Archive for the ‘About Us’ Category

Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 by virginia

I can’t believe it’s been three years since our wedding, and two years since we started Two Fat Bellies. This last year has seen a few ups and downs, and I know I’ve fallen off in post writing lately. We’ve had a bit more exposure recently though, which is exciting for us, and we hope that people keep the comments coming. We’re still working on some new developments for TFB, which will hopefully encourage us to be more active in our blogging.

With regard to our lifestyle changes, it’s been almost four months and we’ve become quite the gym rats. I’m sad to say that I have not lost ANY weight, surprisingly, but my clothes fit better and I feel better. Our trainer thinks that it has to do with our diet, which is to say, that we’re not dieting. And I’m ok with that. We still love food and eating is always an experience for us, so we’re not willing to sacrifice that aspect of our lives. However, we have been trying to moderate ourselves when possible, and I’m confident that we can continue down this path.

As for our anniversary celebration, we enjoyed a truly lovely meal at Gramercy Tavern, a restaurant that has been on our list for quite some time. The service, as expected of any Danny Meyer restaurant, was fabulous. The food was also pretty spectacular, and we walked out stuffed and extremely happy. The desserts were a surprise hit for us. Maybe it’s time for me to start saying that we’re dessert people now? Nevertheless, I promise to write about this meal, unlike last year’s anniversary at Eleven Madison Park (I do plan on posting those pics regardless).

We look forward to another year of great eating and exciting travel. Thanks to all of you for your support and readership!


Lucky #13 – An Anniversary Dinner at USC

Thursday, February 10th, 2011 by virginia

As some of you might know, Josh and I celebrate three anniversaries. The first is obviously our wedding anniversary, May 17. The second is the anniversary of our first date, which was on Valentine’s Day. Traditionally, this was the anniversary we held in highest regard. Our third anniversary, however, which is one we’ve only recently started celebrating officially, is the day when Josh first asked me out, on February 10, 1998. Nine years later, February 10 was the date on which he proposed.

The reason we started celebrating our February 10 anniversary, aside from being sentimental fools, was actually due to logistics. Try getting a good restaurant reservation on Valentine’s Day! In addition to reservations being hard to come by, a lot of restaurants only serve special Valentine’s Day menus where the choices are limited and the prices are exorbitant. By celebrating on February 10, we basically had our pick of restaurants. Last year, we went to Daniel. This year, I was actually too focused on our new workout regiment to think about restaurant reservations.

Josh had told me he was going to Hartford today and wouldn’t be home until later at night. He left before me in the morning to get to Penn Station on time. This was a rare occurrence, as he’s usually still in bed when I leave for work. While I got ready to go, in my head I had already planned out most of my day. I wanted to go to the gym after work, take a pilates class, and then meet up with Josh for a late game of racquetball, since he told me he wouldn’t get back into the city until 7:30 pm. Then I figured we would just go somewhere in the neighborhood for dinner, a compromise between cooking at home and going out for an elaborate meal.

To my surprise, as I was heading out the door, there was an envelope stuck on top of the doorknob. I opened it up and found a beautiful card inside from Josh wishing me a happy anniversary, and a note saying to meet him at the Union Square Cafe at 7:30 for dinner. I was completely shocked and so excited at the same time, as the Union Square Cafe has been on our “must eat” list for quite a while. I also loved the fact that after 13 years together, Josh still manages to surprise and thrill me.

I felt a little bit guilty about skipping the gym but the Union Square Cafe was absolutely worth the calories. We had a great meal, and service was exactly what we expected from a Danny Meyer restaurant. I can understand now why this place consistently tops the most popular list in the Zagat guide. The food is tasty, not overly fussy, and the atmosphere is warm and inviting. What a lovely way to celebrate our lucky 13th anniversary!

Update – Lifestyle Changes for TFB

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 by virginia

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. We’ve been pretty busy, and most significantly, we’ve recently joined a gym. It’s time for our two fat bellies to become a little bit smaller, and joining the gym was a big step for us. We’ve been playing racquetball every day and doing some lifting on the side. Nothing too hard core, but it’s time that we became more active.

