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It's Hopping around here!

Easter2019

Don't tell the kids but a certain long-eared cotton-tail comes to the Mercantile a little bit earlier than to your house... and drops off a TON of colourful treats for every budget and every taste. We're giving you a heads up to let you know we've seen the bunny tracks and we've got the goods to prove the existence of the Easter Bunny!

Old standbys like Jellybeans, Easter Gummies, Malted Eggs, Chocolate Robin's Eggs, Foil Eggs and special seasonal offerings from friends like Laura Slack, Denman Island, Roger's, Saxon and gummy treats and carrot-cake marshmallows from Tout de Sweet.

PLUS, we've got dishes and egg cups and napkins and tea towels and table charms (including bunnies in a variety of sizes). You can even buy our delightful daisy-eggs right from the window display!
We're open Good Friday and Saturday as normal but closed Easter Sunday and Monday. We'll give you more reminders as we get closer but the goodies tend to go fast so we thought we'd let you know now to give you plenty of time.
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Time for a Heart to Heart

Valentine's Goodies

You know that we love our customers. And we know that our customers know that the Mercantile is the perfect place to provision for LoveDay - that's why they've already put a serious dent in our selection of Valentine's Day cards!

But don't worry, there are still treats galore - whether it's cinnamon hearts to pass out at school, luxurious chocolates from Roger's and Laura Slack, a sweet/tart combo for your sweetheart from Tout de Sweet or heart-shaped spinach and cheese ravioli from Queen's Pasta for a romantic dinner at home. Or all of the above wrapped neatly in a CandyHearts Tea Towel!

That's just a fraction of our Valentine's selection but February 14th is a day that tends to creep up on people so we thought we'd let you know before the rush.

XOXOXOXO from all of us to all of you!

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On Judging a Book by its cover

Yaal & ChocSoleil

We pride ourselves on having a great selection of chocolate from near and far at a variety of price points. Some tout the "raw" chocolate, some elaborate flavour combinations; some are local, some from exotic locations; some organic, some not - but all great quality stuff. So how do you choose?

Once you've decided on a milk or a dark or if you're looking for particular flavours or other qualities, you're really left with the packaging. The packaging always attempts to convey something of the product within - the no-nonsense cardboard of Galérie au Chocolat or the exquisite chiyogami paper wrappers of Laura Slack's bars - but ultimately it comes down to judging a book by its cover; both the design and the information included.

To tell you the truth, we hesitated about carrying these Yaal and ChocoSoleil products from a company (AOG Foods) founded by two Ecuadoran-Canadian brothers and their friend because we didn't like the packaging. We still don't understand the distinction between the product lines. The design is too busy and its graphics too dated-looking. But when we opened these "books" and got to know about the team's mission and the product inside we were sold - and we hope you will be too.

Ecuador has a long history of cacao cultivation and is a top exporter. Its varied geography offers many distinct regional terroir variations of the bean and its flavours and characteristics. AOG supports several small grower cooperatives and pays 20-50% above current market rates in order to support small communities using traditional farming methods and promote agricultural sustainability. They are Canada, US and EU certified organic, exceed fair trade and environmental standards and use purpose-built state of the art processing facilities and traceability procedures.

And then there's the chocolate.
Whether it's blended or single estate origin, you get a smooth, complex, rich flavour and mouthfeel - even the 80% Esmerelda doesn't have the kind of chalkiness you can get with cocoa percentages that high. And the inclusion on the perfectly portioned discs of exotic fruits or the thin layer of maca, quinoa, sesame, amaranth, turmeric, chia and cocoa nibs on the Super 7 bar - never overwhelms the chocolate. And it's all produced bean-to-bar, which means that AOG handles every step in the process: from sourcing to sorting, roasting, cracking, winnowing, grinding, conching, tempering, molding, packaging and getting the bar to us.

You can't really go wrong with any of the chocolate you can get at the Mercantile - whether it's Laura Slack or Chuao or Marou or Vosges or Galérie or Theo or Chocosol or Denman Island. And some will look better in your gift basket than others or appeal to different styles. But if you really want to wow the chocolate aficionados in your life once the wrapping is opened up, give these a try - you won't be disappointed.

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How Much Are Those Bunnies in the Window?

Canoodling Window Bunnies

As promised, here's your Good Friday Reminder!

That's right, it is officially Easter. Our window has the canoodling bunnies to prove it and our shelves are positively groaning with Easter treats:

Chocolates from Roger's and Saxon and Dufflet and Denman Island and, of course, the extraordinary creations of Toronto's own Laura Slack - including the meticulously rendered and handpainted (and entirely edible) chick named Egbert (available in both milk and dark varieties); but also organic jelly beans and malt eggs and Hershey eggs and marshmallow chicks and bunny treat bags and egg table charms and our famous ceramic Yoga Bunnies - who might arrive for Easter but stay in your home to offer leporine serenity year round.

