Tomahawk Steaks and Sous Vide

Hello again. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? In case you don’t actually know me in person, I require steady employment to pay for all of the food I consume and the impulse cooking items I purchase. That employment is management at a certain consumer electronics chain that happens to be very busy during the months of November and December, leaving John little to no time to eat good food and tell you about it. Well, if you haven’t noticed it’s January so it’s time to get this thing going again.

Once the holiday shopping season is over I always like to do something ridiculous to celebrate some actual time at home. These months are filled with long hours, aching feet and a lack of sleep. I hadn’t even gotten to think about what it was going to be this year when some co-workers presented me a gigantic 3.5 pound tomahawk rib-eye steak. You might think this is kind of weird that someone would buy me a steak for Christmas but if you think that then you obviously do not know me. I have had my eye on this type of steak for months now and my dream of being able to cook and consume it had finally come true.


So what is this beautiful, somewhat phallic looking, piece of meat? A tomahawk steak is a cut of ribeye that has five or more inches of bone left on. There is argument on whether or not the bone is simply left for presentation purposes or if it adds a different complexity of flavor. I’m on the team that believes that cooking anything while still on the bone creates better flavor. If you would like a more scientific breakdown, I’ll leave that to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. I also think a gigantic bone sticking out of a gigantic cut of steak creates an experience unattainable by flavor alone. Either way, cooking and eating anything on the bone is just more fun.

So how does one cook a monster like this? The ideal method is using a vessel that can give you the highest heat possible — a grill, broiler, or stovetop/oven combination. With a steak this thick you need both a way to sear the outside but also leave the middle at a perfect 129 degrees F. If you eat your steaks well done and/or with ketchup, do everyone a favor and don’t purchase or eat steaks like this. PETA will visit your house and demand to know why you insist on disrespecting animals. What I did was shrink wrap it, cooked it in water and then seared it. If you’re confused by that method, let me explain.


There are these wonderful contraptions called Immersion Circulators that will cook anything you want to the exact temperature that you want. Perfect medium rare every single time. It’s completely idiot proof and requires little to no technique. Sounds great, right? To make this really simple, immersion circulators maintain a constant temperature in a vessel of water that allows whatever food is in it to rise and continue at that temperature for as long as you want. There is zero risk of over cooking your food and all of the flavor and juice is locked in. You might be asking yourself right now, isn’t that essentially boiling a steak over hard and should I add a side of jelly beans? Well, yes, but the addition of either a sealed Ziploc bag or a vacuum sealer prevents contact of any water with your food. It’s essentially the easiest and most reliable way to cook a steak of this size. The technique is known as Sous Vide, or translated from French as under vacuum.


Now a little side note on flavor — A cow gave you a gift and the last thing you should do is blatantly disrespect that cow with some kind of Worcestershire or a liquid marinade. Liberally salt both sides and crack some fresh peppercorns on top. That’s it. No other flavoring agents are needed. Steak is meant to be tasted, not be an accompanying flavor to your seasonings and marinades. If you’re purchasing a quality cut of meat you’re paying for the process that went into raising that cow that developed the flavor. MOST IMPORTANTLY, DO NOT ALLLOW A1 OR KETCHUP ANYWHERE NEAR YOUR STEAK!

Moving on, so I like my steaks cooked to 129 degrees — the exact temperature of medium rare. If i was cooking on a grill I could use a thermometer probe to attempt to reach and finish at this temperature but using Sous Vide I seal my steak up in a vacuum sealed bag, set the temperature to 129 degrees and two hours later my steak will sit at that temperature until I’m ready to finish it. Some call this cheating, and I completely agree, but again there is no better way to guarantee that internal temperature of a steak. I could sear both sides on cast iron and then finish it in the oven but what’s the point? After two months of selling TVs, getting yelled at and cleaning up after people I’m ready for the cooking to be done for me. My immersion circulator also has WiFi functionality so it lets me know when the temperature is hit and when the cook is done. It’s the ultimate in meat cooking laziness.


After two hours, the steak is almost done. I say almost, because your steak has absolutely no color coming out of the water bath. There is no crispy edge and no crunch, which is why Sous Vide isn’t completely perfect. Cooking meat this way requires a quick sear on ALL sides to ensure that you don’t have a boiled mess on your plate. The internals of this steak are absolutely delicious but would you serve that steak to anyone? Gross. Use a smoking hot skillet with a nub of butter, while also making sure that you are searing the edges to render any fat. I like to use clarified butter, which has a much higher smoke point than regular butter, to avoid filling my entire house with smoke. My wife gets unhappy when I do that. I want to reiterate for a third time searing all sides of the steak is integral to making a perfect steak. On thing Sous Vide will not do is render fat. If you do not sear correctly, you will be left with large sections of fat in your steak.


AND HOLY MOSES WHAT A STEAK. I carved the bone off, poured a glass of high rye whiskey and sat at the table by myself at 11:30 at night eating a 3 pound ribeye and watched The Punisher. It was the perfect ending of another holiday season and the manliest thing I have done in years. Before I sign off on this post though, I must show you the kind of cook you get using Sous Vide. See how the rare cook goes edge to edge and just the edges are seared? Without some serious experience and technique it is next to impossible for a home cook to achieve that kind of cook. With Sous Vide, it’s almost impossible to not. Sorry if you think this is too rare, but you’re wrong.


So shout out to Henry and Tiffany for the hookup on this monster steak and shout out to Anova for making a really great contraption that allowed me to cook this steak like that. I’m not getting paid to mention them here, I just want to give respect where it’s due. If you’re thinking about getting into the whole Sous Vide game I can’t recommend it enough. The WiFi Anova I use is only $129 but you can find some models for a slow as $79. I also used it shortly after this to cook a whole filet for my entire family which allowed me to enjoy Christmas and not worry about the internal temperature of a very expensive cut of beef.


Duck Fat Chicken

The last time we talked about fat on here we went into a deep dive into butter. How it is made, why it’s different colors, which kind tastes the best and various other topics. I really liked that post because it was a ton of information about something you have probably never wondered about and it makes you think about how you’re cooking and what you’re cooking with. If you’re new here, I suggest you go back and give it a read. It’s amazing what happens to your cooking when you throw away your vegetable oil and start using quality fats. This time around we will be looking into the richest, silkiest, smoothest and most delicious fats out there. Duck fat.

