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BEACH GOURMET: A Fun-Filled Festival of Food:

The Abbot Kinney Festival is one of the most anticipated end-of-summer events that the Westside has to offer, and this year’s shindig, with its “green” theme, proved to be as popular as ever – with bands, booths, and a bevy of visitors all casually strolling the boulevard, relaxing, and, of course, eating. And the culinary choices were plentiful, to say the least.

With over a dozen temporary additions to Abbot Kinney’s permanent array of dining choices, there really was something for everyone, and, judging by the visual evidence provided on our visit, everyone had something.

Santa Ana Avenue was a very popular stop for many, as it played host to some taste-beckoning booths that included a very active tent playing host to Malibu Falls Catering, where chef Terry Lewis was conjuring his Cajun specialties that included chicken and seafood.  But he did mention that his piece de resistance is a deep-fried turkey that he suggested is perfect for the holidays. I sampled a piece of his catfish and, boy, was it good!  It’s a shame he does not have a restaurant yet, but he can be contacted by calling 323.822.8909.

Also present were those stalwarts of the festival and artisans of Mexican food, the ladies of Olvera Mexican Restaurant from downtown Los Angeles (3448 East 1st Street, L.A. 90063).  They had on offer a selection of plate specials with burritos, chili rellenos, tamales, tacos, and taquitos, and it was the taquito plate that I ordered ($6.95).  Served haphazardly on a paper plate, street style,  I received four large rolled beef tacos and a dollop of refried beans, all covered with a splat of mole sauce.  It was messy, certainly not healthy, but very, very tasty.  The perfect street food for … the street!

We then headed south a block or two and hopped into the Tortilla Grill, located at 1357 Abbot Kinney Boulevard (310.581.9953), where we chose a bowl of their Black Bean Soup (served with sour cream, jack cheese, chips, and pico de gallo, $4.55) – to go, of course. This was quite the pleasant surprise. A generous container of a thick and delicious soup that had a rich and flavorful taste, a robust constitution, and a great deal at less than five bucks, for sure.  While I was waiting for the soup I chatted with Michael Newhouse of The Newhouse Group (they are the people who bring you everything you need to know about “green” properties, from buying and selling and energy conservation to building a home from the ground up!) who was enjoying a burrito. “Very, very good,” he later commented.

Another original booth at the festival was The Nutty Gourmet (www.nuttygourmet. com). They are nuts, or at least crazy about nuts, and brought with them a huge selection of bags featuring their trademark leftfield flavored nuts. With almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, and more, they create tastes like jalapeno garlic pistachios, chili con lemon almonds, and my personal favorite: apple pie almonds that taste like almonds with a genuine apple pie-flavored coating. In a nutshell, unique!

There were many others feeding the throngs from straightforward burgers and hot dogs to M & W Foods (661.296.3178) where Matt and Wendy Thrush proffered their delicious and exotic dried foods, including stunningly good fruits that appeared very popular on the day.

So, once again, the Abbot Kinney Festival provided all comers with a grand day and my friend and myself a full stomach and some new culinary experiences.

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