Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back in the Thick of Training and Happy About it

Back in Austin and back into the thick of training. My first day back I went a double. Today we swam for three hours. All and all workouts are going great. After having gone to the Duel in the Pool and resting a bit for that I feel somewhat refreshed and reinvigorated to train. As I get older I realize more and more that breaks are necessary. During college I would get three weeks a year and that was it. Looking back at that I wonder how I forged ahead with such little time out of the pool??? As Kris Kubik puts it, "Professional athletes and especially as they get older are like rubber bands, you can pull and stretch them hard and for a good while but eventually you need to let them loose so they don't get too stretched out." I can't think of a better analogy.

A little practice breakdown... Yesterday I was really happy with the afternoon workout. The main set was a 12 minute swim then we had a few minute break and went an eight minute swim. The goal was to go as far as you could in those time limits. Kris said to me that for the 12 minutes I should be around 1100...I thought he meant that 1100 would be the max I should go. I swam and stopped at the 1100 at 10:59. This was a great time for me and there's no doubt in my mind if I had understood him right I could've gone 1200 in 12:00. On the eight minute swim I went a that point I was getting pretty tired. We swam around for a while and then did the same set kick. I went 925 yards on the 12 minute kick and 625 yards on the eight minute kick. Leaving the pool yesterday I felt a great sense of satisfaction. There's no substitute for good quality work that gives me the confidence in my training that helps me continue to move forward!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Cheer...Life Cheer?

Holiday Cheer. What exactly is Holiday Cheer? Recently I saw 'A Christmas Carol' on IMAX and 'A Christmas Carol' as a play. Many times since I was young (wait a minute...I still am young) I've seen this story but this time I took something else away. First off, I love the Holiday season because everyone is generally so much more happy and thankful at this time of year. My guess is that some y'all feel this too. Why is this just at the Holidays? Holiday Cheer...why not Life Cheer? The story of Scrooge made me think and wonder about this. Why not Life Cheer? What do you think?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Snow...Crazy Biker Dude

I arrived back safely to the US last night to a winter wonderland at my house. Snow is everywhere and I plan to go skiing tomorrow or Wednesday. The trip to Manchester was great. Once again an honor to represent the USA and travel to a new place. This week I'll be taking it easy and relaxing with my family. The plan is to get back into training soon...weight-room later today and maybe swim tomorrow. That's all I have for now but check out this video below...this guy is literally unreal!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Duel in the Pool Update

After a long day of travel (for me, 25 hours) Team USA, tired and somewhat weary, finally made it to the hotel in Manchester. Literally 15 minutes post arrival to the hotel we had once again left on our way to swim. Many of you may be thinking that is a crazy thing to do after so much travel. In some respects it seems that way, but it is important to get our muscles working again to loosen up after sitting for so long. Now I was not looking forward to jumping in the cold water, I never am, what I was looking forward to was letting my body slowly cruise out all the kinks and tightness. Much like many swimmers, being in the pool is very calming to me. There was no question in my mind that as much as I didn’t want to get in the water, I would feel tenfold better after I was done swimming.

Coaches will once again have different philosophies on what they think you should do after travel. There probably is no solid right or wrong answer. What I know from a lot of personal experience is that it is best to take it slow for a while and go probably a bit further than I think I need to. When I dive into the pool after any amount of travel I have one goal in mind, “swim until I feel good.” Certainly ‘good’ is a relative term in this sense. Likely I won’t feel quite as good as I will the day of the race or even the day after travel, but I need to make sure I leave that pool feeling refreshed. For instance, yesterday I got in and swam for about 25 minutes. Probably 7-10 of those minutes were kick, 5-8 were drill and the rest was easy swimming. At the end I did a build 25 free and a build 25 back. The build is up to a percent that feels like I am still gripping the water but not forcing it. I think it’s important to try and always maintain as good of a grip on the water as possible…we don’t want to miss out on any water we could be grabbing.

Finishing the swim was, of course, a nice hot shower. Many times on National team trips we wait until everyone or at least a large group is finished to leave the venue. Last night we were going to wait for everyone to finish before leaving so this gave me a great opportunity to do some much needed stretching. We had dinner directly upon arrival back to the hotel. Let’s just say dinner wasn’t the best meal I’ve had on a national team trip…as I’d heard England is not known for its food. My night finished with a massage.

At about 10:30pm we hit the lights to go to sleep. I was dead tired and was confident I’d have no problem sleeping. I crashed hard. If I had to take a guess I’d say I was probably sleeping within a couple minutes. My mind and body were in one of the deepest sleeps I’d had in a while, but suddenly, I arose. I was wide-awake. My fear was realized. It was 3am…and that was the start of my new day.

Thank you for also letting me post this blog to my website as well!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Manchester & Representing the 'Stars & Stripes'

Once again I'm gearing up for another big trip. It feels like I just got back to Texas and now I'm leaving again. Tuesday will be the start of a two week journey that will first take me to Manchester, England where I will compete at the Duel in the Pool. The trip to England will be short and sweet, all of about five days, at which point I will head back to Wisconsin to spend the Holidays with my family. From what I hear Manchester might be as cold as Wisconsin. It's times like these, when I'm packing lots of warm clothes, that I remember again how lucky I am to live in such a delightful climate.

Duel in the Pool has traditionally always been a duel meet between USA and Australia. This year is a bit different. Originally it was supposed to be 18 men and 18 women from the USA against and all-star team of 18 men and 18 women from England, France and Russia. For some reason that I am unaware of France and Russia have dropped out and Germany and Italy have come aboard in their place. To be honest I really have no idea who I'll be racing over there. The truth is that it doesn't really matter anyways. My goal is simple, swim fast, have fun, and represent the 'Stars and Stripes' to the best of my abilities.

