Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A night for Noir

Party in the middle of Broadway!

Combine four of my favorite things - food, drink, historical preservation and downtown Los Angeles. What do you get? The Taste: Food Noir. Presented by the L.A. Times and Food & Wine magazine, the organizers blocked off the entire stretch of Broadway between 8th and 9th Streets, and assembled over 50 booths representing some of L.A.'s best restaurants, wineries, and distillers.

The proceeds of the event went to the Los Angeles Conservancy, whose efforts to preserve and promote historical downtown Los Angeles have been critical.

The event evoked Los Angeles's history and the dark, murky world of Film Noir. Many classic noir-genre films were shot right here on Broadway, or on nearby Bunker Hill. The Orpheum Theatre participated in the evening event, opening its doors (and restrooms!) to festival-goers, screening newsreels and cartoons.

The lit marquee of the Los Angeles Theatre

The evening started out with a hint of foreboding - flashes of lightning in the sky to the east and growls of distant thunder - "distant" being the important word. Although as we stood in line, waiting to be let in, we wondered if the event would be rained out.

Ravioli from Nonna
Once let into the event site, we strolled among the booths. Although there were colored theatrical lights, the atmosphere was dominated by the eerie cold yellow of sodium vapor street lamps. Lush but forboding music - Bernard Hermann film scores, mostly - played from speakers on poles. The scene was hip and edgy, young and fashionable. Even though it was on the rough streets, I noticed a lot of women wearing outrageous shoes.

How do they walk on the pavement, in heels that high? Am I getting old?

Dining area beneath the fab neon marquee of the Rialto Theatre

For the admission fee, everything was free. A dorado taco here? a plate of sage-infused ricotta ravioli there?

Handmade pasta from Terroni
How about some ragu with hand-made rigatoni? Or grilled beef tongue with romesco sauce? Oddly - I didn't get a lot of food photos. Why is that? Maybe my hands were full while I was eating!

I did, however, get some photos of drinks! This is a Garden Snake, from Cana Rum Bar. Made with Don Q Anejo rum, fresh citrus, "backyard tomato syrup", Amaro Montenegro, and Maldon Smoked Salt.  I couldn't taste the salt, but the rest of it was might tasty!

We slipped into the beautiful Orpheum Theatre's red plush seats and watched some Bugs Bunny.

More outrageous shoes.

The moon slips behind a cloud next to the Eastern Columbia building
Somehow I was more focused on the buildings and the scene than on the food. Although looking to the historical past for atmosphere, what the event reminded me of the most was a futuristic film - the "Blade Runner" feeling was intensified by the Asian-pop vocals of the band Dengue Fever.

There's something crazy but fun about sitting in the middle of what should be a busy downtown street, sipping an artisanal cocktail under a moody sky! The neon glowed.

Because - on a whim - we'd booked a room at a downtown hotel, we were able to stay and enjoy ourselves guilt-free, not worrying about getting back to Topanga safely. The hotel was a few short blocks from the event location. Walking back through the dark - but not empty - downtown streets extended the mood of mystery all along our way.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Looks great, nice photos Aunt Snow.

We had your thunder and lightning here in W.V. (and the rest of the course of T.S. Lee, of course).

Gilly said...

Now that looks a lot of fun! Lots of photo opportunities too, I would think.