GoogaMooga Gets Fantastical With Themed Roberta’s, The Spotted Pig, & Gabe Stulman Pop-Ups

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GoogaMooga – Brooklyn’s May 17th-19th food/music fest with the really great toilets – is adding themed, fantastical pop-ups from Roberta’s and culinary greats April BloomfieldKen Friedman, and Gabe Stulman to their carnival of all things fried, buttered, sprinkled, and alcoholic. 

Roberta’s – the Bushwick pizza joint with a cult following – is going Elizabethan, debuting their "Urban Renaissance Faire" – fit with hunky knights and fair maidens, and platters of medieval bites. Freshly-hunted turkey legs? Spare ribs from a barn hog? Perhaps.

Foot-long sausages, German pastries, and bubbling beers, are at the German beer garden pop-up known as "The Spotted Pig Haus," dreamed up by  The Spotted Pig’s chef/co-owner April Bloomfield and co-owner Ken Friedman. And if you still have room…

Gabe Stulman is going Americana on us, bringing his Wisconsin upbringing to his pop-up "Little Wisco Seafood Boil & BBQ." The restauranteur behind such West Village greats as Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey’s Grocery, and Fedora, is stocking his with boiled crawfish, barbecued shrimp, and wholesome games of bocce ball and bean-bag toss. 

All these delectable food worlds can be yours for the price of $15-$20, drinks not included. But do get drinks. And do go to the bathroom many times. Many times. Because believe me: they have really great toilets.

Get the scoop on GoogaMooga, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

THIS WEEKEND: Your NYC Holiday Event Itinerary

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It’s the beginning of December, which means now marks the time we transform into mushy, gushy, "oh my gosh! twinkling lights! I like Christmas cookies!" New Yorkers. And as we metamorphosize, it’s best we stick with like-minded events and like-minded people. So we’ve gathered this weekend’s top holiday events in NYC. Eat, drink, watch santa slasher movies, watch competitive jump-ropers – but please, make sure you’re your cynical, picky, self-deprecating self next year. No one likes an overtly emotional and sensitive New Yorker. 

FRIDAY THE 30TH:

  •  With the 55’ Bryant Park Christmas tree just lit this week, now is the perfect time to grab a decadent hot chocolate from one of the holiday shops, and marvel at the wonder that is spruce trees and colored lights. When you’re done, have some spicy salmon and eel rolls at what is considered one of the best sushi spots in Manhattan: Sushi Yasuda.
  • Santa slasher movies – they do exist. And Nitehawk Cinema honors the best of ‘em at its midnight screening of Silent Night, Deadly Night, the 1984 film where a toy-store Santa Clause goes on a rampage and axes people to death. Temper the crushing of your jolly Santa visions with a spiked hot bourbon cider and pretzel-crusted Nitehawk chocolate bar. 12:15am, $11. Also playing Saturday the 1st. All the details here.

SATURDAY THE 1ST:

  • Can’t decide which version of A Christmas Carol is your favorite? See them all at The Paley Center’s Christmas Carols: A Scrooge Mash-Up, where the classic story will be told using clips from a variety of versions starring Patrick Stewart, Mr. Magoo, and the animated casts of The Flinstones and Bugs Bunny. After, sit down to a cheese plate and rich mac ‘n’ cheese at our favorite Midtown West nook: cheese and wine cafe Casellula2pm show, $5-$10. Running till Dec. 31st. All the details here.

SUNDAY THE 2ND:

  • Jump-roping game Double Dutch gets festive and competitive at its 21st Annual Double Dutch Holiday Classic performance at the legendary Apollo Theater, where international students compete in one of the world’s largest jump roping contests. Expect lots of jumping, sweat, and tears, all to the tune of holiday music. 1pm-4pm, $22. All the details here.
  • Get toasty as Brooklyn’s famous pizza spot Roberta’s gets crafty with its Third Annual Beer Masters Winter Classic at Greenpoint bar Warsaw, which is just a fancy title for “massive beer competition.” Twelve teams of pros from Eataly, Bushwick bar Tutu’s, and more face-off in beer games like beer pong and ten-legged races, all inspired by the ’06 boozy comedy film Beerfest. The best part: three-dollar Roberta’s slices and beers from Warsaw are making an appearance allll day. 1pm-10pm, FREE. All the details here.

