Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Menu: President Obama's 2014 Pre-State Of The Union Luncheon For Network News Anchors

Rare: Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer's lunch plate
Seven anchors invited to three-course White House luncheon staring Dry-Aged Piedmontese Beef and California ingredients...
Washington, DC - President Barack Obama on Tuesday afternoon treated network news anchors to a private three-course luncheon at the White House, wining and dining them as he previewed this evening's State of the Union Address.  The annual off-the-record huddle in the Old Family Dining Room came after days of the President's top aides hinting at the contents of his speech.

Guests joining the President and his Senior Advisors at the 12:30 PM lunch were NBC's Brian Williams, ABC's Diane Sawyer, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, CBS's Scott Pelley, PBS's Gwen Ifill, and FOX's Bret Baier and Shepard Smith.  The lunch was closed to other press, not listed on the President's official daily schedule, and the White House did not release a menu. 

But Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer Instagrammed the photo at top showing his entree, and FOX's Smith afterwards spent much of his show, Shepard Smith Reporting, describing the feast, dubbing it "just delicious."

The first course was Winter Lettuces with Shaved Vegetables topped with Honeyed Pecans and Reggiano Crisps.  That was followed by Dry-Aged Piedmontese Beef with shallot jus, cooked very rare and topped with parsley, accompanied by Three Grain Risotto and Root Vegetables.  Though Piedmontese beef comes from cattle raised in the Piedmont region of north-west Italy, the breed is also raised in America.

As is tradition at the White House, American wine was served: Lewis Chardonnay "Napa" 2011.  From Northern California's Lewis Cellars, the white wine retails for about $44.99 a bottle, and has received a 92 score from Wine Spectator.

Dessert was Cara Cara Orange Tarts, served with a small dollop of Ricotta Sorbet on the side.  Guests selected from coffee or tea.  Cara Cara oranges are red-fleshed naval oranges, quite sweet, and grown in California's San Joaquin Valley.

Smith sat next to Blitzer during the lunch, and described in detail the CNN anchor's eating habits.  "Wolf Blitzer likes to separate the food into different piles," Smith said.

"The next course, there was meat, vegetables there, little, like, starchy stuff.  He put the vegetables in a little pile.  Mushrooms.  Put them in a separate pile before eating them.  I was like, 'Wolf, that's an interesting way to eat.'"

When asked what Blitzer said in response, Smith said he's "not allowed to talk about what CNN people say. I don't know why. I got a memo on it."

"Network news anchors are here for their annual lunch with President Obama," the White House tweeted with this Instagram, but did not post a photo of the actual luncheon

Smith had never had a Cara Cara tart, or Cara Cara anything, and dubbed it "delicious with some great White House coffee."  He spent so much time talking about the President's lunch that he had some Twitter users wondering if he'd imbibed too much wine, and wondering why such a vociferous Administration critic was dining with the President.  Smith responded on air: 

"Some things are bipartisan, like eating delicious White House food," he said.

At the end of his show, Smith gave a shout out to the White House chefs:  "If you're watching over there at the White House, man y'all are good...thank you so much for a great lunch."

Souza's Instagram of the President prepping today
President Obama's 2014 Pre-SOTU News Anchor Luncheon 

Winter Lettuces with Shaved Vegetables
Honeyed Pecans and Reggiano Crisps

Dry-Aged Piedmontese Beef
Shallot Jus

Three Grain Risotto

Root Vegetables

Cara Cara Orange Tarts
Ricotta Sorbet

Coffee or Tea 
 Lewis Chardonnay "Napa" 2011

Smith tweeted this photo of his White House menu and place card

*Top photo by Dan Pfeiffer; second and third by Pete Souza/White House; fourth by Shepard Smith