Unusual flavour combinations – that work!

August 25, 2016
by Trisha Learn

    It wasn’t that long ago that caramel and salt would have sat in a list of ‘weird food combinations’. In recent years however this viscous deliciousness has so steadily oozed across Australia that it can now be found in homebrand ice-creams, negroni variations in Melbourne laneways or even canned in-house in a Newtown deli.

    It’s a reminder of the rewards waiting when we push our taste buds beyond the comfortable. To be creative with unusual flavour combinations we need to consider familiar flavours by their base elements (sweet and salty, sour and sweet, hot and cold etc.), and then balance them out with contrasting and complimentary flavours. By applying this process, a certain ‘friend’ who recently offered a gift of mushroom chocolate could have avoided such miserable, unrelenting failure. Ergh.  That unfortunate incident aside – Here are a few unusual flavour combinations that actually do work, and tips on how best to try them!


    Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches

    Photo by: Joy the Baker

    Photo: Joy the Baker

    This flavour combination is all about the sour pickle juices cutting through the salty richness of the peanut butter. Scientists have been denying the existence of a hangover cure for years, but there’s proof that they do exist and require real, crazy sandwiches to deal with them. No further instructions required, here’s your 3pm snack. 


    Steak and coffee


    These guys sit separately on your list of favourite consumables, and you might assume they should stay separate. But that’s because you haven’t tried them together yet. Besides making a delicious drink, coffee is of course a spice and makes an earthy spice rub for red meats such as steak. Make an easy meat rub with ground coffee, salt and chilli flakes. This can be rubbed thinly into the meat then left for the flavour, or applied more liberally to form a crust once cooked.


    Ice cream and balsamic vinegar


    That’s right, you have my permission to combine salad dressing with dessert for a truly balanced meal. To bring together sugary creaminess and tartness of vinegar, you’re best to use a sweeter vinegar. Whichever way, don’t be afraid drizzle that double soured wine juice like it’s chocolate sauce and prepare to be scandalised.

    For best results, try with olive oil ice cream and balsamic glaze.


    Strawberry and basil


    Strawberries and basil are very happy growing next to each other, with the bug repellent nature of basil making it a very good companion to the aphid drawing strawberries. You can thank your basil by combining its grassy pungence with strawberries’ sweetness and acidity.   

    There are lots of great desserts that work with the savoury/sweet combination of strawberry and basil, especially when paired with chocolate. But a list like this should end whilst lingering over a well-made cocktail. To enjoy the combination of strawberries and basil, we suggest treating yourself to a strawberry-basil martini.  

    Happy Cooking!


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