The Brothers Sussman: How Cooking With Family Works

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Not long ago, no one in New York knew who Eli and Max Sussman were. The elder brother, Max, rolled up in 2010 from Michigan and about a year later, was followed by Eli. Max runs the kitchen at the popular pizza joint Roberta’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and Eli works the meaty line at the prevalent Jewish deli, Mile End. Though they don’t work in the same space, they live together in Williamsburg and cook as a team at home. Max likes local, seasonal, and wholesome ingredients, and Eli is addicted to sandwiches (he loves Court Street Grocers, Graham Ave Meats & Deli, and Parm’s turkey Sammie). Together, they are the Sussman brothers, stars of summer camp kitchens, successful before turning 30, and now, authors of their second cookbook, This is a Cookbook: Recipes for Real Life, which comes out today.

Why should we buy your cookbook?
Eli Sussman: The goal of the cookbook was always for it to be a useful tool and never be a coffee table book. We wanted it to be user friendly and inviting, which is why the antidotes are in there, not just to fill space, but to know where we are coming from so you know you can trust us.

So, why should we trust you?
ES: Well, writing a cookbook isn’t about knowing how to cook well, which we both know how to do, but more about making the user comfortable with the recipes you select for a cookbook. We know our audience, and we are the people that would want to buy our book. Meaning, we love food, are adventurous, and we want to learn to make things at home. So, you can trust us not only because we work at awesome restaurants and cook at home, but also because we know how to craft an awesome recipe for our audience, and that’s a really difficult task, to write recipes that are user friendly.

Why did you decide to write the cookbook with your brother?
Max Sussman: Eli and I have complementary styles, and also, I cook better, but he is slightly funnier and writes faster. So, it only made sense to write it together.

It’s rare that two brothers, with no formal training would be as popular as you guys are. Why do you think that is?
ES: I honestly don’t know if we are popular, but it think it could be due to several factors. First, the culture is very obsessed with food right now, so people want to know more and more what the food is, and the people behind the food. Max is the executive chef of arguably the most popular restaurant in Brooklyn for sure, and in the top 10 for New York. I am a line cook at Mile End, which is also everywhere, and since people like knowing their food and who is making their food, we have been in the right place at the right time.

As far as no formal training, in this day and age doesn’t seem to matter much. I have worked at Mile End for a year now, and I look at it as my college culinary career. I learned how to butcher,  how to make stocks, how to make chopped liver—it’s as good as culinary school. Of course, there are a million things you would learn that you won’t learn in a restaurant. Like making master sauces and soufflés. But, more and more, I think people are forgoing that expense and interning, staging, and going the less expensive, more hands-on route.

What’s it like to work so closely with your brother? 
MS: Eli and I have a really great working dynamic and actually get along surprisingly well. We make sure to agree on the overall vision of what we’re working on and then any disagreements are just about details, so it’s never a big deal to try to figure out what to do.

Have you guys always done stuff like this together?
ES: The first cookbook was born out of us working at summer camp together. Max was the head chef and I was like his sous chef, though it wasn’t called that. The camp was based on kibbutz, which is a socialist style of living in Israel, so it’s communal, and everyone has to do something. So, we had a garden and really stepped it up. At the beginning of the summer, Max said we were making nothing frozen, which was hard, but it was fun because making everything from scratch. We started writing down the recipes and when we got back to college, people were always asking us random cooking questions so we wrote a book proposal and sent it around.

So Max, how did you transition to dumpster diving to one of the hottest restaurants in Brooklyn?
MS: Well it was about a ten-year process, but my interest in food, cooking, and constantly trying to improve [myself] led me here. I always loved cooking and a big turning point was when I took a job as a line cook at eve, a restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was the first time I was exposed to really good food in a restaurant setting, and I learned about all the little things and immense personal effort that goes into creating a great meal. I worked at a lot of different places between, but coming to Roberta’s was the next opportunity I have had to make great food without sacrificing quality for anything. 

