White House State Dinner: The Menu, Entertainment, and Decor

By Gorman Gorman

Nov 24, 2009 4:02pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports: Tonight’s guests at the White House’s state dinner honoring India’s Prime Minister Singh will be treated to a night – in food, decoration, and entertainment, that will include not only some Indian elements but also American elements with the Obama White House’s touch as well.

The round tables seating ten will be draped with apple green linens. In honor of the state bird of India, the Indian Peacock, deep purple flower arrangements sit in the middle of each table. The centerpieces – put together by the new White House florist Laura Dowling and her team – are meant to evoke “the classic American garden,” The First Lady’s Office says, made of purple, plum and fuchsia hydrangea, garden roses, and sweet peas.
On the walls of the large tent on the South Lawn will be arrangements of magnolia braches. In addition locally grown ivy, and nandina foliage will be used to decorate the sides of the tent where guests will eat.

The First Lady’s office says that all bouquets from the dinner re-used through the White House, as a means to recycle the flowers.

The tables will be set with china, all from the White House’s historic collection:

-Service Plates- Eisenhower administration- 1955 New Castle, PA Castleton China – US government purchase, 1955.
-Service Plates- Clinton State China Service- 2000 Trenton NJ Lenox – Gift of the White House Historical Association, 2000 – commissioned to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the White House.
-Dinner Plates- George W Bush State China Service 2008-2009 Kinston, NC Lenox, Inc. Gift of the White House Acquisition Trust, 2009.

The menu – created by Guest Chef Marcus Samuelsson and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, with the First Lady is respectful of the Prime Minister’s dietary concerns, being a vegetarian, as well putting an emphasis on healthy eating from the Obama White House. White House Pastry Chef William Yosses and his team created the desserts

The First Lady’s office says that the menu “reflects the best of American cuisine, continues this White House’s commitment to serving fresh, sustainable and regional food, and honors the culinary excellence and flavors that are present in Indian cuisine.”

Herbs and lettuce from the White House garden will be included in the meal. The pears poached with honey are from the White House beehive. And the desserts will be garnished with mint and lemon verbena grown in the White House Kitchen Garden.

Here is the complete menu:
Potato and Eggplant Salad
White House Arugula with Onion Seed Vinaigrette
2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Modus Operandi, Napa Valley, California

Red Lentil Soup with Fresh Cheese
2006 Riesling, Brooks “Ara”, Wilamette Valley, Oregon

Roasted Potato Dumplings with Tomato Chutney
Chick Peas and Okra
or Green Curry Prawns with caramelized salsify with smoked Collard Greens
and coconut aged basmati
2007 Granache Beckman Vineyards, Santa Ynez, California

Pumpkin pie tart
Pear Tatin
Whipped Cream and Caramel sauce
Sparkling Chardonnay, Thibaut Janisson Brut, Monticello, Virginia

Petits fours and Coffee
Cashew Brittle
Pecan Pralines
Passion fruit and vanilla Gelees
Chocolate dipped fruit

Tonight’s entertainment also includes elements from India as well as from the United States.

Kurt Elling, an eight-time Grammy nominee ad American jazz vocalist and composer will perform. Chicago born, Jennifer Hudson, winner of the third season of American Idol will sing. In addition the gust will hear from the National Symphony Orchestra, with Marvin Hamlisch as the Conductor, and the United States Marine Band.

A.R. Rahman, an Indian composer, musician and singer who wrote the  “Slumdog Millionaire” Score will also perform.

-Sunlen Miller

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