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Scarsdale Writers Critique Groups Offer a Safe Haven

writing-300x181The Scarsdale Library runs Writing Critique Groups to encourage local writers to explore new writing approaches, gain new insights and to provide them with a warm and supportive writing community. Lynn Beville, one of the participants, shared these thoughts on what the experience has meant to her:

As a nine year old in the 1950's, attending North Broadway School #2 (now a site of corporate offices), I used to slip, undetected into the second floor school library. This library was tiny, situated above the school nurse's office on the first floor. My plan was to be alone in the little space, lined with shelved books. I managed to do so, intent on reading the then controversial picture book about "Little Black Sambo". What an intrigue it was to peruse the pages of a story I knew both my parents and teachers would rather I not know about. How did I know this? Children pick up on grown-up's secrets and they grasp the innuendo too.

As children morph into adults, they sometimes harbor and deeply cherish the inclinations to read and write stories that have been sheltered in intrigue. But it seems both vaguely and imminently dangerous to do this, unless one can find a safe little place where uncovering or leaking secrets can take place. This is especially significant in post-adolescent adulthood because that is where the longest held stories are hovering.

I cherished for many years, both the intrigue and potential for re-visiting the quiet secret feeling I had in that tiny school library. I cherished concealed meaning in the writing of symbols in poetry. I relished the withholding of my life's secrets, and some leaking of them too. I found outlets for uncovering and catacombs for burying revelations in writing. Public and university libraries became favorite places to find refuge and solace.

Considerable vulnerabilities lurk wherever stories have been held back. Thus, a lot is at stake when the amateur writer opens up the backwash of untold tales and lets them flow out into the light of scrutiny.

I've ventured into several writing circles to gingerly leak out held back stories, some written, some circling, in the belfries waiting to be released. Workshops and writing circles are where writers can sharpen their talons of skill, toughen their skin for critique and advance their standing from amateur to professional; from obscure to recognized, in the coveted realm of being published. My experience in workshops over the years has varied from shockingly frontal to gently awakening. In some, peers have been supportive, in others the instructor has been supportive.

In semi-transition from a large writing community to a smaller one, I've discovered a writing group at the Scarsdale Library, facilitated by a working and published author. This branch of the Westchester Library system offers a welcome refuge from the hectic world we occupy. Although I am surrounded by staff and patrons when I arrive there, I am able to recall the quiet place feeling I had in my Elementary School library.

Barbara Josselsohn, a much respected instructor manages to encourage growth and literary mobility among the ranks of writers who trust their development to her. She instructs through skillful orientation, taking inspiration from, and giving inspiration to the process.

Very fortunately for me, the writers who have been drawn to this Scarsdale Library Club (one of several, by the way) are especially supportive to each other. They show respect for the challenge writing poses to the writer. I have found the safe haven for leaking out secrets that ride waves of vulnerability.

lynnbevilleLynn Beville is a retired school social worker (Westchester systems: New Rochelle, Yonkers, Mt. Vernon). She is also a veteran of Westchester Child Welfare systems and NY State Dept. of Mental Health. She used art and children's literature extensively in her work and has written and performed poetry with live music for many years. She has been a member of Sarah Lawrence Writer's Institute since the 1990's.

Kids' B.A.S.E. Appoints New Executive Director

JaniceBarnesThe Board of Trustees of Kids' B.A.S.E. and the Little School ("K.B.L.S.") has appointed Janice Barnes as the new Executive Director of K.B.L.S. Ms. Barnes will be starting on July 11, 2016. Jessica Anfang and Nicole Lemerond, Co-Presidents of the K.B.L.S. Board of Trustees, commented, "We are thrilled to have found someone of Janice's caliber; she is an ideal fit for our school. We welcome Janice with open arms to the K.B.L.S. family and look forward to a very promising future under her direction."

Ms. Barnes is an accomplished early childhood and elementary school educator and
administrator with over thirty years of experience in the field. She was most recently the Executive Director of Ridgeway Nursery School and Kindergarten where she worked for 27 years, first as a teacher for 9 years and then as the Executive Director for 18 years. Prior to Ridgeway, she worked in various roles in Port Chester and Edgemont Public Schools. Ms. Barnes is also currently an Adjunct Professor in Early Childhood Education at Nyack College.

Ms. Barnes stated, "I am so excited to have this opportunity as the new Executive Director at K.B.L.S. I am ready to take my over 30 years of experience in early childhood education, and put it to use in the Scarsdale community and at K.B.L.S. 'It takes a village to raise a child', and I am thrilled to be an integral piece of that puzzle at K.B.L.S.

