I've been off the grid once again. This time, I have a good excuse. I was in Philadelphia for a long spell to be by Mama Vamp's side while she had to deal with yet another hospital stay. She is fine. Recovering well. We're hoping this is the last hospital visit for a good while -- at the very least because hospital kitchen staff seems to have trouble even making Jello.
When I arrived, Mama Vamp being Mama Vamp, knew all too well of the trays of insipid chicken broth and Saltines that were coming her way.
Insisting on keeping her spirits up before going under the knife, she demanded a humdinger of a last supper.
A humdinger it was.
We hailed a cab and landed in Washington Square West where we grabbed a table at Marc Vetri's new Roman-inspired trattoria Amis. Mama Vamp liked the bustling dining room and open kitchen filled with dashing young chef-types chopping, sauteeing and plating to her desire. (I was pretty darn happy with the scene myself!)
Then the food starting coming. First up, a Bruschetta consisting of a gorgeous heap of fresh Buffalo Milk Ricotta topped with cracked black pepper, served alongside thick slices of toasted peasant bread. A winning trio of Pork Liver Terrine with Mostarda, Coppa with Hazelnut Honey, and Fennel Salami with Marmalade followed.
Mama Vamp was smiling. Smiling, but nervous. Not nervous about tomorrow's visit to the hospital. Nope. She was nervous about the next dish to land on the table: Stewed Tripe. Offal can put off a lot of people, but I was surprised that my mother was so apprehensive about the beautiful casserole put in front of us. Pictured above, you can rightly see that there was nothing to fear.
Thankfully, one bite into this hearty, flavorful dish, covered in cheese and bathed in sweet tomatoes, and Mama Vamp declared tripe to be one of her all-time favorite foods -- at least if it was Amis' Stewed Tripe.
A fantastic dish of Rigatoni with Swordfish and Eggplant Fries hit the table next, with a few tender slices of Roasted Lamb Shoulder holding up the rear. They were both wonderful, but neither offered up the same greedy, gleeful glint in Mama Vamp's eyes as the Stewed Tripe.
Now, all Mama Vamp has to do is listen to her doctors, go to physical therapy and work her way back to tip-top shape -- so she can visit me in New York, where I can take her to Locanda Verde for Tripe alla Parmigiana with a Fried Organic Egg.
If that won't motivate her, I don't know what will!