Journey to Los Alamos for the ultimate Flatbread Pizza

What would motivate four foodies to drive 500 miles roundtrip, in a gas guzzling Hummer for a day excursion not found in any brochure? In three words: American Flatbread pizzas. We are wanted to know if the flatbread pizzas and housemade desserts at American Flatbread in Los Alamos, nestled in the Santa Ynez Valley, met or surpassed the current buzz. We knew that owner Clark Staub was turning out nearly 2,000 flatbreads daily (which are trucked to various supermarkets) but on Friday and Saturday nights, between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., he transformed his bakery into a cozy restaurant. Because the adjacent wineries of Santa Barbara County attract throngs of tourists, especially since the film “Sideways” delved into the region’s wine route, we strategized we would arrive promptly at 5 p.m. to avoid the long lines. Since a reservation is out of the question, I recommend to all those who would hold holy a raw line-caught Pacific tuna and Wasabi Cream Flatbread with crème fraìche, ginger, carrots, radish, flaxseed and glistening California caviar, to arrive before a surge of flatbread fans line up for seating at one of a dozen tables.

Staub told us his inspiration for this was based on legendary chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s flatbread, which he sampled at the Hotel Mercer in New York.

At American Flatbread, Staub was baking pizzas nonstop, placing them with surgical precision into a primitive wood-fired earthen oven, which he built, by the way.

The menu says it all: pizzas are given irresistible names such as the Punctuated Equilibrium (with kalamata olives, stone oven-roasted sweet peppers, fresh rosemary and garlic) and Medicine Wheel (with cauldron tomato sauce and fresh garden herbs).

Staub’s feelings about organic food border on emotional-each fine artisan pizza to go fits into a box; printed on top, in the shape of a heart, are the words: “patience, integrity, forgiveness, remembrance, respect, gratefulness, beauty, nature, peace, trust, hope, love and joy.” But what does this all have to do with flatbread made from 100 percent certified organic wheat flour, coarsely milled into unbleached white flour with restored wheat germ, filtered Los Alamos water, fresh yeast and all gently fermented?

Probably, it is the same concern for Staub’s commitment to the small Los Alamos community. The cover of each menu features an original drawing from local elementary school students. Menus are individualized. Each pizza is a labor of love, not a statement of corporate conformity.

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But there is a back-story here. The idea of reviving the flatbread concept originated in the Mad River Valley of Vermont by George Shenk, who dreamed about perfecting a union on fire and rock with fresh “sustainably” produced ingredients. The result is what you find on the menu at American Flatbread. I noticed the restaurant was not listed in local publications, nor did I source a press kit, which is standard for many restaurants.

This is the “kinda” place you hear about from friends, especially those organically inclined. Because Staub devotes so much time to producing and shipping the flatbreads, his fans are just thankful he opens the doors two nights a week for public dining. And then there are the desserts, each an original.

The desserts, at $6 each, are housemade. We shared four: the Forbidden Fruit Orchards blueberry tart with organic blood orange sorbet; strawberries accentuated with meringue and enhanced with a light lavender sauce; Los Alamo S’mores made with homemade chocolate espresso cookies marshmallows and dark chocolate sauce; and Dawn’s Awesome brownie with Strauss Family Farm organic vanilla ice cream.

If you want to make this a three-course dinner, I recommend a salad, such as the Little Alamos, healthy and light, with shredded organic carrots and celery tossed with traces of Evolution salad dressing and topped with flaxseed. It’s all a nutritionist’s dream dinner.

The check was presented, tucked between pages of a dog-eared soft cover book, and was just less than $100 for four people.

American Flatbread

www.foodremembers.com

Santa Barbara County

www.sbcountywines.com

Pam Price is the co-author of the 6th edition of “Fun With the Family in Southern CA.”

13StarsManager
13StarsManagerhttps://malibutimes.com
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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