Join The Empress and P. Allen Smith for an Unforgettable Weekend!

March 6th, 2013 by Lisa

daffodil tourP. Allen Smith is an award-winning designer and lifestyle expert, AND host of two public television program, “P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home”, “P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Table” and the syndicated 30-minute show “P. Allen Smith Gardens”  His Garden Home, located at Moss Mountain Farm, is offering Open Tours throughout the year.  Through the month of March, he will present his beautiful daffodil gardens.  All tours include a lunch and a guided tour of the house, gardens and farm.

Join P.Allen Smith and The Empress for an unforgettable weekend. This special package includes a two night stay at The Empress of Little Rock, 20% off of a carriage ride through Little Rock’s Quapaw Quarter Historic District and a bottle of champagne! Add a 3rd night for only $79.00!

 

 Daffodil Tours:

March 7, 2013

March 8, 2013

March 14, 2013

March 15, 2013

March 21, 2013

March 22, 2013

March 28, 2013

Channel 11 Features Chef Sharon for Valentine’s Day Red Velvet Souffle

February 7th, 2013 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Red Velvet Souffle

Reel in your Valentine with this decadent Red Velvet Souffle

Be sure to watch tomorrow morning on Today’s THV Morning Show at 6:45 to catch Sharon’s favorite Valentine Recipe.  It will delight your special someone with a gourmet surprise you make yourself and you’ll look like a professional, and it’s not very hard!!  Check out the video below.Here’s the recipe:

Red Velvet Soufflés With Whipped Sour Cream

1 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 (4-oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking bar, chopped

5 large eggs, separated

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 Tbsp. milk

1 Tbsp. red liquid food coloring

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 6 (8-oz.) ramekins with butter. Lightly coat with 3 Tbsp. sugar, shaking out excess. Place on a baking sheet.   Microwave chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 minute to 1 minute and 15 seconds or until melted, stirring at 30-second intervals. Stir in 4 eggs yolks, ¼ cup sugar, and next 3 ingredients. (Discard remaining egg yolk.)

Beat 5 egg whites and salt at high speed with a heavy-duty electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add 2 Tbsp. sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture, one-third at a time. Spoon into prepared ramekins. Run tip of thumb around edges of ramekins, wiping clean and creating a shallow indention around edges of mixture. (This will help the soufflés rise.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 24 minutes or until soufflés rise and are set. (A long wooden pick inserted in centers will have a few moist crumbs.) Dust with powdered sugar; serve immediately with whipped sour cream.

Whipped Sour Cream    Makes about 2 cups

¼ cup whipping cream, ½ cup sour cream, 2 Tbsp. sugar

Beat together all ingredients at medium to high speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer 45 seconds or just until lightly whipped and pourable. Serve whipped sour cream immediately.

Valentine’s Love Is In The Air…

February 4th, 2013 by Lisa

Valentine wrapped in ribbon

INTIMATE VALENTINE’S DINNER!

Enjoy a four-course meal and wine with your sweetheart at a candlelit table for two on Saturday, February 16, 2013.  Listen to the strains of romantic music as you are served our decadent red-velvet soufflé and then return to your room for a relaxing soak in your jacuzzi or to snuggle in front of the fireplace.

This dinner is only for guests of the Empress and is $100 for guests staying two or more nights and $125 for those only staying one night.

We hope to see you at The Empress,for Little Rock’s most Intimate Victorian Valentine’s Getaway!

 

 

VALENTINES DAY SPECIAL: CUPIDS CHOICE- $59(plus cost of room)

Book two nights at regular rate for the month of February in any of our Suites-Hemingway  Spa Suite, Chatelaine Anniversary Suite, Majestic Spa Suite, Victoria’s Secret Garden Spa Suite, or  Hornibrook Suite and you and your CUPID will receive your choice of:

CHAMPAGNE VALENTINES PACKAGE– Champagne in an elegant silver server, scented votive candles, and delectable Valentine’s chocolates or

SWEETHEART CHAMPAGNE BRUNCH– A sumptuous, two-course, gourmet breakfast served in the privacy of your own room by a bow-tied butler. Your lace-covered table will be complemented with a romantically lit candelabrum, crystal, silver, china and champagne breakfast cocktails.

*Champagne Brunch is only available in the Hornibrook, Washburn-Welch & Murray rooms; Hemingway, Majestic Victoria’s Garden and Chatelaine Anniversary Suites.

