First of all I would like to thank Claudia audibly and personally for taking me on a hike through the breathtaking Dolomite Mountains in Italy. You’d think you were in Austria, indeed when waltzing through these mountains, one is fewer than 20km from the border. What a breathtaking mountain range. I was and continue to be stupefied by the depth of magnificence in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rifugio Vallandro was exactly what we needed. By this time, it had started to rain. Claudia and I were desperate for somewhere safe from the torrents which promised to give us staunch colds. And by Jove, we found it.

this lovely alpine retreat was in just the right place, 2040 metres above sea level! Having not slept well for two days, I had absolutely no energy left when I ate there. The food’s quality and momentous portions woke me up nicely. I ordered the alpine ragu, whose real name I cannot recall. This dish contained all the traditional ragu ingredients with the addition of mushrooms; cream and small bits of crispy bacon. Trust me, after an hour’s hike, this is heaven.

Claudia opted for the Sauerkraut and Roast potatoes with cheese. Again, I cannot recall the proper name for the latter, but all the waiters/waitresses will know exactly what you mean.

Oh me oh my, the sauerkraut was something to marvel at. Unspeakable joy filled me with every morsel. The perfect balance of brine and salt. Really well put together. Usually I eat Sauerkraut at Christmas. But then I suppose one isn’t often anywhere near Austria during that time. Claudia’s dish was a dream come true also. Highest quality potatoes in delightful cheese with some selected fresh spices.

It is a shame I was so exhausted when I came to this restaurant. Such was my fatigue that I had to take a nap after dinner to have the strength to descend the mountain. But, saying that, I was still conscious enough to realise that this is a high quality restaurant. Beware, they do not take card. Have a little cash ready. This should not cost you more than 15 euros per person. But still, it is wise to carry some float when wandering about the Alps. Not much reception up there, you see.

I know you’ll enjoy this Riveting Refuge. The highest quality, and altitude are guaranteed.