And Eli, why Mile End?
ES: I made a list of the style of food I wanted to work in and Mile End satisfied every request on my list. My brother knew Noah [Bernamoff] and I got a trail, and now it’s the only place I have worked here.

Though both places are hip, they are very different…
ES: I think our choices mirror our personal style. I love delis and diners, and I think if one day I was to open up a restaurant, it would be very close to a diner-slash-deli.

Do you guys hope to open a restaurant?
MS: One day yes, but I’m actually super happy at Roberta’s since we do everything I can think of wanting to do, like have a garden, bake amazing bread, and make really great food.
ES: I definitely want to, but I think our visions for what we want to do is incredibly different.

Finally, Max, what’s your favorite recipe in the book?
MS: Linguine with anchovies, parsley, and walnuts. It’s so simple and so delicious and also really easy so how could you go wrong?

Four Ways to Eat and Party Your Way Through Labor Day Weekend

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Is it truly that time again? For you summer-loving folk out there yes, unfortunately Labor Day weekend is upon us and the end of the season is nigh. But, just because the good times must end, doesn’t mean you can’t go out with a bang, starting tomorrow at Pig Island, an all-out pork fest invading Governor’s Island. This epic event features 80 locally sourced hogs cooked up by 25 chefs including Pork Slope’s Dale Talde, King Phojanakong of Umi Nom and Kuma Inn, Sam Barbieri of Waterfront Ale House, and Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s NO. 43. Beer from Sixpoint Brewery will be flowing, as well as New York Wines. For $85 you get all this, plus live music and a trip on the ferry.

Saturday brings you Mr. Sunday Night, the outdoor dance party by Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin. There, you can stuff your face with tacos by Country Boys and down a ton of beer as you shake your booty from 3 to 9pm. On Monday, you can party down at two hip Brooklyn spots, starting at Roberta’s in Bushwick for their Labor Jams from 2pm to 6pm. DJ Mikhail Z and Joe Cristando will be spinning the beats as the staff whips up tacos and pours copious amounts of beer. Starting at 5pm, the boys of Do or Dine in Bed-Stuy host, Rub-A-Grub. Teaming up with Sound Liberation Front, they will not only feature an array of tasty appetizers and drinks, but music by Rich Medina and Queen Majesty. Let the, um, labor begin. 

What Can You Afford At Frieze Art Fair?

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The New York art world exists in little pockets across the city.

There are the galleries in Chelsea, the museums along Fifth Avenue, the studios dotting Bushwick and now, the art fair that ate Randall’s Island.

That’s right, it’s Frieze, the American version of the British art spectacle (born from a magazine of the same name) that has artsy types from curators to performance weirdoes to—the horror!—regular people gearing up to cross the East River and check out what the fair, opening its inaugural U.S. appearance today with 180 exhibitors has to offer.

According to Amanda Sharp, who created the fair with Michael Slotover, it’s going to be as big as possible. Literally.

“We actually can’t build a bigger fair on that site—it’s built to its maximum size from year one,” she told ArtSpace. “It’s quite a shock when you walk out there and realize quite how big it is, but then I feel very comfortable with it because I know that the quality of the galleries is so strong.”

Indeed, galleries from blue-chip galleries like Gagosian and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise will be showing off their wares—and likely attracting some serious collectors. But what’s in it for those of us who aren’t looking to drop a year’s salary on a doodle?

Food. Namely stands from NYC favorites like Roberta’s, The Fat Radish, Frankies Spuntino, The Standard Biergarten and Sant Ambroeus as well as a mess of food trucks. And also culture!

A half-day ticket will run $25, and considering art lovers can take a relatively inexpensive ferry across the river to check out the fair – in a spot most New Yorkers rarely visit, nonetheless – a rare opportunity to see world-class art, travel by boat and eat artisan pizza with some of the city’s wealthiest collectors suddenly seems like a deal.

