Catering, in my opinion, is a tough business. And it's named correctly because you have to do just that. You have to cater to the specific desires of the customers, cater to the tastes of the guests, cater to the distance and travel time, and even cater to the weather. Often times in the world of catering, no matter how good the food started out, after all the heating, cooling, reheating, and transportation, the food just isn't the same. So, if you're looking for a dynamite catering service and restaurant, look no further than Amanouz Cafe of 44 Main St. Northampton, Mass.
As a summer job, I work on a 49 passenger river cruise boat in South Hadley called the Lady Bea (http://www.brunelles-marina.com/lady-bea-river-cruise-boat/). The boat offers daily cruises as well as private charters. At the end of June, we had a private charter for a wedding reception on the boat and the food was catered by Amanouz. Once the two hour cruise was finished, the couple was generous enough to offer the leftovers to the crew, myself included. And let me tell you...it was our lucky day, because even after a 30 minute drive from Northampton to South Hadley, a boat full of people, and a two hour cruise, the food was still impeccable...a tough thing to accomplish in my book.
Specializing in Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine, Amanouz offers a great selection of choices. Being half Greek, I already have a love for this type of food, so I was not shy and I dug right in. There was a salad that was light and healthy, full of different veggies and a lemony vinaigrette and topped with avocado slices that weren't even the slightest bit brown. The falafel were to die for; fried, but not greasy, drizzled with tahini, and perfectly green inside thanks to fresh herbs. I put them inside a fresh pita with some tomato, cucumber, and homemade babaghannoush, which was sweet and full of perfectly-seasoned eggplant, and made myself the perfect afternoon sandwich. The hummus was fresh, definitely homemade and boasted the flavors of Morocco with every bite. Also, there was a nice pita pizza, lightly topped with spinach and cheese, and a summery pasta dish with farfalle, fresh bocconcini, and grape tomatoes in olive oil.
The most impressive thing about all of the food that was brought in by Amanouz was the quality and freshness of the ingredients and the care and passion that was clearly put into all of the food that was offered. The fact that it was so fresh, flavorful, and beautiful, even after a long trip on the road and a cruise on the Connecticut River, shows just how good the chefs at Amanouz are at what they do.
I have never been to the actual restaurant before, but after sampling everything they have to offer in a catered setting, I can easily say that I'd stroll into their restaurant any day of the week, prepared to be even more impressed by the food, simply because of the fact that it was great even after the true test of catering.
*All of Amanouz Cafe's menus are available at their website listed above.