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By Peter Jovanovich

When the American “brunch” comes to mind, one often thinks of doughy bagels, weak coffee, and watery Bloody Mary’s.

<Vive la France!> La Panetière, Rye’s noble French restaurant has come to the rescue with a Sunday brunch menu. Owner Jacques Loupiac, who comes from a long line of bakers from the south of France, moved here in 1986 to open La Panetière – a taste of the French countryside in Rye. His new menu offers a number of culinary surprises and a uniquely French take on “le brunch.”

For an appetizer, one might start with a Duet of Red Beet Roots and Granny Smith Apples, Carpaccio of Sea Scallops, Fennel Seeds, or a Caramelized Cheese Soufflé, Parmesan Lace, before launching into the main course.

<Naturellement,> you can have an Omelet of Young Spinach and Button Mushrooms, but why not branch out at brunch? Try the Croquette of Maryland Crabmeat, the Sautéed Halibut Layered with a Basil Crust, the Sautéed Veal Medallions and Crayfish Tails (with a display of farm vegetables), or the Maine Lobster and Fideua of Assorted Seafood (that’s Catalan for a paella made with noodles).

And there’s more! Panetière desserts are world famous, or they should be. Save room for Napoleon of Arlette Biscuit, Raspberries, Chiboust Cream or the Hazelnut Dacquoise Chocorange, Butterscotch Sauce. (Hurrah for whomever writes the menus for Jacques: you can almost taste the words.)

A glass of wine or Prosecco is included in the $45 prix fixe menu, as is, if you insist, a Bloody Mary — strong enough to stand the celery stalk upright. À votre santé.

Brunch is served from 11:30-2. Reserve a seat by calling 967-8140.

For the fifth year, the Bird Homestead is welcoming young students after school from the Port Chester Carver Center for a hands-on program in organic gardening. For nine weeks the children are learning to plant, tend, and harvest their vegetables without the use of any chemicals.  

Taught by Han-Yu Hung, Children’s Gardening Program Coordinator at the New York Botanical Garden and Anne Mottola, an instructor at NYBG, the program emphasizes gardening without pesticides to keep our food and our environment healthy. Henry Bird (1869-1959), a prominent entomologist, was an early proponent of avoiding pesticides in vegetable gardening and a pioneer in advocating the use of beneficial insects to protect crops.

The program provides an introduction to botany and beneficial insects and is designed to teach an understanding of healthy food and where it comes from. Edible gardening was fundamental to the Bird family’s lifestyle. They maintained extensive vegetable gardens, grape arbors, and fruit trees on the Bird Homestead property.

The children spent their first class of the season digging compost into raised beds and planting tiny radish seeds. Hung and Mottola are introducing the children to basic composting and soil science, explaining how microbes and earthworms help break down organic materials and enrich soil fertility.  

This year the children are adding a native milkweed area to the garden to help Monarch butterflies. As widely reported, these beautiful butterflies are declining at an alarming rate, in part, due to loss of habitat from over development. One of the major threats to the species is the lack of available milkweed, the only host food plant for Monarch caterpillars.

The program for the Carver Center students is offered free of charge and supported by the Anvilla P. Cunningham Fund for Gardening Education at the Bird Homestead. The fund honors the memory of Mrs. Cunningham, an accomplished gardener and botanist, whose flower, vegetable, and herb gardens at her home in Rye were widely admired.

“It is a joy to have the Carver Center students dig in and learn here at the Bird Homestead garden,” said Anne Stillman, president of the Bird Homestead. “We thank all the donors to the Anvilla P. Cunningham Fund for making it possible.

Photos courtesy of Anne Mottola

Hundreds of runners and their families were off for the annual running of the Rye Y Derby Sunday, April 30. Among the noteworthy spectators was Olympic gold medalist Million Wolde, who hails from Ethiopia and won the 5000 meters at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

In the 5-Mile Race, the top three male finishers were Ayele Megersa (24:59), Harbert Okuti (25:09), and Gishu Dida (25:39). The top female finishers were Salome Kosgei (28:29), Meseret Ali Basa (29:10), and Jennie Cohen (32:06).

Thirteen-year-old Jonah Gorevic, in a time of 17:51, won the 5K for the fourth year in a row. Pat Newsom (18:07) and Ben Sweet (19:51) placed second and third. Brenna Hazen, age 13, once again was the 5K female winner, with a time of 21.33. Amanda Jaffe (21:37) and Eve Spencer (21:44) came in second and third. The first place 5-Mile Rye runners were James Kelly and Trish Muccia. Visit www.ryeymca.org for the complete results.

