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May 9, 2007 03:01 AM

Menu for the State Dinner in Honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Spring Pea Soup with Fernleaf Lavender

Chive Pizzelle with American Caviar

Newton Chardonnay "Unfiltered" 2004

Dover Sole Almondine

Roasted Artichokes, Pequillo Peppers and Olives

Saddle of Spring Lamb

Chanterelle Sauce

Fricassee of Baby Vegetables

Peter Michael "Les Pavots" 2003

Arugula, Savannah Mustard and Mint Romaine

Champagne Dressing and Trio of Farmhouse Cheeses

"Rose Blossoms"

Schramsberg Brut Rose 2004

Fit for a queen? Thoughts?

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  1. the menu is elegant almost feminine. lovely.

    always interesting to see what wines get served at the white house these days, since the bushes don't drink. i've met the white house wine director. he's s a super nice guy, but i'm a bit surprised at the pairings.

    i like all of the wines, but they would not have been my choices to pair with those dishes. that newton chardonnay is a huge wine. with dover sole? same with the les pavots. a stunner, but i think an oregon pinot would have paired more nicely.

    4 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      I imagine "Les Pavots" was selected due to SIR Peter Michael's service to the Queen.

      Also, I wonder if the dressing was truly made with Champagne or something domestic.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        lol, well sue newton is chinese, but lived for a bit in london. is that the reason her chardonnay was selected?

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          While we're in spinning mode, maybe the Bush Administration was sending a diplomatic signal regarding the state of affairs with the PRC vs. ROC in choosing Su Hua Newton's wine! (vbg)

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          Maybe it was made with Korbel - domestic champagne (if not Champagne)

      2. I saw a picture of the desert "Rose Blossoms". Exquisite to look at. Does anyone know what they were and how they were made. Desert as art.

        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. That was a really juvenile joke.
            The Rose Blossoms dessert was made with meringue and spun sugar. As shallots said, it was absolutely beautiful. The White House pastry chefs have always been incredibly talented.

          2. It sounds like a very nice menu but I am a little annoyed that they didn't credit the cheesemakers. It would have been a nice touch with all of the publicity the menu received.

            9 Replies
            1. re: JudiAU

              The White House Social Office just followed the usual routine that's been the norm through most Administrations for release of menus. I was on the distribution list for that when I worked for the govn't and that's all they ever released. I always wished there had been more details. I'm sure the wine pairing were wonderful, for example, but they aren't always apparent with so little info.
              Many might have a particular interest in artisanal cheeses, but if they did that, they would have to get into releasing purveyor lists for all the other foodstuffs as well. Some of that could even get into security issues, sorry to say.
              A lot of other information about the foods and wines for events during HRH's visit are starting to pop up in the media. The Washington Post had an article in the Food section about the reception at Virginia's Governor's Mansion catered by Patrick O'Çonnell of The Inn at Little Washington about the food he served, including recipes.

              Many other articles will appear as those who provided specialty items are always honored to be showcased at such prestigious events.

              1. re: MakingSense

                It sounds like a lovely and considerate menu. The Queen always specifies that she can't have anything in a strong sauce because she can't afford to suffer indigestion while on tours - and now she is 81 (but not 281) years old after all.

                Typically, the dressing and everything else would spotlight fine US foods, so I suspect the dressing is made with a fine US sparkline wine. If only you people (joke) would stop calling it "Champagne" (a region in France) and be proud of the excellent sparkling wines made in California and elsewhere!

                Before global warming, it was impossible for us to serve a full palette of local wines worthy of our Queen...

                1. re: lagatta

                  *Before global warming, it was impossible for us to serve a full palette of local wines worthy of our Queen...*

                  i'm afraid i don't understand this remark. we've been growing wine here for centuries. bit of a blip during prohibition, but came back strong shortly afterwards.

                  she's also not *our* queen.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    My take is that lagatta is likely British...

                  2. re: lagatta

                    Any official visits - even at a much lower level than a full-blown State Visit such as this one - are preceded by advance teams that work out dietary issues. Apparently, HRH dislikes garlic, raw fish and, surprisingly, strawberries. We send advance teams ahead for our "dignitaries" too for serious visits to make sure things run smoothly.
                    US official entertaining always uses US products. Can you imagine the criticism if we didn't? And it's been US wines for a very long time. There have long been good ones available. Even Washington and Jefferson served them. The selection is, of course, much better now since we have so many and so many more excellent vineyards in the US. Increased interest in wines in the US has driven the market.
                    Global warming has little to do with that. If you'll remember, in the 70s, scientific publications were warning of the coming Ice Age. Blizzard and extended periods of cold destroyed orchards and damaged vineyards in many sections of the US.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      And where, precisely, does one catch "American" Dover sole?

