On Thursday, October 10, Showfish at Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina hosted the first in an ongoing series of wine dinners. The five-course meal, which was conceived and executed by chef Jeremy Blutstein, was paired with a series of wines from the esteemed Paul Blanck estate, an Alsatian wine producer with history dating back three centuries. Tickets to the event, which included food, wine, tax, and tip, were $102.90 apiece, an incredible bargain for the quality and quantity offered.
Despite whipping winds and sideways rain, the intimate dining room at Showfish was full for the inaugural wine dinner. Guests were seated family-style, sharing tables and meals with strangers, who, by the end of the meal, had become friends. Dinner began with an amuse bouche of smoked, glazed salmon, served with glasses of the Paul Blanck 2018 Classique Pinot Blanc, from the estate’s entry-level line of wines. This crisp, refreshing wine carried on through another amuse, a fatty, creamy tartare of local tuna belly, which was amplified by a house-fermented pineapple vinegar and slivers of duck skin chicharrones.
Chef Blutstein’s wit and wisdom was on full display throughout the evening. His take on a Waldorf salad — a classic Upper East Side iteration made with a mayonnaise-based dressing, walnuts, and grapes — was translated into a fresh, clean plate of black sea bass crudo. Coins of red grape provided sweetness and acidity, while a saffron aioli offered a slick of fat. The culinary star of the evening actually arrived in the third course. A corn chawanmushi, topped with Maine sea urchin, a dusting of truffle, purple shiso, and hearts of palm, was an inimitable consistency: creamy, unctuous, perfect. Chawanmushi is a traditional Japanese dish, a custard that requires precision in its execution. Blutstein hit his out of the park.
Wines evolved with the meal. While a 2016 Les Crus Rosenbourg Riesling, paired with the chawanmushi, was imminently quaffable, the true stunner came with the beet-cured scallops, the 2016 Les Grand Crus Schlossberg. Golden-hued and aromatic, this wine lingered long on the palate. “It’s better after 30 minutes,” Philippe Blanck advised, and so I held my glass into the following course. He was right; the wine developed secondary aromas: white flowers, a faint echo of petrol, and slick stone. A round, developed wine, the Schlossberg promises to deliver for years to come. Those scallops, by the way, tinged crimson, sat atop a jet-black squid ink risotto. The two seafood entrees were served in large-format bowls, encouraging guests to commiserate as they broke bread.
The evening’s final savory course, tilefish poached in duck fat and garnished with micro cilantro served atop potatoes from Marilee Foster’s Sagaponack farm, was a perfect match for an old-vine (vielles vignes) Auxerrois. The wine, Blanck told me, has eight grams of residual sugar — not enough to identify it as sweet, or even off-dry, but enough to move the needle. Actually, that tiny bit of sugar made perfect sense for the course. The tilefish featured a house-made massaman curry, and that rumbling spice was an apt partner for something fuller, richer, and sweeter.
Dinner concluded with poached apples from Water Mill’s Jen Halsey. Served halved, and adorned with buttery pucks of crumble, made from Quail Hill Farm’s rye berries, the apples were a reminder of the season. The apples themselves were cooked in the Paul Blanck Pinot Gris. For the final wine pairing, we enjoyed glasses of the 2016 Les Crus Patergarten Pinot Gris, a smart, bright wine that conjured ripe apples and pears all on its own. This exciting, innovative evening was only a promise of what is to come from this Montauk hotspot.