I've come to realize that wearing the 'Stars and Stripes' is much more than swimming fast and placing well at a sporting event. It involves and is intertwined in everything we do. Whether we're in the airport, locker-room, behind the starting blocks, or out to dinner, we are looked at as ambassadors of our nation and that is something we take very seriously. I know America is a very strong nation, and I am proud to be an American. Undoubtedly we have had our struggles and our mistakes. However, my trust lies within the systems we have in place, and what's more, the American people. Team USA's job is to show the world that our people live with class, respect and character. We do this by exhibiting these qualities every way we can. From my experience I think the USA swimming team does this with great success...and we will continue to do so. Thank you for all of your support. We greatly appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

AthleticFoodie Nuts

See how a handful of nuts can help your health!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Time to Grind Off that Rust

Wow...It's time to get back to racing. I haven't been on the blocks since July at the 2009 World Championships in Rome. For those of you who have not been around 'racing' sports that's a pretty long time to be out of the racing world. This is not necessarily a bad thing but simply the training path I took in order to focus more on hitting the weights and water workouts really hard. However, it showed yesterday in the 50 free and today in the 200 free that my racing skills are a bit dull. The strange thing is that I felt good in the warm-up for both events. This once again proves that it doesn't matter how we feel. As you may have already guessed I'm super tired from all the training I've been doing lately. This past Saturday I lifted weights for two hours and am definitely still seeing the effects of that. In short, I've been training like a mad man. Speed is not going to be there for me right now. Although it is very frustrating to swim slow and get beat by many people, I must remain poised and believe I'm doing the right thing in my training.

Kris Kubik, our famed assistant coach at Texas put it to me like this last night, "As long as you are doing the best you can do, then you are doing the best you can do! Sounds like you are!!!" This rings true. As always I'm giving every race my all. I must remain focused on learning from everything I'm doing and continue to have faith.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

AthleticFoodie Sweet Potatoes

The newest edition to the AthleticFoodie series of healthy living segments!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gearing Up for the Big Meals

Q: "hey Garrett. I know you're probably busy and you probably can't post anything before tomorrow (Thanksgiving) but do you have any tips as to how we can prepare healthier meals and eat healthier this Thanksgiving and Christmas season? Thanks so much!"

A: So here's the deal. Some people get crazed about the Holiday season thinking about what they're going to eat. Some people just say, "screw it I'm going to eat whatever I want and I'll get back in shape for my New Year's resolution." From my experience in watching people work out after the holidays...they rarely get back in the gym and work off the pounds they put on.

Check out these tips:

First, remember the word 'moderation'! Sometimes I think our society has lost sight of it. One or two cookies, not ten.

Second, eat big ON the holidays, NOT every day in between them. Think about that, depending upon what you celebrate that gives you two or three days to let it rip.

Third (holidays or not) save your indulgences for the unbelievably good stuff. Don't pig out on junk food or at every average meal.

Finally, do what I do when you're sitting down for that festive Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas feast...go for it! It's only one meal.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Golden Goggles

A night to recognize the athletes, coaches and staff members of the USA Swimming National Team....what a good idea! Golden Goggles has been accomplishing this task for the past six years with great success. USA Swimming and the USA Swimming Foundation have created a wonderful night where everyone comes together to celebrate the year's accomplishments. It was once again a true honor for me to be invited and as always I had a great time.

The night began with a reception of appetizers, drinks and socializing. There is a 'Gold' carpet area where media takes pictures and does interviews with the athletes and guests. Once everyone makes it into the ballroom all the athletes and coaches get announced as they walk out on stage in pairs of two. Dan Hicks (one of the Olympic swimming announcers) conducted the evening and gave a small speech. Dinner begins. Each table is hosted by an athlete or coach. Most tables consist of fans, donors, or big USA Swimming supporters. I love being able to talk with everyone and share the wonderful experiences of the National team with them. After dinner a hip-hop dance group performed prior to the eight awards being given out.

The highlight of my night came when Eddie Reese won the 'Coach of the Year' award. For those of you who don't know...Eddie has been my coach since the fall of 2003. He has taught me more about myself and about swimming than any other coach ever could have. Although we've had our ups and downs I truly love Ed and know he can (and has) take me wherever I want to go in the sport of swimming. The truth about Eddie Reese is this...he's the most successful coach in the world because first and foremost he cares about his athletes as people first and understands the importance of guiding us to be successful and confident individuals in life before swimming. Watching Ed walk up on stage and accept the award I was incredibly proud. He deserves that award more than anyone and was, in typical Eddie fashion, as gracious in accepting it than anyone ever could be.

I'm one lucky dude...Eddie Reese, Kris Kubik, Golden Goggles...and now home for Thanksgiving...what could be better!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AthleticFoodie Oatmeal Cookies

This is one of my AthleticFoodie segments which airs on the TV show Wisconsin Foodie, Sundays at 10:30am on CBS 58. Please let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Some Good Leg Work

Finally my body is beginning to reach the fitness level I've been looking for. Training the past month and a half has been pretty tough. Working hard in the weight-room and pool gives my mind and body a large load to deal with. At times it can be difficult to gauge where my fitness and strength are at because I am broken down. However, here and there I have little glimmers that show me I'm going in the right direction. One of them came yesterday in the weight-room.

We have some machines in the weight-room called CoreMax. This is revolutionary technology which allows us to explode through a weight upwards but not have to carry the full weight back down with us...if that makes sense. Yesterday was my day for legs...I did the CoreMax squats. This exercise allows me to push up from the bottom of the squat to the top and actually jump in the air with the weight but not worry about it coming down and crashing into me. I went heavy yesterday doing five sets of three reps. My last three reps were with 525 pounds on my shoulders. I'd done this weight at one point last season. Yesterday my velocity was not as high (the machine measures the velocity at which you push the weight up) as it had been last year...but I am getting there. Afterwards my legs actually felt great. I was really happy with what I had done and encouraged in moving forward. After practice and on my bike ride legs definitely did not feel as good...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Patience...It's a Virtue!

Patience...while it IS a virtue...I've found it to be something that can at times be hard to find. With a society so based around instant gratification and 'the next best thing' it's easy to sometimes get dragged into this ideology as well. In general I certainly don't fall into that group, however, I do have my moments. My moments generally arise at times like at yesterday's practice. Long story short...I've been working my tail off in the weight-room and the pool for over a month. I'm getting more fit all the time but still haven't reached the level I'm looking for. Yesterday we did a set based on sheer speed. If speed was gold and I was a mine had been all used up. I was dead. What an unsatisfying practice.

