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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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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Putting It All Together

Togarishi Kale Chips

Some people come into the Mercantile for their favourite snacks and treats (sometimes they don't even make it our of the store before they're devoured!) and we share that enthusiasm. But one of our favourite things is when someone comes into the store with a vague look of panic asking for that elusive ingredient they need for something they're preparing at home. You have no idea how gratifying it is to be able to say "Yes, of course we have that!" to some of the most obscure requests. As avid home cooks ourselves, we're always thrilled to play some small part in your home culinary adventures.

To that end, we thought that instead of just touting a delicious product or two this week, we'd give you some specifics on how to make use of things.

First of all, we've written before here about the amazing Okazu condiment by Toronto's Abokichi. It's a versatile condiment with great depth of flavour and we even have a few little booklets from Abokichi to hand out if you come in and buy a jar but when we sampled some the other day and someone was asking us about applications for it we had a bit of a brainstorm and tried it out:
-Take a tablespoon of Okazu and a tablespoon of mayonnaise and stir those together;
-slather that on a crusty kaiser or soft Asian steamed bun:
-lay on a slab of braised pork belly;
-top with watercress, chow down.

OK, here's the other one - a simple, healthy snack using togarishi - a Japanese seasoning that consists of between 7 and 9 flavours, including chilies, sesame, orange peel, nori seaweed and ginger (you'll find it just past the salts near the coffee grinder):

1 bunch curly kale, washed and dried
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of togarashi with sea salt

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the kale then gently pat it dry. Remove the tough stems from each leaf, then tear the leaves into large pieces (they will shrink when they bake).
-In a large bowl drizzle the olive oil onto the kale, using your hands to massage the oil into the leaves. Sprinkle the salted togarashi onto the kale — you may need to use your hands to evenly distribute the spice.
-Lay out the leaves on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or a silpat. Bake for 16 minutes, turning after 8 minutes. Leaves should be crips and curled at the edges.



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Soup Time

Soup Time

Soup Girl Selection

Well, it took a while but a certain chill has entered the air and the autumn leaves have been just spectacular. For many people, those are the signs of a coming winter. We have another one in the shop: like clockwork, around this time of year, these beautiful jars from local producer SoupGirl start to disappear from our shelves.

It's not hard to see why. I mean, just look at them! You could just leave them on a shelf or out on the counter and they'd be beautiful decor! But they're also a brilliant idea so you're going to want to use them. Instead of assembling all the ingredients and stocking up on spices that might go for years in a cupboard before the next time you use them, SoupGirl portions all the dry ingredients you need for an assortment of delicious, nutritious, heart-warming soups into one re-usable Mason jar - you just add the liquid ingredients according to the instructions printed on the attached tag. Also on there you'll find full ingredient lists, nutritional information and handy tips for modifying the soups if you so choose. All her soups are vegetarian but you carnivores feel free to add meat!

Flavours include Spicy Coconut Lentil, Curried Cashew, Smoky Split Pea, Italian Rice & Lentil, Caribbean Rice n’ Peas Soup, The Detox, Moroccan Lentil, Za’atar Lentil and a brand new one - Bavarian Barley.

That ought to get you through winter!

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Simplifying Indian Cooking

Simplifying Indian Cooking

Even Jaswant Kular's own children were intimidated by the complexities of Indian cooking. Jaswant is an accomplished Indian cook and nutritionist but her kids were growing up as typical Canadian kids in Brampton. And while they did inherit an appreciation for their mom's cooking, they didn't really have the time or expertise or confidence to try it themselves. However, they were acquiring some other kinds of expertise and confidence in the business world so Jaswant and three daughters went into business together to take some of that intimidation factor out of Indian home cooking.
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Dad's Day

Dad's Day

Yes, we have all the typical stuff proffered as "dad-ish" on Father's Day - bottle openers and cocktail bitters and sauces and rubs for the BBQ and, of course, our great selection of Father's Day cards. And if the Dad in your life is into that stuff, well you know where to come for the best. But even those kinds of dads would probably appreciate having a break on Sunday and since the forecast is for great weather, how about YOU do the grill honours? Maybe that's YOUR thing?

The new line of Badass BBQ sauces from Wildly Delicious pack the punch the name promises and a small but mighty selection of genuine North Carolina-style sauces from Milton Ontario's Wildman's Backwoods BBQ feature that perfect balance of sweet and spicy, tangy, salty and smokey. 

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The Chef's Motto: Be Prepared (AND Stylish!)

The Chef's Motto: Be Prepared (AND Stylish!)

The key to stress-free cooking for company is to be organized. To help you with that, try our colourful "Just a Pinch" mis-en-place bowls and ModGlass casserole dishes.
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