5 Tips on vintage prop shopping… Clementine goat cheese salad with bacon and walnuts

I can’t decide which show fascinates me more, “Hoarders” or “American Pickers”.  If those shows aren’t on then I will gladly settle in to  watch “Storage Wars” or “Pawn Stars”.   There is no judgment on my end for the people who are on Hoarders, except  for that lady who hoarded cats,  GEEZ Louise! She seriously needed some help. My own obsessiveness with collecting old things leaves me no room for judgement,  I  clearly recognize that there is a fine line between having your story told on Hoarders or being featured on American Pickers, and when it comes to vintage food props, I’m one step away from either.   The voice inside my head relieves my guilt reminding me that I am recycling these lost treasures from the past and using them for work.  “I am not the cat lady… I am not the cat lady…”

Tips for vintage prop shopping

1. Always bring cash, practice your skills of bargaining.  Learn to use phrases like, “Will you take $10.00 for both?”  This is called bundling, I learned it from watching American Pickers.  You can go at the crack of dawn and be the first to pick the goodies or you can show up later and hope to make a deal because they are packing up to go home – you choose. Or you can go early and stay all day like me. 

2. When buying old silverware, look for pieces with character, interesting handles, and detailed patterns.  Make sure to buy pieces that are tarnished because reflective shiny metal can ruin a picture. When buying plates, look for smaller salad size dishes or even dessert plates.  Dinner plates are too large for food photography.

3. Only buy it if  you LOVE it.  You don’t have to know exactly how you will use it, but if you absolutely swoon when looking at a piece you will find a place for it.  This is probably something somebody on Hoarders would say, but I stand by it. Unless it’s a cat, seriously you don’t love it. 

4.  Look for plates and platters with a decorative rim.  If the decoration is in the middle of the dish it does you no good because your food will cover it up.  Avoid flat clear glass with no detail and silver or gold leaf patterns, they don’t photograph well.

5. Look for vendors that aren’t specializing in 1 particular thing, the messier the booth the better. These types of hoarders, I mean vendors usually have 1 plate that is missing from a set or a baggie full of forks that they will sell to you CHEAP! If you find 2 of the same thing, buy it, 3 is questionable, 24 means you should walk away and take a deep breath (hoarder red flag). 

Hoarder or collector ?  It’s really a matter of words,  like Clementine or Tangerine I will let you choose.  The only thing that really matters is if you are going to eat salad in the winter, it has to loaded with cozy comfy flavors like bacon and goat cheese.  Butter lettuce and radicchio tossed with Melissa’s Produce Clementines and crispy from Da-Le Ranch  with extra goat cheese for me and a tangy sweet citrus vinaigrette makes my new flea market find look good…

Clementine and goat cheese salad with citrus vinaigrette
5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: salad / side dish
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
  • 16 ounces of Butter lettuce and radicchio mix or Herb Salad mix
  • 4 Clementines, peeled and sliced
  • ½ pound bacon, cut into small slices and cooked until crispy
  • ½ cup toasted red walnuts
  • 4 – 6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup Serrano orange balsamic vinegar (Trader Joes)
  • 1 Clementine, zested
  • ½ of a small shallot- finely chopped
  • 2 Teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced or pressed
  • 1 Tablespoon of honey
  • ½- Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  1. In a large bowl toss to combine lettuce, clementines, bacon, walnuts, and cheese.
  2. In a small jar combine - Balsamic, Zest, Shallot, Dijon, and Garlic, Honey, Olive Oil, and Salt/Pepper
  3. Toss salad with chilled vinaigrette to taste.
  4. Shake well


7 comments… add one
  • Laura @ Family Spice December 7, 2012, 9:16 pm

    My son saw me photographing a dish with a “vintage” spoon. He said, “Mommy, that spoon is dirty!” LOL! Great tips – I love digging through the junk to find these character pieces.

  • Dana December 8, 2012, 6:09 am

    Great flea market and food prop tips. I love the hunt for cool, unusual serveware. My problem is that I love too many things. When you fall in love, it’s hard to be a good bargainer. Hope to see you out hunting at local flea market. Best, Dana

  • sippitysup December 15, 2012, 1:56 am

    Do you have cocktail props?? XOGREG

  • Rachel @ Bakerita December 18, 2012, 12:19 am

    All great tips! Think I’m going to be heading to the flea market this weekend… 🙂 that salad looks delicious as well!

    • Chef Louise Mellor December 18, 2012, 12:59 am

      Thanks Rachel, I just cruised through your site… sugar and butter YUM!

  • Mary@CaliforniaGreekGirl January 2, 2016, 12:35 pm

    After reading your post I feel I can go out and spend my money on some great plates! We need to meet up and compare! Love the hunt!

  • Tori January 24, 2016, 9:30 am

    Lovely video and pics!! Super helpful post.

Leave a Comment

Rate this recipe: