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Look! A Whale! From January through May, Pacific gray whales make their way north. During this annual migration, volunteers at Bodega Head are on hand every Saturday and Sunday to answer your questions and help you out with your viewing.

During nice weather, you may want to avoid the traffic and the crowds by doing your viewing on a weekday, especially if you are an experienced whale watcher.

Bring a picnic and spend the day or hang out for a while and then enjoy lunch at a local eatery, such as Spud Point Crab Company (1910 Westshore Rd.), Fisherman’s Cove (1850 Bay Flat Rd.) or The Birds Cafe (835 Bay Highway). (Please note that Spud Point Crab Company and Fisherman’s Cove are next door to each other; do not let the variation in addresses confuse you.)


Mardi Gras Continues: It may be Lent, but there are opportunities to pretend it’s still Mardi Gras, so don’t pack away your colored beads just yet. Coming up on Saturday, February 21, is the Third Annual ArtQuest Mardi Gras Ball, taking place at DeTurk Round Barn (819 Donahue St., Santa Rosa) from 5:30 to 9:45 p.m.

The evening features Cajun-inspired appetizers, wine, beer, Hurricane cocktails, a silent auction, a live auction and dancing to Gator Beat.

Cost is $65 per person, plus a service fee; tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com, event number 871091.

The fete benefits ArtQuest, a magnet program for visual and performing arts at Santa Rosa High School.

For more information, visit artquestonline.org.

Festive Mardi Gras attire is enthusiastically encouraged.


A Night in Sonoma, A Year in Champagne: On Thursday, March 5, Santé at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn hosts a very special evening, with a premier of the new film, “A Year In Champagne.”

The film offers a behind-the-scenes exploration of both small producers and the long-established Champagne houses in what may be the world’s most recognizable wine appellation. David Kennard, the film’s writer, director and senior producer, will host a Q & A session following the screening.

Next comes a reception, with Veuce Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne from Reims, followed by dinner.

Executive chef Bruno Tison, who hails from France not far from Champagne, and Andrew Cain, chef de cuisine, have crafted a four-course dinner menu celebrating the occasion.

Cost is $225 per person for the screening, reception and dinner. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Sonoma International Film Festival.

The film will be released in selected theaters and on iTunes on Friday, March 6.

It is the second film in a trilogy; the first is “A Year in Burgundy.” For more information, visit ayearinchampagne.com.

Tickets are available at eventbrite.com, though as of press time the Web site was not functioning.

If you are unable to buy tickets on line, call (800)257-7544.


Dancing in the New Season: Next Wednesday, February 25, Russian River Rose Company (1685 Magnolia Dr., Healdsburg) hosts a very special benefit, “On the Wine of Spring,” for an upcoming performance by the UPside Dance Company.

The new performance, “Chrysalis,” takes place at Shed in Healdsburg on March 21 and 22.

The evening’s three-course menu, with local chefs Jake Martin and Kolin Vazzoler at the helm, will celebrate the story the dance performance tells, which is a provocative look at the unfurling of spring.

Local wines will be paired with each course.

There will be a raffle, some surprise glimpses into the world of dance and general merriment in a beautiful little oasis.

Seating is very limited and reservations are essential. Cost is $60 per person.

To snag a seat, visit brownpapertickets.com, event number 1252361.


East Wind & Mahjong: I stopped by the new East Wind Bakery (3851 Sebastopol Rd., #109, Santa Rosa) a few days ago and left smiling and happy.

We now have traditional (and delicious) pork buns ($1.50 each) in the heart of Sonoma County.

While there, I also tried a croissant filled with pork belly, a beef bun and a sugar cookie.

The sweet little cafe--actually, it’s not so little, there is plenty of seating, including benches outside — serves breakfast and lunch, offering a mix of traditional American foods, a wide array of Asian selections including bahn mi and purple yam bao and a few surprising dishes, like a carnitas sandwich with salsa verde and clam chowder pot pie.

If you are looking for milk bread, which makes a velvety bread pudding, you’ll find it here.

The bakery also has several types of French-style hearth breads, cakes, scones, tarts, pizza rolls and cupcakes, including a whimsically gorgeous Hawaiian cupcake.

Beverages include an interesting selection of teas and there are even fresh-baked treats for your pampered pups.

There is a thoughtful, pristine flair to everything here, a quality that conveys that the bakers not only know what they are doing; they also love what they do.

On the counter above the display of Asian pastries was a clipboard with a sign-up sheet for an evening of mahjong, complete with instruction for those who do not know how to play.

Participation is free and it takes place this Saturday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. To sign up, just stop by.

East Wind Bakery is open Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, call 709-6098 or visit eastwindbakery.com.

Michele Anna Jordan has written 19 books to date, including the new “More Than Meatballs.” Email Jordan at catsmilk@sonic.net. You’ll find her blog, “Eat This Now,” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

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