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Just tea, coffee and cake...

The Emperor Lounge at New Delhi's Taj Mahal Hotel has an array of coffee, tea and cakes to make a casual get-together grand. Recently equipped with a new chef flown all the way from Germany, the menu card becomes even more inviting, experiences SUMITRA SENAPATY... .


IF YOU long for a respite at the end of a stressful day, or simply want to savour a cup of coffee, but not in the mood for a restaurant ambience, drop by the Emperor Lounge at New Delhi's Taj Mahal hotel. Day or night you will find people sinking into the lounge's opulent, yet comfortable sofas and chairs, relaxing with coffee and cake, listening to the sounds of the waterfall between glimpses of ferns and frangipani. The Lounge has always been a popular place to meet friends and colleagues, in fact a local favourite, over the years.

Part of the appeal of the Lounge is its full range of Barista offerings. Over 15 versions of coffees are offered on the menu along with a full range of flavours - Hazel Nut, Almond, Irish Cream, Caramel and Cinnamon. A cup of hot coffee is served with a few `biscotti.' The most popular coffees include the delicious-smelling Jamaica Blue Mountain and Cuba Crystal. The Lounge also serves a long list of teas and herbal teas - Earl Grey Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Mint Tea, Camomille and Iced Tea. To accompany your coffee or tea, it is hard to resist a treat - chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies and even muesli cookies!

Though some changes have been made to the ambience, the Lounge never fails to impress with its sense of savvy. Ready to roll with the times, a few more attractions have been added to the already cutting edge venue. For example, did you know that they have brought on a new chef, who creates absolutely amazing desserts, cakes and cookies? Chef Reinhard Hess has come all the way from Westphalia, Germany, to present the Grape Snow Cake with Berry Compote.


The Grape Snow Cake with a delicate base of sponge, coated and sealed with chocolate to contain a mixture of light butter cream, wine based custard and fresh grapes, topped with a subtle layer of marzipan, is awesome. Apparently, this cake defies chemistry, physics and the pastry profession, but it tastes like melting ice cream on one's tongue!

Chef Reinhard came into the city last "11/11" with 200 kg worth of cookery books, so it is no wonder that food is like a mantra to him. An admirer of Rajmata Gayatri Devi and Mahatma Gandhi, the German Chef is so focused on work and creativity that he has not had the time to visit Rajghat, which happens to be a priority for him. And Reinhard, creator of delicious desserts, feels that cakes are beyond food - "They are like poems and songs - A concert that finishes, but the lyrics and the sounds of music linger on in your mind."

The icing on the cake is Reinhard's Baumkuchen, the famous German `Tree Cake', traced back to the 15th century and now available in Delhi, exclusively and only at the Emperor Lounge. Baumkuchen is a very delicious sponge cake, handmade with many eggs, butter, almonds and a secret mix of spices. A true test of a pastry chef's skills, the Baumkuchen has earned its reputation as the "King of Cakes". It gets it name, which translates literally as Tree Cake, from the many thin rings that form as layer upon layer of cake when baked.

For more than 200 years, German bakers have been producing this treat by placing a thin spit over a heat source, originally a wood fire, then evenly brushing batter over it, giving each new layer a chance to bake to a golden brown before brushing on the next. When the cake is removed and sliced, each layer is divided from the next by a golden line, resembling the rings on a crosscut tree. Skilled pastry chefs have been known to create cakes with 25 layers, weighing over 100 pounds and measuring more than three feet long.

Drinking coffee, eating cakes and lingering on makes you feel pretty content with life! After all, Reinhard Hess is not your typical chef, neither is Emperor your typical lounge!

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