Frustrated with my level of fitness I thought to myself, "I'm sick of waiting...I want it NOW." Eddie could tell I was having a hard time. After practice we talked and he reminded me that it takes time and grit. He said, "you're as good or better than anyone at that game...that's what you grit it out." Suddenly a brisk breeze bellowed into my sails. At that moment I took a deep breath in and my body literally (literally) felt like it had just inhaled something magical...I was the words of the one and only Eddie Reese. No one in the world could have had that affect on me other than Ed. He also said, "you gave it all you could and that's all you have right now. We'll string a whole good week of training together soon. We just need to stay at it." He's right. The season is young. I just need to be patient and take it one step at a time. Looking back at it practice actually wasn't that bad. The truth is that I'm a perfectionist and my expectations and desire sometimes gets the best of me. I'm glad I have people around me that can help me keep my goggles clear and see what's really going on.'s a virtue!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Food Inc. "Do you know where your food comes from?"

How many times have we all said, "Oh I totally want to see that movie when it comes out" or "I can't wait to see that in theaters." This was true when I first saw the previews for the movie "Food Inc". As you can probably already thing lead to another, I traveled in Italy for a month and a half, was all over the US, and finally got back to Texas...without ever seeing Food Inc. Somehow this movie got brought up today in the weight-room and I was once again urged to watch. So I went and picked up a copy at the local video store. What I witnessed was truly amazing. Nothing was too graphic but rather painted a unique picture of the food we now call 'food' and where it comes from. If I had to take a bet...and I'm not a betting will probably be quite surprised where much of your food comes from too, much like I was. Go rent Food Inc. Seriously

Monday, November 2, 2009

Speaking Recap

Practice really does make perfect. Saturday I spoke to a TON of people in Milwaukee at the 150 year anniversary of the Greater Milwaukee YMCA. Although I'm definitely not perfect at public speaking I'm getting better at it every time I speak. I love doing things and watching my progress as I keep working and get more and more experience at it. I find it exciting to see how every crowd is different, how my diction varies, and the rush I get from becoming enthusiastic and animated throughout the talk. The audience's response was great on Saturday night and gives me immense confidence moving forward!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Speaking like Crazy

One of the things I've found truly rewarding in the past year or so is getting the opportunity to speak to large groups of people. What do I talk about? Anything really, but mostly my story involving my battle with high blood pressure, swimming, and starting a business in the food world...and cooking of course. I've spoken to swim teams, USA Today, Rotary Clubs, Synagogues, schools, businesses and more.

I always tell people there are life lessons I truly don't believe I would've learned without swimming. I share those lessons as well as many of the most important quotes I've been exposed to over time. One of those quotes, as many of them are, is from my coach Eddie Reese..., "hard work and sacrifice always pay off if we're patient." I believe this to be utterly and completely true.

My schedule with speaking has been pretty crazy. I spoke to a journalism class on Tuesday. I'm speaking at a large conference tonight in Austin on behalf of disability awareness month. Finally I'm traveling to Milwaukee tomorrow where I'll be the keynote speaker to 1000 people at a black tie event on Saturday night. Lot's of fun! Gotta go practice my speech one more time...oh and find out what time I'm speaking tonight too...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bread & Women

Baking Bread & Women.

Two very complex things of which, in large part, man is still trying to figure out. The variations are endless. You think you might be on the right track...but you're not. You think this might be the one...but you mess it up. You think, for some odd and insane reason, you think...that you are beginning to understand...oh but how wrong you are! Even after listening to all the experts and following all the directions somehow, SOMEHOW, you still can't get the final product you're looking for.

Bread & Women.

The outside has no bearing on what lies within. Don't judge it...there's no way to tell the texture, flavor, warmth or any variation therein by looking. Gentleman (and some ladies), for that
there's only one way...get your hands dirty...experience. You may experience the hardest, most rough crust on the outside, but on the's all soft. Some have that hard crust and stay hard to the core, while others are soft all the way through. Am I talking about bread or women??? Who knows? What I do know for sure is that an outstanding bread, and especially a good woman can be completely out of this world. You all know what I'm talking about...that warm and wonderful feeling you get inside when you find one. It can change your world buddy.

While I can say that in large part, women, as most men could say, are still a bit of an anomaly to me. However I've recently acquired a book which has made the complex task of creating 'good' homemade bread quite easy. The book is called "My Bread" by Jim Lahey. It describes his revolutionary new technique which involves simply mixing the ingredients together and letting them sit in a bowl to do their magic for 12-18 hours. Then the product is finished off in the oven in a cast-iron pot. The yield is something truly wonderful.

Maybe this guy should figure out women guess is he'd win the Nobel Peace Prize for that one;)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"The Morning Swim Show"

Check out this interview of me on the Swimming World "Morning Swim Show"...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Feeling Something Incredible...I'm Floored!

I'm not sure what has changed or if there is a new fire within me but my love for swimming seems to be back! The past couple weeks have been wonderful. After having a bit of a disappointing summer I wasn't sure how I'd feel about getting back into hard training. I began to work out at home when I was back in Wisconsin and didn't have a very easy time. Training by myself in Wisconsin was both difficult and say the least I was less than enthused. However, the minute I got back to Texas and dove into the pool at the Texas Swim Center that all changed in a big way.

Yesterday I had one of the best practices I can remember having in a long time. I brutally demolished my legs in the weight-room so by the time I got to the pool I was already a bit fatigued. As I expected...we did a hard kick set to start things of. Good thing my legs were warmed up:) What happened next I'm still smiling about. We did a set that was perfect for me and is a sprinter's dream...Fast swimming with some rest and easy swimming in between.

The set. A 150 swim on 2:15. A 50 fast on 1:00. A 100 swim on 1:45. Two 50's fast on 1:00. A 200 kick on 3:45. That is one do four rounds to complete the set. As we went along I got faster and faster. Towards the end of the set I felt something in my freestyle I never have before. There was a link between my core and my arm strokes that either I'd never felt to this degree or my mind had never yet recognized... Sure I always engaged my core strength with my swimming and used it to my advantage...but this was different. This was serious power. If this link was a twig before, it has now grown into a full blown log. Hello Paul Bunyan. The first time I got to the wall after doing it I gasped in excitement. When I get excited like this look out...I will talk and talk and talk and smile and laugh and joke and be crazy until a long enough time has gone by for me to actually calm down and think about it. I couldn't have been more floored!

Swimming is going great. My plan is to make this last as looooooong as possible!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Arrival to Lone Star

Home sweet home. I'm settling back into my "normal" routine down here in Texas and I couldn't be happier to be back. I'd been gone from Austin for over three was time to return to this thing called reality. It's been quite a whirlwind since arriving in the Lone Star State...I lost my house key, my car was dead, my bike tires were flat, I had no food to eat, tons of stuff to unpack and organize (still in the process of doing this), many people to reconnect with, get back in the weight-room and pool, oh and cook some too.

