Friday, Apr 12th

cafericeThey tell authors to, “write what you know,” but in this case, restauranteur Par Shakiban, who is of Persian descent, is cooking what he knows, the authentic cuisine of his Iranian homeland. Shakiban, who many remember as the owner of Patisserie Salzburg on Christie Place has moved on from the food of Austria to the Middle East and is back in our area with a new Persian eatery just over the border in White Plains.

We visited Medi Bistro days after it opened last week. Located in the lobby of 50 Main Street in White Plains, you’ll find it just past the Mercedes dealership, with parking in the building to be entered on North Lexington. The restaurant will validate your ticket, so it’s free to park while you eat.

The space is just off the lobby of the building and has high ceilings and large glass windows overlooking White Plains. The restaurant has its liquor license and is ready to serve customers at a long bar with an extensive wine list. We slid into a comfortable booth lined with velvet upholstery and sipped pomegranate juice, a Middle Eastern favorite as we perused the lengthy menu.cafeparPar Shakiban at Medi Bistro

The top portion, called “Tasters,” offered an array of exotic dips including Kashk Badenjoon, fried eggplant puree, topped with crispy onion, mint and cream of whey (fermented yogurt), Mast Khiar which is yogurt, Persian cucumber and mint along with more traditional spreads like labne and hummus. Also among the tasters are house-made pickled cucumbers and vegetables, dolmeh: grape leaves stuffed with rice, herbs and topped with a pomegranate sauce and a very tasty falafel served with tabouli, tahini and pickled beets.

Before getting to the main courses, or the “Feast” as the menu says, we sampled the Shirazi salad with cucumber, tomato, onion, and parsley in a lemon vinaigrette.

It was only lunchtime and we were not sure about how much more we could eat, so we turned to Par for advice. True to the claim on the menu, he brought on a feast which proved to be enough for lunch that day – and a few dinners more with the leftovers we took home.

Everything was well seasoned and exotic, with hints of cardamom, zaatar, fenugreek, saffron, rose water and pistachios.

The menu offers many kabobs – among them are beef sirloin, chicken, Cornish hen, ground beef, lamb, salmon and shrimp, all served with basmati rice. We tried a delicious chicken kabob, bright yellow from its marinade of citrus and saffron. Even the rice was sumptuous, garnished with cafeeggplantKashk Badenjoonfragrant orange zest, barberry, pistachios and almond.

Other remarkable entrees were the Chicken Fesenjoon and the roasted lamb chops. What exactly is Fesenjoon? It was white meat chicken served in a thick sauce made from pomegranate and walnuts – and it was delectable. The lamb chops, broiled in saffron, rosemary and garlic were a treat. Gheymeh, was another Persian stew, this one with beef, split peas, seven greens, dried lime, cinnamon and potatoes. All we can say is “yum.”

Intent on getting the full experience, we ended the meal with a large serving of pistachio and saffron ice cream which was doused with rose water and topped with sour cherries. It was aromatic and delicious. We topped it off with steaming cups of Persian tea, brewed with cloves and cardamom, served with cubes of rock candy that melt in your mouth as you sip the hot tea.

Par proudly told us that Medi Bistro is his 23rd restaurant – and it’s clear that he knows what it takes to create a winning combination of tasty food, good service and hospitality to keep diners coming back over and over again.cafefelafelFalafel with hummus, couscous and tahini

We can’t wait to go back and share this welcome newcomer with family and friends.

Medi Bistro
50 Main Street
White Plains, NY 10606
https://medi-bistro.com/
(914) 946-1232
Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner

cafefesenjunChicken Fesenjoon cafelambRack of lambcafestewGheymehcafedessertSaffron and pistachio ice cream with rosewater and sour cherriescafeteaPersian tea with rock candy

HeatherHarrisonHeather HarrisonPrices for Scarsdale homes have skyrocketed. With limited inventory on the market, some empty nesters are tempted to sell while the market is hot, but at the same time, they’re not sure where to go. If you’re pondering a move from your Scarsdale home and want some options for relocating, realtors Heather and Zachary Harrison want to offer you some help. On Friday February 10 from 11 am to 1 pm, they’re inviting you to tour some prospective next moves in their “Upside to Downsizing Tour.”

We asked the two some questions about the market and the tour and here is what they shared:

Tell us about the upcoming tour: What’s involved?

