Hello there and welcome back! I hope you enjoyed my guide to Bexley and that you found a tasty martini and/or Scotch, some great music and a big scoop of ice cream. For this week’s entry, we will go conceptually away from an afluent suburb as possible and discuss the beautiful bleakness of Netflix’s Ozark (2017) . We will be pairing Ozark with Queens of the Stone Age new release Villain and accompanying them both with Amish Chicken and Noodles. This is a dirty, gritty and grim entry, so open a St. Louis Champagne (Budweiser) and settle in.
So, who among us has never had an identity crisis? Who didn’t own a Kangol Hat in High School or have an awkward acoustic guitar moment in undergrad? Maybe you have worn your pants too baggy, were inked with a tribal tattoo or rocked a Puka necklace? We all make bad decisions because at times in our life, we all want to be something we are not.
Ozark is in the same boat and the fedora it sports is an homage to Breaking Bad. However, the difference between my Kangol hat and the Ozark fedora is that Ozark finds a way to pull of it off. If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, Ozark is the most sincere television program of 2017.
For those unfamiliar, the broad-strokes are that Jason Bateman plays Marty Byrde, a Chicago based money launderer working for a powerful Mexican drug cartel. Marty is the Heisneberg of money laundering, but eventually the rules of the business arrangement between Marty and the cartel are violated. As a result, Marty and his family are exiled to a Missouri lake town in the Ozarks, where Marty has to launder enough cartel money to pay off his debt and keep his family alive.
When the Byrde family moves to the Ozark, they quickly make enemies and find danger lurking behind every corner. The Byrde family are outsiders, literally and figuratively and struggle to fit into their new lives. Marty’s wife Wendy (Laura Linney) along with their teenage children Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner) eventually all have to work together with Marty to pay off the family debt while battling local crime king pins, a deranged FBI agent and a family of murderous grifters who are hell-bent on revenge.
Ozark certainly can be accused of borrowing heavily from the tone and dark color schemes in Breaking Bad. Like Breaking Bad, both programs are filled with darkness, dread and imposing backdrops that eventually become characters themselves (the intimidating deserts of the American Southwest and the beautiful and intimidating mountains and lakes of Missouri).
There are certainly similarities between Marty Byrde and Walter White – both characters are buttoned up, straight-laced academics who moonlight as key players in their regional drug trades. Both characters also love their children and are married to adulterous wives who can be viewed as one-dimensional, callous and insincere (this is a tired trope which we will tear apart in a future entry).
Overall, I really enjoyed Ozark. As clichéd as it sounds, Ozark really is Jason Bateman as you have never seen him. I often have trouble seeing Bateman as any other character than Arrested Development‘s Michael Bluth, but Bateman owns Byrde’s nuanced, conflicted and layered character almost immediately.
The rest of the main cast is equally talented. Linney is, as always, stellar and Gaertner and Hublitz easily sell their roles as frightened, angst ridden teenagers. The other stand out performances are Julia Garner’s (The Americans) teenage criminal matriarch Ruth Langmore and Jason Butler Harner DEEPLY troubled FBI agent Roy Petty.
If you enjoy anxiety riddled, character driven crime dramas Ozark is a great winter show to binge. If you enjoy fluffy, high calorie winter comfort food, you should pair Ozark with the following dish!
AMISH CHICKEN & NOODLES
I chose this dish because winter is here and Amish Chicken and Noodles is an easy to make, mid western comfort food that would seem at home at a dinner table in The Ozarks Mountains. Odds are you will need some comfort before, during and after viewing, so let’s get started.
- 2 32 ounce containers Chicken Stock
- 4 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
- 16 oz Old Fashioned Medium Egg Noodles
- 28 oz Fully Cooked Shredded Chicken
- 3 lbs Russet Potatoes (diced)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
*The mashed potatoes and Chicken & Noodles will each take about 40 minutes, so plan accordingly.
- Add diced potatoes to large pot and cover with salted water
- Bring to boil (10 minutes)
- Let boil for 20 minutes
- Add milk and butter to small sauce pan and heat
- Add heated milk and butter to drained pot that contains only potatoes
- Mash with electric masher or mixer until desired consistency is reached
Chicken & Noodles
- Add both containers of chicken stock and bouillon to pot and boil for 10 minutes
- Add chicken and reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes
- Add noodles and cook for 10 more minutes
- Add mashed potatoes to plate
- Top with Chicken & Noodles
There you have it! The perfect winter comfort food to keep you warm while you watch crime drama!
