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May 18, 2013 05:07 PM

Googa Mooga 2013

We didn't go last year, lucky for us, because most everything I've read about it makes it sound like hell on earth. But I'm happy to say that, except for the not-great weather, we had a very enjoyable time at this year's festival. We got free tickets online through the lottery. Grub Street or Eater or whoever put up a list a few weeks ago of what each vendor would be serving, which I edited down to "what small h intends to eat" and brought with me. We arrived around 12:30pm, when the crowds were relatively thin. By the time we left at 3:30, there were lines at some of the booths, but none more than 10 or 15 people long. I had:

1. Softshell crab sandwich from Vinegar Hill House. Very good, two small, perfectly fried and seasoned crabs on a soft roll. One of the two things I had that I thought was worth the price tag ($11, in this case).
2. Beecher's mac & cheese. Not as good as the mac & cheese I make myself. And waaaaay more expensive ($10!). Pretty good, though.
3. Lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound. Lobster was excellent. Roll was crazy salty.
4. Lemon-thyme soda from Brooklyn Soda Works. Refreshing, and not too sweet. I wished it was bigger, after that crazy salty lobster roll.
5. Margherita slice from PizzaMoto. Fine. There's so much good pizza around these days that this did not rock my world. Partly because it was too cool.
6. Momofuku cereal milk ice milk. The apparently tiny cup turned out to be the perfect amount. Because it was very sweet. Thought about spending another $4 for another soda. Decided against it.
7. Maison Premiere grilled oysters with sauce verte, which is French for chimichurri sauce. Only got these 'cause we won a $10 food ticket by spinning a wheel at the Swoon booth. They were good, almost raw (a plus), but extremely garlicky.
8. Ricotta crostini from Saxelby. I was trying not to get anything from a place that I can walk to from my damn house, because come on, but I was suddenly overwhelmed with desire for ricotta with honey and salt. I should have been stronger. The bread was tough as leather. Cheese was good.

I thought the food was overpriced overall (I could not bring myself to pay $10 for a falafel, even a black-eyed-pea falafel), but considering that admission was free, and there was plenty of entertainment, the afternoon was, on the whole, a good deal. I also picked up some seeds from a "teach kids about farming" booth. The envelopes are decorated by the kids, and there's a note in crayon on the chive seeds advising me to wear gloves and have maracas and a sombrero ready before opening the packet. I do not know what this means, but I like it.

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  1. LOL at your chive seeds... You'll have to report back on that one!

    We went last year and had VIP tickets (that, thank God, we didn't purchase). I seriously felt for anyone who paid for VIP last year. I think paring it down for this year was a good idea. The rest of it was just OK—the lines were long, the food was good, and the logistics (no cell service, drink tickets, etc.) were nightmarish.

    I'm glad that they fixed most of those things, but I still don't think I'll return. It is pricy—I'd rather save my money and eat at most of these places.

    Was the cell service better? What was the procedure for buying booze? I did think it was funny that they e-mailed this morning about having more Sunday tickets, then e-mailed a few hours later calling the whole thing off. Their PR/marketing machine needs work.

    3 Replies
    1. re: loratliff

      Dunno about the cell service, since I didn't need to use my phone at all, but I saw plenty of slack-jawed millenials roaming about gazing raptly at their screens, so it must've been at least adequate.

      There were dedicated wine and beer tents that sold drink tickets just outside, kind of like buying rides at an amusement park. As far as I could tell, it was smooth sailing. I spent some time in the wine tent - just to get out of the rain, 'cause I don't drink during the day - and there were tons of people sampling tastes from the many purveyors. If there was dissatisfaction anywhere, I didn't see it.

      And now I'm super-happy that I went yesterday, 'cause the festival was rained out today. I read some online rumors that the vendors were giving away food. And then some other online rumors saying no! they were not.

      Watch the gardening board for chive news. I'm going to plant them soon.

      1. re: small h

        I'm loosely associated with one of the restaurants there... They probably lost about $10k today because of the cancellation. I think the festival is going to have somewhat of an eternal curse no matter what!

        1. re: loratliff

          I'm interested in this curse thing. Makes me want to go next year (if there is a next year) and see what happens. Sinkholes? Flaming hail?