Thursday, March 27, 2014

Farmed and Dangerous Recap: Episode 2: Passing the Buck

I apologize for my last recap. I had been expecting something that took itself a little more seriously, and I wasn't ready to fully embrace the goofy, campy spirit of Farmed and Dangerous. The reason the script and character development have little more depth than they would in a commercial is that Farmed and Dangerous IS a commercial. Kind of. It doesn't quite know what it is, and that's part of the fun. We're at a weird place in the history of media, just like we're at a weird place in the history of food, so I guess it follows that a show like this should take some weird ideas, run with them, and see what happens. The jokes are bad, but if you come at them with the right attitude, they're the kind of jokes that are so bad they're good. I should get off my grass-fed high horse and stop pretending that that isn't exactly the kind of joke I like.

So about Episode 2: "Passing the Buck." First of all, let me explain that the title of this episode refers to the facts that, in the episode, several characters shy away from responsibility by giving it to someone else, a practice commonly knows as "passing the buck," and also that the main character's name is Buck. Get it? You're welcome.

ANYWAY, we find our antagonist, Buck Marshall, still in hot polluted water over the video of the cow exploding from eating Petro Pellets that his little buddy Chip from the Sustainable Family Farm Something Something Association leaked on the internet last week. The video has gone viral, and Chip is asked to come on a Today Show-esque program and publicize the thing even more, much to the chagrin of Buck and his client, Animoil, whose head honcho, by the way, just happens to be Buck's daughter Sophia's boyfriend's father. Because character relationships. And conflict. And intrigue.

The episode culminates, as last week's did, with Chip and Sophia on a pseudo-date, this time upping the ante from hip organic bistro to fancy tequila bar.

Let the record show that I don't buy that Chip hangs out in places like this. I don't buy that Chip can afford places like this. Unless the writers are giving a deliberate nod to the time-honored tradition of sitcom characters living outside their means in the name of wacky antics, the night's bar tab makes me really skeptical of just where Chip's funding come from. Could it be that his organization is just as corrupt as Animoil? PLOT TWIST!

The star-crossed lovers' farm facts drinking game was a perfect example of what I love/hate about this show. Instead of crafting an actual conversation that two people who disagree about these issues might have, the writers just had the characters take turns listing facts. (The rules of the game were drink every time the other person had a good point. There were a lot of empty glasses by the end of the night, which you would think meant that our heroes reached some some sort of philosophical compromise, but I don't think that's what actually happened.) Their little diorama of how land is used made out of beer nuts and cocktail olives was adorable though.

Are we having fun yet? Who do you think that guy constantly lurking in the shadows is? Will Chip and Sophia end up together? Is any of this making you hungry for a Chipotle burrito?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Farmed and Dangerous Recap: Episode 1: Oiling the Food Chain

It may surprise you to learn that a show that ran for exactly four episodes, went straight to Hulu, and is very little more than a commercial for a fast food chain, is terrible.

Then again, it may not.

The show in question is "Farmed and Dangerous," Chipotle's satire of the agriculture industry. Silly me, I actually had high hopes for the series, before I thought it through. What I figured had a shot at being something like a fictionalized Food, Inc., felt more like a painfully extended Public Service Announcement with some awkward and poorly written adult humor thrown in for "plot."

We open on our protagonist, Buck Marshall, played by Ray Wise with the same level of over-the-top cartoon grumpiness that he brings to his role as Robin Scherbatsky, Sr. on How I Met Your Mother. Buck is president of the Industrial Food Image Bureau, which is pretty much a PR firm for big ag. His client, a large scale rancher of some kind, (I meant to watch the episode a second time and get the details right but it's just so bad please don't make me) has genetically engineered cows to the point that they can digest feed made out of  crude oil, and charges Buck's firm with the task of spinning the news to the American people in a way that will make them want to buy more hamburgers. The main selling point on the "Petro-Pellets" is that when the cows are eating oil, it means they're not eating corn anymore. And we all know how the dirty hippy enemies of industrial agriculture love to hate on corn.

Then we meet the people who work for Buck, in a scene where they sit around a meeting table wondering if their boss is giving his secretary "the t-bone," because if there's anything this show loves more than a sex pun, it's a food pun.

From here, it's all downhill like eroding topsoil. We meet Buck's daughter Sophia, who is sent out by her father/boss to track down family farm activist Chip Randolf, and get him to stop giving Buck's client bad press all over this new thing the kids call the internet. (If there's anything this show loves more than a sex pun combined with a food pun, it's a joke about the internet. Unless I missed the part where it's supposed to be set in 1998, these jokes Just. Don't. Work.) Chip refuses, but somehow falls immediately in love with Sophia's arrogance and big city fashion sense, thus entangling all the characters together so that they can wittily spar at each other for three more episodes.

Have you been watching Farmed and Dangerous? If so, do you think I'm being too hard on it? And if not...come on. It'll be fun. Whaddaya say?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Popchips, Workbar, Kitchen Surfing, and a Recipe, Too

It had been quite awhile since I'd been able to make it to a Blog and Tweet Boston event, but when I heard that Jen and Kerrie were setting one up with Kitchen Surfing, I new I couldn't miss it. If you haven't heard about Kitchen Surfing, it's a service available in six cities (so far) that lets you pick out a chef to come to your house and cater your dinner party.

If sampling what some of Kitchen Surfing's chefs had to offer wasn't reason enough to show up, the venue certainly was. Our host for the evening was Workbar, a shared coworking space in Cambridge where you can rent a desk or office (and apparently attend the occasional event.). As someone whose dream it is to one day work from home, I've always wanted top stop into Workbar and see what it was all about. Dinner was served on the first level, which had been cleared out, but afterwards a few of a us got a tour of a different floor, where some night owls were still hard at work.

Where was I? Right. Dinner. This particular event was also sponsored by Popchips, a relatively new brand of potato and tortilla chips that are popped rather than fried, so they have less oil, plenty of flavor, and a unique, almost rice cakeish texture. The three participating chefs from Kitchen Surfing were tasked with serving some fifty or so attendees a dish they had made using Popchips in some way.

Chef Jitti Chaithiraphant serves Corn & Cheddar Popchips Soup

Chef Jen Rogers pours a Bloody Mary shot to go with her Popchips Chicken & Waffle

Chefs Mark O'Leary and Justin Hackett talk about their Vietnamese Bahn Mi Sandwich
After sampling some truly professional recipes that you'd never know were made from a packaged snack food, we guests were faced with the alarming challenge of creating our own recipe with Popchips. Competitively, no less. Mine is below. If you think it looks any good, please stop by the Blog and Tweet Boston website to vote for it. The winner gets a Kitchen Surfing gift certificate!

Original Flavor Popchips and Root Vegetable Salsa Fresca


1/2 large red onion
4 carrots
6 radishes
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste


1. Dice up all your vegetables into about 1/4" cubes (teenier on the garlic, natch)
2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. For optimal flavor, refrigerate overnight before dipping your Popchips.