Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Too for May, 2014
- Fresh cilantro garnish
- Queso blanco
- Lime braised pork
- Fried poblano strips
- 10 oz. Beef patty
- House-made black bean spread
- Pretzel bun
Similar to the heavy metal offering of its predecessor, May’s BOTM over at Kuma’s Too is yet another killer of a burger, although this one is less likely to get caught and successfully get away with the Insanity Defense. I’m talking, of course, about the Hispanic death metal threat lurking just south of the border – the supergroup Asesino. The burger, as all the ingredients topping the 10oz. beef patty can attest to, is an example of the great things that can happen when traditional staples from Mexican cuisine ally with the American passion for grilling. Asesino is one such union, bringing a lot of familiar flavors to the table, but not without kicking it up a notch, for even the simplest of ingredients can go to eleven. The garnish of cilantro and sprinkled queso blanco on top add a light, creamy and aromatic notes as a way to balance out the rest of the “heavier” ingredients below. As the cheese is not really served in a melting state, it doesn’t really congeal and bind the ingredients together, allowing you to pick and choose with your bites and enjoy some of the great toppings of the Asesino by themselves. I really appreciated the lime braised pork, for example, which tasted just like tender carnitas on a taco that have been seasoned with a very generous amount of fresh lime juice, and the citrus flavor was sealed very well in the pork, without the tangy bite of lime-soaked meat. I keep expecting subtlety when it comes to braised meats, but Kuma’s doesn’t do subtle, so when you read “lime braised pork”, you better expect that, and you better expect it to be amazing… because it will be. Similarly, the fried poblano strips were just to die for. Poblanos are the chili pepper to grill and serve alongside other grilled things, I think, as it has just the right amount of flavor and heat without one being overpowering by the other. The process of frying brings out the spiciness for sure, though it is still mild, and the taste matches the lime in the pork, which reduces its richness with the refreshing bite of citrus flavors. Beneath the massive amount of grilled, ground beef is a thick serving of Kuma’s very own house-made black bean spread. Now, I usually dislike black bean spreads or refried beans, but there was something in that spread that was just right. There were some green, finely chopped and minced bits in it as well, which could be more poblanos or jalapenos, or cilantro.. or all of them combined. It went well with the house-made potato chips and I was able to use it as a dipping sauce. Simple, but very powerful in the selection of ingredients and how well they worked together, the Asesino was definitely yet another success in my book, and one just on time for the Cinco de Mayo celebrations this month, and If the idea of slapping some flavorful carnitas on top of a burger sounds good to you, then its actual execution will probably be the best thing you’ll ever experience in your life. Even if it’s the last thing you ever do…
Have you always been ordering the side of tried-and-true fries with your burger? Do yourself a favor this time and order a side of Kuma’s house-made potato chips to simulate a side of tortilla chips with your Mexican-inspired Asesino burger.
Additionally, try the Fried Japaleño Poppers appetizer, which delivers a half a dozen of Panko-breaded peppers stuffed with cream cheese AND chorizo, offered with a spicy jalapeño raspberry jam dip! I mean, clearly. Start your visit with the japaleño to prepare yourself for the fried poblano strips. Any leftover jam and/or spilled cream cheese and chorizo stuffing can be scooped up with your chips or by bits of poblano peppers. You can thank me later.
The month of May also introduced a list of new cocktails featured over at Kuma’s Too, with names from various heavy (bur predominantly sludge!) metal singles and albums, such as the Pre-Historic Dog (Red Fang song), The Cat and The Snake (Rwake song), March to the Sea (Baroness song) and the In the Name of Suffering (Eyehategod album), which is also the name of the Three Floyds Brewing In the Name of Suffering American Black Ale [7.10% ABV]..
As a fan of Bloody Mary cocktails I definitely wanted to start my Kuma’s Too visit with a nice, cold and spicy drink to prepare myself for the Asesino.. at least thematically, you know? Enter the..
In The Name of Suffering – Finlandia Vodka infused with red fresno & garlic, mixed with house-made Bloody Mary mix, served with a kosher salt rim ($11)
As soon as I learned about Kuma’s Too’s vodka infused with red fresno and garlic… I was sold, because I’m a giant sucker for such alchemical things. I mean, just look at the image above. The fully matured fresno peppers are there just for the infernal kick, and so is the garlic. Though the garlic was hard to taste, the pepper was definitely in there and its slightly sweet taste was definitely felt.. as well as the burn. Contrary to its name however, the ItNoS was not as diabolical and sadistic, though it definitely felt like the heat was trying to Shawshank Redemption its way out right through the esophagus.
Other than that, the cocktail was light on the crazy amount of garnish we’re all so used to by now, opting out for a simple lime wedge and a rim of kosher salt… and adobo-like seasoning? It was definitely very spicy. What I couldn’t really put my finger on, were the mysterious shredded things floating on the bottom of the cocktail. Personally, I think they were pieces of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, though it could also have been shredded horseradish. I couldn’t really tell. The two tiny straws had some difficulty with the shreddings, so don’t think about avoiding the spicy rim. I’d recommend ditching the straws altogether at some point. Here’s to a cocktail that was not all ice cubes, though. I like it, but there are other cocktails on list that I’d rather try instead.
When it came to pairing the Asesino with a beer, however, Kuma’s recommendation hit the nail on the head with what is probably the best way to complement the burger – the 5 Rabbit Cerveceria 5 Lizard Witbier [4.30% ABV]….and I’m seriously very excited to talk to you about it! It’s brewed in Illinois, by the way, so don’t let the “Cerveceria” bit fool you.
Honestly, I don’t think there’s a better match out there! 5 Lizard is phenomenal in that it offers the typical medium body and hazy, yellow-hued look of a wheat beer, while also packing a serious citrus punch matched only by the frank, n0t-at-all-subtle lime braised pork of the Asesino. The style, the initial citrus sour and the “creamy” mouthfeel immediately remind of a more sophisticated beer such as the Off Color Brewing Troublesome Gose/Wheat Beer [4.50% ABV], with some coriander (to match the cilantro) and the saltiness is replaced by the tropical aroma of passion fruit. HOWEVER, while the passion fruit pulp added to the beer is supposed to be the staple here, the addition of lime peel is that which shines the brightest. I was surprised by the passion fruit, but that’s probably because I’ve never had fresh passion fruit, so the lime was what was getting me all kinds of excited as I was switching from biting into the Asesino to swilling from the glass of 5 Lizard. I think that a lot of Corona lovers out there should give 5 Lizard a try – it is a totally different kind of cerveza from a totally different league, but at least you won’t need to pretend that the wedge of lime is magically making the Corona better. Overall, 5 Lizard was refreshing, but with a nice dry finish and it did not overpower or diminish the flavor of the Asesino – it just made everything that much better.