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Flavor combinations that make you swoon?

  • n

In this world, there are a few flavor combinations that are shockingly delicious to me.

butternut squash/sage/onion
cardamom/ginger (especially in cookies and ice cream)
candied walnut/goat cheese

I love all kinds of food, but these are some of the combos that make me salivate even when I'm already filled to the brim with food. I know they aren't particularly unusual, but I do believe that they have become classics for a reason. They're just shockingly good!

What do others find irresistable? I'm wondering about flavors that just seem to be made for each other, which together suddenly become so much more than the sum of their parts (ex: I love candied walnuts, and goat cheese is good, but I can control myself until you put them together--then I can't stop til I've eaten a pound of each).

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  1. Chocolate and citrus of almost any kind. BLTs, or bacon and damn near anything else. And when I was a kid I really did not like hard-boiled eggs, but developed a deep passion for sandwiches of braunschweiger, egg and Swiss cheese, welded together with lashings of mayonnaise.

    As one gets older, I think it's harder to pick out exactly which combos blow your skirt up, just because so many do and they've all been absorbed into your routine. I know that when I walk through the door of a particular sort of eatery, the combined whiff I get of everything in there sets me up to fall in love with the place, and the reason for that is so inextricably intertwined with my entire life's history that I couldn't begin to explain it to myself, much less anyone else.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Will Owen

      braunschweiger, tomato relish, mustard and mayo on toasted rye. And a big glass of cold milk.

    2. Chocolate and Peanut Butter....oh yeah!

      1 Reply
      1. re: ohny

        That was my first thought. I have a bunch of Reese's Easter Eggs just waiting for me. Yum!

      2. At Topolobampo in Chicago they make mamey ice cream, that with a bit of bittersweet chocolate sauce is divine. I hope they still mke it mameys are not readily available in s.Indiana.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Candy

          quickly seared foie gas and Minus 8 vinegar too

        2. A few drops of aged balsamic vinegar, so thick it is like syrup on a small piece of really good Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The salty sweet combo is divine.

          And on the low end of scale I love fresh popped kettle corn. The kind you get a fair. The smell of popcorn and hay and fried dough, the sweet and salty taste on your tongue when its really hot and the noise of the barkers and rides surrounds you. That is what summer is all about. It can not be duplicated in microwaved bag.

          1. Peking duck. Crispy roast duck, hoisin and scallion shoots in a rice pancake--the most devastatingly delicious combination of all time. Right up there with the classic BLT.

            2 Replies
            1. re: flavrmeistr

              I'm intrigued. Do you mean you can get at a resturant a rice pancake with duck, hoisin, and scallions? Forgive me for being clueless.

              1. re: Wynn

                That is the standard way of serving peking duck. It really is the best. Its not just the flavours that go so well together, it is the textures.

            2. blueberries and chocolate.


              3 Replies
              1. re: bryanj

                If you ever have the chance, there are monks in Quebec who make delicious chocolate-covered wild blueberries. If I recall correctly the blueberries are just left fresh & uncooked, at least they are not overly cooked or sugared. Of course these are very seasonal and probably not exported anywhere but I bought mine in Montreal and they were amazing.

                1. re: julesrules

                  would love to know where you bought them!

                  1. re: gratti

                    i found this on the web. 42 bucks for 5 pounds. but it does say 'moist blueberries...

                    Link: http://www.coffeeam.com/choccovblueb1...

                    Image: http://us.st9.yimg.com/store1.yimg.co...

              2. Oatmeal cookies made with grade-B maple syrup and walnuts.

                A plain hamburger made with fresh ground sirloin - each bite dipped in horseradish mustard.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Val Ann C

                  Wow -- oatmeal cookies with maple syrup and walnuts -- that sounds like heaven. Do you have a recipe you'd care to share over on Home Cooking? If so -- thanks!

                2. LEMON with so many things...ginger, raspberry, blackberry, bitter greens...

                  BACON with so many things...sherry vinegar, maple syrup, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, prunes...

                  I am NEVER without either of these in my kitchen.

