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Edgemont Mourns 2011 Grad Catherine Johannet

Catherine JohannetCatherine Johannet, a 23 year-old 2011 graduate of Edgemont High School was found dead on Bastimentos Island off the northern coast of Panama on Sunday February 5th. Her body was recovered on a wooded trail near a beach. Panamanian authorities are working with the FBI to investigate and have not yet released the cause of her death.

Johannet had been staying on Colon Island, also part of an archipelago called Bocas del Toro. She was last seen on Thursday February 2 on Colon Island and was reported missing by the hostel where she was staying.

A 2015 graduate of Columbia University with a degree in comparative literature, Johannet worked as an English teacher in Vietnam until October 2016.

Her family flew to Panama to search for her and handed out missing posters around Bastimentos Island.

Her older sister Laura Johannet shared the sad news on Facebook on Sunday night, saying "Unfortunately we have learned today that she has passed away," Laura wrote Sunday night. "My family is thinking of all our beautiful memories with our laughing, adventurous, warm little girl. She was always there to listen to you and just enjoy life with her loved ones. We will keep you posted on funeral plans."

Learn more here:

Enjoy Many Encores at Encore Bistro Francais

encore1Many restaurants share the word bistro in their title, which generally evokes a small dining spot serving moderately priced simple meals in an unpretentious setting. In Westchester we see Asian, American and Latin bistros, but it is the classic welcoming Encore Bistro Francais, in Larchmont, that has me returning to savor many encores of the casual homestyle cooking of France.
The owner and host David Masliah grew up in Lyon. His uncle owned a restaurant and the young Masliah was fascinated with this culinary atmosphere. He went on to attend culinary school in France and arrived in the United States in 1994, where he honed his skills at the venerable La Panetiere for four years. He then opened a restaurant in Weston, Connecticut and in 2000 he opened his intimate and friendly Encore Bistro Francais in Larchmont. "In addition to the food, ambiance and atmosphere are important for success. At Encore, I stay true to my roots by offering the classics. Our menu has evolved through the years and we try to accommodate all of our guests. The best part of my work is that it never gets boring. If I were hosting a small dinner party at Encore, as I have done in the past, my guests might include many of my friends in the culinary field as well as my wine suppliers. I believe that our longevity in the restaurant business depends upon consistency. We have used the same suppliers for our top quality ingredients forever, and our chef Erwin Perez has been with us since we opened. He is always eager to learn, and watching him work in the kitchen is observing a chef who is truly passionate about his craft."
A tin ceiling, vintage French posters red banquettes, yellow walls, dark woods and mirrors set the scene. The front windows are frosted for privacy. The acoustic ceiling tones down the noise level during busy evenings. French newsprint lines the bread basket on the butcher paper topped tables. The main dining room is cozy and seats about 75. The recently added dining room seats an additional 30 guests and can serve as a private party venue. Weather permitting, you can dine outdoors on Chatsworth Avenue for a true Parisian experience.

A delightful bit of variety arrives when you dine mid week.steak In addition to the menu, Monday night offers crepe night with interesting varieties such as crepe marocaine with chicken, artichokes and harissa or crepe provencale with seafood. Tuesday is mussel night with several preparations and Wednesday is melted cheese night with fondue, raclette and tartiflette. The lunch menu boasts classic quiche, and croque monsieur or madame. This family friendly spot even has a kids menu. There are daily entrée, appetizer and wine specials.

My sampling was a varied selection of classics. Steak frites, onion soup, cassoulet and trout are very popular at Encore. I decided to try dishes I had not tasted here before. I was brought back to childhood with an appetizer of oven roasted marrow bones. As a child, we enjoyed marrow bones in soup at home. At Encore, the bones were sliced horizontally to expose the olive oil, parsley and garlic scented marrow. The three bones were accompanied by an onion marmalade... very good indeed. On a lighter note, we continued with tartare de thon. Capers, shallots, anchovies, fresh herbs and a touch of sesame oil resulted in a flavorful light starter. Back to a classic, we savored a few succulent escargots presented on a cast iron snail dish. Parsley, garlic and butter did not overwhelm these morsels. New to the menu was a hearty dish of grilled octopus. It was carefully sliced and reassembled. Several varieties of beans combined in a ragout to share the plate. Roasted garlic sauce completed this plentiful plate. A classic from Lyon, quenelles Lyonnaise followed. These melt in your mouth codfish dumplings arrived set in a lobster bisque sauce in a gratin dish. A parmesan crisp topped it. These quenelles were a variation of the ones I have enjoyed in the past, prepared with pike. The richness and creaminess of this dish was elegant. Many salads, with Salade Pariesienne being very popular are other possible starters.

