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Some serious peanut butter and jelly

bkilgore@uccs.edu

Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Updated: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 10:09

PBJ

Carrie Woodruff

With options that range from ginger to peppers, this isn't your mother's PB&J

I have to admit that I have never been what you would call a "PB&J kind of a guy." I have no objection to creamy-fruity-goodness, especially in a frugal form with a cool glass of strawberry milk; it's just that growing up, my father always cooked fairly elaborate meals. Because I learned to do the same, it wasn‘t until I met a group of patchouli wearing students here at UCCS that I learned to appreciate the pleasures of the PBJ.

James Killebrew and Chris McAdams have taken the peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a completely new level. At OPB&J, downtown on Bijou St. the menu is simple. For $5 choose from a variety of high quality breads, peanut butters and jellies. For only a dollar more additional toppings are available; you can use these to make one of their signature sandwiches or one of your own. Cold boxes of Horizon organic milk flavors complete the meal.

McAdams explained that they are not trying to outdo Colorado Spring's sandwich shops, but want to provide a "healthy option" using a timeless favorite. They also want to promote a homegrown, local retail location where the public can purchase the same organic peanut butters, jellies and loaves of bread that they use in the restaurant.

Healthy really is the mantra as everything is organic, local and fresh. Vegan and gluten-free options are also available. The New Mexico produced organic peanut butters include flavors such as hickory smoked, Thai ginger, spicy southwest, sweet molasses and vanilla cranberry.

The organic jellies from Palisade Colorado include flavors like ginger pear, peach jalapeño, blueberry, strawberry rhubarb and your classic favorites.

Made daily, the fresh "fruit smashes" are a delicious alternative to jelly. "Fruit smashes" are prepared using locally available fruit sweetened with dark blue agave nectar. Two of these are prepared daily in flavors like peach mango, triple berry, granny smith apple with shaved cinnamon and mint peach.

The bread really does hold it all together. Locally-baked Great Harvest bread selections include wheat berry, oat, honey wheat, thick cut sourdough and my favorite, apple pie bread.

They have a variety of signature sandwiches including the Double Decker and The Bomb, which consists of Thai ginger peanut butter with ginger pear jelly and condiments. They were out of Thai ginger peanut butter the day that I went (which is actually a good sign that they are busy), so I opted for the Spicy Southwestern and it did not disappoint. The sandwich consisted of southwestern style peanut butter and peach jalapeño jelly on thick wheat berry bread with finely chopped peppers, crispy lettuce and sprouts. The bread was perfectly soft, the combination of peanut butter and jelly delightfully burned my tongue and the veggies gave the whole thing a firm, filling texture. I wished I had a bowl of chili to dip it in like I learned in the Midwest.

We also tried a more traditional sandwich with hickory smoked peanut butter with both of the fruit smashes of the day on wheat. The sandwich was excellent, but it did not remind me of anything prepared at home. It was a nice treat that belongs in a restaurant.

The location is sound, the interior is inviting, clean and well-presented, the owners and staff are professional, friendly and experienced, and the food is fantastic. Yet the whole thing begs the question; why just peanut butter and jelly? The answer it seems is why the hell not. I'm quite sure that whoever started the first all noodles restaurant probably faced similar objections. These chains are everywhere now.

Whether or not OPB&J will be opening in every new mega-plex is still unclear, but the reality remains that people like PB&J, and judging by the line out the door, they are also willing to pay $5 for a good one.

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