                  1. sweetened (stewed) blueberries & creme fraiche
                    brown butter & sage
                    venison & juniper berries

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Sir Gawain

                      I've seen sage mentioned a couple times in this thread. I've never used sage. Is the dried kind good? Or should I look for fresh? What does "rubbed sage" mean?

                      Nooodles, how would I make that squash with sage and onion that you like so much?


                      1. re: Val Ann C

                        Fresh sage is much better, but I hang dry whatever I have left over and use it in a pinch. It's not too bad dried, either.

                        My favorite recipe for butternut squash is Deborah Madison's winter squash galette from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Here's a simplified, tweaked paraphrase:

                        1 butternut squash, 3-4 lbs.
                        1 large onion, diced or sliced thinly
                        lots of fresh sage leaves. I use a handful, sliced
                        1 cup pecorino or parmesan cheese
                        your favorite pie crust (she uses a galette dough, but frozen pie crust, tart crust, or whatever vehicle you want to use is fine. I've even just made it as a mash and served it like potatoes)

                        Half the butternut squash, scoop out the seeds, and roast in a 400 degree oven until very soft. Scoop out the meat. Meanwhile, sautee the sage and onions in some butter. Add the squash and mash well. Stir in the cheese. Taste, because you might not need salt if your cheese was pretty salty. Add pepper to taste, and fill your crust. Bake at 350 until the top is a little burnt.

                    2. A perfectly ripe pear with a wedge of Gouda cheese.

                      Thin slices of salami wrapped around a small chunk of
                      really great sharp cheddar.

                      Crusty sourdough baguette with Maytag blue cheese.

                      Fresh spring asparagas showered with shaved Parm. Reg.

                      1. ginger and scallions

                        peppermint and chocolate (W-S peppermint bark or peppermint stick ice cream with hot fudge are both divine)

                        salty and sweet

                        1. cilantro, green chilis and red onion. Also can be accompanied by tomato.

                          1. dried prunes stuffed with english walnuts, enrobed in milk chocolate

                            gorganzola and carmelized onions

                            baked yams and fresh basil

                            vanilla ice cream and cheerios

                            candied orange peel and dark chocolate

                            1. steamed asparagus (hot or cold) with a dollop of mayonaise and a sprinkle of black pepper

                              dark chocolate & fresh oranges

                              ketchup on burgers

                              1. Thick sliced smoky bacon with a slice of aged sharp cheddar. Yum! Even better when grilled between slices of sourdough and adding a sliced tomato!

                                1. Just to show you how pedestrian my taste buds are, I can't resist a mixture of homemade baked beans and freshly chopped mild onions in about a 2:1 ratio. Yum!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Sony Bob

                                    Oh yeah, I almost forgot my favorite combo: gin and ice!

                                  2. Bacon/shrimp or scallop
                                    seared steak/arugala/roasted red pepper
                                    clams/garlic butter
                                    guacamole, the lime, the avacado, a ltitle garlic
                                    kasseri cheese/lemon
                                    i could go on and on

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: MV

                                      I wondered when someone was going to mention proscuitto and melon. Forget it as an appetizer - I could make a meal out of it.

                                    2. Now that we're embarking on the South Beach Diet, I've remembered quite a few that I'm just gonna have to do without for a while, like anything with potatoes. I adore nice fatty pork braised with sauerkraut - butt, ribs, belly - but one of the best parts is how potatoes tie all the flavors together. And then just think of all the other combinations that potatoes can elevate from merely good to sublime...sigh.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        You would like the champagne choucroute at the Maison Des Tanneurs in Strasbourg.

                                        1. re: TCUJoe

                                          I believe I would... ;-)

                                          I was served choucroute on New Year's Day 1974 by my boss's wife, who was from Strasbourg. From that point on, I have made it every New Year's Day (as well as any other time I get the urge), and I must say I've gotten pretty damn good at it. But I will happily eat it wherever and whenever I can find it, if I'm at all hungry and the ambient temperature is below 90ยบ.

