The Scoop on Secret Eats in Hell’s Kitchen

Hell Yeah: The chef-owner of New York City's only Druse restaurant shows off her super-thin pita making skills on a recent Rum & Blackbird tour.
Hell’s Yeah: The chef-owner of New York City’s only Druse restaurant shows off her super-thin pita making skills on a recent food walking tour. Photo courtesy Rum & Blackbird.

Apparently we were too busy plotting our Memorial Day barbecue (where a 3-pound man steak from the Meat Hook, kielbasa from Greenpoint’s Polish butcher shops and Greenmarket potato salad were on the menu) to remind you last week that yet another episode of our Heritage Radio Network show on local food culture has been posted to the interweb. (Though if you subscribed by iTunes, you’d know that by now.)

This one is a good one: We tapped Moira Campbell, who runs the food walking tours called Rum & Blackbird, to talk about Hell’s Kitchen. Campbell focuses not just on an area’s eats, but on the history, culture and meaning behind them, and we wanted her to talk about her work (organizing food walking tours where the cooks and bakers actually stop to talk to the visitors are way harder than you’d think) and her flagship tour through the surprisingly diverse Manhattan hood that’s been her home for many years.

Many city chowhounds, even those who consider themselves among the chowiest of chows, might scorn the Kitchen as a subpar feeding grounds, but Campbell can prove them wrong. And if it’s the skinny on the secret eats of the nabe you’re after — flaky thin pita made entirely from olive oil, housemade Israeli goat cheese, the undersung taquerias of the far far west side, super-duper milk shakes, the city’s best biscotti, Greek pastries, South American empanadas and so on — then we suggest you listen to part two of the show, where Campbell lays down one by one the seven spots (and then some) you’ll sample when you take one of her tours. (Plus, did we mention we play Follow the Leader by Eric B. & Rakim?)

But if it’s the whole picture you’re looking for — why the chef makes their dish and how, what that food means in their part of the world, or what all these cooks are doing way west of Eighth Avenue anyhoo and when did they get there — all questions any good Edible reader should be asking, then you gotta take the tour. Hell (couldn’t resist that one), there’s one this morning in an hour, one tomorrow afternoon and one this Saturday at 11:30 a.m., and we’re thinking pretty hard about going.

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