Johnny Iuzzini at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; Photo courtesy of Johnny Iuzzini
Pastry genius and Top Chef Just Desserts judge Johnny Iuzzini is on a food-hunting road trip, riding his motorcycle from California to New York looking for some of America's best places to eat. Follow along with his travel journal here at foodandwine.com, and help Iuzzini find incredible food along the way by connecting with him through Twitter @Johnny_Iuzzini and @fandw using the hashtag #JIfoodride.
Since our bikes didn’t arrive by the time we got to San Francisco, we had to rent a car to drive to Monterey where the races Grand Prix races are. Damn.
Luckily for us, Ducati treats me like family and had provided us with a pair of superfast loaner Ducati Diavels for the weekend. We are having an amazing time at Laguna Seca, watching the races, getting some new gear, going on a private tour. Un-real. Meanwhile we tried to not think about the fact that our bikes were damaged and with someone in the middle of the country who has no idea how he is affecting my life’s dream. At the end of the day, we grabbed a couple Bar Gelato by Naia made with burnt caramel from genius confectioner Michael Recchiuti, and headed for the bus to get back to the hotel.
Monday morning comes and still no motorcycles. The driver is telling us he can be in L.A. today, so we decide to rent another car and drive to meet him. This really sucks because the drive down from Monterey is such a pretty ride on a bike, through the almond orchards, through the canyons, with some great twisties. We arrive, drop off our gear at a friend's fantastic bar called The Varnish, and head to the airport to return the car. We have no place to sleep yet, no motorcycles and no idea where the driver is. Guess what? He blew his engine near Las Vegas and had to rent another truck to get the rest of the way.
We decided we needed to get our minds off it and go out for a great meal. I have been wanting to check out my friend Michael Voltaggio's new place Ink in Hollywood. The vibe was awesome, and it turns out I knew the bartender from NYC and her cocktails are the bomb. I had never had Michael's food before and we were just in Denmark raising hell together so it was a lot of fun to see him in action. Course after course was creative and delicious. There was one dish with octopus that really stuck out; it was paired with squid ink and tahini paste. We left stuffed.
The next day our bikes finally arrive over a week late, and mine is un-rideable in its current condition, but the guy expects to be paid in full. Plus: His insurance says it won’t cover the damage because the bike wasn’t actually on the truck when it happened (remember: “It fell over in the parking lot”). Now things are getting nasty. I have over a $1,000 of damage to my motorcycle, a driver with no insurance coverage and he refuses to take the bikes off the truck. In the end, and luckily because I saw My Cousin Vinny so many times as a kid, I was able to negotiate with him and he released my bike to me. I spent the next few hours lying on a parking lot floor to fix the damage enough to ride it to Southern California Motorcycles for full repairs.
We were lucky to have a friend in L.A. who allowed us to use his studio for base camp. Josh Warner and his lovely partner Rachel are avid motorcyclists and make the most insane jewelry and accessories called Good Art HLYWD. They are amazing and will be friends for life!!! Plus they have a little dog named Jack that I tried to steal as a mascot for the ride.
My traveling amigo is Richie Boccato, the owner of Dutch Kills, Painkiller NYC, and Weather Up in NYC and Austin. We are finally on our way, headed to Vegas next via Barstow. We then intend on going to the Grand Canyon and north to Utah; I have always wanted to ride on the salt flats. Tell me what I should eat along the way @Johnny_Iuzzini #JIFoodRide.