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the Rick Bayless State Dinner menu


SALAD Jicama with Oranges, Grapefruit, and Pineapple with Citrus Vinaigrette and Ulises Valdez Chardonnay 2007 “Russian River”

APPETIZER Herb Green Ceviche of Hawaiian Opah with Sesame-Cilantro Cracker

DINNER Oregon Wagyu Beef in Oaxacan Black Mole and Black Bean Tamalon and Grilled Green Beans with Herrera Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 “Selección Rebecca”

DESSERT Chocolate-Cajeta Tart with Toasted Homemade Marshmallows and Graham Cracker Crumble with Goat Cheese Ice Cream, along with Mumm Napa “Carlos Santana Brut” N/V

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    1. re: raidar

      doesn't that last one sound like an upscale smore? I love those things.

    2. I don't understand this at all.
      Wagyu beef is wonderful on its own. A complexly spiced mole is a different kind of wonderful. The beef flavor has little chance of asserting itself over the mole. OTOH, I have a lot of venison in the freezer that mole makes better as I didn't grow up eating venison and have some problems with the flavor.

      'splain please?

      1 Reply
      1. re: shallots

        I'm with you. I'd probably throw it on the griil and eat it in it's own juices, or with a simple butter sauce. However, if your going to eat meat in a mole sauce, why not use the best? As for as your venision, if you still have the tenderloin, chicken fry it. Absolutely delicious. If you're not into venison, where I live, Texas, they have a program called hunters for the hungry, so hunters can donate game to food banks Maybe they have a program like that in your state.. It's mainly deer and snow geese, where we have a special season to reduce their numbers. There are so many snow geese that they are overpopulating their breeding grounds in Canada.

      2. But don't you just love that "Herbs, radishes, and lettuces used in preparing tonight’s dinner were harvested from the White House Kitchen Garden. White House Executive Pastry Chef William Yosses and his team made desserts using White House honey in the Graham Cracker Crumble and Goat Cheese Ice Cream." ? Is this a first for a state dinner? I wonder.
        I think it's marvedlous.

        14 Replies
        1. re: Gio

          Would herbs, radishes, and lettuces be ready to harvest already? I think the same issue came up with the Iron Chef / White House episode. I'm pretty sure they used White House honey in that episode as well, and I remember reading something about having a beekeeper on staff.

          Also - didn't the Clintons have a small garden on the roof - perhaps used only for the family and not for state dinners.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            I don't think there's any problem with the season; I live 5 hours north of DC and I'm harvesting herbs and radishes. Lettuce shouldn't be a problem either.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              Yes, my friend in this area has been harvesting nonstop bibb lettuce and radishes. I'm going to have to do that next year. She'll be done in time to plant her tomatoes and summer vegetables.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Linda, early Spring is the season for some herbs, chives for instance. Additionaly radishes and lettuces and a few other vegetables are what's known as cool weather vegetables...peas, ramps etc.,, especially in that horticultural zone. So it's perfectly logical that these greens would be harvested and used for the dinner.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  I don't know if they have a full-time beekeeper on staff (!), but the NY Times article in last week's Dining section about Bill Yosses, the WH pastry chef, noted that his duties include gardening and being an "apprentice beekeeper."

                  From what I understand, the roof garden grew herbs and maybe a few other things, and was in in use during both the Clinton and G.W. Bush presidencies. The larger garden was put in for both practical and demonstration purposes as part of Mrs. Obama's mission, combating childhood obesity. (Each first lady has a public mission, of course, all public service issues.)

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    That's right - the pastry chef is the beekeeper. That's what I had previously read. I knew someone on the WH kitchen staff was responsible for the little buggers. :-)

                    And I guess I'm just too used to New England weather where, other than early peas and ramps, etc., you just don't see "local" until June or so.

                  2. re: LindaWhit

                    I live a little more than two miles from the White House although my garden is less exposed than theirs. Yes, those items would be available and have been for some time.

