DC is an interesting place to drive. There is a weird combination here of people who learned to drive in the north and people who learned to drive in the south, plus a confusing street naming system that requires you to know where you are in relation to the Capitol building and a wealth of tourists. The combination is really not great.
I myself have a pretty good sense of direction, and I found this city easy to learn. That said, I prefer to not deal with virtually nonexistent parking and dodging legions of confused out-of-towners. And then there’s the worst part of driving in DC: getting lost when you know exactly where you are.
This morning I was trying to get to 20th and Constitution NW for DC Yoga Week’s Yoga on the Mall event. I had, against my better judgement, chosen to drive so that I could leave my mat in the car and go for a run afterwards. In the course of looking for parking, I found myself forced from a regular street directly onto a highway on two separate occasions. Two. Roads just turned into highways and there was no way to get off of them until the next “exit.” The second time, I was forced over a bridge with no warning and I was suddenly in Virginia.
In frustration, I turned off and pulled into the parking lot for Theodore Roosevelt Island, which sits in the middle of the Potomac River on the Virginia side. By this time I didn’t want to return to parking hell. So I got out of the car and decided to go for my run on the island instead.
It turned out serendipitous. I’d never visited the island before, but it turns out it’s a gorgeous trail oasis. The air feels clean and it’s small enough to not worry about getting lost. There were some hikers out for morning walks, but it was a welcome respite from crowded runs in downtown DC.
After I’d calmed down a bit, I got a text from a friend at the yoga session saying they were just getting started. So I gave parking one more try and got there for the last hour of the event.
Such a lovely day called for something crisp and refreshing to eat, and Camilla had chosen a perfect recipe for this week’s Food Matters Project: Stir-Fried Fennel and Pink Grapefruit with Shrimp. I was in more of salmon mood, so I swung through the fish market to pick some up. I got a salmon steak instead of fillet because I love how smooth and buttery they are when broiled or seared, although some people don’t like having to pick around the skin and bones.
I’d never tried fennel before, and I asked the man at the booth I bought it from at Eastern Market what it tasted like. He found it hard to describe, and now that I’ve tried it I know what he means. The original recipe called for just the bulbs, but I used the whole plant and really enjoyed the flavor. A bit like licorice, but lighter. It worked especially well with the crisp citrus fruit.
Check out the rest of the Project members’ takes on this one here. I’m sure there will be some creative ones this week!
Stir-Fried Fennel, Pink Grapefruit and Orange with Salmon
2 tablespoons + 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 fennel bulb, stalks and leaves, sliced thinly and chopped
1 grapefruit, peeled and chopped
1 orange, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Thai chili paste
1 lb salmon steaks
Preheat the broiler. Brush the salmon steak with one tablespoon of oil on each side, then sprinkle salt and pepper over each side. Put the salmon on crinkled foil under the broiler. The amount of time it takes to cook will vary according to its thickness and proximity to the broiler, but when the top is brown flip it over and cook the other side. When both sides are brown, cut into it to see if it’s cooked through.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, ginger, and garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the fennel and cook for another few minutes. Stir in the grapefruit, orange, soy sauce and chili paste and simmer until the fennel is cooked through. Serve alongside the salmon steaks once they’re done.