FH Ciders lead NH Beverages on to Capitol Hill
Noon, Thursday June 10th, Washington DC: Steve & Louisa roll a small family car, bearing 8 cases of NH-made adult beverages, under a Senate office building into a hot dark loading dock full of big trucks. We also have heavy boxes of come-hither literature from NH Travel & Tourism. S&L are used to scooting around big docks finding human-sized stairs/ramps up which to carry a few heavy cases. But we’re fazed by long, long, long shiny underground tunnels, plus several topside levels, stretching from these truck bays to our delivery point. The dock staff can’t loan hand-trucks.
Fortunately, under U.S. Senate office buildings are found some of the most gracious people on earth, people who can unlock hidden cages full of hand-trucks and who moreover are willing to escort flustered strangers with bad hair and odd packages through under-street tunnels to a further Senate basement, then upward to the Kennedy Caucus Room, in time to set up for an event called “Experience New Hampshire,” arranged by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. S&L are in charge of the New Hampshire Winery Association beverages for this reception.
Cut to 4:30 pm, one hour before official start time for the reception, when the photo above was taken. Outside the Caucus Room miles of marble corridors and grand stairways conduct sparse foot traffic past scores of dignified doors and lofty windows. Inside, NH chefs from grand NH hotels lay out high-level finger food, NH high-tech people display robots and Segways, NH craftspeople exhibit beautiful hand-work, an NH cheese-maker dices cheese, and a crew of topnotch bartenders cram-study New Hampshire wines, ciders, and beers. (A nice big delivery of assorted NH craft beers has arrived by separate carrier.)
Cut to 5:30 pm onward, when the photos below were taken. The peeps* must have swarmed from all those doors; the corridor looks full from here. If consumption-speed means anything, they love NH adult beverages and foods, plain or fancy. The bartenders sound completely knowledgeable in recommending each NH fermented refreshment. S&L shout informatively to anyone who seems interested. Many sippers look pleasantly surprised. S&L goggle at remarkably varied Capitol Hill crowd,* thinking it probably has developed pretty sharp judgment where fine (free) food and drink are concerned. (More DC detail below.)
Flash Back to 4:45 pm: Senator Shaheen comes in to visit with all the NH vendors and envoys in the room. She looks astoundingly fresh and alert, sharper even than she looks on TV, acts as if she has all the time in the world to hang out with us, focuses warm attention on each producer in turn. Young, well-turned-out aides don’t exactly move her along but make sure she doesn’t waste a step between stops. Her last stop is our station at the bar, about 5:45. By then the room is roaring and Louisa just has to ask where we are in Sen. Shaheen’s day. Well, “Experience New Hampshire” goes till 7:30 and then she hops a plane home tonight for a full Friday of people and politics in NH. After expressing awe at the pace of her life I would have interrogated her further but suddenly recalled manners. Steve mentions that small local growers and food processors are terrified by a national food-safety bill coming to the Senate. If passed as is, it would apply factory-farm-scale rules to human-scale operations, with dreadful consequences for non-factory farms. Sen. Shaheen says she’s very interested in hearing from him soon about that. It strikes us hard that U.S. politicians, however we assess their ideas, ethics or results, must pour outrageous quantities of time and effort into that life. How can they find time or energy to think? Can they? Hope so.
*Watch this space for a stranger’s-eye view of this free-food-snarfing Capitol Hill crowd.