Fine Dining: The History and Collection of White House China

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George W. Bush Administration

I have been wanting to do an article on White House China for years.   I got a chance to visit the Ronald Reagan Library and they had an exhibit on White House China.   I hope you enjoy exploring this unique history of the United State demonstrated through China.

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Obama Administration

Article from Whitehousemuseum.org The ground floor China Room is where the White House collection of china is kept. Even the earliest presidents received government funds to purchase state china. However, by a special clause in the appropriation bills, “decayed furnishings” could be sold and the proceeds used to buy replacements. Such “furnishings” included state china, and during the 19th century the cupboards were frequently swept clean and the contents carted off to auction. The money could then be used to order a new china service that better suited the president and his family.

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China of Clinton Administration

Even into the 20th century, White House china was often given away if it was chipped or broken. Later, Congress passed a law that required that all presidential china be kept or destroyed.  READ MORE and see More.

The China of the Reagan Administration just screams of the style, class and the red of Nancy Reagan.  It also reintroduce a trend of the prominent gold band by the Woodrow Wilson and Truman Administrations.   – Crystal A. Johnson

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Chicago Restaurant Week

February 18 – 27 is Chicago Restaurant Week.  It is a fantastic opportunity to get a taste of fine dining without breaking the bank, as over 130 restaurants throughout Chicago offer a 3-course prix-fixe meal at the same price.

Starting in 2008, Chicago Restaurant Week was created to help boost business at area restaurants in what is typically a slower time of the year. It was such a success the first go around that it’s now been turned into an annual event.

Over 130 Chicago restaurants are participating, offering a set prix-fixe menu of 3 courses for $22 at lunch, $33/$44 at dinner. As many of the restaurants normally have entrée selections well into the $20 range, this provides a unique opportunity to sample some great cuisine and get a nice bottle of wine and spend less than $100 for an enjoyable dinner for 2. READ MORE

Meat Market: What is Sweetbread?

Sweetbreads or ris are culinary names for the thymus (throat, gullet, or neck sweetbread) and the pancreas (heart, stomach, or belly sweetbread), especially of the calf (ris de veau) andlamb (ris d’agneau) (although beef and pork sweetbreads are also eaten).

The “heart” sweetbreads are more spherical in shape, and surrounded symmetrically by the “throat” sweetbreads, which are more cylindrical in shape.

One common preparation of sweetbreads involves soaking in salt water, then poaching in milk, after which the outer membrane is removed. Once dried and chilled, they are often breaded andfried. They are also used for stuffing or in pâtés. They are grilled in many Latin American cuisines, such as in the Argentine asado, and served in bread in Turkish cuisine.

The word “sweetbread” is first attested in the 16th century, but the logic behind the name is unclear. Sweet” is perhaps used since the thymus is sweet and rich tasting, as opposed tosavory tasting muscle flesh. “Bread” may come from brede ‘roasted meat’.

It Matters: International Manners & Etiquette

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It is not safe to assume that your way is the right when you are abroad.  The expression, “When in Rome…” sheds light on the general rule about manners when abroad.  Believe it or not in many countries including Tanzania, Brazil and Mexico showing up early for dinner is considered rude.  Ever wondered why some countries do not use a fork or knife?  Believe it or not once upon a time many Asian and African countries thought it rude to use weapons(a knife) while dining.  European use of the knife to eat was thought to be barbaric.   In efforts to improve table etiquette Europeans rounded the table knife edge and added a fork and spoon to the dining experience. Part Two of this series will include France, Switzerland, the Philippines, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom and the United States.  MCCN spotlights International  Manners (Click Here to view article on International Manners) for Tanzania, India, Japan, Mexico and Brazil in part one.

Tanzania

In many African countries dinner is done without cutlery, with the right hand, from a communal dish or dishes.  Expect Muslims to say grace before dining.

  •  It is considered pretentious to use forks or knives to eat Chapati or Ugali.
  •  If eating on a mat or carpet, do not expose the sole of your foot, it is considered very rude.
  •  Children may eat with the adults if instructed to do so.
  • Many Tanzanian table manners are similar to British table manners.
  •  It is considered rude to talk or laugh with food in your mouth.
  •  Let the host know how good the meal is, but don’t exaggerate; it might be taken the wrong way.
  •  Avoid touching your face, nose, ears and hair while eating.
  •  It is rude to drink beer straight from the bottle; you are expected to pour it into a glass.
  • In some regions like Zanzibar, some dinner tables are gender-segregated.

India

Like many African countries, food is expected to be eaten with the right hand. It is fine to use the left hand to pass the dish.