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        I wondered about that one too. What were they thinking? Stuck out like a sore thumb.

                        1. re: pikawicca

                          Microstomus pacificus, found in the eastern Pacific and called "Dover sole" along the Pacific coast of America. From wikipedia.

                          It may also have been flounder, which is commonly called "Dover Sole" in American restaurants. Not saying that's a good thing, just a very common thing. In this case, i have no idea.

                          1. re: pikawicca

                            The dover sole annoyed me to. Call it flounder and be proud of it.

                  3. To me nothing on the menu really stood out as particularly “American”. There are some things that signal “America”: steak, buffalo, corn, maple syrup, lobster, crab.

                    31 Replies
                    1. re: Chinon00

                      I was about to comment the same thing... but not everyone is as annoyed with the proliferation of international cuisine masked as regional or national cuisine as I am. But then again... given the guest of honor... it was probably appropriate if uninteresting.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        Artichokes, lamb, chantrelles, caviar, arugula, cheeses, peas.....all of these are ingredients that are as good in the US as anywhere in the world and are staples in the areas where they grow. They are, indeed, representative of regional American cuisine. What would have been interesting instead?

                        Other notes....crab, lobster, corn...not in season at the moment.

                        1. re: ccbweb

                          But they have always mostly been used as imitations of other cuisines... further the constructions of the dishes just doesn't sound very American... how about something like a little fried chicken with seared pate & chanterelle sauce... sure it has foreign influences... but it least its not so obviously non-American.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            It also, at least to me, doesn't sound in the least appealing. Being somewhat health conscious was, I'm sure, also a consideration.

                            i don't find anything on the menu to be obviously "non-American" and I'm curious about what does constitute "American" cuisine in your minds.

                            1. re: ccbweb

                              Obviously discussing the Americanness of cuisine is a huge topic to handle in a seperate thread... but when the menu has such words as Chanterelle, Pequillo, Almondine & Fricasse ... that may be a hint, no? Being more specific... American cuisine is dishes & techniques invented in the U.S. not somewhere else... they should involve major changes not cosmetic touch ups.... some standard akin to whats required for a Patent Filing.

                              I mean come on... what is identifyingly U.S.A. about roasted mediterranean vegetables?

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                Chantrelles are prevelant in the Pacifc Northwest and an absolute staple of Seattle food. There's virtually no cooking technique invented in America. We've only been around for a few hundred years. And except for Native Americans, everyone here came from somewhere else and brought the techniques with them. So, I'm just not sure what those uniquely American techniques would be.

                                1. re: ccbweb

                                  I used to do a lot of consulting gigs from Seattle to Olympia... there is absolutely no way its a staple there.

                                  In terms of what is invented here... yeah some Native American influences would be nice as well as things like inventive salads (a tradition that goes back at least to the 1920's vis-a-vis Cobb Salad, Ceasar Salad etc.,) there is certainly stuff to inspire at least one meal no?

                                  That meal could have been anywhere in France and no I don't mean that as a compliment.

                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    caesar salad was invented in mexico.

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      Supposedly. But the story goes that Caesar Salad originated in restaurants in Tiajuana frequented by Americans who traveled there to party during Prohibition. It's sort of a California-in exile dish.

                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                        That is exactly my thinking... Ceasar Salad seems like a direct extension of the Hollywood Salad culture of the time.

                                        Further, some may argue that there is a brand of Italian-Mexican fusion that took place in Baja (specifically Ensenada) at the time... due some Italian immigration during the 19th century... but the results of Mexicanized Italian cuisine... and the Caesar Salad are very different from each other.

                                    2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                      Gosh, I was hoping you were one of the lucky Santa Rosans to have native Pacific chanterelles in your back yard. Hope your friends and neighbors are sharing with you. I wouldn't call them a "staple" in Sonoma County, but they are a welcome signal that the rainy season has started. Please don't discount them because the common name is French.

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        I know they are common... and thanks to the Thai immigrants that spend many months hunting them down in Washingtons national parks... Wild Chanterelle's can be inexpensive in the Pacific NW... but they were certainly not a Staple. A staple would be... if I walked into any random Pizza place... and the mushrooms were.... Chanterrells... or if I had a burger... oops Chanterelles... what that Quesadilla has Chanterelles etc., there was definitely none of that going on.

