Tag Archives: Fusion

Mexican
 Perfection

February 22, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Anthony Bourdain was asked what food trend he would like to see in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), he said, “I would like people really to pay more for top-quality Mexican food. I think it’s the most undervalued, underappreciated world cuisine with tremendous, tremendous potential.”

At Hook & Lime Tacos + Tequila, North Downtown’s newest addition, you will find that top-quality Mexican food and all kinds of potential, though you won’t necessarily have to pay more for it.

Owner Robbie Malm says after selling his share in Dudley’s Pizza and Tavern, he wanted to do something smaller and more creative. With a little help from his wife, Erin, and his brother, Tim Malm, he has done just that.

Hook & Lime’s menu has a selection of a la carte tacos, small plates, and tortas, all for under $20.

But if you do want to spend some money and have a more decadent experience, you can try the family-style tacos or the tasting menu (with or without tequila).

For the family-style tacos, you can choose between the whole fish, which is currently fried, striped bass, or bone-in barbacoa, which is cooked for 72 hours, crisped in the oven, and sent to the table for you to pick apart.

Head chef Alex Sorens says the tasting menu is something he’s excited about because it gives his crew the opportunity to create dishes and test things out. If they’re good, they’ll go on the next tasting menu.

“It’s stuff that we wouldn’t normally serve to the public,” he says. “It will be a select amount of these things, and when we run out, we run out.”

The menu features a lot of fish, hence the “hook” in Hook & Lime. Sorens says he gets their fish from Seattle Fish Co. out of Kansas City, Missouri. He uses their program Whole Boat Harvest for some of the dishes, like the ceviche. The program sells the “leftover” fish from hauls, fish that would normally go to waste because they’re not as well-known as others.

“The reason for that is because I’m trying to do my part to not be in that same group that’s using all those super popular, over-fished species that are going on endangered lists right now.”

Sorens also tries to support other environmentally conscious businesses, getting a lot of their ingredients from local producers like Plum Creek Farms and Jon’s Naturals.

Malm says these are things you might normally only find at “higher-end, white tablecloth places.” He says their goal is to make that food available to everyone.

“We have this amazing menu, these amazing items, that we’re able to bring to people who normally wouldn’t get to experience them,” he says. “We’re trying to take that food, that approach of sourcing locally and treating these items with respect, and make it more approachable. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a suit and tie or flip-flops, we welcome everybody here.”

Malm says he has been “very, very fortunate” in finding the team to do that.

“Everyone seems to be really excited about their role in this,” he says. “So I quickly found out that my best role is really to enable them to just dive in.”

This enthusiasm extends to the front of the house, where bar manager Brian van Egmond works to create original cocktails using ingredients made in house.

“It’s a fusion between speed and craft,” he says. There will be a couple margaritas available on tap, but the fresh juices are added after they’re poured.

So far, van Egmond says they’ve made their own orange brandy, orange liquor, syrups, and crème de cassis. He is currently working on a strawberry tequila for their strawberry margaritas. They also have a hibiscus-infused reposado, which is used to make the Roselle cocktail.

“That’s one I think both Negroni and Cosmo fans will appreciate.”

Van Egmond says they also have a well-curated spirits list, and plenty of beers to offer, including many from local breweries. There are also several wine options.

Of course, if what you’re really looking for is some straight up, premium tequila, Hook & Lime has you covered.

“Tequila is my favorite thing to drink,” Malm says. “It is my favorite thing to drink,” he repeats, laughing. “And I’m a fairly recent convert.”

But once he fell in love with tequila, it became a little bit of an obsession. He talks excitedly about touring tequila distilleries in Mexico with his wife. He says they toured five different spots, including Cuervo and Herradura.

The restaurant’s offerings reflect his enthusiasm, with more than 100 tequilas on their list and four different styles of flights available if you want to do a little sampling before you commit.

“They say there’s no zealot like a convert,” Malm says. “And that is definitely true when it comes to tequila.”

Undoubtedly, Hook & Lime will do their share in creating converts, both to tequila and to a greater appreciation of top-quality Mexican food.