K.B.L.S. offers the highest quality of educational, social, and care experiences possible for resident Scarsdale children from age 2 through Grade 6. Kids' B.A.S.E. and The Little School are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, chartered by the NYS Board of Regents, and licensed by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services. K.B.L.S. offers year-round extended hours of operation to accommodate children and families through a range of programs including:

• The Little School: Scarsdale's premier preschool program with classes for 2s, 3s, and 4s.
• Kids' B.A.S.E.: Before- and after-school enrichment and care programs for children in grades K-6.
• The Little School Summer Enrichment Camp: Full of fun learning experiences, swim instruction, crafts, sports, and daily swim.
• Summer Set Before-and-After Camp Enrichment: Summer enrichment programming for children in grades K-5

Pax Romana: Roman Style Dining in White Plains

pax1The Roman style of casual dining at Pax Romana is a most pleasant way to enjoy a meal. It has been said that," A meal without pasta is like a day without sunshine." Add sunshine to your meal by dining at Pax Romana where passion, pride and authenticity infuse each dish. Pax Romana is the new restaurant to occupy the space that recently housed Taleggio. Completely redecorated, it now has a rustic casual look with dark leather chairs, dark wood floors, beautiful arched windows and lots of plants and antique accessories which give it a vintage look. Fresh flowers grace each table. At the entrance, note the gelato showcase and keep it in mind for the finale to your meal. In the dining room, there is a pasta table seating eight, where you can watch the chef prepare your pasta. The rear wall is an authentic looking fresco -- a graffiti wall with Italian sayings on it. Pax Romana is owned by Paul Russo and Brothers Alfredo and Christian Runco. Heading the kitchen staff is Cristian Petitta, most recently of La Bocca in White Plains. In the true Roman tradition, simplicity and fresh ingredients are qualities of his dishes. Russo describes Pax Romana as," rustic, modern, authentic with homestyle Italian cooking. Very important ingredients in our dishes are love and good energy... In the near future, we hope to conduct classes in pasta making and serve Sunday brunch, as well." Russo was only four years old, when he visited Disneyworld and upon looking at its hotel he knew that this was the career route he wanted to follow. This led to culinary school, work at The Castle in Tarrytown, and several years at a well-known golf club in Rockland. "At Pax Romana, it is all about team work. We are like a family and work together for success. My family taught me to put in time and energy into my work and show respect."

The menu here uses Italian names for the dishes with English translations which lends itself to authenticity. We started our tasting with a modern presentation of the classic suppli ar telefono. Here the tomato risotto balls were log shaped. This breaded delight revealed a mozzarella filling. When bitten into, the melted mozzarella resembled telephone wires, thus its name. Served in a mini deep frying basket and wrapped in butcher paper, it was accompanied by a skewer of meat filled breaded and fried olives, a delicious beginning. A puree of cannellini beans served as the base for tender grilled octopus. The cooking process of braising, grilling and massaging the octopus, resulted in a fine texture. Other interesting starters include chicken wings with Italian herbs, braised artichokes with mint, garlic and white wine and pecorino flan.

Free form pizzas arrived in several varieties. The dough for the crust is prepared from imported Roman flour which is fermented for 72 hours before preparation. Pax Romana is one of the few restaurants to import this flour. Our pie topped with Roman chicory, homemade sausage and mozzarella was excellent. The sausage is lovingly prepared by Giovanna Runco, mother of Alfredo aand Christian. Future visits may include the classic margherita or porchetta pie with roasted pork, greens and sun dried tomatoes.

One of the highlights of the menu is the large selection paxpastaof freshly made pasta. Many of the recipes are based on old family favorites of the owners and the chef. The Gnocchi Sorrentina are hand formed and baked in a light tomato sauce with mozzarella and fresh basil. The cheese melted into these delicate morsels and the tomato sauce was just rich enough to compliment these cloudlike dumplings. The maccheroni con ragu de sarsiccia was a winner. The tubes of pasta, like all the other pastas at Pax Romana are prepared from scratch in their kitchen. A hearty crumbled sausage ragu bathed the pasta and the dish was topped with a meaty pork rib on the bone. The dish was reflective of the home style dishes of Rome. Very unique was a dish of pappardelle with a wild boar ragu. The pappardelle was infused with cocoa. I always thought of chocolate as part of an entrée in Mexican mole sauce and was surprised to see it as a pasta ingredient. The thick ribbons of al dente pappardelle were sturdy enough to pair with the rich sauce. The cocoa in the pasta dough added a very subtle flavor to this dish. Yet to be tried is the spaghetti carbonara. The strands of pasta mingle with egg yolk, pecorino cheese, black pepper and guanciale (pork cheek), rather than pancetta. Whole wheat penne with pesto, chittara with smoked salmon and zucchini and oxtail ravioli are also on the list for our next visit.

