We’re now deep in the throes of the dog days of summer. Here at 5,430 feet above sea level, the sun feels like it’s being concentrated through a magnifying glass. In the broad middle of the day, it’s hot in a sharp, piercing kind of way. In the gardens around Boulder Weekly’s office, sunflowers have just started to bloom. This usually signifies the middle of summer, so the heat is on for a good bit longer.
It’s for this reason I’ve been craving salad, veggies, fruits — anything cool — for weeks on end. There’s no way I can go home and turn on an oven. I can’t do that to my cat or myself. But in the summer, we really don’t need to use the oven all that much with a bounty of veggies and fruits at their peak. It’s a beautiful thing how the earth provides us with just the things we need at just the time we need them (a thought I should hold dear in all aspects of my life).
So on a particularly hot afternoon I ventured out with a friend in search of salad. And I didn’t just want any old salad. I was looking for The Epitome of Summer Salad, full of carrots and blueberries and avocado.
We found ourselves at Morning Glory Cafe in Lafayette, where just this kind of salad exists.
Morning Glory’s menu is built to change with the seasons, and their décor seems intended to lift spirits during any season. Salmon-colored walls give the dining area warmth while still creating a bright atmosphere. Colorful paintings on every wall represent local or regional artists. Morning Glory Cafe can make you feel cool in the summer or warmed in the icy heart of winter. And the patio… well, that’s a thing of beauty.
Large, red-cloth umbrellas cast shade over wrought iron chairs and tables. Diners are positioned to gaze out over a quiet grassy space. Morning Glory is located in what might be the coziest shopping center in the world, so sitting on the patio doesn’t make you feel like you’re sitting in the average crowded shopping center. While we lazily sipped ice tea — another stipulation I made when we set out on Operation Epitome of Summer Salad — we watched as someone strolled through the grass with their dog. Birds chirped and butterflies fluttered around looking for nectar. Not the typical shopping center at all.
But back to the mission: a salad. Perusing the list of salads at Morning Glory provided more than a few options, but for me, nothing screamed summer quite like the mango salmon salad.
The fish comes medium rare (or any other temperature you like, but you want the fish to retain that juicy mouthfeel. But hey, I’m not here to lecture), slightly crisp around the edges, atop a bed of fresh greens with grated carrots, shredded beets, sprouts and goat cheese. A side of guacamole and sour cream provide thick, savory accompaniments to the crunch of greens. The warmth of the salmon, with its cool center, creates a perfect contrast to the chilled foundations of the dish. And you can top it all off with a thick emulsion of blueberry vinaigrette.
My best friend — the other one, who wasn’t with me on this particular day — hates salads. Well, she complains they don’t keep her full. That’s not the case with this hefty salad. I was full well past dinnertime.
And the best part was not having to use the oven.
Morning Glory Cafe. 1377 Forest Park Circle, Suite 101, Lafayette, 303-604-6351.