 

Wedding Traditions…”Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”

January 17th, 2013 by Lisa

something old newborrowblue

 

This week is a busy wedding week for us here at The Empress.  We have a wedding rehearsal on Thursday and a beautiful Princess-themed wedding on Friday.  Then we move directly into Arkansas’ largest bridal event, The Arkansas Democrat Gazette Bridal Show, on Sunday.  With so much wedding fever in the air, I started wondering about the wedding traditions that we adhere to.  What do all of these traditions symbolize?  So I did some research on the ever popular “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue” and found that it was a ceremony for luck that began in Victorian times (perfect for us here at the Empress and our love of Victoriana!).  Each item in this sort poem represents a good luck token for the bride – if she  carries them, it is said her marriage will have good fortune

 

Something Old: The old item has several different meanings,  but one general theme: a link of continuity from the bride’s past. Some say this  is a desire to remain connected with your family even after you established a  family of your own. Other sources say it represents the life you are leaving  behind. Another idea is that the tradition of family values and the connection  family brings is being passed down to you. It is safe to say that all of these  assumptions are correct; the bride is leaving behind her past to start a new  beginning, but not to forget where she has been. Things you can use for the  something old theme are: jewelry from your mother, grandmother or  great-grandmother, an old wedding photo from your family, a love letter from  your father to your mother, a picture of your parents in your purse, an old  handkerchief, a childhood pillow to hold your rings, a piece of lace sewn into  the hem of your gown.

Something New: means optimism and hope for the future. It  conveys the message that you and your husband are creating a new union that will  endure the test of time. Many brides choose to use their wedding gown, flowers  or rings to symbolize the “something new” in this tradition.

Something Borrowed: Again, there are several meanings behind  borrowing an item from a friend or relative. Some sources say borrowing  something is borrowing happiness from a happily married woman, so that their  happiness will carry over to the new bride. Other sources have said it is  symbolizes the love and adoration you have for the person from whom you have  borrowed the item from. If you borrow an item from your happily married  grandmother or mother, you can fulfill both of these meanings. Doing this lets  your parents (or grandparents) know that you admire their marriage and the  respect they have for each other and that you hope to have an equally happy  marriage. The borrowed item also signifies to the bride that she can always  count on her friends and family for support. Items that can be used for the  something borrowed theme could be: family jewelry, a prayer book from your  mother or grandmother, strands of pearls, or your parent’s cake cutting set.

Something Blue: The color blue has been connected to  weddings for centuries as a symbol of love, modesty, fidelity, good luck, purity  and loyalty. Many brides incorporate this color into their clothing, by either  wearing a blue stoned jewelry item or wearing a blue garter. However for a  modern spin, you could use blue toe nail polish, blue eye shadow, a blue ribbon  tied into your flowers, blue underwear, even wear light blue shoes! The  possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination

 

Little Rock named one of The Top 10 Most Unexpectedly Romantic

January 2nd, 2013 by Lisa

What does Little Rock have in common with Pittsburg, Providence and Long Beach?  All of these cities were included in Yahoo’s “Ten Unexpectedly Romantic U.S. Cities.  Other cities lauded were:  Minneapolis, Cleveland, Lanai City, Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Washington D.C.

Little Rock is proud to be among such company, and The Empress of  Little Rock is proud to be listed as one of the top things to do in one of the top unexpectedly romantic cities!  Yahoo! Travel’s Melissa Burdick Harmon says of the historic bed and breakfast “Arrive early at the posh, Victorian-style Empress of LIttle Rock Hotel, for a couple’s massage, some downtime in the garden, and maybe a carriage ride along tree-lined streets and past the Governor’s Mansion”.

Want to know more Little Rock Landmarks mentioned for an unforgettable romatic getaway?  It was suggested that visitors try Ciao Italian Restaurant, 1620 Savoy and The William J. Clinton Library and Museum.   You can see the article from Yahoo! Travel here.   The Empress would also like to suggest a hike up Pinnacle Mountain, a visist to Cedar Falls at Mount Petit Jean or a drive along Arkansas’ backroads to enjoy the amazing fall foliage.  Check out Packages from The Empress that includes these favorites, such as the Gone With the Wind PackageValentines Day Packages or the Romantic Waterfall Package.

 

 

Menu Posted for the New Year’s Eve “Downtown” Abbey Wine Dinner Dance

December 30th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Dining room,The Empress of Little Rock

Dining in Elegance, a lost art.

