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After exchanging gifts, Obama fetes Cameron with ‘local’ dinner

The president and first lady will cement their commitment to “eat local” efforts Wednesday evening when British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, enjoy a menu based on offerings from the White House kitchen garden.

On offer at the State Dinner, to be held outside on the White House South Lawn, are halibut with kale; salad greens from the garden; bison wellington and lemon sponge. Mercifully, the fish is from Alaska, rather than retrieved from the Potomac, and the bison once roamed in North Dakota, not the National Zoo, according to White House executive chef Cris Comerford.

The chef also mentioned that unseasonably warm weather has hurried the growth of some spring vegetables, which found their way onto the menu. It will have an effect on the guests, too, who will eat in a tent on the south lawn, rather than dining in the White House itself. There, they will sit around tables accented with purple and green flowers, a nod to the English country-garden style.

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Earlier in the day, Michelle Obama stuck with the local theme, presenting Samantha Cameron with a jar of honey collected from the White House bees.

The president and prime minister also exchanged gifts. Obama gave Cameron a garden grill to commemorate their cookout at 10 Downing Street when Obama visited last year. The gift included two White House chef jackets, each featuring American and British flags, and the Great Seal. The Obamas also gave each of the three Cameron children customized bean-bag chairs, embroidered with each child’s name and the Presidential Seal.

Cameron presented Obama with a ping pong table, a reminder of the two leaders’ loss in doubles to some school children on the same trip.

“Because I know America doesn’t like being on the losing side, I’m trying to make up to you with the gift of a table tennis table, which I hope will be there in the White House,” Cameron said at the leaders’ joint news conference Wednesday afternoon. Obama suggested they practice their game that afternoon.

Dinner guests will start arriving this afternoon. No word on the full list yet, but British actor Damian Lewis and golfer Rory McIlroy are expected to attend. American actor George Clooney is in town and could show his face. After dinner, scruffy London folk rockers Mumford & Sons will play, followed by dapper R&B singer John Legend, a native of Ohio.

ian.duncan@latimes.com

After exchanging gifts, Obama fetes Cameron with ‘local’ dinner


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