Saturday, May 19, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts White House Luncheon For G8 Leaders Spouses

A tour of the mansion and the Kitchen Garden; guest chef José Andrés cooks a locally sourced menu...
On Saturday, as President Obama hosted a working luncheon devoted to food security at the G8 Summit at Camp David, the foreign leaders' spouses were treated to a White House visit with First Lady Michelle Obama. She welcomed her six special guests at 11:45 AM, and they had a tour of the mansion led by White House curator Bill Allman before enjoying an intimate luncheon in the Blue Room. One of the First Lady's favorite DC chefs, the renowned José Andrés, was invited to cook with the White House chefs, and he used greens from Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden. The four-course menu, anchored by Maryland Rockfish and Virginia wine, was "celebrating Americas history, wines, farmers!," Andrés wrote on Twitter.

Mrs. Obama's companions got a first-hand look at where their lunch originated: They walked through the Kitchen Garden. Standing in the East Room mid-tour, clad in a deep purple sleeveless sundress with a floral brooch, Mrs. Obama pointed out a window.

“The South Lawn is like the backyard,” Mrs. Obama. “You’ll get to see the garden after this.”

Thanks to recent transitions in power in the G8 countries, Mrs. Obama was hosting three of her guests for the first time: Mrs. Valerié Trierweiler, the domestic partner of newly elected French President Francois Hollande; Mrs. Elsa Antonioli Monti, wife of the Prime Minister of Italy, who took over last year; and Mrs. Hitomi Noda, wife of the newly minted Prime Minister of Japan. The First Lady has met her other guests, Mrs. Laureen Harper, wife of Canada's Prime Minister, Mrs. Geertrui Windels Van Rompuy, wife of the President of the European Council, and Mrs. Margarida Barroso, wife of the President of the European Commission, on prior occasions. (Above: Mrs. Trierweiler is at left with her translator; Mrs. Noda is beside the First Lady)

Mrs. Trierweiler, a mother of three and twice divorced, has captured the attention of the US media since arriving in Washington with the just-inaugurated Holland, who met with President Obama for the first time on Friday. Choosing the right adjective for the 47-year-old love interest of a world leader has proved challenging: Is she best described as companion, lady friend, First Girlfriend? A political journalist before stepping to the sidelines as Hollande pursued his presidential bid, Mrs. Trierweiler on Friday skipped the French president's luncheon with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But she will reportedly attend Mrs. Obama's two events for NATO spouses in Chicago--a luncheon and dinner on Sunday.

In the East Room, as Allman described the centuries of historic events that have taken place, Mrs. Obama noted that she recently did a sack race with TV host Jimmy Fallon. Allman added that the room has been used by past presidents for roller skating (Presidents James Garfield and Theodore Roosevelt and, later, by Amy Carter, daughter of President Jimmy Carter). Mrs. Noda nodded appreciatively as Allman mentioned that Roosevelt liked Sumo wrestling, and once hosted a Chinese wrestling exhibition in the room.

Allman pointed out the portraits of First Lady Martha Washington and President George Washington, and the guests moved in to look closely at the presidential portrait when Allman pointed out that a word was misspelled on the leg of a table: “States” reads “sates.” (Above: Mrs. Obama and her guests looking at the portrait)

From there, the group stopped in the Green Room next door, where the guests heard about American art collected by First Lady Jackie Kennedy before sitting down in the Blue Room for lunch. The drawing room is where the dramatic Official White House Christmas Tree resides each year, and the Obamas have put it to use before for dinner parties, including for one State Dinner.

2012 G8 Spouses Luncheon Menu

Welcome Cocktail and Snacks

New York Sour
Utah High West Double Rye
Lemon Juice
Linden Vineyards Claret

Everona Dairy Cheese Cone
Everona Dairy Virginia sheep's milk blue cheese
and White House Honey
with Toasted Walnuts

First Course
Gazpacho Soup
Hummingbird Farm Maryland Tomatoes,
Vegetables from the Kitchen Garden, Tomato Spherification

Second Course
Maryland Rockfish
Local Asparagus, Grapefruit, Virginia Berries
Greens from the White House Kitchen Garden
with caramelized Olive Oil

Ojai Farm Tangerine Sorbet
with Virginia Strawberries
Linden Vineyards Claret

2010 Painted White
Blenheim Vineyards, Charlottesville, VA

Blenheim Vineyards was established in 2000 by owner Dave Matthews, lead singer of the Dave Matthews Band and a longtime supporter of President Obama.

Andrés noted on Twitter that he also used produce purchased from one of the farmers markets run by FreshFarm Markets for the luncheon. The non-profit runs the Farmers Market BY the White House, which Mrs. Obama christened when it opened in 2009. (Above: Andrés tweeted this photo of himself gathering greens in the Kitchen Garden for the luncheon)

A James Beard Award-winning chef, cookbook author, and TV host, Andrés owns an empire of critically lauded restaurants in DC and elsewhere. He is a major supporter of the Let's Move! campaign, and has joined Mrs. Obama for events in the Kitchen Garden, and done cooking demos in the Kids' Kitchen at the annual Easter Egg Rolls. He also stars in a White House cooking video with Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass. In 2009, Andrés cooked a special luncheon at the White House for President Obama and King Juan Carlos II of Spain. The First Lady has made repeat visits to Andrés' DC restaurants Oyamel and Zaytinya. Kass dines at Oyamel as often as three times weekly.

President Obama hosted a G8 working dinner on Friday night at Camp David. Mrs. Obama will travel with her husband to Chicago on Saturday evening for the NATO Summit. Mrs. Obama's luncheon on Sunday will be at the Gary Comer Youth Center, on the South Side where she grew up. The dinner will be at the Art Institute of Chicago. (Above, Allman is at right; from left are Mrs. Barroso, Mrs. Monti, Mrs. Van Rompuy, Mrs. Trierweiler, a Japanese interpreter; Mrs. Noda; and Harper)

The First Lady last hosted a spouses luncheon in Hawaii in November of 2011, when President Obama hosted the APEC Summit. The organic farm-to-table feast was created by Chef Ed Kenney.

CLICK HERE for a White House recipe for Pan Roasted Rockfish with Artichoke Barigoule, created by Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford.

Click here for all G8 posts.

*Pool photos of tour; Kitchen Garden photo courtesy of Andrés; photo of Andrés by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama