Cort’s Call: You Bet, Michigan

Bettors rejoice! Ugh why do they use -or instead of -er? Whatever. It’s time to celebrate as online sports gambling is now legal in great state of Michigan. I took some time getting familiar with some of the apps: DKSportsbook (my favorite so far, great intro deals, and easy winning exclusives), BSSportsbook (fun, inclusive, popular with the popular crowd), and BetMGM (ugh. Failed rollout. Horrible experience thus far). A lot of these sites are basically handing you free money, so you should definitely join. I won $100 last night on an over under of .5 threes made for the Pistons. In the game. .5 on a capped $50 double up! Thank you muchly, DK. BetMGM had a great deal but a lot of people are still waiting on their bonus that may or may not be coming, we’ll see? (Psst I’m one of them).

I want to kick off welcome weekend with some risk. Starting my Saturday with a 5 pick of NCAA games. I think 5 is a lot but could be worth the hit. Look out Michigan’s billion dollar jackpot winner. Here’s what I’m rolling out with today:

This is through Draft Kings who have some great options to boost the odds for new players to the site. Baylor and Oklahoma are some high powered offenses that I expect to put on a show. The rest of the spreads I find fair for the favored team. If you’re looking for a ML I’d take LSU against Kentucky but I chose to avoid it to keep my parlay at 5. Good luck!

The Best Pizza In Michigan?

When you think of the best pizza in Michigan you probably think of Buddy’s. Rightfully so, I can’t blame you. Maybe you think of Jet’s. I’ll count it. However, when you think beyond the big names and brands the best pizza in Michigan conversation can get interesting…and I think I found my vote.

To my surprise, my favorite pizza in Michigan isn’t Detroit style. I know I’m biased being born and raised here, but I think the Detroit style pan pizza is the best kind of pizza there is. New York’s crust is too thin, Chicago too thick and saucy, which makes Detroit’s just right, if you go the Goldilock route. I thought for sure my favorite pizza in Michigan would be some sort of pan pizza with a greasy thick crust. I was wrong. It’s a garlicy braided crust. Mmm I can taste it now. My favorite pizza in Michigan is the Steak and Jalapeño from The Bucket Bar in Mears.

There’s a lot to process here, I’m sure. Braided crust? Steak and Jalapeño? Pizza from a golf course? Yes. Yes. Yes. It all comes together for Michigan’s best pizza. Did I mention the Béchamel sauce? I feel like that’s important to mention. It’s a white pizza, no tomato sauce. I’ve found that I’m not a big red sauce guy, whether it’s with pizza or pasta. All I need is some garlic and olive oil and I’m set. The cheesy Béchamel sauce ties the whole pizza together with a creamy coolness to balance out the jalapeño. Almost like dipping it in ranch would do? You feel me? The braided crust is unlike anything I’ve ever had on a pizza. It’s like breadsticks as crust. That’s what I’m all about. Why don’t more places do a braided crust? Every bite I think I say it outloud. I just can’t understand it. The picture above is the best I could do. Notice it’s missing a piece? Okay, two pieces? I couldn’t help myself or wait a single minute to eat it before taking the picture. It’s that good.

There you have it. That’s my favorite pizza in Michigan. Have you tried it? What’s your favorite pizza in Michigan? Let me know on Twitter @CortFreeman

What It’s Like At A Trump Rally

Tonight, much of our attention will be on President Trump’s rally in Tulsa. Tension has been building for weeks, as the rally was originally scheduled on Juneteenth in the city where Black Wall Street took place. Not a good look. Was it planned this way on purpose? Or a mere coincidence? We may never know but thankfully, the date was changed to Saturday. In addition to the issue with the date of the rally, it’s important to remember we are still in a pandemic! Many states are just now seeing their highest daily counts for coronavirus cases, and this rally that’s being held indoors without social distancing with participants who refuse to wear masks coming in from all over the country to this, already, COVID hotspot is very likely to case more problems.

