Greg Higgins

Jon Valls

For a decade now, I've had a monthly lunch meeting with my best friend Jake at Portland's Higgins Restaurant. Our standing order: beer and a plate of superb charcuterie cured by chef-owner Greg Higgins. The marble platter arrives with any number of the 70 types of cured meats on offer: sweet, nutty lardo; buttery pork terrine; lomo ibérico, the cured loin of prized Ibérico pigs; and presskopf, a creamy Alsatian headcheese, each exquisite.

Higgins, a James Beard Award-winning chef, has been polishing his craft for more than four decades, ever since he became enamored of charcuterie while apprenticing at a cheese shop as a boy. After a stint in Europe, he thankfully settled in Portland, where he's adapted traditional curing methods to his refrigerator: Here, the combination of microflora and humidity make for supremely complex products. On Jake's and my last visit, a slice of figatelle, Corsican-style dry-cured sausage, melted away on our tongues. A ramekin of duck liver moussette sat in the center of the platter; we slathered the rich, pungent spread on biscuits and devoured them, already thinking of next month's lunch.

Higgins Restaurant
1239 Southwest Broadway
Portland, Oregon
503/222-9070

Brett Burmeister is editor-in-chief of foodcartsportland.com