British PM Cameron's State Dinner preview placecard
Of all the things to keep secret about British Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to the White House, what kind of wines will be served at the state dinner in his honor on Wednesday might not seem to be among them.
But the menu for the swank event—an "America's Backyard"-themed soirée under a gala tent on the South Lawn of the president's mansion—discloses only that "an American wine will be paired with each course."
As Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, that's probably not by accident: After the dinner honoring Chinese President Hu Jintao last year, the Obama White House ended the practice of listing the name, year and appellation of wines served at such functions. During the Hu event, guests drank a 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon that ran about $115 a bottle but sold for as much as $399 after it was featured on the dinner list, according to Bloomberg News.
So the public may never know how Cameron and his wife, Samantha, washed down a first course of crisped halibut with potato crust and shaved Brussels sprouts with applewood smoked bacon; a second course of spring garden lettuces with shallot dressing, shaved breakfast radish, cucumbers and avocados; a main course of bison Wellington in red wine reduction with French beans and cipollini onion; and dessert—warm Meyer lemon steamed pudding with Idaho huckleberry sauce and Newtown Pippin apples.
The White House provided the detailed menu to news outlets in a nine-page handout packed with huh-I-did-not-know-that details (Sample: "Pippin Apples serve as a symbol of the American-British partnership—the apple was so favored by Queen Victoria that she had the customs duty on them eliminated.")
And White House aides gave reporters a glimpse of what the tables will look like when the Obamas, the Camerons and their guests sit down to dinner.
Centerpiece from State Dinner Press Preview