Many thanks to Cat, who snagged Sabrina and me a pair of GoogaMooga tickets. This was my excuse to enjoy some awesome weather yesterday.
If you haven’t heard of GoogaMooga by now, think Coachella or EDC and then scale that down by like 1,000,000x. Supposedly 40k people filled the park this weekend, and despite that massive figure, there was still plenty of sitting room under the shade. Plus, unlike music festivals where you can go on all night, the human stomach at one point will reach its capacity, limiting the potential of infinite enjoyment at a food festival. That being said, it was a blast.
Layout: Dozens of restaurants have a “store front,” clustered by burgers, pizza, dessert, etc… Each restaurant features a specific dish and that’s the only item you can buy. Beverages are purchased at a separate stand.
Gameplan: Split everything with Sabster. General admission was free, unless if you were willing to shell out $250 for VIP tickets (those who did complained over Twitter that it was a giant rip-off as they ran out of food early in the day [update: tickets have been refunded! props to Superfly for biting the bullet and committing to a quality experience!]), and each vendor sold food in the range of $5-$12. We got here early because vendors were told to prepare for 2k portions despite the event expecting 40k people.
No DSLRs were allowed, so it was back to the regular point-and-shoot.
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Stop 1: Craft (Tom Colicchio)
Dirty Duck Dog: $7.00
Taste: Like duck. Surprising? It wasn’t like eating a roasted duck, but in a blind test I would have known it was duck. There’s a hoisin like sauce in place of your usual ketchup/mustard and there’s some pickled cabbage to act as your sauerkraut. Interesting aftertaste, which wasn’t necessarily bad. Bun was perfectly soft (guess it was a regular hot dog bun, notin’ wrong with that). Texture of duck dog was like a sausage. Not too chewy or grainy.
Line: Practically none at 11:15am
Stop 2: Vinegar Hill House
VHH Juice: $5
Taste: WTF did they put in this?! Worst juice I’ve had in my life. Tasted like a tomato met an egg white and didn’t know what to do but explode into a bitter tangy mess. I have no idea what was on the rim, but it was spicy and if I had to venture a guess, Paprika?
I can’t believe Sabrina drank the whole thing. The stuff she does when you tell her it’s healthy for you…
Soft Shell Crab Sandwich: $11
Taste: Impeccably delicious. Would have used a bun without sesame seeds, but this crabwich is nearly perfect. Soft shell crab was perfectly done- it was crunchy and perfectly seasoned. The spicy mayo was the cherry on top. Could have done without as much cabbage, but like I said, nearly perfect.
Line: Pretty darn long by the time the afternoon rolled around, but only a <10 minute wait around 11:30am
(Adam: “Yes, I realize that the sausage maker is named ‘dick.’ The full name of the company is actually named F. Dick.” [Adam snickers] “It appears that we all become 8 year olds when we make sausage.”)
Here’s some interesting stuff that you probably never want to know about sausage from a guy that brings in FOUR pigs into his restaurant a week! That’s alot of pig!!
- The encasing for sausage is made out of natural ingredients. What part of an animal’s body do you think provides for natural encasing? That’s right! You guessed it! The intestines! I’m not sure why this grosses people out because the stuff that’s in the lining when you’re eating sausage is probably much worse.
- Ever eat a grainy sausage? It’s because instead of pre-freezing the meat/fat prior to grinding, the meat/fat was at room temperature, causing the fat to ooze through the grinder rather than getting that clean slice. Yum.
- Some sausages aren’t cooked- ie salami.
Stop 4: Brindle Room
Steakhouse Cheeseburger: $10 (“the best $10 you’ll ever spend in your life”)
Taste: This rather inglorious looking burger appears desperately pathetic. Don’t blame Brindle for this; blame Sabrina. Since she wouldn’t eat cheese and they were afraid that the cheese would melt all over the patty if they only melted half a slice, I decided to just slap on that americano [cheese] after it came out. Don’t let this picture deceive you. This is the best damn burger I’ve probably ever had. That’s right. ever had. Holy smokes!
This burger was so outstanding, I think it deserves another paragraph. First, this thing did not need any cheese and as I read the description on the Brindle Room’s brunch menu, it sure as heck does not need any caramelized onions for that matter. Well, what could make a burger so great you ask? First the juice. ohmygosh, each bite practically drooled with the juices. The interior was slightly pink with the meat soaking in all that juice. Then the flavor hits you. Not once, not twice, but throughout the bite. I have no idea what they did to make it so flavorful. You could tell that there was a good amount of salt added- perhaps it was aged because I don’t think you can achieve that saltiness by just tossing in some salt. Either way, this burger beats the Spotted Pig and Minetta Tavern burgers and you only have to pay $12 for it!! What a steal!
Line: Too short (nobody sadly at around noon)
Stop 5: Roberta’s (their website looks like someone hosted a unicorn party and forgot to clean up)
Bee Sting: Tomato, mozz, soppresata, honey, chili oil $12
Taste: Interestingly painful is all I can say. Painful for the overdose of chili oil, which not even a shirley temple could remedy. If it weren’t for the intensity of the spice, I think I would have fully enjoyed this. Everything else was done well though- the crust was paper thin, the cheese melted just the way you’d expect fresh mozz to melt, and the tomato sauce was just sweet enough. The honey was a thoughtful touch and worked quite well with the flavors.
Line: 15-20 minutes. I mean, they hand cranked these out and they were made to order. Someone had to haul a portable oven to the park to make this pizza happen. An applause for that.
Stop 5: Collichio & Sons
Yes, that is pork belly. You’ve probably had it in the form of BACON
Pork Belly Tacos: 1 for $7, 2 for $12 (not on the menu at the restaurant)
Taste: Very gluttonous. In my book, it’s very difficult to screw up when a thick form of bacon is your star ingredient. These weren’t exactly tacos as they were made out of corn tortillas (reminded me of arepas, actually), and what looks like shredded cheese is actually just picked cabbage, onions and the works. The toppings provided a refreshing balance to the heaviness of the pork. Some bits of bacon had a welcoming crunch and luckily they weren’t stingy when it came to doling out that bacon.
Line: 10 minutes. Surprisingly short given that the line looked massive. They had two stands- one to order and one for pickup. That’s how many people there were! Word has it that they ran out of propane on Saturday by evening.
Stop 6: Wooly’s
Wooly Mammoth with strawberries, mango and condensed milk: $7.00
Taste: I expected this to be like the shaved ice you get on the streets of Shanghai, but the Wooly’s shredded ice was very interesting. It was like floating on pillows of long shredded down feather that magically melted in your mouth with a silky finish. The condensed milk was a good call. Think froyo but with ice, flavored by the strawberry syrup and condensed milk. A very welcome icy finish to a warm day. Totally recommend trying this if you’re in Chinatown.
Line: 20-30 minutes. As you can expect, by the time 2:30pm rolled around, people were hot, sweaty, and looking for something cool. This was really the only alternative, unless if you wanted generic popsicle sticks and ice cream sandwiches.
Like most festivals nowadays, they encourage composting. 🙂
Overall, an awesome day. I think I’m done for the rest of the week in terms of food. I’m glad we hit the park early because by the time we starting leaving, alot of the beer at the pavilion was sold out and one restaurant that sold fried cheesecake balls was all sold out too. There have been massive complains floating around that this was a poorly planned event, but seeing as how we got to the festival bright and early, we had none of these issues. Plus, we didn’t get that VIP ticket, as we probably would have rather used that $250 towards a dinner at Per Se.