We’re also cutting back on our food consumption. I’d hesitate to use the word diet, since this isn’t one. You’ll still find us eating the things we love, including our usual junk food indulgences. This is more about eating a bit smarter, a little bit less, taking into account portion control, and not wasting calories on things that really don’t interest or excite us.

Since we joined the gym, we have also been cooking every day during the week. The problem is that now we eat dinner really late (usually around 9:30 pm), and I don’t have time to blog. It will take a while for us to find our groove but I’m really excited about this lifestyle change that we’re embarking on. The impact on the blog, aside from a lag in posts, should be minimal. We just need to figure out a good balance between work, working out, cooking, and blogging, and hopefully things will get back normal. But first and foremost, we’re still lovers of food and will continue to enjoy eating and writing about our adventures.

Pizzeria Bianco and a Very Nice Husband

Friday, July 16th, 2010 by virginia

So way back in my post about In N Out Burger, I mentioned that when Josh goes to the west coast for work without me and stops in for a burger, he also brings one (or two) back home for me. And yes, I do eat the burger that’s been sitting in his bag for God knows how long, between getting the burger and going to the airport, taking a cross country flight, and then taking the ride home from the airport. Gross, maybe, but hey, I’m just building up my stomach so that I can eat street food in foreign lands without any issues.

So in Josh’s comeback post, he said that he would start blogging about meals that he has when he’s on business trips, even though I might get jealous. And while he has yet to put up another post, I’m going to jump the gun and talk about something he had on a recent business trip to Phoenix. He goes there a few times a year for work and every time he goes, I tell him he should try Pizzeria Bianco, which has gotten rave reviews and is supposedly very similar to NYC pizza. For whatever reason, he never made it there, but this time, he did.

I was on the phone with him when he made his way over there, and after finding out that he could indeed get in and eat, I said to him in jest, “You better bring me home some pizza.” Ok I was sort of serious, but sort of not. I mean, the logistics of bringing a pizza across the country is not the same as stuffing a small burger into your backpack. A pizza needs to be contained in a box, and then the box needs to be kept straight otherwise the pizza/cheese will slide to one side. But I hoped that he would find a way, since I’ve been talking about this pizza for quite some time now, and fortunately for me, he didn’t disappoint.

Yes, my loving husband carried a pizza home for me from across the country. I asked him how he did it and he said he just put the box in his suitcase, which he carried onto the plane. So yes, the pizza did kind of slide to one side, but it actually looked better than I expected. The funny part is that the suitcase obviously had to go through the x-ray machine at the security gate, and I wonder what the security person thought when he saw a box of pizza go by. “Umm excuse me sir, do you know you have a pizza in your suitcase?”

Luckily there were no issues, and the pizza made it home to me in fairly decent condition. He saved me half a margherita pizza and half a wise guy, which has wood roasted onion, smoked mozzarella, and fennel sausage. We reheated the slices on our pizza stone and I eagerly dug in.

Slightly disheveled, but not too bad considering how far these slices traveled

The margherita slice suffered a bit more during the reheating, which I think was because the crust had been stretched thinner. Plus it was the side that got smushed up a bit in the box. When we reheated it, the slices got a bit brittle, and the cheese was pretty dried out. It wasn’t horrible, but I’m sure it was better when it had been fresh. The sauce was a tad on the sweeter side but it tasted pretty fresh.

Margherita slice

The wise guy slices fared much better, and reheated quite nicely. I’m usually not a big fan of sausage but it tasted really good and worked really well the onions and cheese (there’s no sauce on this pie).

Wise guy slice

The crust on these slices were crispy on the outside but still had a nice chew to them. The crust really did taste pretty good, and very similar to a Grimaldi’s or Lombardi’s crust.

