Florida, and sometimes Tampa, is too well-known for embarrassing headlines. Jill Kelley, botched voting, and strip clubs, among many other hilarious if not damning tales, color the rest of the country’s views of us. I don’t question why nearly all the friends I grew up with have left in a hurry, for more sophisticated, progressive places. (On the flipside, so many of my current friends have chosen Tampa to settle down, coming from colder, harsher, more conservative places!)
Thankfully, there are a lot of awesome things borne locally too. Most of us don’t leave urban Tampa, so what goes on beyond those boundaries may as well be a separate state. Living in a bubble has its benefits…
I’ve written about the Oxford Exchange, which opened a little over a year ago, probably too much. It has become a crown jewel of social redevelopment in the Downtown scene – a destination for a range of people and purposes. It feels straight out of Northeastern scholastica, and maintains its draw with regularly updated store curation and repurposing of its restaurant and multi-use space for events.
Smartly, the owners tapped local merchants (TeBella, Buddy Brew, Seventh Avenue Apothecary) to open outposts and sell their wares in the store, rather than only bringing in new brands. It’s a healthy mix of both local and non, which happily surfs the wave of awesome locally-made products and services now available, which wasn’t always the case.
This Christmas, I stopped into the store after a tea date and happened across a fabulous native Tampa treat: Toffee To Go. As one of Oprah’s favorite things, I felt obligated to buy for the family.
Sadly, they left on vacation the day after, and the box has taunted me all week, its refrigerated crunchy sweet goodness quite challenging to resist.
This, coming from a devout anti-sugar zealot. The main appeal is how fresh it tastes – no funky coatings or far-off factory undertones. Just delicious, hearty candy that fulfills the sweet tooth.
All I can say is, you should try it. If I bless it, and Oprah approves, how can you go wrong? Plus, locally. Made!!
The toffee comes in a couple flavors, but I’m partial to dark chocolate, which is paired here with pecans. A pound box runs $27. Stop by their Bay to Bay Boulevard main location, or hit up the OE. You won’t regret it.