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SQUIDFRY 01.26.23: Cut the Cheese

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CUT THE CHEESE… This time of year, Squid’s thoughts turn to cheese plates. Squid observes NFL playoff and Super Bowl traditions, if only for the commercials and the food. So Squid was a bit miffed to learn from a press release for National Cheese Lover’s Day (Jan. 20) that a “study,” funded by a lawn care company, ranked Salinas as the worst city in America for cheese lovers.

Squid was taken aback, and began to investigate. Squid’s colleague posed the cheese gap matter before Salinas Mayor Kimbley Craig. “I have bigger cheese to fry,” the mayor said, before suggesting a visit to Star Market’s cheese counter.

So Squid oozed over to Star Market. There, Squid found options like Saint Agur, Morbier, Pont l’Eveque, a cave-aged Gruyere imported from the Alps, a caramelized goat cheese from Norway, craft selections from local Schoch Farms and more – serious cheese for serious cheesivores.

Present aside, there’s history, as Jeffrey Birkemeier of Amapola Kitchen and Wine Merchant notes. “Monterey Jack is from the Salinas Valley,” he says. “We have lots of local wine. That’s pretty rare for a city to say, to have wine and cheese from the same place.”

Squid began to wonder how such an august panel from an… um… lawn care firm… could have gotten it so… lawn care firm? The whole thing seems a bit cheesy to Squid.

DOO-DON’T… In the ocean, we have no private bathrooms, only an unwritten rule: I pretend you’re not, ahem, doing your business if you pretend I’m not doing my business. No one talks about it and we like it that way. Not so on dry land where bathrooms are a big deal, especially if you have to pay for their upkeep. Such is the case for two city of Monterey tenants in tourist areas who think they got a stinky deal because the city requires them to provide public restrooms.

The Monterey History and Art Association has been providing public restrooms since building the Stanton Center on city land at Custom House Plaza, as part of the deal where they pay $1-a-year rent to lease the land. President Gary Spradlin tells Squid’s colleague the nonprofit can’t afford it: Toilet paper is $6,000 a year alone. The commercial tenant at 285 Figueroa St. on Del Monte Beach, Cox and Young Ventures, operating the Monterey Beach Station, also wants out of the bathroom business. According to a city report, problems include vandalism, graffiti and a guy who locked himself inside the bathroom at closing time, requiring Monterey Police backup.

Monterey City Manager Hans Uslar tells Squid’s colleague a deal is a deal. He will recommend to the Monterey City Council that they hold firm to the restroom requirement. Squid will be curious to see if the council can hold it.

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