Underside shot

Side view so you can see how thin the pizza was

Overall I thought the pizza from Pizzeria Bianco was pretty good, even after spending a few hours on the plane. If I had to move to Phoenix for whatever reason, I would be happy to have this place close by for whenever I was craving NYC pizza.  But Josh can talk about what it was like fresh out of the oven, if he gets around to posting again, since my assessment is a bit skewed. One thing I can say for sure is that I’m lucky to have such a loving and indulgent husband!

Pizzeria Bianco
623 East Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ

Happy Anniversary!

Monday, May 17th, 2010 by virginia

Today is our second wedding anniversary, and the first anniversary of Two Fat Bellies. We’ve given it countless delicious meals, 254 posts, and an extra 10 lbs (at least for me) over the past year. It’s been a fun and exciting journey thus far, and even though we’re taking an unplanned break right now (my new computer should be arriving at the end of the month), we don’t have any plans to stop blogging.

To celebrate this great milestone, we just had an absolutely wonderful meal at Eleven Madison Park. Lets just say, it was a top 5 meal. But enough with the spoilers.

As sort of a first blog-iversary gift to ourselves and to our readers, we’ve joined twitter! A first step towards more social networking. We would have joined facebook as well, but my being the technical n00b that I am, I screwed up and now we have to wait 2 weeks until our (Josh’s) account resets. Lets just say he was not a happy camper, since this was not his decision to begin with.

In the meantime, please follow us on twitter ( as we learn how to tweet or twat or whatever the hell you call it.

Thanks to all of you who have read our blog from the beginning, and we hope there are many blog-iversaries (and wedding anniversaries!) to come.


Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 by virginia


As I mentioned in my post about Del Posto, Lidia Bastianich is my favorite chef. I’ve been watching her since I was little because I didn’t have cable growing up and there was nothing on regular TV on Sundays after church. The only thing that interested me were the cooking shows on PBS. As a result, every Sunday I’d sit down and watch Lidia, Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, Martin Yan, and others.

I really didn’t know much about food growing up because I always ate Chinese food at home, and if we went out to eat it was either to a Chinese restaurant, Pizza Hut, or Burger King. So aside from Yan Can Cook, all the food on these shows seemed very exotic and foreign to me but I loved watching the process of cooking. I would then experiment with random recipes I found in one of the cookbooks we had in the house, substituting for ingredients that we didn’t have. For example, I once made brownies using Nestle Quik, figuring that it was close enough to cocoa powder. The resulting brownies weren’t as chocolately as I would have liked, but they actually weren’t bad either.

Over the recent years I’ve tried to expand both my palate and my cooking abilities. I’m still a pretty bad baker but now I watch cooking shows to get ideas of things to make and different flavor combinations to try. I still have a soft spot for PBS cooking shows and vastly prefer them to the ones on the Food Network that have very little actual cooking involved. Lidia’s Italy is one of my favorites, and every time she makes a pasta, my mouth waters. Even the simplest pasta, with just oil, garlic, and tomatoes, loosened with a little pasta water to make a sauce, looks absolutely delectable.

Thus, it is only fitting that Becco is my favorite restaurant. I always get the same thing – the unlimited tasting of the three pastas of the day. The offerings vary daily but there is always one with a simple tomato-basil sauce. I’ve tasted enough of them to have my preferences but I get really excited when I see a pasta that I haven’t had before at the restaurant.

Josh knows how much I love Lidia and Becco so the restaurant has become our go-to special occasion place. We’ve celebrated birthdays and anniversaries here, as well as a few pre-theater dinners with family. Once in a while though, if we happen to be drinking at the House of Brews next door, we’ll go for an impromptu dinner if the wait isn’t too long. Prices are reasonable enough that it’s not a complete splurge but it’s still a once-in-a-while indulgence.

So on one Friday evening after happy hour at the House of Brews, we decided to grab dinner with Josh’s cousin at Becco. Luckily the pre-theater crowd had already thinned out so we didn’t have to wait for a table. The restaurant is split into lots of different rooms and tables are packed closely together but it still has a pretty intimate setting. The noise volume is chatty but not too loud so you can hold conversations without having to scream.

