Every year the length and breadth of Abbott Kinney Blvd. plays host to the Abbott Kinney Festival, and this year the 22nd such event took place and was as gargantuan a block party as ever, with dozens of vendors plying everything and anything from sequined saris, crazy cycles and psychedelic hats to a quick haircut or even a house! (Yes, Abbott Kinney Real Estate was out in force.)
I wandered this bountiful bazaar and turned my trip into something of a food fest, sampling the goodies at a fair number of tented tables of taste and bustling barbecues from the many that had set up shop in order to sustain the sun-kissed multitudes in attendance.
Most of the food vendors were established on the side streets and, as expected, the throngs were drawn to these like bees to honey. My first stop was at a rather aromatic affair that the signage identified simply as “Fresh Indian Food.” It transpired that this was one of the ubiquitous catering companies that take advantage of the festival to present their wares to the hoi polloi, as opposed to their normal clientele at corporate catering and private occasions.
“Fresh Indian Food,” otherwise known as Nanwich Catering (1.323.939.9129), is an environmentally conscious company (even their cardboard bowls were made from recycled paper) specializing in vegetarian and vegan dishes as well as more traditional chicken curries. One of their offerings was a delicious tofu curry that was tasty and refined and went down very nicely with the fluffy pilau rice available.
I had to quench a sudden thirst after the curry, and discovered a large gathering of thirsty people purchasing tumblers of brightly colored drinks from the Barretts lemonade stand. I earnestly fought my way to the front, purchased my plastic bucket of well-chilled beverage and satiated said thirst.
A little further north, I stopped at the French Market stand where a bustling trade was in progress, with many people ordering the selection of quiches available, with a Lorraine example proving very popular with the masses.
After walking past the “Spirit Garden” (a place where I had a sense that spirits were genuinely believed to have been witnessed, judging by the copious quantities of beer being consumed), being invited to “purchase” a religion, (well, at least a book that the enthusiastic entrepreneur claimed that God had written), and signing my name to a “stop the war campaign” (the war in question was never actually made clear to me), I stumbled across a rustically decorated booth operated by the staff of the famous Olvera Mexican Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles (3448 East First St., LA 90063).
Quaintly attired in traditional dress, the staff smilingly served me a most delicious combo that ultimately became my meal of the day. A succulent chile relleno, a tasty vegetarian tamale, some rice and refried beans, all smothered in quite the most delectable verde sauce ever, and washed down with a refreshing watermelon juice, ensured that I could not eat one more morsel of anything at all, not even one of those wafer thin after-dinner mints immortalized in The Monty Python film, The Meaning Of Life.
This year’s Abbott Kinney festival was blessed with perfect Southern California weather, a huge turnout, some bargain eats, with most dishes ranging from $3-$8, and some fine entertainment to boot.
I came, I ate, I wandered.