Dining Review: We got milk

Israel is the land of milk and honey. However, for a country where soldiers eat shwarma for breakfast, most restaurants' menus are about 95 percent meat dishes and absolutely every holiday, regular day and teachers' strike is celebrated with a mangal (barbeque), it seems that the land of beef and chicken would be a decidedly more appropriate name. As such, the holiday of Shavuot is an island amongst the rest of days. It is a holiday when vegetarians such as myself can feast just about anywhere. Jerusalem institution Tmol Shilshom is debuting a new kosher dairy menu put together by chef Yaron Vinkler (of Jerusalem's Arcadia). For a dairy holiday meal Tmol offers an entree of zucchini and portobello mushrooms stir fried in a balsamic vinegar sauce and served on a bed of fresh vegetables with feta cheese and eggplant (NIS 49). For a main course, there's a special farida fillet prepared with a pine nut and pistachio sauce (NIS 73) and Chinese salep with dulce de leche and bananas for dessert (NIS 21). 5 Solomon St. (entrance through Nahalat Shiva) (02) 623-2758 At the Jerusalem Cinematheque, Lavan will introduce a new wine menu on Shavuot eve, along with a festive cheese menu. A meal (NIS 120) is a veritable smorgasbord of tapas and focaccia to be accompanied by Italian and Israeli wines. The tapas selection includes mascarpone cannelloni, spicy Saint Mor with caramelized pears and a ricotta cheese salad. 11 Hevron Rd. (02) 673-7393 Moving on over to the Tel Aviv side, Nana will serve a variety of dairy dishes by chef Peter Shikloshi. Among the specialties on offer at this Neve Tzedek neighborhood eatery are roquefort cheese puffs (NIS 42), Hungarian cheese dumplings (NIS 29) and roasted eggplant soup with goat cheese (NIS 32). 1 Ahad Haam, (03) 516-1915 Maya, in Yad Harutzim, is serving cheese ravioli in a dried fig and red wine sauce (NIS 48), seafood gnocchi in cream and roquefort sauce (NIS 82), a portobello mushroom pastry filled with goat cheese (NIS 39) and for dessert, white chocolate with pina colada toblerone (NIS 26). Alongside your meal, be sure to enjoy one or seven or more of Maya's unique creamy cocktails. 13 Yad Harutzim, Tel Aviv (03) 633-5355 For those of you tired of the traditional cheese and wine evenings, Traklin offers a refreshing change of pace with an evening of cheese and beer (NIS 215). Five different kinds of rare, premium beers will be served along with a few words from a beer connoisseur who will talk about the divine brewing process, the monasteries of origin and about beer in general. The dairy menu for this Monday evening was created by chef Moshe Yohanan and includes roasted eggplant with goat cheese, a sirloin hamburger with cheddar cheese, a Saint Mor and baby greens salad and for dessert, figs stuffed with roquefort cheese. 41 Nahalat Binyamin, Tel Aviv (03) 566-0013 Just a bit of a ways outside the city, Juliet's Kitchen has a special dairy menu planned, with such delights as fried leek and feta cheese pancakes served with a beet tzatziki (NIS 38), mushrooms and polenta in a merlot ragu with chives and St. Mor (NIS 60) and for dessert, Moroccan cigars filled with pumpkin, blueberries and pistachios (NIS 30). 42 Bialik, Ramat Hasharon (03) 540-6065 For those of you who prefer to cook at home but still don't mind leaving it now and again, 4 Chef, the everything-you-could-need-for-your-kitchen supply store, is at your service to assure a successful dairy dinner. Their Shavuot products vary from cloth bags for making your own cheese (NIS 19) to a selection of cheese knives (NIS 11-20) and special cheesecake pans (NIS 79.90- 91) to rotating serving trays on which you can put your cheese and/or cheese-based dishes (NIS 74-139). 11 Carlibach, Tel Aviv (03) 561-1803; 100 Nahalat Binyamin, Tel Aviv (03) 681-2461 If you cannot escape your carnivorous inclinations but still desire that oh-so-festive feeling, then the burger joints Agadir and Black Bar 'n' Burger heed your nature with special dairy desserts on offer. The former has a banana strudel made from layers of bananas, toffee, cookie crumbs, whipped cream, vanilla and meringue (NIS 33) and Black has chef Tzachi Bukshester's famous "say cheese" cheese cake. To locate a branch near you: Black - www.rest.co.il/_intros/black/new/; Agadir *5690 or www.agadir.co.il/ For those lactose-intolerant Jews out there, might I suggest Christianity and/or Islam for the weekend. Or just wait the holiday out and we'll be back to our carnivorous, blood-lusting selves in a couple of days. Enjoy!