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Today’s Petulant Pairings conversation welcomes a successful and well-loved Vancouver restauranteur, the owner of the city’s top tapas room, España, in Vancouver’s West End.

Before talking petulant pairings with Edward, we had some interesting conversation about his culinary inspiration, his mother, Chef Tatum, who raised him and his brothers in London on the type of good hearty fare that we don’t commonly see at the family dinner table these days – not in North America at least. I for one, haven’t ever had the privilege of being fed stuffed heart, for example, not as a child, not ever. But I’m okay with that. You can’t have everything.

Back to tapas and the warm and intimate room Edward and his team have created where a loyal following of “regulars” relies on them as trusted culinary guides. Edward made such an important point when he talked about the value of involving your host by asking their guidance and advice to enhance your own dining experience. After all, a host worth his or her salt knows their food and wines better than anyone.

Putting your dining experience in the hands of your host is a leap of faith. They may guide you to mind-blowing discoveries you’d have never imagined, or you may take a chance and be left decidedly underwhelmed by the experience. Just like in life, your philosophy may be to stay within the safety your predictable comfort zone or you can bust out of it and try something new which may or may not work out well.

With Edward, we spoke about some of the more surprising pairings he has experienced, and he shared some pairings of his own that I’m sure many of you will find genuinely petulant – at least at first blush!

When I heard about his anchovy toast pairing with fino sherry, skeptical (but curious), I marched right down to España to try it for myself – I wanted to feel like I was living my life taking risks and breaking through the comfort of “sure things” like his stunning paella or the always amazing charcuterie boards… (yes, I really was living on the edge there that night!). The bartender poured me a tiny taste of the sherry and I actually didn’t like it. I didn’t. So, I pivoted to a Cava – there, in an instant, went my great living-on-the-edge ambition…

My beautiful anchovy toasts arrived and the bartender, who clearly knows her craft well, gently suggested I try another tiny taste, this time with the anchovy toasts, as initially intended. It was magic. The chemistry was incredible. The flavours danced together in a way that touched my mind, body and soul. It took me a few tries to really trust but I am sure glad my guide stuck with me and led me to this new experience I won’t soon forget!

Trust is a common theme that we’re seeing when it comes to the restaurant business or hospitality in general. It’s always personal. The attentiveness, the customer-focused approach means everything and from what I’ve heard from Edward Perrow and also from Chef Samir Hirichi and GM Shane McDermott in New York’s Hudson Valley that’s the key foundation to maintaining solid relationships with your guests (and in life too!).

I hope you enjoy this Petulant Pairings conversation – at the end, you’ll also learn what wine Edward feels he resembles!

About Petulant Pairings:

…we all know what they say about “rules” – sometimes they’re better off bent!

What is a “Petulant Pairing”?

This is an expression that came to mind when I was thinking about unorthodox match-ups, pairings that may not be considered “proper pairings” to some because they don’t adhere to the traditional rules for pairing food with wine, or because they’re new.

Most often those pairing “rules” came to be because of common sense. For example, white wine with fish because many types of fish are quite light and you don’t want a powerful and magnificent Barolo walloping it beyond recognition at dinner!

We can use a pairing approach that highlights similarities in aroma, texture or spiciness (an earthy mushroom dish with an earthy wine like pinot noir). Another approach highlights the harmony of opposites (salty or spicy Asian food with an off-dry gewürztraminer). Then we have a regional pairing phenomenon where local food is simply eaten with its local wines “what grows together goes together” (a hearty beef brasato with the above-mentioned magnificent Barolo).

So, just as “official” wine pairing norms can be varied, we can encourage our tasting room guests to experiment with an open mind and guide them to listen to what their senses are telling them. Hopefully, this will make your guests feel more at ease, and trust you as their guide to discovering what’s good – for them. Ideally, a good pairing (at the table and in life!) celebrates both elements. But you can stretch those rules and still really enjoy your meal.

Petulant Pairings…the Series

With this series showcasing Petulant Pairings we aim to encourage an open-minded and adventurous approach to food and beverage pairing.

That’s precisely the foundation of Beyond the Wine:

Specialized training programs that coach tasting room ambassadors to make their visitors feel comfortable and at ease.
Teaching guests to trust their unique palates, free of intimidation or hesitation.
Guiding guests through the amazing experience of your wonderful wines!

Please reach out if you have a Petulant Pairing to share or if you’d like to talk about how we create tasting room rockstars that will turn your guests into enthusiastic fans and engaged, loyal members of your winery family.