The Scent Of The City

Every city has its own unique scent; like a fingerprint in fragrance form. I’m in New York such a short time this week that I could blink and miss it were it not for that distinctly New York aroma in the air.

Here in East Midtown where I’m working today, there’s an orchestra of smells that’s so unmistakenly this neighborhood. There’s the sweet yeasty smell of just-baked morning breads from the bakery on the corner, a hint of curry sways back and forth across the sidewalk near the kati roll cafe, the salty morning breeze is a reminder that the ocean is just a few blocks away, and, of course, that underlying mustiness that exhales from the subway grates with each passing train.

These are scents that are so truly New York they immediately bring back memories of my many summers here during college; back when I knew every inch of lower Manhattan and would wake up to the smell of the coffee shop downstairs grinding beans. Back when I  wanted nothing more than to find my inner Carrie Bradshaw and live in the lower Manhattan in search for my very own Aiden.

My life has taken me here, there, and everywhere since then and, though I’ve never been a legitimate, full time New Yorker, my college friends have bestowed me honorary status, thanks in some part to all the summers and long work stints I’ve chalked up over the years. Over those years, I’ve logged many memories and visited many a favorite site (the cloisters, anyone?), but one I always go back to are the New York farmers markets.

Spring Panzanella Salad Recipe from www.aidamollenkamp.com

The markets are filled with produce that is so distinctly New York, especially this time of year, when there are gems like ramps, rhubarb, and scapes. And I adore that the produce hangs around just a bit longer out here– so while we’re heading full force ahead to sun-drenched stone fruit season, New York is holding on to the last of the just-picked fava beans. This salad makes the most of that seasonal produce and is a reminder that, even if school’s out and the weather’s warming, spring is still in the air a few more weeks.

This is a very green, very clean take on the Italian bread salad, panzanella, and, while you could add in some crisped bacon or flaked smoked fish to make it more of a meal, it’s perfectly perfect as is. Just like the weather today in New York city — so perfectly perfect it makes me wish  I could spend the whole summer here.