Euphoric Eat: Catered Affair

For more than a quarter of a century, Catered Affair has been a fixture in Hillsborough. In a town where restaurants often come and go, this family-owned-and-operated sandwich shop has stood the test of time. Since 1989, Catered Affair has been serving great deli fare to the masses, while maintaining a longstanding reputation as one of Hillsborough’s best eateries.

Ever since my family and I moved to Hillsborough way back in 1999, we have made many trips to Catered Affair – probably too many to count, in my case. With a menu that is suitable for any time of the day, there truly is never a bad time to come here.

The inviting, nostalgic atmosphere pays tribute to Hillsborough’s many athletic squads with team photos lining nearly every wall in the restaurant. Speaking of which – who’s that bad man in the top right of that cross-country team picture? Me, circa 2009!

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What I’d do to have that metabolism back…

The restaurant is only open until 6pm daily and 4pm on Sundays, which is probably a good thing, considering my ’round-the-clock hunger. It all works out though – my favorite meal, breakfast, is served all day long!

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Western Omelette Platter, courtesy of Yelp user David S.

As many of my friends can attest, I am probably the most indecisive person on Earth when it comes to ordering food. My anxiety is only heightened by Catered Affair’s menu, which is intimidatingly large, to say the least. I would bet that many customers feel the same way – see for yourself!

In days of yore, I often found myself ordering from the ‘Cardiac Corner’ section of the menu, which is not for the faint-hearted (no pun intended). A particular favorite of mine was the Grease Trap – bacon, pork roll, sausage, hash browns, salt, pepper & ketchup on a toasted roll. It is exactly what its name implies; my arteries feel clogged just from writing that last sentence.

I do try to eat healthier nowadays, but hey, trying and doing are two different things. Nonetheless, there are still many other sections of Catered Affair’s menu to choose from; perhaps a superfluous amount of sandwich choices, might I add.

Without overwhelming yourself, observe the menu’s legion of components: breakfast sandwiches, omelettes, subs, burgers, paninis, triple deckers, ‘cardiac corner’, ‘healthy choices’ (if you’re into that sort of thing), and finally, my personal favorite – smothered sandwiches.

The “Up in Smoke”, a smothered sandwich rich in both flavor and quality, has become my go-to order as of late. A smothered, smoked turkey sandwich on marble rye with smoked mozzarella melted on top, along with lettuce and sun-dried tomato mayo. For the affordable price of $7, the “Up in Smoke” is indeed perfection on a plate, and also a contender for the [nonexistent] award of Most Photogenic Sandwich. See below!

Perfection

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Though Catered Affair’s offerings are vast, I still find myself ordering the same things time and time again. I am a believer in the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but I really should mix it up once in a while. With that in mind, here are a few other choices which caught my eye:

New York, New YorkHot corned beef and pastrami with swiss cheese, coleslaw & mustard on triple-decker seeded rye. Though it costs $9.50, it looks like a fine option to splurge on. If I can eat it there, I’ll eat it anywhere!

Sopranos Panini: Fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, basil, balsamic, olive oil & seasonings on flatbread. As Tony would say, Salute!

Jumping Jack: Smoked turkey, swiss cheese, black olives, mixed greens & hummus with a dash of balsamic in a soft tortilla. As one of the ‘healthy choice’ menu selections, it is one of many guilt-free indulgences. This is what I should be eating…

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Courtesy of Catered Affair

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention the “Letter R” – Catered Affair’s pièce de résistance, if you will. Despite having no numbers to back up my claim, I am 100% confident that it is the most popular item on the menu. Consisting of sliced chicken breast, bacon, melted cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes & herb mayo between an Italian roll, the “Letter R” is about as good as it gets.

There is something special about the sandwich that makes it difficult for me to eat just one. Lucky for me, I was able to get a three-foot version for my high school grad party. Unverified reports estimate that I chomped down at least an entire foot. No regrets.

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Look at that monstrosity!

In addition to running a kick-ass deli, Catered Affair is also well-known throughout the community for their catering services. If you have ever been to a summer BBQ or grad party in Hillsborough, it is a foregone conclusion that Catered Affair was there too. Come to think of it, I might need them for my wedding someday 🙂

For now, all I can do is pay tribute to a restaurant which has been the site of much satisfaction for me throughout my formative years. With my time as a full-time Hillsborough resident soon coming to a close, there are many people, places, and things I will come to miss dearly.

Without a doubt, Catered Affair is at the top of that list.

boromir

 

Euphoric Eat: Divine Curry

There are few things I enjoy more in life than unlimited food, and as a wannabe bon vivant, the buffet is the closest place I can get to being in a state of nirvana.

