Clivehaddow's Blog




The Retreat Tamworth Venue of the French Lunch

Following on in the french theme – Di and I were invited to a FRENCH LUNCHEON by “The Tamworth Wine Club”. You may remember about 2 months ago we attended their dinner at one of the restuarants (see previous Blog Posts) 

This time it was held at Peter and Sandy’s Place. They own the only 5 star B&B in Tamworth called “The Retreat”. Here is the link to see their site for further details  

The Retreat 

It is an unusual place but very tastefully done and has real character. Only place to stay in Tamworth! 

Sunday 15th August start time 1.00pm “sharp” for a glass of bubbly served the traditional napoleon fashion  (Regular friends and readers will know that this is my party trick. (Opening the champagne with a sword.)  Glass of bubbles and canapés on arrival in addition to a 4 course lunch with a glass of matched wine with 3 of the courses. 

Menu- Gourgers  (Burgundy vineyard speciality) 

Pate Foie gras 

Gratinee Normande (French Onion Soup) 

 Chicken with tarragon and mushroom duxelle crepes 

Watercress with vinaigrette 

The diners

 Tarte au chocolat vanilla bean ice cream and fresh strawberry 

Di and diners

Marron Glace 

The lunch started at 1pm and I think the last people would have left around 7pm – so a great looong lunch.The food was tasty and well paced with a good selection of wines to go with every course – including the deserts. A lot of thought and effort was put into the day – in the past they have relied on restuarants and chefs but this time decided to take turns in doing the cooking themselves. The Food/Wine and Venue was a credit.     

Richard and Robbie with Di and I

 We all were well hosted by Richard and Robbie who did a great job with the food and wine.  Peter and Sandy from The Retreat were also hard working to make sure everyone was happy and attended to. 

Peter and Sandy with Di and I

There was about 24 people at the lunch which started with the opening of champagne out in the garden with fantastic Canapes! I opened the champagne with a large knife which was brought by one of the diners – then got a few people there to try it. For the people who have not seen it I thought a little history might be appropriate. 

The Legends of ”The Noble Art of Sabrage”  

There are several legends to the story of Sabrage or Sabering Champagne.
One says that when the officers of Napoleon’s army returned home after a victory, cheering townspeople would hand bottles of Champagne
as tokens of their appreciation for their victory and gallantry.
Since the soldiers were mounted on horseback it was difficult to hold the reins of the horse and remove both the foil, wire basket (muselet) around the cork and the cork (bouchon) at the same time, so the soldiers simply took out their sabers and struck it against the lip of the bottle with an upward blow and sabered off the cork. Voilà!

Another says Mme. Clicquot (the widow Clicquot), in order to have her land protected, gave Napoleon’s officers Champagne
and glasses. Being on their horses, they couldn’t hold the glass while opening the bottle.
Consequently, they tossed the glasses away, and took their sabers out and sabered off the top and cork and drank from the bottle. Voilà!

In more scientific terms, it is the meeting of the glass lip (annulus) at the top of the bottle just below the cork (bouchon) with a firm tap of a sabre’s edge and at the weakest point of the glass seam in the bottle. When performed on a suitably chilled bottle of Champagne, the cork and glass annulus fly away, spilling little of the precious Champagne. The pressure inside a bottle of Champagne
(100psi) ensures that no glass falls back into the bottle making it safe to drink the spoils.
There may be no dashing dragoons, happy hussars or lascivious lancers to sabrage the bottle, except for a few of us that have continued this proud tradition. I consider the sabre a good substitute for the sprained wrist and napkin when opening the bottle and, more especially, a very spectacular way of celebrating CHAMPAGNE!
As such, “The Noble Art of Sabrage” was born and the rest, they say, is history.

A Vos Sabres! 

Venue of the Sabrage

“The Retreat” Tamworth Our venue for great canapés, food,wine and the “Champagne massacre”

 A great lunch and we will remember TAMWORTH with fond memories.  

Until next time 




August 24, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. that`s up to you!!!!!

    Comment by Hildegard + Willy | August 24, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hey Clive. Great party trick. Will have to get together and teach me, sometime.

    Comment by Stuart | September 2, 2010 | Reply

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