“No drama Obama”? Not exactly. The six state dinners of current sitting President have certainly included their fair share of controversy.
There were the crashers of 2009 – three individuals who managed to make it inside the gates of the White House uninvited (and enjoy a meal courtesy of guest chef Marcus Samuelsson). The administration’s state dinner for Mexico included chef Rick Bayless being accused of breaking security protocols by Tweeting about his experience, while a 2011 dinner honoring China set off a firestorm of critiques about lavish spending on wine – specifically, a 100-point Cabernet Sauvignon – and the First Lady’s choosing to wear a British designer’s dress. Meanwhile, the President of Brazil actually cancelled her appearance at a state dinner altogether, citing a breach of privacy by the NSA.
Tonight’s state dinner promises to keep pace with the sizzle of years past. The guest of honor is French President François Hollande, whose affair with actress Julie Gayet was publically revealed by Closer magazine at the end of January. Three hundred invitations from the White House featuring the name of Hollande’s ex were quickly destroyed, and speculation ran wild regarding whether or not the foreign leader would bring his new girlfriend to dinner (alas, he will attend solo). With a new venue – the South Lawn – to allow a larger guest list and Chelsea Clinton’s wedding planner behind the festivities, this is most definitely gearing up to be a memorable night. On the menu, reportedly: dry-aged rib-eye beef, American Osetra Caviar, and American wines including a Chardonnay from Monticello. Obama took Hollande for a tour of Thomas Jefferson's home (and winery) in Virginia yesterday.
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