Wednesday, March 21, 2007

VCN Ethnic Dinners go to Vietnam

(Click on the pics to get a larger version) It was a dark and stormy night... and it was exactly like that, it's not just the standard beginning. In fact, the day the 8th edition of the VCN ethnic dinner was set for it was also the day when not one, not two, not three, not even four but for FIVE times the sky of Rome decide to shower the city with hail, each time in a heavier way than the previous one so much that the last one, fell just a few minutes before the meeting time, left a good layer of ice over the street and cars, making it difficult to just walk straight.

In such circumstances, I was expecting a high number of defections and I would had even understood them. Quite surprisingly, in the end, almost everyone made it to the restaurant making a fairly crowded dinner with 18 people. As usual, italians made the largest group with 5 people followed by Germany and USA with 2 each, then Netherlands, Philippines, Norway, Finland, Chile Brazil, Croatia and the first Australian ever... and someone else the country was never discovered. Unfortunately, even if almost everyone showed up eventually, the weather took its toll in the form of huge delays, making the proper dinner start quite a bit late...

The restaurant itself didn't have enough place to accommodate all of us in a single table and so we were divided between a main table and two, smaller, ones. Speaking of the restaurant, located in via Giulia (right behind Campo dei Fiori), it turned out to be the only vietnamese restaurant left in Rome after the closing down of a more famous one near the British Embassy. It's pretty unassuming and barely noticeable from outside, and even inside it's nothing really impressive, made of two relatively small rooms. Putting together a standard menu was somewhat complex, in part due some communication problem with the owner and even worse with the waiters, which made problematic at first the service, but that eventually was reason of amusement more than annoyance.

Food was ok, even if not sensational, the best dish being probably, at least for my taste, the beef with onions and talks were, as usual, lively and cheerful (as you can see...). And while I was pretty much stuck against a wall and basically unable to move, fate made us discover the one who could become the official photographer for our future dinners in the person of Laura, who spent a big deal of time happily jumping around the tables to make pictures (being barely noticed while doing it, I must say, making for a couple of pretty funny pictures) and apparently immensely enjoying herself in the process.

Dinner went along smoothly and before we knew it, we arrived to the end, but apparently no one wanted to leave as we kept going with our talks and having more spare rice brought to the table as an excuse for keeping the tables (not like the owner of the place would had sent us out, anyway). But as always, things must come to an end and a few minutes before midnight we called it over, happy to discover that, in the meanwhile, the weather had improved and, despite the bitter cold (well, in italian terms, but what can you expect in a day when ice had been falling down from the sky the whole time?), we could had made it back home dry.

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