I know, I know. It’s been a culinary fad since like 2012 to cook everything in duck fat. Really original, John.



The first question you might ask is why is duck fat so delicious? I’m afraid I don’t really have a good answer for you other than fat, in general, is pretty delicious. I can’t break down the chemical makeup and explain how that makes it a superior fat nor is this information readily available. I will tell you that duck fat has the most unique and savory flavor of any fat I’ve cooked with. It has a high smoke point, 375 degrees compared to butter’s 250 degrees, a neutral flavor that can be used with vegetables, potatoes, meats, pastries or basically anything, and gives you that silky mouth feel in every bite. According to health people duck fat also has less saturate fat than butter, beef fat and chicken fat. So yeah, duck fat is good for you. Eat it.

My favorite part about duck fat is the crispiness it adds to the exterior of ingredients if used correctly. If you’ve never had potatoes cooked in duck fat, I’m not sure what your plan is from here on out but it should be eating potatoes cooked in duck fat as quickly as possible. I personally like like smothering it on a piece of meat with a small amount of seasoning and letting it do it’s thing — which brings me to the part where I show you how to cook one of the easier meals you’ve ever made. The best part is it doesn’t look like it was easy. It will look like you really know how to throw down in the kitchen. Let’s cook an entire bird and smother it in duck fat!

OK, so the best part about this is you need seven ingredients. This isn’t complicated. You will need:

  1. A whole chicken — A good one.
  2. Duck fat — You can get it at Whole Foods.
  3. Fresh Rosemary — The sprigs, not the dried kind
  4. Fresh Garlic
  5. Salt
  6. Cracked Pepper – Not pre-ground.
  7. Potatoes – Whatever is one sale will work

For your first time, cooking a whole bird can be a little intimidating. How do you make sure the temperature is right? The answer is make life easier on yourself. Buy one of those thermometers with a probe that is attached to a digital reader. I’m a purist with steaks, preferring to go by feel, but with whole chickens I use a thermometer every time. Don’t let anyone give you any shit for this. There’s nothing worse than a stringy, overcooked chicken breast. Nothing. The other thing you must do with a whole chicken is get as much moisture out as possible. Do not bring a chicken home and immediately cook it. You will not be able to achieve the crispy exterior that makes chicken so great. Take it out of the package, dump some salt on it, let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours and then pat dry with paper towel. The salt will draw the moisture out of the bird. If possible, do this overnight. It makes all the difference in the world.

Once you have your bird dried out and ready to go, first make sure all of the giblets have been removed. Replace these with eight cloves of garlic (or more — why not?), a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, a few turns of cracked pepper and a big glob of duck fat. The duck fat will melt and steam the whole bird with garlic and rosemary goodness. Apply salt and pepper to the rest of the bird and then, the fun part, smother duck fat all over the outside of the bird. Give it a good massage. This step, along with drying the bird out before cooking, is the key to getting a nice crispy skin.

Here’s the best part. Roughly chop up some potatoes into little circles. These will not only act as a side dish, but will also hold the chicken up out of the juices which will prevent the bottom half of the chicken becoming mushy. Once the bird is done, the potatoes will have absorbed both chicken and duck fat and will become one of the most delicious things you have ever eaten. Seriously, the potatoes might be better than the chicken itself.

Spread your potatoes out on your pan, or a cast iron skillet if you have it, and place the bird on top. Preheat your oven to 350 and cook the bird for an hour to an hour and a half. Or until your thermometer reads 160. Then — very important — let the bird sit for twenty minutes. The bird will continue cooking and will reach its recommended temperature of 165. The juices will also recirculate throughout the bird and become more juicy. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to let your meat sit after its done cooking.


Carve, serve and get ready for compliments. The duck fat partners with the salt and pepper to give you a perfectly savory, crispy bite on the exterior. It pairs with the garlic and rosemary on the inside to give you incredibly flavor within the meat. And those potatoes that soaked up the fat of two different types of bird? Come one. This is a seriously great dish using not a ton of ingredients and costs about $20 to make.

Lastly, if you’re saying my chicken could have been a little bit more brown on the outside I completely disagree with you. This bird was perfectly cooked and you could tap on the skin with a fork and hear how crispy it was.

Just go get yourself a bird and cook it. Cooking your first whole chicken is one of those great triumphs in the steps knowing your way around your home kitchen. Smothering it in duck fat takes it to the next level.

Honduran Food at a Coney Island

One of the really (not) great things about living in Michigan is you are within walking distance of a Coney Island no matter where you are.  You could be miles away from any sign of civilization and you could probably still manage to find some place serving coney dogs and Greek Salads.  One of the best things about the national emergence of Detroit style pizza is the coney no longer being the cuisine Michigan is known for.  I understand the experience of going to Lafayette when you’re in downtown Detroit — and if you’re wondering why I didn’t say “Lafayette or American” it’s because there’s no question that Lafayette is superior.  There’s tradition there but what is the point of the other Coneys?  Seriously, just in Ypsi we have eight different Coney Islands serving almost the same exact menu.  There is Abe’s, Luca’s (two different locations), Leo’s (also two different locations), Eastern, Sinbad’s and Joe’s.

I have questions.  How is there demand for EIGHT different Coney Islands serving 21,000 people?  When was the last time you went to a Coney Island and said “Wow, I’m really glad I ate there”?  Do people always go to the same Coney Island?  More importantly, why did I eat this on June 21st in 2013?


But this isn’t all a rant about Coney Islands.  I just said all that for effect.  The last trigger statement I’ll throw out there is literally every Coney Island I have ever been to is serving the exact same thing:  Coney dogs, simple Greek food and breakfast.  It’s like fast food with a waitress.

