Receiving a letter in the mail is a bit of a rarity nowadays, so when a seemingly innocuous white envelope arrived, I eyed it with a hint of suspicion. Then I spotted the sender’s address, none other than the US Embassy, Wellington – gulp.
The invite inside stated that the Ambassador of the United States of America H.E Mr Scott P. Brown and Mrs. Gail Huff Brown requested the pleasure of my company at a lunch in honor of the GM Holden Acadia Launch. I have to admit to being a little giddy, time to dust off the suit, polish my shoes and maybe even comb my hair – seeing an all-new GM Holden SUV is a really big deal.
The Ambassador’s ‘Camperdown’ Residence is a glorious stately multi-story building. It’s located near the heart of Lower Hutt but with the lush Bellevue Gardens grounds that surround it, it felt like a million miles from there, or from anywhere, in fact, it’s very tranquil.
There to greet us were our hosts Ambassador and Mrs Brown and of course two GM Holden Acadia’s. Despite the auspicious and in some ways quite daunting occasion, the Ambassador and his wife made us feel instantly at home. With extended handshakes and smiles larger than life, they seemed genuinely pleased to welcome us to their residence and proud to introduce us to the new Acadia.
Built in Spring Hill Tennessee, the Acadia is a large seven-seat SUV that boasts power, comfort, style and smarts and currently rounds off Holden’s wide range of vehicles. Driven by a powerful V6 engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission, the Acadia comes in front wheel or AWD. It’s a genuine seven-seater that can be configured for maximum comfort and flexibility both in terms of passengers or cargo. The Acadia’s exterior comes with wraparound headlamps, LED tail lamps and daytime running lights, dual-panel sunroof, 20-inch wheels and a power, hands-free liftgate and ‘The level of technology across the range is compelling.’ Marc Ebolo, Managing Director of Holden New Zealand told us during the media briefing before lunch. ‘Whether we are talking safety, convenience or infotainment, Acadia has the most complete technology package Holden has ever offered.’
The Ambassador showed us around the lower level of the residence which (aside from the American formalities) is a shrine to 80’s, long hair rock. Memorabilia of almost countless rock icons that have in some shape or fashion (albeit met or jammed with) crossed paths with the Browns – it’s quite simply, incredible. Then came the lunch.
Applewood Smoked Tuna, Arugula, roasted grapes, cashew crema and a soft egg to start. The Ambassadors favourite, melt in the mouth, slow-cooked spiced brisket with braised black eyed bean casserole and a southern style BBQ glaze as the main. Followed by bread pudding with Kentucky bourbon cream sauce and salted caramel ice cream. This delicious feast was only usurped by our hosts’ openness and story-telling – they are a hoot.
All good things must come to an end and it was back to business for all of us – although I could have done with an afternoon nap if I’m honest. Mrs Brown gave us a parting gift of her handmade chocolate chip cookies (they are now a fond memory by the way) and an invite to their 4th of July party next year – consider this an RSVP Ambassador.
With one last look at the Holden Acadia we boarded the bus back to the airport. Some would say that a flight to Wellington for lunch is a bit over the top, but as I said earlier, the launch of a top of the line seven-seat Holden SUV really is a big thing.
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