  • It is acceptable, and many times, even expected, not to use cutlery for eating, as many foods – such as Indian breads and curry – are commonly eaten in this manner.
  •  Wash hands thoroughly before sitting at the table as some Indian foods are primarily eaten by hand. Also, wash hands after eating the food. Usually, a finger bowl (with luke warm water and lemon) is served to each person for rinsing fingers.
  •  In North India, when eating curry, the sauce must not be allowed to stain the fingers – only the fingertips are used.
  •  When flat breads such as chapati, roti, or naan are served with the meal, it is acceptable and expected to use pieces of them to gather food and sop-up sauces and curries.
  • In South India, it is acceptable to use the hand up to the second segment of the fingers (middle phalanx till the interphalangeal joint) and the first segment of the thumb (distal phalanx) to pick up food. In South Indian culture, the four fingers are used only to pick up or spoon the food. The thumb is the digit used to push the meal into the mouth. It is considered rude if all five digits are used to place food into the mouth.
  •  It is considered inappropriate to use your fingers to share food from someone else’s plate once you have started using your own. Instead, ask for a clean spoon to transfer the food from the common dish to your plate.
  •  It is not necessary to taste each and every dish prepared, but you must finish everything on your plate as it is considered respectful. For that reason, put only as much food on your plate as you can eat.
  •  As most of the Indian delicacies are eaten with the hands, it is necessary to make sure that one’s drinking glass should not become messy.

* Do not leave the table until others have finished or the host requests you. If you must, ask permission from the host before leavin

 

Japan

Click Here For How to Use Chopsticks

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Some Table Rules

* Blowing your nose in public, and especially at the table, is considered bad manners.
* It is considered good manners to empty your dishes to the last grain of rice.
* Talking about toilet related and similarly unappetizing topics during or before a meal is not appreciated by most people.
* Unlike in some other parts of East Asia, it is considered bad manner to burp.
* After eating, try to move all your dishes back to the same position they were at the start of the meal. This includes replacing the lids on dishes and putting your chopsticks on the chopstick holder or back into their paper slip.

Drinking rules

When drinking alcoholic beverages, it is customary to serve each other, rather than pouring your own beverage. Periodically check your friends’ cups and refill their drinks if their cups are getting empty. Likewise, if someone wants to serve you more alcohol, you should quickly empty your glass and hold it towards that person.

 

Brazil

From an early age, children are taught to follow proper table manners. It’s a good idea to learn some of these manners before taking a trip to Brazil.

Read more: How to Follow Brazilian Table Manners | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2228058_follow-brazilian-table-manners.html#ixzz0tWKDnlRJ

Mexico

Mexico is certainly a place where is a lot more regard for formality.  Here are some pointers:

If you are invited to a Mexican’s home:

  • Arrive 30 minutes late in most places (check with colleagues to see if you should arrive later than that).
  •  Arriving on time or early is considered inappropriate.
  •  At a large party you may introduce yourself.
  •  At a smaller gathering the host usually handles the introductions.

Learn More:  http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/mexico-country-profile.html

 

An Access Pass into New York High Society

Want an access pass to New York High Society?  Recently New York’s Time Out Magazine released an article sharing the smartestest affordable way to make it happen is with the admission of a pricey drink.  – Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

The Time Warner Center might be little more than a glorified shopping mall, but even jaded New Yorkers can’t deny that the location, overlooking Columbus Circle, provides some stellar views. One prime spot to enjoy them is from the comfort of a leather chair at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s (Time Warner Center, 80 Columbus Circle, at 60th Street, 1-212 805 8800) Lobby Lounge, perched 35 floors above the southwest corner of Central Park. Naturally, the drinks aren’t cheap (signature cocktails are $17 apiece), but the Fifth Avenue and Central Park South skylines, glittering through walls of windows, make spending those extra bucks worthwhile. READ MORE

View Atop A60 at the Thompson Hotels - New York

History of High Society Dining:La Cote Basque

The restaurant opened in the late 1950s by Henri Soulé, Jean-Jacques Rachou became the owner and chef in 1979. At that time the restaurant was located a block to the east, moving to the West 55th Avenue location in 1995. It was “known as much for its elegantly arrayed tables, set against a backdrop of handsome French seaside murals, as for its food. Mr. Rachou said he spent more than $2,200 a week on flowers and more than $3,000 on linen. The fabulous floral designs were created by the team of Charlene Rooney (daughter-in-law to actor Mickey Rooney) and Suzanne Preisler, the wife and occasional writing partner of multi-bestselling author Jerome Preisler. Suzanne’s experiences as the longest-tenured florist at La Cote Basque are reflected in her recent collaborative Grime Solvers’ mystery series. At the time of its closing, a prix-fixe dinner at La Côte Basque was $70 per person, and an average à la carte meal was about $100, not including wine. Wikepedia


Truman Capote’s unfinished novel Answered Prayers had as its setting a “catty and thinly veiled” version of the La Côte Basque; the chapter “La Côte Basque 1965” was excerpted in Esquire magazine in 1979. A scene from the film Light Sleeper (1992), directed by Paul Schrader, features Willem Dafoe and Susan Sarandon eating lunch in the restaurant.

LOEWS, Santa Monica Hotel: What Did They Cook Up at NALIP?

NALIP is the National Association of Independent Producers.  Each year they hold annual conference.  Destination, this year, Loews Santa Monica virtually by the famous pier.  MCCN gives you an inside look at the conference and the food featured.

From festive buffets to beautiful table settings.  The Loews staff has everything covered with style.  Check out the Birdseye view of the lobby corridor turned banquet hall lined with tall palm trees.  The sun shines through the glass roofing providing the warmth of an sun room experience.

