Saturday, April 18, 2009

Not a crumpet in sight

It's not often that you get to enjoy high tea at the residence of the Finnish ambassador (in my own personal experience, anyway - maybe someone out there has a more personal connection with Pekka Lintu), so when offered the chance to skip out on work a little bit early for such an occasion, you take it. One of our PwC partners bid on a "high tea for up to 30 people" shindig at a recent charity event, and upon winning he graciously invited the current "tour of duty" gang to join him for this experience. I put "tour of duty" in quotes because I think of it as a rather military term, and it's not like those of us here in DC have gone into enemy territory to protect our country or anything. Enemy territory, hmmm....the Beltway crowd and Yankees (this is not the South, I don't care what those Virginians say) all around...maybe I should rethink that phrase. I digress....back to foreign relations and tea and all that good stuff.

Speaking of foreign relations, those are probably more important to an ambassador than meeting a bunch of accountants/lawyers/businessy-types, which possibly explains why Mr. Lintu had actually departed for Finland earlier in the no, we didn't actually meet the ambassador. We did, however, meet his rather charming wife, Laurel Colless, who's not Finnish at all but fascinating in her own right, working diligently to bring energy efficiency and green thinking to the world at large. A couple of actual Finns were present, which lent an air of authenticity to the whole endeavor...even if they were the au pair and housekeeper #1.

We had quite a spread for our high tea experience - the usual beverage options of tea, coffee, water and the like, and quite a few appetizer/dessert options, including cured salmon, a salmon-quichey thing, roast beef and beet something (I think a lot of people were scared of purple food - come on, guys, go for it!), cucumber sandwiches, mushroom and rice pastries, strawberry-mint mousse cake, cookies, and assorted other carbalicious items I've forgotten about. I'd love to have pictures for you, but whipping out my camera in their home would have felt a little intrusive and disruptive of the whole high tea experience.

It was an odd feeling to walk around through their home, children and dog underfoot, and take tea on their expansive, gorgeous back patio, complete with pool and sauna. Also complete with multiple housekeepers/all-purpose staff who graciously greeted us at the door, poured beverage refills, and quietly snuck in to relieve us of dirty dishes. Oh, and not that we could really use the sauna - I mean, business casual doesn't exactly lend itself to steaming - but it's nice to know it's one of the perks of ambassador living. Actually, one of the most fascinating parts of the whole experience was seeing this home smack in the middle of DC with an enormous backyard and space all around. I guess you can have space in the just have to have the right connections along with the accompanying financial means. It's just fascinating to me that this is their home, and they have a guest book and brochures waiting for you at the front door.

As much as I don't want my personal space invaded by tea-seekers all the time, I think I could handle the ambassador life. Send me off to Spain, please, or Italy or Greece or anywhere I might like an extended vacation. I'm guessing my government wouldn't care to foot this particular bill at the moment...or ever, for that matter.

Did sneak in a couple of pictures there at the end, mostly to obtain evidence of something that said "Finland" to document the experience.

All in all, I learned a little bit about...Finland, saving the Earth, Finnish cuisine, living the ritzy life in DC, and my coworkers. And while our treats were delicious, we weren't exactly filled up on our cured salmon and assorted baked goodies, so Dana and I made our way to Dupont Circle and spent a pleasant evening on the patio (yes, the patio! It actually kinda feels like spring here in DC!) at Veritas sharing some charcuturie (so much more fun to say than "cured meat," right?), cheese, and a rather tasty cabernet. Not a bad Thursday.

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