The Brooklyn festival had an ill-fated 2-year run
For those who went to GoogaMooga, either you had a great time or you had a terrible time.
The Great GoogaMooga Festival began a dream and ended a nightmare. After its first day two summers ago was a complete disaster, with long lines for everything, even water, the Brooklyn, N.Y., food and music festival, which took over Prospect Park’s Nethermead, was written off as a failure (even though day two went largely according to plan). Then, the last day of this year’s festival was a washout, and it became clear that the Great GoogaMooga was in fact cursed. What very well might have been the final nail on its coffin was hammered in over the weekend, as the Parks Department confirmed that the event’s organizers, Superfly Productions, have not been invited back to Prospect Park for a third year.
"The Great GoogaMooga was deemed to be too large and too long an event to be accommodated in the heavily used Nethermead in Prospect Park," a Parks Department representative said in a statement, according to the Daily News. "We would be happy to talk to the organizers, who have been cooperative, about the potential of this event in another smaller iteration in our public park system in the future."
Close to 100,000 people flocked to the park during the festival this year, and the lawn was basically destroyed by the swarms of people and heavy equipment. Others complained that it was illegal for a private group to close down a section of the park. No word on whether the festival will look for another open plot of land in the city to call home or call it quits, but you can’t help but feel a little sorry for the organizers, who set out to bring good food and music to the masses.
Any Other Foodies Out There? Check Out How I Spent My Saturday with Famous Chefs Like Anthony Bourdain and Michael Symon--And Famous Eaters Like Aziz Ansari Too!
A little over three years ago, if you chatted me up about things like "molecular gastronomy" and "locally sourced restaurants" or Bobby Flay you would get a blank stare back from me. I didn't know a Michelin Guide recommended restaurant from a plain old chain. And then I met my "foodie" husband who introduced me to things like Iron Chef and the Food Network and got me as excited to one day land a reservation at a Thomas Keller restaurant as I would be to score sold-out concert tickets.
Friends, my love of all things pop culture has crossed over to include the world of food, chefs and restauranteurs. While I'm still working on my cooking skills (I steer clear from recipes that ask you to do scary sounding things like sous vide or blanch), I would go just as crazy if I met the judges panel from Top Chef as I would to spend the day with Aerosmith. And so, I found myself spending Saturday in Brooklyn's Prospect Park at the first annual Great GoogaMooga Festival. The name may sound silly but it was meant to the be the ultimate event where food, pop culture and celebrities (including celebrichefs) came together.
We started the day with a cooking demonstration from The Chew co-host (and 2007 winner of the Next Iron Chef) Michael Symon and Texan BBQ master Dean Fearing.
The whole audience got a sample of the delish steak and corn salad they prepared.
Then things got a little weird for a food festival. That was one of the only bites of food we would have for the entire day. There was very little food as everyone kept running out. A two-hour oyster party held by the John Dory Oyster Bar (one of the best raw bar experiences you'll ever have if you're in the NYC area) ran out of oysters within thirty minutes! It was okay because we were headed to a panel called "Noshing with . . . Ruth Reichl, David Chang, Aziz Ansari and James Murphy." I just assumed we would get to nosh along with them!
Let me just first say, this panel was the ultimate in pop culture mixing with food culture. Ruth Reichel is a legend in the food world--she was the editor-in-chief of Gourmet, writes best-selling food memoirs and was a revered food critic back in the day. David Chang is the chef/restauranteur behind the Momofuku restaurants in NYC (he makes "cereal milk" flavored ice cream that will change your life). James Murphy, is of course, the former lead singer of LCD Soundsystem and we all know and love Aziz Ansari from Parks and Recreation. What do they have in common? They all LOVE food. In fact, Aziz, James and David recently took a trip to Tokyo together--just to eat! Who knew? Who also knew that this panel would not provide the audience anything to nosh on--but make our stomachs growl in jealousy as we watched Aziz and his friends eat--a lot?
While I salivated over the gourmet selection of snacks put out for the panelists, I learned some very interesting facts about Aziz and his eating habits! Ready? He loves Chick-Fil-A, namely the number one combo and the waffle fries. His favorite "ready made" meal is Progresso's Lentil Soup and he never cooks--not even for a date. Also, the next food related trip Aziz, James and David want to take together is to Spain!