Entrees include veal, seafood, steak and chicken in classic preparations. We enjoyed branzino trasparenza. It arrived like a gift wrapped present. Bass, clams, mussels and shrimp and a julienne of carrots, zucchini, onion and fresh mint were encased in heat resistant plastic and baked. Our waiter used a pair of scissors to cut the package open at the table as the aroma of the delicious broth lofted around the table. It was lovely in taste and presentation.

paxgelatoHomemade desserts include apricot tart, tiramisu, and dark, milk and white chocolate mousse, but it was the display of about two dozen varieties of homemade gelato that tempted me. Would it be pistachio, mixed berry lemon or Nutella? We chose hazelnut, mint chocolate chip and coffee, topped with a homemade pizzelle prepared by Paul Russo's grandmother, Graziella Fante. Russo indicated," Grandma gets joy in preparing them. She lives to feed you."

If Rome is not your vacation destination, take a ride to Pax Romana, where the authentic dishes of Rome are offered right here in White Plains.
Pax Romana
189 East Post Road
White Plains
(914) 437 5791

Italian Basil Pesto Genovese

1 or 2 cloves of peeled garlic
3 ½ ounces fresh basil leaves
1 ½ ounces pine nuts
3 ½ ounces grated parmigiana reggiano cheese
7 ounces pecorino Romano cheese
3 ½ ounces extra virgin olive oil
Touch of heavy cream* optional


Quick blender method
Place all ingredients except cream into blender container. Blend on high speed for one minute. Remove lid and using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides. Check the consistency of the mixture. It should be thick and creamy. If you think it should be a bit thinner blend for a few more seconds, but don't overdo it. Some cooks add a bit of heavy cream but that is not essential.

JudieJudie 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.

Sumptuous Sunday Brunch at Gaucho Grill

gaucho2Dinner at Gaucho Grill in White Plains has always been a favorite of mine. I recently decided to sample their Sunday brunch served from 11:30 to 3 P.M.. Armed with a healthy appetite I admired the overwhelming display of dishes, which transported me to the buffets at luxurious vacation resorts or at a fancy wedding reception. Gaucho Grill is known for its Argentinean and Italian dishes. The buffet includes dishes from these areas as well as international favorites. The choices include many staples, with the addition of lots of additional dishes which vary each week.

Owned by Alan Nussbaum and Maria Rubiano, Gaucho Grill is run with the aim of making their guests happy. " I feed my guests like I feed my family. We have many family groups enjoying our Sunday brunch. We stand out among many restaurant brunches because of our large variety of high quality dishes. Dishes are brought out in half trays and refilled often. This assures freshness. Nothing is sitting around, and the display is carefully attended to so it does not get messy and unappealing." Chef Thomas Pena heads the kitchen. He traces his roots to Mexico and has worked in many restaurant kitchens in Manhattan and Westchester. "I enjoy every area of my work. I never forget a taste. I add my own touch to traditional dishes."

brunch2On a recent Spring Sunday afternoon, a valet parked my car and I entered Gaucho Grill through the lounge area into the large center dining room. The black and white color scheme was accented by wall hangings of authentic Argentinean cowhide. We dined in the intimate wine cellar room with white linens and fresh flowers on each table. The outdoor patio is another fine option for your meal.

One view of the lavish Sunday brunch buffet, and I was hoping that my appetite could match the huge selection of beautifully displayed dishes. Enjoy a mimosa or perhaps some freshly brewed iced tea as you make your choices. With plate in hand, I started with the salads. Regulars on the buffet were caesar salad, house salad and strawberry goat cheese varieties. I chose a healthy quinoa salad, a traditional Greek salad and a refreshing and original apple salad. Tortilla Espagnole, a quiche like treasure was offered in both a sausage and a vegetarian style. They were a room temperature delight. A tray of roasted vegetables shared the plate. A couple of spoonful of tilapia ceviche and guacamole and I returned to my table, to enjoy this first round of tastes. I just could not resist the fresh ceviche and actually went back for a second helping. I passed on the varied cheese trays, and the table of mini bagels, cream cheese and jams, and moved on to see what delight awaited guests in the soup tureen. Few spoonsful of pureed pumpkin soup enhanced with amaretto was rich and delicious. My eyes and appetite moved on to the numerous silver chafing dishes of hot specialties. The selection included pasta, vegetable, fish and meat dishes. I had to start being very selective. Spicy mussels in a cognac sauce was delicious. It was amazing to me that the shellfish was not overcooked, but juicy and filled with flavor even though it was served buffet style. Tilapia oreganata was mild and satisfying. Sausage and peppers was a fine classic. Meatballs shared a chafing dish with roasted potatoes and each was tasty, as well. In a Latin vein, sautéed plantains in a syrupy sauce were a pleasant accompaniment to these hot dishes. Beef with mushrooms and onions, Italian style chicken and penne chipotle primavera were offered, as well. A display of a variety of breads was a work of art.

