WASHINGTON – Brother, can you spare a $300 bottle of wine?
The White House dinner Friday night for foreign leaders working to resolve the global economic crisis featured traditionally gourmet selections for such an august gathering.
There was no risk of a menu meltdown to go along with the subject of the meeting — austere markets, lost jobs and homeowners with mortgages they can't afford.
The White House said the menu included fruitwood-smoked quail with quince gastrique; quinoa risotto; thyme-roasted rack of lamb; tomato, fennel and eggplant fondue; a salad course of endive, baked brie and walnuts; and a pear torte to cap the meal.
Among the wines: bottles of Shafer Cabernet "Hillside Select" 2003 — about $300 per bottle — for the main course and the much cheaper Landmark Chardonnay "Damaris Reserve" 2006 for about $40 per bottle with the appetizer course. The Chandon DEtoile RosDe sparkling wine that accompanied dessert runs around $30 a bottle.
Presidents pay for their own groceries, even while living in the White House. But during official or state dinners, such as Friday night's, U.S. taxpayers foot the bill.
Bush's guests for the dinner included Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd; Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Joseph Harper; Chinese President Hu Jintao; French President Nicolas Sarkozy; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. About two dozen leaders in all attended the dinner in the White House's State Dining Room.