Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Today: First Lady Michelle Obama Turns 48, Marks Third Birthday In The White House

A look back at birthday dinners in years past...
UPDATE: The First Lady's birthday dinner was at BLT Steak
On the heels of making her debut as a sitcom actor on iCarly on Monday night, First Lady Michelle Obama today celebrates her 48th birthday. It is Mrs. Obama's third in the White House: In 2009, she turned 45 right before President-Elect Obama's inauguration. In years past, Mr. Obama has feted Mrs. Obama with special birthday dinners at local restaurants, but there is no such event listed on the President's official schedule for today, because private dinners never are. (Above: For Mrs. Obama's first birthday as First Lady in 2010, staff presented her with a cake and a pastry version of the White House, created by Executive Pasty Chef Bill Yosses)

Today, Mrs. Obama will share her birthday with the St. Louis Cardinals: At 3:05 PM, she'll join her husband in the East Room to welcome the 2011 World Series Champions to the White House to honor their victory. There will likely be an impromptu rendition of "Happy Birthday." Last week, the President e-mailed re-election supporters, asking them to sign a birthday card for his wife.

"The next 10 months will be harder than any we've experienced together, and I couldn't do it without her," President Obama wrote. "I know she'd love to hear from you."

Birthday dinners for Mrs. Obama in Washington have all been at restaurants that focus on local, organic and sustainable sourcing.

In 2011, the President took Mrs. Obama to celebrate her 47th birthday at The Source, a Wolfgang Puck-owned restaurant located in the same building as the Newseum. The dinner at the Asian fusion eatery was held in an upstairs private room with the blinds drawn. The President and Mrs. Obama enjoyed a five-course menu prepared by Executive Chef Scott Drewno. It included spicy tuna cones, tandoori arctic char, and a house made dim sum platter. For her entree, Mrs. Obama had the wok-fired lobster with Chinese garlic sauce; the President had a prime filet with smoked onion chili sauce. They finished with The Source’s signature 15-layer carrot cake with “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate on top. The restaurant later ran Mrs. Obama's birthday menu as a special.

In 2010, for her first official birthday as First Lady, the President feted Mrs. Obama with a surprise party at Restaurant Nora on Jan. 16, the eve of the big day. The First Lady was surprised, and the party lasted close to four hours.

The guest list of 11 included longtime Chicago friends, Senior Advisors, Mrs. Marian Robinson and Attorney General Eric Holder. Mrs. Obama dined on a salad of mixed greens (a special order, not on the menu), and ordered a specially prepared rack of lamb with preserved lemon and mint salad accompanied by chick pea puree, with green beans and sun-dried tomatoes. She had white wine to begin--a glass of 2008 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc--and red wine for the entree. Her birthday dessert was a bittersweet molten chocolate cake with cappuccino ice cream. The President dined on pan-seared Maine lobster and saffron risotto. (Above: Mrs. Obama outside Nora)

Chef Benjamin Lambert cooked. Nora is the first restaurant in the US to receive organic certification, and chef/owner Nora Pouillon has visited the White House, and is active in Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! campaign.

In 2009, the President-elect treated Mrs. Obama to a birthday dinner at Equinox restaurant. They were joined by 11 guests at Chef Todd Gray's chic farm-to-table establishment, co-owned with his wife Ellen Gray, which is located just blocks from the White House.

For her birthday dinner, Mrs. Obama started with Rappahannock oysters with apple and celery root mousseline, followed by a strip loin with thinly sliced Yukon gold potato and wilted spinach. Her birthday dessert was vanilla ice cream with caramelized bananas. The First Lady drank a cabernet sauvignon with dinner. She returned for lunch last year with Mrs. Margarita Zavala, the First Lady of Mexico.

Todd Gray cooked the birthday dinner, and has since become very active with Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! campaign. He spoke at the huge White House launch event in 201o for the First Lady's Chefs Move to Schools initiative, when hundreds of chefs gathered on the South Lawn.

Though Mrs. Obama turned 45 before she became First Lady, when she arrived at the White House in 2009, staff presented her with a birthday cake. On Jan. 22, as she held her first meet-and-greet with her new employees, Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and Assistant Pastry Chef Susie Morrison wheeled a cake into the East Room (above). It was topped with fruit, candles and best wishes spelled out on a plaque. It was a sweet beginning to Mrs. Obama's new White House life.

The President celebrated his 50th birthday with a big private White House party on August 4th, 2011. Daughter Malia turned 13 on July 4th, 2011. Daughter Sasha turned ten on June 10, 2011, and celebrated with a party at Georgetown Cupcake.

Info: The Source is at 575 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20001. Phone: 202-637-6100.

Nora is at 2132 Florida Avenue N.W., Washington, DC, 20008. Phone: 202-462-5142.

Equinox is at 818 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20006, Phone: 202.331.8118

*White House photos; top by Samantha Appleton.