In late July, as the lush Park Blocks buzzed with farmers market shoppers and the summer light dappled through the leaves on the terrace at Piggins like an impressionist painting, we were honored to welcome the Ambassador of France to the United States for “dejeuner.”
The team at Piggins created a feast of Alsatian terrine of duck, pork, hazelnuts and cherries, along with our iconic French-style cured meats and local cheeses, including the award-winning Select Rogue River Blue from Rogue Creamery.
As fate goes, the ambassador, M. Etienne, is from the Alsace region of France and was pleased that Higgins is dedicated to upholding the traditions of Alsatian cuisine.
All things Alsatian are certainly in our blood here at Higgins—which is somewhat ironic, since my first and last names are nearly unpronounceable for French-speaking folks.
Andrée and Joseph Matter are my adopted Alsatian family. They owned Les Vosges, a Michelin-starred hotel and restaurant in Ribeauvillé on the Route du Vin—that’s where I staged and grew to love them and Alsace. Joseph took me under his wing and mentored me well. We worked hard, went hunting together, visited farms, creameries, vintners—I became utterly immersed in Alsatian food culture.
Joseph introduced me to his friend Jean-Louis Bruxler, an MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) in the art of charcuterie; his shop was in Kaysersberg. I was very fortunate to work with him as well. Jean-Louis taught me all the fundamentals of classic Alsatian charcuterie; we still use his spice blends and formulations for many of our terrines, pâtés and sausages. All the ideas, recipes and theories I learned in Alsace are still in play today in our cuisine. More than anything, I learned how crucial it is to always use the finest ingredients, and how building relationships with the finest producers is the foundation of a good kitchen. That philosophy is what makes Higgins who we are.
Since those days years ago, Joseph and I have stayed close. We’ve done big events together and he’s cooked here at Higgins several times. We’re looking forward to seeing each other again, whether in France or here in Oregon (probably both).
We look forward to welcoming you to Piggins or Higgins any time you want a taste of France (that’s also Oregon, through and through).
Piggins will remain open until early October, weather permitting. We invite you to experience the changing seasons and revel in the Oregon light and air while enjoying succulent seasonal fresh produce, such as heirloom tomatoes paired with decadent burrata cheese, fragrant roasted chilies and fresh eggplant.
Higgins’ hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (lunch) and 5-8:30 p.m. (dinner).
Piggins, on the terrace by the Oregon Historical Society, is open seasonally, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Make your reservations at Higginsportland.com. Takeaway is also available.