                                        That some nice restaurants use them... okay is no staple.. and they aren't being used in a particularly American fashion.

                                        Cooking foreign food with regional ingredients and calling it regional cuisine and it representing some kind of apex is laughable. I almost went through the roof when I dined at a highly regarded Baja-Medittarenean restaurant in the Ensenada area and found it to have very little Baja influence to it... okay so the Arugula was grown there... big deal.

                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                          And I'm still wondering what is "American" fashion or "American cooking technique" or anything else that is specifically American in terms of food that one would want to serve at a formal, white tie dinner. Everything about American is "foreign." We're a country made up of people who came here from other places.

                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                            Okay.... but its not really country made up of French people... and certainly not one made up ex-palace chefs.

                                            Second... its not that rare to find people that execute a classic or modern French dish well... having the creativity to look at the grassroots American repertoire and turning it into a formal white tie dinner, or coming up with something completely new... is what is special.

                                            I am sure some of the TV chefs like Emeril could come up with something good & indentifyingly American that can jive within a very formal setting.

                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                              True. Very true. You would have to look to the American Indian for an "American cooking technique". I don't think something fried in bear fat would agreeable with Her Royal Highness.

                                              1. re: bryan

                                                Forget the bear grease, bryan. If the Governor of South Dakota were entertaining a Head of State/Government in Pierre, he could easily design an elegant formal meal with references to American Indian food, perhaps centered around some of the dishes of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The dinner could include fresh local fish, pheasant, and produce. That meal would be strange in North Florida.
                                                The tastes of a Queen or other dignitary can always be accommodated while showcasing something special about whatever area of the country that person is visiting. The choices for such meals aren't just random.

                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                  Hey MakingSense: I wasn't trying to suggest that's the only food the American Indians ate. But when people start throwing down about real American cooking techniques... it seems as though there's always going to be a difference of opinion.

                                                  Personally, other than the wine choices, I thought it was a very thoughtful menu to suit the Queen.

                                                  1. re: bryan

                                                    I'm sorry, Bryan. I reacted to what I thought was another stereotyping of American Indian food and the contribution that the various groups made to American food history. They all seem to get lumped together when there are such an enormous differences among them. It's terrific when someone has the ability to acknowledge them properly as they did when the Queen was at Jamestown.

                                                    I don't know about the wine choices but with as much care as goes into these dinners, I can't imagine that they would have flubbed that. Further down in this thread there's an article from the Toledo Blade about the months of work that went into planning just the dessert. Probably someone else put just as much effort into the wine selections. Let's face it - they can get anything they want. It's really difficult to judge unless we know every nuance of every dish which we can't tell from the bare-bones descriptions released by the WH.

                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                      Hi MakingSense. I would never lump any people into any one group. Big family secret: my great, great, grandfather was married to a Sioux, so although I look as Irish as Patties pig... And frankly, I think we might be better off to have taken the clues from American natives food-wise.

                                                      How wonderful this world would be if we embraced our differences and tried to learn from them. And forgive them. I'm so sorry if I seemed to be stereo-typing American Natives, that was never my intention.

                                                      1. re: bryan

                                                        Looking back, your original comment was obviously very tongue-in-cheek.
                                                        I think if we finally get more serious about the value of indigenous American foods and food history, particularly seasonal foods, more credit will be given to American Indians. They invented local foods and living off the land. Michael Pollan would have loved them.

                                              2. re: ccbweb

                                                As I've stated in other posts Louisiana and Low Country in particular are distinctly American cuisines. These are not a take on any other cuisine that I'm aware of. They are the result of our particular American story (Spanish, African and European) combining and speciating into something new and beautiful.

                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                  But wasn't so much of Louisiana cooking affected by the french? And when I read about the Low Country cooking it seems french affected as well.

                                                  1. re: bryan

                                                    Actually... the bigger influence on Louisiana cooking is Spanish. Creoles are decendants of Spaniards not French... the Acadians came later (I believe). In any case, the cooking of Louisiana is overwhelmingly similiar (with some unique but superficial differences) to that of Veracruz, Havana, Valencia... and other ports along the Gulf of Mexico -> Carribbean -> Spain trading routes.