Tasty assortment of olives

Tasty assortment of olives

Our meal started off with a box of delicious breads, a pureed bean spread doused in olive oil, and a bowl of assorted olives.

Soft focaccia, crunchy grissini, and crusty italian bread

Soft focaccia, crunchy grissini, and crusty italian bread

The breads included a soft focaccia, a crusted rustic loaf, and thin, crunchy grissini, all perfect for dipping into the creamy bean spread.

Creamy white bean and olive oil dip

Creamy white bean and olive oil dip

Another aspect that makes Becco more affordable is the $25 wine list. It consists of Italian wines and there are lots of reds and whites to choose from, as well as a few rose wines and sparkling wines. We’ve tried several of the reds and found most of them to be pretty good, though now we stick with our favorite, the Ramitello. It’s full-bodied and a little bit spicy on the tongue, which I like a lot. But if you’re unsure about which wine to order, just ask. Someone is always happy to help answer your questions and offer suggestions based on the kind of wine you typically prefer.

When you order the pasta tasting, it comes with a choice of Caesar salad or the antipasto misto. The Caesar salad has a creamy dressing that is not too mayo-y. Fortunately they don’t overdress the leaves but I always get a bit annoyed by how the runners just haphazardly dump some on the plate in front of you from the big platter they’re carrying. I guess it’s faster than preparing individual plates of Caesar salad but it always ends up being sloppily presented and the portions are never consistent. That said, it’s still a pretty good version of Caesar salad.

Caesar salad with creamy dressing

Caesar salad with creamy dressing

The antipasto misto comes with an assortment of vegetables and seafood that has been grilled or marinated. It’s a nice variety and a good way to taste lots of different things. The vegetables include zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, string beans, beans, and sun dried tomatoes. They’re pretty basic but have a nice tangy flavor and are well seasoned.

Marinated and roasted vegetables

Marinated and roasted vegetables

The seafood included a soft white fish in a light tomato sauce, and marinated octopus with potatoes and onions. The octopus was soft, tender, and delicious.

The marinated seafood portion of the antipasto misto

The marinated seafood portion of the antipasto misto

After they cleared away our appetizer plates, the pasta feast began. I was happy to see that there were two pasta this time that I hadn’t tried before. The first was an artichoke ravioli served in a light broth. The artichoke filling was creamy with little chunks of artichoke inside, and it was topped with fresh chopped herbs. It was tasty and light and my favorite pasta dish of the night.

Artichoke ravioli

Artichoke ravioli

The second new pasta for me was farfalle with shrimp and arugula. The pasta was obviously fresh and hand pinched into the bowtie shapes, which I thought was really neat. The shrimp were tender and the arugula gave it a nice slightly bitter bite. This was also a very light dish.

Fresh farfalle pasta with shrimp and arugula

Fresh farfalle pasta with shrimp and arugula

The last pasta was the standard tomato-basil sauce. Although the pasta shapes may vary (this time it was spaghetti), the sauce is always simple and classic. You really taste the freshness of the tomato sauce, and I love the large basil leaves mixed throughout.

Spaghetti with classic tomato-basil sauce

Spaghetti with classic tomato-basil sauce

For dessert, we shared the torte di zabaglione e cioccolato, which was a chocolate mousse cake topped with sour cherries. It was smooth and rich, and, of course, very chocolately. It was a nice way to end the meal.

Chocolate mousse cake

Chocolate mousse cake

I know that I can’t give a full review of Becco since I order the pasta tasting every single time we go. So I don’t know much about the other food served at the restaurant, though I do remember that once when we went with a large group on my birthday, Sean had a grilled branzino (his name was Panchito) that he enjoyed a lot. All I can say is that the pastas are always fantastic and served perfectly al dente. Plus you can eat as much as you want; there are servers circulating the rooms carrying big pans of pasta and they stop by often to ask if you want more.

