As an avid Gourmandise, my heart yearns to find that one dish that leaves its indelible mark on my conscience, and to find a restaurant that follows through on the promise of being the "next best place to eat." The struggle that comes with being an up to snuff home cook, is finding a restaurant that serves food that tastes better than what I can make at home. Sadly, I'm disappointed time and again, with what restaurants represent as fine, great or even good food, and more often than not, I leave the establishment unsatisfied, wanting more. In any event, occasionally I walk into the most unassuming place, and find a real treasure; such is the case for Juju's Bakery and Café.
Juju's Café opened on Monday, Dec. 10, at 1619 Coalton Road, in Rock Creek Village shopping center, in Superior, Colorado. It was a month after they opened that I finally stopped in with the intention of purchasing a quick cup of coffee and a small pastry.
The moment I stepped into Juju's I was confronted by the smells of fresh baked bread, coffee and an array of pleasant staff, all aglow with warm smiles. The staff was so friendly and welcoming, I found myself feeling a little giddy, and hoping the food was a good as the people were nice.
Since my mind was set on taking it "slow", I decided to order an espresso, and while contemplating my pastry choice, I was approached by a petite, wide eyed woman, bearing a winning smile. She welcomed me to the new restaurant and introduced herself as Kristen Mansure. In an instant, we were engaged in conversation as she began to walk me though menu possibilities; Juju's artisan breads, organically grown coffees from Boulders own, Conscious Coffees, hand crafted Sanctuary Chai Teas, and an array of Juju's freshly baked pastries. "We use as many organic and locally grown ingredients as possible, and serve a menu filled with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free choices," Kristen said. "All food preparation is done in the oven or sautéed, you will not find a deep fryer in our kitchen!"
By the time I took my first sip of espresso we were seated at a table, engrossed in conversation and chattering on like we'd known each other our whole lives. Sharing our love of food and passion for all things culinary, I learned that Kristen was the owner of Juju's Bakery and Café with her husband David Mansure. What started as a quick taste expedition became an adventure into the lives and minds of this gracious couple and a gastronomic delight.
Indisputably evident, food and the art of sharing it with friends and family is a powerful source of common ground.
I'm always curious about how restaurant names are brought into existence; happily, David related the story. "Blessed with two young children that provide the inspiration for our company, the name JuJu's comes directly from a pet name I've had for my daughter Stasha." David said, "Way back when, I used to always get a box of JuJu Bee candies and I'd try to finish them before the movie was over. I loved them so much that I started referring to all things good as having "Good JuJu", or "oh, now that'll bring some good JuJu into your life."
David continued, "Consequently, JuJu has come to mean anything that is good, happy or brings about good things in life. So if you are sitting in our café and you overhear me saying names like, JuJu ButterBeans, or JuJuBeans, or JuJu CherryLemondrop...Then look around for the sweetest little, blonde haired, blue eyed, 8 year old, angel and you'll know where the name came from."
Prior to moving to Colorado and opening Juju's, David and Kristen lived in Santé Fe New Mexico. They worked in the Hospitality and Tourist industry, where they owned and operated a 27 bedroom Bed and Breakfast establishment. I learned that Kristen is a world traveler, fluent in French, holding a BA in International Studies and has spent a great deal of her younger years living in Paris France.
Although not formally trained, David feels as comfortable cooking in the kitchen as he does mingling with the customers in the dining room. David prides himself on being a rare crossover of both Cook and Artisan Baker. He has led a successful career in internet business, hospitality and tourism, and commercial photography in New York City. After suffering from some heath issues, David began changing his diet and over the past few years has become a Vegan. Understanding deeply the restrictions that come with a special diet, David has endeavored to use his hand crafted sourdough starter, to create a "cold ferment", naturally gluten free bread, containing thousands of live cultures, safe enough even for the most severe gluten intolerant person. This cold fermented sourdough claims to come out of the oven containing live flora. David's theory on the unlikely combination of high gluten bread flour and naturally wild yeast that ferments for 3 weeks, results in a bread that is alive in every sense of the word. And as David puts it, "If you eat something that is alive, then you continue to be alive."
Successful entrepreneurs, Kristen and David are also creator/owners of Young Ambassadors of America. A transformational travel experiences for students, and those who are young at heart, which open the heart and mind to new ideas, cultures, languages, places and experiences creating a greater appreciation and participation in the global community. Kristen Mansure
Years of adventure, and hospitality experience have blended flavors from exotic destinations culminating in Juju's diverse menu. Juju's menu boasts traditional French comfort foods such as, Monte-Cristo Sandwich, ham, turkey and Swiss baked in French toast with strawberry jelly, Croque Monsieur, ham and cheese sandwich with Béchamel sauce and Juju's version of Croque Madam, with the addition of an egg cooked on top; Banh Mi, a Vietnamese pork sandwich, assorted Paninis, assorted Artisan Pizzas expertly made, some using traditional fresh made tomato sauce and others wearing a Spanish Sofreto sauce (base of Paella), as well as an array of traditional breakfast fare including, Breakfast Burritos, Pancakes & Belgian Waffles, Eggs and Omelets.
