His body and blood,
Sharing in common,
His body and blood,
His body and blood,
Son of God.
The bitter taste is sweet.
So eat Nazarene
And you kiss the obscene,
Ghost – Body and Blood
Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Corner for October, 2013 and One Day Only Special on April 19, 2014
- Unconsecrated Communion wafer
- Red wine reduction
- White cheddar cheese
- Ghost chili aioli
- Braised goat shoulder
- 10 oz. Beef patty
- Pretzel bun
Everything comes full circle. When there is a coming, there is always a second one, and lo! The Ghost burger reappeared at the original Kuma’s Corner location as a One Day Only Special burger as a celebration to the return of its namesake – Swedish heavy metal doom band Ghost, and like the anonymous band with its Nameless Ghouls and Papa Emeritus II headlining it, it was a thing of dark beauty to behold… but you already knew that, didn’t you? And whaddaya know? There were no complaints from concerned religious Chicagoans. No picket lines. No passive aggressive blog posts. You’d think that such a “sacrilegious” and “ungodly” band with songs about Satan would have raised Hell the day before Easter, right? Nope. Ghost showed up. Signed some stuff. Put on an amazing show. Then left. Oh, and a bunch of people had some unconsecrated Communion wafers purchased from Amazon.
Ghost’s concert at the Vic on April 19th had a lot of us waiting with bated breaths for yet another grandiose performance, but as one of the lucky ones who had the chance to taste the eponymous burger over at Kuma’s Corner in October, I was also hoping for a return of the ungodly bovine genocide. Personally, I’ve been in this “foodie” biz for about 6 months and it was a last moment visit to Kuma’s and a bite of the burger that which sealed the deal and inspired me to write about food. AND, it introduced me to a great band! Needless to say, my partner in masticular cowslaughter and I immediately set ourselves to a day filled with meeting, eating and listening to Ghost, for..
If you have ghosts,
Then you have everything,
You can say anything you want,
and you can do anything you want
Roky Erickson – If You Have Ghosts
And now I can finally do the Ghost burger some justice while the whole thing is still current!
The second coming of the Ghost burger was incredibly expeditious. We got our medium rare burgers just minutes after we ordered it. We sat down and the entire place got packed. There was a line around the block before it even opened! We had been planning on ordering an appetizer to kill some time, but we received our BBQ Pulled Pork Fries as soon as the burgers hit the table. We both devoured the (unconsecrated) Communion wafer, laughed maniacally and then proceeded to work on the Ghosts. Even at first bite, the entire thing proved to be very complex. There was plenty of red wine reduction which got absorbed by the pretzel bun, but without making it soggy at all – parts of it got absorbed by the braised goat shoulder as well, resulting in subtle, dry, notes of grape and just a slight hint of red vinegar in the nose, which would make any Mediterranean salad-dipper salivate. Then, it was all about the ghost pepper aioli. The pepper itself has many names and personally I’ve never tried it fresh, but I can see how and why it used to be the hottest chilli pepper in the world. A habanero pepper sauce is the closest that I’ve had, and it had a very focused, radiating heat which started at the initial point of contact (usually the tip of the tongue) and spread all over, but the burning sensation kept its intensity around the tongue region. The ghost chili aioli, however, was very different. Basically, imagine that your hands are freezing and someone handed you a VERY hot cup of coffee. Now imagine that one moment when your hands are no longer cold, but still numb, and just about to be overwhelmed by a wave of scalding hot. Good. If you hold on to that moment and transfer it to your mouth region, you’ll get the same stale, immobile, fiery sensation. Like an impending doom just waiting to happen. And it’s a lingering one. Reminds me a lot of those crappy horror movies where people get possessed by ghosts and stuff…..
Actually, the ghost chili aioli seemed to be a tad hotter than its October predecessor, and this most infernal, infestissumam bombardment of the palate forced us to keep a steady, but slow pace, thus helping us enjoy the Ghost burger for quite some time. The white cheddar cheese added some texture and solace from the heat, and the combination of braised meat and burger patty was once again executed perfectly by the chefs, resulting in a succulent, yet chewy combo. The goat shoulder was quite generous, engaging the jaw just enough to prolong the entire fiasco, and the medium rare burger captured the flavors of the wine and the aioli, adding some actual blood in the mix.. as it always should. Easily a burger I could see myself eating rare. To this day, the Ghost burger still has my vote for best Kuma’s burger, not just because of the taste and quality of the ingredients, but also because of its creative, tongue-in-cheek representation of a great band, whose Satanic theme is just as tongue-and-cheek.
We decided to order the BBQ Pork Fries appetizer ($13), for that meat triumvirate of pork, goat and beef. The BBQ Pork fries is probably the best deal when it comes to the selection of appetizers at Kuma’s, because it is basically a meal a ton of fries topped with slow cooked pulled pork shoulder meat congealed with a heap of shredded Monterey Jack cheese. And green onions. Can’t forget the garnish of green onions. This was an amazing appetizer to “mess around” with before, during and after we got our Ghosts with lots and lots of pork. I acutally think that we left a couple of bites on the place, because we were in such a hurry to meet the band. Do I see myself ordering the BBQ Pork Fries in the future? Yes. In fact, it’s the only thing I see.
In my October visit to Kuma’s, I had the Three Floyds Brewing Co. Robert the Bruce Scottish Ale [6.50% ABV] (served on tap), which complimented the flavor of Ghost with a malty, caramel zing without watering it down or washing out the spicy aftertaste. Back then, I wasn’t necessarily looking for a bottle of booze to match the flavor, so it was not intentional. The good thing about spicy as hell burgers is that as long as you don’t order a watery, yellow concoction you shooould be good. Then, when the feast was over (not a small feat!), a bottle of hoppy Great Lakes Brewing Co. Nosferatu Imperial Red Ale [8.00% ABV] added a much needed and appreciated bite of malty caramel and pine to the meal without leaving me twice shy.
April’s visit and the second coming of the Ghost burger had Kuma’s twitter recommending the Three Floyds Brewing Co. Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout [15.00% ABV] as a possible pairing.. if you were lucky enough to have one at home, that is… which only reminded me that Dark Lord Day was occurring on my birthday this year. And I couldn’t get any tickets, man. So, I ordered an Allagash Brewing Company Allagash White Witbier [5.00% ABV], but mostly because I could not, for the life of me, decide what to pair with the Ghost. The hazy, coriander-infused beer was nice and refreshing, with what I would describe as “buttery” mouthfeel with a short, distant reminder of freshly squeezed lemonade somewhere in the cloudy aftertaste. It worked. I’m not sure if I would have been able to handle the intensity of ghost chili aioli this time around if I had paired it with a really hoppy, or even a really malty beer, so the Allagash helped me to cruise along. It was still per aspera ad inferi, but I made it, didn’t I?