Shaun and Nicole Munro share a Valentine’s Day platter on the pool deck of the Elangeni & Maharani hotel. Zanele Zulu African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - They’ve never been on a Valentine’s Day dinner. For Shaun Munro, exec chef at the Elangeni & Maharani Hotel, and his wife Nicole, the hotel’s deputy general manager, they’re always working.

The couple, who met 20 years ago in the registration queue for Hotel School at the old ML Sultan College, will be doing a double shift to ensure Durban diners get a truly romantic Valentine’s Day experience.

“I’m always working,” Shaun says. “I’m just grateful my loved one is in the industry otherwise I would always be in the dog box.”

But at the end of a long day, they won’t be “ordering room service”. Instead they plan to have some midnight munchies by candlelight.

“We’ll have some cold bubbly when we get home,” Shaun says.

“And some lovely fruit and cheese and maybe some Parma ham and pickles. Maybe strawberries in chocolate,” says Nicole. “Oh and some home-made ice-cream.”

What is his advice on how to impress your Valentine with a perfect meal?

“Oysters are always a winner for your loved one,” Shaun says. “Plus they’re so easy. Simply open them, and this can be done in advance, and serve with Tabasco and lemon wedges. What a pleasure to get starters sorted.”

He recommends serving them with good bubbly. “Together they should put a bit of lead in your pencil,” he jokes.

For mains he suggests getting out the braai. “Most guys know their way better around the braai than they do a frying pan. But this is not your standard boerewors braai,” Shaun says.

“A great piece of fillet on the naked flame should be a little bit romantic,” he says.

Nicole recommended serving it with a very simple pink sauce.

“Take some cream, add a dash of sherry and crushed pink peppercorns and cook until it’s reduced by half,” he says.

Shaun suggests serving it with a simple yet elegant salad of mixed leaves. “Spice it up with some sliced strawberries, black olives and feta with a good vinaigrette. Or add blanched green asparagus or mange tout peas.”

For dessert his winning formula is Turkish delight ice-cream. “Take a tub of good quality vanilla ice-cream,” the chef recommends. “Allow it to thaw a little. Add chopped-up chocolate coated Turkish delight and a few drops of rosewater.

“Mix it up and then swirl through a tiny drop of pink food colouring. Refreeze and you have a winning dessert,” he says.

“You can either serve in pink glasses, or feed her straight out of the tub.”

Independent On Saturday