Unique treats, gifts and baskets for unique people.

The Mercantile in Toronto's Roncesvalles Village is your go-to shop for everyday luxuries, with a thoughtfully curated selection of gourmet food items, kitchen accessories, gifts and gift baskets to help you live, give, and entertain in style.

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona duit

Guinness Chips (crisps)

As St. Patrick's Day approaches this weekend, you will not see pithy Irish proverbs or spangly green plastic leprechaun hats in the windows of the Mercantile. Are we not getting in the spirit of things? May I remind you that the proprietor of our store is one Shannon Doyle. We have nothing to prove. The Mercantile is a shamrock-free zone!

The feast celebrating the patron saint of Ireland goes back - officially speaking - to the early 17th century. And as Irish emigrants moved around the world, the holiday took on all kinds of local variations. Most people in Ireland would look at you funny for suggesting the "traditional" St. Paddy's fare of corned beef and cabbage because that is an Irish-AMERICAN invention. And green beer? Talk about amateur hour!

If you wanted to treat the day not as the stereotype-reinforcing frat-party it's become but rather with some nod to genuine Irish culture and tradition, we'd recommend a brief reading of Beckett, a dinner of lamb stew and colcannon and a shot or two of Writer's Tears Irish Whisky as you watch the 48th staging of the All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship on a very obscure satellite sports channel. The only problem is, we have none of the ingredients for any of those things in our store. What we do have are Guinness and Guinness Toasted Cheddar flavoured potato chips from Burts Crisps - one bag for each half of the hurling match should see you through!

May the road rise... never mind.

Oh, and if you're reading this on Friday, Happy St. Urho's Day! Now there is a holiday with one incredible story behind it!

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P.I.Y. (preserve it yourself)

Kilner Jars

John Landis Mason first patented his hermetically sealable preserving jars in 1858. Could he ever have imagined the variations on his theme that would lead to  The Onion's hilarious take on how far they might extend their ubiquity? Likely not. But he most certainly lived to see his idea adopted in markets around the world (though he himself died in poverty in a New York tenement in 1902): the Kerr jars and famous blue Ball jars in the U.S., Bernardin jars in Canada (using metric volumes), the distinctive clip-seal Weck jars from Germany (which we carry at the Mercantile) and the hybrid Fowler's Vacola jars of Australia. Most of these companies have come up with variations to the glass or lids - some practical and some that have invited the derision of The Onion: devices to turn these simple jars into everything from travel mugs and cocktail shakers to toothbrush holders and patio lanterns. 

While the Kilner jar lost its 1842 Yorkshire roots long ago to a faceless corporation, we have to admit that their most recent variations to the utility of the Mason jar are actually genuinely useful and we're now offering two of them in store:

1. The Spiralizer
We love our stand-alone spiralizer and have added more carrot and zucchini to our diet as a direct result but it has two distinct flaws:

a) It's a uni-tasker. Until you actually need it - which is certainly not every day - it sits there taking up a considerable amount of precious shelf space. Frankly, we keep ours in a storage room rather than the kitchen where counter space is at a premium;
b) While the process of loading up the vegetables and cranking the handle to make courgetti or beet ribbons is fun, the design is....inelegant. The height of the output and the extension of the business end of the thing never seems to accommodate the right kind of vessel in which to collect the finished product. There is inevitably overspill and the messy business of transferring it into whatever bowl or pan your stuff is destined for.

The Kilner spiralizer attachment solves both of these issues simply and economically. The blade-lid and protection ring take up minimal space in the drawer and the crank mechanism is replaced by your own wrist! Just twist your carrot (so to speak) into the lid and perfectly spiral cut ribbons fall into the jar you're going to store them in or where you can work with them right away. No messy transfer!

2. The Fermenter
We make our own pickles in a giant crock. I admit I make more pickles than we want or need because I'm making use of the volume of the crock. And to make the crock work for fermenting I needed to custom cut a platter of silicone and sacrifice a few plates to weight the whole assembly down so gas can escape but mold can't grow. The Kilner Fermenter kit includes cut ceramic weights that fit perfectly into the Mason jar and the lid-bung-valve assembly moderates all of the gas exchange which is such an important part of the home fermenting process. With one simple attachment you've taken out all the guesswork and your pickles or sauerkraut or kimchi will already be in the jar you'll put in the fridge when the ferment is done - just replace the fermenter attachment with a regular lid.

These are truly useful tools. And if they're a success in the store, we'll consider bringing in the butter-churning attachment!

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That's a Wrap!


It's almost pretty enough to wrap a present in but you're more likely to want to give it as one of the most useful gifts you'll give anyone, including yourself!

For the past week, we've been trying out this new product called BeesWrap made by a young farmer in Vermont -  infusing organic cotton with beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin, creating a washable, reusable, and compostable alternative to plastic wrap. It feels great in your hands, for one thing: we've wrapped it around a half loaf of bread, a chunk of cheese and covered a bowl of leftovers with it. As you handle the product it warms slightly, softening into the shape that's tight around the food or over the bowl. When you're done (or put it in the fridge) it hardens a little making a secure little package. When you've finished the cheese or bread or leftovers, just wash the paper in cool water with a bit of mild dish soap, let it air dry and it's ready to go for your next food storage task. So not only does it feel good to use, physically, it feels good not to be using more plastic wrap!

It comes in three package types: the smaller Sandwich Wrap, complete with attached wooden-button-and-twine tie; the larger Bread Wrap, suitable for most common fridge or counter storage challenges; and the 3-pack, so you can try it in a few different applications.

We had a similar product a couple of years ago but it wasn't as good as this one  - so all of those customers who've been asking when the old one might come back will be very pleased with BeesWrap - perhaps even positively abuzz!

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