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NYBGPlantsWith the summer heat upon us, you may be searching for some cool escape plans. No doubt you’ve thought of the Scarsdale Pool and the beach at Rye Playland … but how about the Bronx?

Yes, the Bronx where you’ll find the lush New York Botanical Garden and a tropical display of plants at the installation of the work of Brazilian landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx. If you can’t fly to Copacabana Beach in Rio, here’s the next best thing. Burle Marx’s curved black and white concrete walkway lined with tropical plants, bromeliads and palms and large sculptures has been recreated in front of the conservatory. It’s a dazzling display of foliage and succulents in hot tones of orange, fuchsia and yellow.

The exhibit features the native plants of Brazil including palms and elephant ears with a stunning sculptural water feature. Stroll down the path to the sound of samba which you can download on your iphone. Follow the concrete walkway inside to the conservatory to find more tropical plants and then onto the courtyard to see the water lilies in full bloom.

The garden will stay open late on Saturday night August 10. From 6-8 pm you can sip Caipirinhas, the national drink of Brazil, while enjoying the sounds of live Brazilian guitar music.

We opted to complete our visit with a tram ride around the garden. The half hour trip was cool and relaxing and we saw the nybgMarxentire breadth of the garden. An audio guide on the tram introduced each of the many areas of the property including the rose garden, azalea garden, native plant garden and reflecting pool, magnolias, stately tulip trees and conifers. You can get on an off at any spot and stroll the surroundings.

The garden is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm and you can get there on Metro North by taking a local train from Hartsdale or Scarsdale and exiting at the Botanical Garden stop. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY

NYBG pool

kidstennisThe final week of the 35th season of the Scarsdale Summer Youth Tennis League will start on Monday, July 29th through Thursday, August 1st from 6 PM to 8 PM at the Middle School Tennis Court with registration and practice for the Annual Youth Tennis Tournaments in different skill levels: beginner, novice, intermediate and advanced to be held on Thursday, August 1st at 6 PM.

The registration fee is $ 50 for each player, boys and girls ages 6 to 18, with all players receiving a participation trophy. The tournaments conclude with a pizza and ice cream party and champion trophies.

Interested youth and parents should contact Bob Harrison, the 35-year volunteer director of the program at 914 646-4054 (cell) or by email at proscars@aol.com or get an application at the Scarsdale Recreation Department and or show up at the Middle Tennis Courts today at 6 PM.

Cantina1For a long time, it was new Italian restaurants that seemed to be lining our streets. Most recently, Mexican restaurants, both classic and contemporary seem to be making their mark in Westchester. Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains just north of Post Road is filled with many popular restaurants and bars. Very new to the avenue is Cantina Taco & Tequila, a casual spot to enjoy tacos, empanadas and much more. With its friendly atmosphere, hospitality and good food and drink are its goals.

As you enter, a large bar seating about 20 is to your right. It has three t.v. screens, several high topped tables and is a comfortable spot at which to socialize. To the left are tables. The room seats about 84 guests and eventually the upstairs level will accommodate private parties of 25 to 30 guests.

Cantina2Cantina is owned by John Solo and Stefanos Katsikoumbas, who were childhood friends. Their families owned Greek diners and coffee shops and the boys helped in the family businesses at a very young age. Upon chatting with John Solo, I learned that he studied business in college and entered the corporate world. Eventually he realized that the restaurant business was the area he wanted to pursue. With restaurants in Astoria and Harlem, Solo and Katsikoumbas decided to open in Westchester, and when the space became available, Cantina Taqueria became a reality. The partners were familiar with the White Plains area and thought that this bustling area would be ideal for their restaurant concept.

Cantina3Solo, in addition to being a restauranteur, is an actor, as well said, ”I learned hospitality while working at the family diners. Our goal is to have our Cantina simple and approachable, where everyone feels comfortable. A person in a suit as well as a guest in shorts will each feel welcome at our new spot. “When he thinks of whom he would like to serve at Cantina, he said.” Of course some respected restauranteurs, but most of all , my two young children.” If Solo was a guest at Cantina he would probably enjoy a coconut margarita and assorted tacos, and most of all good company. “We take great pride in our food and drinks as well as our friendly hospitality.”

