Getting That Bread: Cornell Dining’s Mystery Shopper Program

For many students with meal plans, the Mystery Shopper Program has been a long-time subject of curiosity. Aiming to recognize outstanding eateries and improve the dining experience, this initiative is real and offers students the dream job: to eat meals at select cafes and dining halls on an hourly wage in addition to reimbursement for the meal. All that’s required is a brief online review preceded by subtle, discrete and unannounced visits to dining units. 

In late February, the opportunity was formally opened to students with a meal plan during Spring of 2024. Now, over a month later, there are 70 total mystery shoppers traveling to 29 different dining units. Started by former Assistant Director Of Staff Training & Development Therese O’Connor, the program has expanded dramatically over the years, helping Cornell maintain its reputation and high rankings, such as having the second “Best Campus Food” per the Princeton Review.

The Ins and Outs of Trader Joe’s Fall Selections

With the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner, there is no better way to celebrate the season than with Trader Joe’s fall food and drink selection. As someone who has regularly shopped at Trader Joe’s from an early age, I knew I had to purchase my favorite fall treats in addition to some new, exciting items. While many instantly filled me with fall joy, others fell flat.  

I would definitely purchase the pumpkin bagels. Even though they might not have had the strongest pumpkin flavor, they are delicious and hearty. They go especially well with the pumpkin cream cheese, as it has a stronger pumpkin spice flavor that makes up for the lack of it in the bagels. That said, I would still only use a little of the cream cheese because it can become quite overwhelming quite quickly. 

Continuing the theme of breakfast foods, I would recommend you pass on the pumpkin flavored overnight oats.

Ithaca Fall Favorites: A Definitive List

Fall is now in full swing, and one of the activities I enjoy the most is going to local Ithaca eateries and trying their seasonal pastries. Whether it’s to Wegmans or Collegetown Bagels, I embark on a delighted scavenger hunt to find the fall treats that are both affordable and rich with flavor. Here is my yearly rundown of my favorite fall items from local Ithaca eateries. 

Pumpkin Spice Bar from Collegetown Bagels 

These special bars are triple layered, starting with a chewy graham cracker crust, cream cheese frosting and a pumpkin spice spread, all topped with a pumpkin spice whipped cream. Simple yet flavorful, this pumpkin spice bar will give you the full experience of fall. This is one of my go-to desserts for fall, as the pumpkin spice bar isn’t too sweet or bland.

What’s Here 2Stay?

After a 3-month hiatus, Collegetown’s most exciting new restaurant returned with a bang. Student marketers hummed around Collegetown, shouting down would-be customers and zealously offering free samples to whoever stopped for more than a second. The boisterous atmosphere continued inside. The shop itself was buzzing with activity: Music blaring, employees lively and smiling — practically a party in the store. In spite of the theatrics, the online order was right on time, and after a short sojourn I was ready to bring to you a comprehensive review of (nearly) every item on 2Stay 2Go’s online menu.

Beans and Greens at Ithaca’s Newest Cafe, Botanist Coffeehouse

Successful modern restaurants are those which evoke pleasure through both their food and atmosphere. The more “instagrammable” the interior and décor, the more business it will attract — especially from millennials and Gen Z-ers. And in Ithaca, which has more restaurants per capita than NYC, the competition is fierce. There are at least a dozen coffee shops, each small, with high-quality beans and different spirits. The newest is Botanist Coffeehouse, a combination café and flower shop in Fall Creek.

Hound and Mare Reinvigorates Ithaca’s Breakfast Scene

Located in the Ithaca Commons on Aurora St., Hound and Mare is a new local cafe and bakery that offers a plethora of choices ranging from house-made pastries and coffee to famous bagel sandwiches. When I first walked through the door, I was immediately overwhelmed by the smell of fresh baked goods. The store was playing soft jazz music, which perfectly matched the classic interior with brick walls and wide windows. Each table was spread 6 feet apart and had mini bottles of sanitizer on them. With its cozy interior and COVID safe environment, I instantly felt at ease and comforted by the store’s atmosphere.  

With a minimalist yet intriguing and creative menu, I took my time viewing the different bagel sandwich options.

Pronto is Right — Collegetown’s Newest Spot Serves Good Pizza, Fast

In recent years, the commercial pizza game has seen a dramatic shift. Gone are the days when a gooey slice the size of your face will suffice. Pizza lovers have grown tired of the triangular-shaped grease stain left behind on a paper plate. Flour-dusted lips and oily fingers just don’t cut it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be an audience of cheese addicts to support establishments like Enzo’s and CollegeTown Pizza.

Amidst the Pandemic, Masita is Earning Its Spot on the Collegetown Scene

When Jin Kim and Jeesoo Lee opened Masita this past winter, they (like the rest of us) had no way of knowing what was right around the corner. The coronavirus hit restaurant owners incredibly hard, and many Ithaca businesses were forced to close their doors and regroup. Kim and Lee, having only been open for a month, were at a major disadvantage, as they lacked the dedicated fanbase of other established restaurants. Fortunately, Masita was not their first rodeo. Back in South Korea, the two women were longtime business partners and owned multiple successful restaurants together.