Food & Drink

EVENT: The Great Googa Mooga!

by Lea Faminiano

The inaugural weekend of The Great Googa Mooga was truly a festival for the senses.  This past weekend, those who were able to grab a ticket were given the opportunity to sample food from both the big and little names, all in beautiful Prospect Park.

Why Googa Mooga?  Well, why not?  It’s one of those ideas that is so crazy it wasn’t already invented.  Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams’ Allan Benton emphasized that “food and music are a way of bringing everyone together,” and he couldn’t be more right.  By everyone, he truly did mean everyone.

Saturday was filled with hiccups (some big ones) that basically boiled down to long lines (particularly for beverages), and also a lack of food near the end of the day.  I could go on about the changes that could be made, because there were definitely some flaws, but why would I?  We can’t all be perfect, and for pulling off a festival of this nature for the first time, I can definitely cut you some slack.  Instead, I’ll focus on the major parts of the weekend: the food and music.

Props to the Googa crew and all the hardworking chefs who listened to their patrons and scrambled to make adjustments for Sunday, revamping their systems to successfully make the lines significantly shorter, in turn pleasing a ton of ravenous patrons.

Despite the crazy lines on Saturday, we at Couch Sessions ate more than we could normally handle on both days in order to give you a taste of what was being served at Googa Mooga!

Best value meal goes to Red Hook el Olomega Pupusas, where $9 got you two belly-filling pork & cheese pupusas.

Taste awards go to Baohaus‘ General Loko’s Fried Chicken Bao and Colicchio & Sons‘ charred pork belly tacos (paired with a spicy watermelon juice) – based on the fact that I had never eaten at these places, but will definitely be visiting based on these tastes.

Other tasty treats were the roasted corn nachos from Calexico, and a char-grilled organic chicken sandwich with a ginger lemon soda from Simply Chicken by Jean Georges.

We can’t leave out dessert, of course: we checked out both the bacon-bourbon-coffee-caramel popcorn and also the honeycomb candy-chocolate-caramel popcorn from Liddabit Sweets.  We also fell in love with James‘ fried cheesecake bombs (how can you turn down anything with that name?), and the mango-chile paleta from La New Yorkina was an unusual and delicious new favorite dessert.  And of course, we knew that Momofuku Milk Bar never disappoints, so we scooped up their crack pie and ice milk.

As for drinks, two enormous wine and beer tents were there to keep patrons satiated.

Those who threw down additional money were privileged to enter the land of Extra Mooga, where celebrities such as Aziz Ansari and Anthony Bourdain spoke.  Extra Mooga-ers also got a plethora of special food and events like the Big Gay Ice Cream Disco Party!

Music was the one major component of Googa Mooga that was delivered beautifully throughout the whole weekend.  There was something for everyone to enjoy – no complaints here!

An eclectic mix of acts provided a great musical backdrop to nosh to, such as Escort, Fitz and the Tantrums, Holy Ghost, and the Preservation Jazz Hall Band.

Headliners The Roots put on a fantastic show, wrapping it up on Saturday night, and Hall and Oates rocked it and closed up the celebrations on Sunday.

Was the food worth the price?  Worth the wait?  That’s for you to decide, but regardless, we can’t ignore the fact that every bite was definitely delicious.  Ben Jaffe of Preservation Hall Jazz Band put it best when he said that the festival curators wanted to “go big or go home” – they definitely went all out!

It was great to have you, Googa Mooga, and we’re so excited to see what you cook up for next year!