Hook & Lime is open Sundays through Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Dominique Morgan

January 15, 2016 by
Photography by Bill SItzmann

I’m gonna be so honest with you right now it will piss…you…off. I started writing music at seven. Music just comes to me. I don’t read music. The shit just happens and I just go with it and I just go with it ‘til I can’t go anymore.”

Dominique Morgan, orator of the aforementioned, was a show choir kid at Benson High. At age 14, he came out as gay to his family, “who were cool with it.” He left home during his senior year, “making a stink about being grown,” and followed friends to UNL, where almost no one knew he wasn’t enrolled or that he got by sleeping in cars. Bad checks led to prison.

That was before 2009. Now he is one of the metro’s most celebrated R&B recording artists and a prominent activist. Morgan recently headlined at the Baltimore Pride Celebration, which he described as a highlight of his career.

Morgan is involved at various levels with the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network, Queer Nebraska Youth Network, the NAACP, Urban League Young Professionals, Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition, and the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. He founded Queer People of Color (QPOC), a group whose focus is providing diverse, local role models for LGBTQIA youth.

An unguarded man expressing his pain and hope on- and off-stage, Morgan brought himself and his fans to tears during an acoustic set with Kevin Sullivan of Bells and Whistles during the 2015 OEAA nominee showcase at Reverb Lounge. His album, Loveaholics Anonymous, is a well-received tribute to the highs and lows of romance, earning him three nominations for best R&B artist, album of the year, and artist of the year. A holiday album, Dom’s Favorite Things, launched in late 2015. If the past is prologue, the next act for this Omaha original could be biblical. What comes after a year like that?

“I’m not worried about that,” says Morgan with a sincere, charming theatricality and flair, but no bull. “I don’t want to be stuck. It’s time for a break.”

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Independence has perks. Morgan is allowing himself time for creative recharging.

“Time to catch a breath and start over fresh. ‘Loveaholics’ is a good, solid album. It’s going to ride me out for another year. With no label, I’m not forced to put out ‘stuff.’ I feel like there’s some things I haven’t done yet musically and I need to take a break to be able to be open to it.”

Morgan says he struggled early on with being open about his painful past. 

“What I was missing for the longest time was focusing on me,” says Morgan, admitting that leaving his prison life out of his published music created imbalance in his new life. “I treated [that life] as if it didn’t exist. It’s hard to balance the two when my music comes from my experience. There would be songs I would write about, but wouldn’t record them or I would record them and never release them. How do you write from those experiences, but you won’t talk about those experiences?”

Working with at-risk teens helped tip the balance toward full disclosure for Morgan.

“When I was working with young people and discussing my process of coming out at a young age, there were so many levels with these young people that I could have worked on, but I wasn’t because they were things I didn’t want to talk about or deal with.” 

Ultimately, the superhero in Morgan opted to open up, using his greatest strength—experience—to connect with everyone needing a loving example. Fusion is one of Dom’s favorite motifs.

“It’s been hard because for a while, people were like, ‘What does he do? Is he a musician? Is he an activist?’ Soon people realized that I blended the two together.” 

When Morgan started receiving notice from the media, he was understandably leery of the attention. Exposing one’s inner most self, as well as past crimes to the world, can be discombobulating, especially when left in the hands of another  writer.

“I was really nervous about having an open conversation about my life. I wanted to talk about music. I wanted to talk about my ‘this, that, and the other,’ but you have to be able to talk about everything. This last year has been the first time that I’ve been open to talking about everything.”

“I did hide for a while,” Morgan continues. “My formative years were not the best. I’m a reinvention of myself. I thought, ‘Do I let people see this shiny, glossy version of Dominique Morgan, which is really safe and comfortable, or do I get outside of my head?’”

Reinvention, acceptance, love, fusion, music, and activism. Dominique Morgan brings it all together.

“It’s part of the process. You can’t reinvent yourself without embracing your old self.” 

Visit dominiquemorgan.com to learn more.

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