Usually I pair a drink with each stage of the entry, and that was the plan was no different this time. I found the following drinks made by Ozark Mountain Bottleworks (no relation to the show), at Columbus’ own Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop.
So…the sodas were all delicious, but I had trouble making drinks with both the Butter Beer and Cream. I used Sailor Jerry’s Rum, Svedka Vodka and even some Fireball, but nothing worked. Fireball, people! My dedication knows no end, but ultimately my concoctions tasted like cough syrup. However, I did pull off the following drink:
Ruth Langmore Root Beer Float
Inspired by burgeoning Missouri crime boss Ruth Langmore, this concoction is sweet when it needs to be, but also potentially deadly (from both a sugar and alcohol standpoint).
- 2 scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream
- 1 part Vanilla Vodka
- 2 parts Ozark Mountain Root Beer
- Chocolate Syrup taste
- Peanut Butter chips
- Add ice cream to glass
- Top with mixture of Vodka and Root Beer
- Add Chocolate Syrup
- Top with Peanut Butter Chips
Apologies for not making more drinks this time around, but the silver lining is the first ever dessert drink featured on Netflix and Grill! Enjoy!
The music I have paired with the menu is the newest release by Queens of the Stone Age. I chose QOTSA because any of their songs could be played during any scene from Ozark and the partnership would be simpatico.
QOTSA, besides being the hippest band on the planet are a group of talented musicians who blend punk, pop, stoner rock, funk and blues to make gritty and dirty Punkabilly bliss. They have been succeeding at this game since 1996 and their hard work and dedication to their craftsmanship has paid massive dividends in recent years.
Their newest album, Villains (2017), is a funky, gritty, toe tapping riff filled experiment that largely succeeds due to front man Josh Homme’s vision and collaboration with super producer Mark Ronson (Adele, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars). Highlights include:
- Lead single The Way You Used To Do is big, broad pop rock manufactured for the masses. Ronson’s influence is perhaps most clear on this single.
- The dreamy pop masterpiece Fortress manages to be mellow and intense at the same time. Great synthesizers to boot.
- The stoner rock riff filled The Evil Has Landed. This is a great tune that would feel at home on Soundgarden’s 1994 alt-rock classic Superunknown.
- Villains of Circumstance could be Marty Byrde’s theme song. The lyrics fit perfectly and there is a great balance between the bright choruses and dark verses.
- Domesticated Animals is dirty, riff driven perfection and sounds like David Bowie and Devo had a baby.
- The punk righteousness of Head Like A Haunted House will get your toes tapping and your blood flowing.
If Villains doesn’t get you excited or put you in a good mood, you might want to get your hearing checked. Explosive, fun and chock full of poppy riffs, Villains is one best releases of 2017.
So, there you have it – a gritty televisions show, some dirty tunes, a big helping of comfort food and a boozy dessert drink. Let me know what you think and as always, thanks for reading!
ADDITIONS & SUBSTITUTIONS
- Columbus’ perfect comfort food dish may be the Chicken and Noodles at Clintonville institution Nancy’s Home Cooking. The dish is nearly 3 pounds of carb-on-carb violence and is accompanied by dinner rolls and green beans. For you deep north suburbanites, Nancy’s recently opened a Powell location.
- Jason Bateman directs the first two and final two episodes of Ozark. I was really impressed with his pacing, style and shot selection. I guess he has probably learned a thing or two in his almost 40 years in television.
- Ozark‘s supporting cast benefits from movie veteran Harris Yulin (Scarface) and Peter Mullan (Braveheart) as well as decorated theater veterans Lisa Emry. If nothing else, Ozark should win an Emmy for Ensemble Cast.
- ‘More Cowbell!’ QOTSA were playing Saturday Night Live after the famous Christopher Walken skit when Will Ferrell decided to stay in character and make an appearance.
- Producer Mark Ronson’s father Mick was a frequent David Bowie collaborator and member of Bowie’s famous backing band ‘The Spiders From Mars‘. Mick Ronson’s career and collaboration with Bowie is featured in the new documentary Beside Bowie. I have not yet watched, but it is a very high priority.
- QOTSA also has the best album art in the business.
- If you are looking for a fun, family friendly event in the Short North, take the family to Rocket Fizz and get some retro candy and craft brewed soda. Rocket Fizz must have at least a dozen bottled variations of Faygo to choose from. Rocket Fizz is open during the massive Short North construction project.