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Thursday, December 08, 2005


Back to Los Trancos Trail

And Elisa Caravaglio's Penne With Tuna & Tomatoes
The Foothills Park, owned and managed by the City of Palo Alto, CA, is a treasure. There are other natural preserves in the San Francisco Peninsula. Through gifts and purchases, the Mid Peninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) has done a superb job in acquiring large parcels of land and making them accessible to public. There is no entry fee for using the preserves. Entrance to Foothills Park, however, is restricted to residents of Palo Alto.

Here are two great photographs taken inside Foothills Park. Thanks to Scott Haefner and Harold Poskanzer who graciously gave permission to reproduce them.

©Scott Haefner

©Harold Poskanzer

My friend JHL lives in Palo Alto and is an avid walker. We have hiked there many times. Went back there last week and took Los Trancos Trail, our favorite, which climbs toward Skyline. It is a 7.5-mile (apprx. 12 km) loop. Takes us a little over 4 hours, allowing time for a picnic lunch. On that day we had a late start and, after we stopped for lunch, realized that it would be past 5 PM and dark if we made the loop. So we turned around. Now that the rains have begun in earnest, we plan to go back and walk alongside Buckeye Creek running full.

This what we had for lunch.

Penne With Tuna & Tomatoes

1/3 cup olive oil
2 lge garlic cloves, minced
Sml pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1.5 lb Roma tomatoes, peeled, halved, seeded, diced (canned OK)
About 1 tspn fennel seed, ground fine in a mortar or spice grinder (I lightly toast the seeds)
2 tblspoon chopped fennel fronds
1 can (200 gms) olive oil packed tuna, drained and flaked
2 doz green or black olives, pitted, quartered
1 lb penne

Heat the olive oil, garlic and pepper flakes in a large skillet until the the garlic just starts to color. Add the tomatoes, fennel seed, fennel fronds and
salt to taste.

Cook gently until the tomatoes soften but don't allow them to collapse into a sauce. Remove from heat and add the tuna and olives. Keep warm.

Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Set aside 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Toss, add some of the reserved water if needed.

1. Serves 4-6
2. The fennel is important, substitution will not create the right flavor
3. Good quality water-packed tuna can be used but first it will have to be drained, doused liberally with extra virgin olive oil and kept overnight to allow the oil to soak in.

We had sweet baguette, home made avocado dip, and a California merlot. Sitting in a small meadow on a cold but sunny day it felt good. All was right with the world.

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