I heard rumblings about something different.  Apparently there was a couple operating a Coney Island in a strip mall serving two menus — One with traditional Coney fare and one with authentic Honduran and Guatemalan food.  Some claimed it was actually a Central American restaurant in disguise of a Coney Island.  But why would anyone do this?  Is anyone that seeks out a Coney dog and a Greek salad interested in sampling that kind of cuisine?  Somehow it works.

Story time.  A couple of years ago there was this couple.  The husband was a cook at many popular Ann Arbor restaurants.  The wife ran a cleaning business.  There came a time where they decided that they were tired of working for other people.  Why not open a place of their own?  Well, the answer is money.  Opening a restaurant is expensive.  The couple went into a business with this guy who was opening a Coney Island and needed someone who could run the place.  They became partners.  Halfway through the opening process the guy ran out of money and pulled out.  The couple moved forward but were locked into opening a Coney Island due to their native cuisine being served in the same building at a different restaurant — and a pesky lease prohibiting two Mexican restaurants in the same building.  Some friend was like hey, there’s a lot of people around here from Guatemala qne Honduras.  Maybe you should check that out?  They were like yup, good idea.  The rest is history.

The result of that story is Antonio’s Coney Island, a Coney Island serving both a full Coney and Central American menu.  All of the criticism I spoke about previously where Coneys don’t have any variety and all have the same food?  That’s out the window here.  Antonio’s is a tiny seven table restaurant with two chalk boards that broadcast their daily specials.  Upon sitting down you are given the two menus and it’s immediately obvious that one is more interesting than the other.  It simply says Central American Food at the top and has two pages of items that sound much better than a Coney dog or chili fries.


So after being called a gringo by one of the owners, I requested their Honduran combo plate which consisted of a Honduran taco (chicken, Honduran slaw, sauce and cheese), enchiladas catrachas (more slaw, beef, tomato, egg, avocado, sauce and cheese) and churrasquitos (basically a Honduran steak taco).  The woman who waited on me, who I believe is also the owner, was 100% willing to walk me through everything and even challenged my original order of three Honduran tacos.  She encouraged me to try different items and I settled for the combo to get as many different flavors as I could.  The real star of the meal?  The enchiladas catrachas, which is basically a tostada on Honduran steroids.

My favorite part of the menu was that it made me uncomfortable, in a good way, and that hasn’t happened to me in a long time.  I saw the usual items that were familiar — tacos, enchiladas and fried plantains, but they were all in different forms than I was used to.  There is a whole fried fish (served as a whole fish), Honduran style fried chicken and a dish combining beef and green bananas.  I loved the feeling of not knowing anything about this type of food and having to stumble my way through the menu.  Trying to go comfortable and having the owner call me out on it made the experience that much better.

Check this place out.  It’s a family that is taking a chance and doing something different.  I’m sure there’s that urge to take the easy road and serve traditional Coney Island food because it’s comfortable for people and will attract more walk ins.  Just to be sure, I Googled “Central American Coney Island” and Antonio’s was the only result.  It’s one of a kind.

Antonio’s is at 2896 Washtenaw Ave in Ypsilanti.  Google it.

Lastly I would like to point out to Katy, who previously questioned my usage of expletives, that there are none in this post.  Is that better?

My First Day in Ypsilanti

Three posts in a week.  Crazy, right?  I know, get over it.  How about four restaurants in one post?  Let’s get into it.

I’ve eaten a ton of food in the past thirty days since arriving back in the Ypsilanti area.  For those of you who don’t know my life story, I actually grew up here.  When I was a kid, I never thought Ypsilanti was anything special and spent most of my time in Ann Arbor.  Throughout the years, the University of Michigan has driven most of the character out of the city looking for a new home.  It is my belief that the most of the character and interesting businesses in the area have made Ypsilanti their home.  If you wish to disagree we can do that, but you’re wrong so that kind of makes the disagreement pointless.  Let’s just move on.

I love Ypsilanti.  It’s interesting.  It’s a college town, but not really — home to Eastern Michigan University (my alma mater) where 80% of the students commute from outside of the city.  There are historical neighborhoods, including Normal Park where I live, and neighborhoods where you don’t want to get lost in or you’ll fear for your life.  The culinary scene is vast, with restaurants specializing in Moroccan, Mexican, Guatemalan, Indian, American, Mediterranean and countless others.  So many different cultures are represented here.  You have the classics like Haabs, which has been serving American fare since 1934, and Sidetrack Bar and Grill, whose location has served as a restaurant since 1850.  There is hot dog stand that makes its own root beer, a bar that serves a rattlesnake sausage and a burger joint called Roy’s Squeeze-Inn that serves burgers on a semi-circular bar table.  The greatness of Ypsilanti is its variety.  Variety in culture, race, food, economic status — variety in everything.  I didn’t even mention that it has the most phallic monument in the country.


It’s a big deal to me to be back in my hometown as a resident again so my first day that I had after we settled into our new home I wanted to take Eleanor out for a day on the town and introduce her to the city.  Our first day focused primarily on food because if you haven’t gathered this yet, I’m kind of into the whole food thing.  As I’ve said before, it is my goal to train the kid to become the greatest chef in the world. Judging by her favorite foods (ice cream, fruit snacks and peas), I am failing miserably.  Our first stop was breakfast at The Bomber, which has been around for 80 years and has been a favorite of mine since my late teens.  My parents never took me here, which I now believe was on purpose in respect for my cardiac health.  The Bomber specializes in gigantic plates of food that simply put, are not for the conscious of health  Now, if you ask me what I think is the single greatest breakfast combination, it’s biscuits, sausage gravy and over easy eggs.  The Bomber takes it a bit further adding American Cheese and sausage patties in a dish they call The Sunrise Biscuit.  If your goal is to wake up in the morning, get prepared for your day, eat breakfast and then give up on any plans you may have had — the sunrise biscuit is for you.  It’s probably the worst possible thing you could do to increase productivity in your day.  The trade-off is it’s one of the most delicious things you will ever eat.  The Bomber is an absolute institution in Ypsilanti and has to be experienced at least once.