                                          Marguerite served it, BTW, with pommes de terre Alsacienne, which were boiled potatoes with a sauce made of finely-chopped onion cooked in butter, then combined with sour cream. OMG...!

                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            i love choucroute and usually make the one in mastering the art of french cooking. if it's not too much trouble could you please email me your recipe? tanks! abdul

                                      2. Albacore sashimi (not seared) with ponzu sauce.

                                        Butternut squash and cinnamon.

                                        Pedestrian, but yams and brown sugar.

                                        Bagel with cream cheese and butter.

                                        Does cinnamon streusel and vanilla ice cream count?

                                        1. Whole kernel corn and pinto beans, a little hot sauce. Preferably fresh corn off the cob, but canned will work in this combo.

                                          Corn with chili, beans or not.

                                          Corn in chicken soup.

                                          Corn fritters with syrup.

                                          I had new corn ice cream once...oh, my.

                                          But I'll go bacon with pancake syrup, too.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: Shep

                                            Did you ever put canned corn in a pot pie? I ate this as a kid and have fond memories of it.
                                            Also on the theme of corn, a Cuban restaurant near me serves fresh corn-on-the-cob dipped in mayonnaise, cheese and spices and roasted. Heavenly!

                                            1. re: chowmeow

                                              Wow, they dip it before they roast it? A common snack around the Bay is elotes, corn on the cob with any combination of mayo, lemon, chili powder, butter, garlic powder, salt, but always cooked beforehand. This is a good way to enjoy older, tougher, big-kernel yellow cattle corn.

                                              1. re: Shep

                                                The corn they serve at this restaurant is called "mazorca de maiz de Habana" - perhaps it's the Cuban version of elote? I've only had it in the summer, when the corn is at its sweetest and freshest.

                                            2. re: Shep

                                              The corn and bacon combination is wonderful. I used to put bacon in my corn fritter batter. My mom used to make an egg foo yung type dish with corn, bacon and onions. And of course, corn chowder. Yum!

                                              1. re: gourmaniac

                                                I've had corn and pancetta pizza with some kind of white sauce, can't remember where. Good, though.

                                                1. re: Shep

                                                  But now that you mention bacon and onions, I bet that adding in some corn would make just a bitchin quiche lorraine.

                                                  1. re: Shep

                                                    Corn is a standard pizza topping in Japan. I've had corn and tuna pizza there - pretty tasty!

                                              2. I will always order items on a menu that combine:

                                                orange and ginger
                                                hazelnut and coffee (but not the nasty fake-hazelnut flavored coffees)
                                                pecans and bourbon
                                                smoked pork and seafood (bacon/scallops, sausage/lobster)
                                                cheddar and apples

                                                Link: http://seasonalcook.blogspot.com

                                                1. so many already mentioned, but also hard boiled egg and high quality canned tuna in oil in a salad or on a sandwich

                                                  1. Bacon+onion+tomato+pecorino (pasta al'amatriciana)
                                                    Ginger+plum (or lemon)
                                                    Salt+caramel (or almost anything sweet/salty)
                                                    Orange+dark chocolate

                                                    This thread has made me hungrier than almost anything I've read on this site!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: LindaMc

                                                      As another lover of salt/caramel sweet/salty things i would reccomend to you Ben and Jerry's Uncanny Cashew. It is sweet cream ice cream with caramel and salty caramel coated cashews. I love the stuff.

                                                      1. re: MV

                                                        I AGREE!! Uncanny Cashew is the best commercial ice cream available....and believe me, I've tried them all.

                                                    2. cold grapefruit juice and a rich bittersweet chocolate
                                                      pineapple and chocolate
                                                      blue cheese and chutney

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Smokey

                                                        Oh, pineapple and chocolate.....oh my.

                                                        1. re: Sweet Pea

                                                          Wow, frozen pineapple chunks dipped in hot chocolate fondue, you are today's lucky winner!