With so much focus on tonight’s rally, many people are wondering: what is it like inside one of these? Well, I’ve been there and the experience felt very cult-like. I was sent as a part of Mojo In The Morning, the Detroit radio show I was a featured player on at the time, and didn’t go as an official part of the media. I can’t recall what the big incident was around this time (March 2016) but it was when Trump was just starting to really focus on his point of the media being the enemy of the people. Several times throughout the evening Trump would later point out the media section in the back calling them “losers” and telling them how awful they are. The crowd would follow his lead and boo. That’s one of the things that really stands out looking back on the rally in 2016. These people were Loyal to their candidate. A theme that would continue for the next four years. I wasn’t really known on the show at the time, so I was able to go unrecognized at the rally. To note, I was also given a ridiculous Trump-insipired orange spray tan and Halloween wig and suit with a red tie and red Make Mojo Great Again hat. Before arriving I expected the crowd to take offense to the look as it was clearly over the top and mocking. However, they didn’t. They loved the get up. I took pictures with people and was treated like a VIP, even being invited to stand in the rafters directly behind Trump, where he would be giving his speech.

The crowd was more diverse than I had imagined. Mostly white, blue collar folk. But more diversity than I expected. A bulk of the crowd seemed to be made up of Young Republicans. High school aged kids with their red hats on and varsity jackets. I mingled with the crowd while we waited for the speeches and rally to start. I knew better than to introduce myself as media or from a radio show as that would clearly identify me as an enemy of the people. I chatted with people pretending to be a die hard fan, myself, so I could record some audio and get their thoughts on things. As a bit, I made up proposals that Candidate Trump wanted to accomplish if elected. Bogus, crazy proposals that nobody could believe. But they did. Listen on the SoundCloud link below.

Intern Jack Black (me) at the Trump Rally

While the crowd waited for Candidate Trump to come out music played over the loud speaker but it was tough to hear because the entire crowd was chanting “Built The Wall! Build The Wall! Build The Wall!” I felt like I was at church. That eery feeling when everyone is chanting in the same tone, lifeless, and robotic. They were all-in. We waited and waited as the chants continued. Maybe a lock her up thrown in there here and there as a curve ball. Candidate Trump was at least 30 minutes late. Then it happened. He walked out and the crowd erupted and out of the speakers they loudly played…Uptown Girl? That’s one of the main things I recall about that rally. Trump walked out to Uptown Girl. Surely, that couldn’t have been planned and was a result of him running late, but it stands out to me. Those around me didn’t find it as amusing when I pointed it out. It wasn’t long before he had his first person booted from the rally. Then another. A third shortly after. Is this my fate? Is there something I could yell? Is that what Mojo and crew are expecting me to do? No. I couldn’t get kicked out. I have perfect location directly behind Trump. Anybody looking at him sees me. Dressed as him. So, I started doing all the wild hand gestures he was doing. Mimicking him. I got some looks but the people never seemed to mind. This grew old after a little bit, so I took it further. I slowly started removing my suit. Layer by layer until I was standing behind him wearing nothing but my underwear, a blonde wig, and a red Make Mojo Great Again Hat. The entire crowd watching him, now saw me. It got noticed online and on the TV as it was being broadcast. I also noticed I now had the attention of two Secret Service agents at the end of our row. They were locked onto me. It became clear that they were waiting for me to streak. Ah streak! That’s what I could do! But, I didn’t want to get roughed up. So I stayed behind just stretching and mimicking him, nearly naked.

This was my experience in 2016. I am not in Tulsa. Thankfully. Be safe and careful out there and for the love of science please wear a mask.

Mingling with supporters at a Trump Rally in 2016

How To Make Alabama White Sauce

Homemade Alabama White Sauce.

Homemade Alabama White Sauce.

As the four of you who actually read these writings are aware: I am a big fan of the Union Woodshop.  Their pork is on point and the beef is ballin’ out. However, quality meats aren’t the only must-have to run a successful BBQ joint, like the Woodshop.  As G. Love put it, “my baby’s got sauce.”  You need some diverse sauces to really bring out the best in your BBQ servings.  The Woodshop allows your tastebuds to travel the country with their sauce samples.  Traditional Memphis sauce (for that true Beale Street BBQ flavor), a Chinatown inspired New York BBQ, mustardy South Carolina, chipotle Texas, mayo based Bama white sauce, and two off the menu favorites–Hell Sauce (ghost pepper infused, but not overpowering) and North Carolina (a vinegar sauce perfect for pulled pork–but that’s just me).