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For lunch, the only thing that made any sense was something light.  Something to cleanse my soul of the fat sauce, processed cheese and sausage.  I wanted to try something that hasn’t always been in the city.   I heard about this new dumpling joint on Washtenaw called Yee Siang Dumplings — A Chinese restaurant specializing in you guessed it — dumplings.  Now, if you find it strange that someone can go from eating what you saw above to eating Chinese food I can absolutely agree with you.  Just keep reading though, it gets weirder.  So at Yee Siang, I walked in to a completely empty restaurant with covered windows.  It’s almost as if they don’t want you to eat here.  The sign is cheap and the curtains on the windows conceal the inside and almost make it as though there’s some kind of mystery inside that needs to be solved.  This building has housed dozens of different businesses with this being the most current.  The first few pages of the menu give authentic options that you probably won’t see at your run of the mill Americanized Chinese joint.  On the last page you’ll find the “All Time Favorites” section which is home to the General Tsao and Orange chicken.  Just disregard this section of the menu entirely.

I can’t tell what I like more about Yee Siang Dumplings, the food or the service.  The service is essentially someone walking up to your table and saying “What do you want?”.  It’s fantastic.  No specials, no recommendations, no over the top greetings.  The decor is minimal and uninviting.  Part of the ceiling is held up with clear tape.  Don’t know how to use chop sticks?  Tough luck.  It’s fantastic.  You have your choice of eleven different types of dumplings, an entire section dedicated to “saucy dishes on rice”, noodle bowls and other Chinese items that you have probably never heard of.  There is a picture of every single item on the menu so if you’re confused about what an item is, you’re good.


If I had to give you a recommendation, go with an order or dumplings — I started with the lamb and cilantro dumplings — and a Ma La bowl, which is a broth with whatever meat, vegetables and noodles you want to add.  The dumplings are unlike the usual pork dumplings you get at your Chinese takeout joint.  The meat inside is juicy and flavorful and the dough is fresh.  There is black vinegar on the table which instantly became one of my favorite new condiments and makes regular vinegar look like a little bitch.  I left Yee Siang with a desire to try every single dumpling on their menu.


After resting for a few hours Eleanor and I hit the road again to the most obvious place I could think of.  Sidetrack Bar & Grill has long been one of my favorite places in the world.  It started in my early twenties as the place to drink gallons of great beer for a cheap bill during their famous happy hour and has transformed into one of my favorite places to eat.  It’s become a combination of nostalgia, a great beer list and very good food.  Some people will tell you Sidetrack is overrated and their service is terrible.  I say to these people, get over yourself.  The service may be spotty from time to time but there is no bar serving better food, that I have been to, than Sidetrack.  The number of tables this place turns every night is absolutely incredible.  Recent renovations have added even more space to their dining room, an improved ventilation system (much needed) and an expanded kitchen.  It’s kind of weird going in there now with the expansions but the heart of it has stayed the exact same it’s always been.  To put it bluntly, it’s just a great fucking place to eat and have a beer or six.

Side note, can we stop saying Sidetracks (plural)?  It’s Sidetrack.  Thanks.


Sidetrack likes to advertise their burgers being some of the best in the country.  I’ll give it to them, they are serving a very good burger cooked on an ancient cook top but that’s not what brings me here.  I rarely, if ever, order the burger anymore.  Eleanor, on the other hand, will not order anything other than a “booger with cheese”.  No kids burger here, either.  I rarely, if ever, order from the actual menu.  On the same paper as the beer list they offer you a revolving list of specials that is different every time you visit.  It ranges from Sheppards Pie, to pot roast, to pulled pork mac and cheese.  There is a different menu combination every time I go.  Here’s a real pro tip for you.  If you see a Mexican item on the menu your decision making is done.  Even if you haven’t gotten a chance to read the rest of the menu, put it down.  Don’t like Mexican food?  Doesn’t matter, order it anyways.  I’ve had several different types of tacos and enchiladas from Sidetrack and they are up there with any authentic Mexican joint I’ve been to.  All of the items on the plates seem to be made in house by someone who knows what the hell they’re doing.  This visit meant steak tacos with onion and cilantro on a crispy corn tortilla, with a side of rice and beans with a chile verde sauce.

Here’s a tip, Frenches, open up a little Mexican joint and give it to whichever one of your cooks is coming up with these dishes.


Eleanor and I had a great dinner, mine washed down with an Old Rasputin and Eleanor’s with a chocolate milk.  We talked long about what we wanted to do for dessert to top of this day of culinary amazingness.  Do we get one of those silly gigantic strawberry shortcakes from Sidetrack or do we look elsewhere?  We sat there with our bellies full and our imaginations wide.  The choice became obvious.  We drove to Ma Lou’s for a biscuit donut.

Now I’m going to spare you the history and my thoughts on Ma Lou’s Fried Chicken because I already did that in my first ever post on here.  If you don’t feel like reading that whole post but you’re like “Damn, I could really go for some fried chicken right now”, I give you full permission to stop reading and go immediately.  We didn’t eat fried chicken on this particular night, however.  Ma Lou’s takes traditional biscuit dough in donut form, deep fries it and then dips it in vanilla icing.  It’s one of the better combinations of sweet and savory that I’ve tried.  The only problem is if you come here for only a biscuit donut you are challenged to resist not ordering fried chicken as well.  Despite me being one of the biggest fat kids in history, the amount of food consumed throughout the day prevented me from eating fried chicken for dessert.  Eleanor and I simply ate a biscuit donut and were on our way.


As we walked out of Ma Lou’s we passed by the Tap Room and The Rocket and I was reminded again how much I love this city.  Ypsilanti is interesting.  Ypsilanti has variety.  There is nothing normal about this city and that’s what makes it so great.  I say a lot of sarcastic shit on here and sometimes I drink too much and write rants about how terrible Buffalo Wild Wings is but this post is a genuine love letter to the city in the form of a day out with my daughter at some of my favorite restaurants.

Should you ever need recommendations for anything to do in Ypsilanti you have an open invitation from me to reach out.  I love sharing this city with people and hope the next time you’re looking for something to do you give it a try.

