- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 7, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - It will be dinner underneath the stars for German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the White House ends a day of pomp in her honor Tuesday with tuna tartare and petite filet served al fresco in the Rose Garden. Grammy Award-winner James Taylor is on tap for the entertainment.

It’s the first state dinner that President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, will hold in the garden just steps from the Oval Office.

The garden’s plush lawn has been covered with protective flooring covered in grey and white carpet. Guests will sit at a mix of long and round tables covered with white and silver sequined linens and green-and-yellow floral centerpieces.

And what’s on the menu? The tuna, which is from Hawaii, will be paired with rye crisps and petite filet will be served with Maryland crab ravioli. There’s also salad from the first lady’s garden, dressed in vinaigrette made of White House honey. For dessert, the pastry chef has whipped up apple strudel from a recipe that’s said to be a twist on traditional German strudel. It’s made with farmer’s cheese from Vermont.

The dinner caps a day of all-out diplomatic outreach that was carefully orchestrated to highlight Germany’s growing role in world affairs and its importance as a U.S. partner.

It began with a 19-gun salute on the South Lawn and included meetings with Obama and his advisers, a joint news conference with the president and a State Department lunch.

Merkel is the first European leader to receive such treatment from Obama.

At lunch, the she presented Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with a framed copy of a German newspaper photo of the two in pantsuits _ showing them only from the waist down. The caption asked: “Which one is Merkel and which one is Clinton?”

On the back of the news page and of the framed picture, was the full photo showing Merkel and Clinton and their similar tastes in clothing.

___

Associated Press writer Nancy Benac contributed to this report.

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