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NON-LIQUEUR                                                                                                          

dark chocolate                                                                
caramel                                                                                     vegan  hazelnut
espresso chocolate
caramel cayenne
coconut                                                                                     vegan orange
orange
hazelnut
black & white                                                                           vegan coconut
peanut butter                                                                                                
dark cayenne                                                                     

                                                                                                                        

  LIQUEUR  FLAVORS                                                          vegan espresso

raspberry

almond

honey bourbon

maple bourbon

black cherry

run coco

banana chocolate

grand marnie

lemon

hazelnut


Today's Special: Five Star Truffles and Coffee

Bonnie Wach

Published 4:00 am, Sunday, July 22, 200


  {filename SHOWN: Euan Santos, with cappucino and truffles, co-owner and chef at Five Star Truffles and Coffee at 411 Divisadero St. in San Francisco. For Bonnie Wach's Today's Special column. (Katy Raddatz/The Chronicle) **Euan Santos Mandatory credit for the photographer and the San Francisco Chronicle. No sales; mags out.

 

On a recent backpacking trip to the Sierra, which without going into detail I will merely describe as "adventurous," I was reminded of two things: One is that exposing one's hindquarters in the woods is no laughing matter, especially after an active mosquito hatch. Another is that, no matter how much of a wilderness experience you crave, no matter how badly you desire to get back to nature, you should never, ever let yourself be convinced that you can do without good coffee and good chocolate.

These two items, I believe, are more crucial for survival of the species than freeze-dried turkey tetrazzini, trail mix and Therm-a-Rest mats combined. Most certainly they are essential for survival of the husband, who risks life and limb by putting even the most innocuous of questions to the decaffeinated, cacao-less wife. He will not make that mistake again.

Anyway, not long after this revelation, I was driving down Divisadero Street when I spied a sign that completely summed up my core belief system. A no-nonsense marquee that read simply: Five Star Truffles and Coffee, Made by Hand. I screeched to a stop and pulled a U-turn.

Inside the shop, I found a deceptively bare-bones operation - a few perfunctory tables and chairs and a large glass case filled with decadent-looking bite-size chocolate morsels. A handwritten menu posted on the wall listed more than a dozen varieties of truffles at prices (50 cents each; $7.50 for a box of 20) that seemed downright ridiculous, considering that we live in the rarefied world of artisan chocolate, where 3-ounce bars go for upward of $5.

The shop is the love child of Santos Euan, a genial and tireless man who immigrated to San Francisco 10 years ago from Oxkutzcab in the mountains of Yucatan, Mexico. After a couple of years working in various restaurants, Euan landed a job at XOX Truffles in North Beach, apprenticing for seven years under well-known trufflemaker Jean-Marc Gorce. In November, he decided to strike out on his own, and with the help of partner Julio Quintanilla, he opened Five Star.

Fans of XOX will recognize Gorce's style here - truffles no bigger than the tip of your thumb, covered in dark chocolate and dusted in cocoa powder or hazelnuts or coconut. But (aside from the prices) there are also a few distinct differences.

"I tried to put my original touch on these. I tried a lot of different recipes and methods to bring out the flavors," Euan says. "It takes a long time to make truffles - two days to make one batch, and everything has to be perfect."

Euan's most popular truffle, caramel, takes nine hours just to cook the caramel, which must be cooled at room temperature. If the conditions are too hot, too cold or too humid, the consistency is ruined.

One bite, and you understand why this consistency is so important. Under a sprinkling of cocoa powder and a delicate jacket of Cacao Barry dark chocolate, the caramel is so intensely creamy and soft, so rich and smooth, you wonder if you've ever really tasted caramel before.

Other marvelous flavors include strawberry (made with a fruity ganache infused with strawberry liqueur), espresso, blackberry, cognac, citron lemon, coconut and the subtly smoky Earl Grey. Like XOX, Five Star also offers a few vegan choices, including soy orange and dark chocolate.

As for the other half of the menu, the coffee, it's fresh-roasted Graffeo, which Euan brews with as much care as he crafts his truffles. He also makes a truly sublime cup of cocoa - heavy on the chocolate and with steamed milk - that has developed a following all its own.

Euan hopes to expand his business soon with a Web site and the addition of Mitchell's ice cream. In the meantime, he can be found behind the counter greeting customers, rolling chocolates, pouring good, strong coffee - and upholding my belief system.

Five Star Truffles and Coffee: 411 Divisadero St., San Francisco; (415) 552-5128.

Hours: 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.

Prices: Truffles are 50 cents each, $7.50 for 20, $15 for 40, $30 for 80. Free coffee with box of chocolates; free truffle with orderfree truffle with

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Welcome to FIVE STAR TRUFFLES

When you visit us, you're in for a treat.
Experience our handmade chocolate truffles in more than 25 flavors, including liquor & vegan creations, all gluten free. Also serving unique hot chocolate & specialty coffee drinks. Our truffles are renowned for their freshness and distinctive combination of spices, flavors and aromas. The perfect gift!
Now creating custom flavored truffles ,for special occasions and events.
Now shipping nationwide!We are located at
4251-A 18th St. San Francisco, CA 94114
Open Mon-Sat 7.30A-8P & Sun 9A-6P

PLEASE COME TRY OUR NEW FLAVORS:
Cayenne Coffee Caramel - Banana Dark
- Cinnamon Dark - Vanilla White