'Red Hare(ing)' Signals Something Big for the West End of Downtown Boise 

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Harrison Berry

A half-crumpled playing card brushed my shoulder and landed in a nearby bush. I looked up from my table for two in the courtyard at The Modern to the second floor of the hotel, where a man wearing a white rabbit mask peered down at me and waved.

The Modern was the second stop on the Red Hare(ing) progressive dinner. The first was Txikiteo, where I and my plus-one had small plates and white wine; and the evening ended at LED for dance, dessert and a glass of bubbly. It was at The Modern, however, that the event's organizers showed the full possibilities of tacking performing arts and live music to a food-and-drink crawl.

click to enlarge HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
There, the LED house band played people to their seats, where they were served cocktails and a first course of carrots and bitter greens. The main course came—rabbit roulade—while dancers, mostly wearing rabbit masks, staged a melodrama with the sun setting behind them. On Aug. 27, the evening was picturesque, the food remarkable and the event as a whole felt essential, like something Boise didn't know it needed.

click to enlarge Rabbit roulade at The Modern - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Rabbit roulade at The Modern
Red Hare(ing) is sold out on its second and final day (Aug. 28), but it's likely a herald of things to come. The organizers dream of a "Paseo," or pathway, between restaurants and arts organizations in the western end of downtown, and progressive dinners can light the way. This particular event is pricy ($200 a ticket), but considering the food costs and the elaborate preparations made by LED for entertainment, it was more of an experiment to see if something so ambitious and collaborative could work, rather than a strictly commercial venture. With any luck, the price of future events will put attendance in greater reach of the arts-loving public.

LED's contribution consisted of dancing, live music and a projection component, adding up to a creepy meditation on power inspired by Watership Down. The Red Hare, the emcee of the evening, spouted mumbo jumbo about how easy it is to manipulate people, which was borne out by attendees' willingness to be led from venue to venue and course to course. One of those courses was rabbit roulade with a fermented plum sauce—a tiny perversion that got chuckles from the crowd.

click to enlarge Appetizers at Txikiteo - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Appetizers at Txikiteo
The food, as expected, was very good, but for an event like Red Hare(ing), "goodness" isn't good enough, and organizers elevated the cuisine by letting it interact with the theme of the evening. The Rias Baixas Dandelion Albarino at Txikiteo had a light minerality that contrasted with the small plates of Swiss chard rolls stuffed with chickpeas, lentils, celery, potatoes and pine nuts; spinach bechamel with crispy leek on gluten-free toast; and Belgian endive with carrot mouse and candied hazelnuts. The beet-red cocktail at The Modern had a distinctly earthy flavor. Rabbit food abounded, raised up to gourmet levels of flavor and presentation.

The night drew to a close with dessert at LED. Darkness surrounded the stage for a final battle between the Red Hare and his nemesis, and when the performers took a bow, there was a real sense among the clapping audience members that they'd witnessed an achievement. Red Hare(ing) is the first progressive dinner of its kind in Boise—and we can hardly wait for the next.

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