Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fremont hike 'n dine

Lake Elizabeth beckons. The placid, 83-acre lake in Fremont's Central Park has 4 playground areas, a lagoon nature area, basketball courts, ballfields, picnic tables and a wide, paved path running along its edge. In summer, the boathouse is busy with rentals and lessons as is the new waterslide park. But on any day, in any season, the path is the big draw: you'll find moms pushing strollers, joggers, cyclists, and power walkers puffing along the walkway.

My pals and I pick a sunny fall day and hit the trail (we carpool, making it a really 'green' day). This morning, the wind is gentle, and puffy clouds dot the sky. Along the 2-mile-long waterside path, we pass beneath giant pepper trees heavy with red berries. The birdwatching isn't bad, either: we spot ruddy ducks, Western grebes, mallards, egrets, and great blue herons.

The walk is not terribly strenuous, but just enough to work up an appetite, so we head for the heart of Fremont's "Little Kabul", to lunch at one of the better known Afghan cafes: Salang Pass Restaurant . It is outstanding. I have the chopan kabab (lamb skewer) and it is tasty and plentiful. Linda has the wonderful Quabili Pallow-a baked brown basmati rice dish with lamb shank, aromatic with spices, raisins and carrots. Francoise and Sara order the Aushuk and Mantoo, each a kind of Afghani ravioli filled with variously lamb or leeks. For dessert, we get four spoons and dive into a Firni, an Afghani pudding with hints of rosewater, cardamom, almonds and pistachios.
My overall review: Yummy and very affordable. I'd go back in a minute. One caveat: it's a little hard to find, but parking is plentiful (in the back).

Details: Salang Pass Restaurant (510/ 795-9200; 37462 Fremont Blvd.). Fremont's Central Park is at 40000 Paseo Padre Pkwy., Fremont, CA; 510/ 790-5541.

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