Considering that the heat in my apartment is busted, I am finding it physically painful to write about a recent day trip to Ljubljana. That short visit to Slovenia was bar none the coldest day of my life and I can feel the chills even now, as I write burrowed under a flanel duvet. After being frozen solid by the Bora in Trieste for a couple of days, my friend Nat and I decided to rent a car and head northeast to the Slovenian capital. Sure, we knew it would be cold, but we were ill prepared for what awaited.

We arrived after an hour-long drive through rolling hills and terrain dotted with pine forests. We parked on a random residential street and hiked up to the castle, which was perched on a hill overlooking the snow-dusted city. The beautifully restored compound had sweeping views from its tower and a couple of exhibition spaces hewn from its former barracks.

Following the castle visit we headed down into Ljubljana’s historical center, which clings to opposing sides of the Ljubljanica River. After a hot lunch and a wool sock shopping spree, we sought warmth in a cafe near the river. There we got some tips on where to find horse burgers, a popular local street food. For the next few hours we killed time until dinner, intermittently ducking into cafes and shops to stave off the effects of the damp and frigid wind that threatened our very sanity.

We hopped in the car and headed towards the appointed horse burger destination but failed to find it right away. Under normal blood sugar level circumstances, that would have spelled tragedy, but due to my poor navigation skills by some stroke of luck, the wrong turn for the burgers led us down a dark road to Gostilna Čad, a Serbian BBQ (apparently all the rage in Slovenia) restaurant that locals recommended fondly.

Inside, we found Balkan delicacies like kaymak (above), a sort of cream cheese that shares its name with one of my favorite Turkish foods.

There were also roasted red peppers with garlic and parsley that reminded me of Mamma Parla’s.

And then there was the horse. A tender and slightly bloody horse filet was served on a slice of toast with a side of mustard and raw onions. The abortive attempt to find equine burgers had led us to a proper horse steak! A massive platter of mixed grilled meats and another of grilled meatballs followed.

To round out the meal, we had a homemade layered bread pudding studded with raisins and citrus zest. We devoured the rich and eggy concoction with such gusto that our server laughed out loud at the sight of us. He didn’t think he had it in us after all that grilled meat. He could never have predicted that these two Americans would take the phrase “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!” so completely literally.

Gostilna Čad
Cesta na Rožnik 18
1000 Ljubljana
Tel: (01) 251 34 46