Lately I’ve been on a vintage kick. Anything old, used, with character and cheap makes me a little giddy, ok a lot of giddy! I love the feeling of a great find, when you come across something that is one of a kind, that no one else has – well no one of your generation that is. I think it’s the history major in me, the love of what is old, a respect for traditions and an appreciation for good quality and timelessness; all of these characteristics attract me to vintage items. I love the look of a classic clutch paired with a pair of modern heels or an antique persian rug spread out below a minimalist table. The clash of old and new is so expressive and interesting and I just can’t get enough of it.
Where buying vintage or used was once looked down upon by others, today it’s really starting to take off. There are more and more vintage stores popping up than ever before and I have no quips or qualms about going out of my way for these unique finds, because frankly, the hunt for a great buy is the most fun. I go to Toronto not to shop at the Eaton’s centre but to dig through treasures in Kensington Market. My favourite shops on Queen West are west of Spadina, not the heavily commercialized shopping strip in the heart of downtown. I’ll take Ossington over Yorkville any day because when you can find vintage Marc Jacobs for $30 (yes, that’s right, I said thirty dollars) or a Parisian made and perfectly tailored houndstooth blazer for $40 you can’t go wrong. Of course, these were some lucky finds and often the Chanel bags, YSL sunglasses and Hermès scarves reach into the hundreds of dollars, which are still quite reasonable for labels of this stature.
The search for vintage furniture, home decor and kitchen ware are other hunts I frequent. I love getting my hands on beautiful and delicate English China, platters, plates, cups and saucers, beautifully embossed silverware or heavy cut crystal tumblers. I recently stumbled upon a handsome wrought-iron chandelier to hang beneath our pergola. When browsing through antique stores I often forget to look up at the lighting fixtures hanging from the ceiling. Luckily, as I was walking out I decided to turn back and give a quick glance upwards and saw this rustic chandelier sitting above a Victorian dinning table set with Royal Albert China. While much of the furnishings and accents in antique stores look, well antique, especially since they are often staged in the fashion and times they were first manufactured in, many people are put off by the look, deeming it too traditional for their modern tastes. I find the best way to shop antique stores is to look at each piece individually, that way you can appreciate its beauty on its own and envision it sitting in your own home, amongst your own belongings. So when I saw this chandelier above a very formal and traditional setting I automatically saw its potential as a centrepiece in a contemporary suburban backyard. The thought of warm nights spent beneath the flickering glow of candle light makes me wish that the dog days of summer were still upon us.
Summer may be slipping away from us, but the summer bounty is still a force to be reckoned with. I try very hard to prevent any of the vegetables from my garden from going to waste so I am always on the look out for new recipes. Last year, I found this recipe in a Williams-Sonoma cookbook called, Cooking from the Farmer’s Market. It’s a great cookbook with so many wonderful recipes that highlight the produce found in different seasons. In fact, the cookbook is organized in seasons and vegetables/fruit, making searching for a recipe super easy. The recipe it includes for Romano beans is one I alternate with the one I posted a couple of weeks ago, called “Nick’s Beans”. I called it “Nick’s Beans” because that’s what we call it around here. It’s a dish his mother and grandmother have always made without the use of a recipe, so since it’s an original I’ve taken the liberty to call it “Nick’s Beans”. I would bring home a bag of beans from the garden and my husband Nick would ask, “Are you making my beans?” and I would reply, “Yes, I am making your beans.” He then would smile ear to ear, plant a kiss on my cheek and say, “You’re the best Boon,” a silly nickname he gave me years ago, during the height of the TV show, Lost. He thought the character’s name was one of the “funniest” names he ever heard – he used a lot less forgiving adjective, which I will refrain from using in the effort of not offending a reader or a reader’s loved one who may carry this name. Since it was such a “funny” name to him he decided to call me Boon from that day forth.
If this recipe I am sharing with you today was my own and not one I came across in one of my cookbooks, I would call it “Ana’s Beans” or maybe even “Boon’s Beans!” This is MY favourite way of preparing Romano beans. While Nick’s beans are stewed slowly in tomatoes and become soft and buttery, these still retain some of their crispness. The fragrant and flavourful bread crumb coating with garlic and thyme boosts the creamy texture of the beans, while the crisp bacon compliments its meatiness. I haven’t tried it yet, but I would imagine that this recipe would also work with green beans, which are all also all over farmer’s markets right now. So regardless of what kind of beans you have at home, this recipe will suit them all.
Below are a list of some of famous vintage and antique shops in Toronto and Hamilton area:
The Millionaire’s Daughter
This is a furniture and home furnishings consignment store. While they have some antique pieces they also have many contemporary pieces as well. They have been featured in Style at Home Magazine and on City Line and have opened up a new store in Oakville.
Granny’s Attic Treasures
This is where I picked up my chandelier
Second Chance Consignment Boutique
Great choice for classic pieces and work wear.
All contemporary mens and women clothing and accessories. They carry the top labels; think Chanel, Prada, Christian Louboutain and the like.
Select vintage pieces make this shop in Toronto’s Little Portugal/Ossington neighbourhood a stand out boutique.
Vintage Mix 1
An eclectic mix of contemporary and classic vintage pieces from clothing, shoes and accessories to records, luggage and bags.
I Miss You
High end vintage alert! As the review in the link says, “This is one of those places you want to avoid for the fear of dropping mad cash!”
If you have any great vintage store finds leave me a comment. I know that
Romano Beans with Bacon and Bread Crumbs
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 pound trimmed Romano beans
3 slices of bacon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 and 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/4 bread crumbs
Bring a large pot of water to boil. When the water comes to a boil, salt the water very generously and add the beans. Cook the beans until almost tender, about 5 minutes if you are using green beans, the cooking time will be less). Drain the beans using a colander and run under cool water to stop the cooking process. In a large pan (you will use this pan to finish off the beans) crisp up the bacon and set aside to cool. Drain the pan of excess fat, but leave the bits that maybe have stuck to the bottom intact.
To the pan, add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the bread crumbs and toast until lightly browned. Add in the beans and toss thoroughly to coat. Reheat the beans for 2 to 3 minutes in the pan, or until they just warmed through. Tear the bacon up into little pieces and sprinkle over the beans. Serve hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.