The shelves of The Mercantile are stocked with staples, treats and treasures from all over the world but we take special pride in promoting homegrown products that compete with the very best the planet has to offer.
This coming Friday, July 1st, will mark Canada's 149th birthday. There will be concerts and picnics and fireworks and - for many - a long weekend to celebrate. So today, as you stock your own pantry or think about gifts to bring, think Canadian! This is just a small sample of some of the truly great products we carry that make us proud to be Canadian:
- Hand-painted, dulce-de-leche-filled chocolate skulls from extraordinary Toronto chocolatier Laura Slack (her bars, wrapped in paper from the Japanese Paper Place are also extraordinary and her ice-pops and ice cream bars in our freezer at the back are to die for!);
- Kernal's Black Peanuts - a rarity born and grown in southwestern Ontario - are simple, delicious and simply the most delicious peanuts you will eat;
- True North (by Southwest) spice blend from Epicentre - located on the shore of Chemong Lake near Peterborough - combines maple and Texas BBQ flavours in a rub that is for your holiday picnic ribs;
- A new line of syrups from Ottawa's Split Tree Cocktail Co. are small batch, hand crafted cocktail mixes using whole fresh ingredients, no artificial preservatives, and nothing you can’t pronounce (our favourite is the Rhubarb and Elderflower). They join an impressive selection of Canadian made syrups and bitters from makers like Meredith's Ginger, Dillon's, 3/4 OZ and Bar Le Lab;
- All the entries in our selection of maple syrups are (naturally) of Canadian origin but we have a particular fondness for the one from Edwin County Farms near Picton. If you're traveling and want to bring a little taste of Canada with you as a gift, we have special travel sizes that meet the threshold for carry-on safety or soft-packs that won't add too much weight to your checked luggage;
- Walter's Bloody Caesar Mix is a High Park success story (though it has since moved its centre to Vancouver) built around that most Canadian of cocktails. Read the list of ingredients on the can of the national brand and then read the list on Walter's - you'll be reading with your own eyes what your tastebuds have already told you about why this is your best friend at brunch;
- With humble home-kitchen origins from a Trinidadian-Torontonian (Trinitonian?) grandma and now made by a famed west end bar-owner, Mado's pepper sauce - if it wanted to - could rise to join the ranks of ketchup, HP, 57, Worcestershire and Sriracha and become one of the world's truly great standard sauces. It goes with eggs, it goes with shrimps, it goes with steak, it goes in a crudité dip, it goes with everything! We roasted a spatchcocked chicken in it and it was sublime. Anyone who buys one bottle will buy it for life and we have customers who come from way outside the neighbourhood to ensure their stock is secure - it's that good;
- Boyo's Hot Sauce is another Trinitonian feature in our Canadian hot sauce selection. And not only is it made in Toronto, it's made right here in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood. Talk about local;
- Wendy Tancock is a local west end artist and designer who has been mining the charms of Canuck iconography for years. We have a wide selection of her greeting cards featuring everything from Leonard Cohen to Casey & Finnegan to Butter Tarts and Nanaimo Bars. This July 1st, send a card to a friend outside of Canada and remind them just how much we rock;
- And finally, OrganicFair Chocolate isn't quite from Canada. It's from just across the B.C. border in Blaine Washington but they maintain a farm and garden in Cobble Hill, BC. And sometimes it's nice to have friends and neighbours recognize the best in you - which is the inspiration for their Canadiana bar: organic 70% cacao dark chocolate with maple, apples and northwest coast alder smoked sea salt.
These are just some of the products from here in the neighbourhood and across the country we're so proud to serve and just some of the ways it's fun (and delicious) to celebrate being Canadian. You'll have a whole bunch of your own and we hope you take some time this weekend to do just that.
We ARE open at our regular time of 10:30am on Friday, Canada Day, though we're closing a little bit early - at 5:00pm. Have a safe and happy Canada Day weekend!