Ljubljana: Equine Pleasures

A cleaning lady at Hostel Celica knocked on our cell this morning, asking us to check out.  Hunh?  We’re not checking out.  We talked to the front desk, and found out that we’d made a reservation for one less night than planned.  No problem, though.  We’d just have to transfer into a 3-person room, and the third guest was already checked in.  All right – a true communal hostel experience!

Good morning cellmate

We grabbed our stuff and threw it into a storage closet for the day, then went out, stopping again to explore Metelkova.  This morning a guy was working on a new tag, and we watched him artfully use the spray cans for a while.

New Metelkova tags

In town, we checked out an accordion band, hit the tourist info office (not much there), and finally hit a bookstore for a map of Slovenia and a Lonely Planet guide.  After last night’s talk with Villi and Sanna, we’d decided to go ahead and rent a car, priced at 40€/day through the Hostel Celica office, so the map would come in handy.

Produce market in town

We found a table for coffee along the river.  In the Lonely Planet book, Janel soon found our quest for the day, a very local restaurant located way up in Park Trival.  We hiked several miles through town, under the highway, and along park sidewalks.  As we approached, the name of the restaurant was even spray painted on the sidewalk, with arrows pointing the way.

The name of the restaurant?  Hot Horse.  I kid you not.  Guess what they serve?

Hot Horse
Hot Horse menu

We ordered up two, along with two Laškos.  Prepared to order, we got them the same way on a huge fresh bun with paprika sauce, cheese, lettuce, onion, and tomatoes.  The horseburger?  Well, it’s OK, sort of bland and comfortable, blending well with the seasonings and bread.  Janel commented that the enormous bun violates most diet rules (definitely larger than a head). But what a story meal!  Horse! Straight-A comfort food.

We wandered all the way back in to town, and sat down at Cacao again for a small dessert.  I asked the server if he had sorbet.  He nodded, so I said, “a scoop of lemon and a scoop of raspberry please.”  This is important because, in a few minutes our sorbet arrived.

A minute later, a tall glass was also delivered to our table.  We waved it off, but the waiter looked very confused.  He then shook his head and explained, “Oh, the word for this drink is ‘sorbetto’!  I thought you wanted one.”  Almost in unison, Janel and I piped up, “We’ll take it!” It turned out to be a tasty mix of champagne, vodka, and lemon gelato.  What’s not to like?  Yet another happy mistake.

Sorbetto?

Thinking we might visit the nearby Museum of Ethnography, we changed our minds and decided on an afternoon nap, which suited my jet lag just fine.

Up for a pre-dinner stroll, we stopped at a riverside café, where Janel discovered what many were drinking: an Aperol spritz.  It is a beautiful eye-catching orange colored drink made with Aperol (I think this is a bitter orange liqueur from Italy) and prosecco.  Delicious.

Aperol spritz

We hoofed it down to Spajza to make our 8:30PM reservation, and were soon seated in the lovely courtyard out back.  Similar to our meal at Marley and Me, the waiter was very courteous but took strong control of the table situation, steering our choices.  At first I found this unusual, but soon decided it was just a regional difference compared to the States.  He was simply an expert at the profession, and was doing his job.

Spajza courtyard

He steered us into glasses of a crisp white wine, followed by an amuse of parmesan crackers and curd with arugula.  We then split a tasty chanterelle appetizer, feeling very fortunate to have timed our visit to Slovenia in the peak of mushroom season.

For dinner, I told the waiter I was thinking about the filet.  We discussed how it would be prepared, side dishes, and wine pairings.  He then asked, “Beef or horse?”  What?  I glanced down at the menu again and realized that the beef filet was clearly listed, but below it was listed the “Spajza filet.”  I nodded, “Yes! The horse!”

Janel ordered a special octopus and vegetable preparation, prepared perfectly with a little bit of heat.  Our waiter recommended that he bring her a glass of “the best wine we have,” one called ?Movia, and she nodded “Sure!”

Well, the horse came out.  Laws – this was no horseburger.  Janel and I were sharing everything, and we both decided this dish was simply succulent!!  Perfectly cooked to medium doneness, served in a (um, horse) reduction.  The MOST COMFORTABLE and flavorful steak we have ever tasted.  Sorry about that, Mister Ed.  (Actually, we learned that the finer cuts, like this one, are actually colt, not horse.)

This is really it

On the walk back by the river, we stopped for some gelato-style ice cream.  We wondered aloud what type of roommate we’d inherited, discussing gender (probably a guy), country (Rich guessed UK, Janel guessed German), and would he/she be there when we got back (Rich: yes, Janel: no).

Crossing a bridge on the way back

Sure enough he was there already asleep when we snuck into the room.  Nationality unknown.

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