The four-course menu created for the state dinner honoring Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife, Ho Ching, next Tuesday takes into consideration a blistering Washington and a bushel of American ingredients, including Maryland blue crab and yellow peaches from California and Virginia.
If President Obama wants to make them feel truly at home, however, he might consider welcoming his visitors as they do in food-obsessed Singapore, with “Sudah makan?,” or “Have you eaten?”
About 200 guests will sit down to a cool crab salad garnished with a tuile made using powdered crab shells and Old Bay. The second course, a salad featuring heirloom tomatoes from the White House garden, pivots to the East with green papaya, pickled green mangoes and a soursop sorbet.
Served last year for the state dinner that saluted Japan, American Wagyu beef makes a repeat appearance as a main course for Singapore. This time, the meat will be seared in Vermont butter and, following the lead of trendy restaurants, served with bone marrow in the form of a light crust. Rounding out the entree are wilted baby kale, young carrots and Asian yams grown in California.
The finale features a peach cake with accents of palm sugar, coconut milk and fragrant lime leaves. Honey said to be culled from the White House beehive goes into both the accompanying brittle and a fluffy meringue on the plate.
White House executive pastry chef Susie Morrison operates on the knowledge that dessert is the last impression guests will take away, so she is also offering an edible footed tray fashioned from caramelized almond nougat. On it will sit one-bite pastries and a wavy bowl of pulled-sugar roses and orchids that is illuminated from within. “Except for the lights,” she says, the entire arrangement can be eaten.
Twenty consumable centerpieces, one per table, await next week’s guests. For at least one course, visitors will be encouraged to interact with art at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Says a smiling Morrison: “We would love for them to break it to pieces.”