Trudeau state dinner features best of spring, with a dash of Canadian whisky
A program sits on a place setting during a press preview ahead of the state dinner for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. (AP / Evan Vucci)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, March 9, 2016 3:25PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 9, 2016 6:57PM EST
WASHINGTON -- The best of America's spring produce, with a little help from some Canadian whisky, will feature heavily on the menu for the state dinner Thursday night to mark Justin Trudeau's first prime ministerial visit to the U.S.
The first course at the White House will see the Trudeaus and the Obamas dine on Alaskan halibut "casseroles" with cepes, delicate angel hair asparagus, chanterelles, baby onions, and lardon and herbed butter; followed by roasted apricot galette with Appalachian cheese, heirloom lettuces and pine nut crisps.
The menu says the state dinner features ingredients from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic coast.
"With a mindfulness to the coming of spring, White House executive chef Cris Comerford and executive pastry chef Susie Morrison will present dishes highlighting elements of the season and the best of America's farms and seas," says the menu.
"One of our canapes is actually a duck poutine," said Comerford as he described Hudson River duck shaved on fries with gravy and cheese.
"So it's kind of like a take on a wonderful national dish of Canada. It's a play on that dish."
The vegetables for the first course come from a farm in Ohio and the herbed butter is sourced from Michelle Obama's White House kitchen garden.
The first course also features a first.
"This will be served in individual tureens from the Obama State China service; this occasion is the first time these tureens have been used."
The cheese from the second course comes from Galax, Va.
"With sweet and salty, and soft and crunchy, all in one dish, the salad has a wonderful juxtaposition of flavours and textures," says the menu.
The main course consists of a herb-crusted lamb from Colorado, Yukon Gold potato dauphinoise and lightly sauteed spring vegetables.
"As a finishing touch, the dish is drizzled with Yukon Jack Canadian Whisky," reads the menu.
Dessert continues the spring theme as the chefs plan to serve a maple pecan cake with cocoa nib wafer and butterscotch swirl ice cream. The pecans in the cake are Texan and the maple syrup comes from New England.
There will also be a handmade sugar sculpture called "A View from the Mountain Top." The menu says it is "inspired by the splendour of the Rocky Mountains, which extend from New Mexico to Canada."
There will be a variety of pastries "with American and Canadian influences, the display depicts a dramatic landscape surrounded by stunning wilderness, forested basins, and lush valleys mirrored with turquoise waters." Included in this design are cranberry squares, white chocolate snowballs, golden raisin tarts, fleur de sel caramels, and chocolate coconut slices.
Three wines will be served: Pence Chardonnay "Sebastiano" 2013 with the second course; Cliff Lede "High Fidelity" 2012 with the main course; and Chateau Chantal Ice Wine 2013 with dessert.
Trudeau's visit marks the 11th state or official visit of Barack Obama's presidency but the first for a Canadian in 19 years.
Denison Offut, director for North American affairs at the National Security Council, said he didn't know whether the occasion would be Obama's last state dinner. But he acknowledged a "natural synergy" between the two leaders.
"The leaders are progressive, forward-looking, and have very similar common values and agendas," he said. "Regardless of who's been the prime minister or the president, there's always been a strong tie."
The state dinner will be held in the East Room of the White House, followed by a performance by singer and writer Sara Bareilles, a five time Grammy nominee, in the State Dining Room.
The floral design is being done by the White House's chief floral designer, and also reflects the spring theme.
"Signifying new growth and inspired by the flourishing of a new season, the East Room will dazzle in vivid greens and whites," says the menu. "Row upon row of blooming orchids, hydrangeas, and amaranth will be featured in the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall to represent the majestic rivers and tributaries that flow between our two countries."