August 28, 2013

An Open Letter to Collegetown Bagels’ Newest Customers

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Dear new students,

Congratulations and welcome for the umpteenth time to your next four years at Cornell, which will throw you the most wonderful and challenging curveballs you have yet to foresee. As you try to figure out the shortest and least hilly route to class (it’s not possible, by the way), which dining hall has the best food, what frat has the best parties and where the best place to “study” is, let me, a benevolent and learned senior, give you an insider’s tip: Collegetown Bagels is where it’s at. And if you did not already know this fact from the ubiquitous CTB stickers on water bottles, laptops and cars, I worry about your next four years here.

I have been given a substantial task, one I am not sure I am qualified for: to pick the ultimate sandwich from CTB. You can’t just choose one. Take one look at that overwhelming and colorful chalkboard menu and your mind begins to spin and mouth starts to salivate. With intriguing names, some after local places such as Cascadilla Crisp and others just cool sounding like The Medusa, the next question is a bagel sandwich on their freshly made in-house bagels, a regular sandwich on various types of wondrous bread from their parent company, Ithaca Bakery, or a simple wrap. With over 70 original sandwiches to choose from, each sounding more tantalizing than the next, many Cornellians have proclaimed they will take on the challenge of trying every sandwich at CTB, including yours truly. And up to this point, I have failed miserably. Despite my senior status, I have fallen into a common dilemma: After you make your first fateful choice at CTB, that sandwich is just so freakin’ good that you order it almost every time. All of the other one-of-a-kind creations sound just as seducing, but you already know this one just hits the spot. So, what sandwich have I been happily stuck in a rut with the past three years? The Zoe.

Some may call The Zoe just a chicken salad sandwich. But it’s not. It’s so much more.  Though fresh chicken salad may be the basis of this bagel sandwich, because it’s a CTB creation, there is a lot more to it. The sandwich consists of cranberry sauce lightly spread on both sides of the bagel, adding just the right amount of sweetness. The lettuce adds a good crunch and the tomato complements it perfectly. But what really makes this sandwich exceptional is the type of bagel: rosemary salt. Weird sounding at first, right? But please, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. Possibly the best thing to happen to a bagel since the advent of the Everything Bagel, the rosemary salt bagel is the perfect blend of seasoning and herbs. The sweetness of the cranberry sauce in combination with the rosemary salt bagel makes this chicken salad sandwich a step above any other. Though it may be one of many ultimate picks of sandwiches at CTB, it is certainly one you should venture to try before your time here flies and passes.

But it’s not just The Zoe that keeps me coming back to CTB. What is it about CTB that acts as a common thread to transcend generations of Cornellians? How is it that this little bagel shop is to Collegetown as the Clock Tower is to the architecture of campus?   Although the food is always scrumptious and original, it’s only the beginning of the CTB experience understood by Cornellians and Ithacans everywhere. CTB is that place on the corner bracing the line of campus and Collegetown, greeting wary students on their way home from a late night at the library and sending them off in the morning with coffee. CTB is that little place where there is not enough rickety, wooden seating, yet you’re always able to find a spot (eventually). CTB is that iconic meeting spot and people watching place where the eclectic music mix continually hums as seniors are on the patio drinking sangria, grad students are ordering a pitcher of beer on a Friday night, the hipster is on his laptop with a cup of love buzz coffee in hand at eleven at night and friends meet to order a breakfast sandwich to cure the morning’s hangover and exchange stories from the previous nights drunken escapades. CTB is that place that relates to any person, any study. Yes, I did just go there. If you haven’t heard that saying yet, I also worry for you. But I am also envious of you — envious because you have four pristine years ahead of you to take on the CTB challenge and face so many others Cornell will present you with and you will conquer.

Your Favorite Foodie,


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Original Author: Casey Carr