Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Schaumburg for July, 2016
- Crispy potato strings
- Caramelized onions
- Merkts sharp cheddar cheese
- Red wine braised skirt steak
- 10oz. beef patty
- Pretzel bun
The last two months have been silent, but now we HOWL! When last I left you, spring was here. NOW, however, my dear readers, NOW is the time of summer’s fiery death throes. The days are getting shorter, and eventually our primal calling will.. well, call for fattening feasts in the times of winter. Now, however, now we celebrate sweltering July, the one year anniversary since Kuma’s Schaumburg opened its door to the suburbanites and mall goths of the Northwest, and the debut of Rhode Island’s doom metal-inspired Howl burger!
So, let me wax some prose your way with a trusty Off Color Brewing Bare Bear Sahti [7.00%] in hand, for this post is not just about my usual monthly dose of bovine genocide, but about humanity’s obsession and fear of duality, and the things that howl in the night. Can you hear them? If not, listen. Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make…
[Wolf off-topic] My great-grandmother named my grandfather Vulcho after a series of unfortunate events plagued her children. She wanted him to have a terrifying name to protect him from the fate of his previous siblings, so she named him after the Bulgarian equivalent of the Big Bad Wolf. Obviously, it worked. I’ve been “enthranced” (read: equally entranced and enthralled) ever since. From the usual stories to the stone-faced assurances my father gave me that he was, in fact, a werewolf, I absorbed it all; and I have learned that nothing screams, nay, barks “duality” as loud as the wolf. Long before the concept of yin and yang was a twinkle in some philosopher’s eye, these endangered monsters of the night stalked the earth and outnumbered us for millennia. To some they are teachers, for some they are tyrants, they are man’s primordial foes and ancestors of man’s best friend. And it might sound insane, but if you open yourself to this reality like I have, you will see the mark of the wolf all over, breathing in your neck. I call the unshakable obsession to be “enthranced” by the trivial and etymological traces of these beings my “wolf glasses“. You know, “the better to see you with“? More about that some other day. Maybe. [/Wolf off-topic]
Ah, the Howl. This is a burger after my own heart, and I don’t say it because of all cholesterol and the arterial clogs.. It is a simple, yet elegant meat lover’s delight that eschews from most vegetables all in the name of bloody gristle and true grits. An offering of caramelized onions and a heaping pile of crispy potato strings adorn this alpha burger, two contrasting mouth-feels in a mouthful of joy. The crunch factor here is to the MAX as the Howl burger features a lot of the good ole crispy potato strings, and they are omnipresent and just extremely satisfying, bite after bite. Add to that the tender gristle of the flank steak, and you’ll find yourself quickly trying to chew truth the tastiest morsels before the other wolves from the pack get to swoop in. Matter of fact, the crunch of the potato strings, combined with the creamy Merkts sharp cheddar cheese really manage to almost hide a lot of the flank’s flavor, with only the red wine showing up here and there in the sea of cheesy goodness. It’s almost as if the flank steak is there just to scratch that primal carnivorous desire.
The delicate browning of the onions results in the usual savory sweetness of umami, which immediately enhances the simple seasoning of the juicy 10oz. beef patty, resulting in something that really highlights the quality of the burger meat. It is aromatic, juicy and oh-so-crumbly as you squeeze all of Howl’s ingredients between the pretzel buns for a chomping speed which starts slow and steady with an average of a few kilobites, then escalates into the high megabites and climaxes with a few juicy gigabites.
And, though it’s sometimes hard to tell if a wolf’s howl is a call of joy or sadness, this Howl is the epitome of bestial bliss.
Blood is good, but a Two Brothers A Bretter Day Bière de Mars ale [5.50% ABV] should be swell enough to wet your whistle and whet your appetite at the same time. This sun-kissed golden elixir is a great opener, and I’m just a sucker for the prickly Brettanomyces and the warmth of the yeast. A Bretter Day is a phenomenal, session-able thing of beauty, and has a little of everything needed to open up the senses before a proper feast. It’s lemony, zesty, dry and chthonic at the same time, and will prepare your tongue for the nuances of the Howl’s red wine braised flank steak. As for the burger itself, I went with a Dark Horse Boffo Brown Brown Ale [6.50% ABV], a pleasant and mostly nutty brown ale. When it combines with the caramelized onions and the cheddar cheese, well, then it’s just some wicked thaumaturgy. The above average carbonation helps cut the saltiness of cheese, the nuttiness reinforces the Markts’ flavor, the toffee cascades on top of the umami of the onions, and just the slightest tingling sensation of chocolate brings it all together. On its own, Boffo Brown won’t wow you, but paired with the Howl? Awooga!