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As we eagerly (anxiously?) await who will be our 44th president, I thought it would be fitting to examine what our past presidents ate and drank while in the White House. Here, a select sampling of presidents and their gustatory pleasures while in office, along with F&W’s take on each:
George Washington served Champagne-quality ciders to visiting diplomats.
F&W: Most ciders from New Hampshire’s Farnum Hill Ciders are dry and lightly tannic, with complex undertones—not just of apple but also of raspberry, mango and oak—and come in 750 ml bottles with an elegant label.
Thomas Jefferson poured 4,000 bottles of Madeira for his White House guests.
F&W: We recently bestowed Best New Wine List honors to the San Francisco restaurant Spruce for its excellent 1,300-bottle selection, which includes a heavy emphasis on Madeira—which chef-partner Mark Sullivan (an F&W Best New Chef 2002) likes to pair with his house-made charcuterie.
Jimmy Carter, true to his Southern roots, loved fried chicken.
F&W: To make the crispy, juicy fried chicken served every other Monday at Ad Hoc in Yountville, California, superstar chef Thomas Keller first soaks whole chickens in a lemony brine, then coats and fries it.
Ronald Reagan The fiscal conservative didn’t take risks with his beef either—he preferred his steaks well-done.
F&W: In our steak slide show, chef Shea Gallante (an F&W Best New Chef 2005) of Cru in New York City offers a recipe for garlicky herb-rubbed hangar steaks, and chef Paul Virant (an F&W Best New Chef 2007) of Vie in Western Springs, Illinois, makes skirt steaks with salsa verde and ricotta salata.
George Bush The first Bush in office was a fan of shad roe.
F&W: While shad roe are only in season in the spring, our taste test of 22 American caviars revealed favorites like Seattle Caviar’s mild-tasting, apricot-hued golden whitefish roe from Montana’s Flathead Lake.