Heather: This is a complimentary tour with a free catered lunch for people who are considering a next chapter in their lives, but don't know where to move. Many of the people on the tour have raised their families in their single family home for years and are now empty nesters looking to downsize. We will see a number of different townhouse communites during the tour and give a flavor of the communities and their amenties in a no-pressure environment. Zach and I started these tours about 7 years ago and the turnout and enthusiam has been really great each year. We did them virtually during the height of Covid, so it's nice to get back to doing them in person again this year!

What inspired the tour? What have you been hearing from empty nesters about their options for moving within Westchester?

Heather: Our empty nester clients tell us they want lower taxes and less maintenance responsibilities while also being able to remain close to their friends and family in Scarsdale and the surrounding areas. The amenties that many local townhouse communities have such as pools, clubhouses, and tennis are also a real draw. Clients who have winter homes in warmer climates love the ability to enjoy great amenties locally while no longer having to manage a house. Most of the local townhouse communities take care of things like exterior maintenance, lawn care and snow removal as part of a fixed monthly fee so it's an easier lifetstyle.

What are the trends behind the shortage of inventory for those wishing to buy in Scarsdale?

Zach: There continues to be very low inventory in Scarsdale because we had a massive sell through of homes during the Covid era with many young families moving out of the city, and today's first time home buyer generation - the millenial generation - is the largest generation in history. Many are looking to buy single family homes at the same time. At the same time we have high demand, supply has not been replenished because all of the land in high-end suburban areas like Scarsdale has been fully developed. It's still a good time to be a seller!

Running some sample numbers, if the buyer of a home of average value in Scarsdale ($2.23 mm) wants to move into a 3 bedroom apartment or townhouse in Westchester, what are the estimated economics of a move?

Zach: The average selling price in Scarsdale was $2,236,980 this past year. The taxes on a home valued at that amount would be around $54,000. That homeowner could move to an amenity rich townhouse community like the Cobblefield in White Plains and buy a 3 bedroom where selling price may be $1.6 or $1.7M, with taxes in the low $20K range. This move would generate about a half million dollars of cash while saving the seller over $30K per year in taxes, all while they live just minutes away from Scarsdale in a beautiful gated community with pool and tennis. It's really a great move for Scarsdale empty nesters.

For those thinking of selling, what’s your advice on pricing in a market where homes have recently sold at numbers far above their estimated value?

Heather: The good news for sellers is inventory remains very low and demand remains strong even with the increase in mortgage rates. We are seeing strong showing activity and multiple offers on early listings this year which is really exciting. At the start of this year, we can price in line with the heightened selling prices of last year and feel really confident bringing the home on the market.

Sign up for the tour here:

schollcalendargraphicShould Scarsdale reduce the number of half school days? Almost 500 citizens signed a petition to say yes! Community members turned out in person and via zoom at the first meeting of the school board to lend their support to two big proposed changes to the school calendar: decreasing the number of early dismissal days and adding holidays to the existing calendar. The conversation was a follow-up to an earlier discussion at a December meeting of the Board of Education.

Helene Gray of Secor Road kicked things off by speaking in support of moving graduation day to a more favorable date. She noted that holding graduation a week earlier is preferable for siblings and students who attend or work in camps and other summer programs that may start before graduation. In addition, scheduling graduation on a Thursday or Friday would be easier for out of town relatives who wish to attend and there is evidence from many neighboring districts that earlier graduations are possible, citing Rye, Bronxville and others as examples.

Chelsea Wang, a working parent of two girls voiced her support of the petition to reduce the number of early dismissal days. She said that neighboring districts have fewer half days. Scarsdale has 13 on the calendar, which are a hardship for parents, especially those with two parents working outside the home. Finding childcare on these days is burdensome, and children are also miss out on instruction. Her sentiments were echoed by a number of other parents, including Reed Miller, a full-time at home father and part-time lawyer and Dianna Cohen, a Heathcote parent. Ms. Cohen emphasized the need for consistency for children and pointed out that Scarsdale is unique in considering adding additional holidays while continuing to maintain the 13 half-days. Via Zoom, Maryanne Lee reiterated that these early dismissal days are a hardship for parents, a concern shared by other Zoom attendees. Molly Tu of Putnam Road also expressed a hope that the inclusion of Lunar New Year, Diwali and Eid in the calendar would not be an either/or proposition with reducing the early dismissals. Tian Dong, a fifth grader at Greenacres school spoke eloquently on his support for adding Lunar New Year to the school calendar. As the child of Chinese immigrants, Tian would like to be able to celebrate the way his parents did growing up, without worrying about missing school assignments.