It is all going fast. Remember, the idea is for YOU to hide the chocolate for kids to find. We don't want you to have to search under anything to find it in the store so you've got today and tomorrow to provision!

We're open tonight until 8, tomorrow 10:30am-&;00pm. We are CLOSED on Easter Sunday AND Easter Monday (we're no April Fools!)
Hop on in and Happy Easter!

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Egbert & The Yoga Bunnies...

Egbert & the Yoga Bunnies

You're right - that does sound like an awesome band name!

But, in fact, it's merely a suggestion of the wide variety of Easter items currently in stock at the Mercantile.

That's right. Easter! You'd forgotten somehow, hadn't you? It's actually Good Friday THIS COMING FRIDAY. It's easy to lose track with these movable feasts!

There's no way for us to forget in the shop since we're surrounded by some of the finest Easter treats available: chocolates from Roger's and Saxon and Denman Island and, of course, the extraordinary creations of Toronto's own Laura Slack - including the meticulously rendered and handpainted (and entirely edible) chick named Egbert, pictured here in glorious colour (and available in both milk and dark varieties); but also jelly beans and malt eggs and Hershey eggs and marshmallow chicks and bunny treat bags and egg table charms and our famous ceramic Yoga Bunnies, also pictured here - who might arrive for Easter but stay in your home to offer leporine serenity year round.

Once people do twig to Easter, they usually make quick work of our stock so don't leave it too late.
We are CLOSED on Easter Sunday AND Easter Monday, regular hours on Friday and Saturday. Hop on in!

 

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Love in a non-heart-shaped Box

Valentine's in a Box

Pop quiz:
What day is coming up soon when you should let that special someone know just how you feel and express your affection and appreciation?

Ummm.... the correct answer is "tomorrow" and the day after that and the day after that and the day after that. Trick question.

However, since the calendar specifically designates a particular day for these expressions and we know people will be coming into the store looking for the right vehicles for that expression on that day, we wanted to let you know that we are prepared - not as on-the-nose as a heart-shaped box and not as lewd as Samberg/Timberlake's other thing in a box but a box nonetheless!

Remember, it's not so much about the stuff as it's about the experience and this box is all about experiences and sensations:

  • Sprucewood Fresh raspberry Shortbread Cookies
  • Pukka LOVE tea (organic rose, chamomile & lavender)
  • Really Great Goods, lavender & lime epsom salts
  • Fenwick Organic Coconut wax candle, Lavender & Eucalyptus
  • Laura Slack Raspberry Ganache Valentine Dark Chocolate Bar
  • all wrapped in a white Flour Sack Tea Towel

All for $49.95

Of course, you'll find all kinds of Valentine-themed choices around the store - from cards to chocolates to adorable gifts - but this right here is love in a box, Prêt à Aimer!

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Not too soon for Advent Calendars!

Roger's Advent

There's always a debate this time of year: when is it too early to put out Christmas stuff? Nobody wants to push things and nobody wants to be completely sick of carols before it's appropriate (we confess our tolerance is low!) but Advent Calendars are one area where we take our cue from customers. We've already had people come in and ask if we're getting our traditional chocolate advent calendars from Roger's Chocolates of Victoria BC. Well of course we are!

This year's new design, Winter Fun, by John Burrow is guaranteed to sell out so don't wait. And apart from it being top quality chocolate - and apart from it being fun to open a different window every day in advance of Christmas, Rogers' Chocolates is proudly committed to Fair Trade Certified™ Cocoa, so making your Christmas sweet isn't making someone else's bitter.

We do offer some other advent kits as well - where you can fill the windows with your own treats - but we know some people have been waiting for this announcement as a kind of unofficial start to the season, so consider yourself notified!

 

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Re-visiting Vosges

Vosges Selection

Chocolate occupies a very unique place in our world. It is simultaneously a refined and exotic treat and a cheap and ubiquitous snack. It's able to hold those two places in our minds because of the vast range of qualities available to us at any given time - a bit like olive oil.

But as they say with olive oil, if you're not paying above a certain threshold, you're probably not getting the real thing. And at various thresholds beyond that you're getting increasing levels of quality, increasing levels of expertise and artistry and increasing levels of fairness to the workers who grow and harvest this most remarkable crop. Somewhere in there - as a retailer - we also have to account for the tastes and curiosities of our customers and the thresholds they're willing to cross for great chocolate. There are lots of places in the neighbourhood to get cheap, commercial chocolate. Our role is to curate a range of chocolates above that low threshold that we think you're going to want to try. Which brings us back to Vosges Haut Chocolat of Chicago.

