Wednesday, December 7, 2011

From Israel to New York: A Familiar Aroma

Israel is associated with countless political issues, hummus and more. When I think of Israel, I think of coffee shop called Aroma. Aroma is the Starbucks of Israel in terms of ubiquity, although not atmosphere. At locations around the Starbucks-free nation, drinks are served in ceramic cups, bread for gourmet sandwiches is baked on site and every order comes with a sweet piece of milk chocolate. In 2007, I visited Israel and subsequently Aroma daily. Believe it or not, it is easy to get into a routine of starting one’s day with delicious coffee, a croissant and a little bit of chocolate. I even visited Aroma after climbing Masada, a mountain in Northern Israel and the site of an ancient Israeli struggle. Israel’s desert climate meant we began our hike around sunrise, and were hungry for lunch around 10:30 am. Aroma was there, thankfully. On the plane back to America, as I ate an Aroma sandwich I hoped I would find my way back to the Holy Land and my beloved Aroma.

Back in New York, Google came to the rescue. A quick search revealed Aroma’s first US location in Soho had just opened, a quick subway ride from my house. A few weeks later, jet-lag having been conquered, my travel companion and I set off on a mission. We arrived at the storefront, at the corner of Greene Street and West Houston and felt at home. The familiar red and black logo was no longer executed in Hebrew but the fresh bread in the display case, along with the large population of Israeli expats and small pieces of chocolate on every plate assured us that we would not be disappointed. We ordered iced Aromas, their signature blended iced coffee drink (they have a diet version made with skim milk) and two types of sandwiches (you can order a half or a whole) to sample both. I recommend the mozzarella and the chicken Caesar salad, which I have since sampled. Aroma’s bread is fresh and fluffy and their salad dressings are delicious. During winter, their soup is hearty and filling. The store's layout of long tables and a bar encourage lingering and it’s a great place to rest and refuel after a long day of shopping.

My first visit to America’s Aroma left me thoroughly impressed. Since then, I’ve dragged countless friends to Aroma for a snack or coffee after a day of shopping in Soho. It’s steps from the subway and a true respite. Aroma was the site of a mini family reunion prior to my sister’s Bat Mitzvah in which my family monopolized half the tables and was entirely too loud, in keeping with Israeli traditions.

During Thanksgiving break, I visited the Upper West Side Aroma (on 72nd Street and Amsterdam) for the first time with a friend who I previously took to the Soho location after her trip to Israel. The uptown location not only featured the great food we know and love, but a wine bar, beers on tap and a rooftop patio, as well as seating upstairs. Even a glass of wine comes with their signature chocolate. We dug into a mozzarella sandwich on multi-grain bread, along with cappuccinos and iced Aromas. People spoke English rather than Hebrew and we wore jeans and jackets rather than shorts and t-shirts. New York City is far from the Middle East, but sitting in Aroma, the distance is bridged, even if it's only for one bite.

1 comment:

  1. I´m glad you liked Aroma in Israel. It´s so classic to see people going to their jobs in the morning with a cup of Aroma´s coffee on their hands...Israeli people are addicted to coffee.



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