uncommon enough to intrigue the palate more than the usual french fries of mashed potatoes. Now that we’ve got the veggies out of the way.. Corned beef. Lots and lots and lots of it. Seriously, the TOME (or at least MY TOME) had layers and layers of this good stuff and it was gently tearing at the edges as I was devouring the burger. So much, in fact, that at one point I no longer had a side of fries but a side of corned beef and fries, which is always a plus in my book. I know it’s something that is constantly reiterated every year but just like the potatoes O’Brien corned beef is not a traditional staple in Irish cuisine and was originally a substitute for the more expensive bacon which fresh off the boat Irish immigrants could not afford. Nowadays, I’m just glad that it’s so popular and it is probably my favorite kind of cured meat to put on a sandwich, which is why it felt so great on the TOME. I think the best quality of the corned beef (other than the taste!) is its texture and just the fact that it is basically many segments of cured beef, so it breaks apart as you eat it and it doesn’t cause the rest of the ingredients to shift because it doesn’t move. Underneath the corned beef was the 10oz. beef patty, but what’s was on top of it and what was ultimately the MVP ingredient of the TOME was the whole grain honey mustard. The honey mustard added tons of flavor and sweetness to an otherwise relatively bland combination of ingredients without much spice to them and was seriously delicious. I am not sure if this was a housemade condiment, but it was simply the best, especially when it came to the aftertaste. It wasn’t overpowering, but it definitely dominated with its sweet flavor.
When I have Irish food I always go for the Guiness Ltd. Guinness Draught Irish Dry Stout [4.20% ABV] as a classic that has proven itself to me over and over again with its creamy, immortal crown and smooth roasted malts flavor, but since Kuma’s does not carry this vitamin D-enhanced giant I ordered myself this month’s specialty DryHop Brewers Death Rides a Horse Russian Imperial Stout [8.0% ABV]. I wrote about it in great detail here. It packs twice the alcoholic punch with a stronger, bolder notes of roasted malts, espresso and chocolate without any visible foamy head and is just a pleasant, smooth American-made stout which feels Irish enough. Kuma’s Too was actually running a promotion that night and every customer who purchased a Dryhop Brewers beer got their name entered for a drawing for a pair of tickets for a Russian Circles (as well as Helms Alee and KEN mode) concert… and whaddaya know…. this happened:
As soon as I was done with my stout, the TOME burger was delivered to me with all of its glory and I decided to trust Kuma’s Too and oredered their recommended pairing to go with it: Powers Gold Label Irish Whiskey [43.2% ABV]! Easily the most Irish part of the equation, Powers Gold Label surprised me initially with a very vibrant, orange color akin to orange marmalade or (false) acacia monofloral honey. I usually order my whiskeys with a single ice cube, but this time I grabbed it neat not to dilute the flavor. I wasn’t going to sip on it, I was going to take generous gulps while devouring the TOME, so I wasn’t planning on having it last. My taste for whiskeys and my palate are not as developed as I want them to be, but I could see why some of the taste notes listed on the distiller’s website might be suitable for consumption with the TOME – cinnamon, green peppers, nutmeg and fruits play along with the bold barley characteristic of this beverage and all go down smoothly, leaving this sweet, spiced sensation of exponentially expanding warmth in the chest. What seals the deal, however, is the strong, lingering honey finish! This whiskey seriously tripled the flavor which I loved the most about the TOME by taking the whole grain honey mustard’s sweetness to a whole new level. The whiskey added strong notes of barley and honey mid-bite and its pleasant burn added a much appreciated level of piquantness. Overall, I was definitely surprised at how the pairing of a relatively simple burger and relatively underrated Irish whiskey made the act of bovine genocide so sublime.