The Duncombe Arms, Ellastone

I love celebrating birthdays – it’s always so nice to get together with your favourite people, and they’re just such a great excuse to go for dinner (as if I needed another one!)

To celebrate such an occasion for a friend the other week, we booked a table at The Duncombe Arms for dinner – a pub in Ellastone, Staffordshire, which is a stones throw from Alton Towers

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Recipe – Thai red curry tofu

I’m not going to lie, it’s been an indulgent few weeks, so when Mae Ploy™ contacted me to ask if I’d like to try some of their Thai curry pastes I immediately wanted to make something healthy that still packed a punch in the flavour department

This Thai red curry tofu with freekeh & broccoli certainly fits the bill, and is super quick and easy

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The Cow, Dalbury Lees

You know what it’s like, you’ve got a salad planned for dinner but it’s a gorgeous sunny evening, your willpower runs out and you just have to pop out to a delightful country pub instead! (Just look at that blue sky…!) Cue a little drive down the country lanes to The Cow in Dalbury Lees

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The Boot, Repton

I’m not sure about anyone else in the Derby area but we seem to be struggling of late to find new places to go for dinner – it was only whilst scrolling through the instagram of Head Chef Rob Taylor that I saw a picture that reminded me that we’d still not tried The Boot! It’s somewhere we’ve popped into a couple of times on the off chance of grabbing a table (much harder than it sounds – it’s always been that busy that we’d so far failed!)

Luckily on this occasion we’d booked a table well in advance!

Things got off to a good start when the menus came and I wanted everything! Narrowing it down was taking a while so it was a pleasant surprise when an amuse bouche of oxtail bonbons arrived whilst we made our choices. I suppose I hadn’t really given much thought to what the food would be like before we came and may have unfairly assumed that it would just be ‘nice pub food’ – I could immediately tell it was more than that…

A golden, crispy outer coating concealed deliciously soft, rich shredded oxtail and was quickly devoured in a couple of bites

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