After the panel was over, we tried to grab an Umami burger--topped with truffles, it's supposed to be heaven in a bite. Sadly, they ran out seconds before we reached the front of the line (after waiting for thirty minutes). So, instead we went to watch a live broadcast of comedian Marc Maron's Podcast. If you haven't heard of his show, it's called WTF with Marc Maron and you must go download it right now! He chats every week--very candidly--with some of the funniest stars around (we're talking Sarah Silverman to Zach Galifianakis). He hosted an eclectic panel that included pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman and The Daily Show's (and former "I'm a PC" guy) John Hodgman. As a treat, The Daily Show's Wyatt Cenac came out to help introduce his colleague John.
And John was hilarious and charming--though I do prefer him without a porn 'stache!
By the time this was over, we still hadn't eaten anything since Michael Symon so graciously shared his steak and corn HOURS earlier. The lines for food samples were insane and the groans were deafening as vendor after vendor announced they were out of food. I should mention that I was granted access to a special section of GoogaMooga (called Extra Mooga) that cost $250 for unlimited food, drink and invites to these special panels. People were getting very grumpy that they parted with so much money to barely get more than a morsel. But as light headed as we were feeling, I found myself on one last mission. I've spent my life mastering the art of getting to the front of the line--especially when celebs are involved (In the 8th grade, I was proudly first in line for a meet n greet with Luke Perry at the Miami Home Show). And so, before we left the Great GoogaMooga to go out to dinner and ironically (and finally) EAT--I unleashed my inner 13-year-old to land front row seats at the final talk of the day. If I have one crush and one love in the food world, it's without a doubt on the one and only, the snarky and uncensored, Anthony Bourdain!
With a wheel of conversation topics behind him, Anthony left it to the audience to ask him about everything and anything. We learned that the best food to know how to make for a date is omelets--for the morning after! The worst thing he ever ate was rotten shark in Iceland. With all the traveling he does all over the world, Singapore Airlines has the best food. If you watch his Travel Channel show No Reservations, then you must go back and watch the episode in San Francisco. It was the drunkest he ever appeared on air--so much so that his wife won't watch it again. And finally, he does not subscribe to the belief that chefs are rock stars. "Iɽ be a bass player--not here!" he exclaimed!
Needless to say, the second Anthony left the stage, we bolted out of Prospect Park to finally indulge at one of our favorite pizza joints in our neighborhood, the way we had expected to all day at, you know, the food festival. Though we did it hungry, we still managed to make some of our foodie dreams come true! What chefs are you guys into? Any famed restaurants you're dying to experience? What food related shows do you never miss? Let's dish (no pun intended!) below!
YEARS ON THE MAKING
Jack Roeder, a longtime staple in the Cedar Rapids baseball community, retired as general manager of the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2010.
But that break lasted only about three months before early project leaders, including local businessman Rick Freese, approached him about their dream of having a baseball facility constructed in their community.
Many of the early leaders realized they were traveling to other areas to attend their children's or grandchildren's tournaments on the weekends and wondered why the Corridor couldn't haves something similar.
'I always go back to my time with the Kernels. People would always ask me why we didn't have something here,” said Roeder, now the Prospect Meadows general manager. 'This is a great opportunity now . for our local youth to play on a quality field, but also bring other teams into the community.”
The project came along at just the right time for both Roeder and Tim Strellner, board vice president and chairman of the fundraising committee, who joined the project team eight years ago as a volunteer.
Since then, project leaders have worked to raise money for the public-private partnership.
Government entities have committed a total of almost $6 million, including a million or more apiece from Linn County, Cedar Rapids, Marion and the Iowa Department of Transportation. The county has let Prospect Meadows lease county-owned land at Highway 13 and County Home Road for $1 year.
Major private donors include the Hall-Perrine Foundation Perfect Game USA, a Cedar Rapids baseball scouting company Musco Lighting and Hall and Hall Engineers, among others.
Prospect Meadows was developed with a metaphorical four bases in mind - 'pardon the pun,” Roeder said.
The first base is promoting local youth league play second base is economic growth third base is accessibility, giving rise to the Miracle Field for children with disabilities and the home plate is the League of Dreams - an extension of Kernels' programming of the same name for underserved youths.
