We live in an old Victorian, built in 1904. It has many of the original details, which I absolutely adore and is totally my style. It’s much less my husband’s style, however, so I try to be creative and find ways to make him feel like he isn’t living in someone else’s house (while also maintaining a consistent decorative theme).
We celebrated our four-year wedding anniversary in October, and I usually struggle with anniversary gifts. I want them to be meaningful without being cheesy, which is not easy to find! But when I saw the gorgeous vintage-inspired Baseball Stadium Blueprints in the UncommonGoods’ anniversary gifts, I knew it would be a perfect way to incorporate the hubby’s love of sports into our eclectic collector-style home. It’s sports-themed, but with enough of an architectural look that it’s not obvious. And unlike a lot of sports memorabilia, this print is classy, toned down, and beautifully framed. He also lives and breathes Dodger’s baseball, so I didn’t even hesitate to snag this for him to make our house feel a little more like home for him.
We also have a travel theme going on in our living room, with vintage maps, oddities from our trips around the world, and antique furniture blending together into what (I hope) is an interesting collection of items. There’s a copper teapot from the San Telmo market in Buenos Aires on a shelf next to pair of etched sake glasses from Japan. A vintage stereoscope sits on an antique table that belonged to my Grandma, near a carved tiki figure from French Polynesia. The only city from our travels that isn’t represented in the room is the city in which we met: San Francisco! I had to right that wrong that with a hand-carved skyline of the city. It’s a sweet reminder of how we met and how much we both love the Bay Area. Bonus: it’s hand-made in San Francisco. That’s a big part of why I like to shop UncommonGoods – over half of the items on their site are handmade and much of their assortment is made in the USA.
As the last piece of my anniversary gift, I picked out the Cheese & Crackers Serving Board with a classic ampersand carved into it. We have a habit of treating ourselves with elaborate charcuterie and cheese plates for special occasions. We got engaged in Napa while sitting outside on a miraculously perfect 70-degree day in February, eating cheese and pate from a local gourmet food shop and sipping Cabernet Sauvignon from our favorite winery. This serving board is the perfect way to commemorate one of our favorite traditions, and it’s beautiful enough to leave out on display when it’s not in use!
If you’re on board (haha) with our cheeseboard philosophy, here are a few guidelines that I like to follow:
- Cheese. You need at least two cheeses, and one of them should definitely be a super creamy, gooey cheese. The other should be hard or semi-hard. I like to do a oozing triple cream with a sharp cheddar, a brie with a funky blue, or a ball of milky burrata with a salty Pecorino Romano. Some cheeses are best served after a rest outside the fridge, especially runny cheeses.
- Cured meat. Again, I like to go with at least two kinds. One should be dry and salty, and the other should be a little fatty. Try using different textures, like a thinly-sliced prosciutto with a spicy pepperoni, or a dry coppa with a black pepper-coated salami. Pull cured meats out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before serving for best flavor.
- Non-cured meat. A pate, terrine, or rillette is a really lovely addition to a cheese plate. It also offers a less-salty meat option.
- Carbs. A vessel for getting the cheese and salumi from the board into your mouth is not optional. We’re definitely bread people, so I always get a high-quality, freshly baked French baguette or Italian batard. I usually warm it in the oven and we just tear pieces from the loaf, but you can be more civilized and slice the bread or even make crostini. If you love crackers, there’s a while world of options out there! And you can always go gluten-free.
- Fruit. Fruit and cheese are a match made in heaven. Fresh fruit like grapes, apples, persimmons, figs, and pears are perfect, but don’t count out jams, marmalades, or spreads. Fig jam is especially good to have on hand, as it pairs well with most mild, creamy cheeses. Dried fruit can add sweetness and texture as well, especially dates and figs. Serve apples with sharp cheddar, persimmons with prosciutto, and figs with blue cheese.
- Condiments. While completely optional, there are some condiments that can take a cheese plate to the next level. Mustard pairs nicely with some terrines, honey is lovely with blue cheese, and a few drops of high-quality balsamic vinegar add complexity to Parmesan shards.
- Nuts. Nuts are always a great snack, whether you have a cheese plate or not! Almonds, walnuts and pistachios add crunch, and can work really well when you’re serving cheeses with honey. Herb-roasted nuts, smoked almonds, or candied walnuts are fun ways to add flavors to a cheese board.
- Other goodies. Depending on how many people you’re feeding and the cheeses you’ve selected, you can add other delicious treats. Warm olives, roasted red peppers or eggplant, pickles, fresh tomatoes marinated in olive oil, or tapenades can all round out a cheese plate to turn it into a full-blown meal
- Plentiful serving utensils. Even the best cheese plates can go awry when someone accidentally swipes the lone knife. Have lots of cheese spreaders, knives, spoons, or forks so people can help themselves to the feast!
UncommonGoods has been my go-to website for unique gifts for years. They seem to always have exactly what I was looking for, even if I didn’t know what that thing was! I also feel good about shopping with them for lots of reasons: they are a B-corp (which means they care about more than just making money) that is passionate about paying employees a fair wage. Check them out for your next anniversary (with gifts for both him and her), birthday, or for the upcoming holidays.
Thank you to UncommonGoods for sponsoring this post, and thank you to our readers for supporting the brands that we love!