Israel, my love, you never cease to amaze, delight, and enchant me. If you were a man, I’d let you kiss me (if we were married). I don’t make any bones about it: I love Israeli food. I have yet to find a culture that works so brilliantly with the abundance of the earth, churning and turning it into delicious and enticing combinations that are usually good for you too. So when I was walking back to my hotel in NYC one night about three weeks ago, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the word “Aroma” printed on the window of what appeared to be a coffee shop. What the fiddlesticks? (I said to myself) Could it be? It was. Aroma is an Israeli-owned coffee shop and eatery (I remembered it from my trip there last summer) that has now put down three establishments in the Manhattan area.
The entire menu is fabulous, but let’s get right to the point. Behold my friends, I introduce to you, the omelet sandwich. To the ordinary observer, this may seem like no big whoop, but if you have just returned from Mexico and spent the night languishing with food-poisoning- induced fever and nausea, only to have it all break sometime around 1:00am and you are lying in your NY hostel room with no ceiling, now no longer dying of fever and parasites, but rather of starvation because you were too sick to eat your dinner and Delta didn’t serve you anything more on the plane than a lousy bag of pretzels, and all you can think of is this omelet sandwich that your mom had for breakfast when you were there together on that trip three weeks ago, then you would understand what I am talking about.
Probably as I say ‘omelet sandwich’, you are picturing some greaz-y, fatty, Kraft-single-and-Canadian-bacon-filled garbage on the order of an Egg McMuffin. Halt. Remove the grease, the fabricated cheese product, the powdered eggs, and of course, the pig (this is an Israeli establishment, remember).
It goes like this: delicious, soft grain bread. Now those two things don’t usually go together, right? Grain bread is supposed to be dry, maybe a little crunchy, but certainly not moist and soft (I can’t explain it, I just go with it, moving on). Next comes your omelet (you know, eggs, no filling), lettuce, tomato, pickles (yup, you guessed it—the Israeli kind), and then a layer of cream cheese on the top slice of bread (I wouldn’t have argued at a layer of cream cheese on the bottom bread as well, but they know best). Seems simple enough, but what you have going on is a synergistic effect of magic and wonder happening all in your mouth. I could barely wait until morning.
So come 8:30am I hauled my still-sort-of-sick, but yet very hungry self over to the corner of Greene and Houston and strolled in, wiping the tiny beads of perspiration that were beginning to form on my lip. Was New York hot this morning or was it my fever kicking up again? Anyways, I got the breakfast combo—omelet sandwich and small cappuccino—and when, pray tell, does the ‘combo’ actually feature the exact two things you were planning to get? There was no paying for potatoes I didn’t want, nor any other unnecessaries like pancakes or something. Christmas morning, I tell you. I set myself in the path of an air conditioner vent and turned my settings to savor-mode.
Now I’m going to have to wax on here for a few lines about the cappuccino. I think part of the explanation for the quality of this not-as-simple-as-you-think beverage is the milk. I know it’s whole milk, and I would even venture to say maybe it’s more than whole milk, but it can’t actually be cream because that constitutes a separate drink. It has to be Israeli milk. They must import it. (For my post about the uncommon delight of Israeli dairy products, click HERE).
I will say, with no hesitation, that this is the best cappuccino in the United States (not that high of an honor, really). Now I am going to go a step further, and I might gain some enemies here, but I am going to say it is the best cappuccino on the planet. I invite you to disagree with me on this. Truly I would love to encounter a mind-blowing cappuccino closer to home. There is also something in their frothing technique which I can explain to you if you really care to know, but I’m not going to take the time to do it here since a lot of my readers aren’t even coffee drinkers and probably don’t give a C.
My regret: only ordering half a sandwich. That was ill planned, given my level of hunger. But I have found, in my thirty years of circling this globe, that we are often graced with second chances. I went back for lunch.