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Summer Refreshment at your fingertips, literally.

Augie's Ice Pops

We figure most of you know that we carry a couple of different (but equally great) lines of ice-pop moulds so you can make frozen treats at home. We know this because we are already on our second or even third order of the things. We keep selling out of them!

But for those muggy days when you're not at home but you need a quick hit of cool, we've got ready-made ice-pops in our freezer at the back of the store. And not just any ice pops. They're the best in the city and they're made right here in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood: Augie's.

Of course, there's no pleasure like a simple pleasure and Augie's ice pops certainly do the trick. But some of those flavour combinations (wild blueberry citrus, strawberry basil lemonade, Vietnamese coffee...) hint at a background working with some of the city's top chefs and a dedication to sourcing local ingredients from the farms where the flavours grow. Simplicity and sophistication in one delicious, refreshing treat, right at your fingertips and right down the street at the Mercantile.

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Quail Eggs

Quail eggs

We weren't sure whether customers realized we now carry quail eggs. After all, the don't take a whole lot of shelf space AND they're in the back on the left hand side of the fridge - partially obscured by our regular-sized (and exquisite) Murray Farms eggs. But there are a few reasons we wanted to carry them so we hope you'll find this post informative and inspiring:

1. They are so damn cute!
Honestly, look at them! Tiny and gorgeous speckled shells and a rich, flavorful yolk with a higher yolk-to-white ratio than normal eggs;

2. Fond memories of travels in Thailand.
When travelling the countryside by train, we'd pull into the station and hawkers would come up to the train windows offering little plastic bags of boiled quail eggs for a paltry 5 baht. They were delicious and nutritious and while it was possible (though admittedly a bit finicky) to individually peel all 12 eggs in the bag, the shells were so thin it was just as easy and tasty to  pop them into your mouth whole. Egg shells contain nutrients that promote healthy joints, like collagen, chondroitin, glucosamine, and hyaluronic acid.

3. A versatile and easy exoticism to add to your repertoire.
You probably wouldn't want to add quail eggs to your daily breakfast menu but there are some brilliant applications that will add a gourmet touch to a special meal or appetizer. Two recent favourites include Beet Pickled Quail Eggs (easy to make and just cut them open and add to a salad or charcuterie board for some serious wow-factor) and as one of a few size-appropriate toppings for blinis. We like Martha Stewart's recipe here but we have our own variation as well:
Instead of boiling your quail eggs, carefully break all 18 into a bowl (you'll want to use a fine-pointed pairing knife and cut around the top of the shell to avoid piercing the yolks) and put them all into a skillet with some butter. Add a tablespoon of water and cover for a few minutes while you get little fried eggs and then slide the whole thing onto a cutting board. Using a narrow liqueur glass or other small ring, cut out the yolks for a perfect fit onto your blinis!

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Home Mixology

Bittermilk Cocktail Trio

At the last cocktail bar we went to, it took about 15 minutes to choose from among all the enticingly described options in the lengthy menu and another 15 just to make the drink. Various ingredients were scorched and twisted and filtered and rinsed and squeezed and stirred. The bartender wore a pharmacist's coat, wire-rimmed spectacles and all de rigeur tattoos and facial hair. It was all quite the show and the drink was priced accordingly. Lots of fun but not something for every day and certainly not the kind of effort you want to have to expend while also greeting your guests for a night in!

Enter Bittermilk - a small operation out of Charleston SC founded by restaurant and bar veterans dedicated to making your home cocktail experience as interesting as your special night out. As any mixologist will tell you, every cocktail is about balancing the characteristics of your ingredients: acid, sweet, smokey, salty, earthy, floral, bitter, herbaceous, etc. etc. Bittermilk has done that balancing act for you so all you need to do is add booze, shake with ice (or not), strain and serve. Lab coat, spectacles, tats and hipster-beards optional.

You'll find these beautifully packaged cocktail mixers just underneath the bitters section as you enter the store on your left: Tom Collins with Elderflower and Hops, Smoked Honey Whisky Sour and Charred Grapefruit and Sea Salt Tonic.

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The King of Salt Returns

The King of Salt Returns

In the month or so leading up to the holidays, we experienced - along with the rest of the world - a shortage of Maldon salt and sold out in early December. Apparently, there was an unspecified problem somewhere in the production chain and Maldon advised that they would be back on line by the end of January. True to their word, the salt from Maldon is once again flowing (in a manner of speaking - more on that later) and is back on our shelves. (We also have a fine selection of wood and ceramic salt cellars!)

Really, you should have three main kinds of salt on hand in your pantry – an everyday utility salt, a finishing salt and a fine salt. Then there are some luxury salts you can splurge on if you like. Let's go through them one by one...

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