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Posts Tagged ‘The Empress of Little Rock’

Rock City Ramble Bicycle Scavenger Hunt

March 19th, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Join Bobby’s Bike Hike and the Little Rock River Market for the 3rd annual Rock City Ramble!, a city-wide bicycle scavenger hunt. Clues will be hidden around downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock for teams on bicycles for a fun and interactive competition (via a provided map) to find the clues. For the competition, there will be three divisions: a competitive division, a family division, and an all new Locally Labeled division!

“What’s a Locally Labeled division?,” you ask. The Locally Labeled division will take participants on an adventure to our local breweries, distillery, and craft food establishments.

If you don’t have access to a bike, it isn’t a problem, you can rent one at Bobby’s Bike Hike for a discounted rate. The winners can look forward to being rewarded with accolades and prizes. Cyclists are invited to  feel free to sign up as an individual or with a team (individuals will be grouped together as a team). Teams can be various sizes, from 2 to 5 member teams.

The Empress is a great place to stay for this fun and active event in Little Rock this spring (Sunday, April 10, starting at 11 am) and we hope to be your bicycling headquarters.  We offer covered bicycle storage!

Check Bobby’s Facebook page for more events!

Easter Sunrise Service in Little Rock

March 11th, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Do you enjoy Easter Sunrise Service on a yearly basis?  Are you planning on spending Easter weekend at The Empress of Little Rock?  You can combine the two and enjoy sunrise service in Little Rock this year!

Celebrate Easter Sunrise Service  Sunday, March 27th at 7:00 a.m. at the First Security Amphitheater in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.  Every year, thousands gather on the banks of the Arkansas River and proclaim the good news that Christ is risen.

The service will also be broadcast live on KATV Channel 7.

The Annual Community Easter Sunrise Service is an ecumenical worship service sponsored by Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church.

Want some history on the event?  In 1989, Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church utilized the newly built Amphitheater on the banks of the Arkansas River to provide an ecumenical community-wide Easter Sunrise Service. Long time PHUMC member, Swann Kohler, was the founding coordinator of this new service. Then Little Rock mayor Buddy Villines, Audrey Crites, Skip Rutherford and the late Tom Williams were the first participants. Beautiful music was offered by the combined choirs of Pulaski Heights UMC and Philander Smith College Choir. In the last 26 years many members of our community have participated in worship, including a US President, our congressmen and women, Arkansas Governors and other state officials, actors, athletes and TV personalities, students and clergy, dance teams and orchestras, brass ensembles, many soloists and school choirs from our county and city. The Gospel has been proclaimed and prayers have been offered. Offerings have been gathered to help local charities do good work in our community and around the state. Over 100 volunteers, plus monetary contributions of so many, make this event possible.

Special guests of this years’ service will be:

  • Rev. Carissa Rogers,  Pastor of Quapaw Quarter UMC
  • Rev. William Robinson, Pastor of First Baptist Church, NLR
  • Kevin Scanlon, Former Arkansas Razorback Football Team
  • Mallory Brooks, Channel 4 News Anchorperson
  • Eric Gilmore, Director of Immerse Arkansas

We hope to see you at The Empress this Easter weekend!

Grand High Tea at the Empress

January 15th, 2016 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Grand High Tea at The Empress

Grand High Tea at The Empress

In a time and city that seems to always be in a hurry, it is sometimes nice to slow down and enjoy life’s luxuries.  The Grand High Tea at The Empress of Little Rock is the perfect place to do just that.

Grand High Tea at the “Downtown Abbey” –Sundays at 3:00 p.m. by reservation only
Capture the essence of the traditional high tea with all the pomp and circumstance of your Grandmothers’ day. Everything is handmade in our kitchen and includes our specialty hot tea, three specialty desserts; three gourmet finger sandwiches, Empress scones, clotted cream and fresh fruit!  Served in the formal dining room with candlelight and Victorian music.  Discover the traditions of  100 years ago that have been lost in our hurry scurry world.  Wear your hat and gloves, the occasion warrants it!! After tea, enjoy a detailed historical tour of The Empress and all of her owners from the late 1800′s to present time.

  • $40.00 per person / $45.00 per person on holidays/  all tea reservation will have 18% gratuity included.

Group Grand High Tea-

  • $40.00 per person / $45.00 per person on holidays
  • Weekdays- 10 person minimum (50 person maximum)
  • Weekends- 12 person minimum (50 person maximum)
  • Holiday Prices Vary

High tea evolved from the custom of ladies of the Victorian era taking a mid-afternoon respite to an elegant and formalized excuse to showcase one’s finery while entertaining friends. High tea was traditionally more of an evening meal; today’s high tea experience showcases dainty tea sandwiches, specialty teas, elegant finger sweets, scones with clotted cream and lemon curd. Today it’s an opportunity to don one’s gloves and pull out grandmother’s china, crystal or silver, and have a time set aside to focus on ourselves and our friends. In this day of instant everything, the Empress is offering a special Little Rock, Arkansas high tea experience in an elegant Victorian atmosphere designed to calm the mind and foster relationships. Victorian High Tea accompanied by your host’s warm hospitality is a hallmark at The Empress. Call us to help you plan a delightful event for yourself or your local ladies’ group and enjoy one of our delightful tea and tour events at The Empress.

New Years Eve, Downton Abbey Style

January 6th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

winedinnertableNew Years Eve, Downton Abbey style,  proved an elegant and vintage end to 2014. Guests at the Wine Dinner Dance were met in the entry parlor by an appropriately aproned maid with flutes of wine.    Gifts of handmade Victorian paper and ribbon medallions announced them as honored guests.  Hosts, Bob and Sharon, owners of the Empress, escorted the elegantly clad guests to the formal dining room to feast on a four-course gourmet meal featuring: Pumpkin and Fig Autumn Soup with a Pumpkin-Nutmeg Creme Fraiche, Victorian Rosewater Sorbet, Beef Wellington Duxelles accompanied by Gruyere Sausage Stuffed Onions, Blueberry Goat Cheese Salad with toasted Almand Croutons; Pear-Parsnip Velvete’ with Cognac, and a dessert finale of Apple Butter Pie and fresh creme.  Each course was paired with a unique wine chosen by the house sommelier to compliment the distinct flavor of each course. winedinnerbobsharon

During dinner, lively conversation sprang up among guests representing Britian, Israel, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and various cities around Arkansas.  After dinner, up came the rugs in the main parlor for dancing and live musical entertainment began, provided by Jeff Long and Mary Kai CLark, well known local entertainers.  Flames danced in the fireplaces, candles and oil lamps throughout the parlors of the mansion, as well guests.  At the witching hour of midnight, guests toasted the New Year in with a glass of champagne to the strains of Auld Ang Syne.

It was a memorable evening and we are glad to be able, once again, to host so many wonderful guests for this New Year’s Eve Wine Dinner Dance, “Downton Abbey style”!  We hope you’ll join us next year.  Sign up for our newsletter to catch all the wonderful events throughout the year.

 

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.

—-

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.

Winter Birds at Witt Stephens

December 22nd, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

winter birds

Birds still thrive in Arkansas Winter

Looking for a fun activity to do while in Little Rock?  Interested in nature (namely the bird kind)?  Then the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center at 602 President Clinton Ave. has a wonderful afternoon for you on December 23!  Winter Bird Feeding is an activity planned with the warm-hearted in mind during this cold season.  Birds search for seeds, berries and other foods all winter long. Invite birds to eat in your own backyard by making a pine-cone bird feeder and learn how to start a “Wings Over Arkansas” checklist of birds you’ve seen.

This is a free event and is fun for the whole family, so make sure that your trip to the Rivermarket includes a stop by the nature center!

Need a place to stay during your Little Rock bird-watching getaway?  The Empress has rooms available, and plenty of birds to watch on the 200 ft. of veranda and the Secret Garden!  Visit us at www.theempress.com or call 501-374-7966 to book a room today!!!

 

Holiday High Teas

December 17th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

hd-christmas2High Tea at The Empress of Little Rock is always a treat, but during the holiday season it is something truly special. Christmas music wafts through the parlors and dining room, along with the scent of fresh evergreens. Victorian decorations adorn each room of the mansion, creating an authentic 1880s Christmas experience for our guests.
High tea evolved from the custom of ladies of the Victorian era taking a mid-afternoon respite to an elegant and formalized excuse to showcase one’s finery while entertaining friends. High tea was traditionally more of an evening meal; today’s high tea experience showcases dainty tea sandwiches, specialty teas, elegant finger sweets, and scones with clotted cream and lemon curd. Today it’s an opportunity to don one’s gloves and pull out grandmother’s china, crystal or silver, and have a time set aside to focus on ourselves and our friends. Victorian High Tea accompanied by your host’s warm hospitality is a hallmark at The Empress.
We would love to have your family, friends or group join us for a holiday high tea that will they will talk about for years to come. Call the Empress to schedule your tea, and enjoy a complimentary tour of the home in all of its holiday finery!

The Holiday Fun Continues in Little Rock

December 11th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

big jingle jubileeThe holiday fun continues this weekend, Dec. 12-14! Ballet Arkansas presents its annual production of “The Nutcracker” and Burns Park lights up the night with a free Holiday Lights Festival. Plus, Garth Brooks visits North Little Rock to play three highly-anticipated concerts at Verizon Arena. All these events and more are included in our top 8 picks for families this weekend!

1. Garth Brooks World Tour with Trisha Yearwood at Verizon Arena: Don’t miss the electrifying return of country legend, Garth Brooks. The star makes his first Arkansas appearance on The World Tour and his first time in North Little Rock in more than 23 years. And, believe it or not, tickets are still available! $73.25. Performances are 7 p.m. Dec. 11-13. For info: (800) 745-3000, VerizonArena.com.

2. Ballet Arkansas Presents “The Nutcracker” at Maumelle Performing Arts Center: Ring in the holidays with Tchaikovsky’s magical score performed live by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and a classic performance by Ballet Arkansas. With enchanting costumes and original choreography, the tradition of “The Nutcracker” will create unforgettable memories for children of every generation. $20-$52. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 & 13; 2 p.m. Dec. 13 & 14. For info: (501) 666-1761, BalletArkansas.org.

3. Holly Trolley Day in Downtown Little Rock & North Little Rock: Ride the trolley free all day and take a picture with Santa from 2-5 p.m. at the trolley barn in North Little Rock. 2-5 p.m. Dec. 13. For info: CAT.org. FREE!

4. Dashin’ Thru the Lights at Burns Park Softball Complex: Run, walk, or stroll through the Hometown Holiday Lights in Burns Park. The display is about one mile each way, and you can complete the course as many times as you like during the event. Wheelchairs and strollers are welcome at any time during the event. Leashed pets welcome after 5:15 p.m. A shuttle will be available to return participants to the parking lot. Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. $5, $10 per family. 5-6 p.m. Dec. 13. For info: (501) 791-8543, NLRPR.org.

5. Holiday Lights Festival at Burns Park Softball Complex: Immediately following the Dashin’ Thru the Lights run, families can enjoy a bright festival at the Hometown Holiday Lights. Enjoy games and activities for the whole family and don’t miss photo opportunities with Santa and Dasher. 6-8 p.m. Dec. 13. For info: (501) 791-8543, NLRPR.org. FREE!

6. Living Gift Market at Heifer Ranch in Perryville: Stroll through the show barn, decorate cookies, find unique gifts in our international gift shop and support the work of Heifer International. Warm up with hot drinks and light snacks and enjoy a roaring bonfire. Snap a pic at a photo booth with an animal, too! 5-8 p.m Dec. 13 & 3-6 p.m. Dec. 14. For info: (501) 889-5124, Heifer.org. FREE!

7. Holiday Hayride at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Jostle, bounce and laugh your way across the fields and through the woods on a guided hayride. Then enjoy a warm campfire, stories, hot chocolate and marshmallows. Advance payment required. $12, children ages 6-12 $5. 3-5 p.m. Dec. 13 & 27. For info: (501) 868-5806, ArkansasStateParks.com/PinnacleMountain.

8. Arkansas Chamber Singers Holiday Concert: Christmas at the Old State House Museum: The annual Christmas at the Old State House concert features traditional music of the season, music of new composers and music popular during the American Civil War. The combination of the acoustical magic of the hall and the glorious voices of the Arkansas Chamber Singers promises to pack the house for all three thrilling performances! Performances are 7 p.m. Dec. 12 & 13; 3 p.m. Dec. 14. For info: (501) 377-1121, AR-ChamberSingers.org. FREE!

It’s not too late to book your suite for this weekend!  Call the Empress of Little Rock at 501-374-7966 or visit us at www.theempress.com!

 

Christmas Celebrity Karaoke

December 9th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

KaraokePromo14Every year during the holiday season, sports radio station 103.7 The Buzz gathers a group of local celebrities to celebrate the season and raise money for a good cause.  The 2014 Christmas Celebrity Karaoke is presented by Roadrunner Convenience Stores, and benefits Youth Home.  The 10th Anniversary of this local favorite will be held at Verizon Arena on Thursday, December 18th at 7pm.

See all of your favorite Buzz personalities joined with local celebrities from KATV, KTHV,  KARK, and FOX 16 PLUS some special guest celebrity surprises!  Tickets are on sale now, find them here.

Afterwards, make sure to join your favorite 103.7 The Buzz personalities following this years’ Christmas Celebrity Karaoke at the official after party at Cajun’s Wharf! No cover charge if you show your Christmas Karaoke ticket stub at the door!

Didn’t get to attend Christmas Karaoke? You can still take part in all the Christmas Celebrity Karaoke fun at the after party at Cajuns! It’s gonna be a great night of great food and great music including drink specials all night on Thursday December 18th with the Christmas Celebrity Karaoke after-party with 103. 7 The Buzz at Cajuns!

Make sure to book your room at The Empress for your fun celebrity-filled weekend.  Call us at 501-374-7966.  Check out our packages page here to find more fun activities for you Holiday getaway!

Holiday Pop Up Shop

December 5th, 2014 by Sharon Welch-Blair

pop up store2Looking for beautiful art and local gifts? Don’t miss SoMa’s fun Holiday Pop Up Shop at Studio Main with Erin Lorenzen, The Green Corner Store, and many local artists and products! Open weekends from now until Christmas, the shop includes local artisans Robinson Lane Jewelery, Julie Holt Pottery, Eco Social Events, David Monteith, Vincent Griffin, Michael Church, Kent Walker, Loblolly Creamery, Honeysuckle Cheese, Geek Eats, Bo/Knit/A, Southern Girl Soapery, Southern Salt, Kat Wilson and more!  The following facebook pages can provide more information on these fun holiday sales:

www.facebook.com/thegreencornerstore and pop up storewww.facebook.com/erinlealorenzen

This Holiday Pop Up Shop would be a perfect addition to the Empress of Little Rock’s shopping package .  Bring your purchases back to The Empress for our “elves” to wrap while you cuddle up in front of a roaring fire!  Don’t forget that the Christmas decorations are now up and the Empress staff is ready to make your holiday stay merry and bright!pop up store 3

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