WASHINGTON (AP) — When the White House set out to throw a party for a group of its Nordic allies, it found inspiration in something they all share: the cold.
A state dinner Friday for the leaders of Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Norway will include several nods to wintry and wet weather, as well the culture of a region increasingly known for its food and design.
The unusual group affair — state dinners typically honor a single visiting leader — will follow a U.S.-Nordic Summit, a White House meeting on security and economic issues with nations President Barack Obama often lauds as model global citizens. The lavish dinner will reflect that admiration, White House officials said Thursday as they previewed the party to the media.
The White House showed off wooden farm tables set with white china, elevated beveled, crystal candles sticks and soaring ice vases filled with white field flowers.
The event, Obama's 12th state dinner, will be held on the South Lawn in a tent designed with a transparent ceiling to allow guests to see the night sky.
The first course of Atlantic, salt-cured tuna was to be served on ice platters.
The inspiration for the decor was the "cycle of the northern lights and shadows," according to a White House description. It might also have taken cues from another phenomenon: The simple, white chairs had distinct Ikea vibe.
Pop singer Demi Lovato was booked to provide the after-dinner entertainment for guests that typically include a mix of Washington fixtures and celebrities with some ties to the guests of honor. The White House was slated to release the guest list Friday.
Along with the tuna, which White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford said was a play on the region's infamous cured fish dishes, were other blends of Scandinavian and American cuisine. Appetizers included waffles served American style with chicken, and aquavit seafood cocktail. Braised beef short ribs from Nebraska were the main course, to be served with hot kale salad and creamy lemon thyme dumplings.
Dessert was to be an homage to the fishing industry in the form of a blue, glowing edible fishing boat, displayed with pastries of elderberry custard pie, raspberry kringle and gooseberry cookies.
"They can eat everything but the lights," said White House pastry chef Susie Morrison.