"Bittersweet" was the word of the night, the one often used to describe President Obama's final state dinner. "We saved the best for last," he said Tuesday as he welcomed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini, to the White House. He wasn't joking. The final gala meant everything was big or bigger, from the personality of the guest chef (Mario Batali, who collaborated on the menu), to the size of the white tent (huge) on the South Lawn where the soiree was held, to the guest list (nearly 400 people).
Michelle, your tomatoes are great. But after the last weeks, let me be very frank, your speeches are better than your tomatoes.Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
Once again, the first lady dazzled — really — in her evening gown, a rose gold chain mail outfit by Italian designer Versace, the White House said. Grammy-winning pop singer Gwen Stefani opened the after-dinner segment with her hit, "The Sweet Escape," as her boyfriend, country music superstar Blake Shelton, looked on from the audience. The menu was designed to showcase traditional Italian dishes that are familiar to Americans and were made using ingredients pulled from Michelle Obama's garden during this month's final harvest, such as the sweet potatoes and herbs.