We offered Vosges in the past because, in terms of flavour combinations, they just blew our minds. We think Toronto's own Laura Slack gives Vosges a run for their money (and with even more beautiful packaging) at a lower price point (though a smaller bar) and many customers were just not quite willing to cross that slightly higher threshold. It was, frankly, kind of sad to see the Vosges bars ageing out on the shelf (though the staff tended to benefit!). But with this new line of flavour combinations from Vosges, we wanted to give them another try and give YOU a chance to give them another try too. It is worth it and YOU are worth it! These are all great flavours but to single one out, I guarantee you: if you try the Turmeric-Ginger bar you will be amazed.

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Some thoughts for Canada Day


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Make Mom's Day

Laura Slack's chocolate flowers

The modern Mother's Day was founded in 1908 in West Virginia by Anna Jarvis to honour her own mother, who had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. Later in life, Jarvis protested the commercialization of the day she had founded and the various fundraising activities that linked themselves to the holiday. 

So first - in keeping with Jarvis' original spirit (or, for that matter, the festivals recognizing the power and influence of motherhood in many cultures dating back thousands of years!) - let us encourage you to think this Sunday about how to acknowledge your own mother or the mother figures in your life in your own words or music or art or action.

But second - admitting that we live in a culture that frequently expresses itself through gifts and tokens and that the Mercantile prides itself on featuring products of great quality made by the loving hands of people we know - if you are planning on getting a little something for the Mom in your life as a token of your appreciation, we have all kinds of delights in store (if you haven't already blown your budget at the Toronto Flower Market that launches its season tomorrow on the grounds of CAMH!).

Of course we've got cards and cookies and gifts and chocolates of all sorts but once again we feel compelled to talk about our friend Laura Slack - the Toronto chocolatier who continues to excel with her artful creations made using the very finest chocolate. Pick up a box of her latest truffle assortment OR how about  getting the best of both worlds with these hand painted chocolate flowers!?!? (though it is debatable which - between real flowers from the market or Laura's chocolate variety - would last longer in the house!)

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Easter is Upon Us

Happy Easter from The Mercantile!

Well, it was inevitable.
Sean Rooney's remarkable balloon bunnies in our display windows have been shrinking before our eyes. Come to think of it, they seemed to diminish at almost the same pace as our stock of Easter goodies inside the shop!

But don't worry, there's still lots left - from super cute salt and pepper shakers, egg cups, platters and table charms to the usual suspects of chocolate bunnies and eggs, brightly coloured gummies, jellybeans, malted eggs and much more. Our very real Murray Farms eggs are collected from a variety of heritage hens on the farm near Stratford so they're already a variety of colours - no painting necessary! You'll find them in the fridge at the back of the store.

And, of course, it wouldn't be Easter without Egbert - Laura Slack's utterly extraordinary  handpainted (but entirely edible) sculpted chocolate chick (among her wider collection of Easter specialties).

Just don't wait too long.
We're open Thursday and Friday 10:30am-8:00pm and Saturday 10:30-7:00. But we're CLOSED Sunday and Monday. So let your hunt for the best in Easter treats start at the Mercantile today!

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Think Outside the Box (of chocolates)

Mercantile Love Window

Now let's be clear: Valentine's Day is kind of like riding a bike with training wheels: if you're confident in your expressions of affection you don't wait for one particular day or limit yourself to certain kinds of tokens of that affection. But we forgive Valentine's Day it's amateur status because it's really very sweet. And the gifts we give are generally quite simple (and also often very sweet!) And yes, we have a great range of products purpose built for the day - from cheap and cheerful bags of cinnamon hearts and those message candies the kids all seem to really love to more sophisticated choices like the Laura Slack chocolate valentine boxes with dulce-de-leche skulls included or the heart-shaped shortbreads from Mary MacLeod's or the heart-shaped raviolis from Queen's Pasta (find those in the freezer) and a great selection of cards (note the "Hay Girl" Ryan Gosling card in the photo).

But let's think outside the box of chocolates for a moment. Here's a romantic accent you can apply any time of year on any occasion:

As you enter the store, to your left you'll find our cabinet of cocktail accoutrements - including a fine selection of aromatic bitters. Look for the cardamom bitters (we carry a couple but we find the Scrappy's is best for this application). Instead of buying an expensive champagne, get yourself a decent bottle of very affordable prosecco.  Prosecco is fermented in stainless steel tanks rather than wooden barrels so it's mostly about the brightness and the effervescence rather than the complex flavours. Put a few drops of the cardamom bitters in your glass of prosecco and you instantly add a kind of creamy, woody, exotic note to a very simple celebratory beverage. And if we sell out of the cardamom, there are lots of options to choose from perhaps the chocolate bitters would kill two lovebirds with one stone (so to speak)!

One of our regular customers from the neighbourhood is Matt See who comes in to stock up on various bitters - including the cardamom - that he makes great use of in his brilliant Chinatown restaurant, People's Eatery. Not a bad spot for a romantic night out, come to think of it, but at the very least you'll find inspiration on his cocktail list for delicious and inventive ways to use bitters on Valentine's or any other day.

Cheers to love. May we all have more of it!

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