Arby’s Bought Buffalo Wild Wings

So I’m reading the news just now and I see that Arby’s has purchased Buffalo Wild Wings for $2.4 billion.  Here’s the crazy part:  The deal wasn’t for stock options, as most large corporate acquisitions are, it was for STRAIGHT CASH.  Apparently profits have been dwindling in casual dining establishments as people realize they can actually cook better food themselves.  I needed to post a quick opinion piece.

Can we talk about how terrible Buffalo Wild Wings is for a second?  I have friends that work there (sorry Jake) so definitely keep supporting your local Buffalo Wild Wings — tip well and don’t pick your food up at the carry-out counter and then eat there to avoid tipping.  It’s literally an entire business based upon people feeling comfortable going to a recognizable bar.  Its the Planet Fitness of bars.  There’s no hometown feel, no drunk owner sitting at the end of the bar randomly buying people shots (looking at you, Powell’s Pub), just a bunch of random sports memorabilia and way too many TVs.  It’s like a bizarro Chuck E Cheese for adults.  But people will continue going there because it’s a recognizable name and they know exactly what they are walking into.  People need to be comfortable!

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Can we talk about how bad the wings are at a place called Buffalo Wild WINGS?  It’s almost offensive that a chain specializing in chicken wings is serving bad chicken wings.  In a world where fresh food is thriving and people are actually starting to give a shit what they eat, Buffalo Wild Wings is cutting open bags of frozen chicken wings, frying them, covering them in spicy corn syrup and serving them to you in a paper boat.  Buffalo Wild Wings is home to people who prefer boneless wings to actual chicken wings and pay a MORE to eat chicken nuggets rather than actual wings.  These are the same people who put pineapple on their pizza.

Small complaint, can I get a beer list?  I can’t see far enough to see all of your taps and I’m not trying to be that guy that asks you to name all forty beers on tap.

Smaller complaint, why do I need to drink Pepto Bismol after eating your food?  Am I old or does my stomach just get pissed at me for paying way too much for shitty frozen food?

Bigger complaint, if people are paying a premium for your cheap, terrible food WHY DOES YOUR ALCOHOL COST SO MUCH MONEY?  I once paid $6.25 for 22oz of Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat at a Buffalo Wild Wings.  Why?  Because I’m an idiot.  If you allowed me to drink more I drop my inhibitions and give in to paying top dollar for frozen wings.  It makes sense.

Random question, what percentage of Buffalo Wild Wings regulars have a Planet Fitness Gym membership?

Closing remarks —  It’s no wonder that the need for places like Buffalo Wild Wings are declining and it’s fitting that Arby’s is now the owner of 100% of their company.  People realize that they can purchase a bag of shitty frozen wings from the grocery store and their TV at home is better than all 78 of Buffalo Wild Wings’ TVs.  I guess this is kind of a deep message for an opinion about Buffalo Wild Wings being terrible but don’t seek out a recognizable name and decide to go there.  Try out a local hole in the wall bar for a change and maybe you’ll actually be served a drink the owner who gives a shit if you come back.  You’ll avoid a gigantic bill, a stomach ache from the terrible food and best of all you’ll probably find a new favorite place.

Goodbye Westland, Hello Ypsilanti

Hello again.  It has been 34 days since I last wrote the most genuine apology to Guy Fieri that I could come up with.  I have received many questions about the layoff from people who believed that writing something positive about Guy Fieri marked the end of my food writing career.  Well, I’m here to dispel the rumors of my eminent retirement and shit on the city of Westland just one last time.  I’m here to announce the actual reason why I did absolutely no reporting of restaurants you’ve never heard of, facts about fats that you never cared about and made up history of cities that some people actually believed.

On September 27th, 2017 I purchased a home, moved out of the city of Westland and into Ypsilanti.  You may be wondering to yourself — “Why is this worthy of an entire post?  Can you shut up about your life and just review more restaurants?”.  The answer is no.  This is not a food blog and I am not a restaurant reviewer.  This site will always be dedicated to what I am interested in and will run in the form of a story.  This post, in particular, is dedicated to the religious experience that was leaving the city of Westland forever.

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Now, I previously reported the national news of Westland winning the award for worst food city in America.  I also created the foremost source of Westland’s culinary history.  This post marks the last time I will ever mention the city of Westland on this site.  Consider this a funeral for the mocking of one of the most terrible places in our great country.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I will not waste any more of your time with my ramblings.  I will not force you to read any more words with sarcastic comments about a community of over 80,000 people.  These residents have contributed public record in the form of restaurant reviews on Yelp to prove all of my points.  So I’ll let the people of Westland take the wheel from here.

Joseph W. on on his recent visit to Don Miguel, a mediocre Mexican joint that opened last year.  Joseph is an English teacher at Westland Middle School and is known for his love for authentic Mexican cuisine.

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I would like to introduce you to Rob S., an elite Yelp reviewer that lives in Westland.  Rob currently has 36 one star reviews and has a deep love for limes.  After hearing the news of my absence, he went into hyper-mode to become the foremost critic of Westland cuisine and posted twelve more negative reviews including the following for Sonic Drive-In.  My only question for you Rob, how did you spend $40 at Sonic?  Shouldn’t that be the real issue here?

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Here’s Margaret V., who recently had her stylist fit her with the “I want to talk to a manager” hair style.  Her interests include Boston Market and beginning sentences with “Yeah, no”.  She had a poor experience at the Westland Boston Market and had to let everyone know in her normal bulleted form organized by food, drinks and environment.  Somehow Margaret is convinced that “Cooks” work at Boston Market.

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Here’s Ashley D. at Goldon Corral.  You should just read this.  I have no commentary.

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And finally, here’s Peggy H. who hates chicken wings and thinks Amy is a real bitch.

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So if you’re a resident of Westland don’t worry.  Your food scene is in good hands.  Going forward, the base of this site will be in Ypsilanti, MI which is home to a surprising number of great restaurants representing the cuisines of dozens of different cultures.  I look forward to highlighting my favorites for you and not reviewing them on Yelp.

Goodbye Westland.

An Apology to Guy Fieri

I have said a lot of terrible things about Guy Fieri over the years.  Several years ago on Epic Portions I researched his family history and wrote about his name change from “Ferry” to “Fieri”.  I mocked his terrible restaurants and wrote about how stupid of an idea it is to run a Mexican/Sushi fusion restaurant.  I still stand behind the opinion that Guy Fieri makes terrible food and shouldn’t be looked to for any food guidance.


