24 FEBRUARY 2009

They looked ready for a night at the Oscars. But Michelle Obama - draped in pearls and glittering in an elegant strapless gown - and her tuxedo-clad husband Barack Obama had their own special event to go to on Sunday evening.

The couple were hosting Mr Obama's first black tie dinner at the White House. Around 130 guests, who included the nation's key governors, were invited to the dinner ahead of a summit to discuss America's economic troubles.

"Everybody looks extraordinary," complimented the US leader, joking: "even Axelrod has cleaned up pretty well"- a reference to his political strategist.

At the meal, which included such delicacies as Chesapeake crab - stuffed pasta parcels with roasted Jersumsalem artichokes, and wagyu beef and Nantucket scallops, the 47-year-old statesman sat between the wives of the governors for Pennsylvania and Florida. Meanwhile his wife - who's recently adopted a shorter, sleeker hairdo – was seated with California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The pair appeared to hit it off, chatting and sharing jokes,

After the meal the party retired to the East Room for a performance by R&B band Earth Wind And Fire.

Earlier, in the White House kitchen, the First Lady revealed a brief insight into her family's breakfast favorites as she previewed the dinner menu for of a group of students from a nearby culinary school. "There are some mean waffles and grits that are made in the morning that have become a regular staple for some of us," she revealed.

Photo: Getty Images
While the Hollywood glitterati were celebrating the Oscars in LA, the First Couple rolled out the White House red carpet in Washington for a black tie event ahead of a financial strategy summit
Photo: Getty Images
Mr Obama complimented the party, which was made up of key governors including Arnold Schwarzenegger, on their appearance
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