Ginger looks upon pain.
August fades like tears in vain.
– Celtic Frost “Cherry Orchards”
Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Schaumburg for December, 2015
- Rosemary garnish
- Maraschino cherry
- Pineapple marinated in Revolution Brewing’s Fistmas Red Ale
- Baked honey ham
- Sharp white cheddar cheese
- Dijon aioli
- 10oz. beef patty
- Eggnog battered French toast top pretzel bun
- Pretzel bun
What did I miss the most after a year spent in China? Yeah, that’s right. You know it. It has been a long, long year filled with amazing, unforgettable experiences both social and culinary in the far Orient, but now I am back home and more ready than ever to get back to reviewing some of the best burgers ever made. And things have changed! There’s a Kuma’s Corner venue harshing the mellow right in my suburban backyard, and with the addition of Kuma’s Corner Indy there are now FOUR Burgers of the Month worth devouring, and it would be [foreshadowing] just OH SO CRAZY is someone made it their goal to eat all four of them in one day [/foreshadowing], right? It will hafta wait til ’16, I’m afraid, but for now? Right now I want you to sit down, light that fireplace and grab a mug o’ Glühwein because it’s starting to get chilly out there, and a certain Celtic Frost is painting on your windows.
Named after the Swiss extreme band of old, the Celtic Frost is probably as ‘Tis the Season as a burger could ever get. Its festive flavor has the heart-warming sweetness of Christmassy libations coursing through its core, and it doesn’t really matter if you’re a headbanging pagan or if you scream bloody murder at the sight of a Starbucks red cup, because the Celtic Frost has a something for every taste. The prime attention grabber here is the bun. Already a phenomenal part of the whole, Kuma’s culinomancers have managed to transform the signature pretzel bun by turning the top bun into an Eggnog battered French Toast! The thick bread gets crispy, and the first bite unleashes all the festive flavors and aroma of vanilla and nutmeg, some cinammon, and the “invisible” egg, all of which are soaking, but not dripping from the bun. Now, all of this is a meal in itself, but this traditional North American deliciousness is then thrown on top of the rest of the ingredients of the Celtic Frost.
Thick cut pineapple marinated in Revolution Brewing Fistmas Red Ale [6.10% ABV] combines with the honey baked ham, and it immediately delivers a very pleasant, charcoaly one-two punch to the senses brimming with the taste of grill. The sweet, juicy pineapple helps escalate the sweetness of honey baked ham and together they made me reminisce of those late fall pig roasts we used to do, when what cut we got didn’t matter as long as it was nice and charred… The moderate hint maltiness from the Fistmas marinade, combined with the ale’s additional notes of faint spices in the nose, the ginger, and the orange peel then let the pineapple’s tangy sweetness cascade over the cheese and the perfect, perfect, perfect medium rare patty where it mixes with the lingering spices from the eggnog batter on the French toast. Then, the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, hint of orange peel, pineapple, rosemary garnish, syrupy malt and even the candy-like maraschino cherry, quite on purpose, fuse together to turn the Celtic Frost into a burger infused with the nuances of a nice, warm glass of Glühwein, glögg, gløgg, mulled wine, or whatever you choose to whachamacallit (..and something tells me that the cherry bit is a nod to what might be Celtic Frost’s absolute worst song, but that’s not burger talk, so I’mma shuddup). The mesh of eggnog, red ale and mulled wine gets toned down and balanced by the slight pungency of the garlic and white wine present in the Dijon mustard aioli.
The Celtic Frost may not look like it, but it is full of complex flavors constantly vying for control in ways both subtle and best described as “different”. In what is a nice blend between festive Christmas flavors from both the New and the Old World, this burger brings home the ham, and is definitely a winner in my book.
No way is there a better way to celebrate this confusing, and bittersweet time of the year with a burger!
It’s no surprise here that Revolution Brewing Fistmas Red Ale [6.10% ABV] happens to be a very powerful beer pairing here! In the Celtic Frost burger, Fistmas serves as a way to carry the nuances from the French toast to the combination of ingredients that serve as a deconstruction of mulled wine. Its moderate malt characteristic plays well to balance all the flavors, and each sip brings out the mulled wine hints to life with its ginger root and orange peel. Secondary hints of plum resonates well and feels like raisins, and it even manages to enhance the maraschino cherry, faintly. Fistmas is overall just an amazing Red Ale, and a great way to fight the fact that winter is coming. A less successful pairing that I tried was The Bruery Autumn Maple Fruit Beer [10.00% ABV], which is marketed as this Belgian yeast-empowered spice and yam bomb of a beer with many bold bullet points, last but not the least of which is its double digit ABV. I was promised cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup, and of course YAMS, but I got none of it from the snifter that was offered to me. Autumn Maple was quite bland, its many flavors subjugated under the yoke of Belgian yeast and above average carbonation for this style of beer, and the unfortunate fact that not even a single spice managed to come out of it was very disappointing. Maybe aging this bad boy and pairing it with some kind of dessert like an apple strudel or baklava might do it more justice. As it is, though? PASS.