The Best of the Bands at South By Southwest

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If you were to break down the South by Southwest experience from start to finish—which I have been doing now over the past two years—it goes from innovative discovery through interactive to contemplation of stories through film to expression of the soul through music. Ultimately, the entire conference becomes a creative sampling of what is coming over the next year, or at least until the end of winter this next year. Of course, that is only SxSW in it’s purest, intended state—due to throngs of people and over-commercialism, it can become a relatively hostile, over-packed money-grab, as I had reported it to ultimately be last year. I was not the only one in the media and public to reflect this and either 2011 was an anomaly or the promoters and the city of Austin took note and disciplined their middle-aged beast. This year’s conference was the polar opposite of last year’s—a perfect melding of the fantastic culture and sensibilities of Austin, Texas and the innovation and talent SxSW draws from every nook and cranny of the globe, truly making it the epicenter of cultural expression for more then a week in America, if not the world over. For me (or any other reports), there were virtually no incidents of note, which is shocking when nearly a quarter million people invade the city to drink heavily, among other things, and totally let loose.

This could be attributed to a variety of things. For one, the rains that slam the city when South By begins only threaten the following week, blowing a constant, gentle sea breeze through the streets, making it pleasant just to stand in line. There are also more stages, more showcases and generally more great events, spreading out the crowds more evenly, creating shorter lines and generally less hassle and stress. If there is an artisanship to large-scale event planning, it was on display at this year’s South by Southwest.

As should be the philosophy when delving into the vast and daunting music portion of the conference, I focus on the smaller, up and coming bands who may one day become the next big thing. Bruce Springsteen, Counting Crows, Fiona Apple, Jack White all played at South By this year—headlined to many who think this is just another music festival—and I’m happy to say I didn’t see any of them. This is not to say I don’t have the utmost respect for all of those aforementioned artists and their mere presence at SxSW indirectly draws the throngs to see other bands they otherwise would not—but the essence of the music conference is discovering something new. So rather then make a war plan schedule of bands that I have heard or have always wanted to see every day and night, I go where the wind takes me, based on split decisions, friend’s recent recommendations, or just what I hear on the street.

I begin on Tuesday when the music showcases kick off with Slowtrain, a six-piece blues rock band at Beale Street Tavern on 6th street, sitting on the small upper porch above the stage, watching the club steadily fill as the band’s music draws people inside, like moths to the moon. They are dynamic, fun and full of purpose, especially when you are drinking whiskey. Next, it’s to The Whiskey Room for Mr. Bleat, a Columbian electro-pop group who puts on one of the better shows of the week. I regret not putting them on the top 50 list from the first SxSW bit torrents as I did with the dynamic DJ Mr. Pauer, who took the stage next and closed out the night.

Wednesday consists of a few less then memorable performances at venues from Rainey Street to Congress until I return to The Flamingo Cantina, one of the best and oldest venues in the city. The Flamingo is a perfect venue for hip hop, with a raised stage above the standing room area of the crowd, wooden bleachers built along one wall and an open air outdoor smoking deck which overlooks everything inside. I am here to see Nu Cumbia founder DJ Dus aka El Dusty, but am floored Los Rakas, the Panamanian via Oakland hip-hop group who plays the set before. Regardless if you know what they are saying or if you would ever bump experimental Latin hip-hop on your own, they play a show that is not to be missed.

