Most people don’t associate eating at LuLu’s with a yoga retreat. But Friday afternoon that collaboration manifests with the first ever Yoga Birds weekend retreat, catered by my mother’s restaurant LuLu’s at Homeport.
The retreat has been seven months in the making. I am ready and excited for the yogis to arrive. In the beginning planning stages I forecasted 8-10 folks attending. The coordinator at Camp Beckwith advised me to set my capacity higher, really just to be on the safe side to reserve rooms. So I set it at 20. Fifteen sign-ups in the first two weeks. I called the retreat center again and upped it to 30. I really did not anticipate selling out. But it happened.
This is totally great news, right? Yes. And then well… a couple of months into it, my original plan for catering fell through. And my second choice was not available. Teaching yoga…I got that. Feeding 30 people over an entire weekend…panic mode set in.
Obviously a call to my mom was in order. I needed motherly comfort-words and somebody to tell me ‘everything will work out.’ Plus, she is, after all, THE ultimate dinner-party guru of the Gulf Coast. If yoga is clarity, steadiness, and skill in action, then my mother’s yoga is the ability to feed large numbers of people with brilliant ease and a smile. Hence, the phenomenal success of LuLu’s.
Her restaurant is one of the top tourist destinations in Alabama and one of the highest grossing restaurants in the U.S. Her most famous offerings are her stellar Gumbo and (naturally) the Cheeseburger in Paradise. And although the burger is consciously made with local grass fed beef (which is unheard-of in these parts and in the high-volume restaurant industry in general), it is probably understandable that LuLu’s was not my first choice in doing the food for my all-vegetarian yoga retreat weekend.
Like an awesome mom, she totally stepped up for me, offering to help in any way that she or the restaurant could. In our initial conversation we thought there might be a few items on the LuLu’s menu that we could use. And then the plan was for her to personally work in her home kitchen to make the remainder of what the LuLu’s kitchen could not accommodate.
With yogis in mind, we embarked on detailed menu planning. We pulled items from all areas of the LuLu’s menu. And before we knew it, we had crafted nearly the entire vegetarian yoga retreat menu. We altered a few things by placing cheese and dairy products on the side and making soup with vegetable instead of chicken stock. We did add a couple of ‘outside’ items. But the majority of the meals are ‘ALL LuLu’.
A brief synopsis of the weekend fare is: Friday night, a Greek salad, lentil soup, hummus, and pita. Saturday lunch is a big beautiful garden salad, LuLu’s famous Alabama caviar (pea dip salad), and raw veggies. Saturday dinner is black beans, brown rice, Cantina Salad, guacamole, salsa, and tortilla chips. Sunday is a ‘brown bag’ to-go lunch with my recipe for quinoa salad, an apple, and pita chips. Breakfast is granola, fresh fruit, juices, and muffins.
LuLu’s might be most well known for cheeseburgers, crab-melts, key lime pie, and margaritas. But you don’t have to dig too deep in her menu to find excellent choices fit for a bunch of vegetarian yogis.
It’s easy to be healthy at LuLu’s if you want to. And sometimes it’s fun to indulge in good old-fashioned comfort food. It’s all about balancing discipline and joy. Either way, mom’s got you covered and she’d LOVE to have you over for lunch or dinner this summer. PEACE LOVE YOGA & LULU Y’ALL
Check out mom’s place at www.lulubuffett.com.