Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Corner for August, 2014
- Tortilla strips
- Pico de gallo
- Chihuahua cheese
- 10 oz. beef patty stuffed with chorizo and jalapeños
- Cilanto aioli
- Pretzel bun
What Code Orange stands for varies from place to place, but when it comes to burgers and hardcore punk, Code Orange is king as well as the August BOTM over at Kuma’s Corner, and that makes the Pennsylvanian band my topic of choice for this here little review. At least as far as delicious food is concerned. This is yet another burger taking notes from Central American cuisine, fusing it with good ole American beef for the unmistakable “take no prisoners” approach which the chefs of Kuma’s like to take when it comes to slaughtering the taste buds of their clientele with the power of awesome. Code Orange is no exception to this rule, and every bite is met with the persistent, thick crunch of those housemade tortilla strips which are just the right amount of greasy and not salty at all, and give a real body to the burger, especially if you are like me and like your meat at least medium rare. Again, easily some of the best tortilla strips I’ve ever tasted, and again – surprising with their somewhat shatterproof quality preventing them from crumbling in your mouth. The main ingredient of the Code Orange is definitely the cilantro aioli, which is layered thick beneath the stuffed burger and really mixing in with the orange grease of the chorizo, the red juices of the burger itself, as well as some of the spice from the jalapeños. The end result is a very rich, and very, very savory combination of flavors that dominate every bite, and if previous aioli combinations have been somewhat subtle, the cilantro aioli is anything but. To the point, actually, that I found it a bit too much in certain bites, which I attribute to just how much of it was on the burger. A fantastic choice once again, and one highlighted with the fresh cilantro garnish to boot, just a little too much, I’m afraid especially with the grease and saltiness of the chorizo. Though, I have to say, it carried the heat of the jalapeños remarkably well, and I had to really look for that chewy, yet crunchy texture in the burger to be sure that they were in fact there! If you are still wondering why the code is orange, well once squeeze of the buns before I took my first bite was enough to convince me that this is indeed a good selection of ingredients to celebrate the band Code Orange, because the chorizo-stuffed beef patty immediately released it’s characteristically orange juices all over the plate as if to say, “Don’t mess with me, kid!“. The delicate, occasionally nature of the medium rare patty actually worked quite well with the crumbly, grounded consistency of the chorizo sausage, and both combined excellently in texture and taste, which I thought was amazing. And somewhere, lost in all the savory goodness of the Code Orange, the pico de gallo stood like a beacon of light, and was a much needed portion of fresh, juicy vegetables which clashed with the aioli, giving a lot of life to every bite. Which brings me to the Chihuahua cheese and the insane link I think connects the cheese and the overall Mexican nature of the Code Orange burger to the origins of the band members all the way in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. See, while we call it Chihuahua cheese, this soft, squeaky cheese from cow’s milk is actually called queso menonita, or “Mennonite cheese” after the well… Mennonites who first produce and popularized this kind of cheese in the region of Chihuahua in norther Mexico. Naturally, where religious Germans are involved in the history of the United States, the first major waves of Mennonite anabaptists are now an inseparable part of Pennsylvania “Dutch” community along with the Amish, so it is quite interesting (though something tells me that I’m looking for connections where connections don’t really exist) to see a Mennonite cheese featured on a burger dedicated to a band from a state known for its Mennonite settlers. It might be grasping at straws, but it’s there, and it’s here to stay. Have I actually managed to unravel the mystery of Chihuahuagate? Am I like the foodie equivalent of Robert Langdon? Am I crazy?
Code Orange was another great burger which introduced an excellent stuffed patty to the mix of Burgers of the Month, and although I found the cilantro aioli to be too much, it did a fantastic job of bringing all the juices and flavors together for an intense, tasty burger from beyond the border.
Less to pair with, and more to just try it out, I started (and ended) the pairing session with a collab between my favorite 3 Floyds with New Belgium’s Lips of Faith initiative to “resurrect” and experiment with lesser known and almost forgotten styles of beer from all over the world, which is just what the 3 Floyds Brewing Co./New Belgium Brewing Grätzer Grodziskie/Grätzer Smoked Beer [4.50% ABV]. Originally from Poland, this is an almost extinct style of beer brewing, and this collaboration’s spin on this zombie of a brew is brown with hints of chewing tobacco in the color and the palate, robust, and smouldering with smokiness for a light-bodied, dry beer which reminds me of another another beer of the same caliber – the Off Color Brewing Troublesome Gose/Wheat Beer [4.50% ABV]. Both styles have about the same ABV and boast a distinctive, distant combination of sourness from post-treatment with lactic acid, and a slight hint of saltiness present in the Grätzer like the aftertaste of a lightly charred chunk of pork belly, while Troublesome has a simpler, sea salt taste to it. Definitely interesting, and a beer I wouldn’t mind drinking on a regular basis. Makes me think why it stopped being produced.
As far as pairing goes, I think I once again hit the jackpot, because the lads at New Belgium paired it with a Corn Soup with Sausage, which, with some imagination, is similar to the corn tortilla strips and the chorizo sausage of the Code Orange, isn’t it??? Ha.
I know I usually try to have at least two beers, but the savory character of the burger (read: it was a bit too salty) forced my hand and I ordered a delicious, delicious root beer to quench my thirst.
Grätzer was a winner pairing, though.