Kuma Schaumburg’s Vôdûn burger

“Shrunken heads, broken legs, body parts on the concrete,
Cut ’em up butcher style, gators of the swamp.
Red light, leave ’em dead, running like a track meet.
Scared of nobody, what you motherfuckers want?
Believe me when I tell ’em I’m a bogeyman beast,
Leave ’em slashed from their head to their feet.
Pin bricks to the chest of a bitch well fed,
Cooking meat, cannibal trying to eat.”
– Sam B, “Who Do You Voodoo”

VÔDÛN
Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Schaumburg for April, 2016

  • Jamaican jerk marinated flank steak
  • Pineapple salsa
  • Pepperjack cheese
  • Bourbon glazed fried plantains
  • Honey whiskey jalapeño aioli
  • 10oz. beef patty
  • Pretzel bun
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Vodun burger from Kuma’s Schaumburg

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Spring is here! Things are stirring and awakening. The primordial and primal vestiges of life crawl back from their muddy tombs and seek the sun with an army of petal-clad snowdrops, primroses, crocuses and golden roots. Us mortals above can finally get back to our normal routines and Chicagoans get to stop cursing the snow for a couple months.. or do we? There is, however, a place to go if you still crave a hint of hibernation, and it is conveniently beneath the metal sign of a ferocious bear. It needs no introduction, really.
AND, this month only, we get to feast on the divine essence of the Vôdûn burger, named after the London-born heavy afro soul (and occult?) metal band of the very same!

The Vôdûn is an eclectic and exotic mix of ingredients, like an terrifying and intriguing cabinet of curiosities in a witch doctor’s hut. First of all, Jamaican jerk marinated flank steak! Definitely the allspice all star, the flank steak is full of charquinated gristle and is at the right toughness that adds so much joy to the whole process of devouring, turning the whole thing into a proper feast. The spices in the rub and the pepperjack cheese give the burger a delicate piquant spiciness, but it is the allspice with its hints of cloves that really helps to bring the entire burger together.  With heavily fried, bourbon glazed plantains on top, the burger starts you off with the caramelized starchiness and just the right amount of sweetness, all of which are easily extracted and enjoyed in the overall mouthfeel without the actual sensation that you’re eating a banana. This begins what I call a procession of phenols and esters, much like in the profile of a glass of the good, Belgian stuff. The fruity, yeasty undertones of banana or overripe pear are relatively mild and partially hidden by the pleasant char and the starchiness. Together with the bourbon glaze and the allspice presence of the flank steak’s dry rub, it all turns into a rich, malty scent. It does not linger, it evaporates like bourbon poured and incinerated as part of an offering to the spirits. This sweetness then cascades with the heat and garlicky profile of the honey whiskey jalapeño aioli. The honey is key, as normally the glaze and the aioli would clash together, but the extra sweetness lets them work together for the greater good with the  jalapeño then serving as base for the pineapple salsa. Pineapples, onions, tomatoes and cilantro, give the salsa a very refreshing punch which settles down the sweetness from the esters and caramelization with some acidity and pungency of its own.
zombie buhjesusA very interesting thing happens when all the starch, hints of yeast and the pineapple merge together with the sweetness of the pretzel bun, casting forth an unmistakable presence of sweet raisins, which in turn transforms the already perfect pretzel roll into a stollen-type offering, much like a kozunak sweet bread with Orthodox Easter right around the corner, nonetheless! Is the Vôdûn burger really an ester-fuelled stab at Easter, and Christianity’s obsession with celebrating what is essentially the zombification of its savior as he comes back from the dead while scoffing at religious practices which venerate the resurrection as a whole? You tell me, fellow burger lovers, you tell me.

Overall, a pretty darn complex burger full of flavor, and as difficult to grasp as it was to let go. I’m a big fan of the Vôdûn, and boy was it filling! Definitely was a fan of the esoterically ester-infused presence of it overall, and would love to try more burgers boasting such profile. Also, VÔDÛN is one helluva band, give ’em your ears.

Pairing Suggestions:
Kuma’s has friggin’ bourbon on top, so that should be a no-brainer – grab a  Four Roses Yellow bourbon or an equivalent and smash the burger with your mouth. However, my ideal pairing for this would be Dogfish Head Brewery Raison D’Être Belgian Strong Dark Ale [8.00% ABV] or if you’re particularly lucky and thrill-seeking – the Dogfish Head Brewery Raison D’Extra Belgian Strong Dark Ale [18.00% ABV]. This Belgian ale would underline and hit all the right notes – bananas, cloves, and the overall raisin goodness that lays dormant yet yearns to awake and possess you! Besides, circumflexes are awesome, so the more – the merrier. Raison D’Être is an excellent ale all around, full of pit fruit and raisin (as the name suggests), and beautifully malted. It’s like one of those beers that you buy in pairs – one to marinate your steak with (and nothing else!), and one to drink on the side with the steak. It’s a must if you see it on the list or if you have the chance to have this thing somewhat delivered to you, can’t think of a better possible pairing.
My other impromptu, on the spot pairings were less successful and paled in contrast.
5 Rabbit Cerveceria Chocofruit Mandarina Stout [7.50% ABV] which I grabbed since they didn’t have the 5 Rabbit Cerveceria Chocofruit Piña Stout [7.50% ABV]. If you’ve every had a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, then you already know what this silky smooth fruit stout tastes. Moderate orange peel, cocoa, plenty of chocolate are hidden in the dark and thick body of this beverage. It’s actually a pretty great combination, and it’s a rare sight to behold when a brewery actually manages to execute such a neat balance of flavors that actually taste like what the label says it should taste like!
Marz Community Brewing Smoak Simcoe IPA American IPA [6.00% ABV], on the other hand, didn’t go so well. It was a great beer, but I don’t know what I was expecting this IPA to accomplish, despite the promise of smokiness (to pair with the flank steak), and the fruit notes. As totally expected, the grapefruit notes clashed a bit with the overall sweetness. Oh well. While we live, we learn.
Plus, it was an excuse to try another Marz Community Brew! 😉

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