Ways to be French: You don't have to wait until this Sunday to kick up your heels French style; Bastille Day celebrations throughout the Bay Area are already underway.
In San Francisco, RN74's fete takes place Friday beginning at 4:30 p.m. and continuing all evening, with a special menu and live music. A highlight at this venue is a Roaring '20s costume contest, so if your inner flapper has been longing for a night on the town, this is for you. RN74 is located at 301 Mission St. For more information, visit rn74.com or call 415-543-7474.
On Saturday night, the Occidental Center for the Arts (3850 Doris Murphy Court, Occidental) hosts a show with two French musical trios. Un Deux Trois, featuring Robert Lunceford on accordion, Lisa Iskin on guitar and vocals and Jan Martinelli on electric bass, specializes in contemporary and original French music. La Guinguette, with Christiane Lelaura on vocals, Al Hass on guitar and accordionist Lunceford, celebrates with classic French and Italian cafe music from the early to mid-20th century.
Things get started at 8 p.m. Admission is $15; special refreshments will be available for purchase.
On Sunday, Patrick Martin, chef and owner of Restaurant Charcuterie (335 Healdsburg Ave.), and his son, sous chef Jake Martin, will celebrate Bastille Day with live music by Joseph Bain from 6 to 8 p.m.
The restaurant serves Sunday brunch from noon to 3:30 p.m. and re-opens for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Reservations, though not required, are recommended. Snag yours by calling 431-7213. To peruse the Charcuterie's Mediterranean menu, visit charcuteriehealdsburg.com
If you feel like a drive to Marin, the Left Bank Brasserie (507 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur) will celebrate la revolution with live music, costumed staff, French decorations and a special menu featuring celeri remoulade, rabbit terrine, steak sans culottes and a Madame de Pompadour tart with strawberries and vanilla cream.
The regular menu will also be available throughout the day. For reservations and exact hours of service, call 415-927-3331.
The Big Q: This Saturday, Sonoma Academy, located off Kawana Springs Road in southeast Santa Rosa, welcomes several dozen pitmasters from across the country for a barbecue contest and tasting extravaganza.
The Third Annual Wine Country Big Q, the only national barbecue competition in Sonoma County, takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. The event is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, which supports about 400 events in 44 states each year.
The event features more than a single competition. Participants vie for the best bacon dessert, the best beans, the Rancher's Reserve Beef Cup and more.
For a list of competing teams and the 2011 and 2012 winners, visit winecountrybigq.com, where you can also purchase tickets. Admission is $45 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and under.
Proceeds benefit the Children's Museum of Sonoma County, scheduled to open next spring.
Early summer farm forum: On Sunday, the next farm forum takes place at 2 p.m., with forum founder Clark Wolf as mediator, at Shone Farm (7450 Steve Olson Lane, just off Eastside Road in Forestville). Panelists include David Bice of Redwood Hill Farm and Creamery; John Stewart of Zazu Restaurant; Traci Dutton, sommelier at Greystone in St. Helena and several others.
This forum takes place within the Press Democrat's North Coast Wine Challenge Tasting and is open to attendees of the tasting only; no tickets will be sold separately or at the door.