Executive Pastry Chef, Jamie Warburton, indulged me with a moist, and delicious Limóncello Cake as well as a taste of her Vegan, Dye and Gluten Free, Red Velvet Cupcakes. Jamie makes the Limóncello from scratch adding another element of homemade goodness, to this dreamy cake. I would have never known the cake was Vegan if I hadn't been forewarned.
Jamie desires to use her culinary prowess to make a handcrafted gluten free flour, using a combination of garbanzo, tapioca, potato starch and brown rice flour, to produce a tasty likeness to traditional wheat flours. Jamie related to me, that getting gluten free flour to rise and share the same tender quality as its wheat cousins, can be a struggle. Personally, as a non-baking home cook, I've given up using gluten free flours after several disastrous baking attempts. Persevering, she continues to work at getting the mix just right, eager to produce a light and fluffy cake!
Chris Eastment, has worked in The Kitchen in Boulder and at Denver's Vita over the past eight years, and is now Executive Chef for Juju's. He runs laps between the kitchen to the front of the house, stepping in where ever needed and then back again, to ensure quality food and diner experience are had by all. Graduating from Johnson and Whales in 2005 he states, "I don't do just vegan!" He uses the words "craft food" to express his touch in the kitchen, emphasizing organic, farm to table meals; "real food" with no more than 5 ingredients, and a far cry from his childhood memories of his mother's Tuna Noodle Casserole.
Years of consuming canned and processed foods have given birth to his desire of creating natural home cooked sauces, and foods that are super easy to prepare. Chris relishes the challenges of working in a kitchen where foods are made fresh daily, are adapted on a moment to moment basis to accommodate vegan, vegetarian and gluten free diets as well as, creating new menus. Given his choice, you might find Chris on the line, shoulder to shoulder with his staff creating and perfecting Juju's delicious meals.
A vegan egg scramble, and David's favorite meal, the Garden Harvest Breakfast Burrito is made from a combination of extra firm and soft tofu to create the most egg tasting substitute I've ever eaten. Tomatoes, turmeric, curry, onions and a vegan herb Aioli, bring real punch and flavor to this hearty dish.
The Santé Fe Burrito is like a blast from my past. A delicious take away recipe from my childhood, Hatch green chili egg strata/soufflé, neatly wrapped up in a flour tortilla, with roasted rosemary potatoes, cheddar cheese, salsa fresca and sour cream, is a heart warming breakfast. All of Juju's breakfast burritos are great for those ski mornings when you need a hearty meal before hitting the slopes.
The Mountaineer Skillet proved to be that "one dish that leaves its indelible" mark on my conscience! A transformational breakfast, being the perfect combination of unusual bed fellows. Beet Hash, begins its journey to the table by way of roasted beets, sprinkled with a pinch of salt, drizzled with freshly squeezed orange juice, then toasted in a hot oven to perfection. Black pepper, and a handful of parmesan are seared in a cast iron skillet, creating a flavorful bed for the sautéed grape tomatoes, beets, roasted red potatoes, and thick cut ham chunks, three precisely cooked sunny side up eggs top the hash, finished off with a handful of Havarti cheese, and baked until the cheese slides slowly over the eggs.
The first bite left me speechless! It's been years since I've tasted something so delightfully different. If you've never had beets before this is a must try for your first beet experience. The caramelized ham lends a light smoky flavor to the sweetly roasted beets, the creamy egg yolks and hot melted cheese become the delectable glue that defines this exceptional dish.
Making homemade food virtually from scratch is a tireless proposition, and takes longer to prepare than restaurants accustomed to slapping a pre-made frozen patty on the grill. While dinning at Juju's it's important to come with a big appetite and a little patience, the food is worth the wait!
Thanks to David's fast thinking, the red front door, tables and hard wood surfaces are made from reclaimed wood from the now demolished Flatiron Equestrian Center. Days away from being torn down, to make way for a community tennis court, David had picked the wood to be intertwined into Juju's décor.
In addition to their quality food, and exceptionally friendly atmosphere, Juju's offers a Community room for small groups and a burgeoning catering business.
Serving Breakfast and Lunch all day, everyday from 7:30 am - 3:00 pm
Weekend offering, "Chefs Table" dinners; an up close and personal dinning experience with David Kristen and Chef Chris.
For Catering requests Call 303-515-7126
Email: [email protected]
All photos by Rebecka Evans