There weren't your usual ruffles and flourishes when the new chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Helmut Kohl and his wife, Hannelore, came to dinner at the White House last night.

Instead of 110 guests in the State Dining Room, there were 31 in the upstairs family dining room and a lot more intimacy than state visitors usually get.

"The president felt there would be other opportunities for formal state dinners for the Kohls, and this could be a continuation of today's working sessions," said Sheila Tate, press secretary to Nancy Reagan.

The Reagans, Kohls and others dined on filet of trout, veal piccata, spaetzle noodles and sugar baskets with sorbet, accompanied by American wines. Afterwards, everybody was to reassemble in the Yellow Oval Room where Peter Nero would play piano.

Earlier in the day, Mrs. Kohl reportedly told one friend that the German translation for "reagan," though spelled differently, is "rain," and "kohl" means "cabbage." "The two can't do without each other," she said.

Among last night's guests were Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth W. Dam, the acting secretary of state in the absence of George Shultz, who was attending Leonid Brezhnev's funeral; Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger; Treasury Secretary Donald Regan; U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick; presidential aides Edwin Meese and Michael Deaver; U.S. Ambassador to West Germany Arthur Burns and his counterpart here, West German Ambassador Peter Hermes.

Hermes, with another guest, USIA director Charles Z. Wick, will preside Friday morning at the National Zoo when two young bald eagles officially take up residence there.

German-born Carol and Captain can't sing the Star-Spangled Banner, but they couldn't be more American. For one reason: their kind has been the American national symbol for 200 years.

Helmut Schmidt, then-chancellor, gave Carol and Captain to Reagan in Bonn last June. Quarantined here until recently, the 8-month-old eagles were bird-lover Hannelore Schmidt's idea as the perfect gift for the eagle's bicentennial as a symbol. That, rather than scheduling problems, may be the reason her successor, Hannelore Kohl, wasn't called upon to make the presentation during their current Washington visit.

Last night's occasion wasn't entirely devoid of eagles. President Reagan's gift to Chancellor Kohl: an eagle-on-orb crystal decanter by Steuben.

Next to politics, power loves pralines.

Or so it might seem listening to some Washingtonians rave about a certain praline cheesecake turning up at parties around town. The chefs? A duo who call themselves The Dessert Gourmet--in private life, Niki Tsongas, wife of Massachusetts' Democratic Sen. Paul Tsongas, and Carol Kanin, wife of Tsongas' administrative assistant, Dennis Kanin.

Tsongas and Kanin teamed measuring cups last summer and work on an order-only from a professional kitchen they rent in Adams Morgan. Business has boomed beyond their most modest expectations. Recently, a Bethesda shop started selling their desserts.

"You have to learn to protect your taste buds. Basically, there are 10 dessert recipes in this world and the rest are variations on a theme," warns Tsongas, a Smith College graduate with a degree in the history of religion, who is beginning to think she has tasted all the variations.

It wasn't as if Niki Tsongas was twiddling her thumbs before she and Kanin joined forces. The mother of three children, ages 1, 5 and 8, she also travels regularly for Peace Links, the peace group organized by Betty Bumpers, wife of Arkansas' Democratic Sen. Dale Bumpers.

"Making desserts," says Tsongas, "is a nice counterpoint to peace."

One man's vacation site may be another man's inspection trip, but when it comes to Interior Secretary James Watt and his entourage of 75 later this week in Williamsburg, there will be no visits to two nearby national parks, Jamestown and Yorktown, thank you.

"We're not going to tour, we're going to work," says Interior's director of public affairs, Doug Baldwin. "There may be opportunities to see those parks but whatever is done will be done on one's own."

Watt and Co. -- which includes assistant secretaries and bureau heads, some with their wives -- are descending upon Williamsburg in one of their thrice-yearly sessions at taxpayer expense to discuss where they stand in their management-by-objectives programs.

They'll stay at the Ramada East (at $41 a night for a double) rather than the posh Colonial Williamsburg Inn or the equally comfortable lodge, according to one source. No cocktail parties or dinners, fancy or otherwise, have been scheduled, according to Baldwin.

"And we're not coming back here to Custis Lee Mansion," says Baldwin of the Arlington Cemetery landmark Watt used for a controversial private party -- a party for which he was later billed. "I'm sure, though, that everybody will have dinner."

At a bipartisan Sunday brunch for Leticia Shahani, U. N. assistant secretary general for social development and humanitarian affairs, former secretary of state Edmund S. Muskie showed he hasn't lost his touch. After Shahani spoke, co-hostesses Esther Coopersmith, Jimmy Carter's ambassador to the U. N. Economic and Social Council, and Nancy Reynolds, Ronald Reagan's representative to the U. N. Commission on the Status of Women, invited Muskie to address their guests. Muskie obliged, lacing brevity with levity by telling about the time Massachusetts Gov. Channing Cox asked Vice President Calvin Coolidge his secret of dealing with office visitors. No matter how hard he tried, Cox complained, he never was able to go home before 9 p.m.

"You talk back," Silent Cal told him.