GoogaMooga, the food ‘n’ booze festival in Prospect Park by the same people that bring you Bonnaroo, was this past weekend. As a naturally curious person, I snapped up a free ticket before they were gone and ventured out into the great Nethermead on Sunday. Because I like sharing things, my better-than-expected experience is outlined below.
I went in with extremely low expectations.
Why? Well, because of all of the people that went on Saturday! Those that said it was nothing more than lines, lines, lines. Those that said they were there for upwards of three hours and all they had to show for it was some sunburn and a feeling of having wasted their time. In general, the response was more along the lines of “well, I’m glad I at least went to check it out” rather than “wow, that was amazing” or “something wonderfully great” (which is how GoogaMooga shamelessly defined themselves).
So the beau and I made our low-expectations game plan: Eat a hearty breakfast, so we’re not starving the second we walk in only to find ourselves an hour-wait away from any food. Stop by in the early afternoon, hoping the initial rush of people may have gotten their fill and left already. Get in, get some food, maybe a drink, and get out.
After being forced to chug our Vitamin Water at the gate (I tried protesting that they allowed factory sealed water bottles, but they didn’t buy it), I was worried about needing to run to the porta-toilets earlier than my disposition could stand. And that worry was immediately replaced as they said my ticket wasn’t scanning and I was refused entry (I’d just tried to go through and they let me, but I needed to retreat when the beau was stopped with our non-water Vitamin Waters). They eventually let me in, and I breathed a little easier (although that could have been the after effect of drinking so many vitamins in such a short time).
But once we got in there? It wasn’t that bad! I heard from others (both in person and in the blogosphere yesterday) that Sunday was significantly better. I’ll give credit to the event organizers for revising their own game plans, cutting out the middle-man lines (on Saturday, one needed to wait on a line to get your ID checked, then another line to get a prepaid card for booze, and then another line to actually get your libations). When we went? You just went up to the vendors, they all took cash.
The wine tasting pavilion was my personal favorite. After spending $2 on a plastic wine glass to use for the rest of the day, we sampled a few wines with generous “tasting pours” for $2 or $3 each. I discovered a great winery out of Denver, Infinite Monkey Theorem (I love Denver! I didn’t know they had wineries there!) and got to spend some time in the shade. Sadly, my hair had already been smushed enough by my sunhat that I had to keep it on anyway.
We didn’t even bother with the beers: with small tastes for $4 and barely larger-than-that pours for $12, it wasn’t worth the wait in line or the pain of parting with the cash. So we stuck with wine, and later some iced coffee. Because in our genius logic, it was like getting coffee, and then if you drank it fast enough, the ice would be intact enough to be a cooling drink of water later on. We’re devilishly thrifty, really.
I assumed that the food selection for vegetarians would be slim, so I wasn’t too disappointed when my choice among the many food vendors ended up being very limited. However, that gave me a chance to try the amazing Arancini Bros rice balls. Delicious and fried with a generous helping of risotto and a perfect center of tomatoes and pesto. Unfortunately my camera ran out of juice pretty early into our adventure, or I would have snapped a picture of said rice ball that would have your mouth watering.
We ended up finding a spot on the lawn where we could hear Hall & Oates if not see them. They were pretty slammin’, and the crowd was happily swaying to I Can’t Go For That. Despite the fact that most of us weren’t yet old enough to enjoy H&O in their prime, it made for a nice way to wrap up the day. The beau and I ended up staying for a few hours longer than we planned…although we did end the evening at our favorite Chinese food joint near the park instead of waiting on more lines instead the festival for dinner. While said Chinese joint wouldn’t qualify for a foodie festival, they’ve got some great kung pow bean curd.
I’m glad I went. Not in the “I’m glad I went on Saturday because at least I can say I was there” kind of way. But in the “I’m glad I didn’t get to go until Sunday, I actually enjoyed myself more than I thought I would” kind of way. Final thought: I don’t know anyone that went to any of the food seminars going on. I know some of them were only for people that paid that astronomical $250/ticket, but there were a fair amount of free ones. Did anyone go to them? Were they worth the time spent listening?