From its beginning, Prospect Meadows was deeply connected to both the Kernels organization through Roeder and to Perfect Game as its primary tenant.
Kyle Rodenkirk, Linn-Mar High School's head baseball coach and a former Cedar Rapids Jefferson High player and coach, said from his perspective, Perfect Game helped to put 'baseball on the map” in the Cedar Rapids area - and the Kernels have had a tradition of giving back to the community.
'With those two leading and foraging that path . I couldn't be happier,” Rodenkirk said, adding that he hoped to hold youth camps at Prospect Meadows eventually. 'Just seeing the kids have fun, that's the biggest thing. I think we forget that with all the travel baseball.”
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But the flavors were more than a good story they were seriously delicious. Within weeks of debuting their pushcart, word had spread sufficiently far that a woman from Minnesota called to beg Ample Hills to ship her some maple candied bacon ice cream. Buoyed by the enthusiastic response, Smith and Cuscuna poured $225,000 — their life savings — into opening the Vanderbilt location, their first shop, in the spring of 2011. At the time, Smith was making all of the ice cream himself, so when they sold out their entire stock in just four days, they had to temporarily shut down in order to quickly hire and train staff. This kind of improbable runaway success quickly became the stuff of legend, chronicled even by the New York Times.
The crowds kept coming, and in its third year, Ample Hills opened another location in Gowanus, the trendy industrial Brooklyn neighborhood. At the time, Gowanus was equal parts bougie and gritty, having recently landed its own Whole Foods store, yet most famous for its namesake canal, a smelly Superfund site still awaiting a $500 million cleanup. The two-story 1931 building Smith and Cuscuna chose, and spent some $500,000 renovating, was not in a well-trafficked area, but they had confidence that if they built it “people will come,” as Smith later said.
A couple months in, one customer’s name leapt out from the online order sheet: Bob Iger.
The new shop had what would become an Ample Hills signature: a flavor exclusive to and redolent of the location, in this case, “It Came From Gowanus,” a cheeky, chocolatey nod to the toxic canal. Gowanus also gave the company something essential: A 1,000-square-foot kitchen. (The tiny 150-foot kitchen at Vanderbilt was so small that the shop had to close on Mondays just so it could make enough ice cream for the week.)
With the new Gowanus kitchen, Ample Hills began offering nationwide shipping, six pints for $60, packed on dry ice. A couple months in, one customer’s name leapt out from the online order sheet: Bob Iger. Smith, who had grown up in South Florida going to Disney World multiple times a year, seized the opportunity to make an impression on the Disney CEO. He asked artist Lauren Kaelin, a scooper from the early days who eventually became the company’s brand director, to sketch Mickey Mouse wearing an Ample Hills T-shirt, and he sent that along with Iger’s six pints. On October 17, 2014 — in an email Smith later read aloud twice on the podcast he and his wife launched in the wake of the bankruptcy — Iger wrote to praise the “simply incredible” ice cream: “If I can do anything for you, please let me know. Who knows. Maybe we can get Ample Hills to Disney. ” It took Smith a half-hour to recover enough to craft a reply saying, essentially: Yes, please!
Iger sent the ice cream to friends like J.J. Abrams and Oprah, who named Ample Hills to one of her blockbuster-making favorite things lists in 2015, declaring: “I once ate an entire pint in my pajamas.” Soon there were plans with Disney to create Star Wars ice cream and — on the horizon — to open a shop at Disney’s BoardWalk, a promenade in Orlando that sits outside the parks, open to the public.
“We were able to tell a story to potential investors, and they could see the next Ben & Jerry’s.”
It wasn’t long before the kitchen at Gowanus was struggling to keep up with demand. Two batch freezers were running constantly, making 15 to 18 gallons of fresh ice cream an hour, while simpler flavors like strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate were being produced by a co-packer, according to Will Hart, Ample Hills’ then-manager of distribution and logistics. Less than a year after the Gowanus location opened, Smith and Cuscuna decided there was only one way for them to keep up: Ample Hills would raise money and build a factory.
Raising money turned out to be surprisingly easy. Charlie O’Donnell, the founder of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, says he had been a fan since he stopped into the Gowanus shop for a large Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ooey Gooey after running the Staten Island Marathon. He and some two dozen investors — including founders from Brooklyn Brewery and Seamless — put in $4 million for the seed round. The Disney partnership was a huge sell. “We were able to tell a story to potential investors,” Smith recalled on his podcast, “and they could see the next Ben & Jerry’s.”
