News

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!

Read more

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!

Read more

That's a Wrap!

BeesWrap

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!

Read more

RECIPE: Okazu Theory into Practice

Okazu Recipe

One of the great pleasures of having a store that offers specialty ingredients is hearing about the myriad ways customers put those ingredients together and we thought it might be fun to share those with our readers from time to time.

Susan Gesner's recipe built around one of our favourite ingredients - Spicy Chilli Miso from Toronto's Abokichi - earned her the designation of "Okazu Master" and includes a few ingredients you'll find on our shelves, including Kozlik's Amazing Maple mustard and some balsamic vinegar or glaze (we've gone with Nonna Pia's basic reduction here).

We tried a couple of variations of Susan's recipe (including a sous vide rendition - which is great for texture but the glaze doesn't caramelize in the same way). Of course, we get our OceanWise salmon down the street at De La Mer and the one step we always think is worthwhile for salmon is to prep the fish with a dry brine: coat the fish with a mixture of salt and sugar and put it on a plate in the fridge for half an hour or so. This will draw out some of the excess moisture and eliminate the white albumen-y stuff that often emerges when cooking salmon. Just wash off the mixture and pat dry before proceeding. Here's Susan's recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • Enough Atlantic salmon / Arctic Char for 4 people
  • 2 tablespoons of spicy chili or chili miso
  • 1 tablespoon of Kozlik’s Amazing Maple mustard
    • or other sweet tinged mustard such as the Russian
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (either glaze or regular)
    • I usually use a balsamic fig or some kind of strong flavoured balsamic
  • Pepper as you wish

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 420F

Wash and dry dry-brined fish and place in an over-proof pan lined with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix chili miso, mustard, balsamic and pepper together. Spread this all over the top of the fish. When the oven is hot, put in middle rack and set timer for approximately 20 minutes.

Serve and enjoy with your favourite sides.

If you've come up with your own recipe using ingredients sourced at the Mercantile, feel free to share them with us and maybe we can make these community recipes a regular feature!

 

 

 

Read more

It's Wendy Friday!

Wendy Tancock new designs

We've known Wendy Tancock from before there was a Mercantile. Over decades, she has created a body of designs that combine a naïve graphic style with a sharp sense of observation and wit that is engaging, concise, funny, instantly recognizable and always uniquely Canadian. From hand-selling topical T-shirts out of cardboard boxes at Toronto events in the mid-'90s, we've watched her distinctly cottage-industry-scale business catch on with larger and larger markets beyond the city limits.

Now, we're very excited for Wendy that a new distribution partnership is helping customers across Canada be as charmed by her as we've always been. That partnership is also allowing her to branch out in terms of products and we're thrilled to be able to offer her new line of tea towels along with an enhanced selection of coffee mugs and - as usual - her Canuck-centric greeting cards.

So, while you've always been able to find Wendy's greeting cards on our rack in the middle of the store and you've regularly been able to find some of her mugs on our shelves, we're celebrating her success this week with a special window display and an in-store feature spot.

Come in and be charmed. Everyone knows it's Wendy!

 

Read more

Cold Cold Hearts make a Warm Valentine's Dinner

You can pick up all kinds of Valentine's treats this weekend for the LOVE-liest day of the year coming up next week: Popcorn and chocolate Caramel Hearts from Be Mine, Laura Slack's Raspberry Ganache Valentine Dark Chocolate Bar and specialty confections from Denman Island and Saxon Chocolates.

But for a cozy night in, you might want to plan ahead. These ricotta-filled ravioli from Queen's Pasta are cold, cold hearts - but only because we keep them in the freezer at the back of the store. Boil from frozen until they float, finish in a pan with some brown butter, parmesan and pancetta, sprinkle with parsley, serve with a nice bottle of prosecco and things can only get hotter from there!

Pick them up this weekend - quantities are limited!

Read more

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!

Read more

January Sale Series 4: Tea Leaves

Tea Leaves T

The final addition to our January sale roster (alongside Meredith's Ruby Ginger, NowDesigns Retro-ware and enviro-friendly water bottles) comes as a much needed respite to a busy, cold and perhaps over indulgent start to the year.

Tea is a very personal choice. We have some customers who drive in from Thornhill a couple of times a year to stock up on just one specific blend from Kusmi and we have some customers who regularly pile on multiple Pukka blends for different moods and moments. Whether you're looking for relaxation, fortification or invigoration, ultimately what you're seeking is an expert balancing of flavours, aromas and effects that address multiple senses.

