University of California Isla Vista? Pizza Margherita

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The University of California Santa Barbara claims six Nobel laureate facility members, ranks among the world’s top universities for scientific research impact and…shows up every year on Princeton Review’s list of party schools. Although UCSB has a Santa Barbara mailing address, the main campus is located on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean in Isla Vista, a small town eight miles from Santa Barbara. Perhaps the only University with its own beach, UCSB exists in the perfect environment with consistently beautiful weather—an average temperature of 70°, insignificant humidity, and 300 sunny days a year. The majority of the 23,500 Isla Vista residents are students, surfers, and student/surfers. So, it’s pretty much a party waiting to happen.

Anyways, recently I read an LA Times article about Blaze Pizza, with an Isla Vista franchise, as “2015’s fastest growing restaurant chain”, offering made-to-order, healthful pizzas baked in a 900° oven, ready in five minutes. IV, as the locals say, is minutes away from my pool, so it was a lunch waiting to happen. I knew UCSB was somewhere in the vicinity of our apartment, but it wasn’t until I was eating a slice of an “Art Lover” at Blaze Pizza that I knew I was close.

Isla Vista’s summertime streets were almost empty of cars, filled instead with bikes, skateboards, scooters and an occasional vehicle. The vulnerable but unhelmeted humans on two wheels claimed the middle of the street, grudgingly sharing their space with four-wheeled drivers. And as I discovered, there are no cars because there is no parking, so if you visit, plan on walking or taking along two wheels.

The campus has non-traditional buildings and architecture—light on brick and ivy, heavy on colorful stucco and eucalyptus trees.

Off-campus student housing is also non-traditional, adding to the campus’s party image with colorful murals, surfboard-stacked balconies, and spiffy bikes.

Anyways, in 1960 this South Sioux City High graduate would have been on the first bus out of town if I had received that fat acceptance packet in the mail, had been able to convince my parents on the merits of a California education, and had the bank balance required for UCSB out-of-state tuition.

Lynne Rosetto Kasper‘s Pizza Margherita

Home-made or TJ’s dough

Margherita Topping: 

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 

  • 1/2 medium onion, minced (Personally, I love caramelized onions on pizza. Just thinly slice an onion, melt 1-2 tablespoons butter, sauté for 5 or so minutes or until limp and golden. The onions, that is, not you.)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • Chopped parsley
  • 
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn 
  • 
1 1/2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes, sliced or roughly chopped
  • 
3 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced 
  • 
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

  • Black pepper and salt 

To make pizza, lightly oil a 14- to 16-inch pizza pan. Preheat oven to 500 degrees, setting rack as low as possible in the oven. 

Roll out dough as thin as possible to about a 16-inch round (no more than 1/16-inch thick). Spread over pan, rolling in edges to form a rim. Let rest 10 minutes. 

Drizzle olive oil over dough, add onion, garlic, fresh and dried herbs, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Season with salt and black pepper and bake 10 minutes. 

Then using a spatula and thick oven mitt, slip the pizza off the pan directly onto the oven rack by pulling out rack, grasping pizza pan firmly with protected hand, and using spatula or pancake turner to slip pie off pan and directly onto oven rack.

Slide rack back in place and bake more 2 minutes. Slip pie back onto pan, remove from oven. Cut and serve.

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