All of the sauces are, as Guy Fieri would put it, DYNAMITE.  Take a finger and try them all, see what you like.  Through many sessions of trial and error, I have discovered that BBQ sauce is like wine.  For each meat, there is a sauce that you should pair it with.  Nothing shows this correlation better than the Alabama White Sauce and chicken.  Ooo baby.  This sauce can turn bland chicken into a cocky rooster.  They should call it Foghorn Leghorn Chicken.  It’s got attitude.  I usually don’t go to BBQ places for the chicken, but this sauce, alone, changes my mind every time.  Now, I’m proud to say, I’ve learned how to make it.  Well…not theirs…theirs is definitely still better than mine…but I’m close!  It’s super easy, too.  You most likely have all the ingredients you need in your fridge in pantry already.  Here’s what you need (to make enough for a group, or save some for later):

  • 1 cup mayo (light works, if you’re worried about that)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • dash (or two) of salt and ground black pepper
  • tiny bit of garlic, because it belongs in everything

Wrap it up with some foil, let it chill for a little bit and enjoy with some chicken.  Time to grow up, no more Hidden Valley!

Union Woodshop: A BBQ Smoke Session

Woodshop

When you tell somebody that you’re from Clarkston (Michigan), you’ll likely receive one of two responses: something about Pine Knob (or as the suits would call it ,“DTE Energy Music Theatre”) or something about The Union’s mac and cheese. It may be a small town, but it’s got spotlight eats. The Union’s mac and cheese is so good that you can’t take your eyes off of it to notice Kid Rock at the table next to you. (he’s a regular, the dude’s got good taste for…good taste). It’s so good that the competition is desperate to get their hands on the recipe—having been caught literally trying to get their hands on the recipe. The Union’s grub, interesting ambience (being built inside an old church) and friendly staff led to such great success that the team was able to open a second restaurant (and later a third, and a fourth) next door, the Union Woodshop. The Woodshop offers a different menu than its sister restaurant, focusing on my favorite of all the foods; and since Valentine’s Day is meant to be spent surrounded by what you love, I got some BBQ.

If the Woodshop was a dude, he’d be bearded, sporting a button-up plaid shirt, half-rim glasses, a beanie, but also, like, really good at fixing cars. If that imagery doesn’t work for you, it’s a hipster’s log cabin, with great craft brews, wood-fire pizzas, and mouth-watering, Guy Fieri endorsed smoked ‘que. Like Guy demonstrates on Triple D, my go-to order is the Porker—because what goes better with pork, than more pork? Ground pork patty, house-made hot link, and maple smoked bacon combined with explosive pickled chilies, smoked cheddar, and some South Carolina mayo spread. With all that pig no wonder Porky had a stutter. Poor guy was scared s***less.

A poor phone photo of the Porker.

A poor phone photo of the Porker.

If all of that pork makes you feel like a pig, the wood-fire pizzas are always on point. I’d recommend the Woodshop pizza, their version of the BBQ chicken pizza. In addition to the smoked chicken, you get pulled pork, brisket, onions, and a tangy Memphis sauce. The other pizzas are good, too; but I have a hard time going to a BBQ joint and not getting BBQ. It’s a sin, certainly a regret (for the secular).

tea jar

Food isn’t the only highlight of the place, however. Upstairs is also, in my opinion, the “hottest” bar in town. Now, that’s not saying much because there are only, like, three or four bars in town—but it’s still really cool! The music is hip, the feng shui is peaceful, and I fall in love with every server, but that’s just me. There are so many reasons to go to the Woodshop, make it happen.

Grand Rapids: Michigan’s Grub Capital

The Green Well Gastropub in Grand Rapids

The Green Well Gastropub in Grand Rapids

Detroit is making a comeback.  It’s picking up the pieces (of rubble) and rebuilding after decades of urban blight, white flight, and corruption.  Now, the city is looking for an identity change, a new way to brand itself in a positive light; to find the perfect model that Detroit should follow, you don’t have to look very far.

Grand Rapids is where it’s at, there’s no doubt about it.  Being a Spartan, I love Lansing–but, as a city, it doesn’t hold a candle to Grand Rapids.  I have no problem admitting Ann Arbor is a beautiful place, but is too, let’s call it, quaint next to the urban-feel you get in Grand Rapids.  Having said that, with all three of those previously mentioned cities being college towns, you won’t have a hard time finding fun in any of these areas–but when you sit down to eat, you’ll see what really makes Grand Rapids so…can I say grand?