After the big races, the Rye Y parking lot was filled with Healthy Kids Day fun, including active games and live music. Rye Y summer camp staff led a preview of what’s to come.

The day culminated with a 1-mile family fun run/walk kicked-off by Rye Derby co-chair Conor O’Driscoll. The streets of Rye overflowed with enthusiastic families and kids of all ages running, walking, skipping, and pushing strollers.

Photos by ryesportsphotos.com

The Rye Y’s Togetherhood Committee is teaming up with the Friends of the Rye Nature Center for a family-friendly day of service in the woods Saturday, May 13 from 2-4. Enjoy an afternoon outdoors planting and removing invasive vines. There will be projects for ages 5 and above.

Registration required. Call 967-6363 or visit ryeymca.org.

By Melanie Cane

Do you dread bedtime with your kids? Is it a constant battle getting them to go to sleep? If so, then join the club, literally.

The Sleepytime Club, created by Rye resident Brook Packard, is a book-of-the-month and album-of-the-month club geared for ages 2-7. The system is designed to make bedtime easier for all.

Club members receive a downloadable kit that includes an illustrated storybook, as well as songs and quiet activities. Parents and children bond through interactive poems, a story, and a mindfulness practice, “Put the Day to Bed.” Each playlist ends with a classical guitar version of a lullaby. The entire routine takes about 20 minutes.

Packard developed Sleepytime Club because she herself suffered from sleep difficulties. In her research, she discovered sleep deprivation is a pervasive problem that can lead to other conditions, such as anxiety and difficulty concentrating. She also learned that experts recommend establishing a calming bedtime routine.

An early childhood educator and music specialist, Packard described her thought process: “I wanted to provide families with a quality, nurturing experience. Bedtime isn’t bedtime without a story, so I worked to create ones that send positive messages, lead children to sleep, and give parents an assurance they’re doing their best. Adding relaxing music came naturally to me,” she said.

Since launching the Club, Packard has produced four Bedtime Kits: Stars, Heart, Moon, and Clouds. And she plans to add nine more this year.

<Packard will share her knowledge of bedtime routines and positive family habits at a free Get Your Sleep On! Webinar May 8 at 10:30 a.m. Sign up at http://www.sleepytimeclub.com/get-your-sleep-on/.>

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WE NEED Book Cover Stars

All Paws to the Rescue

By Robin Jovanovich

Over a decade ago, Claudia Baker was giving a client a massage when the woman turned to her and asked if she knew anyone who might be interested in buying her established pet store business in downtown Rye.

While Rye wasn’t a hop, skip away from northern New Jersey, where Baker lived, she knew and loved the store and the town, and thought why not!

A few months after taking over All Paws, Baker started adding her paw prints to the gourmet pet boutique. “I cut back on the super pricey merchandise and brought in quality U.S.-made products in a range of prices,” she said.

Not only does Baker help dog and cat owners find the best food and accessories for their furry friends, she also offers training tips and support. In a number of cases, a family didn’t give up on a problematic pup because she helped them work on the dog’s behavior, and their response.

She loves the days when children come in after school and ask her advice about the different kinds of treats she sells. Many families hold birthday parties for their beloved pets, and because every good dog deserves the occasional treat, All Paws stocks freshly baked ones.

“This store is like a family,” says Baker with a smile. Many customers bring their dogs, which thrills Rory, the Yellow Labrador Baker adopted a little less than two years ago. “He was in desperate need — of love and training — and he had me at woof,” said Baker who was recovering from the death of her very special Black Lab, Murphy.

While Baker is helping shoppers choose the right size coat or collar, don’t be surprised when Rory comes over to offer his assistance. He brings you his latest toy and you soon find yourself playing tug-of-war.

One question many longtime clients and customers have asked Baker is: Do you give massages to dogs? “Other than my own, very rarely,” she answers matter-of-factly. “Not every dog is comfortable getting more than a pat or a hug.”

This week, just back from the Pet Rescue luncheon at Apawamis Club, Baker, who wears her affection for four-footed creatures on her sleeve, is thinking of all the ways she can help more dogs find good homes. She already sponsors ads for the Humane Society of Westchester in this paper, and contributes to a number of pet causes, but she’s now planning to donate 10 percent of every $100 sale to the many animal shelters.

Meanwhile, a customer calls and says she’ll be by in five minutes to pick up her order. Baker, “thanks to a generous landlord”, now offers curbside pickup. And the first of many children walks in to browse the large selection of Mother’s Day gifts — hats, mugs, T-shirts — and cards. Rory rises from his afternoon nap to help.

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All Paws owner Claudia Baker with Rory