| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn RSS Feed

Development News

District Fishwife on the hook for early January opening in Union Market

Union Market. The District Fishwife is opening in the eastern side of the building, as pictured

District Fishwife owner Fiona Lewis, second from right, fishing with her dad and sisters in 1974

Stall under construction

Upon arriving in Washington from her native Australia about four years ago, Fiona Lewis kept asking her American spouse, Ben Friedman, where the markets were.
Not the grocery stores, mind you, but the food-shopping centers a la Eastern Market – with stalls from which individual purveyors of fish, meats, produce, dairy products and baked goods sell their specialties.
“The Queen Victoria Market [in Lewis’ hometown of Melbourne] has ten seafood purveyors, ten meat purveyors,” she says. Places like that, she said, “are vibrant and exciting. Everything’s really fresh.”
Lewis, 42, the proprietor of the forthcoming District Fishwife, found a taste of home in Union Market, where her sustainable seafood shop will open in January.
“I’ve been fishing since I could stand up,” she tells Elevation DC. In addition, she’s been working in restaurants serving seafood here and back home in Oz for decades, so you can expect a mixture of fresh fish, cooking expertise and prepared seafood dishes at the forthcoming Fishwife.
Sustainability “was something my father instilled in me,” she explains. “He spent many years breeding and re-releasing the Murray cod” – Australia’s largest freshwater fish, and one of its most endangered. 
To that end, Lewis says that the District Fishwife will offer ten or 12 items at a time, including prepared dishes like lobster rolls and Australian-style seafood cocktail, enhanced with housemade tartar sauce and other condiments, and sustainably caught fish from fishermen Lewis is sourcing even now.
Sustainable is not always synonymous with local, she points out. “We’ll be staying as local as possible,” meaning fish caught on the Eastern Seaboard whenever the opportunity arises. But the District Fishwife will also be bringing in items from Alaska, as long as those fishing it are adhering to sustainable practices, such as refraining from using methods that result in a great deal of “bycatch,” – the sea creatures caught unintentionally – and often killed – during the harvesting of a different species.
District Fishwife will also use biodegradable bags for its offerings and recycled paper in which to wrap the fish it sells for customers to take home and cook.
“I really love the vibe of Union Market,” says the Brookland resident and parent of an active three-year-old.  “We live really close by this place, and we’d been coming here often enough that I started to think, ‘Why not here?’”
She sums up her attitude toward cooking fish, honed through years in commercial kitchens near the sea: “When it’s fresh, keep it simple.” 

Read more articles by Amy Rogers Nazarov.

Amy Rogers Nazarov is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist with more than 25 years experience as a staff reporter and a freelance writer, covering technology, adoption, real estate, and lifestyle topics from food & drink to home organizing. Her byline has appeared in Cooking Light, The Washington Post, Slate, Washingtonian, The Writer, Smithsonian, The Washington Post Express, The Baltimore Examiner, The Sacramento Bee, Cure, The Washington Times, Museum, and many other outlets. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors and tweets at @WordKitchenDC.
Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts

Related Project