Last night I attended a mixer for the Las Vegas Hospitality Association. The last LVHA mixer, at Margaritaville, a few months ago proved to be great fun. I got to see some of my favorite people and the networking was superb. In fact, thanks to Chris Meyer at the LVCVA, I thought I might be heading to China to speak soon! Even though that hasn’t yet come to pass, at least I got my passport renewed.

Last night’s event was held at Body English at the Hard Rock. After a busy time networking and saying “HI” to friends old and new, my friends and I decided to head over to FIREFLY on Paradise Road, between Sands Avenue and Flamingo. I had met the chef/owner, John Simmons, at a previous LVHA event (at Chef Live), where he made some incredible shrimp scampi. I’ve made it over to the restaurant a couple of times since then. It is always packed and consistently awesome.

I rendezvoused at the Hard Rock with my cousin, Renee Hale, president and owner of “Always Creative,” an event planning company. She brought along Jodi Stiner, whom I adore. Jodi works for Gannett Publishing in Las Vegas.

Renee has shared that she wasn’t a fan of TAPAS, Firefly’s specialty, until she traveled to Spain this past year. She explained that she just didn’t “Get it” until she experienced it first-hand. So off we went to FIREFLY and it didn’t disappoint in the slightest. It was outrageous!

We actually didn’t have to wait since we were willing to sit in the lounge, which easily accommodated dining, in spite of the low seating. It wasn’t awkward at all, as many places with lounge seating can be. Our waiter, Paulo, towered over us at 6’1”. His accent contributed to the atmosphere; we could have been anywhere…. anywhere in the south of Spain or on the Brazilian coast. That is one of the most extraordinary qualities of Las Vegas – it magically transforms itself from Italian villa to Spanish restaurant to sandy beaches, depending upon where you go.

We ordered Sangria that had been marinating with fruit for three days. I insisted we order the bacon-wrapped stuffed dates. This is a tough one to get your friends to try; I didn’t want them on my first visit to Firefly, either, but they are now my confirmed favorite. Ted Allen, Queer Eye’s food guru, said, ‘if you want to make someone happy, feed them bacon.’ I couldn’t agree more.

The menu at Firefly is one of those where you can’t decide what to try because it all sounds divine. I have to warn you – it IS!

We also ordered shrimp in lemon garlic butter, cheese-stuffed red peppers, and grouper filets breaded with panko. EVERYTHING was perfect. We should have stopped there, but we indulged in a dessert. Hey, one dessert split three ways can’t hurt too badly. We dove into this amazing cake, dulce des leches, that tasted like it had melted ice cream  over it. It was rich, creamy, and a little bit gooey. Wet cake…can dessert be any better than that?

We were so content, in spite of the fact that we hadn’t really eaten that much. A few bites of this and a few bites of that can be so much more satisfying than an endless meal. We ate slowly, drank our wine and, as I recall, laughed our butts off over things I can not share with you here. What a wonderful evening it turned out to be.

My cousin and Jodi were the best company. We were so happy to be free to enjoy such a great night. The next time you can’t decide where to go, make tracks for Firefly. It’s my new favorite in Las Vegas.

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