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Student Musicians Perform at Lincoln Center

lincolncenterTalented Scarsdale High and Middle School musicians performed at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2017 in the Greater Westchester Youth Orchestra (GWYOA) spring gala concert. They were directed by Maestro Jacqueline Stern (Westchester Junior Strings) and Maestros Victor and Vincent Lionti (Westchester Youth Symphony).

Among the musicians from Scarsdale were:
Mira Zelkowitz, Rohan Gharekhan, Anna Eligulashvili, Harris Gelblum, Lily Kronenberg, Victoria Von Redden, Rishabh Gharekhan

Brandon Yazdi, Mark Russel, Margaret Kantor, Catherine Zhang, Vivianne Ong, Vianne Lim, Henry Zhang, Kenny Xu, Jeremy Ng

Molly Osinoff, Julia Ng, Jessica Kwong, Hannah Osinoff

The GWYOA is a not-for-profit organization providing excellent grounding in cooperation, helping young people to develop self esteem, and promoting harmony in our ethnically diverse community through classical music training. GWYOA consists of three orchestras made up of students in grades four through twelve from Westchester County, NY, and from the surrounding counties in the Tri-State area working in cooperation with the Westchester Community College in Valhalla, NY.

Scarsdale Wears Denim to Raise Awareness About Sexual Violence

denimdayDenim Day began in response to a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court in which a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The victim was an 18-year old girl who had been picked up by her married 45-year old driving instructor for her very first lesson. He took her to an isolated road, pulled her out of the car, wrestled her out of one leg of her jeans and forcefully raped her.

Outraged by the ruling, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work the next day wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Peace Over Violence developed the Denim Day campaign 18 years ago because of this case and the activism surrounding it and Denim Day has been held every year since then on a Wednesday in April.

Wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.Zaria1

The Scarsdale Coalition on Family Violence is asking community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement by wearing jeans on Wednesday, the 26th, as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. PLEASE WEAR DENIM AND TAKE A PHOTO and send it to Lauren Pomerantz at lpomerantz@sfcsinc.org or to Penny Bauersfeld at pennybauersfeld@gmail.com so that your photo can be posted on the Coalition's Facebook page.

Or, post it on your own Facebook page, and use the hashtags:

#DenimDay
#NoExcuse
#ScarsdaleHeatlhyRelationships
#Scarsdalepride

DenimDay1The Scarsdale Village Board wore denim and signed a proclamation declaring Denim Day in the Village of Scarsdale for April 26th. The board and staff wore denim for the Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday April 25th.

See more photos of Scarsdalians in denim on the Facebook page of the Coalition on Family Violence and Healthy Releationships.

Tales from the 'Dale: Scarsdale Storytellers Tell All

SandiMarxI love listening to The Moth Radio Hour on NPR and sometimes find myself sitting outside in the car waiting to hear the end of these funny and often heart wrenching stories. Moth storytellers bare their most intimate secrets and share their embarrassing moments with thousands of listeners who they've never met. It's highly entertaining and often mind blowing.

That's why I was so excited when I found out that Scarsdale would have its own version of the story slam. Presented by the Scarsdale Adult School and hosted by former Scarsdale resident and StorySLAM champ Sandi Marx, "Tales From the "Dale And Beyond" promised to be a lot more fun than the usual gatherings I cover on weeknights, and the performance did not disappoint.

Each of the performers for the April 5th event at the Heathcote Auditorium was selected by Sandi Marx with Ann Sacher and Leesa Suzman, co-chairs of the Scarsdale Adult School Board of Trustees. They managed to attract some first rate talent, not surprising since most of the performers either grew up in Scarsdale or work or live here now.

Sandi Marx, served as host and storyteller and opened the night with a tale called "Race to Nowhere" about her early days in Scarsdale when she found herself outside her comfort zone in the pool of a local country club. Though she was trying to impress her small twins by participating in a race, it ultimately became evident that she didn't know how to swim!

Marx was followed by SHS English teacher Denise Del Balzo. suzmanIt was easy to see why she's a favorite among students and parents. In a story called, "When a Stranger Calls," she recounted her experience during a kidnapping that rocked New York in 1993. At the time, she was dating her future husband  whose mother's boyfriend went missing. It was later determined that he had been kidnapped and buried alive next to the West Side Highway. The New York Times called it a "bizarre case with flashes of Edgar Allan Poe," and Del Balzo's expertly delivered rendition of the family's wait for his return was one of the highlights of the night.

handelmanHigh school buddies Lori Weitzner and David Handelman made the return trip to Scarsdale to let us in on what happened way back when. It turns out that Lori was an associate editor of the yearbook when David was the editor. When it came time for the end of year dinner, rather than inviting Weitzner to the celebration, he told her that she had to cook the dinner. Outraged, Weitzner and her friend came up with a plan to set things right. In this riotous tale of revenge, the girls cooked up a special lasagna laced with dog food for Handelman ... but in a strange turn of events, Handelman's two younger brothers became the unknowing victims and eat the purloined pasta.

