“Get over here!”
– Scorpion, Mortal Kombat
Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Corner for June, 2014
- Sauteed leek
- Swiss cheese
- Wiener schnitzel
- Roasted garlic mayonnaise
- 10 oz. Beef patty
- Pretzel bun
What truly unites all great bands is that they have withstood the test of time, thus Kuma’s Corner‘s newest Burger Of The Month is an homage to the impervious Scorpions – a German band which thrives in the sandy dunes of time, and delights in the slow-coursing heavy metal in the veins of its fans. When it comes to the burger with the same name, there is no room for subtlety or games. Scorpions are arachnids, but they are no cowardly spiders, after all. The Scorpions burger is yet another curious combination of three different kinds of meat, which are also prepared in a different way, with the most interesting one being the wiener schnitzel. True to Austrian tradition, this is a thinly cut and brutally pulverized piece of veal meat deep fried and breaded until golden yellow, and the signature ingredient of the Scorpions was juicy, light and barely resisted my bites. The veal schnitzel really gives the burger that very uncommon texture and way of preparation which just wows with its succulent meat. Sure, we are used to seeing all kinds of deep fried and breaded food items, but the veal of the wiener schnitzel is easily on the top of the pyramid, almost as if it was meant to be beaten, floured, egged, breaded and then drowned in burning fat. The addition of the Italian cured delicacy, pancetta, adds some additional savory character reinforced by the black pepper in it, and was crisp and crunchy like a nice slice of bacon, contrasting with the tender veal. Is the pancetta’s goal to act as a historical reminder that the origins of the schnitzel are perhaps closer to the venerable castles of Milan than to the ports of Venice? Probably not, but we can never be sure. Under it, the very mild, melted Swiss cheese goes quite well with the richness of the burger without being too imposing, leaving behind only a lingering craving for circus peanuts due to its nutty flavor. With all the battle of meats going on, the onion-like layers of sauteed leek adorning the veal are quite easy to miss, but that’s what I like the most about leeks – they add some green and flavor, but do not overpower like the pungency of onion or garlic, and retain some of their crunch whereas other edible alliums simply fall apart and become soft and weak. The true flavor uniting all the other ingredients, however, is the roasted garlic mayonnaise, which acts like a slow and lingering venom due to the slight hint of garlic, and lightly bind the saltiness of the pancetta to the mild and nutty Swiss cheese. The garlic is not very potent, so you can really taste all the meats and cheese of the Scorpions. And with the 10oz. beef patty sitting at the bottom, this burger is quite the chewy Herculean task to accomplish, though I assure you that it is completely worth it. Overall, the Scorpions was a great tribute to a great band, and the only bad thing about is that it won’t get to be amongst the other heavy metal bands on Kuma’s Menu after the month of June is over. The memory of it will live on, I’m sure, just like the legendary melodies of the band, and the words of praise on this blog.
One of the caveats of pairing libations with food is to avoid simply matching the region of the beer or wine with the region of the dish. Germany is not just any region, though, so you can be sure that at least a handful of its many styles of beer-brewing will be a great match for the traditional Austrian/German elements of the Scorpions burger. I actually started the night with something lighter and curious – an Original Sin Cidery Original Sin Elderberry Cider Cider [5.00% ABV]. Elderberry syrups and other related home-made drinks are famous, but hard to find in my home country of Bulgaria, so I was very interested in trying this. This Original Sin was okay. Balanced, not too sweet, not syrupy at all; quite seltzer-like, actually. Reminiscent of a rosé “wine”. The very fact that this is a cider actually means that the elderberry flavor is not too pronounced, so I don’t know what I was thinking when I ordered this. I was expecting the full-on elderflower and lemon flavor of, say, my favorite soda of all time – Fanta Madness (available only for a summer and only in Bulgaria, unfortunately), but that’s my fault for which I blame my great expectations. I’d rather stick to drinking Angry Orchards.
When it came to pairing the Scorpions burger, I tried to focus on something that would complement the Swiss cheese and the veal schnitzel, so I showed up prepared with a nice list of German styles in mind. Great Lakes Brewing Co. Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold Dortmunder/Export Lager [5.90% ABV] was on the list, as well as my favorite Two Brothers Brewing Company Ebel’s Weiss Beer Hefeweizen [4.90% ABV] – the Dortumender is something’s that going to go just fine with the wiener schnitzel, while the clove and banana notes from the yeast of the Hefeweizen are bound to provide the dark richness which the Swiss deserves.
In the sake of taking it a step further and in the name of exploration, however, I settled for Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn Schneider Aventinus Weizen bock/Doppelbock [8.20% ABV]. This is Germany’s oldest wheat doppelbock and it was a delight watching the waitress slowly pouring and spinning the bottle into a tall, Weizen glass. The Aventinus has a very pleasant, dark caramel color, and is prone to wearing that thick, fluffy head so typical for wheat beers. Immediately, I could taste the balanced maltiness, the great variety of dark fruits, the cloves, and even a shy presence of chocolate, all of which are hiding in the yeasty haze of this amazing, full-bodied doppelbock ale. It added a lot of extra richness to the Scorpions, which is what I was going for. This is such a tasty beer with and is obviously the result of a very long, and very cherished brewing tradition. I was afraid that a lager might simply wash the flavor away, so the Aventinus was definitely the right choice for me and an overall great, classy pairing for a burger dedicated to one of the Rock and Roll classics.