Cantina5Heading the kitchen is Chef Martin Granados. He hails from Mexico where he received his culinary training. His dishes are based on the classics to which he has added a delightful contemporary touch. Our tasting started with a selection of varied tacos. These tortillas are piled high with toppings and are served flat, for the guest to customize with additional seasoning and fold up. Our feast was about to begin. There were pork tacos. Chopped onions, lots of fresh cilantro and a puree of avocado added a nice combination of flavors to the chunks of tender pork, all waiting to be wrapped around a corn tortilla. Beer battered fish tacos were excellent. The crisp battered catfish filet was topped with shredded red cabbage, and Cantina’s house made chipotle mayo. While most of the tacos here start with a nice quality corn tortilla, the rock shrimp taco thrives on a flour tortilla. Pickled shredded red onion and an avocado sauce add flavor to this choice. A Jamaican style taco filled with mango jerk chicken was well flavored. Here, marinated cubes of chicken, pico de gallo and chunks of mango combine for a sweet and savory result. Future selections might include classic chicken tacos, chorizo with tomatillo sauce, Tijuana steak or vejetale with Portobello mushrooms, corn, spinach, queso fresco and avocado sauce. On many a street corner in Mexico, the aroma of grilled street corn entices you. At Cantina, a wonderful rendition of this treat awaits. Here, the fresh corn is charred and removed from the cob for easy eating. Topped with cotija cheese, sour cream and a generous sprinkling of cayenne pepper, this appetizer will perk up your taste buds in preparation for the many interesting dishes to come. We loved the sweet plantains as an appetizer. Here the thick banana segments were sautéed and topped with house made sour cream and cotija cheese. Plump empanadas can be enjoyed here when filled with pork, chicken or spinach and goat cheese. A nice shared appetizer is queso fondido, a baked Oaxaca cheese with tortillas and tomatillo sauce. It is tasty with the addition of mushrooms or chorizo. Cantina nachos are enjoyed by many guests, as well, with guacamole, sour cream, pico di gallo and shredded cheese. Very popular are the bowls filled with Mexican flavored rice, onions, peppers, black beans, avocado and fresh corn with choices of chili lime chicken, pork, shrimp, steak or spinach.

Cantina8If you haven’t satisfied yourself with tacos, appetizers or bowls, sample some of the entrees. We enjoyed the garlic shrimp with just enough garlic, without being too pungent. The tail on shrimp surrounded a mound of Mexican style rice in a mellow garlic enhanced sauce. Waiting to be sampled are chicken mole, carnitas and steak fajitas. Salads are popular here, as well. When enhanced by chicken, steak or shrimp, they become a complete meal. The southwestern salad with a honey mustard dressing mixes arugula, cotija cheese, corn, avocado tomato and strips of tortilla chips . The popular 7 th Avenue salad boasts spinach, strawberries, avocado, fried goat cheese and almonds with a tangy tamarind vinaigrette.

For those who must end the meal with something sweet, try the homemade churros with Nutella or flan. I especially enjoyed the tres leches cake, prepared by Chef Granados. Topped with freshly whipped cream and a sprig of fresh mint, it was the perfect dessert.

Cantina4Mondays through Fridays between 3 pm and 7 pm, Cantina hosts a happy hour where tacos in several varieties, empanadas, a variety of margaritas, frozen rum punch, mojitos, wines and beers are a perfect change of pace after a day at work. Many cocktails, margaritas, sangria beers and wines are offered at dinner, as well.

Enjoy the friendly hospitality and tasty Mexican treats at the newly opened Cantina Taco & Tequila Bar in White Plains

Taco & Tequila Bar
166 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY

DuncanWilsonDuncan Wilson, longtime principal of Fox Meadow Elementary School who left just a year ago to go to Briarcliff, has now accepted a new position in Ardsley. A year ago, Wilson left Scarsdale to be the position of Director of Instruction and Human Resources at Briarcliff Manor. Now, Wilson has just accepted a new position as Assistant Superintendent of Ardsley School District. Here is the official release from Ardsley:

The Ardsley Board of Education has appointed Dr. Duncan Wilson, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, effective July 1, 2019. Dr. Wilson will replace Layne Hudes who is retiring at the end of this school year.