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Lunch  is served and it is a delicious slightly spicy well seasoned tri tip steak spinach salad crowned with crispy fried onion.

 

 

Desserts were square shaped lemon meringue cheesecakes. A thin layer of lemon meringue filling top the cheesecake. Every other setting had a swirl of meringue as topper.

NALIP attendees enjoy their meals.

*Photos by Lindsey Rowe

*Photos by Crystal Johnson- Close Up of Salad and Dessert

Tuna Tartare Competition

Executive Chef Shigefumi Tachibe of Chaya Restaurants in San Franciso and Downtown Los Angeles is the creator of Tuna Tartare. 

All Hail to the Food King!

Well, the humble chef took time out of his busy schedule to help teach kids from high schools involved in C-CAP  how to make his legendary dish.  The students from underserved communities were then put to a  Tuna Tartare challenge in January 2010.  Watch the 2 part MCCN series.

Watch MCCN Host Sunni Boswell teach middle school kids about Asian Fruits: Video

Golden Globe 2010 Menu: Feeding the Stars

2009 Golden Globe Award Winner Kate Winslet

As one of Hollywood’s most celebrated events of the year, the Golden Globes are viewed by millions of people in over 150 countries worldwide. And we generally know what to expect by the time the 67th annual ceremony rolls around on Jan. 17— the bright lights, gilded statuettes and round tables filled with celebrities. The only thing you probably aren’t used to seeing is what the stars are eating for dinner.

The thought of some celebrities actually eating a real meal might surprise the fans who watch them on screen showcasing their well-trained physiques, but part of the time-honored traditions of this event—held every year at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills—is the food.

This year is no different, albeit a little less flashy than you might expect. According to a recent Associated Press article, the menu includes herb-crusted mozzarella and grilled eggplant salad over vine ripe tomatoes, braised beef short ribs and artichoke sweet pepper ragout, as well as sautéed sea bass with truffle endive fritto.

Moet, still the official champagne brand of the Globes for the past 16 years, will be adding some social lubricant to the party with personal-sized bottles topped with mini-champagne flutes.

For dessert, a chocolate concoction, called “The Envelope Please,” includes a dark chocolate truffle filled with chocolate mousse and mandarin orange jelly sitting next to a chocolate envelope with a thin letter-sized piece of chocolate poking out of it.

With approximately 1300 guests in attendance, the challenge of serving and satisfying the diverse pallets of everyone from Zoe Saldana to Mickey Rourke has to be a challenge, And can you imagine having to plan a menu six months in advance just to make sure everything is perfect? Soon a team of over 100 chefs will be working from 6 a.m. to midnight the day of the awards all the way to the last minute before service ends.

But maybe it helps that the culinary staff will be using some familiar products. With an eye towards fresh, California cooking and the use of native products, the menu for the Globes this year is steeped in predictably tasty local flavors. Organized by Beverly Hilton executive chef Suki Sugiura (a four-time veteran of the Golden Globes) the menu is one that seems to symbolize Hollywood’s health-conscious culture, minus the dessert. And even though Hollywood surpassed $10 billion dollars in box office profit, it’s nice to see that the menu keeps things modest and light.

Article by Nate Jackson

The History and Food of the Golden Globe Awards

Chef Suki Sugiura is now in his fourth year of planning the menu and cooking for Golden Globe attendees.

Sunday, January 17, 2010 will mark the first time the Golden Globe awards ceremony will broadcast live all over the United States. Ricky Gervais will serve as host for the 67th incarnation of the awards show presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.  First held in January 1944, the Golden Globes celebrate the best in film and television.  The first award ceremony was held at the 20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles and consisted of an informal and short awards presentation. The first awards recipients included: “The Song of Bernadette” (Best Picture), Jennifer Jones (Best Actress), and Paul Lukas (Best Actor). 

 Even though the ceremony has been held at various sites, including the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the Beverly Hills Hilton hotel now serves as the official annual site of the ceremony.  As usual, Hollywood’s top players will come together in spectacular and fashionable harmony to celebrate and honor one another in a dinner party-type fashion. While sitting at conversation-inducing round tables, award attendees will partake in, both, fine wines and foods.  

Suki Sugiura, executive chef at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, is in charge, for the fourth time, of feeding Hollywood’s elite.  Planning six months in advance, the professional chef works with a kitchen crew of 100 and works from 6am-12 midnight to ensure the tastiness of his work.

The official menu of the 2010 Golden Globes includes:

—Garden herb-crusted California mozzarella with grilled eggplant on vine-ripened tomato and arugula radish salad

—Mediterranean herb-braised California beef short rib with artichoke sweet pepper ragout, along with sautéed filet of Pacific sea bass with truffle endive fritto and aged balsamic extra-virgin olive oil

—White chocolate envelope filled with mousseline of lime and citrus cake alongside a chocolate dome sponge cake with Cointreau and mandarin orange center topped with chocolate glaze and gold leaf, garnished with raspberries.

For more information about the menu, see Golden Globes 2010 Menu: Feeding the Stars and for details about the 2010 Golden Globes please visit: http://www.goldenglobes.org/.

 Article by Catrina A. Sally