Yesterday I was telling someone how part of me wishes I was still in Italy. Elaborating upon how much I loved traveling, learning and experience everything there. My friend wisely remarked that getting back into the grind is what makes those times like in Italy so special. Travels like that are few and far between...that's why they are so thrilling. I think he's right. It was time for me to get back into serious training, and normal life. So far I'm absolutely loving it. After training in Wisconsin by myself it is so refreshing to be around the TEAM again, Eddie and Kris too. I no longer have only myself to push me but 35 other guys who are all supporting each other and busting their butts too. Yesterday was my first full two hour swim practice. My lifts in the weight-room have been good and the swimming is getting better everyday. There really is no better feeling in the world than BEING IN SHAPE... I'm not there yet but I'm working hard to reach the level of fitness Eddie, Kris and I are looking for. All it takes is some time and a lot of hard work. I'm used to it....let's do this!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stage at Daniel Part 2

My final day at Daniel I was given a whole duck, head and feet included. Greggory, the sous chef I was working with told me to prepare it any way I wanted. At this point I didn't realize what his intentions were. I figured he'd eventually help me get it ready. I was wrong. His intention, which I found out later from another sous chef, was for me to prepare the duck for a family meal after the dinner service. He wanted me to have ownership and prepare something on my own for the rest of the cooks.

(My Masterpiece)
I went to work having no idea what I was going to do. I stood in the refrigerators for what seemed like forever, searching for ideas. I ended up making an orange glaze. Oh, and I was not going healthy on this meal... In a pot I combined fresh-squeezed orange juice, orange zest, ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon, cloves, duck fat, and butter. I reduced this down to make a sauce. Then I made a syrup of vinegar and sugar, and reduced that down (I had a little help coming up with the syrup idea...). I then added the reduced orange glaze to the syrup and reduced that down further. The purpose of the syrup sauce was to cut some of the sweetness of the orange glaze. I buttered and seasoned the duck, browned it on all sides and put it in the oven.
(Me and Executive Chef Jean Francois)
Let me clarify that I didn't do all of this alone. I had some guidance in cooking the was my first time cooking a whole duck like this. Along with the bird, I prepared mini-carrots and zucchini. Finally, to top the veggies I created a sauce from duck jus and the orange glaze. Up to the main kitchen I went, holding a huge silver platter with my masterpiece. As I entered the kitchen I had a huge smile on my face and was laughing inside. I was so excited I probably would've jumped in the air or something if I hadn't been carrying the tray. My mind raced wondering what the chefs would think. Talk about a tough crowd...there's no way you can fool these guys (nor would I want to)... My creation was in front of some of the most talented and well qualified chefs/food experts in the world...LITERALLY!!! If my sauce had a hint too much cinnamon, lemongrass, cloves, salt, pepper, butter...whatever, they would know it, and tell me. I wanted the critique but holy cow this could be intense! They liked it. My dish was a success. Two critiques...the Executive Chef Jean Francois thought my orange glaze was a little too sweet. Second, the legs on the bird were not fully cooked. I learned this is common with duck. It is near impossible to cook a duck to perfection when it is whole because the breasts will finish before the legs. Generally fine restaurants will cook the duck until the breasts are done. Take the duck out, carve the breasts off, and take off the legs. Then finish the legs in the oven and bring them out to the table a few minutes later. Just one more thing I learned! I was on cloud nine when they genuinely liked my dish:)
(Me and Corporate Chef Fabrizzio Salerni)
As I'm sure you can already tell, my time spent at Daniel was superb. The days were long...12-13 hour shifts. The first day I didn't sit down at all...the second and third day I sat down once. We even ate lunch and dinner standing up. By the end of my shifts my knees hurt and my ankles were swollen from standing so much. Regardless of the fatigue, I adored being in the kitchen. It was a true honor and privilege for me to be around such great talent. However, what I love most about many of the people at Daniel is their passion for their food and their craft. Nothing is more refreshing and pure to me than people who are truly in love with what they do and what they create. I left Daniel thinking, "I hope my long-term career is as passionate and fulfilling as the chefs at Daniel seem to experience on a day-to-day basis." Solely due to the fact that this seed is already planted in my brain...makes me confident it will! (Getting ready to carve)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stage at Daniel Part 1

Last summer in Beijing I was lucky enough to meet famous chef Daniel Boulud. Shortly there after I dined at his newly opened restaurant in Beijing and then at 'Daniel' in NYC. Throughout the year I built a relationship with Daniel through email and through visiting his restaurant. We even had some joking words about the rivalry between the French and American relay teams! It has been a true honor to know Daniel. When I was given the opportunity to work in his restaurant 'Daniel' for a few days I was out of my mind excited...

The first thought that came to my mind was, "I hope they realize I'm not a cook and don't give me something that is out of my league (basically most of what they do at 'Daniel' is out of my league haha)." As the Stage (what they call short learning experiences in kitchens) approached I became more and more crazed with anticipation and excitement but also a bit nervous. I really had no idea what to expect but I knew my genuine interest for what they do and my tenacity towards food and cooking would make up for my lack of experience.

My shift started at 12 noon. I showed up at 11:45 and on the first day I was given a uniform, short tour, introduced to the chefs, and immediately started working. My first task was to make perfect cubes of Chorizo sausage which would be used as garnish on a plated dish. Let's just say my cubes were not all perfect. I felt bad and apologized for my inconsistency but they all assured me it was OK and that I was doing great. What a relief! I moved from task to task...chopping, slicing, helping make sauces and reductions, peeling, retrieving items from the unbelievably stocked refrigerators and freezers, skinning and/or breaking down wild hare, duck and grouse, as well as many other random tasks that came up.

The inventory they have is out of this world. Walking into the refrigerators and/or freezers you'll come across varying things from Iberico ham ($250/lb), truffles, foie gras, whole pigs heads, a plethora of fresh herbs, the most delicious straight-from-the-utter unpasteurized milk, wild game birds, miniature vegetables of every kind, caviar, wild berries etc. I could barely believe my eyes. My first thought was, "I wish I could stay here and work for free for a year to see how they use all of this stuff!" Truly remarkable.