scallopEntrees of meat and fish are varied here. From, the fish choices, we loved Encore's rendition of Saint Jacques au Beurre Blanc. The large sea scallops had a parmesan crust and rested on a leek fondue with a glorious lemon, white wine and butter sauce. Mashed potatoes, broccoli and stuffed mushroom cap completed the plate . Indulging in these rich French classics is a special treat. Bouillabaisse, sole en papillote are waiting to be tried. Among the meats, steak frites and grilled hanger steak have been my favorites with a variety of sauces and a mountain of crisp fries. On my most recent visit, I opted for sautéed sweetbreads. The whole grain mustard sauce complemented the crispy ris de veau. They were hearty and so tasty. Yet to be tried are rack of lamb, duck a l'orange and the famous cassoulet, a crock pot filled with sausage, smoked bacon, duck confit and white beans.

For dessert, I couldn't resist the lemon tart. Like everything else at Encore, it was a generous individual tart with raspberry coulis and topped with chocolate lettering announcing its tart citron filling. It was refreshing and very lemony and offset our rich entrees. Of course crepes suzettes with freshly grated orange zest was also a perfect end to our meal. Poached pear belle Helene and crème brulee are on our list for future meals at Encore.

Enjoy a first time at Encore Bistro Francais and follow up with many encore visits.

Encore Bistro Francais

22 Chatsworth Avenue
Larchmont, NY
(914) 833-1661

Recipe: Tartare de Thon (Serves 4)
16 ounces sushi grade tuna (in ¼ inch cubes}
1 tsp. chopped capers
3 dried anchovies mashed
1 shallot, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tsps. sesame oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh herbs, to taste

In a non-reactive bowl, mix the tuna with the capers, anchovies and shallots. Just before serving toss in the remaining ingredients.

JudieContributor 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.

La Riserva in Larchmont: Old World Elegance with a Modern Touch

RiservaEntryLa Riserva opened its doors in 1977 and is still going strong. Recently, a major renovation has added sparkle to this delightful Larchmont landmark. A bright red awning graces the entrance. This cheerful red color adds a lovely glow to the dining room ceilings, as well. New dark wood floors, and modern lighting brighten the atmosphere. Brick archways connect the dining rooms and multi paned windows add charm. The walls are embellished with many interesting photographs of the Vivolo family roots in Accadia, near Puglia in Italy. Framed in gold leaf, they lend a sense of authenticity. Yes, the renovation is complete from the dining rooms, the bar area and even the bathrooms. The Vivolo family has the skill of keeping the traditional and adding fresh new touches to both the space and the menu. The dining rooms seat about 120 guests with an upstairs dining room accommodating about 60.

RiservaSeafoodOwners Michael and Margaret Vivolo enlisted the help of the next generation, their son Dean Vivolo and his wife Odelya who worked on the renovation of La Riserva. Dean Vivolo is chef owner of Trattoria Vivolo in Harrison. The result is a busy, festive friendly dining spot that prides itself on using the freshest of ingredients to prepare the regional northern Italian dishes with their signature light sauces. Michael Vivolo was inspired by his mother who cooked for her seven children. It was here that he discovered his love of the culinary arts. He worked in many noted restaurants in Geneva and arrived in New York in 1971. Just a few years later he achieved his dream of opening La Riserva. Vivolo said, " A restauranteur needs to love what he does, be kind and good and feed his guests well" As I dined at La Riserva, I couldn't help but note that everyone who arrived received a personal welcome from their host. Clearly they have many return customers. With their son Dean helping to keep an eye on everything, this family business continues to please and thrive.

A basket of warm bread and breadsticks as well as crusty bruschetta topped with nicely seasoned chopped tomatoes whet our appetites. We chose our selections from the menu of dishes that have been successful through the years as well as several new additions. Imported burrata with long stemmed artichokes, oven dried tomatoes, mixed marinated olives and fresh basil was a tasty beginning. The creamy center of the burrata was a fine foil for the various textures of the vegetables surrounding it. The hearty portion warned me to limit my consumption and leave room for the courses to follow. Next came another newcomer to the menu. Capesante arrived on a rectangle platter. The jumbo, fresh-from-the-sea-scallops boasted a veal demi glace and lemon white wine sauce. Fresh parsley and grilled lemon slices embellished these tender treasures from the sea. Of course, still on the menu are favorites of clams oreganata, spiedino alla romana and calamari fritti. Several classic soups and salads are offered such as minestrone, pasta fagioli, tricolore salad as well as the modern and very popular kale salad with cranberries, walnuts, green apples, grapefruit and gorgonzola cheese.