It’s a “Downtown” Abbey experience for this New Year’s Eve at The Empress of Little Rock.  Guests will be “introduced” and offered their first wine pairing, a glass of Russian River Valley, “J” Vineyards and Wineries- “Pinot Gris” 2011, while enjoying the lilting sounds from the 1870 Steinway piano sporting a very rare African Mahogany soundboard.  Gone are the days when elegant clothes, butlers, ladies maids, fine silver, crystal, china, and  international “reparte`” are served for dinner.  But that opportunity still exists at The Empress of Little Rock where handmade Victorian mementos are on the menu along with fine food and wine.                                                                                                      le menu

The Salad Course: Hearts of Romaine with Blackberries, Goat Cheese, Toasted Almond Croutons and Classic Garlic Vinagrette.

The Soup/Palette Cleanser : Apple “Cider” Soup -Wine Pairing: Russian River Valley,”J” Vinyard and Winery, “Pinot Gris”,2011

The Main Course: Fig and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Pork Loin; Acorn Squash Rings with Anisette Wild Rise; Asparagus with Hollandaise

Wine Pairing-Cru Beaujolais Morgon, Georges DuBoeuf, Red Burgundy, 2011

The Finale: Fruit Gratinees Matisse with Ruby Port Sabayon; Wine Pairing-Oregon Pinot Gris,Vine Glace`, King Estate, 2007

Join Hosts Robert Blair and Sharon Welch-Blair for their annual gourmet extravaganza and dance and be entertained by classically trained musicians in the Grand Manor of “Downton Abbey”.  Make your reservations now at 501-374-7966.   A few seats are still available for this exclusive gala event.  Book a romantic getaway, avoid the drive and enjoy an elegant brunch at 11:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day in the Dining Room of The Empress, the Souths finest “old world” experience, compliments of The Empress!

Look for recipes from this special meal in our next blog.

 

Enjoy a New Year’s Eve like “Downton Abbey”!

December 19th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Forget the noise and the noise makers! Book your reservations now for the Annual New Year’s Eve  “Victorian Affair” Wine Dinner Dance- like “Downton Abbey”.  Known as one of the top events in Central Arkansas area, The Empress of Little Rock will host an evening of food, wine, dancing, entertainment, excitement and the beginning of the New Year.

Step back to December 31st, 1889, the Hornibrook family’s first new year  in this magnificent mansion.  The guests are arriving in their elegant attire. The food is all prepared.  The music wafts throughout the house dressed in live greens and holiday finery.  The laughter, excitement, anticipation are mounting with each minute that draws closer to midnight.  The witching hour brings a champagne toast to “Auld Lang Syne”.

Join us December 31st for a magnificent wine dinner paired with fine wines by our House Sommelier beginning at 8:00 p.m. followed by dancing in the parlors just like “the olden days”.

 Black Tie Optional                                  Don’t Drive-Romantic Getaways still available-(discounts for overnight stay)

Time(s)            8pm-12am

Cost: $225/per couple before December 26th; $250 after December 26th

Seating Limited.

Gift Certificate Super Sale!

November 29th, 2012 by Lisa

It’s the Holidays, and everyone is looking for a great deal.  Whether it is for yourself, a loved one or both, the gift of a luxurious stay at The Empress is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  So we would like to offer you a crowd pleasing deal to go with your crowd pleasing stay:  Buy a $100 gift certificate, receive a $25 gift certificate for free!

There is no better way to say “I love you” than gifting the pampering and romance that only The Empress can provide~  Call quickly, this offer is for a limited time only!  501-374-7966!

Check out our rooms at www.TheEmpress.com

“Christmas in The Quarter” offers an inside look at Historic Homes for the Holidays!

November 27th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

victorian teapot christmas ornament

Step back a couple of centuries without leaving Little Rock during Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church’s 9th Annual Christmas in the Quarter holiday tour of homes from 2-6 p.m. in the Quapaw Quarter of downtown Little Rock on Sunday, December 9. The holiday event raises funds for Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church and its missions and gives guests a glimpse into five 19th century homes while savoring the tastes, sights, sounds and scents of the holidays.

Guests will tour the holiday-decorated homes, learn a bit about the history of each, and enjoy appetizers, beverages and live music, including strolling minstrels singing carols as well as piano, organ and trumpet instrumentals. Guests can walk from home to home or take one of two trolleys, which will drop off and pick up participants at each home throughout the event.

