To once and future victories

A variety of traditional Purim treats, at least until the next Persian empire is overthrown.

At Purim, Jews celebrate their victory over a Persian despot dedicated to their annihilation with the drinking of copious amounts of wine and cookies with triangular shapes inspired by said despot's ears. Hopefully Purim II, with our new and improved villain - the nuke-seeking Ahmadinejad - will have just as happy an ending and will be marked by the eating of warhead-shaped cookies. Until then, we'll simply have to make do with the well-worn story line - plus special deals at restaurants and bars. Unless noted otherwise, specials begin on Thursday evening and continue through the next day. A number of major establishments have put together fixed-priced meals, often with a theme. Reservations are encouraged, as is dressing in costume, especially since a) that is the custom, and b) your costume could entitle you to some special reward. If you would like to experience some Persian culinary offerings, then Bar Giora (Rehov Bar Giora 4, (03) 620-4880) is where you want to be. Beginning Thursday night at 8 and continuing through midnight the next day, NIS 79 will get each diner a first course of Gundi soup (chickpea and chicken dumplings), a main course of khoresht aaloo (white Persian rice with stewed beef and dried fruits), dessert of semolina halva and that most important glass of house wine. Should you decide that Persian food may be put off until the glorious Iranian empire extends its borders westward, then might I suggest Indian? Indira (Rehov Shaul Hamelech 4, (03) 695-4437) has a fixed-price menu for NIS 99. But remember, if you go Indian, dress Indian - no joke. First course is a choice from various soups, Tibetan onion rings or chicken wings. The main course is to be chosen from various meat dishes, all of which are served with rice, vegetables and naan bread, to be followed by a traditional Indian dessert. All of which you will enjoy while imbibing from your bottomless glass of wine. Continuing on the ethnic food trip, further options include Italian and Asian - both important culinary traditions for any Jew. Allora (Rehov Rothschild 60, (03) 566-5655) provides a beautifully romantic Italian atmosphere, so it makes sense that their fixed-price meal is for two. The NIS 259 menu includes a first-course choice between roasted eggplant, mussels or bruschetta - all accompanied by the house focaccia baked in their imported brick oven, as are a surprisingly great many of the über-delicious menu items. For the main course, each diner may choose from a number of fish and meat dishes or various pastas. However, there are two reasons to go for a pizza. First, they are unreal, coming out of that Italian brick oven that makes everything so tasty. Second, the pizzas will be prepared in the shape ofhamantaschen (Yiddish for the Hebrew oznei Haman ). Dessert is to be chosen from the regular options, such as tiramisu and chocolate soufflé with French vanilla ice cream. Along with the meal, each diner will receive a glass of champagne and a digestif. On the Asian end of things, Choya (Rehov Kreminski 2, (03) 562-6665) is offering a choice from five sushi combo platters and a bottomless cup of sake for NIS 98. Over in Kfar Saba, theBarcarola (Rehov Atir Yeda 13, (09) 766-9606) is going Middle Ages on your megilla. From Thursday 7:30 through 11:30 that evening, staff will be dressed in medieval garb, food and drink will be served in Middle Age dishes and court jesters (courtesy of the street theater troupe Ascara) will provide the entertainment. The menu, designed by chef Eran Zino, is priced at NIS 210 per diner and includes a bottomless glass of the new Belgium beers on tap there. Some places realize that customers might not be in the mood to dress up. Despite this unfortunate prospect, these caring establishments have decided to dress up their food, so at least,something at the table will convey the holiday spirit. Start with the always stylin' Traklin (Rehov Nahalat Binyamin 41, (03) 566-0013) where phylo dough hamantaschen tapas are priced between NIS 39 and NIS 42 per dish. Offered fillings include shrimps and calamari in coconut milk, ground lamb with spicy salsa and beef in red wine sauce. This meat and wine bistro will also do you well if you are just plain hungry for meat, with various cuts on the menu such as porterhouse and NY strip. At Deca (Rehov Hatasiya 10, (03) 562-9900), chef Yaniv Caspi has created a number of costumed dishes - to be served by costumed staff of course - such as a clown's hat made of phylo dough and tuna tartar and hamantaschen