Dr. Drew Patrick supported moving graduation to a more favorable date. Later in the meeting he gave an update on the calendar proposals. He noted that based on the many communications he has received via surveys, emails, and petitions, there are certain themes: reducing the number of early dismissal days, making the December break two weeks (popular with international families) or shorter (popular with those who can’t take two weeks off for vacation and prefer their kids to be in school), closing school for Passover and starting school after Labor Day.

As next steps, the administration will continue to have dialogue with the STA and other unions. Dr. Patrick reminded those attending that the school board has no authority to propose a calendar. The school board’s job is to respond to the administration’s calendar. He expected to bring a calendar proposal to the Board that includes the parent teacher conference dates to the January 30th meeting.

Board member Jessica Resnick-Ault asked for the rationale for the positioning of the April break. Patrick answered that it is traditionally the week leading up to Easter Sunday with Good Friday as a Civil Service holiday. Resnick-Ault suggested that scheduling the break during the Passover week that includes Good Friday would save a vacation day. Dr. Patrick commented that the half days for Parent-Teacher Conferences are contractual.

Resnick-Ault mentioned that for some students, the half-days can be an opportunity for socializing that they may not have with their schedules, and that perhaps the schools and PTA could work together to create group activities that would also help working parents.

Take a look at five calendar scenarios for the 2023-24 school year here.

JohnBunnJohn Bunn: Photo by Joseph DiMartinoAt the age of only fourteen, John Bunn was convicted for a murder that he did not commit. On Friday, January 13th at the Scarsdale Public Library, he shared his emotional story with an attentive audience of students, parents and educators.

Raised by a single mother battling addiction in an impoverished Brooklyn community, John learned to cope with adversity by keeping himself busy and out of his house at all hours. Hanging out on the streets with older kids ultimately led to involvement in petty crimes and robberies. Then, in 1992 at the age of fourteen, he was convicted of murdering a corrections officer. This conviction was based largely upon his personal associations and, as he later learned, the fraudulent accusations of a corrupt NYPD detective. Asleep in his house at the time of the crime, John was unaware that the murder even took place. Nonetheless, given the lack of resources and inferior legal defense provided to him, he was convicted of the charges and served seventeen years in prison.

In his presentation, John shared details of his experiences in prison followed by his release in 2006, and eventual exoneration in 2018 when new evidence emerged that fully cleared his conviction. He spoke about the brutality of surviving behind bars and how he transformed from being ‘incarcerated’ to ‘institutionalized.’ As an under-schooled teen, he said his reading and writing were substandard and he took in whatever education and literature that he could obtain, eventually earning his GED. “They can lock my body but they can't trap my mind.” He explained the difficulties he and other former prisoners face upon re-entering society, including his own emotional barriers to forming close relationships.

Since his release, John Bunn founded the nonprofit organization, A Voice 4 the Unheard, which strives to “properly resource students with motivational and academic content” by refurbishing community and prison libraries and providing books where they are most needed. John stated that “without proper education and communication skills, people resort to using their fists to communicate.” He shared that the two books that have impacted him the most include The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. It is the mission to help educate and inspire under-resourced youth to invest in themselves that gives his life meaning.

John Bunn’s story and aid from The Exoneration Initiative inspired officers and members of The Innocence Club, the SHS club who invited him to speak. The club, led by President Isabelle Goldban, seeks to raise awareness about the criminal justice system and its injustices. In the following weeks, the club plans to start a book drive to gather books to donate to Bunn’s organization. For further information on the clubs future events, follow them @theinnocenceclub on instagram or visit theinnocenceclub.com. For more information about John Bunn and how to get involved in his cause, visit avoice4theunheard.org.

Amelia Fader is a sophomore at Scarsdale High School.

Cameron(Updated 12-19-22)
Author Kirk Cameron has filed an application to reserve the Scott Room at the Scarsdale Public Library to hold a story hour for his new book, As You Grow, on Friday December 30 at 3:00 pm.

The Scarsdale Public Library issued the following FAQ on Monday December 19, 2022 to respond to questions about the event:

The Scarsdale Public Library would like to address comments received about an upcoming event booked by Brave Publishing. The event is not a library-sponsored program, but rather a meeting room rental, that cannot be rejected based upon political or religious content under the First Amendment.

The Scarsdale Public Library is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion for all community members. Granting permission to use a room does not constitute an approval or endorsement of any program.