Building the factory was much harder. They looked at two cheaper locations upstate, however, Iger — who didn’t invest but had become an informal adviser to Smith and Cuscuna — counseled the co-founders to stick to Brooklyn, because they “could manage it more carefully,” Iger told Bloomberg in 2017. (Iger did not respond to Marker’s interview requests.) Smith and Cuscuna also sought advice from Jerry Greenfield, as in the Jerry — who had coincidentally gone to high school with one of their Brooklyn neighbors. Greenfield told them Ben & Jerry’s number one marketing decision was to put their factory in Vermont and open it to the public.
Ultimately, the couple chose a Civil War-era, 15,000-square-foot former cocoa-bean warehouse in Red Hook that would be big enough to make 200 gallons of ice cream an hour, or 500,000 gallons a year. Big enough to supply all the ice cream shops, big enough to supply all the hundreds of grocery stores they planned to be in, big enough to launch them into a mega-brand.
And perhaps, big enough to sink them.
Of the two co-founders, Cuscuna, who joined the company full-time in 2015 as chief creative officer, was the more approachable one. She was in charge of community-building, and for years, the one employees appealed to if they needed a shift change. Some of the hires were her former students. Smith, meanwhile, usually was head down in the vat pasteurizer making ice cream.
In the early days, Ample Hills was “some of the funnest work of my life,” says Jake Childers, who started at Ample Hills in 2014 as a scooper, rose to retail training manager, and left in 2019 in frustration. Employees had a phrase that became something of a mantra: “Scoopin’ is a lifestyle.” It was something they might say to each other as an expression of camaraderie when it was 95 degrees, there was a line out the door, and every customer wanted to stop and take a picture of their ice cream. Often it was a hashtag on pictures of their scooping arm muscles, off-hours get-togethers, and the Ampees, the silly awards like “Best Hair” that were Ample Hills’ riff on The Office’s Dundies.
According to employees, Smith and Cuscuna would fall in love with the story they could tell about a location and sign a lease without due diligence.
It’s hard to pinpoint when the company culture began to shift, but according to multiple employees who spoke with Marker, it started back in 2014, after the opening of the Gowanus flagship. They say Ample Hills began a pattern of aggressively opening new shops while the old ones languished. (In total, Ample Hills opened 16 shops, not including one in Orlando operated by Disney, and had signed leases for at least four more.) As freezers broke or fuses blew “we would have to throw away massive amounts of ice cream,” says Jason Smith. “They were all very simple things that could have been fixed or addressed. But they would say, ‘Oh, we just opened Chelsea so we have to put money into that shop.’” According to employees, the shops almost always were over budget and failed to meet ambitious targets. Smith doesn’t dispute that they prioritized expansion. “If something is working but just not working as well as it could, and your focus is on growth, then yeah, you’re going to make some of those mistakes,” he says.
Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti Colorado / New York, United States Hello and welcome! I'm Pat, a lifelong New Yorker who has recently moved to a suburb of Denver in the beautiful state of Colorado, so that I can live close to my children and grandchildren. I look forward to learning many new things about my new "mile high" city and I will share them on my blog. New York City will always be my second home, and I will also continue to share many posts about it. My blog's name in Italian means a "Thousand Favorite Flowers." I chose this unusual blog name because researching and writing for my blog, and taking photogrpahs for it, is like another "memory flower" that I am collecting in my bouquet of life. I hope you will enjoy your visit to my blog and that you will leave a comment so that I know you've been here. Thanks! View my complete profile
Largehearted Boy at Book Expo
Yesterday, I was super excited to meet Largehearted Boy after his panel at Book Expo America (Book Blogging and the Big Niches). Like a fan, I politely introduced myself and he was very gracious.
If you don't know, Largehearted Boy is a music blog that has been in existence for eleven years, featuring daily free and legal music downloads, as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.
It's a really lovely blog for lovers of literary fiction and music. David Gutowski, who is the founder and publisher of LHB, is a very sincere and intelligent guy. He writes smart reviews of the kind of books he enjoys (lit fiction, short stories, etc.). He also asks the authors for music playlists, truly merging the world of writing and the world of music.
