The White House is offering reporters a preview of tonight’s state dinner, from the menu to the table settings.
TPMDC is among dozens of news outlets currently crammed into the state dining room, where two tables have been set up to show how the festivities will play out this evening.A short summary of the menu:
Potato and eggplant salad with White House arugula and onion seed vinaigrette
Red lentil soup with fresh cheese
Roasted potato dumplings with tomato chutney
Chick peas and okra
Green Curry Prawns with collard greens and coconut aged basmati
For dessert, pumpkin pie tart and pear tatin. They are garnished with mint and lemon verbena from the White House garden.
The wine list is robust – 2008 Sauvignon Blanc from Modus Operandi in Napa Valley, 2006 Riesling from Willamette Valley in Oregon, 2007 Granache from Santa Ynez, California and Sparkling Chardonnay, Thibaut Janisson Brut from Monticello, Virginia.
With coffee, the White House will serve cashew brittle and pecan pralines.
The White House expects 220 guests to attend tonight’s dinner.
The White House is offering unity for the place settings – both Eisenhower and Clinton-era service chargers and George W. Bush-era china. Purple goblets are on the tables, matching the deep-purple flowers on the table which are meant to pay homage to the state bird of India, the Indian Peacock.
The White House brought in young women from its leadership program to sample the meal during the press preview. The real thing will be held in an enormous tent on the White House South Lawn.
The tables will seat ten and be covered in apple green linens. The floral centerpiece includes four, slender gold-colored candlesticks.
Before joining the students at the tables, First Lady Michelle Obama told them the dinner and visit is an “opportunity to deepen the ties” between the U.S. and India.
“This is your White House,” Obama told the girls.
She previewed the entertainment for the evening: Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, composer A.R. Rahman who wrote the score for “Slumdog Millionaire,” jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, the U.S. Marine Band and the National Symphony Orchestra.
Obama said she found the dinner so important because of the reception she has received abroad this year. She said the “hosts make you feel like you are home.”
She also said she’s been thrilled to seek a more peaceful world though cooperation.
“We are all building that future together,” she said.
The first lady said President Obama has long been an admirer of Gandhi and his creed, “we are that change” that we seek in the world.
State Department Protocol officer Tanya Turner told the girls about the importance of protocol during a state visit, from where the president stands to when the U.S. national anthem is played.
“When our efforts go unnoticed we have done our jobs well,” she said.