White House State Dinner a 'Backyard' Celebration For The British

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host a formal state dinner at the White House this evening in honor of British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha Cameron.

Guests invited to the "backyard" celebration will enjoy a feast of crisped halibut with potato crust, bison wellington, and steamed lemon pudding prepared with ingredients from the White House kitchen garden's winter harvest and dine under a grand white tent set up on the South Lawn.

"Traditionally, America's backyards are places of gathering and entertaining close friends and family. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom makes this 'backyard' celebration a quintessentially American event," according to the White House.

After dinner, guests will enjoy a reception featuring performances by Mumford and Sons and selections by John Legend.

Here is the full menu provided by the White House and details on the décor for this evening's State Dinner:


The First Course, Crisped Halibut with Potato Crust, will be served on a bed of braised baby kale fresh from the White House garden, shaved Brussels sprouts and micro cabbage sprouts. A hint of applewood smoked bacon from a local smokehouse ties the dish together.

The Salad Course, Spring Garden Lettuces with Shallot Dressing and Shaved Radish, Cucumbers and Avocados, is light and crisp and includes different types of greens, which are also from the Kitchen Garden.

The Main Course, Bison Wellington, is a perfect pairing of US and UK cultures. The Wellington is a classic English dish given an American twist with the use of buffalo tenderloin.

The dessert is Steamed Lemon Pudding, a nod to the traditional British treat. The pudding is prepared with Idaho Huckleberry Sauce to unite the British and American flavors. At the bottom of the pudding are Newtown Pippin Apples, which are believed to have been developed in Queens, New York in the early-18th century, and were grown by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Newtown Pippin Apples serve as a symbol of the American-British partnership-the apple was so favored by Queen Victoria that she had the customs duty on them eliminated.

Décor and Arrangements:

The theme of the décor for the United Kingdom State Dinner is "America's Backyard."

Located in a tent on the South Lawn of the White House, the State Dinner encouraged a celebration of American gardens. The grounds of the White House are in clear view through the 150 foot-wide glass wall of the dinner tent.

In honor of our guests, the beauty of countryside English gardens is also incorporated into the design by Rafanelli Events. Planters and centerpieces used at the dinner are intended to emulate nature and the flowing "landscape gardens" that are common in England.

The English have also become widely known for their flower borders, with perennials, annuals, and sometimes shrubs combining to form masses of color. The design of the tent embraces this passion for color in the floral arrangements, lighting, amethyst linens and matching carpet. Roses-the national flower of both countries-play a major role in the floral arrangements.