November 19, 2014

The Foodie’s Guide to Ithaca’s Guiltiest Pleasures

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A bit too often, we indulge in things we’re not too proud of. Occasional nights at home are spent contently watching Magic Bullet infomercials; frequent mornings in class are reserved for chain-skimming BuzzFeed articles. And if asked for one’s opinion on R. Kelly’s remix to Ignition, many of us would all culpably confess that we’re never happier than the moment it graces our car stereos. Basically, life is filled with guilty pleasures — and our taste buds would be damned if they were the exception to these satisfying yet questionable habits.

Whether we’re stressing or relaxing, ravenously hungry or simply bored out of our minds, each of us has that go-to food that satisfies the most relentless of munchies. But a true “guilty pleasure” food is a delicate species. At minimum, it must be the size of a small, yet husky, toddler. It should make you slightly embarrassed to consume in front of strangers, yet not too ashamed to devour moments after the cashier bestows it in your hands. And, most importantly, the more casual the food the better, because it’s not really an indulgence unless you can enjoy it in your college sweatpants and crumb-festered bed.  And so, this article scrounges up the most binge-worthy, heart-burning foods in Ithaca and narrows them into categories for every type of major craving.

SUGARY: Ice Cream Sandwich at Waffle Frolic

After writing an entire article solely dedicated to the town’s best desserts, picking the sugary option was the biggest ethical dilemma I faced all week. But after a quick menu scroll and the knowledge that IthacaToGo would deliver warm waffles to my doorstep, the case was quickly closed. Waffle Frolic’s menu is lined with both sweet and savory offerings, ranging anywhere from simple (think: butter and powdered sugar) to fried chicken drizzled with maple hot sauce. I settled on the ice cream sandwich solely because the menu warns that it is “big enough for two”, which we all know really means me, myself and I. Each order includes two fluffy waffles folded over two scoops of Purity ice cream, caramel :sauce, whipped cream and Belgian chocolate sauce. I elected the bittersweet chocolate ice cream and a one dollar addition of fried bananas to fully maximize the ridiculousness of eating this bad boy alone. The buttermilk waffles were warm, buttery and perfectly enveloped the melting chocolate cream, while the sweetness of the caramel humbly matched the nuttiness of the fried bananas. Since neither the restaurant nor any rational human being recommends consuming this dessert-for-breakfast beast solo, you can always split it amongst friends, and spare the stomachache and judgmental glance from the deliveryman.

GREASY: The Maven at Louie’s Lunch Truck

Pretty much nothing at Cornell rivals the sentimental smell of freshman year that lingers around Louie’s Lunch truck. For hours I debated which grease-filled, delicious Louie’s menu item would be the one to write about. Sandwich or fries? Regular menu or secret menu? Ultimately, out of respect for the secret menu and freshman year nostalgia, I decided on the Maven sandwich. The Maven is a sub with chicken tenders, buffalo sauce, melted cheese, bleu cheese dressing, BBQ sauce, tomato and lettuce. After selecting your level of spice for the buffalo sauce and a few minutes, a tin foil wrapped baseball bat of bread is handed over. The sandwich is smoky, greasy, cheesy and creamy — all tied into one “husky toddler” sized food. The Maven is best enjoyed on weekend nights with an order of fries from the secret menu and the best of freshman year friends.

CREAMY: New York Maple Cheesecake Ice Cream at Cornell Dairy Bar

A scoop of ice cream doesn’t necessarily qualify as a guilty pleasure in and of itself. But sneaking samples of said ice cream not once, not twice, but eight times does in fact fall into that shamefaced category. After the man scooping ice cream samples over Parents’ Weekend politely shooed me away from his stand, I made it my mission to get a cone of this creamy perfection by the end of the day.  To note, Cornell Dairy is notorious for its air-ridden ice cream, putting all creamy contenders to shame. This flavor combines the earthy background of sweet maple syrup with the occasional tang of cheesecake bits. Laughably rich and cotton ball fluffy, Cornell’s maple cheesecake ice cream tasted just as great after an entire cone as it did on that first hypnotic sample.

BACON-FILLED: The Fat Kid and The Perfect Burger at Ithaca Ale House

The Fat Kid Burger at Ithaca Ale House (Connor Archard / Sun Photography