Tourissimo Bike Tours
rue foodies seek nothing more than an authentic meal. Yes, it’s about the food, it always about the food, but delicious food is made better by the people, story and dining landscape behind it. My top five favorite meals in my life always begin with the pre-story about the place and people I was with, followed by the meal we ate. Like that one time several years ago when my family reunited in Bali, where my brother met us by a serendipitous change of plans, where we went to the small fishing town of Jimbaran to celebrate, to eat on the beach, fresh fish that we handpicked from tanks. They grilled our snapper and prawns and octopus on live fire and delivered it to us on big platters with steamed white rice, garlicky dandelion greens, and spicy sambal sauce. We ate with our toes in the sand and clinked Bali Hais to celebrate the good fortune of all meeting on the other side of the world. Those of us who worship food love homegrown authenticity. We want our food to taste like it’s terroir, plucked straight from the earth, prepared by those who have perfected it, and enjoyed with those we love.
Which brings me to Italy, and Tourissimo Bike Tours, and their foodie-centric bike trips that practically cultivate best-meals-of-your-life moments. Beppe Salerno and Heather Dowd began Tourissimo Bike tours in 2015. They specialize in turn-key, culinary bike tours that let you explore Italy, eating your way through one idyllic town after another. Bring whom you may, but you’ll keep company with tour-guides who are celebrated chefs and culinary Illuminati. It’s easy to believe that with a trip like this your list of best-meals-of-my-life is likely to swell.
The second trip on the calendar for 2018 features the brightest talent in the Southern California culinary scene. The “Emilia Edition” trip, June 4-10, is hosted by Top Chef winner Brooke Williamson and her husband, fellow-chef, and business partner Nick Roberts. The pair owns an impressive collection of eateries in Playa Del Rey including Playa Provisions and The Tripel. Hudson House in Redondo Beach is their main restaurant concept, named after their 10-year-old son. It’s L.A. native, Chef Williamson’s fresh take on Californian Cuisine.
It’s easy to crush on Chef Williamson. At 17, she was the youngest person to ever cook at the James Beard House, by 22 she was the Executive Chef at the acclaimed Zax Restaurant in Brentwood. Her wit and grace on tv, not to mention totally badass culinary skills made her a favorite on Bravo’s Top Chef. In 2017 she took the title “Top Chef” in Season 14, securing her place as one of the fiercest chefs in America.
Chef Williamson and her husband are both avid cyclists and will most likely opt not to ride E-bikes on the trip, but it’s cool to know that E-bikes are an option. Rates to Tourissimo’s “Emilia Edition” culinary bike tour, from June 4-10, start at $3,995 and include Bianchi carbon fiber road bikes and GPS navigation.
Even if I tried to dumb down the itinerary of the “Emilia Edition” trip, you’d still think I was exaggerating: The tour starts at the castle of Tabiano Terme and continues onto the Po river flat plane to the world-famous Alma Cooking School. Along the way, you’ll learn about the craft of making Parmigiano-Reggiano, as well as visit the thermal village of Porretta Terme before riding along to Bologna.
“The trips aim to facilitate the understanding of local food, agriculture, and culture while bringing a chef’s eye to the landscape,” says Heather Dowd, co-founder of Tourissimo.
The second trip, the “Romagna Edition” from June 12-18, features a stroll through the stunning historical towns in the Po Delta. The chef-leaders on this trip are culinary author Larry Olmsted and Chef Lanny Lancarte of Righteous Foods in Fort Worth, Texas. Olmsted is an acclaimed food and travel writer whose recent book Real Food Fake Food, exposes the flagrant mislabeling of food. In his book, he writes about the fallacy of Kobe Beef and dives into the atrocious discovery of sawdust-laced parmesan cheese. Chef Lancarte comes from a family with deep roots in the Texas culinary tradition. His great-grandfather founded his namesake restaurant, Joe T. Garcia’s, considered a local institution and celebrated as one of the first casual restaurants honored by the James Beard Foundation. Chef Lancarte built upon his family’s legacy by honing his culinary chops with greats like Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy. Today Righteous Foods is known for its clean flavors and Chef Lancarte is known for his active lifestyle that he takes as seriously as his cooking. His biking and snowboarding adventures traverse oceans and mountains. No need to fear dull dinner conversation with this crowd!
Leave it to Julia Child to say it best, “People who love to eat are the best people.”
And chefs love to eat.
Tourissimo’s Italian culinary biking vacations bring together people who love to eat, and with the help of a chef, they set the table for the best meal of your life. Salut!
Insider’s Tip: Want to dine and ride with West L.A. Chef Benjamin Cohn of Westside Tavern? Don’t miss Chef Bike Tour Piedmont, Oct. 1-7
Chef Williamson shares her Yellowfin Tuna Signature Poke Bowl from her restaurant Da Kikokiko
- 6 oz fresh yellowfin tuna, diced large
- 2 tbl scallions, sliced
- 1 tbl Maui onion, sliced (regular onion will work too)
- 1 tbl hijiki seaweed
- 1 small pinch of red chili flake
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- 2 oz Shoyu Sauce
- 2 tbl roasted macadamia nuts
- 1 tsp roasted sesame seed
- 1 small pinch of Hawaiian lava salt
- 1 c soy sauce
- 1/4 c granulated sugar
- 3/4 c rice vinegar
- 1/4 c mirin
- 1/4 c sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced