Archive for the ‘Upcoming Events at The Empress’ Category

THV 11 Features Empress New Year’s Eve

December 30th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

635554414839710337-beefwellingtonThe Empress’ own Sharon Welch-Blair appeared on THV 11 on Monday, December 29 to discuss our New Year’s Eve Wine Dinner Dance.  From THV:

http://www.thv11.com/story/news/local/little-rock/2014/12/29/join-the-empress-for-a-downton-abbey-wine-dinner-dance/20994663/

Join the most exclusive and sought after New Year’s Eve Party in Little Rock at The Empress of Little Rock.

It’s New Year’s Eve, 1888. You’ve received your handmade medallion with your name and escorted to the Ladies Parlor to sample the first wine course while bantering with the other guests to the lilting notes of the 1870 Steinway Grand piano.

Dance and be entertained by live musicians as we roll back the rugs and dance in the parlors just like the “olden days”. Toast in the New Year with champagne at midnight to the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” with your loved one.

Festivities begin at 8:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2014. This event is black tie. Period attire is welcome but certainly not required,

Reserve your tickets now: http://on.kthv.com/1wXkmvt

BEEF WELLINGTON

For the duxelles

1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbs. vegetable or sunflower oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1-1/2 cups finely chopped portobello mushrooms (from 4 large caps; remove the stems and gills before chopping, preferably in a food processor)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the Madeira sauce

6 cups beef stock, homemade or store-bought
1 cup Madeira
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 oz. (2 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, diced

For the crêpes

2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter

For assembly

3 lb. center-cut beef tenderloin, trimmed, side muscle removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. vegetable or sunflower oil
2/3 cup chicken liver pâté, homemade or store-bought
1 lb. puff pastry, homemade or store-bought, thawed overnight in the refrigerator if frozen
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. unsalted butter, softened

Make the duxelles

Heat the butter and oil in a 10-inch skillet over low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, stir well, and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have cooked down to a thick, almost black mixture, about 15 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir in the parsley; then transfer to a small bowl and cool completely. (The duxelles can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

Begin the Madeira sauce

Bring 6 cups of the stock to a boil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and boil until reduced to 2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the Madeira and continue boiling until the liquid is again reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (The sauce can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead. Finish the sauce just before serving the Wellington.)

Make the crêpes

In a large bowl, whisk the flour and salt. Make a well in the center, break in the eggs, and add 1/4 cup of the milk. Gently whisk the eggs and milk, gradually incorporating the flour. Slowly whisk in the remaining milk to make a smooth batter. (The batter can be covered and set aside for up to an hour at this point.)

Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Swirl the pan to coat with the butter; pour the excess butter out into a small bowl. Whisk 1 Tbs. of the melted butter into the batter. Reserve the rest for greasing the pan between crêpes. Increase the heat to medium high and pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet. Swirl so the batter thinly and evenly coats the base of the pan.

Cook until the crêpe is spotted with brown on the underside, about 1 minute, then flip and cook the other side until lightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute more. Repeat with the remaining batter, greasing the pan off the heat as necessary. Transfer the crêpes to a plate, separating them with sheets of parchment, and cool. You’ll need 4 crêpes.

Assemble and bake the Wellington

Remove the beef from the refrigerator about an hour ahead so it has time to lose its chill. Pat the beef dry and season all over with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until very hot. Sear the beef until it is evenly browned all over (don’t worry about the ends), 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the beef to a baking sheet and cool.

In a medium bowl, mash the pâté and the duxelles with a fork until they form a soft paste.

Lay 4 crêpes on a clean work surface, overlapping them just enough to give you a 13×13-inch roughly square surface. Dot the pâté mixture over the crêpes, then use an offset spatula to spread it evenly across the crêpes’ surface.

Place the tenderloin in the center of the crêpes and carefully wrap them around the filet, pressing and molding them into place. Trim off any excess crêpe at the ends.

If using store-bought puff pastry that’s packaged as 2 sheets, fuse the sheets together by slightly overlapping them and lightly rolling over the seam until adhered.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 13×16-inch rectangle (for store-bought puff, roll in the direction of the seam).

Transfer the wrapped beef to the center of the pastry and tuck any crêpes that have come loose back into place. Bring the pastry up around the beef, smoothing out any air pockets. Brush some of the beaten egg along the bottom edge of the seam and then press gently to seal; trim off any excess. Seal the pastry similarly at the ends.

Lightly grease a large baking sheet with the butter. Lift the Wellington onto the sheet, seam side down. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 3 hours. (If refrigerating longer than 1 hour, let the Wellington sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.)

At least 20 minutes before baking, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 475°F.

Brush the Wellington with the remaining beaten egg. Using a sharp knife, score the surface of the pastry with diagonal lines, being careful not to cut all the way through the pastry. Put the Wellington in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 425°F. Roast for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the Wellington registers 135°F for medium rare, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a carving board and let the Wellington rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, finish the sauce: Heat the sauce in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When it begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time. Do not allow it to boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thickly slice the Wellington and serve it with the sauce.

