Monday, March 28, 2011

Get Your Za-Za's Out

You'd think by now I'd be more flexible in real life, for metaphorically I'm a great self-kicker. Nothing makes me want to apply my boot to my butt more than not getting to a spot I just know is going to be good for too long a time. Of course I do this frequently, for even eating out too much, there's only so much time, so much money, so many inches in the waistband.

I fixed one such problem by finally making it to Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos on a weekend, when their production space gets turned into a restaurant. Pulling into its stretch of the 135, everything else in town at 5 on a Sunday seems sleepy, except for the cars, the families, the hubbub at their lovely spot that manages to mix some Western saloonish swagger with hip art (an amazing angel made from skateboards, say) and hippie-ish touches (not just the organic, local focus, but using old paperbacks as their check delivery systems--reuse, recycle, reread?). The spot is certainly full of life, with people sharing wines, running into old friends, getting greeted like the regulars many luckily seemed to be (if the place didn't leave me in such a good mood I'd damn them for their luck). It can't hurt it offers a lovely Santa Ynez Valley wine list with great by-the-glass choices, too, plus local brews from Firestone and Figueroa Mountain. And, of course, the dining room has that huge hearth of a pizza oven that just sort of makes for a primal home scene--no doubt any caveman would have killed for a saber-tooth flatbread back in the day.

Also, don't be fooled and think Full of Life is full of itself with anything approaching veggie indignation at all things meaty or more, for in addition to numerous bacon offerings, my special appetizer of the day (or any day, without a doubt) was crispy foie gras toast with wild-gathered black trumpet mushrooms on levain bread grilled with bacon & a farm egg yolk, shaved Sonoma foie gras, over green garlic fondue. Richness, thy name is this dish (which is why its name is so long, I guess). It's a brilliant way to get you the luscious punch of foie gras at 1/4 the amount you might need in a different dish, for the trumpet mushrooms, the egg a-run, the depth of the garlic fondue all just added layer and layer of yum.

We ate more, of course we did, although that first was the kind of dish that almost didn't need an entree; it's a hearty portion, in addition to a taste sensation. Still, it's a pizza joint (joke) so we had pizza, the two specials for the day (trust me, they really mean special when they use the word). That means we enjoyed (and are enjoying for two days of lunch, too, so the not cheap price doesn't seem quite so dear) a local chanterelle flatbread with Henry's cured + smoked pork belly bacon, stinging nettles, and a farm egg AND an artisanal burrata mozzarella flatbread with rapini braised with garlic & hot pepper, ember-roasted picholine olives & pepperoncino.Here they are sharing a double-decker stand that makes them seem even more decadent, a kind of two-story tribute to all pizza could dream to be.

If you've had their frozen variety, which are the best frozen pizzas you can get, you're still not prepared for these. That crust, for one, after just getting slid from the oven, tastes even more of the fire's woody-goodness. And when the quality of the toppings is this good--I'm mean, chanterelles, folks!--it all becomes yet more wonderful.

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