Needless to say, he's also on Twitter where his profile reads: "I read and write and listen to music. A lot." Oh, and he lives in Brooklyn. Nice.
May 30th, 2013
Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Scones
- 1/2 cup cold low-fat buttermilk
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup of oat flour (or rolled oats that have been ground in a food processor)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp COLD unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup
- 1 tbsp of room temperature unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp powdered sugar
In Awe of the Menu
Like I do with most eateries, I looked up the menu of The Original Hot Dog Factory before I went there. This way, I could have some sense of what I wanted to order. Even looking at the menu beforehand didn’t exactly help me narrow down my decision because there was a laundry list of unique, topping-filled hot dog choices.
To help guide my selection, I looked to chef Shawn, and employees, Winnie and Jarell—and thank goodness I did! My friend, Becky, who came with me for this lunch outing, and I were in awe of all the menu items. However, once we figured out what we were going to try, we became overwhelmed with excitement (and hunger).
Nommin’ Through the Hamptons: Montauk Yacht Club
It’s Hamptons Week in honor of the official start of summer! If you are going to The Hamptons this summer, check out all the posts from this week to get my recommendation on where to eat (and where not to).
Our second Restaurant Week Reservation was at Montauk Yacht Club. We had a whole lot of trouble finding it (note: iPhone GPS puts it in a different location than it really is). The restaurant is actually called “ Gulf Coast Kitchen” so be sure to follow those signs.
When you walk in, it’s simply beautiful. Every room had a great look and feel to it.
The view from our table was across a seating area and to the water.
Their menu was pretty good for Restaurant week with 4 selections each for the starters and the mains.
Mike chose the Chowder MYC that came with double smoked bacon, local clams, and fresh cream. This was pretty good with some nice flavor, but one thing I love about chowder is the big pieces of clam and potato. This was a bit more liquidy than I would prefer, but still quite nice.
I got the Big Eye Tuna Tartar that came with shallots, Italian parsley, lemon zest, micro truffle salad, and crostini.
This was gorgeously constructed and was a great combination of flavors. I didn’t know what micro truffle salad was, but I was expecting something truffle flavor. Unfortunately, there was none. This was one of those “over-promise and under-deliver” moments. Had they never mentioned truffles, I would have eaten this happily and been on my merry way. But once the “truffle” was out of the bag, I wanted truffle.
For the main, Mike chose the grilled hangar steak with fresh salsa verde, roasted vegetables, and rosemary and sage potatoes. This had good flavor and the salsa verde gave it a nice touch.
I got a special that wasn’t on the menu but still counted for Restaurant Week. It was a pork chop with some greens and potatoes. Unfortunately, this was a bit disappointing. Not too big on flavor and in need of a sauce.
The dessert selection included lemon tarts that Mike enjoyed while on his lemon kick.
I chose the chocolate mousse cake that came with a passion fruit sauce. It was delicious but VERY rich.
Overall, I enjoyed the Gulf Coast Kitchen at the Montauk Country Club, but I can’t say it was a brilliant meal. For $25 it was a well priced meal, but I’m not sure I can say it was great. The location, however, is stunningly beautiful and probably worth it just for that.
Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10
The Great GoogaMooga: Food and Music Festival Review
Today, we went to The Great GoogaMooga , a Food and Music Festival organized by the same people that do Bonnaroo. It was in Prospect Park Brooklyn and was billed as “An Amusement Park for Food.” There were two ticketing options, free tickets or “Extra Mooga,” a $250 all-access pass to a special section. That was all we knew when we logged on to get tickets. After a huge technical glitch leaving hundreds of people trying to get the free passes without tickets (me being one of them), they sent an apology and eventually made it right by sending me codes for the tickets I was owed. I debated the $250 ticket, but that is a lot of money to swallow for an unknown!
There is another day of the festival (tomorrow, Sunday May 20th), so if you’re going, you should especially read on for tips and advice!
We took the F train to the west side entrance and we were surprised to see no signage about GoogaMooga. We walked across the park (a good 10-15 minutes) and finally stumbled on it. I was thrilled to see there was no line to get in, and when we go into the park, it was pretty spread out.
We quickly formulated a game-plan: There were 3 of us, so we decided to get 1 dish at each stand and split everything 3 ways so we would be able to try more things. I highly recommend this system for food festivals! Sharing is caring folks!
