Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nov. 1: Party!

Leidschendam, Netherlands: Raimondi's Villa Rozenrust, Veursestraatweg 104; tel. 070.220.75.81

DUTCH FAMILIES SEEM TO KNOW instinctively how to celebrate serious occasions like wedding anniversaries: festively. Eighty or so of us gathered for the 25th anniversary of our friends Tom and Judith at a party they had organized in a favorite Italian restaurant of theirs. Six or seven long tables accommodated us easily, even permitting a change of seating at midpoint to allow maximum socializing.
An Italian dinner, with its sequence of antipasto, pasta, primo, secondo, and dolci allowed plenty of opportunity for organized interruption: speeches by the fathers of the bride and groom; photo-biographies of each of them as children, then of the family they have made together; toasts by the guests. There was even a quiz game to find out who really knew them best: how many times have they vacationed at Tom's favorite place, seven or nine? When they decide to go out, is it to the movies or the theater? (Their second son won the prize, a bottle of wine: unfair, I thought.)
We had salume, prosciutto, eggplant, caprese, vitello tonnato, strozzapreti in tomato sauce, penne with shrimp, swordfish en croquette, grilled lamb chops and steaks, and tiramis├╣, with no doubt other things I've forgotten or hadn't noticed. It was all remarkably good considering the number of servings that had to be ready all at once — and then in some cases had to wait for another speech to run its hilarious course. The party began to break up about one o'clock, and everyone had a great time.
Pinot grigio; vino da tavola rosso

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