One particular gripe I’ve heard time and again from people at the airport is that it seems so darned hard to get some decent food or drink while waiting for one’s flight. It’s almost always greasy fast food served at an off temperature or packets of processed chips and things; watered-down fizzy drinks sans the wonted fizz, and coffee that has pretty much lost the bulk of what made it coffee in the first place.
When I was in Iloilo, however, there was one particular place that pretty much changed my opinion of airport food: JD Bakeshop and Cafe.
JD is something of an Iloilo institution, being one of the bigger establishments with branches scattered throughout the city. It serves up reasonably priced meals which are amazingly delicious. Case in point: the wild mushroom soup, a seasonal offering, paired with JD’s signature garlic biscocho (think of it as a savory rusk made with plenty of garlic-infused butter). It is an amazingly rich soup considering how, at the time, it only went for about P 50.00 a bowl! They use fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter with plenty of sweet onions, some garlic, and quite a bit of pepper. The resulting puree is rich, lush, and definitely the sort of thing you need to warm you up for travelling on a cold, rainy night.
Their coffee offerings are none too shabby, either. I ordered a triple-chocolate macchiato to sip whilst waiting to board my flight back to Manila. It was, to be totally honest, lovely: a shot of proper, just-brewed espresso mixed with chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, and hot chocolate milk. It came topped with whipped cream, more chocolate syrup, and a dusting of even more cocoa powder. The resulting drink was smooth and rich – like a mocha you’d get from any of the swankier multinational coffee chains. But, at P 45.00 only for a medium-sized sipper, it gave more bang for my bucks.
Since JD is a bakeshop by trade and avocation, the shelves and chilled cases were filled with a wealth of baked goods ranging from such Iloilo classics as biscocho, butterscotch bars, and barquillos (wafer rolls) to original treats such as the garlic biscocho and an astonishing variety of traybakes that went for as low as P 10.00 a piece.
It was pretty hard to pick, seeing how there were at least ten to fifteen kinds of cake chilling in the display case when I was there. But I picked the most tempting and intriguing examples of the whole lot.
The popcorn butterscotch bar was one; the truffle bar was the other. The former is a salty-sweet treat with a bit of a crunch: popcorn tossed in salted butter coated with a rich caramel fudge. It was surprisingly tasty, but it was the truffle bar that really got me as it was a properly stodgy bit of brownie made rich and unctuous with two kinds of chocolate, brown sugar, and crushed peanuts.
Now, if only other [domestic] airports could take a cue from the JD and start offering equally lovely food at equally competitive prices…