They had different sections set up, and the first one we passed was The Hamburger Experience. Lines were maybe 5-10 people deep and moving swiftly. We said we would come back for burgers later in the day. Sadly, that opportunity never came since it got very crowded later in the day.
One of the first things we realized is that there was NO service in the area… cell phone, text message, internet, WiFi… nothing. I was bummed because I wanted to live blog pictures on Facebook (I found some service later and got the pictures up).
Our first stop was at the M. Wells stand for Bologna Foie Gras Grilled Cheese.
Yes… that says Horse Bologna. I have to hope that it’s a type of bologna or a brand… trying not to think about it.
The sandwich was on well toasted bread that held the sandwich together nicely without distracting from it. The entire thing was VERY rich and some in our party said it was just “too much.” I thought it was indulgent and a little too delicious. The flavors were great together, but I’m glad that we split it 3 ways and I only had 2 bites.
After this sandwich, we needed a drink. We made our way over to the line where we were to get IDed and pay for a GoogaMooga glass and get some “GoogaMoula,” which was needed instead of cash in the Wine and Beer Tasting Tents. The line was long, so we left Mike on line and went to get some water. Upon arriving at the (very long) beverage line, we found out we could get beer at the stand, so we picked up some Blue Moon (a few of their more interesting beers were not yet ready) and went back to meet Mike on line. It looked like he had moved way up, but, alas, a lot of people had just dropped out of line because they couldn’t get their system up and running. About 20 minutes later (so a total of about an hour on line), some guy got up on a picnic table and apologized for the system being down and said that it wasn’t coming back up and we should try back in an hour. Wow… thanks. Glad we waited on line.
Orbit gum had a number of stands around, and they were giving out hot towels to clean up our dirty hands (along with samples of gum to clean up our dirty mouths). When I took a pack of gum, the woman gave me a perfectly executed “fabulous.” Nicely done.
We made our way to the “Hamageddon” section, which was heavy on the pork stands and the 80s. They had this great pig sculpture and inside that cage was, indeed, a whole pig on a spit. Awesome.
There were a few tempting stands in Hamageddon. Bacon Land instantly caught our eye with their Bacon Flight, but they weren’t ready yet. They told us it would be another 30 minutes, so we went to the beverage stand to get more beers. Sadly, even though that line was shorter than most, it was a good 30 minutes online to get beers, so we each got 2 at once. Double fisting is the way to go!
We went to the Porchetta stand (a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for some time) for their porchetta sandwich.
Porchetta is defined as “[slow] roasted pork with crispy skin, highly seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices, garlic, sage, rosemary and wild fennel pollen. Porchetta is known as having some of the best porchetta in the city (good name choice).
The sandwich was basic. Roll + Meat. And it was fantastic. Packed with flavor and the seasoning was just to die for. I got a crispy piece and it was damn good.
Our next stop was Craft (a Tom Colicchio mainstay in NYC), where we got a Dirty Duck Dog. This was a hot dog made of duck paired with pickled cabbage and black garlic. It was our favorite nom of the day! The duck was nice and flavorful and the sweetness from the black garlic was heavenly. A truly perfect festival food.
We took a quick trip to the sweet section of Googa Mooga.
Very appropriately called the Sweet Circus.
They had a number of favorites, but as we sipped our beers, we decided that our best bet was the Dirtcake at Katzie Guy-Hamilton (of Top Chef Just Desserts Season 2).
The ingredients really sounded can’t miss.
And I love that she buried the cups in “dirt” at her stand. We had ours with whipped cream and extra worms. It was FANTASTIC. A nostalgic, updated and even better.
We also ran into some friends who got the cheesecake bombs from James. I had a nibble and these were decadent and very, very good.
Our next stop was to divide and conquer Red Rooster (Marcus Samuelson’s Harlem restaurant) and Arancini Bros .
From Red Rooster, we had Berbere (an Ethiopian spice) Roasted Chicken, which came with orecchiette mac and cheese and a piece of corn bread. The chicken was very moist and had a lot of flavor (somewhat curry like). We asked if it had peppers (due to my allergy) and they said no, but we’re pretty sure it did. The mac and cheese was very tasty. Though I would probably skip this if I were going again.
From Arancini Bros, we had Sicilian Rice Balls.