No Italian meal would be complete without a pasta course. At La Riserva both whole wheat and gluten free varieties are available. Through the years of dining at La Riserva, I especially loved the gnocchi di dolomiti. This is house made gnocchi with sausage and radicchio in a brandy cream sauce, as well as their lasagna, happily are still on the menu. This visit, I enjoyed homemade straw and hay, paglia e fieno cacao e pepe. The thin delicate ribbons of house made pasta, both green and white, were dressed with cracked coarse black peppercorns and parmigiano and pecorino cheeses. This very rich dish truly awakened my taste buds. It was excellent in its simplicity. Future pastas may include penne con gamberoni with jumbo shrimp, grape tomatoes and zucchini or roasted pepper and ricotta ravioli with pesto sauce.

Entrees of meat, chicken and fish are varied. RiservaMilaneseOnce again the traditional and the new appear among your selections. Vitello Verbena with fontina cheese and asparagus, Pollo Caprino, grilled chicken with zucchini, tomato and goat cheese and Cornish hen broiled with rosemary, garlic and lemon juice are some of the modern options among the classics of veal parmigiana, veal Milanese and chicken piccata. Very popular these days is branzino. We savored this wild sea bass with lemon, herbs, capers, and extra virgin olive oil. This presentation suited the expression, "You eat with your eyes first." The vibrant colors of the accompanying potato croquette, asparagus and carrots were indeed, eye candy and quite delicious. If you like your fish served whole, try the orata. This sea bream is roasted and stuffed with lemon, garlic and fresh herbs the flavors of which permeate the fish. Classic zuppa di pesce, wild sole francese and salmon romana with artichokes and olives as well as shrimp and scallops with charred tomatoes round out the fish selections.

RisveraparmTo accompany your meal there is a nice selection of regional Italian and domestic wines. Classic desserts of linzer tarts, tiramisu, carrot cake and tartufo can complete your meal. We enjoyed light homemade cheesecake with fresh berries and freshly whipped cream.

Lunch and weekend brunch are a pleasant way to enjoy a meal at La Riserva, as well.

A meal at La Riserva is an experience in dining that encompasses warmth, a welcome feeling and the divine taste of both classic and modern Italian dishes.

La RiservaLaRiserva112
2382 Boston Post Road
Larchmont, NY
(914) 834 5584

Recipe:

Insalata Arugula con Fennel (serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 bunch arugula
1 bulb fennel
8 dried figs
2 oranges, in segments
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsps. aged balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Wash and dry the arugula and place in a bowl. Thinly slice the fennel, either with a knife or on a mandolin. Add the slices to the bowl. Cut each of the figs into quarters and add them to the bowl. Add the orange segments. Season the mixture with the salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss all ingredients lightly with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Divide between two salad plates and serve.

JudieContributor 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.

The Woman's March on Washington, Our Experiences, Impressions and Lessons Learned: Told from Beginning to Beginning

ASMarch1A group of Scarsdale women (and alumni!) joined the grassroots Women's March on Washington last Saturday to show our solidarity and resistance to Donald Trump's polarizing policies and behavior. According to organizers, attendees reached record numbers across the globe with over half million in DC alone. Eight of us wove together our individual and collective experiences using the Continuing Story Form to create a virtual tapestry of this exhilarating experience.

As we boarded Amtrak and were joined by hundreds of women with pink pussy hats the excitement began. PUSSY... We bristled, but it was quickly the new normal! Strangers became friends and our conversation bounced from topic to topic, covering tips on marching; locations of the port a potties and what to do if we could not find one -- including the passing around of Depends (who would of thought!), advice on how to handle pepper spray, writing our contact information on our arms with a Sharpie (it ran like a tattoo gone terribly wrong); designating meeting spots if we got separated; what Melania would wear; and what our protest signs would say. It wasn't all fluff, we also talked about healthcare and what it means to be a feminist in 2017. What a way to start, first I thought Dayenu (this would be enough), but I soon realized that the ride was only the first step in this unbelievable experience. (AS)

As we approached the Mall, we were unsure of AsMarchTrainwhat awaited us. Would we be able to get near the speakers? Would there be violence? Would we be safe? And top of mind—where do we go to the bathroom? But upon arrival our fears were allayed (except for the bathroom part). There were men (never even thought to invite our husbands), women of all ages with their daughters, mothers , fathers, grandmothers, children; even babies. It felt right standing there among like-minded people, focused on a common good, doing their part to make the world a better, more equal place. (SD)
It was a sea of pink. Surrounded by strangers, yet feeling as if we were old friends. We listened to speaker after speaker, holding on to each word, realizing that this is and should be only the beginning of a movement. We all realized that we must be change agents. My only regret was that my children were not with me. (DL)