What I will say, is Guy Fieri seems to be a pretty decent guy.  If you search really deep in the news and sort through whatever Donald Trump has done this week, you might find a story about Guy Fieri feeding 5,000 fire evacuees per day.  Fieri constructed a makeshift kitchen in Santa Rosa, CA last Thursday and has been serving meals to people displaced by the massive fires in the area.  He has brought with him several massive smokers and several other chefs from the area to cook alongside him.  Not only is he feeding evacuees, but he is also sending food to the firefighters working to battle the blazes.  The menu includes chicken, pork loin, braised cabbage, mashed potatoes and baked beans.

Here’s the part where I respect Guy Fieri the most for this.  There is not one single picture or mention of him doing this on his Twitter or Instagram.  The most he has done is set up a site for donations, pose for a few pictures with fire fighters and give one interview to a PBS affiliate where he gave this quote:

“I’m not promoting anything. I’m just here cooking. This is feeding people. People need help, and I’m here to help. That’s it.”

So to you Guy Fieri, I apologize for ripping on your terrible food ideas and the public persona you have created to build yourself quite the successful brand.  This is pretty damn cool that you’re putting in work to help people and not asking for anything in return for it.  This is exactly what he said it is, people needing help and he’s using his success to do something positive.  You have my promise that I will not join in on the hating Guy Fieri game anytime in the future.  I hope you will do the same.

Stop Buying Terrible Pasta Sauce

When I was younger my Brother and I participated in every sport and activity you could think of.  The one that stuck for both of us was swimming, which led to grueling two a day practices during our teenage years.  Mother Moors used to have to come up with large enough meals to feed us after practice, which led to some of the most impressive eating sessions in the history of the city of Northville, MI.  The one that seemed to fill us up the easiest was a giant pot of spaghetti, Italian sausage and a jar of store bought sauce.  To this day, spaghetti is one of my favorite meals to prepare when I want something fast and easy.  My Mother made a lot of sacrifices and taught me many things while I was growing up.  The wisdom she bestowed upon me has formed me into the person I am today.  There was one piece of information she shared with me in my late teens that has made an impact on my entire life.  I will never forget it.

Stop buying terrible pasta sauce.

Stop buying Prego.  Stop buying Ragu.  That off brand value sauce?  Leave it on the shelf. Your pasta deserves better.  That Italian sausage is judging you.  I’m not trying to be some pasta sauce snob when I say that.  I understand that it’s a really cost effective way of serving a large plate of food and some people don’t care.  This entire post is dedicated to making you care the next time you want to make a large plate of spaghetti and need some sauce.  This is dedicated to my Mother, who taught me to have higher expectations when eating spaghetti.  Finally, this post is dedicated to spaghetti — The finest, cheapest way to cure hunger.


First of all, let’s look at the ingredients in a terrible pasta sauce.  Take for example a can of Ragu Old World Style Traditional Sauce, which is advertised as their richest, thickest recipe:

Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Soybean Oil, Salt, Sugar, Dehydrated Onions, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Spices, Romano Cheese Made From Cow’s Milk (Cultured Part-Skim Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Natural Flavors.’

Your first lesson in purchasing sauce at the store is if your jar lists tomato paste as the first ingredient drop the can so it shatters on the floor and pretend you did it on accident. You should then ask for a mop and clean it up yourself so someone doesn’t have to clean up after you.  Seriously though. Tomato paste is created by cooking down tomatoes until the liquid is almost completely removed, leaving a thick tomato concentrate.  It’s the first step in making ketchup.  You’re basically stealing a tomato’s soul and selling it to the devil.  Any integrity that tomato had is now gone.  You may as well enjoy a large glass of juice from concentrate while eating tomato soul.


Instead, look for a very simple item listed first on the ingredients.  Look for actual tomatoes.  No puree, no paste.  Just tomatoes.  Going the complete opposite end of the spectrum, take a look at Rao’s Homemade Marinara’s ingredients.

Imported Italian tomatoes, imported olive oil, fresh onions, salt, fresh garlic, fresh basil, black pepper, oregano

See how it sounds like you just bought a jar of tomatoes with some seasonings?  Doesn’t that sound more like what we want to dump on our pasta?  I know, I know, Rao’s is $9 a jar which to most people just isn’t worth it.  I happen to believe that it’s an absolutely ridiculous idea to pay that much for some tomatoes and seasoning.  There are plenty of sauces in between that use actual tomatoes rather than the souls of thousands of poor tomatoes.  If you pay an extra dollar or two, your pasta will be happy to not have to hang out with those asshole sauces.

Second, why not just make your own sauce?  I understand not everyone has the know-how to make a sauce and it’s just so much easier to buy a bottle of Prego ketchup sauce and be done with it.  Here’s my retort to that.  You can purchase a two pound can of San Marzano tomatoes, widely known as tomatoes grown in the finest tomato growing region in the world, for about $4.  From there you pour it in a pot with whatever ingredients you like, cook it on medium-low for an hour or two and you have a better sauce than any jar you could buy at any store.  The beautiful part of this is it’s almost impossible to screw up.  Like garlic?  Throw it in.  Like your sauce a little spicy?  Add red pepper.  Want to cook the Italian sausage directly in the sauce so you don’t have to wash two pans?  IT MAKES IT EVEN BETTER.  Seriously, the next time you are thinking about buying a jar of sauce buy a can of tomatoes instead and just throw a bunch of shit together.  It will blow your mind how much better it is.

Just as a bonus, here’s the recipe for that $9 bottle of Rao’s Marinara.  This makes double what sells at the store for a dollar less than one jar.  Obviously the better the ingredients you use the closer it will taste to actual Rao’s.