                                                        2. re: Smokey

                                                          I'll second you on the grapefruit/chocolate

                                                        3. Caramel and Grand Marnier
                                                          Good New Mexican flour tortillas, butter, and cinnamon sugar
                                                          Dark chocolate and coconut
                                                          Chipotle and sweet potatoes
                                                          Rusty Nail -- Drambuie and Scotch. Can't stand either one neat, but together, they're sublime.


                                                          1. Lemon and meringue
                                                            Caramel and Pecans (or most any nut)
                                                            Fennel and pork

                                                            1. In Nicaragua, against many warnings, I ate this street food called "bigaron" (sp?) which was boiled yucca with meaty and crispy chicarrones topped with pickled cabbage. The refreshing tartness of the cabbage cut through the richness of the salty chicarrones, while the soft blandness of the yucca pillowed every bite.
                                                              On the hour-long bus ride back to Managua, I prayed to every saint that I wouldn't get sick, and I was blessed with a peaceful stomach.

                                                              1. Banh Mi!

                                                                1. Liverwurst and Progresso fried sweet peppers in oil on a mayonnaise-slathered toasted english muffin - eat them open-faced so you can have two!

                                                                  1. Mmmm,there are too many to list. Right now, I am obsesssing over apple butter mashed with home-made ricotta, pistachio butter in crepes, and chocolate and raspberries.

                                                                    Nooodles, have you tried putting cream cheese with the squash? it's another great squash combo.

                                                                    1. Not sure if it's too late to post this, but this is exactly the list of things I have been looking for. Thanks to all who added to my repertoire.
                                                                      In return, here is my list:

                                                                      Vanilla and Rosemary (used to flavour lots of things!)
                                                                      Tomato and Basil (absolute classic)
                                                                      Pork and Basil
                                                                      Mushroom Soup and Basil (okay, I love basil!!)
                                                                      Fennel and Orange
                                                                      Pork and Apple
                                                                      Apple and Cinnamon
                                                                      Spinach and Marjoram
                                                                      Black Olives and Oregano


                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Erik
                                                                        Chicago Mike.

                                                                        Kiwi and horseradish... very unique.

                                                                      2. crepes and lemon juice yummmm
                                                                        cottage cheese and tuna again yummm
                                                                        whomeal pita and vegemite mmmm
                                                                        roast pumkin and cinnamon
                                                                        chocolate and mint mmm
                                                                        apple pie and ice cream
                                                                        pita bread and hommus
                                                                        avacado on toasted rye bread (added flavour options include lemon tomato or cottage cheese tuna in oil etc depending.)
                                                                        cottage cheese and olives
                                                                        cottage cheese, or/and tomato on wholegrain thick toast mmmm
                                                                        honey and toast or bread period.
                                                                        fruit cake and butter and a cup of tea.
                                                                        chicken breast, lettuce toamto sandwhihes on thick white bread mmmm
                                                                        bannana and yoghurt oooh and bannana smoothies too
                                                                        bannana and bran muffins
                                                                        spinach and ricotta or any cheese in many forms spanikopita pastisse etc.
                                                                        vegemite and cheese on thick white bread or toast.
                                                                        smoked salmon and cream cheese on rye toast with cucumber and pepper.
                                                                        oh and my faaaavourite msubi with ume! YUM ;-)

                                                                        i can honestly say these make me swoon!

                                                                        1. peanut butter, banana, and chocolate, and any separate duo combinations thereof
                                                                          scallops and cauliflower

                                                                          1. There is a recipe out there for butternut squash ravioli with a sage browned butter sauce (crisped sage) that is out of this world.

                                                                            I have to add to your list:

                                                                            sesame and orange
                                                                            coconut (as in rice) and cilantro
                                                                            lime and ... lots of things

                                                                            1. Sharp cheddar and orange (marmalade is particular favorite, on a croissant, cheese a little melted - yum)
                                                                              anchovies and raisins
                                                                              beer and chocolate
                                                                              spinach and melted cheddar (in an omelet, or just by on a plate!!)
                                                                              potato pancakes and homemade applesauce
                                                                              organic heinz ketchup and hot salty french fries