01 August 2011

Would You Eat Me?

The Slovenian taste for horseflesh might have a slightly unfair reputation for being voracious. The meat isn't on every menu and plate, as some guidebooks might have you believe, and it's not any more common here than it is in Switzerland. Still, horse is an animal that is both ridden and eaten in Slovenia, and travelers in the country shouldn't be surprised to encounter it.
One way to eat “žrebe” (or colt) is in burger form, from the fast-food-type place "Hot Horse," in Ljubljana. For four euros, you get a large, mostly tasteless patty in a huge, soft bun. They're kept in hot water, which might explain how flavorless they are and also how juicy the notoriously dry meat stays. There are also horse hotdogs (which Rebecca called "pony pooches") and some other options - including a veggy burger and soups.
When we were in Slovenia three years ago, Hot Horse was described as a "chain." Now, it seems that they are down to just one location. It's somewhat busy, with a crowd that skews towards the culinary-tourist set. They've also revamped their logo and graphics so that they're sleeker and more inoffensive seeming. Before, their sign featured a grinning, red, cartoon horse that was a little unappetizing.
At Špajza, a pretty, old innhouse restaurant in central Ljubljana, the house steak is žrebe. Served with a variety of sauces, it's usually cooked just a bit browner than rare. Horse meat is very lean (and healthy, supposedly), and can be tough if it's cooked too long. Venison is a good comparison, though more gamey. Špajza's special preparation, the night we went, was served with a woodberry sauce and some kind of dumpling. The steak was tender and tasty, and benefitted from the flavor of its garnishes. In the end, colt isn't a very flavorful meat.

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