Tealeaves of Vancouver - from their exquisite blends to their gorgeous packaging to their distinctive pyramid sachets - have truly embraced the full range of sensations in the execution of the Art of Tea. White, black, oolong, organic and green teas combined with flavours both traditional and exotic could be just the break you need at this time of year. And they're now 20% off!

 

Read more

January Sales Series 3: RetroWare!

Now Designs Retro Ware

I'm willing to bet that the item in the store most commonly the subject of a "hey, check this out!" comment between couples is any one of these stylish dishes. The company is called NowDesign but the look is decidedly retro and recalls those great CorningWare dishes that brought tuna casseroles from oven to table decades ago (and still do in our nostalgic reveries!).

They are oven, microwave, refrigerator and dishwasher safe and come in a variety of sizes, colours and designs. And here's the best part: as the third entry in our January Weekly Sale Series, they are all 20% through until the end of the month!

You'll find them to your right just inside the door.

Also...
We're experimenting with new Sunday hours. Starting this weekend we'll open at 11:00am instead of noon - closed at 6:00pm as usual.

Read more

January sales series continues with Ruby Ginger Elixir

Meredith's Ruby Ginger Elixir

As anyone who's ever taken a Roncy Food Nook tour will know, we're proud to offer the complete line of syrups and elixirs from Meredith's Ginger of Meaford Ontario year round - in spite of not having a whole lot of room in our modest fridge! But this time of year we have to make a little extra room for Meredith's seasonal specialty Ruby Ginger Elixir, made with fresh clementine, cranberry and orange blossom.

We hate to admit it, that festive season is coming to an end and so we need to make room for other things in our fridge. And as part of our January weekly sale series, we're offering the remainder of the RGE at 25% off, starting today through next Thursday (or until it's gone, whichever comes first!)

You'll find the fridge at the back of the store on the left.

Read more

A Fresh Start

Green's Your Colour and Que Water Bottles

If you're anything like us, the last couple of weeks have included a fair bit of indulgence. And fair enough, we all need that from time to time - though the evidence is clear that the planet itself suffers from our excesses often more than we do ourselves. 

While New Year's Resolutions can come from a genuine desire to change or improve, more often they are designed to atone for our exorbitances, which is perhaps why they fail so often: as the memory of our pleasures fades, so too does the impulse to limit them.

So here's a resolution that's simple to keep, good for you regardless of your susceptibility to indulgence and good for the planet to boot: carry a re-usable bottle and drink more water!
Every minute, one million plastic bottles are purchased worldwide, and 91% of all plastic isn’t recycled. 180 different animal species have been documented to ingest plastics containing BPA, many of which are permanently injured or die as a result of the poison. The Pacific Institute suggests the production of bottled water takes 2000 times the energy required to produce tap water. And Toronto tap water is some of the very best in the world - subject to far more rigorous testing standards than bottled water.

Green's Your Colour is a Burlington Ontario-based company that offers triple-insulated bottles in 350ml, 500ml and 800ml sizes in a variety of designs (Island Life and DinoStomper are pictured at left) and the makers of the lightweight que collapsable silicone containers (pictured at right)  donate 10% of profits to the Rainforest Trust so it's a win win win for you, the planet and your resolutions!

And now, we're offering BOTH lines of these handy containers at 20% off! Quantities are limited.

 

Read more

Happy New Year from The Mercantile

Happy New Year!

As we look forward to entering our 10th year on Roncesvalles, we wanted to thank you all for making us your friendly neighbourhood specialty shop. Whether you're looking for a special gift or that missing ingredient for your first foray into Moroccan cooking or a simple treat on the way home, it is so gratifying to meet our customers daily, weekly or even just occasionally and know that they think of us as the place where you're likely to find just the thing.

Thanks to you all, we had a terrific 2017 and we hope you did too. And of course, we hope that 2018 brings you everything you hope for and that you'll keep us in mind for both your every day needs and your special occasions.

It goes without saying that we are also your go-to store for ringing in the New Year - whether you're hosting or looking to bring just the right contribution to the snack or bar table: the best selection of aromatic bitters in the neighbourhood, cocktail mixers and soft drinks, snacks, chocolates, olives, pickles, gourmet treats or all kinds and accoutrements for the bar, cheese board or kitchen counter. And of course we've got Walter Craft Caesar Mix for New Year's Day!

Have a safe and happy new year and we look forward to serving you in 2018.

A reminder that we're open 10:00am-4:00pm on December 31st, closed on New Year's Day.

Read more
142 results
Back to the top
Copyright © 2018 The Mercantile.
Continue shopping
Your Order

You have no items in your cart