BREAD AND BUTTER
A novel by Michelle Wildgen
1. How are Harry, Leo, and Britt different? How are they alike?
1. What is Harry trying to prove by opening up a restaurant in the same town where his brothers have their restaurant? Is his experience a useful background for a restaurateur, or do you think Leo and Britt followed a more helpful path toward owning a restaurant?
1. How does the relationship between the brothers evolve over the course of the novel?
1. How would you define the roles the brothers occupy in their family? How do those roles shift over the course of the book?
1. What do you think about the names of the restaurants? What do they reflect about each one?
1. How has the novel changed the way you think about restaurants and the people who work in them?
1. Do Leo and Britt own their restaurant or does it own them? What about Harry?
1. What are the implications (moral and practical) of Leo dating Thea? Is he wrong to do so?
1. How does Camille change Britt? What about Thea and Leo?
1. What was your favorite main course described in the novel? Favorite dessert?
1. How would you describe your attitude toward food? Passionate? Perfunctory? Adventurous? Would you order the lamb’s neck?
To make your discussion of Bread and Butter even more enjoyable, the author has put together a few food and drink pairings.
(What this actually means is that the author wisely sought the advice of her more knowledgeable colleagues.)
For the ambitious, a few pairings for dishes from the novel:
Duck confit with roasted fig and butternut squash chips -- Oregon Pinot Noir (or Burgundy if you’re in the mood to splurge)
Duck breast with thyme and Dijon mustard -- Sancerre or Pouilly-Fuissé
Pork buns -- Belgian Tripel or just about any sparkling wine
Tonkotsu ramen with pork belly -- Belgian Dubbel or Porter
Roast chicken with saffron rice - Provencal rosé
Cauliflower with cured lemon, Moroccan olive, and parsley -- California or French (not New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc or Greek Assyrtiko
Braised lamb’s neck with gremolata and cavatelli -- Dolcetto or Nebbiolo
Poached pear with dulce de leche and salted almond -- Fino sherry
Goat’s milk cheesecake with stone fruit compote -- Moscato, possibly rosé moscato
Corn ice cream with roasted plums -- Rosé moscato
To go with classic book club snacks such as assorted cheeses, spiced almonds, gougères or cheese straws, salumi, olives, or chocolate:
There’s enough variety that you can go with whatever you like to drink. That said, you can’t go wrong with a light-bodied red like Nero d'Avola or Aglianico, or a medium-bodied white such as Oregon Pinot Gris or Spanish Verdejo.
There are, however, numerous reasons to offer a sparkling wine, whether it’s less expensive Spanish cava, Italian Prosecco, or pricier French champagne: one, bubbly goes with just about anything, and two, one of the most life-changing things I learned from a few years in the restaurant business is that sparkling wine is too delicious and versatile to be limited to once a year. Maybe cap your consumption at once per day … maybe.
Follow the author on Twitter @michellewildgen