One thing was a questions. I am an extremely inquisitive person and have genuine interest for almost anything and everything. As I worked and bounced around from one job to another I asked question after question. I was literally in awe of their knowledge, of their highly refined sense of smell and taste, and of their grace in the movements they make in the kitchen.

Dinner service starts at 5:30pm. As the service nears you can sense it without even looking at the clock. People come upstairs to the main kitchen from down in the large prep kitchen below. Everyone's movements are faster. There is a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air. Everyone becomes more focused on their job. The first order comes in. The chef reads it out over a microphone. Immediately everyone springs into action but with a poise and confidence which can only come from truly knowing what you're doing. What happens next still boggles my mind. Everyone does their job and completes it so that everything is finished at basically the exact same time. Let me remind you that these plates are very complex and often have 15 different ingredients on them...crazy!!! During the dinner service I mostly observed what was going on, helped someone when they needed it, and tried to stay out of the way. Even observing what they were doing provided me with a ton of knew insight into the preparation of food.

Check back soon for part two of my experience at Daniel!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cyclone in NYC

Holy exhausted! The past days in New York have been wild. I've traveled the streets, worked 13 hour shifts at restaurant Daniel, gone out with the chefs after work, spent quality time with my sister, swam, lifted weights, and gorged myself in cuisine most can only dream of. I feel like I've been living in a cyclone of excitement, passion, and learning, and can't tell you how much I've loved being here.

Working at Daniel was nuts. I've never spent more time on my feet in my entire life...three 13 hour days in a row...on my feet literally the entire time working in the kitchen. I chopped, sliced, helped make sauces, reductions, paté, broke down wild hare, grouse, and duck... My tongue was aroused by veal head, foie gras, wild hare, Iberico ham, Sole, figs, chocolates, ice creams, sorbets, rare cheeses and much more...I will explain in greater detail in my next blog. I was surrounded by some of the greatest culinary minds in the world. I loved it. I loved every second of it. My heart felt a sense of honor and privilege that these highly acclaimed, expert chefs even let me get a glimpse of their kitchen and daily life. Essentially I was in heaven.

Now I am going out with my sister to DBGB...Daniel's newest restaurant in NYC. Check back soon for a more in-depth update!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Twitter Updates from NYC

In case you don't follow Garrett on Twitter. He's been working out in the morning and then heading for the kitchen at Daniel.

At left, a photo his sister snapped early this morning. Garrett dead to the world.

Tweet from Saturday morning: "Went to sleep at 5 (w/ swollen & aching ankles & knees), woke up at 9. Swam. Going to Daniel again for next 14hrs. Tough work but love it:)"

Tweet from Friday night: "Working in restaurant Daniel in NYC... Daniel and I just served Lance Armstrong his chicken dish!!! Crazy experience haha."

Garrett will come up for air and post soon!

--Garrett's dad, Mark

Friday, October 2, 2009

New York: Train for Swimming: Train for Cooking

From Garrett's facebook page: Check out where I'll be working 12 hour shifts the next three days!!!

He's also training in the morning before reporting for work at noon. I am sure he will update when he has time to breathe.

--Garrett's dad, Mark

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's a Wrap

Taping of the "AthleticFoodie" segments for Wisconsin Foodie TV is officially finished. It took a total of about four days to capture 13 segments which range from one minute to a minute and a half. I'm sure it sounds crazy to you how much time it took to shoot such short me I was surprised too. Throughout this experience I learned the following:

1. In production expect things to take much longer than you originally planned.
2. You can always do one more take.
3. Don't rush nor put a time limit on want it to look good!
4. Working as an spokesman is much harder than I thought.

I'm really excited and satisfied with the work we did and can't wait to see everything after the edits are all done! Look for my segments on the TV show Wisconsin Foodie, which will air on CBS 58, Sunday mornings at 10:30am starting October 11.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Morning Blend" TV Cooking Demo

Who: Me
What: Live cooking demo on "The Morning Blend"
Where: Milwaukee
When: 09/25/09
Today I officially did my first LIVE cooking demo for a morning show that plays in Wisconsin. I was really excited for the opportunity to cook something in 'real' time! I've done several cooking demonstrations which were taped and edited but nothing thus far that was live. Yesterday I prepared the dish a couple times to work on the timing and make sure I knew exactly what I was doing. I'd be making a classic Italian dish of garden tomato and herb sauce. Some of you might be thinking, "wow that sounds a bit simple and/or boring to do on TV." However, I picked this recipe precisely because of its simplicity. Many times I've seen people cook something on a short demo that was way too complicated for the viewing public to make. Plus, the freshness of the recipe is incredibly tasty. The demo went great and I had a ton of fun. Doing live TV was a lot easier too...just go with the flow and have fun:) Hopefully there will be more of these to come...

Check out my cooking demo here!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

From Pools to Pans--Great Article

Garrett is on a train heading back from Chicago after a quick visit with friends. So until he updates, here's a link to a really great feature article about him in this morning's Milwaukee JournalSentinel.

Today he'll be in the kitchen at Milwaukee's Lake Park Bistro for lunch, off to practice with the college team at UWM and then in the kitchen at Bacchus for the dinner service. So much cooking to little time. Long day. Thanks so much to Adam Siegel and John Wise from the Bartolotta Restaurant Group.

Garrett's dad--Mark

PS. This just in, pre-service lunch with the kitchen staff at Lake Park Bistro.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Give Me Some Insight...Please

Last summer in Beijing I was fortunate enough to meet Daniel Boulud. Daniel is one of the most famous French chefs in the world. He has restaurants in Beijing, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Palm Beach and five restaurants in NYC. I've kept in touch with him throughout the year. Now I've organized to spend time working, learning and observing in his NYC flagship restaurant, Daniel, in the beginning of October. This past January restaurant Daniel was awarded the New York Times highest honor of four stars!

Why am I telling you this? I want some advice from you guys! I will be purchasing some new knives before I go to Daniel and am not really sure yet what brand I want to buy??? Global, Shun etc.??? What have you had the best experience with? I'd appreciate your insight. Thanks

Friday, September 18, 2009

13 Segments of "AthleticFoodie"

The "AthleticFoodie" segments I shot, which will air on the TV show "Wisconsin Foodie" this fall, were a mix of topics. Some of my favorite segments included tips on how to choose healthy items in the grocery store. Although choosing healthy can be tips included some precise info as to why you should make certain choices. In the shot shown above I am describing the health benefits of sweet potatoes such as the high levels of fiber, Vitamin A & C. You might also be interested to know that they have more than 100% greater nutritional value than that of a standard potato. So go out and get that YAM!!!