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Make Ahead Tips

There are several components to a Beef Wellington, but you don’t have to make them all in one day. Here’s how to spread out the work:

2 days (or up to 2 months) ahead: Make and chill (or freeze) the beef stock, duxelles, and puff pastry.

1 day ahead: Begin the Madeira sauce. Make the crêpes. Defrost the beef stock, duxelles, and puff pastry, if necessary.

Up to 5 hours ahead: Let the beef sit out at room temperature for 1 hour before searing.

Up to 4 hours ahead: Sear the beef; assemble and chill the Wellington.

Up to 1-1/2 hours ahead: Let the Wellington sit out at room temperature before baking.

Up to 1 hour ahead: Bake the Wellington and let it rest before carving.

Before serving: Finish the Madeira sauce.

New Year’s Eve…Empress Style

December 2nd, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

barber full table editedHave you decided what you are doing for New Year’s Eve yet?  If not, do we have a great event for you!

New Year’s Eve “Downton Abbey” Wine Dinner Dance hosted by Sharon Welch-Blair and Bob Blair. Book your reservations now for this annual New Year’s Eve  “Victorian Affair”.  Known as one of the top New Years Eve 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 in a Downton Abbey experience .  Our own wine sommelier has hand chosen the “fruit of the vine” for each elegant course.  Our chef, the “Victorian”  Martha Stewart has watched over the preparation of each of the four courses so it is served at the height of perfection.

Step back to New Year’s Eve,  December 31st, 1889, the Hornibrook family’s first new year in their magnificent mansion.  The butler ushers in the specially invited guests arriving in their flowing gowns and tails. The elegant food is all prepared. The Victorian mementos are elaborate and arranged, waiting for you, their invited guest.  Music from the 1870’s square Steinway wafts throughout the house. The laughter, magic and anticipation are mounting with each minute that draws closer to midnight.  Draw your loved one closer, the witching hour approaches.  It’s time for a champagne toast to “Auld Lang Syne” and a kiss to last the years…..
Join us December 31st for a magnificent wine dinner dance beginning at 8:00 p.m. followed by dancing in the parlors just like “the olden days”of Downton Abbey.  Receive custom made Victorian mementos.  Dine to the strains of the 1870’s Steinway piano and live musicians. Make a Champagne toast at midnight. 

Downton Abbey Dinner

Victorian “Girls at Work”

  • Black Tie Event
  • Seating limited to Maximum of 40 guests
  • *$200.00 per couple with a night stay, plus the price of your chosen room.
  • *$250.00 per couple without stay. *Limited Seating.
  • Book three nights during this extended New Year’s Eve holiday, and receive your fourth night FREE.
  • Call for great price for extra 5th night.

MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS EARLY FOR THIS EXCLUSIVE EVENT.       501-374-7966 for details!

SEATS ARE AVAILABLE FOR WINE DINNER DANCE WITHOUT PACKAGE.  PLEASE CALL FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS

*18%Gratuity added to all Wine Dinner Dance Reservations.

New Year's Eve Downton Abbey Style

Downton Abbey at The Empress

Empress appears in Victorian Homes Magazine!

November 8th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Empress appears in Victorian Homes MagazineWe are so excited to be selected for a feature in the Special Christmas Issue of Victorian Homes Magazine!!! The 8 page article perfectly describes The Empress as a Victorian treasure from the 19th century.  It tells about the grand history of the mansion, from the original owner’s death shortly after completion in 1888, to becoming Arkansas’s first women’s college, all the way up to present day as an Award winning Bed & Breakfast.

“We’re delighted that the editors choose to feature The Empress of Little Rock, with all of her Christmas flair.  From the smell of pine cones wafting through the foyer into the sitting parlors and guest suites, to fireplace mantles graciously decorated and an electric train that circles the glittering, heavily ornamented Victorian tree, we hope to give our guests a true Victorian Christmas,” says owner Sharon Welch-Blair.  “We’re especially delighted they chose to highlight our Downton Abbey New Year’s Eve Wine Dinner Dance, which has been an area favorite for New Year’s Eve for years.  The small intimate nature of this exclusive dinner party which is a throw back to the 19th century, is designed to celebrate a simpler but more elegant way of connecting with the good things of life we’re having trouble discovering in today’s hectic lifestyle.
This year we will decorate at the beginning of December, just in time to be showcased in this year’s Christmas in the Quarter, a tour of homes conducted around the historic Quapaw Quarter of Little Rock.  We hope everyone can come experience the yards of live garland, festive Christmas music, and several Christmas trees from different eras that delight our guests every year!  Join us for our daily tours at 11:30 a.m. & 3:00 p.m. during the holiday season and see what Victorian Homes Magazine was so excited to feature, a true old-fashioned Christmas in an amazing Victorian mansion. The cost is $10.00 per person.  

