Just Foodamooga

Just Food

The Just Food section of the Great GoogaMooga Festival (widely griped about here), was a haven in a sea of dangerously hungry foodies. A tightly-knit variety of stands promoting local farms, tasty veggies, and sustainability nestled itself up on a hill overlooking the rest of the fest. Equally apart from the nostalgic riffs of the Lez Zeppelin stage and the bluesy soul of the Fitz & the Tantrums stage, it was the perfect hide-out for a breather.

In this grassy home away from home, Just Food advocates smilingly handed out CSA pamphlets, promoted urban gardens, and sold “seed bombs,” combinations of seeds and compost that if one chucks anywhere (like say, an abandoned lot) will grow magical plots of flowers.

Below, kiddies find some shade under an elevated planter box growing vegetables from a public school youth farm!

Youth Farm!

Just Food, you win again.

A Taste of Googa

Googa StandsThis weekend, 40,000 people (including our own haphazard crew) descended upon Prospect Park for the highly anticipated Great GoogaMooga Festival. The event was a showcase for New York’s hippest restaurants, each of which offered up one dish that represented their style in half or full portions, so you could try some of everything.  A foodie’s delight.

The concept for the festival was great: hand out free tickets to a slew of people and point them to the food stands.  And with stands manned by teams from Jean Georges, Baohaus, Luke’s Lobster, The Spotted Pig, Big Gay Ice Cream, Momofuku, and more, expectations were high. From what I can tell, the restaurants lived up to their reputations. Unfortunately, the festival wasn’t run with quite the same elegance as your average restaurant kitchen.

The event garnered tremendous publicity… most of it bad.  Among complaints about long lines and lack of cell phone reception (true of any festival), were legitimate laments. Food started running out around 3:30 on Sunday (apparently sooner on Saturday), which is a bummer if you planned on hanging out until closing time at 8:00, and a big deal if you sprung for the all-inclusive $250 “Extra Mooga” tickets. “Extra Mooga”Reading the GoogaMooga also got you access to special events, which most of the general population did not seem to know were going to be special events. Our hopes of seeing Masaharu Morimoto break down a fish, Anthony Bourdain mock everyone under the sun, and the hubs’ desire to eat hordes of ocean boogers (aka: oysters), were all dashed to oblivion once we walked through the gate. This was seemingly misled in their advertising. (Or, to be fair, possibly misread.)

Another misleading aspect was that the festival would be local-leaning. GoogaMooga teamed up and advertised through Just Food, indicating that there would be a big push toward farm-to-table attitudes. Unfortunately, there was merely a designated corner of the festival for Just Food sponsored spectacles (including a very charming CSA Cook-Off and Blue Hill Sausage-Grinding… lovable, but graphic). This was a downer given this obvious opportunity to promote local farms, humane meat production, and conscious eating. We saw virtually no information at the restaurant stands about where its food came from and actually witnessed someone on stage defend Tyson. Poor form, Googa.

And the greatest bummer came in the form of the disclaimer written on the festival’s website:
“We promise to make vegetarians and vegans happy, too, as well as those with any other dietary restrictions. You’ll go home inspired, enlightened, entertained and full.”

Sigh… I am afraid, dearest Googa, you did not deliver on this particular commitment. While I’m sure all of the carnivorous offerings were delicious and of the finest quality, the vegetarian options could be counted on one hand. And of those options, I, for one, saw not a single dish that was vegan.

All this impressive negativity having been stated, I should say that the things we did eat were delicious.  The Little Muenster’s grilled cheese made me dance a little dance, Momofuku’s coffee ice milk was a joyful reprieve from the heat, and Seersucker’s asparagus and ricotta tart tasted just like springtime. We missed the greatly-coveted deep fried cheesecake and the Big Gay Ice Cream. Both gone by the time we were ready for sweets. But as far as taste buds go, mine have no complaints.

Little Muenster
The kinks will work themselves out, I’m sure of this. I hope in the process the organizers will also address the expectations they built regarding local and vegetarian food.  Best of luck next year, GoogaMoogs!

Rufus is Not a Vegetarian (And Yet…)

Someone is peeking in our garden!  That’s right, our garden!

Our windows have blossomed over the past few weeks and we now have the beginnings of spinach, tomatoes, basil, lavender, scallions, mint, mustard greens, and possibly a radish.  (No preordained tomato smack-down as of yet.)  These herbal additions should make a stellar addition to our summer meals.  No spinach dinners yet, but we have put mint in drinks, lavender in tea, used mustard greens as our bitter herb at Passover, and added basil to just about everything.

Above, by the way, is Rufus Waddlesworth.

Below, are Rufus and Firenze giving a solid once-over to our fruits of labor.

Garden of Eve Farm

Our CSA is mere weeks from starting up again, and we are very prepared to be inundated by vegetable goodness!  We’ve started with a different farm this year, Garden of Eve (joyful picture above from their website).  Their farm has a CSA that’s a little closer to us than last year’s, and we’re excited to check out the new landscape.  This year we went for a whole share instead of a half and have split it with another couple, as well as a full fruit share, and two half-dozen egg shares.

We have big plans for dinner parties and picnics and trips to the farm!

As a refresher course, here’s the beloved 10 Reasons to Join a CSA, the abridged version (click to your left to see the loquacious version):

  1. Support local farms!
  2. Reduce your footprint!
  3. Be season conscious!
  4. Build a community!
  5. Try new veggies!
  6. Reduce your meat intake!
  7. Learn to cook!
  8. Improve your nutrition!
  9. Save money!
  10. Forget the brainstorm!

Find your own local CSA here.