VIDEO: Toutant's Chef Joseph Fenush prepares Dan Oles Carrots
Like most of the deceptively simple dish descriptions at Toutant, these carrots under-promise and over-deliver
Video Producer: Chris Gallant
Music: En la Manera (Duet) by Martijn de Boer (NiGiD)
437 Ellicott Street,
342-2901 or toutantbuffalo.com
Roasted Carrots, it says on the specials card. Like most of the deceptively simple dish descriptions at Toutant, these carrots under-promise and over-deliver. Toutant takes seasonality very seriously; when farmers drop off bushels of perishables, the kitchen works diligently to incorporate some of the fresh produce into the menu, but a good portion of it is preserved in some way. Sometimes, that looks like the massive jars of pickled beans and cukes that line the top of the restaurant’s back bar. Sometimes that looks like the blueberry powder sprinkled over your dessert plate. In this case, it takes the shape of housemade gochujang, a deliciously spicy Korean bean paste that chef de cuisine Joseph Fenush ferments for six months. The paste consists of kidney beans and Arborio rice inoculated with koji. Combined with local honey, the spicy sweet sensation is drizzled liberally over perfectly roasted winter carrots from Promised Land CSA. A bright green parsley oil adds color, and has its own origin story—it is blended with the restaurant’s pickled peppercorns and Loup Garoux, one of owner James Roberts’ custom fermented hot sauces. Opaque dollops of nutty pistachio purée look unassuming, but when combined with a smattering of toasted pistachio bits, they ground the dish. This is no easy task given the whole shebang’s ethereal flavor profile.
Though they’re certainly worthy of a pin-up, Toutant’s roasted carrots aren’t an exception. Each of Toutant’s vegetable-centric offerings are as fascinating in concept and as delightful to eat as these beauties. That can be attributed to Fenush’s obsessive nature as well as to his penchant for veggies. “Vegetables are just a lot more interesting to me,” he explains. “A more diverse selection of techniques can be utilized and I am most attracted to technique. I want to use the best, most badass, interesting way to approach any ingredient, especially if it’s something I haven’t done before.
“Sure, a lot of preservation is a conscious effort to preserve seasonal products for use throughout the year. But it also allows us to build a pantry of ingredients that are uniquely Toutant’s. Hopefully, that results in flavors that are uniquely and deliciously indicative of the restaurant.”