Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Menu & Guest List: President Obama's Return State Dinner For Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

As the State Visit comes to an end, the Obamas host a star-studded black-tie dinner to thank Her Majesty and The Duke...
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday night reciprocated the State Banquet held in the President's honor with a star-studded dinner for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The small and exclusive black-tie affair featured an All-American menu of seasonal delights. It was held at the historic Windsor House, the London home of the US Ambassador. (Above: The President and First Lady with Her Majesty and the Duke, shortly after their arrival)

The partial guest list released by the White House included Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, film stars Colin Firth and Tom Hanks, soccer superstar David Beckham, and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha, who earlier in the day hosted a barbecue with the President and First Lady, also joined the revelers. Tony Award-winning singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth performed after the dinner.

The First Lady was attired in a black, floor-length, off-the-shoulder evening gown designed by Ralph Lauren. It had a satin bodice and crepe skirt, and Mrs. Obama wore diamond-laden jewelry to accent it.

The menu was locally sourced: It included Lobster Ravioli and aged Highlands beef, and a simple Pecan Pie to finish. The White House initially released no names for the American wines poured; this menu is updated to include the vintages. (Above: The President, Her Majesty and Tom Hanks toast during the dinner)

President Obama's Return State Dinner Menu

Lobster Ravioli
Norfolk Samphire

Wine: Kistler Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay 2006 (Carneros, CA)

Griddled Filet of Aged Highlands Beef
Red Wine jus
Crushed Jersey Royals with Rosemary
Asparagus and Minted Broad Beans

Wine: Stag's Leap "Fay" Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley, CA)

Classic Pecan Pie
Brandy Ice Cream

Wine: Iron Horse Russian River Cuvée 2005 (Green Valley, Sonoma County, CA)

Built in 1937, the mansion is set on 12½ acres of grounds in Regent's Park, and has the largest private garden in central London after that of Buckingham Palace. Her Majesty signed the guest book after dinner.

Attendees at the dinner included:

Her Majesty The Queen

The Duke of Edinburgh

Rt. Honorable David Cameron

Mrs. Samantha Cameron

Viscountess Astor

Admiral James Stavridis

Lady Ashton of Upholland

Mr. Tom Hanks

Mr. Tim Collins

Mr. David Beckham

Mrs. Doris Kearns Goodwin

Mr. Colin Firth

Mrs. Marjorie Susman

Mr. Chris Dercon

Mrs. Ffion Hague

Mr. Joshua Berger

White House details on Winfield House:

The mansion has been the official ambassadorial residence of the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom since 1955. The first house on the site was Hertford Villa, later known as St Dunstan's. This was the largest of the eight villas originally built in the park as part of John Nash's development scheme. Occupants of the villa included the Marquesses of Hertford, newspaper proprietor Lord Rothermere, and the American financier Otto H. Kahn. The villa was damaged by fire in the 1930s and was subsequently purchased by the American Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton who demolished it. Hutton built the existing Neo-Georgian mansion designed by Leonard Rome Guthrie. She renamed the mansion Winfield House for her grandfather Woolworth founder Frank Winfield Woolworth. During World War II, the house was used by the Royal Air Force. After the war, Hutton offered it to the U.S. Government for use as the Ambassador's residence. President Truman accepted the leasehold for the token price of $1, and renovations began. Ambassador Winthrop Aldrich took up residence in 1955.

The house was refurbished by Ambassador and Mrs. Walter Annenberg in 1969, and renovated again between 1997 and 1999. The house has been visited by Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II, several U.S. presidents and many distinguished guests. The house is listed on the U.S. Secretary of State's Register of Culturally Significant Property, which denotes properties owned by the U.S. State Department that have particular cultural or historical significance. In 1999, George Mitchell chose Winfield House as the site for private negotiations that proved pivotal to progress in the Northern Ireland peace process. Winfield House today reflects the contributions of all the ambassadors and their families who have resided there.

*Top photo from the British Monarchy; second by Pete Souza/White House