Although the service itself is sometimes a bit sloppy, they don’t rush you out even when the restaurant is packed. We’ve lingered over wine at the table and were made to feel perfectly at ease. Overall, at $22.95 for the Caesar salad or antipasto misto and unlimited servings of three different pastas, it’s a pretty good deal. Just make sure to call ahead for a reservation if you have a large party, or if you plan on going during the pre-theater rush.

355 West 46th St. between 8th and 9th Ave.
New York, NY

We’re back! Plus a few changes to the blog format

Friday, October 9th, 2009 by virginia

We had an amazing time in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and can’t wait to share our stories and pictures with everyone!

During our time away I’ve given a lot of thought to the current format of Two Fat Bellies and we’ve decided to make a few changes to the site. First, you’ve all probably noticed that the design of our site changed a few weeks ago. We’ve gone from a standard WordPress template to something a bit more personal and more representative of us. The graphic in the header was designed by our good friend and talented cartoonist, John. We asked him to draw something fun and cartoony that would go with “Two Fat Bellies” and he was the one who thought of using our beloved cats in the header.

Here are some pictures of our kitties that inspired the header, Stewie and Rupert. Yes, they’re named after Family Guy. If we ever get a dog we’ll probably name him Brian. We adopted Stewie and Rupert as kittens in 2006 and our lives haven’t been the same since. They have such distinct personalities (Rupert is really the troublemaker but Stewie took that role when they were kittens and now it’s too late to switch their names) and make us smile and laugh every day. And they love food too, though we don’t usually feed them people food – just little bits of deli turkey or chicken occasionally, which they go absolutely crazy over.

Stewie and Rupert

Stewie and Rupert

Stewie chewing up his toy mousie

Stewie chewing up his toy mousie

Rupert winking at the camera

Rupert winking at the camera

The second and more important change to the site is administrative in nature but I think it’ll improve our content overall. I’ve been dating posts in “real time”, meaning that the date posted is the date we ate/cooked whatever I’m writing about. I did this because even though we started writing content for our blog on May 17, 2009 (our first wedding anniversary), technical difficulties prevented us from uploading content to the site until a few weeks later. Since I was the only one posting for the first few months, it wasn’t a problem for me to keep track of dates and post everything in chronological order. However, when Josh made his first posts, they were dated as of that current date. I had to make him change the dates to something older because otherwise, his posts would always be at the top until I caught up to date with my own posts, which might never happen.

Using original dates presented another problem because if we wanted to comment about something that happened recently, such as Daniel earning a third Michelin star (impressive, it’s moved to the top of my “must go to” list) or the closing of Chanterelle (sad for the industry, but really wasn’t impressed with the food when we were there two years ago), we would run into the same problem with those posts always staying on top unless we changed the date, but then it wouldn’t make sense and would look like we had predicted the future. So from now on, posts will be dated as of whatever the current date it is.

And finally, I’ll be jumping around with my restaurant reviews and posting about meals that were more interesting to me first rather than in chronological order of when we went to the restaurants. I know you all don’t really care what day we actually ate at those restaurants. And as a bonus for me, I won’t feel so pressured to “catch up” on posts, since I’m still writing about things that happened a few weeks ago but would rather post about other things, such as our trip, immediately.

Hopefully these changes will help make our blog better and more enjoyable for our readers. As always, please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions on other ways we can improve our site – we would love to hear from you!

Going on Vacation!

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 by virginia

Just wanted to let everyone know that we’ll be taking a short break from posting because we’re heading off to the Galapagos Islands on Friday morning. We’re both really excited about our trip and plan on taking lots of pictures of all the great nature stuff we’re supposed to see. And hopefully we’ll also have a few good meals to document while we’re away! We’ll pick up where we left off with posting when we get back. Stay tuned!

Two Fat Bellies Hit the Road – Low Country Cuisine in Hilton Head, SC

Friday, July 24th, 2009 by virginia

Almost every year since I’ve known them, Josh’s family heads down to Hilton Head, SC where Josh and his father golf every morning while everyone else spends the day on the beach or by the pool. It was relaxation at its very best, topped off by wonderful dinners every night at a different restaurant, ranging from down home low country cuisine to kid-friendly pizza parlors to upscale fine dining restaurants serving continental cuisine.

