Daily Pleasures – Getting Cozy With a Morning Tea and Torta Pasqualina Brunch at La Merceria Cafe

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On cloudy, chilly, rain misty days, all you want to do is hit the snooze button and burrow under the covers where it’s nice and warm and cozy for the rest of the day.  But we know we have to haul ourselves out of the comforts of our burrito blankets to start the day, so the next best thing?  Cozying up in a relaxing coffee and tea shop with some hot tea (or coffee for you all the java lovers out there!) and brunch to shake off that “I desparately want to be in my bed” feeling. 

I promised you guys I would blog about the food and munchies at La Merceria in my introductory post back in September, so here are the goods!  After I showed you all how much I fancied the tea, cookies, and beautiful kitchen decor goodies in the shop, I went back one morning and ordered me some hot tea and brunch before my day started at Le Dolci.  Seeing as I had a little bit of time to kill, I went in completely on a whim and made the decision to have brunch right then and there.  Nothing like a little visual temptation to seal the deal, right?

I knew I wanted a tea (one of these days I will get to the lattes and coffee drinks!), but the munchies I wanted remained a question mark.  Did I want a bagel?  Did I want a sandwich?  Something sweet?  Some salad?  I went with…none of the aforementioned.  Instead, I went for the delicious looking quiche-pie-like slice ($4-$6) staring back at me from inside the display case.  And that “quiche-pie-like” piece of yummy was a spinach and egg torta pasqualina!  Wait…what?!  I know, I couldn’t even pronounce the word at first, I just knew I wanted it because it looked and sounded good.  Torta pasqualina (or pascualina), is an Italian savoury pie most popular in, and originating from, the region of Liguria*.  The dish, known as “Easter pie” in Italian, is also a very common one in Argentina and Uruguay, making it so perfect and fitting for La Merceria given the cafe’s Argentinian roots and flavour.

Torta pasqualina is very similar to Greek spanakopita and quiche, but with some obvious differences.  Firstly, spanakopita (or Greek spinach pie as it is more commonly referred to) is typically made from sheets of phyllo dough where the dough is paper thin and crispy after being baked.  In contrast, the exterior of torta pasqualina isn’t necessarily crispy in texture.  In some cases, it can be cooked with puff pastry, but many others (like the ones at La Merceria) are much more dough and pie-crust like as they are made with an olive oil bread dough.  The filling is delicious, and there are so many ways you can play around with the ingredients.  Traditionally, pasqualina fillings incorporate some form of vegetable, ricotta, cheese, and egg mixture with fresh herbs, but you could just as easily find ones with meat fillings as well.

This was SUCH a delicious dish to have for brunch.  I love savoury pies (much more than sweet pies, actually!) and my pasqualina was stuffed to the nines with spinach and boiled eggs.  The pie crust was flaky and had that tasty, subtle butteryness in that flaky outer layer, and the spinach and egg filling was flavourful and moist.  You might think something like this might be a bit drying with the dough exterior, but it wasn’t; the soft spinach was the perfect pairing for the dough.  And it was BIG!  I didn’t even finish the whole thing for brunch.  I drank my tea, ate half of the pie, and saved the rest for lunch!  It’s hard not to love a brunch that eats like two meals.

And it’s hard not to love a tea that’s pink!  Turning a delightful shade of pink when steeped, Tealish’s Toasty Almond smells and tastes heavenly.  It’s nearly identical in taste and composition to Davids Tea’s Forever Nuts, so if you’re looking for sweet, nutty almond teas, both of them fit the bill.  Toasty Almond is the kind of tea that envelopes you when you drink it, giving you that “oh my goodness, I’m hugging my tea and my tea is hugging me back” feeling.  The smell is amazing, the teabag is so cute with the little knot and pouch floating in the mug, and the nice thing about this is the hint of sweetness combined with that earthy almond taste.  The sweetness comes from the apple and cinnamon in the tea and the gorgeous pink colour comes from the beetroot.  It’s a dessert tea and in my opinion, this one doesn’t have the “tea” aftertaste that so many people shy away from.  It’s reminiscent of almond cookies and almond croissants.  

La Merceria is such a treasure chest for me with its stationery, gifts, and kitchenwares and combined with the teas and great brunch, it’s hard to resist coming here every.single.day.  I would, but I like to space my visits out a bit so I can try something new each time and pace myself before exhausting all my options.  That, and because I don’t want to be tempted by beautiful tea cups and tea towels every single time I’m here.  The holidays are nearing, and I don’t anticipate it getting any easier come December.     

*****

Source*=  Citrus and Candy 

La Merceria is located at 506 Adelaide Street West by the northwest corner of Adelaide and Portland Street, east of Bathurst.  La Merceria is located beside Sadie’s Diner and Juice Bar.  Visit their website and blog here for updates, info, promos, events, pictures, and contact information and visit their Facebook page here.