  • Olive oil
  • Quarter onion, chopped up
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped up
  • 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes.
  • 6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces.  Don’t chop it, ask Meyhem Lauren.
  • Little bit of dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Do you have a crock pot/slow cooker?  Of course you do.  Dump all of those ingredients in before you leave for work and when you get home you’ll have a delicious sauce that tastes like it was cooked by an old Italian lady name Belaflore.  If you’ve never cooked a couple of pieces of Italian sausage in your sauce, as mentioned before, here is your chance to be the hero you’ve never been able to be.  Your family will probably even do the dishes for you after dinner instead of just leaving them in the sink like they always do.



Vegan Chili – No, This Isn’t a Joke

So based on my most recent posts you might assume that I’m just some asshole that likes to force his opinions of various food items and restaurants while having no real culinary skills to bring to the table.  You would be about 35% accurate on the first part of that statement but I can actually cook a little bit.  My problem is I rarely cook the same thing twice so I’m really not great at one particular dish.  The nice part about this is I’m pretty good at cooking pretty much anything you could think of.


Most recently I dabbled in a cooking without the use of any meat or dairy, which was a real challenge for a guy like me.  More accurately, I wanted to make the meatiest tasting chili I possibly could using no meat products.  I know, I know, why would I do something like this?  I did this because it’s interesting to me to do the research on different processes and ingredients that would challenge me and grow my culinary knowledge. I’m not all about just smoking large portions of meat and eating tacos.  I’m in this for the adventure and a deeper understanding.  #zen

So in my research, I found the best information from one of the better food writers/experimenters on the internets, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.  I like to think of him as a worthwhile replacement for Alton Brown, until Good Eats comes back.  If you are interested in the science of food and/or some alternate techniques, check out his Food Lab column on Serious Eats.  A lot of his content is higher level and goes into a ton of detail but it’s all worth a read.

I decided that if I was not going to use any meat, I was going to have to get flavor from as many different places as possible.  The most obvious place to start was creating a chili paste rather than use a chili powder.  Now, creating a chili paste sounds like it might be difficult but I can show you how its done in only two steps.  Better yet, I can provide photos.

Step One: Obtain a bunch of dried chilis.  For this, I used Arbol and Ancho chilis.  Add them to a large pot with water and simmer until soft.


Step two: Add chilis to either a blender, food processor or use an immersion blender.  I added two canned adobo peppers for a little smokiness.  Then you know, blend them all up in a paste.


Cool, now you have chili paste.  This stuff will taste completely different than a store bought chili powder and won’t make your family hate you because of the heat.  It adds a nice smoky, sweet spicy base to the chili for you to build on.  If you have a Mexican grocery by you an entire bag containing twenty of these guys can be purchased for the same price as a store bought container of chili powder that will give you about as much flavor as wood shavings.  If you prefer a powder, you can simply leave them dry and grind them up in a food processor.

The next question for me was how do we replace that hearty, rich taste of ground beef? I could step up all the other ingredients but how would I do this without using some terrible soy protein beef crumble replacement?  I quickly found my answer in three different ingredients.

The first is a product called Marmite, which is a yeast extract that adds that heartiness to chili usually created by adding meat.  Marmite is famous in Britain as a spread for toast, but it’s the real MVP in your life if you’re looking for a meat replacement in stews and soups. The second was using a soy sauce to replace the saltiness and give a little tang. The third is beans, lots of beans.  I used three different types, with all three giving it a different meaty texture.


I would like to stop here and reiterate that you shouldn’t use meat substitute products. They lack any kind of meat texture and simply just aren’t very much fun.  It’s much more fun to experiment with different ingredients and techniques to create your own.  Plus, they’re all pretty gross.

Moving on to the beans.  Beans are really the magic ingredient to any vegetarian chili. Add as many ingredients as you want to enhance the taste but vegetarian chili is absolutely gross without some bite and texture.  The obvious solution is black beans and chili beans.  Simply throw them in for the last twenty minutes of cooking and you have a hearty chili.  Taking it a step further — get some garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas aka the great white bean, rinse them to get the shell off, pulse them in a food processor a few times and you have yourself the cheapest and easiest ground beef substitute you can find.  They will absorb every little bit of the chili paste, the marmite and the soy sauce. Oh, and I heard they’re healthy too.

From there it’s all the usual ingredients you would normally add to your chili in the amount that you like them.  A can of tomatoes, an onion here, a few cloves of garlic there.  A dash of cumin, some oregano.  I always like to add some masa, or corn flour, to the mixture for the last ten minutes of cooking to give it a little corn flavor.  That’s the beauty of chili though, add whatever you want.  If the base ingredients are good, you’re all set.


If you’re a recipe person, here’s a recipe for you.  As always, I encourage you to make this yours and experiment.  The keys in this are the Marmite, soy sauce and garbanzo beans.

  • 8 dried chilis (arbol, ancho, whatever you like)
  • 2 whole chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes packed in juice
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 cloves garlic (i really like garlic)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon marmite or vegemite
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons masa
  • Salt pepper (obviously)

If you’re the kind of person that needs step by instructions with your recipes here’s where I need you to get dangerous and just throw all of this together and see how it turns out.  I will say that you should add the flavoring ingredients first to build some character, then add the liquid to expand that flavor, then add the texture to absorb that flavor.

I hope you will enjoy this and try to make your own vegan chili.  If a guy with a pig tattooed on his arm can have some fun with this then so you can you.

Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit

OK OK, I’m a little late to the party on an issue that has been dividing the city of Detroit for months now. When it first came up I didn’t want to react out of emotion and say something I would regret. Like our President, I don’t just rush out and make a statement before I have collected all the facts. On hot button topics such as this one, the decision to come out immediately and take a side could divide all twelve of my readers. At this stage in my writing career, I just can not afford to take risks like that.

So after giving it some time and collecting all of the information that is now available I am now ready to make a statement and take a side. I’m also ready to offer you my opinion — And as a bonus, I’ll explain my opinion in ways that you can understand. It involves Kid Rock and it includes an announcement he made recently that could cause people to make a mistake that they will never forget. Ready for this one?

Kid Rock opened a restaurant.

