I haven't seen an episode of Mob Wives. Or maybe I have: I had dinner with Big Ang.
Like an exotic big bird, she flew south for a winter break in Florida. She breezed into dinner at Valentino's Fort Lauderdale, turning heads just like a sleek, dark yacht cruising down the Intercoastal.
Angela is striking; she'd get noticed were she not famous. Standing at 6 feet tall, she loves her height. From her advantageous viewpoint she smiles back at fans, lifting a sharp nail and scooping her hair like Cher so she can smack them a clear, "Thanks for watching, I love you too" from her extremely voluptuous lips.
A hug from her is the closest I will get to a hug from Sophia Loren, where our chests hit long before the embrace is closed.
I knew I loved her by the end of our lavish Italian dinner, where course after course flowed from the kitchen whose chef coincidentally grew up on a block close to Ang on Staten Island. Valentino's Italian chef sauces like a Frenchman, and his idea of an amuse bouche is sous-vide escargot over polenta.
Some men get hungry after they finish making love, and when they loosen their belts after a large meal, the only thing they're inviting in is space. Angie and I share a love of food that allows us to finish eating, then talk about our next meal like we're enjoying a post-coital smoke.
As our waiter clears, she gives him a flirtatious smile and a raspy lecture on "Why didn't you tell me that was so good?" Angie leans in close to me, and runs her sharp nails across my hand, making me wonder what they would feel like on my naked back. We are stuffed, yet she has room to tell me the Tale of the Unheard of Pork Belly Pork Roast. Foreplay for someone ready to eat again.
She lays it all out on the table, giving me inside dirt -- delicious, closely guarded tips on how to wrap the pork belly around the roast -- lots of layers of tinfoil so no steam can escape. Cook it four hours at 400, four hours at 200, resulting in skin so crispy that fights will break out. Slice and serve.
She doesn't trust weak men, just as she wouldn't use string and expect it to hold her brigole together. At our table, like a close-up magician, she grabs an invisible roll of meat, and pantomimes wrapping it in foil on our table, squeezing it tight enough to keep its secrets, and roasts it all night. She tells me that she slams the oven door shut and goes to bed. My Aunt Cathy uses this low-and-slow method on her brisket; but I can't do it. Just knowing the oven is on all night adds to the nightmare of lurking boogeymen and my dream where I show up to school naked.
In the morning, Ang wakes up to an adoring husband and brigole so tender it's now buttah. She pours on charm and horseradish-laced Sunday Sauce, both learned from her mother. Use the slick, creamy melted mozzarella on top to ride this meaty dish into heaven.
Her day's inspiration starts percolating with the coffee on the stovetop. She sears a porterhouse this fucking thick in a skillet. While it finishes in the oven, gorgeous dollops of fresh ricotta cheese top fried eggs. She shakes her hash browns up with garlic and spicy Mexican sausage. She had me at chorizo.
Like me, she uses discipline and metabolism to not get fat from eating. She's been this same size since she was fourteen, "except the tits," she says a little too loudly, catching the bulging attention of a man's roving eye at the next table. His wife would normally bristle, but seeing the tits' source, her narrowed, jealous eyes widen and she excitedly smiles to Big Ang that she's her favorite character on the show: "You're the nicest one and I love your kitchen."
She is so nice. Husbands interrupt her dinner; wives mob her as she walks to the bathroom. Often they have requests -- an autograph, a picture, or to appear at a charity function. She generously opens her heart and her Alexander McQueen brass-knuckled clutch for all she can. When she describes a wild Florida party she was asked to attend, first she recalled the blast at the decadent swanky mansion. Then she pulled me close and winked a heavily lashed eye, lovingly sharing that at the shindig she also collected $7500 in Home Depot gift cards to distribute to Hurricane Sandy victims back home. This practice comes from a heart bigger than her boobs, and reminded me of the fundraising lesson Malcolm Forbes taught Elizabeth Taylor about using fans time-demands to raise money for charity: If they want to see you, make 'em pay.
Anyone can clearly see what's big about Ang. Her heart. Our dinner together showed me that whether you're in need of entertainment, a huge hug or an incredible meal that keeps on going long after the food is gone -- watch Big Ang.