NATO's throwing itself a
big 50th birthday party this weekend and (chances are) you're not invited.
Luckily we live in the kind of groovy cosmopolitan place where anyone can
get a taste, either a literal or a figurative one, of every NATO
member country just about any time – no invitation necessary.
Belgium. Sample the best of Belgium at Godiva Chocolatier
and other upscale chocolate shops, or head to the Brickskeller,
which serves some 50 Belgian beers.
Canada. Take a guided tour of the Canadian Embassy (above) or
drop by any weekday to check out the gallery of Canadian art.
Czech Republic. Join President Vaclav Havel (maybe) at the Scena
Theatre production of The All-or-Nothing Struggle, based on
the writings of 20th-century Czech author Ladislav Klima, on Friday, April
23, at Studio 1019.
Denmark. The cool, glassy Danish Embassy (3200 Whitehaven
St. N.W.) occupies a secluded Georgetown site carved out from the Dumbarton
Oaks estate. And Toy Corner (2918 Chain Bridge Rd., Oakton,
Va., 703-255-3232) carries the entire line of made-in-Denmark Lego sets
and sponsors a Lego-building contest each summer.
France. Buy French cuts of meat at the French Market (4601
N. Park Ave., Chevy Chase, Md., 301-986-9661), decorate your abode with
Provençal fabrics from French Country Living (10205 Colvin Run
Rd., Great Falls, Va., 703-759-2245) and otherwise indulge your Francophilia.
Goethe-Institut Washington presents a variety of German cultural
events on its off-Chinatown premises and sponsors other Teutonic
activities all over town.
Greece. Rub elbows with modern Greeks at the St. Sophia Greek
Orthodox Cathedral, but see Euripides' The Trojan Women at
the Shakespeare Theatre to get in touch with the ancients.
Hungary. In The Last Days, now playing at the Cineplex
Odeon Outer Circle, five Jews from Hungary recount their experiences
during the Holocaust.
Iceland. Cool it until Sunday, May 2, when Gus Gus, a
nine-piece Icelandic dance band, headlines the 9:30 Club. See
Iceland erupt in Fire and Iceland on April 27 at the National
Geographic Society's free "Tuesdays at Noon" screenings.
Get the best Italian imports – cold meats, cheeses, vinegars, pasta,
wine – from A. Litteri Inc. (517 Morse St. N.E., 202-544-0183), a
small store with a large inventory at the D.C. wholesale market.
Luxembourg. The embassy occupies the Alexander Stewart House
(2200 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.), one of the most expensive mansions on
Embassy Row in 1909 ($92,000). If that's too deluxe, rent An
American Werewolf in Paris, which was partly filmed in
Netherlands. "From Botany to Bouquets: Flowers in Northern
Art," a collection of realistic 16th- and 17th-century still
lifes by a group of Dutch masters, adorns the National Gallery of Art
Norway. Get stoked for Secret Garden, a Norwegian/Celtic
"musical love affair" (as it calls itself) that will love-bomb
the crowd with New Age sounds at Lisner Auditorium this Friday.
Poland. "Land of the Winged Horsemen: Art in Poland,
1572-1764" at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore is the
first U.S. showing of this collection of underappreciated Polish
Portugal. See "Directions –Julião Sarmento: Fundamental
Accuracy," the Portuguese artist's first solo exhibit at an American
museum, at the Hirshhorn through June 20. And toast Sarmento with
some fine Portuguese wine.
Spain. The Spanish Embassy (2801 16th St. N.W.), one of the
grandest mansions in the Meridian Hill neighborhood, was once
offered to the U.S. government as the vice president's residence, but
the Spanish Ballroom in Glen Echo Park is the place where
all can kick up their heels.
Turkey. A Turkish movie, Steam: The Turkish Bath,
is playing at the Cineplex Odeon Janus 3, and the Freer
Gallery screens Turkish Cinema Now, a free series of
contemporary films, from May 1 through June 27.
United Kingdom. The imported biscuits, tea, "tinned"
goods and other delicacies available in the back of the Tea Cosy
(119 S. Royal St., Alexandria, 703-836-8181) tearoom (above left) offer
local Brits the flavor (if that's the right word) of home.