The tour will begin and end at the church where guests can sit in peace and fellowship in its Gothic Revival architecture, peruse and purchase artwork by artists using studio space in the church, and relish holiday refreshments. The homes include:

Quapaw Quarter UMCDesigned by Charles L. Thompson and Thomas Harding, Jr., Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built between1921 and 1926, it features a Gothic Revival style with Queen Anne characteristics. Considered one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the southwest, the sanctuary still retains its original features and furnishings, including four plaster angels—unusual for Methodist churches of the time. The sanctuary features more than 50 individual stained-glass windows and a large Gothic Triptych window, all crafted of intricately assembled Tiffany-style stained glass, depicting biblical persons and liturgical symbols. The original cork tile floor is an early example of green design. Overhead, Gothic openwork trusses provide both decoration and structural support for the roof. Please ask about the little pew that was dedicated to Mrs. Eliza Lillis whose husband died of injuries suffered during the Civil War. Her story is a true inspiration.

Pollock HouseThe Pollock House at 914 Scott Street was constructed circa 1874 by Samuel E. Mandelbaum—the owner of a cigar and tobacco shop on Main Street— for his daughter, Annie Mandelbaum Pollock, following her marriage to Mr. Meyer Pollock. In addition, Mr. Mandelbaum built a home at 908 Scott Street for another daughter, Clara Mandelbaum Pfeifer, and also one for himself at 920 Scott Street. The Pollock House has remained in the family ever since, and it is now owned and occupied by descendant Mary Bray Kelley and her husband, Dick Kelley. The exterior has been restored to its original beauty and architectural style, and the interior rehabilitation was equally profound, making the home an important historic residence in Little Rock.

Villa MarreThe Villa Marre at 1321 Scott Street was built in 1881 by Angelo Marre, a successful saloonkeeper in Little Rock. The home was the first post-Civil War residence to be rehabilitated in the city. In 1964, preservationist James Strawn purchased and restored the home, later donating it to the Quapaw Quarter Association. It remained a social rental and tour house until it was sold as a private residence in 2002. Except for its mansard roof, a feature associated with the Second Empire style, the home is predominately Italianate. Its imposing three-story tower and original slate roof are features that make the house architecturally significant. The Villa Marre became a popular icon as the Sugarbaker House on Designing Women, and its distinctive architecture made it a trademark of the successful television show in the 1980s and 1990s. The home is currently available as an event center.

Xenophon Overton Pindall HouseThe Xenophon Overton Pindall House at 2000 Arch Street served as the Governor’s Mansion from May 15, 1907 until January 11, 1909. While acting governor, Pindall served as a member of the State Penitentiary Board, made numerous visits to the convict farms, and authorized an investigation and report of conditions. His actions are credited with starting a chain of events that brought about the abolition of the convict lease system some years later. Constructed in the Tudor style with some Craftsman features, homes like the Pindall House originated in the United States with plans and concepts published in furniture maker and designer Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman magazine. His ideas spread, and the term Craftsman eventually identified any house built with his principles in mind. Jill Judy and Mark Brown now own and occupy the home.

John H. Martin HouseConstructed in 1902, the John H. Martin House at 2107 Arch Street was designed in the Colonial Revival style, which became popular after the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia created a feeling of nostalgia about the American home. Homebuilders and architects turned to early American houses as inspiration for new, more dramatic houses appropriate to the booming economic times. Colonial Revival houses were first built in the late 19th century, in the shadow of the Victorian era. Colonial Revival grew in reaction to Victorian excesses, focusing on simpler, more traditional layouts and façades. The style took hold quickly and became one of the country’s longest-lived architectural forms, with countless versions being built even today. Ashley and Chap Williams are the current owners and residents of the home.

Shelby England HouseThe Shelby England House at 2121 Arch Street was constructed circa 1910 and has been totally restored to perfection. The large sweeping foyer has a grand staircase and huge stained-glass window. Designed by architect Charles L. Thompson in Colonial Revival and Prairie School styles with some elements of Craftsman style incorporated, the England House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is included in the Governor’s Mansion Historic District. The house sits unobtrusively on the streetscape thus giving it a sense of privacy nicely reinforced by the low brick walls that surround the porch. The England House is a fine example of the diversity of architect Thompson’s work. Brandi and John Collins own and live in the England House today.

 

Empress is voted “Reader’s Choice”

November 7th, 2012 by Lisa

The readers of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette vote yearly on their favorite local businesses.  Food, lodging, health-care and schools are all voted on.  This year, The Empress is proud to be named reader’s choice for “Best Bed and Breakfast”.  The Empress has been awarded this honor numerous times in the past and is glad to once again be recognized by Arkansans as their favorite “B and B”.