•  Nostalgia for the olde tyme shop her family owned led Maggie Ahern to open a little bit of candy heaven in old Webster Groves. Earlier in the summer she moved her arts ‘n crafts business, Firehouse Gallery, upstairs to make room for Sweetie’s Candy and Cones. One wall holds shelves of candies in jars that young hands will love to load into pails. The grown-up chocolates and truffles from Christopher’s in Kansas City are in a curved glass display cabinet. But the showstopper is the Olde New Orleans Ice Shaver on the back counter. The chipped flakes are compacted by hand into sno-cones, complete with 30 flavored syrups as toppings. Or you can opt from a dozen flavors of Edy’s ice cream instead. Stroller moms will love the walk-up window at 130 W. Lockwood Ave.

•  A second location of Trattoria Branica is set to open in a few weeks, but Branica Wine Bar is already pouring at 449 So. Kirkwood Road. Tucked away from the restaurant, this section is cozy with ochre walls and a great patio out front. Enjoy the 3- or 6-ounce pours (or a whole bottle) from the worldly wine list put together by owner and seasoned oenophile SAM KACAR. The bar’s small plates menu includes Toast D’oca, a duck prosciutto pannini, a seafood ‘martini’ and gelato flavors like giandujia and blood orange. There is live music Wednesday through Saturday nights.. 

•  At the 16th Signature Chefs soiree at The Ritz Carlton Sept. 3, an incredible buffet prepared by the best of the best St. Louis chefs was enjoyed while the gourmet dinner auction raised funds for March of Dimes. Spicy Bits learned that the grilled aged filet mignon served by Annie Gunn’s was the favorite dish of event honoree PAT McGINNIS. The Nestle Purina CEO was feted for his dedication to giving every baby a healthy start.

•  The Basics of Fair Trade with Tastings, a series of three instructional (and delicious) classes at Missouri Botanical Garden offers a sampling of exquisite chocolate from around the world. Then coffee entrepreneur DAVID HILGEMAN will go from coffee bush to cup when he follows the journey of a coffee bean. Last, LORI ALLEN, green boutique owner and green fashion guru, will show and tell some of the luxurious and surprising clothing being made from sustainably grown bamboo, recycled plastic bottles and other materials while she offers a sampling of Fair Trade teas available in St. Louis. Sign up for the series at www.mobot.org; classes are at the Kemper Center from 7 to 9p.m.

•  On Sun. Sept. 28, in the bucolic setting of Mount Pleasant Winery in Augusta, more than 30 top chefs from St. Louis private clubs and restaurants will participate in this year’s Chefs Country BBQ. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis event benefits the organization’s Education Foundation. Tickets are $50 per person, available online at www.mountpleasant.com.

•  Either you love sushi or you hate it…but anyone can love watching a sushi-eating contest. And this year’s third annual Wasabi Sushi Eating Contest has more than sushi on the menu. BBQ from Fat Toney’s, Tapas from BARcelona, as well as contemporary American fare from Lucas Park Grille and Thai tastes from Sen will be available at the free street festival Sunday, Sept. 21, from 3 to 8 p.m. on Washington Avenue between Tucker and 13th streets. There will also be kimono modeling, Taiko drummers and…karaoke, of course. If you want to eat more sushi than any rationale human being should, sign up to be a contestant at www.wasabistl.com.

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

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