Day 2: Saturday November 12—Balmy and sparkling are the words for Tel Aviv

Nihad Dabeet's  Healer

Nihad Dabeet's Healer

Balmy and sparkling are the words for Tel Aviv: the air is warm and a little salty. Jet lag? Hah! We are energized by this city, by the electricity of every part of it, by the buzz of being here.

Michelle and I met with Lin today at her Herzliya apartment, along with Lin’s wonderful right-hand woman Tracey. We had a lunch of iconic Israeli foods—hummus, pita, roasted cauliflower, cucumber-and-tomato salad, malabi, and more—prepared by chef Eli Kishony, who truly sets the bar for what food can be: intensely flavorful, light, delightful, and somehow (even with these classic dishes) unexpected.

Eli Kishony's hummus

Eli Kishony's hummus

And as we moved from dish to dish we were happy to say to one another: Here we are, on the other side of The Desert and the Cities Sing. Our last visits were spent joyfully studying and experiencing, considering elements that might go into the project, which was still only an embryo. Now we are here to revisit some familiar places—and to see what has developed, what has appeared, what has changed.

Like any great city, Tel Aviv is a living organism in a constant state of transformation. Neighborhoods that were under construction on our last visit are now bustling with activity—and today we saw that the next wave of building is beginning: cranes and half-edifices waiting for the end of Shabbat for work to resume. 

And like any great city, Tel Aviv is a place of profound character—this is perhaps its chief constant. It is an unstoppable city of beeping cars, fast-walking people, baby carriages, bicycles. Smells of perfume, spices, cigarettes, the sea. Style, comfort, colors, stones, beauty, and that great Israeli trait: direct, easy, human communication.

At lunch today we raised glasses of Domaine du Castel’s lovely La Vie Blanc du Castel (just released: another new Israeli development). Outside the window is sculptor Nihad Dabeet’s wire structure of a graceful mare, Healer. She peers in at us coyly as we toast:

Here’s to our trip.

Here’s to Israel.

Here’s to the future of this extraordinary land.

— Diana C. Stoll