Duvet Dining

By Malu Lambert

Three little words can show someone how much you care: breakfast in bed. What could be more indulgent than leaning against a fluffy pillow as you eat your first meal of the day? Warm in the knowledge (and the duvet) that someone had to get up before you to make it. 

It’s the ultimate in pampering—enjoying a hot breakfast with a shared newspaper spread across laps while the morning slowly trickles away. Turn up the dial on these sheet soirées; there’s no need simply to serve eggs on toast—get creative with your cooking, and you might stay in bed all day.

In this age of the rock star chef—where knife skills seem to attract as many fans as guitar solos do—a girl can’t help but wonder: what would a chef make for breakfast the morning-after-the-night-before?

Four of South Africa’s most inventive chefs, David Higgs, Brad Ball, Jackie Cameron and Kobus van der Merwe, let us in on some of their bedroom secrets.

Food is Sexy

“No bed should be without bubbles,” says David Higgsexecutive chef of Five Hundred at The Saxon in Johannesburg. The swarthy chef is the recent recipient of Eat Out’s Chef of the Year Award, and his modernist style has earned him many similar accolades. 

His long career (he started out in 1990) has seen him work in numerous lauded establishments. And most recently, in 2011, in a surprising and successful move, he swapped the Cape Winelands for the bright lights of Joburg.

Though his tasting menus revolve around dishes that play with textures and produce to form something new (oyster macaroons for one), David could just as easily enjoy left-over pizza—with those bubbles, of course—and movies in bed. “It’s probably why I’m still single.” 

Though he admits he did propose under the covers: “First time round. It worked, though there was no food involved.”

“In my opinion any food can be sexy or romantic for breakfast in bed,” says David. “It’s how you present the dish and the mood that’s important. Even a T-bone can be sexy. Food is sexy. The scene from the movie 9½ Weeks where Kim Basinger sits in front of an open fridge confirms this…”

The ultimate ingredient? “Laughter. There is nothing better than giggling like kids in bed.”

Five Hundred: The Saxon Hotel, 36 Saxon Road, Sandhurst, Sandton, Johannesburg. Tel. 011-292-6000.

Bubbly Keeps You in Bed Longer

“Breakfast in bed should be a romantic, sensual affair,” says Brad Ball of Bistro Sixteen82. His restaurant has one of the most knock-out breakfast offerings in Cape Town. On the menu you’ll find pork belly bacon and salmon lox cured in-house, oysters, exotic mushrooms piled on rösti, and berries as bright as jewels, served with granola. “Everyone knows my obsession with bacon,” he says, “so you’d think it would be on my ‘breakfast in bed menu’; but bacon isn’t really as sexy as salmon.

“The dish needs to be rich and velvety. I’d make a soufflé omelette with white asparagus, flaked smoked trout and drops of truffle oil.”

What else do you need to complete the effect? “I think there are three very serious accompaniments. You can either have all, or lots of one of them: good quality local Cap Classique, amazing coffee, and freshly-squeezed orange juice. If there’s enough bubbly, of course, it could keep you in bed for a bit longer.”

Brad has some experience eating breakfast horizontal. The story goes: “I was living on a small farm, and my then girlfriend moved the spare-room bed into the field in front of cottage and served us brekkie while the sun rose.”

Currently Brad is in a long-term relationship with ‘the most generous person I know’. “She loves a good back tickle, which I hand out daily. Okay, almost daily.” 

Bistro Sixteen82: Steenberg Estate, Steenberg Road, Tokai, Cape Town. Tel. 021-713-2211.

Flowers From the Garden

The sense of romance is palpable at Hartford House in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. The hotel and restaurant is set in a colonial-style homestead on a lush, green stud farm. This is Jackie Cameron’s realm, where she weaves her special kind of magic.

The multi-award winning chef’s focus is on Midlands produce—and her menus showcase the local bounty. Her relationships with the surrounding farms ensure she’s privy to the freshest cheeses, duck, trout, and much more. Jackie’s food is as creative and quirky as she is (for one, think crispy ham and Gorgonzola incorporated into a dessert).

