In November 2011 Diana Stoll and I were in Israel for my second research trip related to what would become The Desert and the Cities Sing; now five years later we are returning to celebrate this project, and make new discoveries of today’s Israel.

Diana and I began the journey as our colleague Lin Arison begins her book Solutions from the Land—with (more than a single!) sip of wine as we departed Newark Airport for Ben-Gurion International. The 10-hour flight went quickly with a little food, a little sleep and a lot of good conversation.

 Itamar Barmoy, who we know from previous visits, picked us up at the airport and made sure we were safely ensconced in our rooms at the David Intercontinental. Then we hit the town! Though Fridays are usually quiet out with many families observing a Shabbat meal at home, we found plenty of well-lit storefronts for window shopping, and people taking in the warm night air.

Finding our way through the narrow streets of Neve Tdsedek, one of the first bustling spots we happened upon was Anita’s, referenced in Eat, Sleep, Play and known for their gelato. We made a right and found a table outside for dinner at Suzana. From past dining experiences Diana and I have learned that portions are often generous at restaurants in Tel Aviv, and so we tend to share a few selections so we can try more. We started with a beet salad with labne (yoghurt) and mozzarella, topped with fresh, pungent arugula, and a red pepper stuffed with rice and lamb.

A Recanati chardonnay nicely complemented our first choices, along with the exceptional grilled sea bass with wild rice and garlic cream sauce we selected for the main. We finished our bottle of wine in lieu of dessert, and then wandered through the nearby Suzanne Dellal Dance Center (for which the restaurant is named). Diana pointed out the area where she and Lin took their Gaga dance class, and I marveled at the citrus trees under a nearly-full moon.

A stroll along Allenby Street and Rothschild Boulevard eventually led us to the closed stalls for the Carmel Market, and then toward the shoreline and our hotel. We are off to a good start.

—Michelle Dunn Marsh