What’s the difference between a library-sponsored program and a meeting room rental?
A library-initiated or sponsored event is organized and promoted by library staff. External parties may submit requests for the Library to host programming. Per Article V of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, libraries create programs based on educational suitability and audience interest. Libraries are often pitched programs or events by members of the public, publicists, and authors, and a public library is not required or able to put on every program requested.

A meeting room rental is when a group or individual submits an application and pays a fee to reserve a meeting room for their own purposes. First Amendment jurisprudence requires libraries to rent facilities equitably regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of those who seek to use them. Granting permission to use a room does not constitute an approval or endorsement of any individual or group by the Library, the Library Board of Trustees, or the Village of Scarsdale.

Is the library sponsoring a book reading of Kirk Cameron's As You Grow?
No. The Scarsdale Public Library is not sponsoring an event by Brave Publishing.

What type of event has Brave Publishing recently requested?
On Friday, December 16, 2022, Brave Publishing submitted a request for a meeting room rental. Because libraries’ meeting rooms are legally designated as "designated public forums" under the First Amendment, libraries may not exclude any group based on the subject matter to be discussed or the ideas for which the group advocates. If the Scarsdale Public Library restricts potentially controversial groups’ access to meeting rooms, it may face legal and financial consequences.

Libraries may not deny meeting room access even to individuals or groups that are considered offensive or controversial. Libraries have been successfully sued by groups that have been denied access to library meeting rooms based on the group’s beliefs, the content of their speech, or the fear that the group’s meeting will cause controversy. The Scarsdale Public Library is likewise not permitted to regulate the message of any parties who rent a room.

(posted Friday December 16, 2022)

A publicity stunt by an actor and evangelist hit close to home this week, when Kirk Cameron, best known for his role on the television show “Growing Pains,” targeted the Scarsdale Library as a venue to spread the word about As You Grow, his new evangelical book for children. According to the publisher’s website, “This fun story with brilliant art teaches the Biblical truths of the Fruit of the Spirit.”

The book is published by Brave Books, a conservative book publisher who offers a monthly book club, that according to their website covers “difficult topics like gender identity, dangers of communism, cancel culture, critical race theory through family-friendly stories.”

Cameron used the Brave Book website to publish a copy of a letter he wrote to Scarsdale Librarian Elizabeth Bermel requesting the use of the library’s Scott Room on December 30 at 3 pm for a story hour. In his letter he says, “So many of our communities, perhaps like yours, are facing rates of crime, abortion, and murder well above the national average. I believe children in your community would benefit from hearing a message teaching Biblical wisdom as I explain my new book.

Commenting on the request, which has made national news, here is the response from the Scarsdale Public Library dated December 16, 2022:

On Friday, December 2, the Scarsdale Public Library received a message from a book publisher via the Library’s website requesting to schedule a story hour at the Scarsdale Public Library for a book by actor Kirk Cameron, “where we read As You Grow and speak to families about following the wisdom of the Bible, as well as discussing the harmful effects of woke ideologies.”

As with any request to present a Library-sponsored program, we sent a link to our online application for presenting a library program. The publisher did not submit an application.

On Tuesday, December 6, the Library’s Assistant Director received an email from the public relations company, Amplifi Agency, which stated, “We would love to schedule a story hour for Mr. Cameron's book where we read As You Grow and speak to families about following the wisdom of the Bible, as well as discussing the harmful effects of woke ideologies, specifically CRT and the transgender agenda.” The Library replied, “Thank you for thinking of us, but we are not interested in this program.”

One week later, on Tuesday, December 13, Library Director Elizabeth Bermel received a letter via USPS from Mr. Cameron requesting to rent the Scott Room. She sent an email to the contact mentioned in the letter with links to the Library’s Meeting Room Policy and the online form for room reservations. As of December 14, neither Mr. Cameron nor his representatives have completed the form to reserve the room.

It is the mission of the Scarsdale Public Library to encourage the joy of reading, the exploration of ideas, and the pursuit of lifelong learning for the children and adults of our community. Per the Library’s Meeting Room Policy:

The Library has several spaces available for members of the public to reserve and/or rent. These are to be used to further the Library’s informational, educational, cultural and recreational goals. It is the policy of the Library Board of Trustees to provide all members of the community with equal access to Library resources and facilities. Such resources and facilities are available equitably regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of those who seek to use them. Granting permission to use these rooms does not constitute an approval or endorsement of any individual or group by the Library, the Library Board of Trustees, or the Village of Scarsdale.

The full Meeting Room Policy can be found here:

Leave a Comment

Share on Myspace