♦  Spicy Bits had a peek at the floor plans for The Market at Busch’s Grove recently when PAUL POE gave Yours Truly a personal tour. Having shaped and formed the Straub’s Markets, Poe explained how well suited the rambling restaurant is to become a high-end grocery store: The former lounge will be the produce department; the wood-paneled Grove Room will house both the meat cases and the wine selections; access to the fireplace room will be opened up and provide space for the high-end cheese counter to the south and the bakery and barista to the north. Alas, the ‘cabin rooms’ will go the way of the old huts, dismantled to make room for an extensive deli and prepared food section. But their custom woodwork will be incorporated into the store’s design by architect JEFF MILLER. Anticipating minimal construction, Poe predicts those beautiful wood doors will open wide by late October.

♦  Two announcements last week from team Monarch make their chef shuffle complete. JOSHUA GALLIANO (of An American Place) will be the new executive chef at the Maplewood restaurant starting Monday, Sept. 22, and KEVIN STHAIR will be the exec chef at Herbie’s, their reincarnation of Balaban’s, set to open mid-October in the CWE. CHRIS TIRONE will take the top toque at An American Place. In his three-day hiatus between gigs, Josh is planning to take his wife Audra out to dinner on a Saturday night, something chefs can never do.

♦  The Saint Louis Culinary Society is bringing award-winning cookbook author RAGHAVAN IYER to St. Louis. On Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m. the sought-after culinary instructor will demonstrate recipes from and sign copies of his latest book, 660 Curries, at Kitchen Conservatory. “Curry has nothing to do with powder in a can and everything to do with amazing flavors,” writes Iyer. To reserve your spot to learn about the world of Indian cooking, send a $15 check to the St. Louis Culinary Society at 10829 Vargas Dr., St. Louis, MO, 63123

♦  When an invitation for a Sugar Free Cookie Launch Party arrived, I thought: Can I take my sons?  They had a blast. By the time they met cookie queen CATHY VILLHARD, they had lost track of how many chocolate cherry walnut cookies they had eaten. Villhard, the CEO of Batter Up Cookies, decided to introduce Grand Slam Sugar Free Cookies to provide a gourmet treat for those who can’t eat sugar. The Cranberry Orange Oatmeal was my favorite. Soon to be added to the online ordering line-up at www.batterupcookies.com will be Key Lime shortbread!

♦  A trio of Certified Wine Specialists is poised to launch the St. Louis Wine Clinic on Sept. 8. Clinic partners STANLEY BROWNE and JENNIFER JOHNSON are joined this year by MIKE WARD, Major Brands’ state wine educator. In addition to tasting wine from different regions, students will learn about viticulture (grape growing) and winemaking chemistry. Entertaining anecdotes are promised, as well, when the clinic meets on Mondays from 6-8 p.m. Of the 400 students who have participated in the clinic, more than 75 have passed their intermediate and advanced level exams for the Master Court of Sommeliers. To register or learn more go to www.stlouiswineclinic.com.

♦  In other wine news, a cabernet was for the first time awarded a gold medal by the Missouri Wine and Grape Board. Mount Pleasant Winery’s 2005 Cabernet earned the distinction at this summer’s wine competition, where 10 judges tasted 228 of Missouri’s finest wines. Mount Pleasant also earned gold for its 2006 Claret. Do you think they played the Missouri Waltz at the awards ceremony?

Got something for Spicy Bits?  Write to Amy Peck Abraham at spicybits@laduenews.com.

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