The Great Googa Mooga: An Amusement Park of Food and Drink

I’ve never been one to jump on the hype bandwagon. I’ve yet to see Avatar, haven’t read a word of the Hunger Games (though I have watched my friends’ beanie baby version), and it took ages to get me on twitter. But it’s different when it comes to food. I’ll hunt down the best chocolate chip cookies, banh mi sandwich, or pork bun until the cows come home.

o when I read about the “amusement park of food and drink” coming to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in May, I literally jumped for the opportunity. There was no escaping the hype on this one. Between the sh!tshow that was free ticket registration, the bombardment of emails, and the posters lining the subway tunnels there was no way of hiding from the Great Googa Mooga. So I gladly gave friends my three extra tickets (each registration got 4 free tickets) and made the hike to the inner grounds of Prospect Park on Saturday.

In the days leading up to the Great Googa Mooga, I’d done some research into the dozens of awesome food and drink vendors setting up shop for the weekend. Sandwich favorites like Mile End and Num Pang, Roberta’s and Co. pizza, lobstah from The Lobster Place and Luke’s Lobster, and sweet treats from Big Gay Ice Cream and Momofuku Milk Bar were all on my list to hit up for a small bite. (Check out the full list of vendors here.) No such luck. When I finally arrived at the gate after waiting in an impressively long line, I was greeted by yet another line to have my ID checked, then another line for beer. Each one longer than the last. This was a sign of things to come. Lines, lines and more lines.

My friend and I made the smart decision to triple fist the beer when we made it to the front of the beverages line. There weren’t many options when we got to order, but I was totally satisfied with my Magic Hat Single Chair Golden Ales and my friend made out well with some Saranac Imperial IPA.

Beer in hand (both hands really), we were a little too flustered and hungry to make a food decision, and we ended up in the shortest line we could find for the Burger Joint. The service was surprisingly speedy and we were soon feasting on a perfectly cooked burger with the works (mustard, mayo, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. The WORKS). Sadly, the Burger Joint opted out of serving fries. We were told we could hop down a few stands to the Spotted Pig, but their line was nearly three times as long. I bet those were good fries. Fries or not, we were still rejuvenated by the sustenance of the burger, and ready for more.

Calexico, we decided, would be our next stop. The nachos with fresh guacamole looked divine and weather appropriate (did I mention the sun?). Not so fast. They’d run out of food and would be restocked in about 30 minutes. In the meantime we had finished our beers and thought it wise to get in another beer line while we waited. Not so wise. The line was our demise, as it only made it through half the line in 30 minutes. That’s where it hit us that the price of one beer was about the cost of a six pack…

All in all: the burger was good, the beers were thirst quenching, and I got to work on my tan while soaking up the great Brooklyn outdoors. But I was disappointed I hadn’t tried more of the food options (no Roberta’s pizza, no compost cookies, no big gay ice cream), and I left wishing I’d shelled out the $250 for the all inclusive Extra-Mooga and the chance to see Tom Colicchio, April Bloomfield, Marcus Samuelsson, and Ruth Reichl. A quick glance at twitter #googamooga (or better yet @MoogaShmooga) tells me that most of the kinks were worked out by day two (Anthony Bourdain “Yesterday: googamooga no like. Today: better. Lots better. Even kinda awesome”). Here’s to hoping next year there’s a better vendors-to-booze-to people ratio. I’ll be there to find out!

Juliana Barton is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia who avoided the dining hall by playing lunch lady in her own kitchen. Despite the bumpy road, the Great Googa Mooga got her pumped for the great food and drinks to come in the summer months. Read more…

Originally posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

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