After passing through the White house, guests had the option of walking or taking a trolley to the tent on the South Lawn. And this was no ordinary party tent: The giant structure featured a 150-foot-wide glass wall overlooking the White House grounds.
Even the rich and famous feel the "wow" factor of a state dinner: Actor Idris Elba said it was like visiting Disney World, where "you don't know what to expect next." British Olympic gold medalist Denise Lewis pronounced herself as giddy as a schoolgirl. Richard Branson, who arrived sans spouse, said his wife was "very jealous" to miss it.
Weinstein, a state dinner veteran, said he was thrilled to attend — and thrilled that Obama's seeking re-election. His only complaint about the president: "He's too humble." The man needs to talk up his accomplishments more, Weinstein counseled.
The entire menu was a U.K.-U.S. blend, featuring bison Wellington, using buffalo tenderloin from North Dakota instead of beef. It also included crisped halibut served on braised baby kale from the White House garden. The salad greens, too, came from the White House backyard.
During an afternoon preview event, Mrs. Obama told schoolgirls from the U.S. and the U.K. that the dinner emerges from a "little-bitty kitchen," but that the chefs would have a little extra elbow room Wednesday with the dinner taking place outside.
One tidbit that didn't appear on the extremely detailed menu: the specifics of the "American wine" selections. Without explanation, the White House stopped listing the wines after catching criticism for serving some pricey bottles at earlier state dinners.
Associated Press writer Jack Gillum contributed to this report.
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