Yes. Kid Rock, self proclaimed Son of Detroit — Or more accurately, Son of Romeo, decided it would be a good idea to open up a restaurant called Made in Detroit serving a variety of Southern and Detroit influenced dishes. The 5,800 sq. ft restaurant and bar sits in the new Little Caesars arena and is open to the public even outside of event dates. The walls are plastered with Kid Rock memorabilia but unfortunately Confederate flags were not allowed as a decoration, despite Rock’s deep ties to the southern states.

Now if you read that last sentence and detected sarcasm then you are doing a great job following along with me. Let’s dive into a history of Kid Rock so we can better understand the roots of his Made in Detroit restaurant because the story is what makes a restaurant great, am I right?


Bob Ritchie was born in Romeo, MI in 1971 on a six-acre estate with an apple orchard. His father, Bill, owned several car local car dealerships. At the age of 15 he ran away to the mean streets of Mt Clemens to DJ and rap for various parties and at the age of 17 signed a record deal as a hip hop artist with Jive Records. I’ll fast forward through bringing Uncle Kracker to the world, becoming a rap-rock superstar with Fred Durst and starring in a sex tape with the lead singer of Creed and get to the point. I read a lot about Kid Rock in preparation for this article. I learned a lot more about Kid Rock than I ever cared to know. I became confused on one big thing with Kid Rock’s life.

Where did his southern ties come from? After recording his most successful song in 2002 — A duet with Sheryl Crow — his sound completely changed from some of the worst rap/rock in the history of terrible rap/rock to a mix of Southern Rock and Country. His look changed from mesh tank tops and wife beaters to cowboy hats and creative uses of the American flag as clothing. Somehow, Kid Rock went from a terrible rapper to the most patriotic country artist alive, even dubbing him self the King of White Trash. Doesn’t this seem kind of weird? Stop to think, country music fans accepted Hootie as one of their own so is it really that weird that they also accepted Kid Rock?

So I got tired of researching Kid Rock’s love for America, his claim that he loves both the Confederacy and Black people and his deep affection for the South. There wasn’t really anything interesting about it. It was quite obvious that the guy saw an opportunity to transition from a genre of music that was slowly dying to another genre that was on the rise. Creating a character that made music about drinking whiskey, loving America and not giving a fuck was the more lucrative path. So Bob Ritchie created this character and turned into it.

So at the midpoint of this post you’re probably asking yourself when I’m going to actually start talking about food. Well my wonderful reader, here’s where we begin talking about how absolutely stupid Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit restaurant is. Ready? Let’s do it.


Much like his public persona, Kid Rock’s restaurant is also completely full of shit. We aren’t even going to go into the news that there were $2.9 million in fines for violating contracts requiring a certain percentage of contractors hired to construct the arena to be from the Detroit Area. In fact, 27 perfect of the total hours spent constructing the area housing Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit were actually worked by Detroit and Michigan based companies.

What we will go into is how completely ridiculous attempting to merge Southern and Detroit style cuisines together is. Ask yourself — what is Detroit style cuisine? Is there really such a thing? The only two things Detroit is known for are coney dogs and deep dish pizza. Can you make an entire menu out of these two items? The answer is absolutely not unless your making an entire restaurant specializing in one of them. So did Kid Rock decide that there wasn’t enough Detroit themed food items to fill his menu or did he feel the need to extend his “I’m from Detroit but I really really like the South” act into his restaurant? The answer is absolutely.

So when Kid Rock decided to open a restaurant called Made in Detroit he probably partnered with a Detroit based company to help him, right? That would only make sense seeing as the place is called Made in Detroit. Actually, he called up a large hospitality company called Delaware North out of Buffalo, New York. When it came time to hire a chef to run day to day operations? Kid Rock and Delaware North looked no further than Westland, MI(voted worst food city in the world from 2013-2016) to find their executive chef. No, I didn’t make the Westland connection up.

The menu includes exactly four menu items that have any actual ties to Detroit. There are the Coney Island Buns, Fried McClure’s Pickles, The Hamtramck Burger and a Michigan Cherry Pie. Everything else is a random mix that ranges from Chicken Shawarma Tacos, Nashville Hot Chicken, Fried Oysters and Grits, Beet Salad and to top everything off.. Vegan Bourbon Maple Ice Cream, because Kid Rock cares about vegans. Many menu items contain a bacon that is called out as Nueske’s slab bacon that is shipped in from Wisconsin. There is an American Goulash which is a little confusing, because goulash is a traditional Hungarian dish. The Made in Detroit Burger is topped with lettuce, tomatoes, American cheese and pickles — Leaving me wondering exactly what about this burger makes it Made in Detroit aside from the fact that it was assembled in Detroit.

If the food menu wasn’t confusing enough, the drink menu is even better. One of the great things about the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit over the last decade is the emergence of craft breweries and distilleries. There are thousands of great beers being produced out of the state and hundreds of choices in liquor. So what did Kid Rock choose for his beer menu? In-state choices are American Badass Lager, Ghetto Blaster and Two Hearted IPA. Other choices include Stroh’s, Labatt, Tecate and Black Label. There five liquor options from Michigan based companies but none are included in their cocktail menu. Couldn’t you at least use the liquor that is made in Detroit in the cocktails in a restaurant called Made in Detroit? Is that too much to ask?

I know, I know it’s silly to try use logic when dissecting the backstory and menu of a restaurant owned by a guy who once got into a fight at a Waffle House. It’s just hard for me to look at someone so full of shit open up a restaurant in a Detroit that has such an improving food culture. It’s also hard to look at someone who was once quoted as saying “My shows aren’t about trying to save some place, because I don’t feel that’s the right venue for it. That’s my politics right there: Don’t bring politics to my shows.” now giving political speeches teasing a run for Senate at his shows.

My stance: Don’t go to Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit. Don’t encourage celebrities partnering with large hospitality companies to open terrible restaurants and take away from the local food culture. Don’t go here, don’t go to Wahlburgers — Support local businesses who are actually a part of the city and give it character. Kid Rock somehow became a representative for a city that had hardly anything going for it. Detroit is better than Kid Rock now. I completely understand that celebrity presence brings money and recognition into the city but is Kid Rock really the celebrity we want when people think of Detroit? Maybe a decade ago when people outside of the city thought of it as a dumping ground. Not anymore.