A bottle to sabre: open your Champagne in swashbuckling style

Food File: soak up the new Dublintown festival, and get a collapsible keepcup

The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin has come up with a novel way of marking the start of the weekend. Every Friday, at 18.24, the hotel's sommelier, Nisea Doddy, will be wielding her ceremonial sabre in dramatic fashion to open a bottle of Champagne by the sabrage method. The chosen time for the weekly ritual is a nod to the date on which the hotel opened for business.

Doddy was recently inducted into the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or, the international organisation that promotes the tradition of sabrage. The process involves opening a bottle of Champagne by means of a single sweep of the sabre, removing the cork and the glass collar around it.

Plucky guests who order a bottle of Champagne at the hotel can now opt to learn the manoeuvre for themselves, or can have the bottle opened tableside by Doddy, or the staff members she has trained.

Dublintown festival

Stephen Gibson, who has been appointed executive head chef at Cafe en Seine, will be cooking with London-based Irish chef Anna Haugh during the new Dublintown Food and Drink Festival, which runs next week (October 15th-21st).


Gibson will be taking on the new role in addition to his duties at Pichet, where he is co-owner, and where Haugh will join him in the kitchen on Sunday, October 21st at 8pm. The pair will collaborate on a six-course tasting menu (€65, including welcome cocktail), as part of the Friends of Pichet series. Cafe en Seine is due to reopen on November 15th, after an extensive redesign.

The programme for the new Dublin festival is about food and drink experiences in the city centre rather than discounts and offers, and there will be events at eating and drinking spots across the city.

Highlights include a kitchen takeover of The Church cafe, bar and restaurant in Dublin 1 by Rachel Allen (three courses, with wine, €60); a series of cooking classes with a global theme at Cooks Academy, with lunch included (12.45pm-2pm, €15); a latte art masterclass at Bewley's (€50), and a chance to shop and cook with TV chef and product developer Kwanghi Chan at Asia Market (€20). The full programme of events is online at foodanddrinkfest.ie.

EatGalway Experience Weekend

With a trio of award-winning restaurants in their stable, JP McMahon and Drigin Gaffey have plenty of scope to build interesting itineraries for the weekend packages they are now offering to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their EatGalway restaurant group.

The EatGalway Experience Weekend kicks off with a Cava and tapas lunch at Cava bodega. The bubbles continue to flow at Michelin-starred Aniar that evening, where a welcome cocktail of sparkling wine wil be followed by a six-course tasting menu. On Sunday, brunch at the newly crowned Bib Gourmand Tartare Cafe and Wine Bar brings a gastronomic weekend to a close. This package costs €250 for two people (€125 per person).

If you prefer to cook as well as eat, a package combining a six-course tasting menu in Aniar, with wine pairings, together with a full-day cooking class in that restaurant’s kitchen the following day, costs €295 per person. Advance bookings are required for both, by emailing food@aniarrestaurant.ie or by telephoning 091-535947.

Collapsible keepcups

Keepcups are all the rage, but these fun Stojo ones have the advantage of being collapsible as well as reusable. They can be compressed to a fraction of their size and throw into a handbag or a pocket after use. They come in a variety of sizes (12oz, RRP €12.95; 16oz, RRP €15.95), and a range of fun colours, and are widely available. Stockists include Brown Thomas, Avoca, Arnotts, The Health Store, and Stock Design.