The Flavor Thesaurus, by Niki Segnit (Bloomsbury), “is a guide to pairing almost any food you can think of with the ones that complement it best. “Following the instructions in a recipe is like parroting pre-formed sentences from a phrasebook,” Segnit writes. “Forming an understanding of how flavors work together, on the other hand, is like learning the language; it allows you to express yourself freely, to improvise, to find appropriate substitutions for ingredients, to cook a dish the way you fancy cooking it.” Here are some of Segnit’s suggestions for what to eat with various kinds of cheese, a tiny slice of what you’ll find in her exhaustive compendium.
Goat cheese and cherries: “Sweet cherries work well with young goat cheese, particularly when fresh, grassy examples of both are available,” writes Segnit. “I like to eat some of the cheese piled on slices of crumbly, nutty bread and then relish the rest of it with the cherries.”
Blue cheese and walnuts: “It’s a classic partnership, especially crumbled Roquefort and walnuts in a salad with chicory.”
Parmesan and broccoli raab: “Older Parmesans, matured for three or four years, are generally more intense. They’re what you really want on your extra-bitter broccoli raab. Combine them in a pesto or risotto.”
Brie and apple: “Eat young Brie or Camembert cut into thin pieces with corresponding slivers of apple. Or buy a whole cheese in a box, remove the wax paper, then put the cheese back in the box, prick the top and pour over some apple brandy. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F. Serve with slices of apple.”