Week Eleven: Buy and Prepare Seafood Purchased at the Wharf (the Maine Avenue Fish Market in SW)
I live in a great town. I’ve been extremely thankful for this of late, because I cannot imagine conducting my weekly scramble for a New Thing in a place like Peducah, Kentucky. Although only ten miles square, DC is made up of vibrant neighborhoods that are teeming with history. As an intern living in Capitol Hill, I thrilled each time I passed the Supreme Court steps during my morning walk. And for you Lincoln fans, you know Mary Surratt’s Boarding House – the focal point for the conspirators’ candlelit meetings planning the assassination? That house is now a Chinese restaurant that I walk by on my way home from the gym.
I love the fact that each neighborhood in the District has its own distinct personality. Last week, I had the opportunity to host my cousin Bobby while he was in town for a medical school conference. Since he’d seen all the monuments and museums on a previous visit, I tried to round out his DC experience by spending each day in a different area. During his four-day stay, we:
- Enjoyed a nice Italian dinner at a downtown restaurant frequented by Hilary Clinton;
- Walked along the quaint brick-lined streets of Georgetown inspecting the expensive wine selection at Dean and Deluca and sampling a tasty treat at Georgetown Cupcakes;
- Split an “adult” milkshake in a 1960s-themed diner along U Street, an area that is famous for its music venues, quirky vintage shops, and authentic Ethiopian food; and
- Battled animated foes as our favorite Simpsons and TMNT characters in a retro arcade-slash-bar in the eclectic H Street neighborhood.
As a relatively new Washingtonian, I still have a lot to explore and discover about my city. For example, I have little experience with the South West/Waterfront neighborhood. Dubbed “the little quadrant that could” by its enthusiasts, the area has seen a lot of growth in recent years. Eager to become acquainted with every corner of the District, in drafting the New Things List I made sure to include New Thing #32 – Buy and Prepare Seafood Purchased at the Wharf (the Maine Avenue Fish Market in SW).
I will say that I wish I had picked a nicer weekend for this adventure – my Sunday morning outing at the Wharf was cold, grey and damp. However, the attendants at the stands seemed happy to be there and cheerfully answered my rather naive questions (“What is a not-too-fishy tasting fish?” and “What is the difference between a sea scallop and a bay scallop?”). As I considered my purchase, the Maryland blue crabs leered from their crates – waving minute but menacing claws. Despite their glares, I didn’t feel quite prepared to toss a live animal into boiling water. Accordingly, I bought enough Flounder and Bay Scallops to feed three people. I then walked along the waterfront, wishing that this stubborn winter would give way to spring (and that I owned a boat for when it did!).
Later that evening, I set to the task of cooking dinner for two friends. The menu consisted of: pan-seared flounder with lemon and pepper, bacon-wrapped scallops, sauteed brussels sprouts and spaghetti squash. Incidentally, learning to make spaghetti squash is also on the New Things List. (It is a delicious vegetable, you should try it!) I opted for microwaving the squash, and after scraping out the strands with a fork, sauteing the insides with some butter and garlic. As a novice cook, I found myself stressing as I attempted to prepare four dishes at once. Although each task was relatively simple by itself, I found it difficult to time everything perfectly. I ended up calling in reinforcements to turn over the flounder fillets while I tended to the vegetables.
Initially, I saw preparing this meal as an opportunity to practice for New Thing #4 – Throw a Dinner Party. Now, I’ve decided to host that gathering potluck style by preparing a main-dish/dessert and welcoming each of my friends to bring a side. To all those “top chefs” out there who can whip up a more complex meal without breaking a sweat, I salute you!
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