Shooting 13 segments for TV was tiring and a lot of fun but the real satisfaction for me comes in knowing I am helping people learn more about living a better life through better nutrition. The older I get and the more experience I have, the stronger my desire is to really help people and make a difference any way I can. My passion grows all the time for food and nutrition and my energies, when not training, lie in building my business in the food world. My goal is to produce products, cookbooks, TV segments and the like to help people become more knowledgeable about nutrition and help them live a healthier life! My journey is well on it's way

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quick Update Post Taping

The past two days have been spent standing in front of cameras. The content has been cooking demonstrations and talking about living a healthy lifestyle through better nutrition. The first day I was literally on my feet for about eight hours, with only about 40 minutes break for lunch. By the end of the first day my voice was fading and my knees were killing me. In addition I busted my butt both mornings in the weight-room, running and swimming. I just wanted to give y'all a quick update on what's been going on. Soon I will receive pictures from the taping and will post a more detailed blog.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Shooting Begins for Wisconsin Foodie

Today was filled with preparation and brainstorming. Tomorrow and Tuesday I will be filming 13 segments of the AthleticFoodie minute which will air on the regional show "Wisconsin Foodie". My segments will have great tips on how to shop for the right foods, how to live a healthy lifestyle, easy recipe ideas, cooking demos etc. If you don't live near by stay'll be able to check it out online!

Here are the two episodes I was featured on last season...
"Feature: Garrett Weber-Gale"
"Recipe: NY Bison Strip Steak"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to Turn Disappointment into Positive Outlook

For the first time in my life I am a bit...hmmm I'm not really sure of the right word to use here...maybe apprehensive, maybe uneasy, maybe a little timid to start an entire new season of swimming. Why you may ask? It's simple, because the previous season was a very difficult one for me, one that ended with great disappointment and in the end, some self-doubt.

I know I worked hard this past year and prepared better than I ever had before. My coaches knew I worked really hard this past season and had a lot of confidence in me. I was so confident in the fact that I was going to go faster than the previous summer and was looking forward to doing better at the International stage than I did in Beijing. Throughout my entire life I've always been a very confident person and truly believe I could and can accomplish anything I set out to do. This is great, except for the rare times I haven't done as well as I worked for and planned on and I feel crushed with defeat.

I felt crushed with defeat after this summer. Two third place finishes at Nationals was not what I had planned. However, I am not a quitter and will not accept bad endings like this. Here are the steps I am already going through to turn myself around.
1. Be sad about it for a little bit. Do whatever needs to be done in order to try and get over that feeling of initial disappointment i.e. go on a vacation, cry, talk to friends, write about it to get it out of your mind etc.
2. Objectively look at what may have gone wrong whether they are big things and/or little things. Figure out how you may be able to fix them for the future.
3. Look for the bright shimmers of light. Even when it feels like everything is wrong there are ALWAYS positives. Find them. Some bright lights for me this summer were my parents being there for a bit after Worlds, eating good food, experiencing a new culture, meeting new people etc.
4. Keep your feet moving. Although we may not want to keep at it, although we may want to give up, although our face seems like it is shoved down into a pile of poop, we must go on. In my eyes there is really no choice. I always remind myself, "Garrett, you can do absolutely anything you decide to set your mind to." I truly believe should too. If you don't believe it just take a look at all the Tycoons and successful people in America who came from absolutely nothing, who were down in the dumps, who got fired from their jobs and said, "Screw you guys, I will rise up again and show you how strong my will and desire really is!"
5. Try to surround yourself with others who can support you and help you make your dreams possible. None of us can do it alone. We need motivation, coaching, nurturing, love and so much more from so many people in order to get where we want to go. Try sharing your dreams and aspirations with others...I've found people really gravitate towards it and want to help you:)

I'm working hard to go through these steps...It's not always easy...not always easy at all. The truth is that I know what I want...I want to be successful and have a better swim season next year. In order for me to do this I must go through these steps.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fresh From Italy...Via Wisconsin

The first morning I was back home in Wisconsin I woke up, after 26 hours of long travel from Italy, and I had an urge to make fresh pasta. What was it that prompted me to do this? Was I just nostalgic about not being in Italy anymore? Did I want to impress my parents with my new found skills? Was I simply craving the beautiful cuisine of Italia? Whatever it was I was on a mission. My mouth watered for some delicious fare on my first morning back in the cool and misty air of my native state.

I slowly moved around the kitchen, still lagging a bit from the travel the day before. My dad has a beautiful garden out back and I picked some fresh tomatoes, sage, basil and rosemary. I diced the tomatoes and made the herbs into a refreshing sauce using some home-squeezed olive oil my friend gave me from her farm in Sicily. Within thirty minutes we were sitting in delight at our morning meal.Pasta can be a difficult little bugger to master. I haven't mastered my recipe yet and have worked to improve it. If you have any tips or recipes you've used that 'really' work please let me know!!! Thanks