Please call (501) 374-7966 for additional details, or visit us at www.TheEmpress.com  

Best Wedding Venue in Little Rock

January 28th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

 

Need an incredible, unique, intimate setting
in a Nationally Recognized, Award Winning
Victorian Mansion for your wedding?
is waiting for you! 
 newlyweds_in_window_iStock_000009493639Small
We specialize in weddings and elopements ranging in size from two to one hundred.
    Our wedding packages are designed to allow you to focus on what’s really important, 
oval-weddingsyou and  your groom!oval-event-chairs
 
Our
and
                  are designed to take the pressure off of the busy bride!
                Just bring your groom and your dress and we’ll do the rest!
    Packages includes: personalized invitation &  napkins, minister, bridal & bridesmaid bouquets, wedding cake, groom’s cake,
 heavy hors d’oeuvres,  nuts, mints, champagne fountain, and punch.  We also provide a rehearsal before the wedding day, music system for both ceremony and reception and the Most Romantic Honeymoon Suite accommodations with either the Romantic Hideaway or Honeymoon Package.  End your special day riding away in a Victorian Carriage or Limousine.     

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Downton Abbey New Year’s Eve

December 12th, 2013 by Sharon Welch-Blair

New Year's Eve Downton Abbey Style

New Year's Eve Downton Abbey Style

Downton Abbey at The Empress

A New Years Eve Downton Abbey dinner party is our biggest special event of the year.  An elegant gourmet meal paired
with hand selected wines by our house sommelier gives everyone who loves an elegant intimate evening a chance to wear their black ties and gowns and then
dance the night away to live musicians and then toast the new year at midnight, just as they did a hundred years ago.  The event is known as the most sought
after in Little Rock and is limited to 20 couples, so make your reservations now at http://theempress.com/packages/offers/2010-new-years-eve-package/.
Or call us now for all the added details for a special romantic getaway  package which includes the dinner, two – four nights in suite of your choice,
gourmet candlelight breakfasts and special New Years Brunch on New Year’s Day.   Mention you saw our blog and get a complimentary bottle of champagne in a silver server with your getaway package (minimum two night stay, please). 

A Magical Victorian Christmas at The Empress of Little Rock Arkansas

Empress Dining Room just before New Year’s Eve preparations

 

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.

Old Fashioned 4th of JULY Fun at The Empress

June 17th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Fireworks at the Fourth of July on the Arkansas River

Romance under the Fireworks on the Arkansas River, July 4th

Don’t miss the riproaring “old fashioned” fun at The Empress this Fourth of July!  We’ll start the day with a unique neighborhood breakfast picnic where everyone brings a dish to share.  This year the Downtown Neighborhood Association will provide Mimosas. There’ll be lots of old fashioned conversation and sharing before everyone heads out to do the things people do on our country’s birthday.  But the fun won’t end there for guests; the Clinton Library will have free entrance and The 2011 World Series Trophy will be on display in the Library’s exhibit Play Ball! The St. Louis Cardials. FREE professional photographs will be taken with the Trophy from 9:30-2:30. Schedule and ticket information about photographs with the Trophy available http://www.clintonlibrary.gov/free- . In the evening, head out to the River for the Arkansas Symphony POPS presentation.  Afterwards the sky will light up with the best fireworks display in Arkansas, all beside the Arkansas River.  Bring your blanket, spread it out and enjoy!!  Don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy a fun day of nostalgia and a great night at Arkansas’ award winning bed and breakfast, The Empress of Little Rock!!

 

Mother’s Day Grand High Tea-A Day to Share and Remember!

April 27th, 2012 by Lisa

Pricing Details: $40 per person

Because we think Mom is so special, The Empress is throwing a party just for her on Mother’s Day!  Join us for a Grand High Tea with home made English Scones, clotted cream and lemon curd, dainty gourmet finger sandwiches, elegant desserts, and specialty tea all freshly prepared and served with Victorian Pomp and Circumstance.  Finish with our specialty hand-dipped chocolate covered cherries.

Converted in 1995 to The Empress of Little Rock Small Luxury Hotel and Conference Center, the mansion has an amazing history…which we will happily share with you!  Step back in the past for an hour of genteel tea and good company during which your hostess will introduce you to the Victorian beginnings of The Empress!  So don your gloves and wear your hat.  This is an occasion to celebrate, share with your Mom, and remember

New Year’s Eve Wine Dinner Dance Recipes showcased on Channel 7

December 14th, 2011 by Lisa

 

The Empress’ own Sharon Welch-Blair will be showcasing the talents that have earned her the nickname “The Victorian Martha Stewart” on Saturday Morning Daybreak on December 17th.  The Segment, which will air at 7:50 am and will showcase Sharon’s amazing Sweet-Potato Vichyssoise with Peanut Noshes, the first course of the New Year’s Eve Wine Dinner and Dance, where the soup will be served (along with a fabulous 4-course dinner with wine pairings.)

The Dinner Dance was recently featured in About.com’s “Top 9 New Year’s Eve Parties in Arkansas“.  Ring in the New Year with elegant style at an intimate dinner party setting and a Champagne Toast at midnight!  Tickets are $200 a couple including a special discount if purchased before December 26th.

Tickets for the New Year’s Eve Wine Dinner Dance are available by calling the Empress at 501-374-7966.

And Check Back with our Blog after Sharon’s appearance on Saturday to get her recipe for that amazing Sweet Potato Vichyssoise! http://theempress.com/2011/12/14/the-empress-makes-a-grand-appearance/

Menu