“What, if some day or night, a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life, as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh… must return to you—all in the same succession and sequence—even this spider and this moonlight between the trees and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again—and you with it, speck of dust!’ Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine!’
– Friedrich Nietzsche, “The Gay Science: with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs”
Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Too for June, 2014
- Sweet soy sauce
- Grilled scallions
- Fried glass noodles
- Sauteed shallots
- Red bell peppers
- Serrano peppers
- 10oz. beef patty
- Pretzel bun
Metal is about extremes and about crushing the mundane with a very different sound of indifference, which is why Kuma’s Too‘s Gallhammer burger of the month’s red peppers curve like the roof of a torii gate, and mark the transition from the sacred to the profane, just like the Japanese band’s female harbingers of crust punk and doom metal. The Gallhammer burger is a fusion of Chinese-American cuisine taken a step further. Those familiar with Chicago’s many Chinese restaurants should be able to find it similar to the so called “Mongolian” beef, which due to all beef steak in the world being used for Lady Gaga’s meat dress, has had to settle for something more…. grounded.
Lovers of this highly formulaic Szechuan staple in take out grub will find the Gallhammer to be a very well-balanced act where savory nuances meet spicy, sweet and even the hard to define umami. Thinly sliced red bell peppers give that initial sweet taste and slight crunch even after being stir fried, allowing for a gentle transition into the sweet soy sauce, which quickly becomes the dominant flavor of the burger. This is a sweeter, distinctly Japanese version of everyone’s favorite Asian condiment. It still has the saltiness of fermented soybeans and a hint of cooking sherry wine, but it blends well with the sweetness. The soy sauce is then absorbed by the thin, fried glass noodles, which while lacking much flavor of their own, are quite adept at capturing the sauce as well as greasiness of the grilled scallions, sauteed shallots, and even the tender juices of the medium rare beef patty. Different bites will introduce you to some of their crunch and texture, as well as how great they are at preserving the taste of all the ingredients when they are not simply melting in your mouth. The cooked scallions and shallots are also crunchy, and I found myself dragging the surprisingly long scallions like that one spaghetti scene from The Lady and the Tramp. The overall Mongolian beef effect of the Gallhammer is complete with thin circles of serrano peppers, which I find more and more attractive when it comes to chili peppers. Once again, they provide just enough heat, which is what differentiates the Gallhammer from the masochistic amount of almost blackened, ripe chili peppers I find in my Mongolian beef when I foolishly demand it be “extra spicy”. Every. Single. Time. Serranos, on the other hand, are spicy, but just enough to appreciate it and not regret it, as well as somewhat sweet, like a red pepper/jalapeño hybrid. The Gallhammer is indeed an interesting, balanced twist on the “traditional” recipe, and if you like burgers (if not, why are you reading this?!?) and Mongolian beef, you will find the Gallhammer to be the heavenly savior which your palate needs. And deserves.
When our waitress told us about the Three Floyds Brewing Boom Over Pow Extra Strong Bitter [6.70% ABV], my friend and I immediately requisitioned one, and this harder to find 3Floyds creation appeared in front of us chilled and in a snifter glass. I had never had an ESB-style beer before I tried the Boom Over Pow, and I suppose that the “bitter” bit, despite the 52 IBU is more of a misnomer. Boom Over Pow was extremely balanced, hid the presence of alcohol rather well under caramel-colored guise and slow, but active effervescence, which reminds me a bit of significantly scaled down Dogfish Head Brewery 90 Minute IPA Imperial IPA [9.00% ABV], especially when it comes down to the continuous hopping. And boozeahol %. Boom Over Pow is lighter, brighter, a slightly maltier, with a very light, but persistent, bitter aftertaste. Sure, calling this a session beer is definitely pushing it, but I could see myself drinking this throughout the day, though I would definitely find myself three sheets to the wind at the end of said “session”. Second beer was the recommended by the restaurant 5 Rabbit Cerveceria Gringolandia Super Pils German Pilsner [7.20% ABV]. Pilsners don’t need much of a description. Gringolandia has the color of golden straw, and overall your typical pilsner. Smells like a pilsner, looks like a pilsner, tastes like a pilsner.. yet everything is a tad richer and bolder than a pilsner. At 7.20% ABV it’s also no joke, but the alcoholic content lays dormant, so this is a nice, enjoyable beer, and the Gallhammer burger’s multifaceted nuances shine bright through this beer like a diamond. Gringolandia’s fairly neutral, light hoppy nature and crispness go hand in hand with all the flavors without disturbing the way they interact with each other, and that’s a great quality to ask for in a pairing of itself.