                    The bigger question is one of simple math: can you possibly get enough produce from the 1100 square foot WH garden to prepare dinner for 200 people? Ummm.
                    This same question was raised in late November when the WH served salad for 350 from the garden.
                    There is one beehive. The yield may be extremely high but it would have to be off the charts to produce the quantity of "White House honey" that regularly appears on menus and as gifts.
                    Figure it out for yourself.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Your Ummm...was something I had thought of as well. With the variety of many different vegetables that were supposed to have been grown there, I also wasn't sure if the garden was big enough to grow enough veggies to serve that many people, although I think the garden was expanded this year, per what I've read.

                      I think I've figured it out. :-)

                  3. re: Gio

                    this "white house garden" veggies for the fiesta is PR.

                    re PR: http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eatin...

                    if they found some ripe radishes and lettuces, it might've been for a party of four....not this guest list: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/...

                    1. re: alkapal

                      you don't KNOW that. and if it was only part of what was served, so what? It's far more than in any previous White House.

                      the Iron Chef episode a two city, multi -day affair, and what they picked that day would have been wilted by the time it got to New York.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        No doubt it's a PR move, but the WH garden is 1500 square feet and it's peak radish and lettuce season in the region. It isn't hard to believe they could harvest enough radishes and lettuce for 200 appetizer sized salads from a garden that large.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Upon what do you base your assumption that they couldn't harvest enough to at least be part if not all of a salad? Have you ever gardened? Seems perfectly reasonable to me. Those are early season crops. You plant alot of them and then when they're done, other things go into the garden.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Really...I'm in Michigan and just bought bunches of radishes last weekend at our farmer's market, along with lettuce and spinach. I would imagine that DC has an earlier growing season than we do!

                            1. re: coney with everything

                              Exactly. That's the problem with lettuce. You're not able to get the good stuff later once the temps rise. And a 1500' garden is a really big garden, esp. at this time of year when the heat loving things haven't even been planted yet or they're still quite small.

                      2. The NY Times story last week about Bayless cooking for the state dinner did state that he would be serving the herb ceviche (the recipe is available on www.nytimes.com ) and mole (though not what the mole would be served with; turkey is the classic pairing for mole negro, but might not have been deemed fancy enough - plus too expected for Calderon, and they like to highlight special American products, hence that beef), and that both are served at his restaurants. I'm surprised they let so much slip in advance, given the WH historically likes to keep the menus of state dinners in the dark beforehand. Yosses did the dessert "in consultation" with Bayless.

                        1. Does anyone else find it ridiculous that when foreign dignitaries come to the White House, the chefs prepare food from their country? Rick Bayless aside, did Senor Calderon really travel all the way to DC just to eat Mexican food?

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: pdxgastro

                            I don't find it ridiculous. I think it's a show of respect. I also wonder if it's pretty much standard protocol worldwide.

                            1. re: pdxgastro

                              I agree with you...I'm guessing Sr. Calderon gets plenty of Mexican food in Mexico, and it would be appropriate to serve visiting heads of state "American" style food when they are visiting the USA. I know if I were a dignitary I would appreciate being served authentic food of the country I were visiting rather than my native style food.

                              1. re: Marge

                                I was just wondering if perhaps this is standard protocol.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  No. It's not standard protocol for diplomatic events in the US or worldwide, and a State Dinner is the highest level diplomatic event that a President hosts.
                                  One of the true pleasures of being invited to diplomatic events is being served the foods and drinks of the host country. Personally, I always find it a terrible disappointment to find standard catered fare or a poor rendition of ersatz American food.
                                  The fall-back for many diplomats is an "international" menu, sort of a generic classic old-school European menu, largely French. Boring but safe.

                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                    Thank you so much. I just knew there had to be a CH who had made the rounds. I figure there's plenty of protocol that doesn't necessarily "make sense." :)

                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                      < a poor rendition of ersatz American food.>

                                      Are you suggesting that a Rick Bayless dinner would be ersatz Mexican? If so, I can tell you have never eaten his food.

                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                        Copy that...it's not like they sent a page down the street to pick up Taco Bell or ChiChi's!

                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                          Agree with ChefJune and Mike. The one time I ate at Frontera, it was sublime. Everything I've made from Authentic Mexican has been wonderful. His food is superb.

