Tuesday, June 07, 2011

State Dinner Menu Honoring Chancellor Angela Merkel: Kitchen Garden Bounty & Bauhaus

President & First Lady's four-course "A Spring Harvest Dinner" celebrates the White House Kitchen Garden and Beehive; regional foods from six different states; and German Strudel...
President Obama presented German Chancellor Angela Merkel the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom during this evening's elegant State Dinner in her honor, which began at 7:35 PM. The affair was held in the dramatically lit Rose Garden, which had a decor scheme inspired by what the East Wing called "a modern interpretation" of the German Bauhaus school of design. The very American four-course menu, dubbed "A Spring Harvest Dinner," had nods to German cuisine, and was built around bounty from First Lady Michelle Obama's Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn. (Above: Mrs. Obama stands before the Head table, and speaks as the President and Merkel look on)

"We have a special relationship with the visiting country," Mrs. Obama said earlier in the day. "I mean, this is when we roll out the red carpet."

And the gray and white carpet: The Rose Garden pavilion had special flooring in those colors, and the decor has a heavy emphasis on bold forms and light patterns. China from the George W. Bush State Service, which has a green and gold pattern, was used. More on the tableware, decor and entertainment, below. The Guest List IS HERE. The Head Table seating arrangement IS HERE. The President's Toast IS HERE.

The menu...seasonal, artisanal
The dinner menu, created by Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, was also a celebration of gold and green, relying on vegetables and honey sourced from the White House. It celebrates this year's first harvest of the Kitchen Garden, held last Friday, June 3rd, when a group of American Indian visitors joined the First Lady. (Above: The Apple Strudel dessert, waiting to be delivered to guests)

"All of the courses are subtly infused with the perennial and annual herbs from the garden," the East Wing noted in its menu guidance. As with previous State Dinners, beef is the entree (though in small proportion: It's a petite filet), and there is a focus on seafood. Artisanal and seasonal ingredients from six different states are highlighted--including a second course that features tuna from President Obama's home state of Hawaii (take that, Birthers).

*The White House did not release the names of the wines that were poured for each course, but noted that these were from American vineyards.

State Dinner Menu
In Honor of Chancellor Angela Merkel

White House Garden Chopped Salad
Fine Herbs
White House Honey Gastrique

Tuna Tartare with Rye Crisps
Pickled Young Carrots and Mustard Oil
Spring Pea Salad
Shaved ham and Ginger Snaps

Petite Filet
With Maryland Crab Ravioli
Wild Ramp Puree

Apple Strudel
Golden Raisins and Topfen

East Wing aides declined to comment on exactly what kind of tuna: Farmed or wild caught. And a certain well-known White House chef, hurrying by the press briefing room as this post was being written, squinted after being queried, before saying, dryly, "No comment."

American regional foods in the spotlight...
The White House announced where certain ingredients originated, continuing the effort to encourage regional food sourcing. The Spiced Mammoth Pecans used in the White House Chopped Salad are from Georgia, and the Blue Crab that accompanies the entree is from Maryland. Wild ramps from West Virginia accompany the main course, too.

The White House Kitchen Garden Chopped Salad that begins the feast is deemed a "cornucopia," and contains lettuces and fine herbs from the Kitchen Garden, tossed in a Honey vinaigrette made with White House Beehive Honey. The carrots and peas featured in the second course are from the Kitchen Garden, too.

The dessert pays homage to one of the traditional sweets from Chancellor Merkel's homeland: It's Apple Strudel. Spectacular Apple Strudel, no doubt, and made with apples from Maryland. It's topped with golden raisins from California and topfen, a Farmer's Cheese sourced from Vermont. The East Wing notes that the apple and topfen combination is "a twist on a traditional German recipe for strudel and will be served with schlag, an unsweetened whipped cream."

During and after dinner, legendary singer-songwriter James Taylor and his band performed, as did the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Christophe Eschenbach, with performances by Nurit Bar-Josef on violin and 15-year-old piano sensation George Li.

More on the tablesettings...
The table clothes for the round tables of ten are made of white and clear sequins, and the tableware is all clear or silver--reflective glass globes, and heavy silver candlesticks. The china service is the George W. Bush State Service, which is gold and green.
(Above, a place setting during the media menu previe
w in the State Dining Room)

Flowers arrangements are created of green and yellow blooms, in contrast to the translucent but dramatic and reflective table elements.

*On Monday, the President and Merkel had a private dinner outside the White House. The background on Merkel's visit IS HERE.

*Top photo by Pete Souza/White House. Others by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama. These were shot in the state Dining Room, during an event Mrs. Obama hosted for young women, to explain the important role of women in international diplomacy.