Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet. That’s the name of model turned Top Chef dictatress Padma Lakshmi’s new cookbook, and that’s just how she behaved before swooning fans last night at her Strand book signing. After donning “serious” glasses to read food-related mini-memoirs from the book, she told the crowd that saying “Please pack your knives and go” to Top Chef’s weekly loser was “the hardest part of my job” … and divulged that men often ask her to say it to them in a dominatrix-y sort of way. (“It creeps me out!” she insisted.) She said the show had knocked down any remaining foodie limits she might have had: “I’ll put anything in my mouth once.” Oh, Padma!
Thankfully, Lakshmi kept her innuendo PG-13 as she told us her top cheap eats in New York City:
1. Two Boots. Her favorite slice? “A simple cheese pizza.” (Not the spicy Bird!?!?)
2. Vezzo, another thin-crust pizza joint, on Lex and 31st.
3. Saravana, “where you have dosas, in Curry Hill” (get it, rhymes with Murray Hill?) — “on Lex. It’s an area I eat in a lot because I shop at…”
4. …Kalustyan’s, a venerable Indian–Middle Eastern spice and specialty shop where Lakshmi is often spotted. “You can pretty much get everything you need for my book there.”
5. Kuma Inn, “Filipino tapas. They have this awesome Chinese sausage that I’m addicted to.”
6. Vegetarian Dim Sum House in Chinatown. Lakshmi even pulled up the address and phone number for us on her cute, slim BlackBerry … just before she pointed out that our fly was unzipped. “I’d want my friend to tell me,” she said. Us and Padma … friends? And over an unzipped fly? Wow! —Tim Murphy