                                    2. re: Marge

                                      I think it's cool: We're honoring the food of our guest's culture, but giving it an American twist.

                                    3. re: pdxgastro

                                      I always find the serving of foods from a visitors home country comical. I can understand a dinner that doesn't include foods a person dislikes but it doesn't say much for the cuisine of the host country.

                                      1. re: pdxgastro

                                        "Does anyone else find it ridiculous that when foreign dignitaries come to the White House, the chefs prepare food from their country?" pdxgastro

                                        Personally, I would prefer that to Eleanor Roosevelt's Hyde Park Picnic for the King and Queen of England at which she served hot dogs, OR Mamie Eisenhower "decorating" the White House pilars with dime store giant cut outs of witches and bats or whatever for Halloween!

                                        Besides, I don't think the Bayelss menu is all THAT Mexican! It's fusion.

                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                          What you want to serve Mickey D's to the man? Or the KFC's new artery clogger?

                                          (Tongue firmly in cheek, in case anyone's heart rate just shot up in a huff.)

                                          1. re: pdxgastro

                                            Lets remember too that the Obama's are huge fans of Rick Bayless and would dine in his restaurants frequently when they lived in Chicago. They probably looked at this as an excuse to bring him in. His name was once tossed around as the future White House Chef.

                                            1. re: pdxgastro

                                              There's an article on CNN.com where Rick Bayless talks about serving Mexican food to the Mexican president (http://edition.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/wo...):
                                              "The whole idea about a state dinner -- and people don't usually understand this -- but when you are hosting a dignatary from a foreign country it is not common to serve food from their country. It is common to serve them the best of American cuisine, because you are hosting them," Bayless said.
                                              "It's huge departure for Obama administration to have served food of Mexico, but they did it because of my work, I have really brought the true flavors from Mexico to the United States... however, we did feature a number of fabulous American ingredients like the opah from Hawaii and the Wagyu from Oregon."
                                              Of all the praises chef Bayless received for the dinner, two made him particularly happy. One, from Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala, "who said that she loved the ceviche verde that we did, she told me that two or three times that she loved that ceviche." The other, from President Calderon, "who said that it was one of the best mole negro he had ever had," said Bayless.

                                              1. re: Nettie

                                                I'm so pleased to see some actual reporting, straight from the horse's mouth kinda stuff. Thanks.

                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                That sounds fantastic and I've already forwarded to some chow-buddies. Thanks for posting it.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  I think the recipe sounds terrific too. I agree with him that it's pretty labor intensive and now understand why he does it over the course of 2-days! I think that with a little diligence in searching you can find all the ingredients in the U.S., tho' it'll probably help if you live in an area with a reasonable Mexican population

                                              2. seems like president obama cannot get his fill of kobe beef and ceviche! http://www.nbcbayarea.com/around-town...

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  Well, I can't get MY fill of kobe beef and ceviche! Who can?

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    I'd say the Getty Mansion has seen far, far more elaborate fetes. This seems almost down-home compared to some events that are hosted in that beautiful home.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      <I'd say the Getty Mansion has seen far, far more elaborate fetes. This seems almost down-home compared to some events that are hosted in that beautiful home.>

                                                      What is the point you are making here? Not sure the Pres. wants to see how elaborate he can make a party since we're still in a Recession....

                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                        The first time I tried to tell you my point I got deleted. Let me try again. My point was that the President used restraint with the menu. I thought alkapal was saying he was going for the most expensive stuff.

                                                  2. There are some photos of the food and preparation on the Rick Bayless website now: http://www.rickbayless.com/news/view?...

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Nettie

                                                      Nettie, thanks for posting the link.

                                                      I'd take a bath in that mole sauce, it looked that good.

                                                    2. where were the radishes and arugula (or lettuce) used in the state dinner? the mole? the ceviche?
                                                      i see that he uses a few radish leaves in his mole verde.
                                                      here's his oaxacan mole negro (with pork): http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...

                                                      is it odd to put a mole with beef?

                                                      here's a nice overview of rick's career: http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurant...

                                                      and if you want to get hungry, here's a tastespotting page for bayless recipes: http://www.tastespotting.com/tag/rick...