Grand Rapids is very liberal, to sum up its population: the city is young, dreadlocked, and studying graphic design at GVSU.  That creative nature and earth-friendly attitude really comes out with the food scene that has developed in the area recently. Most restaurants are going local and organic, giving the city a comfortable community feel.  The beer you’re drinking, the bread you’re eating, and the person cooking it up for you are all local.  If you’re into microbrews, then walking through the city is like your own personal tour of Wonka.  Last weekend, I made a trip to the city with the sole purpose of grubbing down on some out-of-the-box eats and sharing some recommendations with you so you can go check it out for yourself.  Farm-to-table isn’t the only kind of grub you’ll find on your culinary crusade of Grand Rapids.  The city has an eclectic mix of ethnic cuisine: Mexican, Dutch, Italian, Mediterranean, fresh markets, anything you could want to eat is within reach. With limited time in town, I had to make choices on where I wanted to eat, so I opted to try all new places.  So, this meant I that, today, I would not be showcasing San Chez, a tapas bistro, and home of my favorite sandwich ever–EVER: the Pork Belly and Pretzel B.L.T. Sandwich. Sweet, succulent, glazed pork belly, contrasted with cold, creamy apple slaw, fresh tomato, topped with a spicy jalapeño honey mustard, all enclosed in a steamy pretzel bun.  So good that it hurt to write all of that.  I do my best to sample all of the food showcased on the Travel Channel’s Man v Food and Adam Richman’s Best Sandiwch in America, and this sandwich truly trumps the field.  This “only new restaurants” rule also meant I would not be going to another personal favorite, Marie Catrib’s–home of outstanding food that you don’t feel guilty devouring because it’s healthy and made from scratch.  Definitely check out their falafel and desserts.

Good meals are something meant to be shared, and not eaten alone, so my dad and I arrived to town for a late dinner and decided to hit up the Green Well Gastropub.  I may be a sucker, but I always get excited about places that refer to themselves as gastropubs.  Some may consider gastronomy a snobby, bourgeois way to label food; but to me, it means you’re going to get something unique–and the Green Well menu is one of a kind. They have wines made exclusively for them by a local winery (Black Star Farms) and fresh baked bread baked right in town.  Oh, that bread.  We started with an order of their Breads & Spreads and were blown away. Great artesian breads, but the spreads were the talking point.  Three spreads were given with the assortment of breads: a curry lentil dip, that was the perfect mix of spice creating layers of different tastes in the mouth; a blueberry jalapeño spread, an amazing union of heat from the pepper and cool from the yogurt-esque blueberry, interesting take on taste similar to the hot wing-ranch/bleu cheese combo; then, there was the tomato basil dip, perfect for a cool and crisp bite between the spicier spreads.

The Green Well's Bread & Spread (Dips: curry lentil, tomato basil, and blueberry jalapeño)

The Green Well’s Bread & Spread (Dips: curry lentil, tomato basil, and blueberry jalapeño)

The appetizer was good enough to make a meal, but the carbs seemed a bit overwhelming so a real meal was to be had.  I cannot recall the last time I was that overwhelmed looking at a menu.  Everything sounded good.  Korean braised beef and noodles? Yes, please. Fish tacos? All day. Chicken and Waffles, too? After many internal battles and episodes of cognitive dissonance, I finally made up my mind and ordered the Cuban Sandwich and pops went with the Green Well Pad Thai with braised beef.

The Green Well Cuban Sandwich

The Green Well Cuban Sandwich

Despite the plethora of other great choices on the menu, I did not regret my choice for a minute.  It was the type of sandwich where before you even clamp your teeth down you get the rush of flavors to the mouth.  You could probably sit there and just breathe the sandwich in and get your moneys worth (and you save the calories!).  The spices on the pork merge with the bitterness of the Swiss cheese and tangy sweet mustard to create a gift to the taste buds, ending with a crunch of the fresh local bread. Perfection. After every bite I couldn’t help but let out a muttered “Dammit” or “holy hell.”  It was so good it made me angry that I couldn’t have it in my life every day.  You know a food is up your alley when it’s so good that you roll your eyes.  I don’t know why that happens, but I have no problem with it.

