Tales from the Trail

Partisan politics at the state dinner party

streisandReuters’ Wendell Marsh was there as the guests arrived for President Obama’s state dinner honoring Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The evening might have been filled with glamour, but it did take place in Washington, so it was naturally marked by a few comments on partisan politics.

Democratic U.S. Senator John Kerry told members of the media that it was time to tone down recent heated political rhetoric. “You can’t come here with a scorched earth policy and expect to do the nation’s business and serve our greater interest.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, waxed diplomatic. “It’s a great night for our country,” he said as he walked in.” We are Americans and we are honored to be here.”

But he was aware that he was one of only a few Republicans to accept the invitation from the Democratic White House.

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


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.