In theory, the Great GoogaMooga sounds like the most mind-blowing food festival known to man. Free admission. Almost 200 of the city’s best restaurants, breweries, and wine purveyors assembled in the bucolic Nethermead Meadow in Prospect Park. Pop-up dinners like Roberta’s Urban Ren Faire, The Spotted Pig Haus, and Little Wisco Seafood Boil and BBQ. Collect-them-all-trading cards (I’ll swap my pic of “Hamaggedon,” the steel pig-shaped functional rotisserie, for your mug shot of Andy Ricker, the evil genius behind Pok Pok ny!) And oh yeah, there’s music too. But tell that to last year’s intrepid Googa attendees, left baking in the sun on endless lines with no water, bathrooms, or cell phone service to speak of, and greeted by — more often than not — empty chafing dishes by the time they reached their desired booths. And forget about the poor suckers that forked over $250-plus for the pleasure of remaining above the fray in VIP, which by all accounts, devolved into a fight to the death over passed platters of Blue Ribbon fried chicken.
So, ready to give it another go?
Googa’s back for round two this weekend, with a new, carefully plotted out recipe for success. They’ve tacked on another day, for starters, kicking off the celebration on Friday with a staged concert, and resuming on Saturday and Sunday with ticketed access to the wide-range of food vendors and booths. Each restaurant has been strictly instructed to prepare more food (and bring along more servers), and more thought has been given to pleasing the assembled vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-freers. But at $8-12 a plate, it’s dangerously easy to blow through an excessive amount of cash, that could have gone towards finally paying off your student loan. That’s why we’ve compiled a handy top ten list for must-visit booths during GoogaMooga — and incidentally — this is probably the first and only time you’ll find us actively recommending Manhattan spots. They’re on our turf, so it still counts as eating in Brooklyn, right?
We love ourself a Chinese steam bun, and Eddie Huang, the bad boy of bao, makes some of the best. His new “Fried Coffin Bao Bread” is an oil-drenched delight; an oversized fried bao stuffed with double fried all-natural chicken, cilantro, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar, and chili condensed milk.
One of the most talked about things at this new Williamsburg fine-diner (besides teeny little portions and extravagant prices, that is) is the dense and fragrant whiskey bread. It’s all they’re serving at Googa, so get it while you can, topped with Vermont cultured butter and assorted spreads. It’ll be the cheapest meal at Gwynnett St. you’ll ever have.
This Prospect Heights farm-to-table boite is playing it smart by riffing on everyone’s favorite street fair food, the corn dog. But don’t think you’re getting a Jiffy-coated tube steak on a stick. Think homemade duck sausage, swathed in buttery, deep-fried cornbread.
Although traditional Filipino fare is getting a lot more traction in the city, there still aren’t tons of places to indulge. So check out the goods at Jeepney, a new East Village gastropub from the Maharlika team. They’ll be serving Pinoy Corn Sliders with bagoong, mayo, queso puti, and toasted garlic, and Chori Sliders with beef and longganisa sausage, spicy Jufran, and magi aioli.
Pok Pok Phat Thai
Brooklyn’s got the best of Andy Ricker (the perennially packed Pok Pok ny and the upcoming Whiskey Soda Lounge in the Columbia Waterfront District). But if you’ve ever wondered how the other half eats, check out the noodles from his Pad Thai-centric Manhattan location, cooked in rendered pork fat and served with dried shrimp and tofu, preserved radish, egg, garlic chives, bean sprouts, and chili powder.
A play on their justly infamous Car Bomb cupcake (made with Chocolate Guinness stout cake, Jameson whiskey ganache, and Bailey's buttercream), the Car Bomb Parfait made especially for GoogaMooga really ups the ante — think Guinness stout brownies layered with Bailey's ricotta crème, Jameson whiskey chocolate sauce, and beer nut praline.
The Meat Hook
This inimitable Williamsburg butcher shop is taking all of the extraneous ingredients out of the classic BLT, by offering straight up “B” on a roll. We’re talking a barbecue bacon sandwich, baby, piled on a squishy Martin’s potato bun with barbecue sauce and a heap of spicy slaw!
Vinegar Hill House
Since we’ve never met a soft shell crab sandwich we didn’t like, we can’t imagine the version at Vinegar Hill House will be the first to disappoint. The deep-fried, tender-bodied crustaceans will get topped with mayo negra and shaved iceberg lettuce, and then deposited (are they getting kickbacks from this festival?), on the omni-present Martin’s bun.