By John Cirillo
My old sports-writer-turned-mystery-novelist chum, Nat Gottlieb, who was the Newark Star-Ledger’s Knicks beat writer back in the day, was always meticulously-prepared. And I’m not only talking about statistics, historical information and sources.
During his travels across America covering New York’s charter NBA franchise, Nathan would carry a bottle of pimento-stuffed Spanish green olives to accompany his vodka-on-the-rocks, post-game cocktail once he was done filing his game chronicle.
The olives also doubled as a snack, since the pre-game press room dinner was often five hours earlier. Brilliant! Ever since, my happy hour Stolis or Kettle Ones are customarily accompanied by olives rather than citrus, and I think about Nathan each and every time!
One of the many things we have in common is that our brains are always percolating, he writing his mystery novel series and contributing on boxing to HBO’s website, me pontificating on these pages in between navigating the media mine-fields at Cirillo World.
Thirty-something years later, Sir Gottlieb, always a man with a flair, has added a new twist! That’s replacing the olives with pepperoncini, the spicy, pickled mini-peppers imported from Italy or Greece, which and also produced domestically.
The Reserved Table has dubbed this concoction “The Gottlieb” – and the vodka-pepperoncini combination is a brilliant tandem!
Just as I dubbed a Dewar’s on the rocks “The Holzman” because that was the drink of choice of the legendary Knicks championship coach Red Holzman. It’s a salute of the highest honor.
Yesterday I conducted a riveting taste test, adding two peppers, four teaspoons of the juice, and two shots of Stolichnaya over ice. And what a concoction it was. The bite of the pepperoncini and vinegar juxtaposed against the soothing cold cubes and smooth vodka is a delightful contrast to the palate. As the Brits would say: “Lovely!”
“The Gottlieb” is comparable to my current favorite aperitif, which is vodka paired with jalapeno-stuffed olives because the small piece of pepper and pickle brine offer similar contrast. i first encountered the jalapeno-stuffed olives at Sperry’s restaurant in Saratoga, when the thoroughbred trainer Bruce Johnstone had his own personal stash. Greg and Bill Gallo, Jr. love those delicacies, too, and were along for that ride.
Following the double-taste-test, I was not able to separate the two concoctions. A photo finish!
Nathan also has a spinoff version made with already-sliced hot pepper rings, which I’ve entitled “The Ring of Fire.”
Congratulations Nathan, you’ve done it again.
Here’s Nathan’s bio…NATHAN GOTTLIEB was born in Newark, New Jersey. He graduated with a degree in history from Rutgers University and worked for 19 years as a sportswriter for The Newark Star-Ledger, during which time he covered the Yankees, Knicks, Mets, and world championship boxing, among other sports. He currently writes boxing stories for HBO’s boxing website under the byline Nat Gottlieb.
After leaving the newspaper, Nathan studied acting at The Michael Howard Studio, The Terry Schreiber Studio, and with acting coach Robert McAllister. During that time Nathan wrote, directed, and acted in three plays, There Must Be Some Way Out of Here, Larger Than Life, and Suspect, all of which were shown in New York City.
In addition to the Frank Boff Mystery Series, he has published two other books, “Stinger” and “The Zukovka Experiment”.
Nathan has lived in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hoboken. He currently resides in Saugerties, New York, a quiet village nine miles from Woodstock. He is working on other books in the Frank Boff Mystery Series.
When Nathan isn’t working, he enjoys shadowboxing, jogging, watching films on DVD, and reading mystery books