Although Divine Curry has a wide variety of delicious courses to choose from during dinner hours, surprisingly I have only visited during the all-you-can-eat lunch special. At only $11 a person, the buffet may just be the best deal in all of Hillsborough. Check out their hours here.

Throughout the years, this family-owned Indian restaurant has been the site of much indulgence for me. When I was brought here for the first time, it had truly been love at first bite. Before I discuss the food, though, I have included several simple guidelines to abide by – Divine Decrees, if you will.

Divine Decree #1: Eat a light breakfast and/or exercise before coming here for lunch, as to maximize your appetite. Cost-effective gluttony for the win!

Divine Decree #2: Make sure your schedule is free for the rest of the day if you choose to eat here. Speaking from personal experience, the only activity you will be doing afterwards is napping.

Divine Decree #3: When organizing a plate for yourself, layer the bottom of it with fresh jasmine rice. Saturated by all of the different sauces, the rice then takes on a medley of wonderful flavors.

Divine Decree #4: When the host asks if you would like another serving of naan, say yes, whether you’re full or not. There is always room for more naan, food comas be damned.

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Naturally, I have kept a running ledger on my phone describing all the foods I have eaten at Divine Curry. The restaurant changes their buffet offerings on the regular, so my list is constantly expanding.

In addition to my own notes, I have consulted my good friend and Mumbai native Yash Porecha, who has accompanied me on many trips to this luscious locale. Though he grew up in Dubai, his parents were raised in India and have done a great job exposing him to their cuisine through years of home-cooked Indian meals.

That sense of nostalgia always has Yash eager for a return trip to Divine Curry. “It’s very reminiscent of home-cooked food, and even the food that tastes like its made in a restaurant reminds me of dining experiences at home,” he said. Though he may enter the restaurant feeling homesick, he constantly leaves satiated.

I was a bit flummoxed when trying to pinpoint a favorite, considering the restaurant’s mouthwatering lineup of both vegetarian and meat options, as well as a series of other confections. This lovely platter below provides a most salivating preview of what you can expect at Divine Curry.

Divinations

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Tandoori chicken is one of India’s dearest delicacies, and as a mainstay of Divine Curry’s buffet, is also a favorite of mine. Marinated in yogurt and seasoned with a variety of spices, tandoori chicken smells heavenly, and has a mild, yet tender taste to it.

Another popular item at the buffet is the paneer masala, a vegetarian dish consisting of fresh cottage cheese chunks, coated with a gravy-like puree mixed in with onions, peas, and other assorted vegetables. According to my epicurean expert Yash, “the sweet and savory, creamy consistency pleases the taste buds.”

Fried fixings are another speciality; samosas, pakora, and onion bhajia are some of the little bites which I can never get enough of. Samosas – fried turnovers stuffed with spicy potatoes, are a very common side dish, while the pakora is an exquisite combination of various vegetables, herbs, and spices. As for the onion bhajia, consider it as an Indian variation of the onion ring; Divine Curry makes theirs by thinly slicing their onions, and then lightly frying them in batter. Mmmmm!

Goat korma, lamb saag, and chicken makhni are also just some of the many dishes which I frequently indulge in. Korma, a spicy curried dish made with fried onion paste, has an unmistakable kick to it, while saag is a spinach-based dish cooked with a range of spices. The chicken makhni is also a favorite of mine, due to its elegantly simple and mild buttery taste.

I could probably write a whole book on the many different choices Divine Curry has throughout its diverse menu, but I will spare that effort in the interest of time. Take a look at the rest of the menu here.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention naan bread – the chef d’oeuvre of carbohydrates. With a rich history, this traditional Delhi bread is a staple of many South Asian cuisines. Baked to perfection in a tandoor oven, this first-rate flatbread has a bubbly texture and crisp, smoky flavor.

Naan Factor

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Whether you get it with or without butter is up to you; naan makes for a great accompaniment either way. Make sure to mop up your leftover sauce with it!

If you somehow saved enough room for dessert, the gulab jamun can provide your meal with the proverbial cherry on top. Made with milk solids and dipped in a sweet syrup, they have a spongy texture and a decadent taste.

Kheer is another pleasant treat. It is a flavorful rice pudding with nuts, rose water, and cardamom. This dish always has me coming back for seconds (and sometimes thirds!).

Despite my many trips to the lunch buffet, the menu remains, by and large, unconquered. I only have so much money to spend on food; as I like to tell myself, “when my wallet expands, so too can my culinary horizons.” Nonetheless, the value is often too good to pass up.

For years, Divine Curry has undoubtedly proven itself worthy of its moniker. If you have not eaten here yet, make it a point to do so – it is well worth the hype!