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Casa Vissani

Many of my experiences in Italy were made possible by my good friend, and as he calls himself, my Italian manager...Giusseppe Bombara. Giusseppe has made my trip to Italy a dream come true. To name a few things, he took me to his home in Sicily, organized my trip to Norcia to visit the Prosciutto makers, took me to many dinners with famous chefs, wine-makers and friends, organized horseback riding, set me up to make pizzas at one of my favorite restaurants (the chef and owner is his friend) and essentially gave me a glimpse of what it is really like to live like an Italian. Without Bombara, my trip would have been nothing compared to what it has really been.Gianfranco Vissani is regarded as one of the most if not the most famous chef in Italy. Now this would be an honor to be of this stature anywhere in the world, but to have such a reputation in the country that is maybe more known for its cuisine than anywhere in the world is truly incredible. I'd already had really good food in Italy but I was looking to spring to an even higher level. I wanted Casa Vissani...the platform where Vissani showcases his sensory tantalizing fare in the most serene and luxurious atmosphere imaginable.
(Different flavored butters and salts from all over the world)
Throughout my stay here I have found it very difficult to show my thanks to Giusseppe because he won't accept anything nor let me pay for anything. I tell him all the time what a difference he has made for me, how good of a friend he is and that I appreciate everything. I told him without debate I was taking him to Casa Vissani to show my argument...and we were getting everything!!!
I was totally excited about this night. I love good food, good service and more than anything, being around people who are in love and passionate about what they do...if you are in love with what you do...get in my life...I gravitate to passion/s...I have so many of them:)
As we approached the door a woman opened it and to my great surprise Gianfranco was waiting at the door for us. Hold up, the most famous chef in Italy is at the door of his restaurant waiting to see and talk with me?...SWEET! Gianfranco speaks only a little English but we had a nice time conversing. He took us to our table and pulled my chair out for me...I think this is a real rarity as everyone in the entire restaurant looked at me in complete awe and shock haha.
We were getting everything...the full tasting menu, the wine pairings, of course the cheeses and all the desserts our little hearts could desire. I absolutely love not having to worry or think about what comes to me. Although I love eating good food I hate ordering food. My dream is to always have food that I'll enjoy simply placed in front of me without the hassle of searching through the entire menu haha:) At Casa Vissani I was in luck!
Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect from fine-dining in Italy. At this level each chef really has their own personality and style that comes out through their cuisine. I wondered how complex things would be, how things would be presented to us, would there be traditional classics elevated to a new level...who knows? I am by no means a food expert nor a chef but I have had some darn good food in my young little life. I think I have a pretty decent idea what things should taste like, what the consistencies should be feel like, and maybe to a little lesser degree, what smells should arise from different products. The food at Vissani, just as I'd expected, was beautifully prepared and absolutely delicious...touching all my senses.
(Chianina beef which is very famous in Italy)
(The very extensive and impressive cheese cart. When they opened the drawers to create our cheese plates the aroma of old, smelly, perfectly ripened cheese poured out and traveled deep into my senses...ahh it was so amazing. One of the cheeses we had only supplies Casa Vissani with one form every four years because the cheese is so rare and high quality, mmmm)

Throughout the meal Vissani came by several times to ask us how the food was. At the conclusion of your meal you can either be served dessert at your table or be taken to what is essentially a living room with beautiful decor, couches and chairs. We decided to eat dessert in more comfort, in the other room. However, before we left a waiter approached us with a bottle of wine and said, in Italian, "this bottle of wine is a gift from the table over there to congratulate you for all of your success." I thought to myself, "what the heck? How do these people know who I am?" The bottle turned out to be a 1983 vintage of Sauternes from Chateau Luduiraut...I know very little about wine but Giusseppe who is the wine business, and other wine experts we talked to later, said this wine and this vintage is probably the most famous dessert wine in the world. What? Are you kidding me?! I was amazed. We tasted the wine and I promptly went over to thank the very gracious people. It turns out one of the women at the table recognized me (from the Olympics & World Champs) and confirmed with her waiter that I was who she thought I was. Weird?
Before retiring to the dessert room Vissani took us into the kitchen to meet and take pictures with the chefs. I loved it, I don't think these people understood what an honor it was for me to meet them and see how they work. What a beautiful kitchen too!
The desserts were delicious and very comforting. The Sauternes was literally the most vibrant and mouth dazzling wine I've ever experienced. Thank you to the very generous and kind people who bought it for us!!
Before leaving we toured their very extensive and large wine cellar which is filled with many of the most famous wines of the world. Luca, Gianfranco's son presented me with one of Gianfranco's most famous books and personalized it for me (unfortunately Gianfranco was gone by this time). We were the last to leave the restaurant...1:20am. Ha.
A very successful night. I was definitely sprung to the higher level my palate was longing for.

Il Feudo

At first thought of writing this blog I initially had intentions of posting a quick synopsis of the time since my last update. However, I quickly realized that wouldn’t be fair. The experiences I’ve had here in Italy are all so unique and special to me that I must share them all with you separately. In addition, and probably more importantly, I think it is essential that I give due credit and praise to all the kind, open armed and loving Italians to whom I truly owe the success of this trip.There is a small town near to where I stay called Montoro. My good friend, Giusseppe, who also happens to be my Italian manager (he nicknamed himself this because he sets absolutely everything up for me), lives in this town. There is one restaurant and it is absolutely outstanding (without question one of my top three in all of Italy)…Il Feudo. Since chomping down into the perfectly prepared paper thing crust of my first Pizza at Il Feudo I knew I needed to spend time with the chef and learn how he does it.
This operation is exactly what you’d imagine when thinking about a restaurant located in a small village in the countryside of Italy. It is owned and run by one family. Marco is the chef, his wife Nicoletta runs the front of the house, his mother is his assistant chef, his father is the accountant and cashier, and their friends help out when needed. Before and after every meal service everyone gathers in a little courtyard outside the restaurant to talk and laugh. Although I have no idea what they’re saying, that doesn’t stop any of them from talking to me like I speak Italian haha…seriously. The relaxed and family atmosphere is so unbelievably refreshing and I love literally every minute I spend with these people. Ahhh I’m so thankful to have met them and been taken in by them in such a loving and big way.
At the start of work Marco and I made all the dough for the pizza. We rolled and prepped it all into small dough balls and placed them in a drawer to rise until use. As the others prepared miscellaneous things for service, they did as I thought they’d do…stuffed my face full of food. Vera (Marco’s mother), and her friend (who helps out in the kitchen sometimes) were out of control. No kidding, every time I turned around it seemed like they were holding something in their hands for me to eat. If I stayed with these people for an extended period of time I’d have to exercise more self-discipline and say 'no' occasionally…I didn’t exercise any then…I ate absolutely anything and everything put in front of me and loved every morsel of it.
My interest and enthusiasm for everything I’m doing here is out-of-this-world-fantastic and at times a bit overwhelming. Some of you who have read this blog before or who actually know me understand that I can be an extremely excitable person. I can’t tell you how many times since I’ve been in Italy that I have ‘literally’ gone into a corner, a bathroom, a side street, or wherever I can find that is private and seriously screamed out loud or silently while jumping up and down punching the air. It is impossible to contain myself sometimes. I feel like a high voltage wave of happiness and love is running through my entire soul and I have no idea what to do with it…so unreal!!!
I made a bunch of pizzas throughout the night and helped with other menu items as well. Marco gave me a note pad to write on and take notes with (which I've been doing throughout my entire trip and in every kitchen I visit). I didn't want the night to end. This was one of my favorite nights in Italy. At the conclusion of the dinner service the entire staff (aka the family) and some of their friends gathered outside for dinner. We ate on their beautiful balcony which overlooks the rural countryside. I made the pizzas of course:) There was other food as well but I was so engulfed in my own happiness from making such a delectable pie that my taste buds would not let me deviate from the paper thin crust pizzas I had created, MMMMMMM.
Check back soon...these blogs are going to come quickly so I can catch y'all up on the good stuff!
Just another night in Paradise;)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Off the grid for a few days

Garrett is traveling to Sienna and Montignoso Massa and then to a few more places in Tuscany with friends. He'll be back online early next week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Adventure of Unknown but with Some Guidelines

Sometimes everyone just needs a break. We all get to that point where we can go no more...and if we do it's likely we won't be productive nor successful. After World Champs this year I was finished. My mind and body wanted nothing to do with swimming nor even anyone associated with it (I realize that may sound harsh but I always tell it like it is).

