Tuesday, January 12, 2010

High on Fire - Not Just for Ears Anymore!

My friends, if they read my blog, will probably roll their eyes as soon as they realize I'm writing a blog entry about Kuma's Corner. I can understand that reaction. As it's been written up by GQ, Playboy, Time Out, Check Please!, I'm hardly breaking new ground. There is probably little I can add to the masses of letters in print and digital form that have been spoken about Kuma's.

But I don't care. I love the place.

If you go, no matter what time, you should expect to wait. And wait. And wait some more. The kitchen is small; your clothes will smell of meat. You will have heard more doom metal than you ever thought you'd listen to at a restaurant. And as the wait will take at least an hour, sometimes two hours, you will probably be much drunker than you expected by the time you sit down. With a nice beer list of some offbeat and enjoyable beers, as well as whiskey on tap, getting more inebriated than you expect is a treat - if you like whiskey or beer. If not, waiting can be a chore.

After finally being seated; face flush with alcohol, cheeks red, ears humming with tinnitus (okay, not really, it's not that loud, but you get the idea), you're faced with a menu. Over 20 burgers, with names like Dark Throne, Motorhead, Pantera, Mastodon flash before your eyes. Do I want a burger with bourbon soaked pears? Chipotle peppers and goat cheese? Ranchero sauce and tortilla strips? The choices are dizzying. One of my favorites is the High on Fire. A 10 oz patty atop a pretzel roll. Topping it are: Siracha hot chili sauce, a slice of prosciutto, a roasted red pepper, grilled pineapple and sweet chili paste. No cheese; I don't think it needs it, although my wife to be disagrees with that. I think all women believe cheese makes anything better.

High on Fire:

Bay Area metal band High on Fire inspired the luscious burger above. Check out the video for "Rumors of War" from Death is This Communion, their fourth record. Like the burger, it's loud, awesome...and no cheese.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Gift for the Whole Year

My soon to be brother-in-law and I share a common interest: whiskey. Whenever we visit my fiance's family in Ohio, her brother and I often wind up, at least one night, drinking too much whiskey, though I pay for it the next day, hungover. Nine out of ten times, it's bourbon. Earlier this past year, he and his wife went to the Buffalo Trace Distillery. It was while he was there that he decided to get us a tremendous bourbon they make release only once a year. Part of their "antique collection", George T. Stagg is an uncut, unfiltered barrel proof bourbon. At 141.4 proof, the bottle they got us is from the 2009 release. Despite being over 70% alcohol, it really has a bourbon taste - sweetness, fruit, vanilla - alcohol (duh!). And yeah, it burns, but not as much as you'd expect. I drink it with an ice cube, and slowly. Not a whiskey to drink a lot of, or quickly, it's a great treat that I'll come back to throughout the year to enjoy. If you like bourbon, and you can locate a bottle, I highly recommend getting yourself one.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Years Evolution: Chicago in Photos

With the turning of the year, and my interest in history, I naturally think about the passage of time, and the changing of things. Time marches on, and though day to day life seems the same, that is just an illusion.

Located as I am in Chicago, I'm always interested in looking back and buildings and places that are familiar to me, yet viewed in the past, somehow out of context. Fortunately, the fine collection of Charles Weever Cushman's Kodachrome slides at Indiana University is available to peruse online. I've often viewed it, looking at great scans of his shots; Kodachrome is truly vivid and wonderful in it's presentation of color. I've taken some of my favorite shots from his collections - all taken from 1941 through 1944, and paired them up with contemporary shots of the same locations. Human beings cannot experience geologic time, but with photography like this can serve as a metaphor - how something as seemingly timeless as a cityscape, can, in the span of a human life, change profoundly.