“What is Eggs Benedict?”, Charlotte’s quiet voice barley rang loud enough to be heard over the market’s excited chatter surrounding her. Therefore, it seemed quite strange that the friendly-looking man a couple of metres away turned towards here with a smile and answered with a wink: “Eggs Benedict is everybody’s favourite breakfast food – my wife Andrea’s for example”. His nice tone earned him a shy smile from Charlotte and a puppy-laugh from Barley, who had walked over to shake the man’s hand: “Good morning, Jakub! Let me introduce you to my old school friend Oliver Eggleton, his husband Louis and daughter Charlotte…”
Time seemed to slow down as their little group gathered around Jakub’s stand and ordered their different Eggs Benedict options, for one of the best parts about the market stall was that everybody could customize their own dish. Jakub offered the choice between the classic English muffin or a flourless potato rösti for a base, upon which the poached eggs could be placed alongside bacon, spinach and / or mushrooms. It was a fun idea as it soon had the whole group strategizing and analysing which of the flavours would work best together. Meanwhile – it took them quite a while to make up their minds – Jakub chatted with them happily, describing how he had ended up on this market and in Cape Town overall: “Originally I’m from the Czech Republic and trained as a chef in Prague”, he started explaining and was immediately interrupted by both Eggleton fathers, who had visited the city on numerous occasions and had long admired it for their beauty and good food. The interest only grew once Jakub told them about how he had moved to the United Kingdom after Prague and had run several different restaurants there. As he had always wanted to open his own eatery, however, him and his South African wife had decided to come to Cape Town instead: “We have never looked back!”, he said with a big smile on his face, before turning to another waiting customer. It was not exactly easy to keep a conversation going as group after group of hungry visitors wanted to try Jakub’s Eggs Benedict and yet he always kept his spirits up and returned to their patiently waiting gathering whenever he had time.
“How long have you been here on the market?”, Oliver Eggleton asked at one such occasion, never not trying to get information about different market stalls, as he himself owned a very similar one.
“On this market since 2015. Oranjezicht City Farm Market is probably the best market we had ever visited, with an incredible selection of traders and produce. We knew from our first visit that it is the market we would love to be a part of”, Jakub answered. Before making his dream come true and starting work at the market, he had opened his own shop, Lunchworks*, in 2011 with the goal of providing healthier convenience lunches for office workers in Cape Town’s central business district.
“We only use free-range eggs, beef and chicken and our coffee is organic. We always opt to use local produce and believe in making everything from scratch”, he continued, painting a big smile on Oliver’s face, who had long since started a love affair with high quality organic and local products and was visibly relieved that the egg dish he enjoyed so much used precisely those kinds of ingredients. And it was true, the food tasted amazing and Charlotte wondered why she had never eaten something as delicious before. She had finished her portion – custom designed with an English muffin, bacon and a small side of salad and salsa – in record time! It had had the perfect balance between crunchy and soft, creamy and savoury. The tomato salsa worked surprisingly well to cut through the richness of the dish and the hollandaise sauce had a nice liquid consistency that gave all the punch of it’s lovely flavour, without feeling too heavy.
“That was quick”, her papa smiled at her, knowing full well that his little daughter usually took her time while eating and booked the quick disappearance of the food it as a good sign. His husband. Meanwhile, was still deeply involved in his conversation and was so busy asking and talking, that the second half of his own breakfast was still untouched.
“How did you come up with the idea of specializing on Eggs Benedict and why have you decided to bring them to the market?”
“As I’ve said, Eggs Benedict is my wife’s favorite breakfast and it is also not something one often sees at a market due to the complex nature of hollandaise sauce. We can’t bare commercially produced hollandaise that is so frequent in restaurants these days and are passionate about making our hollandaise from scratch each morning”, it was a fascinating conversation and Charlotte, who considered her life changed after this amazing meal, thought her father could have been a good journalist, given all the questions he was asking. More importantly, though, she liked listening to Jakub’s soothing voice and – having been brought up by a professional chef and a market lover – could truly appreciate his answers, despite her young age. Like her father, she appreciated the local and organic approach and had already started working on a plan on how to get their little group to come back as soon as possible. She had quite literally fallen in love with Eggs Benedict.
All too soon, their time at the market was coming to a close, however – Barley had a strict master plan of all the other things he still wanted to show his guests – and so the Eggletons bid their farewell to Jakub, thanking him one last time for his amazing food and promised to visit him again, should their lives ever lead them back to Cape Town.