The highlight of Thursday comes early, as I am given the opportunity to see live music in a way that few others are granted at South By. I link up with Kalen Egan and Noelia Estrada, two filmmakers from Los Angeles who have come to town to continue shooting their web series Knock and Rock, in which their small crew follows a different band to a random house where they will attempt to perform inside for whoever lives there. It is a unique, personal and simply charming way to connect music to an audience, an idea that came to Egan when he was trying to shoot a music video for a friend’s band. “We did it a few times and it went really well,” Egan says. “Everyone—the crew, the band, the people we played for—felt really good afterwards and we realized this was a really good idea and we should keep doing it, as it’s own thing.” While a camera crew and live band showing up on your doorstep to play a few songs may feel like an invasion of privacy, Egan tells me just about everyone has let them in to play. I see this first-hand over the next few hours the media amoeba of band, camera crew and journalist wander around the Rainey Street District with the Radiohead-esque English group Films of Colour. We stop at the Black Heart bar, which has just opened and allows the band to play and soothe a few hair-of-the-dogged patrons and bartenders while they set up. Next it’s a older Hispanic man at a house down the street holing up during the festivities, his thugged-out son peering in curiously from the kitchen where he cooks sausages. Then the band and crew crams into a shaved ice bus outside of the Lustre Pearl venue to play for the kid who has been working the crowds all day, giving him his own personal show to make up for all the ones he has been missing. Everyone is smiling after each song and there is an unforgettable connection to the music. You can see one of the videos from the shoot here.

On Friday, I see shows with a festival-like intensity, beginning with the best day parties in town on East 5th Street in the newly developed Eastern Block of Austin’s bar and club scene. First, it’s the second year of Mess with Texas at the brand new 1100 Warehouse, a converted furniture storage facility that holds nearly 1300 people, is indoors, right downtown and will soon rival any of the larger venues in the live music capital. Here I catch the soon to be festival favorite alt rock group We Were Promised Jet Packs and then pop-punk group Titus Andronicus, whose loyal followers crowd against the stage and fist pump every song with rebellious intensity. Then, I simply step across the street to The Fader Fort, which is like a little slice of heaven this year with free tall boys and Bushmills cocktails, custom-made t-shirts and up-and-coming performances from chart toppers like Kimbra and the dynamic one-man-show of Blood Orange. Plus there’s pizza from Brooklyn’s own Roberta’s, worth every penny of the ten bucks, the only money I spend all afternoon. That night Stubbs may have one of the better line-ups for the evening, so I head there with the intention of staying all night. First, it’s the fantastic Icelandic group Of Monsters and Men, who could best be compared to bits of Arcade Fire mixed with their own original folk. They are energetically followed by The Delta Spirit, as original as Modest Mouse in their sound and another group destined for at least short-term greatness. In the crowd I meet the members (and manager) of the sweet and soulful Aussie group Busby Marou, who invite me to their showcase atop the nearby Hilton Garden Inn. From the top of the 18 story hotel, lifted by their peaceful songs and mandolin solos, I look out over much of Austin, flickering and lively in full South By swing. From there, it’s back down to the east side to close the night at ND, a high-ceilinged multi-deck venue carved out of an old film and television sound stage with some of the better acoustics of any in town. While I’ve seen Cults before, this performance was undoubtedly one to remember, bolstered by their experience and fine new tracks like “You Know What I Mean” from their debut full-length album. After that it’s back to punk, a underlying theme at this year’s music conference, from The Cloud Nothings, prompting a gleeful mosh pit on the crowded yet spacious venue floor.

By Saturday, St. Patty’s Day, I am worn considerably, as this is day ten of my South By escapades. I cruise from venue to venue on my bike, catching a song here, a song there during the day—and even some attitude from the folks at the Rayban Visions house who won’t let me or anyone else lock their bikes to the city’s trees out front, because it will “mess with the venue’s image.” Say what? LA’s psychedelic rock group Bleached at the Red Eyed Fly is the only one that makes a real impression, though my whipped instincts may have finally led me astray. That night it’s the sprint to the end—with the singer / songwriter Dawn Landes at Lustre Pearl and then a furious bike ride across downtown to Lambert’s for Harriet, another group with a bright future ahead of them, before heading back to Clive Bar for The Belle Brigade and Graffiti6, to close and finally allow me to sleep peacefully, resting my senses until next year. Maybe going where the wind takes you is the best possible strategy when seeing music at SxSW, for future reference—or maybe there was just so much talent this year, it was impossible to go wrong.