One of the most inspirational people in the culinary Illuminati of Memphis is closing up shop. My friend Alyce Mantia is shuttering her eponymous gourmet deli & restaurant, Mantia's. Its almost TOO sad to report. Over the 8 years I've been in Memphis, Mantia's was the place that would inspire me to prepare some of the finest meals I've ever experienced. She became my friend, sometime employer, & over all culinary guru. Every time I would even think about heading over to Mantia's I would become giddy with excitement. What better way to pass the time than to purchase exotic cheeses, oils & spice blends? This shop wasn't just a retail store it was a destination. I could always count on Alyce & Joanna to be there with smiling faces & a recipe idea or story. There is nowhere in town to buy Jamon Serrano, which I think is VASTLY superior to Prosciutto di Parma. Nowhere. She kept a leg of this jamon to slice just like it should be done in Spain. I'm going to miss this place. I'm going to miss seeing the duck fat in the freezer next to the Buerre d'Isigny. I'm going to miss my favorite tuna salad in town. I'm going to miss the giant wheels of Humboldt Fog. I'm going to miss the way Alyce would pronounce French perfectly. Her Cassoulet was the most amazing dish I have ever tasted. Whatever Alyce does next I'm sure will be excellent. I love you Alyce!!