They were a good side, and fried crispy without being greasy or thick.
One was Ragu with meat sauce and tomato, peas, mozzarella, and safron. The rice was cooked well and it was full of flavor.
The other was filled with basil, pesto, mozzarella, and cherry tomatoes. This one was super duper. Great flavor, just the right consistence, and the pieces of cherry tomatoes inside were the perfect addition.
By the time 2pm rolled around, the park went from being pretty open to being shoulder to shoulder packed, with very long lines, and a struggle to find a place to sit in the shade.
By this time, we noticed a line had formed at the Bacon Flight, so we assumed they were ready to go. Well… they weren’t. I’m not sure if people were just on line and waiting or if they were only serving a handful at a time, but the line didn’t move. We were on it for over 45 minutes. I grabbed a card while we were waiting and it explained the “flight” of 7 kinds of bacon, each from a different purveyor.
We finally got our bacon, and matched them up. They were all pretty good, but VERY greasy and certainly not worth the long wait. I was especially excited about this one, because come on… a FLIGHT of bacon! It was a good thought, but not great in execution, both due to the length of time it took to get out and the overall taste once we did get it. We did REALLY like the Maple Bacon though. Crowd favorite.
By this time, we were beyond stuffed. We walked around for a bit and noticed some amusing signs, including one that showed where the 15 minute wait section of the line was… just like Disney World.
There was also the Pizza Experience, but we didn’t make it there either.
And just before we headed out, we caught a glimpse of this hysterical note…
GoogaMooga was certainly a fun experience, and since it was a beautiful day, some of the annoying things weren’t too bad. They really did a very good job at advanced planning, but the execution was definitely lacking. They even made an app, which looked very good, but upon arrival, it didn’t work… and we didn’t have internet to be able to use most of it anyway. The system not working meant we didn’t get to the beer/wine sampling tents after all, which I’m sure meant for a huge loss of money for those guys. The lines were just too outrageous by the end, and we wound up leaving by 4pm (so we didn’t see the headlining musical act that night, The Roots).
The initial organization left some things to be desired as well, especially with the ticketing system. They also didn’t announce the musical line ups until long after they distributed the tickets, and I may have selected the Sunday date had I known that Hall and Oates was playing tomorrow when I had to make the call about which date to go. Also, they billed the event as being filled with famous celebrity chefs and events… and then weeks later announced that would only be included in the ExtraMooga package (at $250!)
Now a word on ExtraMooga… At $250, it should be pretty outstanding. And yes, the celebrity chefs were a great incentive for an extra price, but $250 extra? Seems a bit steep. And it said it came with free tastings and drinks from a few restaurants (but I’m still not sure if that included all the stands… and they would still have to wait on the long lines even if it did). One FourSquare tipster mentioned that he was upset that ExtraMooga ran out of food… no bueno!
Sadly, we were just too full and couldn’t try everything. I would have loved the opportunity to try the soft shell crab sandwich from Vinegar Hill (the line wrapped around half the grounds by the time we got there) and I didn’t get to see if the foie gras donuts from Do or Dine lived up to the hype.
Oh and we all noticed that they did a great job on the number of porta-potties. You never had to wait on line for the bathroom at least!
So if you are planning on going tomorrow, here are a few tips:
- Get there early! I would say as soon as the festival opens (11am) and tackle the food lines you want first thing.
- Go to the ID booth and get your “Over 21” bracelet. Some of the beverage stands distribute them as well, so you can kill 2 birds with one stone (Bracelet + Beer).
- Check if the GoogaMoula is working. If it is, get that first. The lines all day were hundreds of people long.
- Get 1 portion of each food and split it with a few people, so you get to eat more.
- Bring cash. The stands don’t take cards and the ATMs (which are on the grounds) charge $4… thems Vegas prices!
- There is no cell service, phone nor internet… so if you separate from your friends, have a meeting place and time in mind or work on your smoke signals.
- Don’t depend on the app to work.
- Wear sunscreen! We all got burnt, even though we had sunscreen on.
It WAS the first year… so we expected it to be a bit of a shit show. Was it too much of a shit show that I regret going? Not at all! The food is what I was there for, and the food was damn good. And it’s hard not to enjoy a beautiful day in Prospect Park, even if it’s on a long, long line.
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