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May 21, 2011 04:47 AM

Noisette in Paris?

Quick question for you Parisian swells: Especially in the morning I like a "noisette," expresso with a touch of warm milk, what Italians call "machiatto." At least that's what I order in Marseille, but a couple of times in Paris I've gotten blank, impatient looks when using the term. Have I just had bad luck? Will most Parisians in fact understand such an request? Thanks.

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  1. A noisette in Marseille is a noisette in Paris.

    3 Replies
    1. re: tmso

      I've found that gender changes from barman to barman. For some it's "un noisette", others "une noisette". I've found that when I use the wrong article for the barman, I receive blank looks. When I change it, their eyes light up and they start frothing the milk.

      I think the correct one is un noisette, as in un café noisette.

      1. re: vielleanglaise

        Hahaha, it's true about un/une noisette. Never thought about it before. To avoid humiliation, best say "café noisette".
        There's also café avec un nuage, where un nuage de lait - a hint of milk - is understood

        1. re: vielleanglaise

          According to the dictionary only the feminine is correct: (Petit Robert) "Une noisette : café noir avec une goutte de lait". But in reality a lot of people use the masculine, with "café" understood, as you said. And in fact, many people will not immediately understand the shortened form "noisette", no matter what gender you use, so it's best to ask for a "café noisette", as Parigi suggested. Unfortunately, not everyone knows what this is either, so be prepared to explain…

      2. Odd, I understood it to be a Parisian coffee, I never had an issue in Paris. Maybe people think it odd in the morning as it tends to be an after meal drink.

        1. Odd, "noisette" is a standard coffee type throughout France. Can be ordered at any time during the day. Should have no problem with the French understanding this term.

          P.S. It's a feminine noun, "LA noisette", or UNE noisette, but if used with "cafe" , it then would be LE or UN café noisette!!

          4 Replies
          1. re: menton1

            "Odd, "noisette" is a standard coffee type throughout France." In parts of Northern France "noisette" doesn't exist. In some parts, if you order a "café creme" you're served with what's known in Paris as a noisette. Vas figurer.

            As a side issue, there's also the cafés which refuse to serve a petit creme, only selling the grand crème. This is a faute de gout. These establishments should be boyocotted and named and shamed.

            1. re: vielleanglaise

              "In parts of Northern France "noisette" doesn't exist." - I would go further and say many parts of France, it was our after dinner drink of choice in Paris but we met with many blank looks in other places.

              1. re: PhilD

                I suppose I've had a different experience. My wife favors a Noisette, and we've never had a problem ordering it from Lille to Tours to Metz to Lyon and all over Southwest & Southeast France...,

                1. re: menton1

                  It's all of those Parisians with holiday homes....!

          2. In the morning, I used to order "un grand creme", and in the afternoon, "un cafe noisette". Used to, that is, until that nasty UHT milk turned up everywhere and spoiled everything...
            Now it is only "un express" or "un double" if I am out.

            6 Replies
            1. re: manouche

              I think we are now drifting into a subject which has been discussed on another thread ...

              but just to add my two pen'th, I have found that in most places there is a sliding scale of up to four different coffees with milk - the most being in a grand creme (basically a cafe au lait), a cafe creme is less milky, a petit creme has even less and a noisette is just the cloud of milk as described above - the same as a macchiato in Italy. But this isn't always the rule - sometimes a creme is the same as a grand creme and sometimes a petit creme is the same as a noisette! It really depends on the cafe in question.

              I usually hate UHT milk, but strangely, when I am abroad it seems to taste good in French/Spanish/Italian coffee.

              1. re: Theresa

                There is no difference in composition between a crème, a café crème (a term which is disappearing from the vocabulary), a grand crème and a petit crème. There is only a difference in size. The only difference in recipes is between crème and noisette; as for the amount of milk, it differs from place to place, sometimes drastically so.

                UHT milk is not the main calamity. The real problem is the bad quality of the coffee (and we shall not go into that again).

                In fact no café will serve you exactly the same thing as another café, the only thing you can count on is that 7 times out of 10 it won't be good.

                1. re: Ptipois

                  Thanks, everyone, for the help. Off to Paris tomorrow, at which time I'll give "noisette" another try; I hear both genders, by the way, so will just trust my instinct when the big moment comes!

                    1. re: johnmarseille

                      The strangest café theme is one of those café-philo, where people go to discuss phisolophy. Certain cafés hold this strange cathering once a week (Flores, Sunday, or first Wednesday every month for English speakers). Somebody who went to the Flores gathering this morning told me that nothing in the café indicated that it was the venue, except that a corner of the café was filled with people poised with notebooks, and one youngster had the dictionary "Petit Robert etymologique" next to his, uh, noisette.
                      Which reminds me of an unimportant point: the coffee was said to be exceptionally bad. So if you are serious about your coffee, have a cup elsewhere before you go.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        I confirm, the Flore's coffee is beyond bad. Hot chocolate is better.