It was time to sweeten the palate with some All American French toast. Here it was thick slices of challah stuffed with fresh blueberries and cream cheese, fried to a golden crisp and served with fresh blueberry sauce. This was surely a winner. Sweets were varied from bread pudding, rugelach, eclairs, petit fours, cookies and brownies. The bread pudding was very rich and divine but the more sensible choice for me was a selection from the fine platters of fresh fruit and berries. As I returned to my table, I noted that I had missed something. At the back of the dining room was Chef Pena and members of the kitchen staff preparing a variety of custom omelets, and fresh pancakes with fruit or chocolate chips , a favorite with the children. Pernil, Latin roast pork was sliced to order , as well, just in the event that you didn't have enough to eat.

There are choices for all at this sumptuous brunch. Home I went, donned a pair of sneakers and took a long walk to work off the calories. It was worth it.

Of course, let me remind you that lunch and dinner with its Latin and Italian specialties of meat or seafood paellas and outstanding steaks, and much more await you throughout the week.

Enjoy a leisurely Sunday brunch at Gaucho Grill, where the stylishly presented dishes are sure to please.

1 North Broadway
White Plains
437 9966







2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsps.olive oil
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
1 shot cognac
10 ounces tomato basil sauce{ homemade or your favorite brand}
6 ounces heavy cream
Pinch salt

In a large pot, saute the garlic in oil. Add the mussels, cognac, tomato basil sauce and cream and salt to taste. Lower the heat and simmer, covered for about 5 minutes, or until the mussel shells open. Discard any that do not open. Serve.

½ pound cooked shrimp, cleaned and shelled
2 ounces red onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves
2 ounces chopped peppers, red, orange and green
3 ounces chopped mango
2 ounces fresh lemon juice
2 ounces mango puree
1 ounce fresh orange juice
2 ounces fish broth
Salt and pepper, to taste.

In a non reactive bowl place peppers, onions and mango. Add lemon juice, mango puree and orange juice. Mix well. Toss in the shrimp Add salt and pepper to taste. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Serve with cilantro on top.

JudieJudie 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.

SHS To Form New Volleyball Team for Boys

volleyballFor years Scarsdale has had a strong girls' varsity volleyball program and now boys will have a chance to try the game too. Scarsdale High School has finally decided to start a boys varsity volleyball team, the first in Westchester County. Now that the district budget has passed there is funding available for the program to begin this fall. Despite interest in the past, support for boys volleyball never picked up enough momentum beyond interest at a club level. However, under the leadership of Scarsdale High School's new Athletic Director Ray Pappalardi and the girls varsity volleyball coach Ann Marie Nee, boys' volleyball is now a reality.

A volleyball program will add opportunities for boys during the fall season. "Until now, the only fall sports offered for boys were football, soccer and cross country. Volleyball offers an experience very different from those choices", said Mr. Pappalardi.

Pre-season for the team begins on August 22, 2016 at noon and will serve as tryouts for the fall season. Practices will be held every day directly after school, once school begins. The boys' team will share facilities with the girls' team, however, they will not practice together.

Some of the other schools nearby that have boys varsity volleyball teams include Suffern, Clarkstown North, and Clarkstown South. Scarsdale High School expects to have one varsity boys team, however if there is enough interest then it is possible that a junior varsity team will be formed as well. For some of the less skilled players SHS is offering clinics and an intramural league.

SHS is currently holding open gyms from 7:30-9:00 pm every Monday and Wednesday night for the remainder of the school year for all high school students. The Scarsdale Village Recreation Department is also offering co-ed clinics for current 8th graders at high school on Mondays and Wednesday nights from 7:30-9:00 p.m. These open gym times and clinics are a good opportunity for incoming freshman and any current high school students who might be interested in giving volleyball a try.

There will be an informational meeting on Tuesday, June 7th at 3:05 pm in room 383 at Scarsdale High School for all boys interested in trying out for the inaugural boys volleyball team.