The Empress of Little Rock
April Showers brought May Flowers!!!!! 7 May 2013, 9:32 am
They are here, they are here, they are finally here! A stroll through the Empress gardens is now a must do event, as Spring flowers are in full bloom. Every corner you turn brings a new assault of beauty to your eyes (and often your nose) as flowers bloom on bushes, in planters, in beds, around swings and climbing up columns. The exciting thing is, there are many more to come. Our fig tree is just now putting out leaves and will soon provide fresh fruit for breakfast. I am impatiently awaiting the hydrangeas, as they are my absolute favorites! But in the meantime, there is so much to see that my daily stroll through the gardens is the very best part of the work day.
Spring is finally Springing!!! 28 Mar 2013, 9:09 am
Whew! I thought Spring would never get here…now I know not to trust that groundhog ever again! With warm weather finally coming to Arkansas, some of our packages that include outdoor elements are becoming VERY popular.
Our Great Outdoors Package includes biking, hiking, picnicing and massages (sounds like a perfect weekend to me). We include bike rental for the RiverTrail, an amazing trail that is crowned by the Big Dam Bridge, the U.S.’s longest pedestrian only bridge. Then we direct you to Pinnacle Mountain for a lazy hike by the Little Maumelle River on the Kingfisher Trail, or a more strenuous climb up the mountain on the East Summit Trail. We provide you with a champagne picnic for one of your excursions, and granola and bottled water for the other. Relax afterwards with a massage in the privacy of your room…a perfect weekend!!!
Memorial Day and Riverfest are also coming up very quickly!!! If you haven’t already made plans to come into Little Rock for Riverfest, do it now! There is no better place in Arkansas to be that weekend than at it’s largest outdoor music and food festival.
The Empress offers a special package to those coming to town to enjoy the music, the fun and the fireworks (the Osborne Family Fireworks are always an amazing show).
- Three nights in the room of your choice (Rates vary by room)
- Three gourmet two course breakfasts by candlelight
- Three Day Pass to Riverfest
- Registration to the Rock-N-Stroll 5K (registration required by Friday, May 27th for T Shirt)
- Fireworks and Symphony Preformance on the Grounds Sunday, May 29th
- All the rest and relaxation after the Events you need in the gardens or the porch swing at The Empress
A High Tea for The Most Special of Ladies… 20 Mar 2013, 2:13 pm
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
Join The Empress and P. Allen Smith for an Unforgettable Weekend! 6 Mar 2013, 8:25 am
P. 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!
March 7, 2013
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Channel 11 Features Chef Sharon for Valentine’s Day Red Velvet Souffle 6 Feb 2013, 6:00 pm
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
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… 4 Feb 2013, 1:26 pm
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” 17 Jan 2013, 2:41 pm
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 1 Jan 2013, 9:30 pm
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 Package, Valentines Day Packages or the Romantic Waterfall Package.
Menu Posted for the New Year’s Eve “Downtown” Abbey Wine Dinner Dance 29 Dec 2012, 9:52 pm
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”! 19 Dec 2012, 8:22 am
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)
Cost: $225/per couple before December 26th; $250 after December 26th