Somehow Weitzner and Handelman survived that scuffle and to become lifelong friends. In his performance, "You Can Go Home Again," Handelman described the summer after his graduation from Harvard. Unable to figure out how to pursue his dream to be a writer, he retreated to his room at home in Scarsdale, and much to his parents dismay, took a job at Ramsey's Farm. Now a successful television producer and writer, he looked back to the time when he had to explain to his parent's friends why he was bagging tomatoes at a farm stand.

I was instantly won over by Victoria Assa, who wasassa born in the Soviet Union and immigrated to Rego Park, Queens at the age of six. Anxious to appear American like her classmates, she was mortified by the appearance and customs of her parents and grandmother, who would pick her up at school with a chicken cutlet in her hand. Assa was determined to learn to speak English and dress like a New Yorker. Though she tried to escape her past, when she met the man who was to become her husband, it turned out that he had emigrated from Cuba. Victoria and her beau worried what their two sets of parents would have in common. But lo and behold, the in-laws met and realized they all knew the same communist song, but in different languages. Assa ended by saying, "We are all immigrants. Our unique stories don't tear us apart – they bring us together."

finksThe performers also included a father-daughter team – radio personality Jimmy Fink from the Peak with his daughter Lucie Fink, a video producer at Refinery29. Together they shared a story of what can happen when social media goes wrong. While appearing as a guest on the Today Show at NBC Lucie met Matt Lauer, and when he offered to take her to lunch to offer some career advice, Lucie was so excited that she tweeted out the news to her followers. Her tweet was picked up by the National Inquirer, who gave it a salacious spin. After Lucie ended up on the cover of the tabloid her story spiraled out of control. The brave duo explained what happened and how they repaired the damage.

Another member of the SHS faculty, Rashid Silvera took the stage, rashidsaying he "was raised by a fellowship of raconteurs." He told a story of his own evolutions saying, "You do not find the right people until you become the right person." He took us back to wild times at Studio 54 when Silvera was moonlighting as a GQ model. Only in his first year of teaching at SHS, he wasn't quite sure what the parents would think of his second career. He decided to test the waters when he was given a handful of VIP tickets to Studio 54 – which he called the "Tabernacle of Temptation." On open school night, while other teachers were conferring with parents about student's performance, he scoped out the crowd and distributed the free tickets to parents he thought might venture downtown. When the big night arrived, he was thrilled to find the parents "partying their heads off" on the dance floor. He was so happy to find the right people in Scarsdale, where he has stayed for three decades.

There were more great stories from Fran Scheffler-Siegel, June C. Sambol and Polish emigree, actress, writer and Moth GrandSLAM winner Danusia Trevino. The show was recorded and can be viewed on Scarsdale Public Television (Cablevision Channel 76 and Verizon Fios 42.

Hats off to Sacher, Suzman, Marx and the Scarsdale Adult School for producing great entertainment in the 'Dale. Let's hope it becomes an annual event.

storyslam

O Mandarin for Culture and Cuisine

mandarin5Newly opened O Mandarin, is situated a few doors from H Mart Asian Market in Hartsdale. According to owner Peter Liu, the O in its name stands for original. With the beauty of both its décor and its food, I would add outstanding and overwhelming.

Owner Peter Liu came to the United States at the age of 18, with a passion for food, inspired by his grandparents. He settled in New Orleans where he received a degree in hotel management. He worked at many restaurants and was also involved in the culinary field in Rhode Island as well as Austin Texas. Upon arriving in New York, he worked in Portchester. Says Liu, "At O Mandarin, I hope to invite prominent visiting Chinese chefs who will arrange tasting menus for our guests. One of my goals is to have O Mandarin get a Michelin rating." His passion is evident in both décor and food. Catering is offered, as well. When I inquired about take out and delivery, he indicated that his food is at its best when eaten immediately after preparation. If Liu could invite anyone to O Mandarin, it would be his parents. "My goal is to introduce America to authentic Chinese cuisine."

Exquisitely decorated, O Mandarin is filled with mandarin2Chinese antiques and wall hangings. Liu travelled extensively in China to amass this collection of Chinese decorative art and furniture. From the carved dragon door handles to the elaborately carved stone hitching posts, meant to park your horse, the details inform us of the history of China. We arrived by car and parked in the ample parking lot. We entered O Mandarin and were transported to a world of authentic Chinese culture. Floral painted scrolls, antique kitchen utensils, elaborate headboards and ancient sand paintings are among the antiquities that line the walls. Large round tables, raised booths and banquettes, as well as a separate area with a large private table are your seating options. Bird cake inspired chandeliers subtly light the room. The setting is reminiscent of the dining room in an emperor's home. I even sat in the pair of Qin Dynasty chairs meant for the emperor and empress. It was in this elegant history filled space, that I proceeded to experience the authentic Mandarin cuisine as prepared by Chef Eric Gao, a protégé of esteemed chef Peter Chang. Comfortably seated at a large round elmwood table, Peter Liu and I savored a true banquet of authentic specialties. One could not help but note the imported Chinese dinnerware, the classic tea pot and the lacquered chopsticks. Red napkins added a pop of color.

