Thanks to the folks behind Bonnaroo, New York now has its own cool, multi-day music festival in the form of The Great GoogaMooga. This new food, wine and performance “amusement park” takes place in Prospect Park the weekend of May 19 and 20. With 20 acts like Fitz and the Tantrums, Hall & Oates, Fort Lean and the Pedrito Martinez group belting tunes on two different stages, and some of the city’s best grub and beer/wine purveyors tempting your palate, GoogaMooga should kick summer off to an early start. Here are some of the many food vendors to track down. For a complete list (about 75 food venders are expected), visit GoogaMooga.com.
If you’re interested in GoogaMooga’s best drinks, check out “The GoogaMooga Festival’s Best Bets For Booze.”
The Spotted Pig
Considering how crowded April Bloomfield’s West Village carnivore shrine is most nights, it probably won’t feel very different standing in line here, waiting for small bites of things like roasted pork belly and char-grilled burger sliders. While you likely won’t get to experience the gastropub’s signature nose-to-tail dining, expect bits of porky goodness you won’t find cooking on the usual festival grill.
Cookin’ With Coolio
No, really. Coolio. As in “Gangsta’s Paradise.” The self-proclaimed “Ghetto Gourmet” now hosts a cooking show on mydamnchannel.com, turning out affordable, healthy-ish salads and grilled steaks (there’s also a cookbook). During the festival, he’ll be on hand, whipping up some of his specialties (expect bikini-clad assistants). Perhaps you’ll get to try his Caprese Salad topped with a “secret ingredient,” or Soul Rolls, a spicy ground beef and cheese riff on fried burritos. As Coolio says, “Look Good. Smell Good. Taste Good. Is Good!”
The near-religious experience that was dining at this French Canadian-transplanted Queens’ diner may be gone (it’s setting up shop at MoMA PS 1), but owners Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis vow to bring its sweet-and-savory comfort food to events like this from time to time. That is, if they don’t set up their proposed boat restaurant and sail away for good. You may find menu items like a hot dog with bacon chili and maple syrup coleslaw or creative nacho riffs.
Frankies Spuntino 457
The Franks (Castronovo and Falcinelli) have created a devoted following for their mini-empire of Italian (and now Spanish) themed eateries. 457, located on Court Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, is known for its drool-worthy sandwiches like Faicco’s Sausage and Broccoli Rabe, and its Sweet Potato and Sage Ravioli. For the festival, expect pizza and portable takes on house specialties – and expect to lick your fingers clean.
One of the challenges of living in Brooklyn (and a huge chunk of festival-goers will arrive from nearby apartments), is that getting all the way to Uptown can be a hassle. Now, the stellar 125th Street ‘cue masters are bringing their art to the 718. With luck, perfectly seasoned pork ribs, Texas beef brisket, pulled-pork sandwiches and creole potato salad will all be available. Sure, the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party’s less than a month away, but why wait?
Vinegar Hill House
A seasonal American menu from head chef Brian Leth at this charmer on the outskirts of DUMBO (in the historic Vinegar Hill neighborhood) inspires momentarily un-ironic hipsters to rant poetically about pork chops, Long Island duck breast and still sizzling chicken. Festival attendees will find succulent soft shell crab sandwiches on potato rolls to sate their hunger.
Crawfish Monica (Kajun Kettle Foods)
Ever since the first visit to New Orleans Jazz Fest, there’s been a special appeal to the combination of crawfish (in any form) and outdoor music festivals. But Crawfish Monica, a creamy blend of spiced crawfish bits and rotini pasta, is a Jazz Fest staple and at one time was only available during the event. Definitely plan on seconds for this one.
Big Gay Ice Cream
At some point during GoogaMooga, you’re going to want dessert. This famously monikered gourmet ice cream truck recently set down roots in a brick-and-mortar in the East Village. Making its own rich, soft-serve ice cream flavors like the Salty Pimp (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt and chocolate dip) and the Mermaid (vanilla, key lime curd and crushed graham crackers), there’s an option for all tastes.
Robert Haynes-Peterson is an editor and freelance writer living in New York. He is certified by the American Sommelier Association through its 24-week Vinification and Viticulture program, and the government of Mexico through its Master Mezcalier program (continuing). His work can be found at Examiner.com.