What is the right way to mark the end of an outdoor feast on the edge of the Big River, waves lapping at your feet, a repast that kicks off with mojitos and oysters freshly trucked in from New Brunswick, Rhode Island and P.E.I., revs up to Maine lobster dipped in melted butter, grilled corn, coleslaw, baked potatoes and Parker rolls, and climaxes with homemade praline ice cream sandwiches, sprinkled liberally throughout with Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc, Château de Montfort vouvray and sparkling conversation?
If you are a ballet company, the inclination is to rise as one and salute the Great Ballet-Master with a noble port de bras – in this case, quatrième en haut (4th position high).
Quatrième en haut, according to American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum (NTC), which draws heavily from the Italian Cecchetti school, as well as the French and Russian schools, is defined by one arm in cinquième en haut (5th position high) and the other à la seconde (2nd position, out to the side). The 2nd position arm must be rounded ever so slightly in front of the shoulder and slope downward – such that a pearl which might happen to fall from one’s earring would roll smoothly down from shoulder to wrist and off the fingertips. The arm raised in 5th en haut should also be slightly rounded, the fingertips positioned directly over the crown of the head – fingers stretched long, not wilting. Shoulder blades should be pulled down, the neck long, the back wide, sternum lifted. A slight tilt of the head may be called for, depending on how much vouvray the choreographer has consumed.
Recipe for praline ice cream sandwiches: make the praline by caramelizing 1 cup sugar in a saucepan, add 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans and 1 ½ tsp salt, spread onto a large piece of foil and let cool, then peel off the foil and chop finely. Whisk 1 ½ cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, and ½ tsp salt. Separately, beat 1 ½ cup butter, 1 ¼ cups brown sugar, add 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla; reduce mixer speed and blend in flour mixture. Divide dough between 2 jelly roll pans lined with well-greased parchment and spread evenly. Sprinkle with chopped praline and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes till golden brown but still tender. Cool on racks. To assemble sandwiches, place one huge cookie – praline side down – in a pan lined with fresh parchment, top with ice cream, layer the other cookie on top – praline side up – and press lightly to form an even sandwich. Wrap the pan in plastic wrap, freeze at least 1 hour, then cut to sandwich size before serving. (Recipe courtesy of Coit Liles, Captain and Ballet-Master, Île du Cerf.)