I faced what I would call a “champagne problem”as I sat down to write this blog post. I have had so many awesome dining experiences lately, I have a backlog of inspiration. I had to pick one for now, though. And you know it wasn’t hard to do given the memories of this past weekend. I dedicate this blog post to some of my closest and longest female friends. And oyster po’ boys. The month of May for me is a nonstop celebration of life of some of the greatest friends I have. I started noticing it about 5 or 6 years ago. I am undeniably drawn to Taurus women. They make up about 90% of my closest girlfriends! I can certainly draw a parallel between them all. They are grounded. They are women of substance. They are determined, self-reliant, and perseverant. They believe that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, and I deeply revere that about them. I am drawn to their strength and loyalty, and I am thankful that somehow, I stand back and notice that I am surrounded by them. Just like I am pictured below. You ladies are such a treasure and I love you.
There are some friends in life (if you’re lucky) who have known you through your best, your worst, and everything in between. And they still love and respect you unconditionally. You can put thousands of miles and several years between you, and when you finally connect again, it’s as if no time passed at all. You meet each other right where you are, with love and gratitude, and in our case, raucous laughter and strong cocktails. So, when Andrea flew in from D.C. for the weekend, I knew where I needed to take her. It’s funny–not knowing that I had picked Andrea up from the airport and was planning the day, Maribeth sent me a text that read: “Hummingbird?” Great minds. Hummingbird on a Saturday afternoon is kind of our thing. What a pleasant realization to arrive and see the Queen of Hummingbird, Coleen, sitting on the patio enjoying a snack and a cappuccino. She’s also a Taurus, naturally. She and Maribeth actually have the same birthday. Two of my best friends born on the same day. Imagine that.
Maribeth and I always know what we will be having when we go to Hummingbird on our Saturday visits. I remember our first Hummingbird Saturday distinctly. I had the muffuletta and Maribeth had the oyster po’boy and we split them. The muffuletta was damn fine, but that oyster po’boy… Just wow. Greg Cox, local N&O food critic who hands out praise sparingly cannot help but agree. You know those Saturdays when you sleep in, make a French press, start your day at a gloriously leisurely pace, then decide you are hungry and call your best friend to go out for a little hair of the dog and some lunch? Hummingbird is our special place. Being single, childless, and thrilled about it in your 30s is rare, but y’all need some vicarious lifeforms, right? I’m fairly certain that Maribeth and I are on a solid path to becoming Patsy and Edina from Absolutely Fabulous. I first saw that show when I was a teen, and I immediately admired them and wanted to be just like them when I grew up. Wild and free, with lots of champagne. So far, so good! I like to add extra hot sauce to my Bloody Mary. Hummingbird serves pickled shrimp in theirs (yum!!). Depending on my mood, Aperol spritz is my other favorite day drink. That’s what I had this time. I was trying to stay on the lighter side since we had a big day ahead. We had already had a bottle of sparkling rosé during our pedi/mani right before lunch immediately after Andrea’s touchdown in RDU (yes, I know how to host a friend who rarely gets away from her young children for girl time;)).
Y’all already know how I feel about oysters. I like them anyway I can get ’em. I have a secret. I never really paid much attention to a po’ boy sandwich my entire life until now. And I know why. It’s the bread. I’ve tried a few po ‘boys here and there in my day. They are usually served on some dry-ass hoagie roll passed off as a french loaf. Nope. Nope. Nope. I don’t even really care for bread all that much. The secret to Coleen’s po’ boy is Leidenheimer French bread and that Duke’s mayonnaise, baby. If you are from the South, then you know that Duke’s mayo is a standard. Miracle Whip is a sham that should be banished. I once ordered an egg & cheddar with mayo bagel in some Midwestern U.S. airport and they put Miracle Whip on it… Much to my chagrin after a bite, I noticed that it was not mayo at all, it was the bogus sham spread. I scraped it off and tried to forget about it. Alas, I have been scarred. People seem to be pretty passionately divided on this topic. Either you love or hate Miracle Whip, or you love or hate mayo, or you are a vegan. I believe that Duke’s mayo is the finest thing to ever happen to a tomato… A summertime homegrown tomato sandwich with Duke’s mayo, and salt & pepper is a delicacy. Clearly, I am passionate about mayo. It’s my favorite condiment. Duke’s or bust, baby.
Coleen gets it–despite the fact that she’s from the Midwest. She orders the bread for her po’ boys from New Orleans, where the Leidenheimer family has been making it for over 100 years. They invented the po’ boy sandwich, so it is proper that she insists on this standard. I’ll tell you that there simply isn’t any other way. Check out the history of the po’ boy, born in NOLA. Her po’ boy is simple, it’s fresh, and the fried oysters on top of ripe tomatoes layered on a slathering of Duke’s on that bread with some shaved iceberg and a few shakes of hot sauce… dayum. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine sure is as I lay in bed typing this. I crave this sandwich at least once a week, and I am so glad it’s become our Saturday tradition. Move over, Bojangles. There’s a new hangover cure in town. And it’s served with Zapp’s New Orleans kettle style potato chips.
Meet you at the ‘bird around 1pm on Saturday, MB?