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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

State Dinner Menu: Beef, Caviar and Mary J. Blige -- ABC News

Barack Obama toasting with champagne. Getty Images.A slab of dry-aged rib eye beef, American caviar and salad representing the first lady's garden will be on the four-course menu for the elegant state dinner being given by President Barack Obama for French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday.

It's a salad, not a fishbowl: White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford holds the 'Winter Garden Salad' he'll offer guests Tuesday night at the State Dinner in honor of French President Francois Hollande -- a combination of mixed radishes, baby carrots, merlot lettuce and red wine vinaigretteThe French president traveled to the U.S. alone on the heels of his very public break-up with Valerie Trierweiler, his longtime companion and de facto first lady. The seating arrangements weren't finalized and there was no word on who will occupy the seat that would have gone to Trierweiler, who once had been expected to attend.

White House Executive Pastry Chef William Yosses holds a dessert tray  including maple fudge, biscuits and cotton candy -- the after-dinner treats for Tuesday nightTuesday night's bash, inside a huge white tent on the South Lawn, is the first state dinner of Obama's second term.

The wine list is strictly American, with selections from California, Washington state and Virginia.
The multiple Grammy-winner Mary J. Blige, shown at a Super Bowl party, will entertain the French president and his entourage, but there's been no word on whether Hollande is a fan of American R&BSo is the entertainment. Mary J. Blige, a nine-time Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter, producer and actress born in the Bronx, N.Y., will perform for some 350 guests who will be seated at a modern-looking assortment of round, square and oblong tables inside the tent.

White House social secretary Jeremy Bernard, who on Monday helped preview the dinner for U.S. and French media, explained the choice of Blige by saying she's an internationally known singer who can help celebrate someone like the first-term French president. Blige is an Obama supporter who performed at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Hollande arrived in the U.S. on Monday and spent the afternoon with Obama touring Monticello, the Charlottesville, Va., home of President Thomas Jefferson, who was an early U.S. envoy to France. A formal welcoming ceremony will come Tuesday morning.

As of Monday, one of the most oft-asked questions of any state dinner was still unanswered. Who will design Michelle Obama's gown?

At the dinner, guests will first enter the White House and proceed through a receiving line to be greeted inside the oval-shaped Blue Room by Obama and his wife, before exiting and boarding an old-fashioned trolley for a ride to the tent for dinner and Blige's high-octane musical performance.
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