Dr. Wilson comes to the district from the Briarcliff School District where he is currently the Director of Instruction and Human Resources. Wilson began his career teaching Social Studies and English in both independent and public schools. He moved into administration joining the Scarsdale School District in 2003 where he served as the Assistant Principal in the middle school and then Principal in the Fox Meadow Elementary School.

“I am very excited that Duncan will be joining our leadership team. His proven knowledge of curriculum and instruction, along with his commitment to educating the whole child, make him an ideal candidate for this position,” said Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld, Superintendent of Ardsley Schools. “He has had a positive impact on the students and the faculty he has worked with throughout his career and I am confident that he will do the same for our district.”

“I am looking forward to joining the administration at Ardsley and am grateful for the opportunity to serve in a district that clearly values its students and has a strong partnership between students, parents and teachers,“ said Wilson. “After meeting with administrators, faculty, and staff, and sensing the collaborative open culture, I knew this was a district I wanted to be a part of and I am thrilled to join the team.”

Mr. Wilson received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, his graduate degree from New York University and his doctorate from the Teacher’s College. He resides in Scarsdale with his wife and son.

GloriaMaria Bilbao (as Gloria Estefan) performing “Coming Out of the Dark.”One of many musical biopics to hit the Broadway stage in recent years, “On Your Feet” tells the story of singer-songwriters Gloria and Emilio Estefan, the husband-and-wife team whose Cuban-fusion sound made them international superstars. Both Cuban immigrants, the two met in Miami when Emilio’s early musical group, the Miami Latin Boys, went searching for a female voice to come on board. While love and talent are major factors in the long-lasting success of their marriage and careers, immigration and prejudice are major themes in their lives as well. The two had to battle attempts to pigeonhole their music, and to convince powerful music executives that their sound would appeal to an English-speaking audience. Theirs is a story of perseverance against bigotry – and in this way, feels even more relevant today than it did when it opened on Broadway in 2015.

It’s a story that makes good theater, so it’s no wonder that “On your Feet” won high acclaim on Broadway, and that WBT has chosen to revive this summer. The musical started on its Broadway journey in 2012, when the Estefans, who’d been approached a few times about dramatizing their story, decided to team up with the Nederlander organization. A condition of the deal was that the husband-and-wife duo would retain creative control over the show – and they bravely chose to include personal and painful moments from their lives. As the story unfolds on stage, we learn about Gloria’s mother, who initially tried to dissuade her from going into the music business; her spunky grandmother, who supported her singing 100 percent; and her father, a Vietnam veteran who suffered greatly from multiple sclerosis. The musical also depicts the horrific highway accident that nearly cost Gloria her life, as well as her long, difficult recovery and ultimate return to the stage.

What’s evident throughout this couple’s story is the transcendent power of music – and music most definitely takes center stage in WBT’s current production. As Gloria, Maria Bilbao has a strong and extremely appealing voice, whether she’s singing ballads like “Anything for You” or spirited dance numbers such as “Conga,” “1,2,3” and “Get on Your Feet.” Jose Luaces is winningly fiery as Emilio. The secondary actors – notably Byron St. Cyr as Gloria’s father, Karmine Alers as her mother, and Sandy Rosenberg as her grandmother – also deliver strong acting and singing performances, And the sheer energy and stamina of the ensemble as they glide, leap, and twirl from number to number will leave you breathless. The production’s rendition of “Coming out of the Dark,” which Gloria sang at the American Music Awards after recovering from her accident, is a celebration for both the characters and the audience.

“On Your Feet” was a hit on Broadway, winning seven Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, three Drama League Award nominations, and a Tony Award nomination for Best Choreography. It’s a tribute to the enduring appeal of the Estefans and their music that WBT has brought this joyous show to its stage this summer

“On Your Feet” runs through August 4th. WBT is located at One Broadway Plaza in Elmsford. For ticket information, call 914-592-2222 or visit www.BroadwayTheater.com.

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