Hu’s state dinner menu as American as apple pie – corrected

January 20, 2011


The White House usually pays tribute to its state dinner guests by planning menus that pay homage to the visitors’ country.  But the Chinese delegation wanted an American experience — which they are getting in spades on Monday Wednesday night.

The state dinner menu features Maine lobster, steak and potatoes and apple pie with vanilla ice cream, accompanied by an array of U.S. wines. And the entertainment is “An Evening of Jazz,”  the uniquely American musical form.

Here is the menu:

  • D’Anjou Pear salad with Farmstead Goat Cheese, fennel, black walnuts and white balsamic vinegar
  • Poached Maine lobster with orange glaze carrots and black trumpet mushrooms, served with a Dumol Chardonnay “Russian River” 2008
  • Lemon Sorbet
  • Dry-aged rib eye with buttermilk crisp onions, double-stuffed potatoes and creamed spinach, accompanied by  Quilceda Creek Cabernet “Columbia Valley” 2005
  • Old-fashioned apple pie with vanilla ice cream, served with Poet’s Leap Riesling “Botrytis” 2008

The two previous state dinners hosted by the White House have taken place in tents erected on the building’s lawn, but Wednesday night’s was held entirely inside, with tables erected in the Blue Room, Red Room and State Dining Room for dinner, and the evening’s enertainment in the East Room.

The design theme also reflected the “Quintessentially American” theme. The dinner linens featured pheasants on patterned backgrounds in jewel tones, USA-CHINA/reminiscent of the work of the American naturalist artist John James Audobon.  But the design was also a bow to China — the pheasant, the White House pointed out, is a native bird of China, revered for its beauty and seen as a symbol of nobility.

The floral arrangements incorporate feathers as well as flowers, berries and other greenery. And yellow – China’s national color — was present throughout the cocktail area. Red — the Chinese color for good luck, was also an element of the design scheme, and the color of famously stylish first lady Michelle Obama’s state dinner dress, designed by Alexander McQueen.

The guest list included many well-known Chinese-Americans, and stars from the worlds of media, business and entertainment as well as the usual political luminaries.   However, several well-known politicians were notable for their absence.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat like Obama, sent his regrets, as did the two leading Republicans on Capitol Hill, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and John Boehner, the Speaker of the House.

Boehner has been invited to all three of Obama’s state dinners, and has turned down all of the invitations.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed (place setting), REUTERS/ Jim Young (Obama and first lady)

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