                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                      No. Just no. Not Spanish.
                                                      But that idea has nothing to do with the WH State Dinner for HRH and may generate so much comment that if you think you can possibly make that case, maybe you should start a separate thread.
                                                      It's likely to be a hot one, cher.

                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                        Really... Gumbo is not just another regional variation of Paella, Arroz a la Tumbada and other dishes that resulted from the Gulf of Mexico / Carribbean / Spain trading culture of the time?

                                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                          You must be thinking of jambalaya, a Cajun dish. I think your timeline is off and also the amount of cultural interchange.
                                                          The Cajuns settled in the bayou country after about the mid-1700s when New Orleans was under French control. They had little contact with traders in the port city. The French in New Orleans had arrived earlier largely from cities in France. The Cajuns were largely from rural Brittany, by way of Canada. There were German settlers in the region who had arrived in the early 1700s and also Indians in the Atchafalaya Basin.
                                                          The early Spanish explorers in the region didn't settle there. The Spanish did possess the city of New Orleans at some point and left an imprint but it is no greater than that of Africans or other groups, likely less if they didn't live there or work in people's homes. There were Spanish settlers in what is now St. Bernard Parish in the late 1700s but again they were isolated. You still find many Spanish surnames among people who consider themselves Cajun French. The only Spanish-speaking settlement that remains today is Los Islenos.
                                                          The Creole cuisine of New Orleans is based on French haute cuisine. It is different from Cajun cooking. There is no monolithic Louisiana cuisine.

                                                          That's the short story. Spanish food, of course, had an influence on the Caribbean and Latin America. It would stand to reason that many of the servants in New Orleans and trade with Latin America would have had some effect on the cuisine in the Gulf Coast. But I think the roots of both Cajun and Creole cuisines are firmly French.
                                                          Again, start a separate thread.

                                          2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            I lived in Seattle for a few years and Chantrelles were ubiquitous in season and a favorite at Pike Place market. They could be had for $4 a pound (as opposed to the, oh, $28 a pound down here in SF) because they were so plentiful.

                                            What I don't see is anything that really belonged on the menu in order to make it "American." (I'm also not sure why it matters whether the food was "American" but that's a whole different thing). The menu looks to me to be elegant, balanced, and offering an array of things that can be had here. In fact, it reads very much like the menu when I ate at the Inn at Little Washington and Patrick O'connel is renowned for his regional American cuisine.

                                            Assailing cuisine for having French technique at its base is going to take a long time. Many, if not most of the techniques used in restaurants and kitchens all over America are French in origin because restaurant cooking is basically French in origin.

                                          3. re: ccbweb

                                            Smoked foods were a staple of Native Americans. A nice piece of smoked salmon would have been appropriate.

                                      2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        We have NO idea of the construction or presentation of the dishes. The menu released by the WH was cryptic, as they always are:
                                        There is no way to say it is "obviously non-American" unless your idea of American food is fried chicken and corn on the cob. You can't serve picnic foods at formal dinners.
                                        Frankly, I would consider that rather insulting to the culinary artistry of those on the US food scene today who are doing extraordinary things with American regional and seasonal ingredients.
                                        Fernleaf lavender, Pequillo peppers, Savannah mustard greens, and American artisanal cheeses worked into different courses of a five-course formal State dinner is damned interesting and creative. Everything was seasonal and appropriate.
                                        Not many of us ever have the opportunity to attend dinners like this unless you are part of the diplomatic world. They aren't like today's restaurant food - even 4-star type - nor the kinds of meals we prepare at home. They're almost stylized in their formality and staging, basically international - this one with an American accent. Each Administration puts something of their own stamp on them but they haven't varied much.

                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                          Maybe I have just had with the current Internation food movement... I really don't consider whats going on in the U.S. to be that extraordinary since it seems to be happening everywhere in the world... it just becomes sterotyped and uninspiring.

                                          I have now had basically the same meal in many places around the world... in some ways its like a new level of industrialization, and no there is nothing extraordinary about growing mediterranean produce and copying dishes with little innovation.

                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            The food for State Dinners or most diplomatic level events has little to do with any "current international food movement." They're pretty well mired in a protocol time warp and a lot of the food and service is set by fairly commonly accepted convention within that world. It's the rare country whose Head of State or Ambassador has the staff, funds or flair to present interesting and creative formal meals within that formula. Some just try to play it safe.
                                            Except that there are fewer courses, these meals now aren't significantly different now than throughout the history of diplomacy.