Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kingmania, the Clips, the Giant Salad Bowl and Swanson 1/2 Bottles

Go Kings Go! While the Lakers and Clippers took an early exit, we can thank the LA Kings for keeping the late spring downtown sports mania alive.  Kudos to the Clippers for their inspiring play and to the Lakers for their best effort (despite their age) - all of which gave us numerous opportunities to try some great pre-game venues (as outlined in my last blog.

One that I did not mention but really enjoyed - Bottlerock.  Nice wine bar right across from the valet parking entrance at the Palm, just a short walk from Staples.  My party of eight feasted on small plates including short rib sliders, Al Pastor Tacos, Olives and Mixed Nuts and Chipolte Chicken Wings. They also have a fantastic Cheese selection, all of which went nicely with two bottles of Orin Swift Prisoner - a red blend that is one of my absolute favorites.  Reasonably priced too.

I grew up on my Grandma Vera's amazing salads. Her Italian Salads with olive oil and wine vinegar were legendary and made me nothing less than a salad addict. Salad is a staple for every meal in my world.  My college apartment mates bought me a large dog bowl as a joke - making fun of my extreme salad eating. It turned out to be a pretty good salad bowl.  By the way, there is some speculation that my Dad, the late Peter Tullio, Sr., actually invented the salad bar during his association with the Brass Rail Restaurants in New York and Steak and Stuff in Chicago, circa early 70's.  That's the story I have told around many campfires and I am sticking to it.

Salad in Santa Monica
Imagine my delight when I came across Greens Up, a custom salad only restaurant on the Venice - Santa Monica border, 3101 Main Street.  At Greens Up, you pick your greens, (I chose Spring Mix) select four primary ingredients (I chose red/yellow peppers, fresh beets, grape tomatoes and roast turkey) pick a dressing (I chose classic Balsamic and Olive Oil) and enjoy!  Best of all, the salad is served in a giant silver bowl. You can really dig in and savor your creation.  They also have a nice selection of Chef's Selections, but it is more fun to make your own.

Love the Swanson Merlot 1/2 Bottle
We drink a fair amount of wine around the house, but sometimes, a full bottle is just too much with an early morning of work looming ahead.  I was very happy to receive a recent shipment of Swanson 2006 Merlot half bottles. A half bottle is 2.5 glasses - just right around the fire pit - after a round of golf (it actually fits nicely into a golf bag) or for a nice late night wine party.  Swanson is a fantastic winery - made the jump from TV Dinners to premium Napa wines - a great stop on your Napa summer wine tour.

What if a half bottle isn't enough?  Easy solution - open another half bottle. A half bottle of the Swanson 06 Merlot is less than $15 bucks.  If you have any favorite half bottle selections, tell us about it.  Send your comments, your feedback and your own wine picks to

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What I am listening to right now on the crowded LA freeways - I am hooked on the John Sandford books, like Eyes of Prey.  Not too heavy, that is for sure, but quite entertaining.

If you drive a lot, or if reading just wears you out, you have to try Audible. I am thoroughly addicted to the Audible downloads program. Check out the amazing introductory offer from our friends at that you can access from this page. I’m personally cranking through a book each week.

High quality Keurig beverage your office every day: New Barista Prima Italian Roast from Gourmet Coffee Service – Southern California’s office refreshment leader.  Check out the website for more about Barista Prima Coffee - a full bodied, value oriented alternative to Starbucks K Cups.