November 28, 2011 by The Editor
Nothing really says Paris to me as does my favorite version of coffee, la noisette. Millions of people visit Paris every year – it is the most-visited city in the world. Each visitor goes home with an image that speaks to them of their experience – perhaps the Eiffel Tower, or a panoramic view of Paris from the Sacre Coeur, or the majesty of Notre Dame. The streets of Montmartre, and lanes of the Marais are surely among the most photographed in the world.
But for me, the image is, la noisette! The drink is simple enough, an espresso with a tiny pitcher of warmed milk on the side, to be mixed in to your taste. It’s like a mini-café au lait. I have ordered la noisette in some cafés where they serve it already mixed, which is more of a machiatto style. But for me, the charm lay in the extra step. The small pitcher of milk has a way of enriching my visit to the café with a little bit of ritual. It is named for the humble, sturdy hazelnut, taking on its creamy tan color as you add your milk.
Alex and I have had the opportunity to visit Paris numerous times over the past few years. This past weekend we visited again so Alex could take care of some administrative business at the Sorbonne where he is studying French law in a distance-learning program. Once his registration was taken care of, we had the whole weekend to walk Paris. This time around, we stayed in the 7th Arrondissement, near Rue Cler, a vibrant pedestrian market lined with bistros, a fromagerie, and other wonderful shops that tempt and delight.
Our visits have almost always been centered around food and otherwise being somewhat aimless in our wanderings. We tend to have a few places that are always on the agenda, but it is always good to get lost once in a while. This time we visited some favorite spots (like la Belle Hortense) and found new places (ice cream at Martine Lambert) to add to our list of recommendations.
On Friday we had an exciting wine-related event to attend, les salons des vins des Vignerons Indépendants — an expo of independent wine producers from throughout France. This is an opportunity for people to taste wines from hundreds of producers and to buy wine at a discount. It’s an event that many people look forward to, for the opportunity to replenish their wine cellars for the holidays and the coming winter months. We enjoyed the afternoon at the expo and then had dinner ‘at home’ with food from an excellent Italian traiteur on Rue Cler.
Our visit was too short, but the train journey of just two hours plus, makes Paris an attractive destination when we have a holiday weekend. Whether we find ourselves at favorite cafés in the Marais or having a late night drink overlooking the grandeur of the Place des Invalides and the Musée de l’Armée, it is a city that is unforgettable both in the simplest of pleasures as much as in the rarest of occasions.