Barack Obama wines and dines African heads of state

2014-08-05 16:07

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Plantain, dry-aged steak and Californian wines, served up with a side helping of Lionel Richie.

That is part of the feast that awaits President Jacob Zuma and 44 other African heads of state at the White House in Washington DC tonight.

They have been invited to a dinner hosted by United States President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

The dinner is hosted on the eve of the US-Africa Leaders Summit, which starts tomorrow. High-level side events, such as business forums and discussions on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, started yesterday

Tonight’s dinner is expected to be one of the highlights of the summit, but press access to the event is restricted.

The menu, however, promises a modest feast. For starters, chilled spiced tomato soup will be served with socca (chickpea) crisps flavoured with coriander oil and micro coriander.

Black Coyote sauvignon blanc from the Napa Valley will accompany the first course.

There will also be a “chopped farmstand vegetable salad” with sour-cream dressing, crisp onions and pumpkin seed vinaigrette.

The main course will be grilled dry-aged beef with a North African-style chermoula sauce and crispy plantain, a dish enjoyed in parts of Africa, the Caribbean and the US.

Side dishes include sweet potatoes and coconut milk. The course will be washed down with a Vision Cellars pinot noir Las Alturas 2010 from the Santa Lucia Highlands in California.

Dinner will be rounded off with a cappuccino fudge cake and Madagascar vanilla scented papaya with a salted caramel sauce. Thibaut-Janisson brut Monticello, a sparkling wine from Virginia, will crown dessert.

There is no sign of the South African Graham Beck sparkling wine with which Obama celebrated his inauguration in 2009. Obama is said to have been fond of the wine.

Regarding the more serious business, talks today will be around business X the US-Africa business forum takes place at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel near Georgetown.

Zuma is also expected to meet US vice president Joseph Biden and will be going to Capitol Hill to meet three US senators to talk about the renewal of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which gives African countries, including South Africa, duty-free trade with the US on certain items.

» City Press’ trip to Washington DC is partly paid for by the US embassy.

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