                                                      here's his salt & pepper ceviche -- perfect for summer! http://www.recipegirl.com/2007/02/16/...

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        OMG. The tastespotting page is making my hungry!!

                                                      2. The purpose of CHOW is to discuss food, but state dinners are not about food, This is not about private party planning. That's somehow been lost in the translation.

                                                        The only reason why the American taxpayer foots the bill for state dinners is so that the President of the United States of America may extend a very high diplomatic courtesy to a visiting head of state from a country with whom we have diplomatic relations. The President hosts the dinner in the official residence (the WH) on behalf of the taxpayers who provide him with the residence and staff for that purpose. Not every head of state is hosted, nor is every visit considered a "state visit."

                                                        Like an American president, when any diplomat hosts a function, he represents his country and his countrymen. He should do that to the best of his ability.
                                                        That is why I posted above about the various types of functions that one might encounter and how it is disappointing when a diplomat does not proudly offer the best that his own country and culture can offer as a sign of friendship and hospitality to his guests.
                                                        There is latitude afforded to some smaller and poorer countries which may not have residences or staff, and be forced to use temporary help, local caterers or even carry-out. (And yes, I've seen carryout at an embassy function.) The United States is not one of those. America has a proud food heritage, excellent producers and extraordinary bounty from our vast land, sea, and skies.
                                                        (On my own table, I bow to no one, and serve the best of American food with great pride to international guests.)

                                                        Personal and political preferences for a particular administration and their choices might be expected from those not involved in diplomatic exchanges, however, there is a protocol. Just as in your own home, entertaining is not about the food. It is about the occasion and the guests, not your own skills at selecting and designing a menu, or being the center of attention.
                                                        The goal of diplomatic exchanges, particularly in the White House, is representing the United States of America.

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                          That is patently untrue. Presidents always put their own personal stamp on these events. You might not like it, but a look at food served, music played, etc. during various administrations proves you woefully wrong.

                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                            No. It isn't historically untrue nor is it incorrect in terms of protocol.

                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                              Further.... we are speaking of state dinners. Not informal entertaining.
                                                              Can you give an example of a French,Italian, or Chinese state dinner where the food of the guest nation was served?
                                                              As I said, these are diplomatic events. They are not "y'all comes." An arcane set of rules applies. Inside baseball.

                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                Straw man arguments don't interest me. If you do your homework you will find many state dinner menus that reflect the taste of the incumbent.

                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                  I have been involved with this for decades and i read history.
                                                                  The menus for state dinners are negotiated by the State Department - repeat: negotiated - between the host and guest country, usually for dietary restrictions and preferences.
                                                                  Examination of decades of menus of state dinners will show the showcasing of American foods and purveyors. The usual "bow" to the guest country is in the appetizer or dessert course, often with "fantasies" produced by the extremely talented WH pastry staff.
                                                                  BTW, No good host foists his own preferences on his guests.

                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                    Yeah, like any good host, the WH checks for food allergies or aversions. Beyond that, the WH serves what it jolly well pleases, no negotiations involved. And this is getting redundant, so I'm outta here.

                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                      The WH never serves "what it jolly well pleases," at least until recently.
                                                                      As stated previously, the arcane world of diplomacy is not the same as private entertaining
                                                                      The White House has an obligation to represent the American people who pay the bills..

                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                        Please see upthread to Nettie. Times and customs change whether you want them to or not.

                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                          Nettie? Why should she decide?
                                                                          As I have made clear in my postings, my opinions (as well as most centered on food) do not matter, There is an arcane world of international diplomacy. It is what it is,
                                                                          Certainly "times and customs have changed," but the basic philosophy should not.
                                                                          This is the United States of America. Rich, fabulous,wonderful. The chief executive celebrates that.
                                                                          When he doesn't?.....
                                                                          You answer the question...

                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                            Er, Nettie's post was nothing about her/him deciding. Since the USA is made up of a few million people with a handful of different cultural backgrounds, I'd say OUR president did a terrific job of celebrating the fact that our richness,fabulous-ness and wonderful-nes is complex.

                                                                            Sorry, I don't understand your question so I can't answer it.