ASMarch3We were struck by the number and diversity of the speakers ----from veteran feminists like Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis (blasts from my past), to the Circle of Mothers, activists like Michael Moore and Van Jones, celebrities like Janelle Monae, America Ferera, Scarlett Johansson, Ashley Judd and Madonna, politicians -Kristin Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Tammy Duckworth, and Maxine Waters and many, many lesser known (at least to me) women speaking of their differences (whether Muslim, African American, LGBTQ, disabled, undocumented), their struggles and their hopes and dreams for a fairer world. After three hours of standing and listening, my family (children SHS graduates, sister and niece) and I grew restless, wanting to be literally on the march. However, we agreed that the speakers embodied our cause- just, honorable, diverse, colorful, witty, creative and compassionate. The Resistance Is Strong!! (MF)

Fellow marchers were in their creative groove. asmarch6Posters with sayings like "OMG GOP WTF?," "You Can't Comb Over Bigotry," "Free Melania," and "Pussy Grabs Back," are just of a few of the ones that caught my attention and made me pause. During the march, our Scarsdale group began singing protest songs from the 60's including Blowing in the Wind, We Shall Overcome, Imagine, and Give Peace a Chance. But, Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land, became our theme. Fellow marchers, who came from other parts of the country and from diverse backgrounds, enthusiastically joined in. We represented the fabric of America: Muslim, Black, White and Asian; men, women and children. It was magical and we felt that we had the power to move things forward. (SE)

When the march was over, I was amazed at how long we'd been in the cold without realizing it . There was a sense of togetherness and love toward my fellow sisters. It was the best and most significant rally that I ever actually witnessed "LIVE". It felt like a journey on the way to meet the Wizard of Oz -- stopping to make conversations among perfect strangers, making new friends, while walking in forward motion -- feeling a sense of togetherness, joy, sisterhood and human empathy. We have our work cut out...but at least we know, we're not alone...and we've already started to make a difference. (DM)

grabsWhat an extraordinary, powerful, exhilarating day! And, it is abundantly clear that this has to symbolize the beginning of a movement. Our activism didn't end Saturday night. Standing on the Mall that day, we were urged to continue to respond and push back with our words, our actions, and when needed, our wallets. We are the new Tea Party, in a manner of speaking, and I believe that our entire Scarsdale contingent that traveled together are going to play a role. (PN)

I came to DC feeling hopeless and left with a glimmer. He works for us it's true, and WE are the people . As we began to march (or meander because of the enormous throng), we promised each other and those around us that this is just the start of the conversation (though everyone should watch Ashley Judd on YouTube for inspiration). We were reminded that women have the power of the purse and that all of the issues are economic issues. Everywhere we went that day and the next, people were suggesting action plans... call a Congressperson each morning, get involved with Indivisible, a grass roots organization that is modeled on the Tea Party, volunteer, focus on making small inroads. And remember that climate change, equal pay, health care, parental leave (to name a few) are not female issues. We need to bring our sons and husbands and partners and fathers into this conversation. (AD)

Many want us to believe that this march is too little, too late – and that we are powerless. But this is far from reality. The march got us on the road... now the work for change begins! Dayenu!

Anna Decker
Shelley Diamond Effman
Suzi Eisman
Martha Flanders
Debbie Eisenberg Lever
Priscilla Natkins
Danielle Menache
Andrea Seiden

It's Time to Put Preservation and Land Use Back on the Agenda at Village Hall

39Greenacres(This is the opinion of site founder Joanne Wallenstein) Though the current Board of Trustees only has a few weeks remaining before the next election, there's still time to renew discussions about historic preservation, land use and the building code to address an alarming number of teardowns in the past two years.

While the Village government was totally consumed with objections to the 2016 revaluation, all discussion of land use was sidelined. Before the controversy over the revaluation erupted, the Board was in the process of examining building code and historic preservation with the intent of addressing complaints from residents whose neighborhoods are being torn apart. However, discussions about the revaluation prevented the board from considering any new policies while more homes were demolished, subdivisions approved and oversized homes built, creating crowding and stress on our infrastructure.