Liu explained each dish and indicated that authenticity is the name of the game. Among the dim sum choices were flounder cilantro rolls, Shanghai spring rolls, and Sichuan crispy buns. We opted for soup dumplings and Sichuan wontons. In each dish, the delicate dough wrappers were prepared on site. We carefully punctured the soup dumpling and allowed the fragrant broth to fill our mouth. The flavor of ginger and vinegar was utter perfection. The Sichuan wontons filled with chicken and pork were perfectly spiced, with just enough seasoning to awaken your taste buds. The soup selections included cilantro tofu, wild mushroom and riblet and chicken corn. We enjoyed the famous Chengdu fish soup. It arrived as a meal in a bowl with flounder, vermicelli, and Chinese mustard cabbage. The freshness of the fish added beautiful flavor to the broth. Brought to the table in a lovely covered tureen, it maintained its temperature as it was spooned into our bowls.

mandarin3There were several cold appetizers to choose from. Liu suggested his favorite, lotus root and sticky rice, and it was a fine choice. It was crisp and slightly sweet, a nice light beginning. Other cold appetizers such as Sichuan peppercorn tofu skin, wild peppercorn and wood-ear mushrooms, and minced garlic and pork belly await future visits. The hot appetizers included familiar chicken lettuce wraps as well as mussels in black bean broth and wok fried eggplant. I opted for the glazed spareribs, meaty and finger licking good.

Many of us have tried the famous Peking Duck at various Chinese restaurants. Do try this dish at O Mandarin where it is painstakingly prepared from scratch in the traditional manner. The tender organic duck is encased in homemade flour crepes along with scallions, cucumber and homemade hoisin sauce. It was one of the best renditions of the dish I have ever had. Liu explained that it started out as an imperial delicacy a thousand years ago. Savoring it at O Mandarin will make you feel like royalty as well.

About 20 Mandarin classics are offered. I loved the shredded pork with bamboo. Combined with smoked bean curd, leeks and baby bamboo it was a nicely seasoned and multi textured dish. Future choices may include Sichuan seafood clay pot, sweet pea prawns, basil chicken or lions head meatballs. Among the chef's signature dishes we enjoyed Mandarin smoked pork. Cilantro added a fine taste to the pork, leeks, red peppers and celery. It was beautifully presented in a bamboo serving dish. We also play to try the Sichuan lamb chops, Dungeness crab or a variety of steamed or crisp whole fish.

Along with our entrees we loved fresh pineapple fried rice served in half of a fresh pineapple. Several varieties of rice including jasmine made this dish special. Healthy vegetable and tofu dishes and several rice and noodle options are offered, as well. Complete your meal with a taro spring roll, pumpkin cake or sweet sticky rice soup.
mandarin4
If lunch is your meal of choice, many more familiar dishes are offered. For the less adventuresome there is wonton, egg drop or hot and sour soup and entrees of General Tso's Chicken, orange peel chicken, Asian vegetables and tofu and shredded pork in sweet bean sauce to name but a few.

Much thought and passion went into planning O Mandarin and the result is a unique and sophisticated experience in Chinese culture and dining where a happy spirit fills the air.

As we exited the restaurant and entered the reality of busy Central Avenue, we looked forward to many more visits to the serenity and sophistication of O Mandarin.

O Mandarin Chinese Cuisine
361 North Central Avenue
Hartsdale, NY
(914) 437 9168

Contributor Judie Dweck has been writing about restaurants and food for many publications. She teaches creative cooking to children at Scarsdale elementary schools. Through the years, her articles have appeared in Jack and Jill Magazine, Spotlight, The Pleasure of Cooking and The Scarsdale Inquirer. She balances her restaurant tastings with daily ballet classes.

Starbucks Opens in the Golden Horseshoe

starbucks1Big news at the Golden Horseshoe: The spacious Starbucks has opened in an all-new building that will also include Chopt – which is set to open in just a few weeks.

The new Starbucks is large and offers their signature coffees, tea and iced drinks along with pastries, sandwiches in bistro boxes, snacks and smoothies. The large location has indoor and outdoor tables as well as counter seating. Probably most appreciated is the drive-through window so that customers can order without getting out of the car.

The Starbucks will be the only location in the area serving Nitro Cold Brew Iced Coffee which is cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen to create a smooth, naturally sweet beverage. Also available will be Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew.starbucks3

Starbucks Store Manager Sabryna Gerdon says, "So far we are very happy with the business and the community has been great! We are very excited to be here and we have received a warm welcome from the area. This location is one of the only drive-throughs in the area, and we are very proud of that. We will also be serving the new Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew Iced Coffee next week.

The store opens early – 5:30 am Monday – Friday, and 6 am on the weekend. It stays open late too .... 'til 10 pm on weekdays and 11 pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

starbucks2Make new friends but keep the old. If you're in the area don't forget Bagel Power for fresh bagels, flavored cream cheese and great iced coffee with frozen coffee ice cubes too.

Watch for the opening of Chopt on April 28 and the big new CVS in June.

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