So off I went, on an adventure of the unknown. There were a few things I did know however...a few things I would make sure to do and stay true to.
1. Fun. I had had enough of seriousness, enough of focusing, I was determined to kick back and try not to care about anything serious for a while. Enjoyment and relaxation were a must!
2. Learn about food and cooking in every way possible and figure out ways in which my new-found knowledge can help me improve my diet and preparation of healthy food.
3. Engross myself in the Italian lifestyle and culture. Essentially try to live like an Italian...
4. Maintain a decent level of fitness and not gain ANY weight.

With great satisfaction and assertion I can say that all of these have been accomplished. I feel much better about things than I did after World Champs. Weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I'm really happy here...I even feel at home:) My brain power in the kitchen has grown exponentially and my excitement to get back in the kitchen at home and work on some new things has reached new levels. Living like an Italian has been a true wonder and delight. I've made a lot of great friends here, have several Italian families who say they've adopted me and several Italian mothers who call me their Italian Momma haha. Fitness, Pshhh that was easy. I do push-ups and dips throughout the day. When the feeling strikes me I go for a moderately long run, and even get in the water to swim a few times a week. I am eating a lot but it's less frequent than when I am training. My weight is exactly the same, and if I do say so physique still looks pretty darn good;)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Smells Abound and Love was All Around

Sniff Sniff... I'd venture to say that smell is often the most overlooked sense. Those of you who don't use your shnoz piece to its fullest are missing out like a sail with no wind. A deep inhale through the sometimes booger plagued cavities of our nostrils can often make the grass seem greener, food look and taste more succulent and delicious, the ocean seem more tranquil and appealing, and even love seem more passionate and earth-shattering (trust me, I've experienced these). So go ahead...take that deep're likely to find some new and brilliant treasures!
When I stepped out of the car in a small parking lot outside 'Prosciuttificio "Valle Oblita"' This factory is set just outside Norcia, which is a very famous town for Prosciutto, and is set atop a huge hill which overlooks a beautiful valley. I immediately knew I was about to enter into a world my nose had never experienced. Waiting to greet me were two guys, Tony and Paolo, who looked as excited about Prosciutto as I would've been when I was five and my Mom turned her back with the cookies sitting on the get the point. After a warm greeting and a small conversation, through the translator and friends who was traveling with me, we cruised into a building that was exuding smells that had never entered my nose before.I knew I was in for a treat. I'd always wondered what the real deal with Prosciutto was. Today was the day for me to get the skinny on the fatty/salt cured pig legs (eat this in small amounts...definitely not good for high blood pressure). First we entered into a cold room that was filled with recently cut pig legs which were salted and laying on large racks. Tadaaaaaaa the white jacket was I felt like I was really getting down to business (all official and everything)! The first step of the process is to run the legs through a machine which both sprays salt on it as well as presses it to squeeze most of the blood out from between the flesh and skin...sounds tasty right? Next these legs get hung on racks which will be moved into an enormous refrigerated room. I am not kidding when I say there are thousands upon thousands of Prosciutto's hanging everywhere.There are three steps in the curing process which go from cold, to cool, to fresh air (in it's entirety it takes about 14 months). Have you ever walked down a hallway and continually taken a deep breath in until you walk into a room which has a different aroma? Maybe the temperature changed or the humidity level was different too. Now you can somewhat picture my experience walking from one room to another. The smells in here are strong. However, I think the beauty in scent comes from the subtleties. You know what I'm talking when you cook bacon and you can tell when it's done cooking by the sharper scent it exudes...or when a slight rain or storm is approaching and you can smell a hint of dust or dirt in the cool summer air which has been kicked up by a slight breeze. As I perused through each room the scent subtly changed. As the temperature rose and the meats were older, the scent became more soft and almost sweet. What a sniffing wonderland.

(here I'm covering the flesh with a pork fat mixture which will help preserve the meat)
Everywhere I turned there was more and more and even more Prosciutto. It was absolutely absurd. In total this plant cures and sells 800,000 kilos of Prosciutto per year. (This small pick is inserted into the Prosciutto...then smelled in order to tell it's ripeness)
Directly following my trip to "Valle Oblita" I went with my lovely hosts (if you're reading this...thank you so much for an incredible day!) to their mother's house. Rita was her name...and lovin' was her game. Rita was without question the most charming and delightful woman I have spent time with in Italy. She didn't speak a word of English but her demeanor and body language said it could tell her intentions:) When I entered her house she gave me the biggest kisses on my cheeks and neck...we're talking legit kisses here was nutz haha. The lunch she prepared was absolutely to die for. Her homemade tomato sauce was without question the best I've had in Italy and maybe the most delicious I've ever had. Paired with this was unbelievably succulent and flavorful beef. There was also Prosciutto, salad, bread, watermelon, cantalope and gelato...mmmmmm.The second time I walked in her kitchen I noticed, to my utter surprise, that she had a leg of Prosciutto just sitting there on a stand waiting to be cut. I pointed to it with a suprised and excited expression and without hesitation she cut me off a few perfectly thin can tell she's done this before. Wow. Long story short...she ended up giving me the whole Prosciutto leg when I left. I told her (through my translator), "I have nowhere to keep it and I can't possibly eat it all myself..." She wouldn't take no for an answer, saying, "you keep it with you until you leave and enjoy it whenever you want...It's my gift to you." So I walked out with a 20 pound Prosciutto wrapped in celaphane...ridiculous. (Rita showing me some love after giving me the cute)
Just another day in Paradise:) Seriously.

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