I still remember the first summer that I joined them, in 2003, when we drove down to Hilton Head from NJ, stopping in Charleston and Savannah along the way. I had never experienced “the south” before, and I loved everything from the beautiful houses with wrought iron gates out front to the friendly southerners with their sweet accents, and especially the food, of course – she crab soup, fried green tomatoes, and abundant fresh seafood. It was a new experience for me, since I grew up in a Chinese household where we either ate Chinese food at home or went out for Chinese food on the weekends. Treats for me were the occasional trips to Burger King or Pizza Hut. That trip really opened my eyes and helped turn me into the food lover that I am today.

Josh and I made the journey to Hilton Head for the next few summers after that, but soon “grown up life” set in and we both got jobs where vacation time was limited and we were eager to see other parts of the world. After a four-year hiatus, we finally returned to Hilton Head for a long weekend, just long enough for me to fall in love with it all over again and sad that we couldn’t stay for longer. A lot of the restaurants that I remember fondly are not there anymore but we still had some fabulous meals that brought back wonderful memories of previous Hilton Head trips. I can only hope for the time when these trips will once again become an annual journey for us.







Vegas Day 2 – In N Out Burger

Saturday, June 6th, 2009 by virginia


I’m going to share something with everyone that is probably kind of gross, but it might help paint a better picture of how food obsessed (or what a pig) I am. Whenever Josh goes to Vegas or Phoenix, which he typically does at least once a year, I make him bring me back an In N Out burger and fries. Even if that means it’s been sitting inside his bag, squished in the overhead compartment of the plane and un-refrigerated for however many hours, I will still eat it. A quick nuke in the microwave on a low setting for about 30 seconds just warms it through and doesn’t dry it out. Pathetic? Maybe. But it makes me happy, and Josh likes to make me happy, so despite being mocked by everyone who can’t understand why he bothers to carry around a burger and bring it on a plane, he still makes an effort to bring me one from his travels. I married a great guy, didn’t I?

But yes, I have tasted a fresh In N Out burger before, and that’s how I fell in love. The first time I had one of their burgers was on a family trip to California. I had read about it, of course, and loved how everything was so fresh, despite that they’re still fast food products. We made several visits to In N Out during that trip, and when we got back to NY, we searched the web to find the closest thing, visiting places such as Blue 9 Burger on the east side, but nothing came close. So before I even arrived in Vegas, I already told Josh that we had to go to In N Out, and of course we made room for it in our schedule.

The In N Out is a bit off the strip, right next to the freeway, but luckily it’s within walking distance of the MGM Grand. So we slept in, skipped breakfast, and headed off in search of my coveted burgers and fries. It’s a bit harrowing to be walking alongside the freeway, even with the sidewalk, but it’s totally worth the journey. The place was packed when we arrived around 12:30, but fortunately the line moves quickly. I got a double burger with the works, no cheese, and Josh got a double-double animal style.

Double-double animal style

Double-double animal style

I’ve tasted the animal style burger before and found the mustard to be a bit too overpowering for my taste, so I stick with the plain burger.

Double burger with the works

Double burger with the works

I did try something new this time though, animal style fries, which I’ve read about on other blogs. They’re fries covered in cheese, special sauce, and grilled onions. I had to eat them with a fork, and while they’d probably be awesome when you’re drunk, they were just ok. The toppings overwhelmed the potatoes, so I was missing that freshness that I love about In N Out.

Animal style fries

Animal style fries

Luckily we also ordered plain fries, which I gobbled up more quickly than the animal style fries.

Plain freshly cut fries

Plain freshly cut fries

The burger was perfection though, and even better than I remembered. If only they would open up a branch on the east coast!

In N Out (multiple locations)
4888 Dean Martin Dr.
Las Vegas, NV