Yesterday was another rainy Sunday. That’s fine, really. We’ve had the driest Winter that I can recall for some time. The city, and my garden, could certainly use the moisture beating. But I’m so anxious for sunshiny days and hitting the streets on my new, extremely cool, bike (with a basket!).
When it’s chilly and it rains, especially if you’re an Angeleno, accustomed to arid, sunny days ninety percent of the time, ordinary tasks turn into intrepid endeavors: letting the dogs out, checking the mail, getting gas. I get especially miffed when I’m all out in it, physically huddled inwards, scurrying towards cover, and then that One, Humongous, Drop of Rain hits me square in the one exposed inch of my skin, on the back of my neck. It’s just a drop of rain, but it really gets my goat. It sends chills throughout my entire body.
When the weather is like this we also tend to turn inward. It beckons a fire, a crossword and a stack of magazines. Jammies and a ceramic mug of hot tea. Spontaneity is unrealistic and gatherings must be deliberate. And although I knew Sunday was going to be crazy pouring rain, I also had a couple of events I knew I wanted to attend, rain or shine.
The first engagement was a stop at La Weekend for coffee, quiche and lumples - and to support my Mom. So after sleeping in as much as we could, letting the dogs out, and checking the mail, Fred and I bundled up, scurried out to the car (during which time the One Humongous, Drop of Rain hit me square in the one exposed inch of my skin, on the back of my neck. It sent chills throughout my entire body. It got my goat.) Then, of course, we had to stop and get gas as well. And a newspaper.
But then, drenched and wilted, we arrived at La Weekend, and suddenly entered a space that restimulated our sense of smell and reminded us of color and tastes: of rich coffee and sweet pecan pie. As we peeled off our wet coats and shook off our umbrellas my mom greeted us both with a kiss. While we sipped our coffees we shared a healthy slice of quiche baked with bacon, gruyere and spinach and a lumple filled with creamy pimiento cheese. The room was warm and the air danced with jazzy sounds from the stereo.
And a few hours later, after braving the flooded blocks of Melrose, and bad drivers with too much bravado, we arrived at our second engagement: Domaine LA for their Rosé and oyster tasting. We weren’t even certain that it would still be happening, the rain was coming down so hard. But Fred and I opened the door to see a room filled with happy, smiling and welcoming people - everyone was full of fresh oysters and tipsy from rosé. Now, together, undistracted by the sounds of the street, the pouring rain, we were all committed to our present time. We were enlivened by community. This day, this rain had become a recognition of a season and, moreover, that we need each other.
So stuffed with wonderful snacks and wine, Fred and I went back to his house to finally turn inward. Though the rain had actually stopped and the city's skyline was crisp, clear, bright and saturated with color, we put on our cozies, cranked up the heat, and, while we worked on the crossword together, I made a soup.
I love Sundays.
Rustic Cremini Mushroom Soup with Chives & Basil Oil
1 large shallot, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons bacon drippings
2 Tablespoons butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped cleaned, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
¼ cup cream sherry or Madeira
6 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste
Basil oil and chopped chives for garnish
Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop.
Heat the bacon drippings and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the shallot, garlic, celery, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add mushrooms and continue to sauté for another 10 minutes.
Add chicken stock and cook down on medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the sherry.
Using an immersion blender puree soup until smooth.
Add lemon juice, remaining butter and salt & pepper to taste. Using a sparse amount of sifted flour, thicken to your liking.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with finely chopped chives and a drizzle of basil oil.
One year ago: Nutter Butter Cookies
Two Years ago: The Grill 'Em All Truck