- Hours: Open daily, shop hours vary
- Location: Columbus Avenue in North Beach, directions below
- Best Time to Visit: Any time
Chocolate maker Jean-Marc Gorce is understandably proud of the honor. It all started when acclaimed restaurant Fringale's former chef de cuisine and his wife Casimira opened their small shop on Columbus Day, 1998. Gorce says he doesn't know if he was born to be a chocolatier, but he was "always stealing the chocolate in the drawer of the kitchen" as a child.
The truffles here are a study in simplicity and an international adventure. Chocolate grown on on Africa's Ivory Coast detours to France for processing before it's shipped to the United States. From there, it's simple: Pour boiling cream over chocolate and flavoring, mix, cool, shape into irregular pieces that look like giant raisins and roll in cocoa powder or other coatings. Voila! Chocolate heaven, tiny bite-sized truffles with melt-in-your mouth fillings.
Gorce says truffles got their name because their shape resembles the aromatic fungus prized by French chefs. Gorce makes over two dozen flavors of these chocolate nuggets, including some made with white chocolate or soy milk. There's a white truffle named for Casimira, the most pouplar truffle is caramel, but you can't go wrong with Gorce's favorite of the day, which was recently a champagne-flavored, bittersweet chocolate treat.
Like a French shopkeeper, Gorce waves to everyone who passes his shop regularly, even if they never stop in. "They always say hello and that's what matters to me," he says. Women are more expressive than men about his chocolates, and he is genuinely pleased every time someone exclaims: "ohmigod!" when they taste one, a frequent occurrence. He likes North Beach for its European feel and he gets an opportunity to speak French with at least one of his customers almost every day.
This cozy little shop is a great place for an afternoon pick-me-up. Sample a free truffle with a cup of coffee from the famous Graffeo Coffee company across the street, or buy some to take home.
Getting to XOX Truffles
754 Columbus AvenueThe shop is a short walk up Columbus from Ghirardelli Square, or down Columbus from the main part of North Beach. Get off the cable car where it crosses Columbus and walk uphill about a half block.
San Francisco, CA
XOX Truffles Website