Eat some of the most exotic or unusual meat dishes that Slovenia has to offer. And, they’re not the usual beef or pork.
What tickles your fancy? Is it bear or horse meat? How about some appetising frogs’ legs, or dormouse? You probably heard the expression ‘As quiet as a dormouse’. Soon enough, you’ll get acquainted with another saying: ‘As tasty as a dormouse’.
If that doesn’t cut it, some escargots perhaps? Sorry, we’re not in France. But hold on, we eat snails in Slovenia too!
Slovenia’s Most Tender Bear Meat
Bears might be tough to put up with—they can get ferocious when they have their young in tow. But here’s the good news: Bear meat is as tender as the best slow-cooked beef. For that reason, it’s most likely the finest game meat you can eat.
Gourmets say the backstrap and paw are the most delicious parts. You can enjoy this delicacy at a few Slovenian inns (or ‘gostilne’) that specialize in bear meat. These inns tend to be concentrated in Kočevje, southern Slovenia. They usually simmer the meat for a few days till it’s melt-in-the-mouth perfect. Additionally, it can come in the form of salamis, which you can also find at the Ljubljana Central Market.
Chef Tomaž Kavčič of Gostilna pri Lojzetu – Castle Zemono is known for serving up the juiciest bear cheek. And he doesn’t let the rest of the animal go to waste. He uses the tougher parts in stews and braises.
Best Horse Meat in Ljubljana
You won’t find horse meat at any regular Slovenian restaurant or household. However, there are a few eateries that specialise in this lean meat, and they’re bang in the middle of Slovenia. Spread around four locations in Ljubljana, Hot Horse is the city’s most famous food joint that serves anything horsey, from burgers to steaks, hot-dogs and sausages, to other minced meat dishes. And it’s all Slovenian horse.
Then, there’s also the family-run Kuhinja Krušič, one of Slovenia’s main providers of horse meat. You can buy the meat from their butcher shop and cook it at home. Or enjoy it in their cosy dining room or as a take-away.
Ljubljana’s Best Frogs Legs
We’re not referring to chicken thighs here. Have you ever tried frogs’ legs? True, they’re not as plump as a fowl’s but they’re equally exquisite. You may have thought frogs’ legs were more synonymous with French cuisine, but they perform just as well on any Slovenian dinner table.
So where can you find the most desirable frogs’ legs in Slovenia? Try the ‘gostilna’-style Pri Žabarju restaurant in Ljubljana. Or venture out into the Ljubljana Marshes (‘Ljubljansko barje’) south of the city. Right at the marsh’s edge, in Vrhnika, there’s Gostilna Rajski vrt Nada (Ribiški dom), which also serves up some really crunchy thighs.
How to Eat Dormouse in Slovenia
You’ve probably never considered dormouse meat to form part of your Slovenian dinner experience. It is, after all, one of Slovenia’s most unusual dishes. Known locally as ‘polh’, dormouse is comparable to squirrel meat, with a rich, greasy flavor. A popular food in Roman times, edible dormouse is no longer consumed in modern Europe, except for Croatia and Slovenia.
It can be baked with buckwheat, or cooked in a goulash or stew. If you want to experience something really traditional, we suggest you attend the dormouse hunt (‘polharija’). A tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, this event is all about drinking, hanging out in the middle of a forest, and savoring a delicious meal you’ll never obtain in a store.
Escargot Dining in Slovenia
The French are known for eating snails with much gusto, so are the Italians and Spaniards. Slovenes, on the other hand, are not so inclined to eating this delicacy because they prefer to stick to their usual pork and beef dishes. But there are a couple of Slovenian restaurants serving snails, one of them being Le Petit Cafe in Ljubljana.
This ‘slow food’ is perfect as an appetizer; it also calls for a brunch opportunity. Properly cooked, snail meat is elastic but soft, with a slightly earthy taste. You can enjoy it soaked in garlic-infused olive oil, along with warm crusty bread or creamy mashed potatoes.
A Slovenian Dinner Experience
You must be hungry by now. How can we blame you? Dare to be different, eat something unusual. You can taste all the above peculiar meats at one of Slovenia’s dinner experiences. Be prepared to eat, drink, laugh, and learn about special Slovene cuisine!
Written by: Denise Rejec