Here are a few items that were being examined and can now be revisited:

In the Cultural Resources Survey produced by Li/Salzman architects 228fmroadand architectural historian Andrew S. Dolkart in 2012, the architects produced a list of 68 individual homes and buildings that they believed were worthy of preservation, and defined 12 study areas or "groups of buildings that give a distinctive character to the Village." They said these study areas, "include groups of buildings of high quality and with architectural integrity relating to their original design, create cohesive neighborhood ensembles," that have the potential to be historic districts.

The Village Government never took further steps to preserve either the individual properties or districts, and should now renew discussion of this vital issue.

In 2015, the Board of Trustees passed a six-month moratorium on the use of gravel surfaces to meet lot coverage requirements as a means of limiting the size of homes and auxiliary structures on village properties. Because gravel could not be counted as a pervious surface, it limited the installation of impervious surfaces such as pools, tennis courts, patios and long driveways that count in the lot coverage calculation. However, it was very unpopular with a group of vocal builders, who persuaded the trustees to let it lapse. At the time, Trustee Carl Finger said, "There is little doubt that expansion and overbuilding of lots must be faced if we are to maintain the community aesthetic. The combination of teardowns and expansions infringe on the streetscape, land, open space, and light."

Lot coverage laws continue to be a means of limiting home size, and this is another topic that should be revisited by the Board of Trustees.

Also to be reviewed are the floor area bonuses to builders who include certain features in new homes. These bonuses can add an additional 1,500 square feet of space to a 3,500 square foot home, greatly increasing it's bulk. The bonuses were concessions to builders at the time the Floor Area Ratio code was passed, but they seem to have had some unintended consequences.

Here are the details from a 2015 article on Scarsdale10583 about exemptions to the floor area ratio (FAR) requirements that are outlined in section 310-103 of Village code.

"Local builders and architects have grown adept at using these exemptions to build homes that are far larger than the ones the trustees originally envisioned when they enacted this code in 2003 and 2008.

The exemptions allow some full basements, dormered attics, garages and the space above them all to be exempt from the maximum floor area rules.

For instance, many of the new homes have front facing garages with rooms above the garage. In this case both the garage and the room above it are exempt. If a typical two-car garage is 20 x 20 feet, the space above it could be 400 square feet, and that space is exempt from the FAR.

paddingtonroadFor basements, if the foundation wall of the basement is not more than 3 feet above grade on the front of the house, the entire basement does not count in the calculation. That means that if a house is on a sloped property, it may have a full finished basement with full-length windows on the side and back of the house.

The area under dormered roofs on the third floor of a house does not count either – if builders extend the dormers for less than 1/3 of the linear footage of the front, and set the dormers beyond 5-feet of the sidewalls on the back. This allows third floor spaces that add considerable square footage to a house."

In my view, it would relatively easy to strike these bonus provisions from the code, thereby scaling back permissible home sizes.

The trustees could also consider barring any more subdivisions. The Village continues to approve subdivisions of home lots to permit two and sometimes three homes to be built in place of one. This causes additional curb cuts, limits available street parking and puts stress on neighbors. With so little open space already, perhaps it's time to limit subdivisions?

Lately builders have been constructing houses on steeply sloped properties by excavating rock and building tall retention walls to create flat backyards. The excavation of rock ledges causes a change in the topography of the neighborhood and can lead to issues with slides and water runoff to neighbors.

Current Village Code Chapter 277-2 permits rock removal, saying, "A permit for excavation under this chapter shall be granted by the Village Engineer only if the Planning Board determines that the proposed excavation will not impair the usefulness of the property involved or any surrounding properties for the purposes for which zoned, will not interfere with or overload any existing or planned drainage facilities of the village, will not endanger any road, street or highway within the limits of the village and will not produce or enlarge areas from which water will not drain." Currently the code does not limit the amount of rock that can be removed or the length of time that rock removal can occur. Rock removal can be loud and disruptive and perhaps the trustees should consider limiting how much rock can be removed and how long the contractor has to remove it.

Trustees could consider revising laws about rock removal and excavation as well as further limit the height of retention walls that obstruct views and sometimes cause neighbors to end up looking at stonewalls out their windows. Current code limits retaining walls to five feet in front of a house and four feet in a side yard but permits walls of up to seven feet in rear yards if it's more than 50 feet from the street.

In addition to these code changes, the Village should also emptylotconsider using the fees that have already collected from the subdivisions to buy back open space. There are many privately-owned tracts of land where homes have been demolished to reduce property taxes while the builder awaits a new buyer. Why not buy back some of these lots and create pocket parks?

In my view, by passing preservation laws, limiting the size of new homes, ending subdivisions, re-examining Village building code and buying vacant lots the Village can do a lot to preserve historic homes, maintain open space, discourage overbuilding and safeguard the character of the Village for generations to come.

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