made from pasta dough filled with white sea fish and white pea cream. Should you find yourself in Jerusalem, Arcadia (Rehov Agripas 10, (02) 624-9138) may provide the exclusive Purim experience you seek. On Friday and Saturday nights from 7:30 p.m. through 11 p.m., a huge Purim supper will be served on long tables, along with enough wine to get you wondering why Mordechai and Haman couldn't just get along. Winemaker Ze'ev Dunie from Sea Horse Winery has crafted two varieties especially for Arcadia, to be poured over the course of the evening. The NIS 290 dinner is to be capped off with various types of hamantaschen - all named for other figures that most Jews never liked, such as Arafat, Sadam Hussein and Bin Laden. Sounds frightfully delicious. Of course, when it comes down to it, your religious beliefs are of such great concern that it is the edict to drink to the point of befuddlement that is of primary interest. Well, it's always best to drink on a full stomach. Homeburger (Rehov Ibn Gvirol 137, (03) 544-8282) is where you can get what might be one of the best diner-style burgers in the country, made from fresh ground entricote steak. Additionally, they offer sandwiches, and chicken wings in two varieties - BBQ and chili. But it is the draft beer (buy one get one free) that should get your night off to a rolling start. The chic bistro called Tchernikofski 6 [(03) 620-8729] but located at number five, is one of the best bars in the city for a quick bite and beverage. For the holiday, NIS 69 will allow you to do just that with three tapas and a glass of cava. The Meat BarHooters (Rehov Giborei Yisrael 17, (09) 835-3736) where every second beverage on Thursday starting at 6 p.m. is half off. Be forewarned: if your Purim costume is tight short orange shorts with a tight white tank top, this is the place you need to be. Another nifty aspect of the Purim holiday is the tradition of sending care packages. This year Marmorek (Rehov Marmorek 10, (03) 685-0194) has upped the ante with complete meals available in different sizes to be delivered! Each meal consists of a first course such as salads, mezes or soup, a main course that could be schnitzel or a burger or something else, a side dish and a bottle of red or white wine. This is one special worth calling about. Had enough eating? I didn't think so, but I understand that you might want to party too. Oh boy, is there an option for you. Start your evening at the Nana (Rehov Ahad Ha'am 1, (03) 516-1915), where a Roman-themed evening should put you in the mood. The menu will feature alcohol-based dishes such as desserts of melon vodka, grapefruit Campari and pina colada sorbets. Afterwards, diners can take their receipt across the street to the Pri Hagefen wine store (Rehov Ahad Ha'am 4, (03) 516-9168) for admittance to a party in the bunker-style space where a plethora of noise, music and wine is expected. And finally, let's not forget that some people are into the holiday for nothing other than the weird and wacky desserts. But since when does weird and wacky have to exclude gourmets? It does not. The Shaked Creamery (first entrance to the Tel Aviv Port, (03) 676-0438) has put together a few surprises with chef Avner Angel. First is hamantaschen ice cream, available by the scoop. Second is the Sabrina - poppy seed ice cream with fruit confit. Shaked will also hold face-painting workshops on Thursday from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. and again on Friday from 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. Parents and kids will learn all the secrets of creating a great painted face, and take their newly acquired talent out to the boardwalk to paint passersby. There are two boutique bakeries offering gourmet takes on the classic hamantaschen. First, Dalita (Rehov Ben Yehuda 146, (03) 529-2649) - an Austro-Hungarian bakery - has two classic varieties available, but featuring their quality ingredients and craft. The poppy seed filling is ground on the premises with no additional fillers, and the hazelnut filling, also prepared from scratch, comes with a house sauce. Each cookie is NIS 4, but special bulk packaging is available, with curbside pickup since parking can be a bit unpredictable. Call in advance for that one, though. Second is theBleeker Bakery (17 Yitzhak Rabin Way, (03) 923-4000) in Petah Tikva. Here, chef Oren Becker has created some interesting variations on the classic cookie. In addition to the classic fillings there is coconut with lemon-lime and milk chocolate, chocolate with raspberry and cassis, and poppy seed with nougat. Non-dairy and sugar-free varieties are also available.