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Columnists Teri Bayus

Dinner & A Movie

Thai and Cuban Treasure at Thai Bounty

My day job has had me spending weeks in the tiny fishing hamlet of Morro Bay, and I was bound to find the culinary treasures hidden within. My best find was Cuban food… at a Thai restaurant.

Owners Doi and Jorge Milanés launched their Morro Bay eatery at the north end of the Embarcadero in July 2009. He is from Cuba, and she is from Thailand. Thus the multicultural restaurant followed.

I had heard from several on-the-street foodie friends that Morro Bay possessed a Cuban restaurant so good, that I had to try it. For lunch, we settled in the stunning garden, and I ordered every Cuban thing on the menu (and a bit of Thai).

I started with Larb, a favorite Thai dish of mine. I ordered it mild to share and had the waitress bring me some chopped Thai chili on the side. Larb is minced pork (or chicken), sautéed with red onions, fresh lime juice, mint, basil, chili and toasted rice. You bundle it in Napa cabbage leaves and eat it like a taco.

All the elements of Thai cooking were here — hot, cold, spicy, acidic, sweet and refreshing. It was impeccable, and the Thai chili was blazing hot, so I was happy. We paired it with a Sanford Chardonnay that was precision with this fiery dish.

Then we moved on to the Cuban portion. Chef Jorge made with homesick passion the meat pies handed down from generations of Cubans. His Comida Cubano was an authentic as when we visited Cuba in June. He gifted us a pair of Pastelitos de Carne, a fluffy pastry filled with ground beef and onions and green peppers.

They were delicate and so flavorful, and there was nothing but crumbs left on the plate.

Next came the Mariquitas, sliced plantains fried and seasoned impeccably. These are the chips of Cuba and they serve them at every bar and restaurant. I had the one dish I miss most from Cuba, Moros y Cristianos, which is black beans and white rice mixed into a comfort food from our collective past.

Next was a sandwich so big and savory that I could only eat half. A Cuban sandwich is made with specific Cuban bread (think French), with a bit crispier crust. Inside has roast pork con mojo, ham, Swiss cheese, sliced dill pickles and mustard. It is then presses and cooked (Panini style). It is my desired sandwich. This one was out of this world.

We came back for dinner and settled at the bar with a Sing Ha beer. I went to study the kitchen and was greeted warmly by Doi, the Thai chef, and owner. Her kitchen was as clean and fragrant as her demeanor. I was excited to try many of her dishes.

While I was away exploring, Gary order mango sticky rice to start. When we were in Thailand, he ate at least five mango sticky rice dishes every day. This was an outstanding presentation using black, sticky rice, coconut milk, and an entirely ripe mango. The crunchy black rice made this a new experience.

Next, I had the garlic-peppered chicken. It was thin slices of chicken sautéed and served with caramelized garlic, with the vegetables on the side. I liked that they weren’t all mixed so I could control the portions.

Their famous fresh lime chili sauce blew my mind, and I ended up taking a side home for my eggs in the morning. This sauce was the perfect balance of flavor and helped to bring out the essences of everything it touched. I will need a pint of this for my home.

I also ordered the Pad Thai as everyone does it a bit different and I wanted to try Doi’s version of Thai stir-fried noodles (and these are always superb the next day).

I was beyond impressed with the balance of all the essential ingredients that comes with Pad Thai — chicken, noodles, bean sprouts, green beans, onion, egg and crushed peanuts. It was a delight.

Gary had the pineapple curry, a dish he uses to define a Thai restaurant. It was chicken and fresh pineapple in a traditional red curry coconut sauce. Doi told us how they make the curry paste fresh every day using over 35 items slowly added and stirred with a stone and pestle. It showed in this remarkable bowl.

Thai Bounty offers fresh, local ingredients locally caught wild fish and seafood and constantly changing daily specials. They are all prepared and served in authentic Thai fashion, for dine-in or take-out. Jorge does Cuban food for lunch Tuesday through Saturday. He often runs out, so get there early. I know that I will be back, often.

Thai Bounty is located at 560 Embarcadero in Morro Bay, or call them at (805) 772-2500. They are open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and then 5-9 p.m., daily.

‘The Disaster Artist’ an Outrageous True-Life Tale

“The Disaster Artist” brings the real-life story of how the 2003 cult movie, “The Room” got made.

As the film opens, some current day movie stars, including Kirsten Bell, Adam Scott, J.J. Abrams and others gush about the virtues of this “so bad, that it’s so good” movie.

We then shift to San Francisco, July 13, 1998, when Tommy Wiseau (played by James Franco) and Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) meet at an acting class and strike up a friendship.

Later that year, they decide on a whim to move to Los Angeles, where Tommy somehow has kept an apartment. Tommy and Greg pursue their dream of becoming actors (inspired by James Dean), but when it’s becoming clear that nobody wants to do anything with them, they decide to make their own film.

Ed Wood was Stanley Kubrick compared to Tommy Wiseau, but James Franco treats him with such loving care that we can connect with his humanity without letting his eccentricities pull us away from him. That, I think, was the most moving aspect of this outrageous true-life tale.

James Franco is spectacular keeping it real, in a character that lent itself for caricature. Seth Rogen is also perfect as the one who knows that they’re in for a major disaster and yet sees the whole thing to the bitter end. I hadn’t heard of The Room, but now it’s on top of my list of films I want to see next.

I wouldn’t categorize this movie as a comedy. It’s more of a dramedy with comedic scenes mixed in, but this is because of Wiseau, who is magnificently played by Franco in what is probably his best performance to date, as such a weird, mysterious, eccentric, and strange individual.

It’s the more intense drama scenes that work well within this movie. The movie prevails in being an underdog story about one of the most mysterious underdogs in all of cinema history, but he got it made.

Teri Bayus can be reached at: [email protected] or follow her writing and ramblings at: www.teribayus.com. Bayus also hosts Taste Buds, a moving picture rendition of her reviews shown on Charter Cable Ch. 10. Dinner and a Movie is a regular feature of Simply Clear Marketing & Media.

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