Cathy Whims to Open an International Ham Bar

Portland’s queen of Italian cuisine plots a pig-centric watering hole around the corner from Oven & Shaker.

By Benjamin Tepler November 26, 2014

Cathy Whims, Kurt Huffman, and Ryan Magarian

Three years ago, Cathy Whims opened Oven & Shaker in the Pearl District. But the Nostrana owner and perpetual James Beard Best Chef Northwest finalist says the pizzeria ended up more oven than shaker. "The Pearl could still use a great bar,” says Whims.

Get ready for drinks with a side of ham. Next spring, Whims and her Oven & Shaker partners—Chefstable’s Kurt Huffman and cocktail emissary Ryan Magarian—plan to open an evenings-only “ham bar,” (name still TBD) inside the former Jinx Lounge space around the corner from Oven & Shaker at 232 NW 12th Ave.

The plan is to curate six to seven different hams from around the world, American country to Serrano to pair with a ham-centric menu inspired by Whims' true loves: Italy, Spain, and her North Carolina roots. Expect pimento cheese, collard greens, Spanish bocadillos, and a biscuit recipe that would “make a North Carolinian proud.” Ham will be sliced by hand, on the bone, in clear view of the customers. “It’s a very European tradition, but it’s also a tradition you might find walking into a country store in rural North Carolina.”

Magarian's drinks will emphasize ham-friendly spirits, like sherry.

Whims says 10 years ago  she couldn't imagine her Southern roots influencing her passion for regional Italian cuisine. "The older I get," she confesses, "the more I think they really are kind of the same.”

Projected opening: March

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