So last week, we were invited by a friend of ours to attend their Holiday Samplings Blogger Event held at none other than Oxford Exchange. Originally, Ryan had planned on attending, but when some thing came up at work that needed some attending to, I just so happened to be free to swing by for a GREAT time!
I found a parking spot and made my way in to check in and grab a program for the evening’s events. After finding myself a glass of champagne (Keep in mind I walked in having only the knowledge that our one friend would be attending), I did a lap and took a look at some of the books in OE’s bookstore. As I walked through the main atrium, I spotted our friend and quickly got into conversation with her about my newly formed excitement for this event.
We were directed to head into the main room of Oxford Exchange where Buddy Brew Coffee and Tebella are served to hear about some great holiday appetizers Executive Chef, Erin Guggino had prepared. Erin prepared two appetizers for holiday parties that can be made rather quickly. The first was a dried fig with goat cheese and toasted walnuts. I have only had figs in a spread before, so I was a bit nervous on how it would taste. In the dim light of OE, you could have told me the fig was a brownie and I would have been ALL OVER IT! Anyways, the app was good and seemed really easy to make. The second app was a butternut squash soup shooter with pumpkin seeds for garnish. Ryan and I have butternut squash soup a lot, so I was looking forward to tasting it. The soup was delicious and I could definitely see it being served at an upcoming holiday party.
Next up on our agenda for the evening was a pairings tasting hosted by Tebella Tea Company and Buddy Brew Coffee. Now I am not a tea drinker at all and I have only recently been turned on to the coffee train, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this one. The Tebella pairing was interesting because it paired a piece of delicious dark chocolate with a Peppermint Bark infused tea. Now it seems like it could be an odd pairing, however, the two components worked nicely together, so I was pleased with it. Moving on, Buddy Brew Coffee tackled their go at pairing a chocolate with one of their coffees. The directions given for the coffee pairing was to break a piece of the chocolate into your mouth and let it sit for a moment. After it has had the chance to melt a little, take a sip of the coffee and swish them around in your mouth. This caused the chocolate to create a chocolate ganash in your mouth and tasted DELICIOUS!
Next up on the night was the 7th Avenue Apothecary introduction from owner, Erin Grossman. Erin and her cousin, Jessica Pesano explained that they are 5th generation Tampa natives that create popular scents inspired by Tampa. They have a special scent sold exclusively at Oxford Exchange and other scents that include Pumpkin Clove, Frasier Fir and Thyme, and the most delicious sounding to me, Salted Honey and Peanut Butter. These ladies are HARD WORKERS! They pour each of the candles by hand and after chatting with them and sharing our blog with them, they invited our team to come check out their space (Post to come in 2014).
Towards the end of the night, we had some free time to shop around and I snapped a few pics of the items I thought were really awesome. After a few minutes of shopping, they took us on a tour of the facility. Leading the behind the scenes tour of Oxford Exchange was Designer, MaryBeth Courier, and Director, Allison Adams. During the tour, I learned lots of new things, like the fact that there is no WIFI downstairs on purpose because the owners want you to chat with your friends and not be distracted by your phone all meal. Also, the Commerce Club is their version of a Co-op space that people can pay to use to run their small business and the cost is only $100 a month. We also learned that during the renovations, horseshoes and milk bottle were dug up from under the original building which dates back to the 1890s. In the dining room, they shared that the wood on the floor was reclaimed from Kentucky. As we finished our tour, we stopped in the courtyard area and I learned that not only can you get married at Oxford Exchange, but the roof in that courtyard is RETRACTABLE!
On the way out, the best part was that we were given goodie bags. My goodie bag was packed with delicious kettle corn, a cookie, and a pumpkin clove candle (from 7th Ave. Apothecary),as well as a preview of the menu at OE’s newest venture: O.E. Market. The menu looks delicious and is located on the corner of Hyde Park and Grand Central (next door to the “Retreat” or the “Trap” for those former UT alum). It is only three or four store fronts away from the back of Oxford Exchange.
In addition to a goodie bag, we were given an item to giveaway to our fans! Let’s just say, OE has some really good “taste”! To be in the running to win this “treat” from Oxford Exchange and NHIE Tampa, comment on this post, share the post on Facebook, or Tweet it out to your friends! Happy Holidays!