Sunday night's annual Governors Ball dinner at the White House had a fairly straightforward four-course menu that featured some crowd-pleasing classics like french onion soup, a 'sea-to-shining-sea'-invoking surf-and-turf course of Rib Eye roast with shrimp scampi, and Baked Alaska for dessert. The dinner was prepared under the supervision of White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosse, who appeared together just last week on the Martha Stewart Show sharing some of the Obamas' favorite recipes. According to Obama Foodorama, an East Wing spokesperson said that due to recent snowfall, no produce from the White House garden was used for Sunday's dinner, although White House honey from the South Lawn beehive was used by Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses in the baked Alaska dessert.
The full menu from the 2010 Governors Ball:
French Onion Soup with Croutons
Rib Eye Roast with Shrimp Scampi
Roasted Potatoes, Carrots and Mushroom Caps
Seven Layer Salad
A heated-meringue-coated ice cream dessert, although not called a "baked Alaska" until 1876 in honor of America's acquisition of the territory of Alaska from the Russian empire, was perhaps first served in the White House at banquet in 1802 during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. It was described at the time as "ice cream very good, crust wholly dried, crumbled into thin flakes; a dish somewhat like a pudding..."
The election-year-centric trio of American wines offered was as nationally diverse as the food they accompanied: Sugarleaf Vineyard's 2008 Petit Manseng (Monticello region of Virginia), Landmark Vineyard's 2006 Steel Plow Syrah (Sonoma Valley, California), and a 2008 Fenn Valley dessert wine (Fennville, Michigan). Obama Foodarama elaborates further:
The wines deserve particular notice; each vineyard is an award winner, and in keeping with the White House practice of highlighting regional American offerings, these represent both coasts and as close to the middle of the country as is possible, for wine making. Each vineyard state, in a hilarious side note, also has either a 2010 gubernatorial race or a Senate race that is critical for White House interests. Also, Sugarleaf Vneyard is a boutique winery that is African American owned, and that's something of a rarity among American wineries.
The details on Sunday night's Governors Ball dinner table settings:
SERVICE PLATES - CLINTON STATE CHINA SERVICE, made by Lenox Inc., Trenton, New Jersey, 2000. Commissioned to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the White House.
KING CHARLES SILVER FLATWARE, made by Gorham, Providence, Rhode Island, 1974; supplemented in 2006 by Lenox Inc., owner of the Gorham molds.
KENNEDY GLASSWARE, made by the Morgantown Glass Guild, Morgantown, West Virginia, 1961; supplemented in 1991 by Lenox, Inc.
CREAM SOUP CUP AND SAUCER - JOHNSON STATE CHINA SERVICE, made by Castleton China, Inc., New Castle, Pennsylvania, 1968
WATER GOBLET - FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT STATE GLASSWARE SERVICE, Tiffin Glass Co., Tiffin, Ohio; cut by T.G. Hawkes & Company, Corning, New York, 1938-1955; and later reorders
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