The Décor, Flowers, and Menu at Tonight’s State Dinner

By Matt Loffman

May 19, 2010 5:18pm

From Sunlen Miller:

Guests at tonight's State Dinner at the White House — honoring President Felipe Calderón and Mrs. Zavala of Mexico – will be treated to food and ambiance that the First Lady's office designed to conjure up images and tastes of Mexico.

Two hundred guests will be seated around rectangle and round tables covered with striped lines of Mayan blues in the East Room, resembling – the White House says – ripples of water.

The floral arrangements in the room will be shades of fuchsia, grey-purple, and green – handmade woven baskets holding seasonal Yve Piaget garden roses, Amnesia Roses and Fuchsia Cattleya orchids, mixed with scented geranium foliage and prickly pear cactus.

After dinner, guests will move to the South Lawn of the White House for a reception featuring performances by Beyonce, Rodrigo y Gabriela and the United States Marine Band. The tables there are decorated in natural shades of oranges and greens. At each table will be a bouquet of marzipan and chocolate flowers, roses for the national flower of America, and dahlias, the national flower of Mexico.

The decorations were designed by the First Lady’s office to honor President Calderon and his birthplace of Michoacán, Mexico and specifically the annual migration of the monarch butterflies from Canada to Michoacán  in early spring each year.

“Guests walking into the room will experience the sense of Monarch butterflies in flight,” the First Lady’s office says.

The menu for the evening – which guests will eat off of china from the White House’s historic collection — was also designed with the night’s honorees in mind.

The First Lady, along with Guest Chef Rick Bayless and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, “to create a menu that reflects the best of American cuisine, continuing this White House’s commitment to serving fresh, sustainable and regional food, and honoring the culinary excellence and flavors that are present in Mexican cuisine,” the First Lady’s office says.

Herbs, radishes, and lettuces for tonight’s dinner were harvested from the White House Garden. White House honey from the beehive on the South Lawn of the White House was used in the dessert, prepared by White House Executive Pastry Chef William Yosses.

The menu, provided by the First Lady’s office:

Jicama with Oranges, Grapefruit, and Pineapple
Citrus Vinaigrette
Ulises Valdez Chardonnay 2007 “Russian River”

Herb Green Ceviche of Hawaiian Opah
Sesame-Cilantro Cracker
Oregon Wagyu Beef in Oaxacan Black Mole
Black Bean Tamalon and Grilled Green Beans
Herrera Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 “Seleccion Rebecca”

Chocolate-Cajeta Tart
Toasted Homemade Marshmallows
Graham Cracker Crumble and Goat Cheese Ice Cream
Mumm Napa “Carlos Santana Brut” N/V

-Sunlen Miller

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