“I think it’s a spoil just having coffee in bed,” says Jackie. “So breakfast sounds fantastic. I’d love to have a plate of blueberry flapjacks with a chunky berry coulis and crispy streaky bacon accompanied with lots of thickly whipped farm-fresh cream and maple syrup… [laughs]. “If I’m going to get breakfast in bed I expect the whole hog,” she says with a wink. “Though anything freshly baked would be ideal. I’m pretty relaxed, so I would never put in requests.” She adds: “In any event, I would be so impressed, anything would do. A chap making an effort to cook well at home is sexy and definitely good enough for me. Though flowers from the garden and champagne are a must.”

 Hartford House: Hlatikulu Road, Mooi River, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Tel. 033-263-2713.

Keep it Fresh and Local

Kobus van der Merwe likes to do things differently. In an area where fish and chips reign supreme, his restaurant, Oep ve Koep, in Paternoster is a specialised universe of Strandveld cooking.

The chef’s unique take on West Coast cooking sees dishes incorporating produce foraged from sand dunes, among seaside rocks and in scrubby fields. His finds include veldkool, dune spinach, samphire and sea lettuce.

He’s best-known for his signature ingredient, bokkoms (whole fish which has been salted and air-dried), which he elevates in a number of ways. A SASSI champion, Kobus makes his own bokkoms with green-listed maasbanker in place of the traditional haarder.

“I’m usually up too early for the luxury of breakfast in bed,” says the curly-haired chef. “But if I could, I’d enjoy moerkoffie with homemade rusks, toast with bokkom butter, and a boiled egg with a runny yolk.”

What would make a meal in bed special? “Fresh, local and unique ingredients,” says Kobus. “Though I also think it’s more the person cooking the dish and the way they present it that can be romantic, not just the ingredients on their own.”

So what would he make for breakfast in bed? “Scrambled egg on toast with tea-smoked angelfish, wild garlic and fried tomato. To be enjoyed with newspapers and freshly-squeezed vegetable juice, as well as rooibos tea infused with fresh fennel and rose geranium from the garden.”

Oep ve Koep: St Augustine Rd, Paternoster. Tel. 022-752-2105. Follow Kobus on his West Coast odyssey, go to www.sardinesontoast.co.za.

Recipe from Kobus van der Merwe: 

Scrambled Egg on Toast with Tea-smoked Angelfish, Wild Garlic and Fried Tomato

Serves 2

  • 1 tomato, cut in half
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • olive oil, for frying
  • salt, for seasoning
  • 30g salted farm butter
  • 6 farm eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 slices country-style bread, toasted and buttered
  • snoek bottarga, for grating
  • 100g fillet piece of tea-smoked angelfish

  • handful of wild garlic flowers and fresh garden herbs

Fry the tomato halves in a little olive oil and a pinch of salt, until they just start to soften. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the lightly beaten egg and cook, stirring, until it just starts to set.  

Place the buttered toast onto warmed plates. Spoon the soft egg on top of the toast. Season by grating some snoek bottarga over the warm egg. Top the egg with some flakes of smoked angelfish, add the fried tomatoes, and scatter each plate with wild garlic flowers and fresh herbs. Serve immediately.

Oh Crumbs!

 It can be universally agreed upon that breakfast in bed is definitely a treat; though the choice of food could ruin the mood or gesture by making things messy or even perfuming the air with a not-so-pleasant fragrance. To help you avoid a bedroom blunder, we asked our participating chefs what not to make for breakfast in bed.

“Kippers! We don’t want kippers. Please.” – David Higgs

"Definitely no toast, crumbs on the sheets are no fun for anyone.” – Brad Ball

"A bowl of All Bran, I mean, that’s not an occasion.” – Jackie Cameron

"Skip the greasy fry-up.” – Kobus van der Merwe