Fish Lad's Menu Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Fish Lad’s Menu Grand Rapids Downtown Market

The next morning, I woke up excited for the next venture.  I did some quick research on my phone and found our next chowdown spot–we’d be heading to the Grand Rapids Downtown Market.  To anyone who describes themselves as a foodie, markets are always a utopia, and Grand Rapids didn’t dissapoint.  Everything you’d want to find at a market you could find here.  Fresh produce, butchers, artesian bakers, fresh squeezed juice, sushi, gourmet cheeses, the market is your oyster–they have those, too!  After several laps around the building, stopping to stare at the sausage menu, the taco restaurant, and several other eye grabbing eats I ended at Fish Lad’s.  I can’t see Po’ Boy on a menu and not indulge.  I’m weak like that.  It’s not often that you find a stellar Po’ Boy in Michigan.  I had the option of shrimp, oyster, and soft shell crab; all of them sounded just as amazing as the next so I asked homeboy behind the counter what the go-to is.  Before I could finish the sentence he exclaimed, “Crab. Gotta do the crab.” He looked trustworthy, so I followed his lead and went with the soft shell.  I’ve never had one but it always looks good and I was (and continue to be) intrigued by how one can eat the entire crab shell and all.  It was just as good as I had hoped it would be (paying as much as I did for it).  Each bite a delightful crunch with a fresh seafood flavor that took you out of the frigid Michigan cold and straight to somewhere tropical.  Good seafood makes me nostalgic, I can’t help it.

Fish Lad's Po Boy

Fish Lad’s Po Boy

Take a trip to Grand Rapids, catch a Griffin game, get kicked out of the B.O.B., and find something new to eat.  You won’t regret it. Now we need to take that creative gastronomy innovation going on in Grand Rapids and bring it to Detroit.  Food brings people together, and creating a happening food scene is one way to start bringing in intelligent, young people who want to create something impactful from the ground up.

GR Market Fish

Tacos, juice, and Soft shell crab Po Boy.

Tacos, juice, and Soft shell crab Po Boy.

Happy Birthday, Man

I hate to say it, but it’s very easy to forget a friend’s birthday.  I’m not as active on Facebook as I once was, some friends aren’t even on social media any more, and at times it’s hard to keep track of my own birthday.  On top of that, what constitutes as wishing someone a happy birthday?  Does a Facebook post count?  I’ve had friends get mad at me over not wishing them a happy birthday, in a proper way.  So, I took the Larry David approach to the situation, and made a sketch on the subject.  Here is our new sketch “Happy Birthday, Man.”

Campus Chowdown Ep. 2- What Up Dawg? – Michigan State University

Video

In the second episode of Campus Chowdown, we return to East Lansing to face the Big Dawg Challenge (9 specialty hot dogs in 20 minutes). Will we be Top Dawg? Or go down as little wienies?

The Mystery of True Detective

Image

Between sleeping-in until noon, working nights, catching the flu from an eating contest for an episode of Campus Chowdown, and finally getting around to watching The Office (UK)—I haven’t had the time to check out True Detective, until this week (alright, alright, alright).  I saw all of the buzz it was generating on Twitter and was anxious to see if it was worth the hype.

From peoples Tweets I sort of understood what it was all about beforehand. My feed was practically drowning in piss-poor Yellow King memes and “jokes”, so going into it I knew there was some sort of mystery on who this “Yellow King” is.  I decided to make a night of the on-demand experience seeing how every episode garnered the Twitter attention of the Breaking Bad finale. I cleared all the plans I didn’t have, ordered pizza, hit the lights & lit candles to provide the optimal viewing experience. I was ready.  Within the first five-minutes, however, I was quite confused. They showed and referenced the Yellow King?! How was everybody wondering who he is the whole time when they blatantly said it within the first five minutes of the very first episode? As the episode progressed I grew more and more confused. Much of the plot was unexplained and dialogue referenced things that the viewer was supposed to know but had no way of knowing, nor ever explained.  The two detectives seemed to have a strange relationship and a lot of background that never was shown—I was completely lost. Thinking maybe I was too dazed during that episode, I decided to make a more cognitive effort to focus during the second.  I didn’t touch my phone, I was in the zone.  Yet, it still made no sense, what so ever. For the life of me I could not understand how the masses followed the show or enjoyed it because it made zero sense.

It took me three episodes…THREE EPISODES…to realize I was watching the show from end to finish, and now I can’t go back because I know how it ends.  I bought the book and went straight to the last page.  Here I was thinking everybody was an idiot for liking this show, when I was the fool. I bet I would have actually enjoyed it had I not dyslexicly viewed it.  Hopefully I’ll learn how to read by the time season two rolls around.

Campus Chowdown: Conrad’s East Lansing

For the first episode of our new food porn web series “Campus Chowdown“, my good friend Al Karsten and I head to our favorite East Lansing grub spot—Conrad’s Collegetown Grill—where we attempt to throw back 3 gigantic wraps each.  Check it out!