Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's historic, three-day state visit in Washington, D.C. with President Barack Obama got off to a hot start yesterday with a gala at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery. Put together by the progressive think-tank Canada 2020, the event featured Toronto-based pop star The Weeknd, and, notably, geographically appropriate food and beverages. HuffPost Canada reported that "Cocktails, canapés, and food stations will feature Canadian products and themes, such as Labatt Blue-braised sliders and Atlantic salmon tartare."
And Montreal smoked meat too. New York's Mile End Deli, a bona fide love letter to Montreal's Jewish delis of yore, was called in to supply the event with smoked meat sandwiches. Mile End's Joel Tietolman and Noah Bernamoff, who also gave New York Montreal-style bagels with the wildly popular Black Seed Bagels, got the call a week ago. Both are Montreal natives.
"They called us last week and we just squeaked out getting everything into place!," says Tietolman. "We gave [the Prime Minister] a copy of the Mile End Cookbook. He was super nice." While Trudeau, a longtime Schwartz's fan, did not get a chance to sample the meat itself, "he was really gracious," Tietolman told the Gazette. (Incidentally, Montreal-born chef Antony Nassif was tapped to helm Mile End's kitchen last fall.)
The Montreal and Quebec inflected nosh-fest will continue at the big White House state dinner in Trudeau's honour tonight. The Washington Post reports that "a riff on poutine" will be on the menu. "One of the country’s most popular exports, the greasy rib-sticker with ties to Quebec (and really late nights) will be spiffed up and scaled back in the hands of White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford. Her more formal take on the fast food involves shavings of smoked duck and cheese curds finished with red wine gravy and served on delicate wafer fries: a one-bite canapé." A maple pecan cake will feature maple syrup not from la belle province, alas, but from from New England.
Update, March 17, 2016: Justin Trudeau's Mile End Deli connection continued today in New York, when the Prime Minister was interviewed by journalist Elizabeth Plank (herself a Montreal) at the restaurant.